26 Questions for AnComs from an AnCap

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  • #361

    Spooner Bookman
    Participant

    The following is a bunch of questions I have in response to Jacob’s ‘Hopes for a Coalition’ post. I’ve been trying to understand the other/left side of Anarchism/Libertarianism for a couple months now and I’m hoping that getting some answers to (and/or just discussing) my questions will help me out.

    Now, I’m rewording what Jacob said in my own words, but trying to do it justice. Meaning: if any of the bolded copy seems like something Jacob didn’t say, let me know which ones they are and what you think is wrong with them, as that would likely change my question once my understanding is corrected.

    Also, I’m using ‘AnCom’ throughout to refer to Social Anarchism. Jacob’s article is split between defenders/critics of private property, so ‘AnCom’ for me is the critic and ‘AnCap’ is the defender.

    Last but not least: I’m asking questions about stuff I don’t really understand SO you don’t necessarily have to answer questions to help advance my understanding – simply pointing out how or why my questions doesn’t make sense could be super helpful. (E.g., if my question assumes something I don’t even realize I’m assuming, point that out for me!)

    . . . . . . . . .

    Each individual has a right to have as much opportunity to live as others do.

    1. Where does the ‘opportunity’ to live as others do originate? (Where does it come from? Who grants it? Or maybe: How is this ‘right’ derived?)

    No one has a right to reduce other people to means to further their own life.

    2. Is it possible to reduce other people to means (against their will) without the use of force? How so?

    If a person holds title to some resource and makes use of it, that resource is ‘personal property’ (or at least it is ‘treated’ as such). If that person doesn’t use the personal property, while another person does, then the ‘personal property’ is transformed into ‘private property’ (or ‘treated’ as such). Proudhon makes the same distinction with regard to land, using ‘usufruct,’ or ‘possession,’ rather than ‘personal property,’ and ‘property’ rather than ‘private property’. Quoting Proudhon: ‘…this is the right of the usufructuary [i.e., non-title-holding-current-occupier-and-user]: he is responsible for the thing entrusted to him; he must use it in conformity with general utility, with a view to its preservation and development; he has no power to transform it, to diminish it, or to change its nature; he cannot so divide the usufruct that another shall perform the labor while he receives the product.’

    3. How does one go about using something in conformity with general utility without ‘transforming’ or (especially) ‘diminishing’ it? (I can’t think of anything I could use without transforming it in some way…)

    AnCom condones ‘personal property’, but objects to ‘private property’.

    4. Would it be correct to say that AnCom doesn’t necessarily ‘object’ to private property so much as AnCom doesn’t believe private property actually exists? (That when something ceases to be ‘personal property’, it doesn’t ‘become’ private property, it just stops being personal property and is now essentially a natural resource again?)

    AnCom states that a ‘private property’ owner is like a guard running a toll gate on a road in the sense that the owner – like the guard – solicits a fee from people but doesn’t produce (or offer) anything in return for the money, meaning the guard in effect ‘steals’ from them.

    5. Is it accurate to say that in AnCom, there is no longer any such thing as a ‘guard’ in the sense we mean it today because there would be no ‘private property’ for a ‘guard’ to protect? (That anyone in AnCom doing what a ‘guard’ does in today’s world wouldn’t be considered a ‘guard’, they would be considered a ‘thief’. Is that right? Basically, you can’t be ‘hired’ as a ‘guard’ in AnCom because there is nothing to ‘guard’?)

    6. What if the ‘guard’ protects the road from bandits or wolves, something like that – if the ‘protection’ the guard offers is a legitimately desired service that people really want, can’t the ‘guard’ be said to be producing ‘security’, therefore they are producing something themselves, thereby absolving the ‘guard’ in the eyes of AnCom for asking a fee, since they wouldn’t be offering ‘nothing’ in return for the fee?

    Because AnCom states people have a right to have the opportunity to live as others do, AnCom would say that a ‘guard’ on a toll road violates the rights of anyone trying to travel on that road because travelers are entitled to pass by uninhibited (assuming anyone else has the ‘opportunity’ to pass by). AnCom believes this entitlement exists based on the notion that if anyone has the opportunity to pass by, it’s only ‘fair’ that everyone has the ‘right’ to pass by.

    7. I’m just wondering if the preceding paraphrasing is correct, and if it isn’t, what’s wrong with it?

    AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals from tenants who live on (and/or work) land which the landlord holds title to because the landlord does nothing in exchange for rent other than refraining from ejecting the tenant from the land they hold title to.

    8. I just want to double check that the word ‘nothing’ is correct in the above? (AnCom does not believe a landlord does anything in exchange for that rent?)

    9. If an absentee landlord did ‘do something in exchange for rent’, does that absolve the absentee landlord in the eyes of AnCom?

    With wage labor, the capitalist ‘claims ownership’ over the ‘means of production’ – which is synonymous with ‘the means of living’. The capitalist only agrees to allow ‘workers’ into the ‘factory’ on one condition: they must accept money from the capitalist for their ‘means of living’ as opposed to selling the products/services themselves as a ‘means of living’.

    10. Is your assumption that if the ‘capitalist’ that owned the ‘factory’ where I am currently one of the ‘workers’ called us together and said, “I apologize for exploiting y’all, I hereby renounce my ownership, this is all yours,” we workers would then take over our ‘factory’ and sell the products/services ourselves? (Can you think of any reason why we not only wouldn’t, but couldn’t do as AnCom suggests?)

    AnCom states that an absentee landlord has no right to practice ‘Usury’ in the form of rent on land.

    11a. Would it be accurate to say that in AnCom, there is no such thing as an ‘absentee landlord’ in the sense that any self-styled ‘absentee landlord’ would be considered a ‘thief’?

    11b. If so, would that mean that under AnCom, an ‘absentee landlord’ who practices ‘Usury’ is just the same as saying a ‘thief’ who practices ‘a particular form of thievery’?

    AnCom objects to interest on loans because ‘interest on loans’ is synonymous with ‘Usury’ and AnCom objects to ‘Usury’ (i.e., charging interest on loans…).

    12. Why does AnCom object to Usury?

    Ancom objects to what they call ‘Usury’, which they define as ‘when a title holder only allows someone to use their resource on the condition that the user surrenders a portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder.’

    14a. Does AnCom ‘object’ to ‘Usury’ even though it is (or ‘even when it is’) 100% voluntary?

    14b. If the answer to #14a is ‘yes’, then can we accurately say that ‘AnCom’ is NOT in favor of ALL voluntary interactions, but instead, only some? (And therefore AnCom using the moniker ‘voluntaryist’ is a bit of a fib, at least, if not an outright intentional deception?)

    14c. If the answer to #14a is ‘no’, then what gives?

    AnComs have no problem with using force to prevent “usury” from occurring.

    15. The link you provided as evidence of this states that ‘Social Anarchists do not seek… an entirely voluntary society.’ I just want to be extra sure this is right: AnCom is NOT in favor of a ‘voluntary’ society, correct? (And consequently describing any AnCom has ‘voluntaryist’ is definitely a fib?)

    In refusing to help enforce “usurious” contracts of any sort, AnComs may oppose usury peacefully, without using “coercion” in the sense understood by “anarcho-capitalists.”

    16. So… AnComs wouldn’t help enforce the ‘extraction of Usury’, so they wouldn’t be good as rent-collectors… But would they stand in the way of rent collection, using force to prevent it (even if the agreement was 100% voluntary)?

    AnCom objects to IP because preventing people from using particular ideas without their permission, ‘extracting Usury’ by charging prices for goods and services higher than they otherwise could.

    17. AnCom says IP owners are charging prices ‘higher than they otherwise could’ – who or what should rightfully determine how ‘high’ a price could or couldn’t be?

    With tariffs, taxes, licensing laws, zoning laws, and so forth, governments ‘extract Usury’ by taking money from those producing and trading.

    18a. The (previously given) AnCom definition of ‘Usury’ refers to a ‘title holder’ – does this statement regarding tariffs, taxes, etc. mean governments are a ‘title holder’ of something? (If so, what do they hold title to, or at least, claim to hold title to?)

    18b. If they are not a title holder of anything (or not claiming to be), how can they ‘extract Usury’ when AnCom declares Usury can only be committed by a title holder?

    Business owners (by colluding with governments) ‘extract Usury’ by eliminating competition.

    19. Does that mean that without governments, business owners attempting to ‘eliminate competition’ would no longer be ‘extracting Usury’?

    If the title holder of something only allows the user to use the resource on condition that the user surrenders some portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder, then social anarchists call the share of the produce which the user surrenders to the title-holder “usury”.

    20. Would AnCom say: ‘Usury is only the share of produce that a user of a resource is forced to surrender.’ ? (Which would mean that any portion of produce surrendered as part of a voluntarily entered into arrangement is NOT ‘usury’?)

    The ‘profit’ a capitalist makes merely by holding title to a resource is ‘Usury’ because they take a share of what the workers produce, even though they only ‘allow’ the workers to produce, rather than actively helping them to produce.

    21. You say here that a capitalist ‘only allows’ workers to produce – what do you mean by this? (Why must people wait on a capitalist to ‘allow’ them to begin producing? Why wouldn’t people be able to begin producing without a capitalist?)

    In Marx’s view, capitalists gained the ability… In Proudhon’s view, capitalists gained the ability…

    22. What was your goal in bringing up these two contrasting views? (It looks like maybe you’re just saying regardless of which AnCom thinker you start with, all AnComs think that workers aren’t getting a fair share of the value they are creating?)

    AnCom advocates… eliminating the ability of some to… keep more value for themselves than what they actually create.

    23. How do you determine how much value someone has created? Example: my boss and I have a customer that comes to us with a problem and we solve that problem, i.e., we created value. How much value did I create and how much value did my boss create? (Like, what info do you need to know to determine how much value I created versus how much value my boss created? How much time did we each spend solving the problem? Or how much the customer paid for it? Or what are the factors you need to determine how much value was created, with an eye towards then dividing up how much value I get to keep versus how much value my boss gets to keep.)

    AnComs advocate using force to either appropriate “private property,” or to enforce other sorts of norms of resource use (e.g., defending a squatter from an angry land owner). Furthermore, AnCom treats certain voluntary arrangements (e.g., loan me $100 and I’ll pay you $110 next week) between consenting adults as necessarily illegitimate, and that NOBODY has a right to make voluntary agreements (like the example) with anybody else.

    24. So, just to be crystal clear: AnCom advocates for the use of force, and, as a rule, does not support voluntary arrangements between people?

    …those with property can consume what those who work for them produce without helping to produce themselves, all while the producers live with no property of their own.

    25. Does AnCom somehow assume that the two are mutually exclusive – that if you work for a property owner in AnCap you can’t also be a property owner yourself? (Seems like a silly thought but I don’t know how else to read this…)

    AnCom argues that AnCap takes away the freedom of those living within it, and AnCap argues AnCom the reverse.

    26. Yes, but AnCom explicitly states that they WILL use force to take freedom away from people, while AnCap does not – how do you propose I view AnCom as freedom-loving when part of the foundation of the ideology is to maintain that it’s ok to use force to take people’s freedom away? (For example, the freedom to loan $100 in exchange for getting paid back $110 in the future.)

    • This topic was modified 4 months ago by  Spooner Bookman. Reason: Typos
    • This topic was modified 4 months ago by  Jacob.
  • #397

    Jacob
    Keymaster

    I had hoped to respond this weekend to this, but, having read through your questions, I think I had better wait a little bit more. The response I received to my “Hopes For a Coalition” article on reddit leads me to think my essay was not nearly as good a summary of social anarchist ideas as I had hoped, and that I need to take a little more time myself to think about the different views.

    I have a strong desire to encourage “leftists” and “capitalists” and so on and so forth to work together, and this desire makes me impatient, impatient to find some essence in the different viewpoints, come to an easily conveyable understanding of them, and find ways to reconcile people with differing values well enough that we can all get work done freeing ourselves from the government. It was partially this impatience that led to my writing that article.

    But I’m afraid my impatience may have led me to claim understanding too quickly… What we really need is for someone deeply familiar with the work of Kropotkin, Bakunin, Proudhon, or Carson to join our forum and help us understand these ideas. I’ve read some work by each of those authors, but every time I think I’ve understood them, I come across something that changes my mind and makes me think I need to do more research.

    I did, however, post a link to your questions on reddit, and a kind soul was willing to write up some responses! Others may respond in time as well, hopefully. I will take some time to think about your questions, too, and try to respond when I can.

    I think your questions are excellent questions, by the way, just to be clear. I am just afraid to try and speak for ancoms. I’m sympathetic to “leftists” like Kevin Carson, Benjamin Tucker, and Samuel Konkin, and I think I may have a decent understanding of Tucker’s views, but in order to do an ok job contrasting their views with those of Rothbard, Kropotkin, Bakunin, etc. I think I need more time. If I try to answer your questions too quickly, I fear my answers may misstate the views these different authors actually hold or held.

  • #401

    Spooner Bookman
    Participant

    “…I need to take a little more time myself to think about the different views.”

    No worries! The reason I’m here chatting is I’ve just recently started thinking that I can learn faster by having these discussions than just reading in isolation. The more I do it, the more I’m convinced this is speeding things up for me!

    Of course a drawback of ‘putting yourself out there’ is going too far too fast – but I say go for it, as the ‘reeling in’ others do for you is so helpful.

    “…a kind soul was willing to write up some responses!”

    That’s awesome! My follow up questions are below – I’m not on reddit, any chance you can get these over to that person?

    . . .

    At the very end of Empifur’s post, he said, ‘…we have to agree that what we are trying to do is minimize the possibility of coercion…’

    Man, that is what I want to find out! Do we agree on this?

    I’d like to minimize the possibility of coercion to zero. Agreed?

    And, of course, that means we can NOT use coercion to minimize coercion. Agreed?

    If we’re in agreement there, then we’re in agreement on the essentials in my book. But after going over the answers, I’m not still not real sure…

    Here are my follow up Q’s – I do think we are getting closer to an answer for me, so maybe this will get us there:

    1. Each individual has a right to have as much opportunity to live as others do.

    AnCap: Where does the ‘opportunity’ to live as others do originate? (Where does it come from? Who grants it? Or maybe: How is this ‘right’ derived?)

    AnCom: This right is derived from the idea that it’s in my own best interest to try to ensure that this opportunity exists. (Also: This right is ‘inherent’ to human beings. And: This is axiomatic to some degree.)

    AnCap: Are you saying that if it is in your best interest to try and ensure something exists, then that something is therefore a right you have?

    . . .

    2. No one has a right to reduce other people to means to further their own life.

    AnCap: Is it possible to reduce other people to means (against their will) without the use of force? How so?

    AnCom: No person is ever just a means, as they will always possess their own natality, but it is important that we don’t mentally reduce other people to means in our minds, as that is where violence often comes from?

    AnCap: I’m sorry, but I’m not understanding your response at all. (I’m not even sure if it is a statement, or a question of some kind? What is ‘natality’? Not trying to be rude! Just genuinely confused!!)

    . . .

    3. Quoting Proudhon: ‘…this is the right of the usufructuary [i.e., non-title-holding-current-occupier-and-user]: he is responsible for the thing entrusted to him; he must use it in conformity with general utility, with a view to its preservation and development; he has no power to transform it, to diminish it, or to change its nature; he cannot so divide the usufruct that another shall perform the labor while he receives the product.’

    AnCap: How does one go about using something in conformity with general utility without ‘transforming’ or (especially) ‘diminishing’ it? (I can’t think of anything I could use without transforming it in some way…)

    AnCom: What Proudhon means here is simply that when one is treating possessions as usufruct, one ‘must’ use it with an eye towards its longevity, with an eye towards maintaining its ability to be used by other people later on. One would not have the right to DESTROY a thing simply because you are using it (unlike private property, for example, whereby you could ‘rightfully’ destroy it without a second thought). “Transforming” is just another couching of this same idea.

    AnCap: Got it, I think that makes sense. Correct me if I’m wrong: Proudhon’s ‘conformity with general utility’ includes (roughly) “if you use something, you are going to ‘transform’ it to some degree, and that’s fine and to be expected. What’s not fine is ‘transforming’ the stuff intentionally in some way other than in conformity with general utility, i.e., using it in such a way as to deliberately exclude others from being able to use it in the future, assuming it is at all possible to leave them that opportunity”.

    Is that right?

    If so: you say this is the case ‘when one is treating possessions as usufruct’ – my next question is, ‘Are there other ways of treating possessions other than usufruct under AnCom?’

    . . .

    4. AnCom states that a ‘private property’ owner is like a guard running a toll gate on a road in the sense that the owner – like the guard – solicits a fee from people but doesn’t produce (or offer) anything in return for the money, meaning the guard in effect ‘steals’ from them.

    AnCap: Is it accurate to say that in AnCom, there is no longer any such thing as a ‘guard’ in the sense we mean it today because there would be no ‘private property’ for a ‘guard’ to protect? (That anyone in AnCom doing what a ‘guard’ does in today’s world wouldn’t be considered a ‘guard’, they would be considered a ‘thief’. Is that right? Basically, you can’t be ‘hired’ as a ‘guard’ in AnCom because there is nothing to ‘guard’?)

    AnCom: Yes. (Although, it could just as easily be looked at as ‘everyone guards everything together.’)

    AnCap: What if the ‘guard’ protects the road from bandits or wolves, something like that – if the ‘protection’ the guard offers is a legitimately desired service that people really want, can’t the ‘guard’ be said to be producing ‘security’, therefore they are producing something themselves, thereby absolving the ‘guard’ in the eyes of AnCom for asking a fee, since they wouldn’t be offering ‘nothing’ in return for the fee?

    AnCom: In a sense, the answer to your question is ‘yes’ in this way: If a community member has been tasked with producing security, their production of that security does in fact ‘absolve’ them in the eyes of AnCom.

    However, this is different from an individual (or group of individuals) claiming ownership of a community good and then practicing usury – even if the results look superficially similar.

    One of these processes for delegating responsibilities to community members to provide security is the result of a process that actually lets everyone in the community speak, and helps to create healthy communities.

    The other process – the private production of security – is a coercive function, regardless of whether people want it or not.

    This whole idea relies on the notion that in our current society, providing ‘security’ is seen as valuable by people, but in a different world than the one we live in, we wouldn’t necessarily want ‘security’ in the same way. In some imaginary world, like in the hypothetical future, people might not even want security, and in that future imaginary world, anyone collecting money for security would be a thief – a Usurer.

    AnCap: So in AnCom, like in AnCap, some individuals and groups of individuals will be tasked with producing security by other individuals (or groups of individuals). In AnCom, this delegation process will never, under any circumstances, be coercive? (And by contrast, in AnCap, it IS coercive, EVEN if/when everyone involved voluntarily agrees to the delegation process?)

    Furthermore, regarding living ‘in a different world than the one we live in’, is AnCom applicable to our real world, or only to a world where human nature is different than it is in our world?

    . . .

    5. Because AnCom states people have a right to have the opportunity to live as others do, AnCom would say that a ‘guard’ on a toll road violates the rights of anyone trying to travel on that road because travelers are entitled to pass by uninhibited (assuming anyone else has the ‘opportunity’ to pass by). AnCom believes this entitlement exists based on the notion that if anyone has the opportunity to pass by, it’s only ‘fair’ that everyone has the ‘right’ to pass by.

    AnCap: I’m just wondering if the preceding paraphrasing is correct, and if it isn’t, what’s wrong with it?

    AnCom: The reason that there shouldn’t be a guard is because it’s unjust for anyone to make money through usury, which is what tolls are. It isn’t right for the guard to profit off of preventing people from using a communal resource (a road).

    AnCap: Why isn’t it ‘right’ for the guard to profit off of preventing people from using a communal resource?

    . . .

    6. AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals from tenants who live on (and/or work) land which the landlord holds title to because the landlord does nothing in exchange for rent other than refraining from ejecting the tenant from the land they hold title to.

    AnCap: I just want to double check that the word ‘nothing’ is correct in the above? (AnCom does not believe a landlord does anything in exchange for that rent?)

    AnCom: The summary should be more robustly phrased as being unjust because the landlord is committing usury.

    AnCap: Ok, let me rephrase the summary more robustly to include that the landlord is committing usury:

    AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals from tenants who live on (and/or work) land which the landlord holds title to because the landlord does nothing in exchange for rent other than refraining from ejecting the tenant from the land they hold title – i.e., committing usury.

    Is the rephrasing accurate now, or what needs to change to make it more accurate?

    If it is accurate, I just want to double check that the word ‘nothing’ is correct in the above? (AnCom does not believe a landlord does anything in exchange for rent? Of, alternately, AnCom does concede landlords can and do offer things in exchange for rent – that it’s not some one-sided money-making affair?)

    . . .

    7. AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals…

    AnCap: If an absentee landlord did ‘do something in exchange for rent’, does that absolve the absentee landlord in the eyes of AnCom?

    AnCom: No. The relationship between an absentee landlord and a tenant can’t conceivably be a “free exchange” or “free agreement” because the landlord has only ‘profit’ on the line, and the tenant has their housing security on the line.

    AnCap: What does the landlord use to pay for the landlord’s own ‘housing security’ if not the ‘profit’ from renting the resources? (Aren’t they BOTH, in this way, putting their ‘housing security’ on the line, thereby making it ‘conceivably’ voluntary, or no? Why/why not?)

    . . .

    8. With wage labor, the capitalist ‘claims ownership’ over the ‘means of production’ – which is synonymous with ‘the means of living’. The capitalist only agrees to allow ‘workers’ into the ‘factory’ on one condition: they must accept money from the capitalist for their ‘means of living’ as opposed to selling the products/services themselves as a ‘means of living’.

    AnCap: Is your assumption that if the ‘capitalist’ that owned the ‘factory’ where I am currently one of the ‘workers’ called us together and said, “I apologize for exploiting y’all, I hereby renounce my ownership, this is all yours,” we workers would then take over our ‘factory’ and sell the products/services ourselves? (Can you think of any reason why we not only wouldn’t, but couldn’t do as AnCom suggests?)

    AnCom: It depends on what the workers wanted to do. Taking over the factory would definitely be an option.

    AnCap: You say, ‘It depends on what the workers wanted to do.’ What if the workers – for whatever reason – wanted to continue the original arrangement whereby the capitalist continues to ‘exploit’ us? What happens then?

    . . .

    9. AnCom objects to interest on loans because ‘interest on loans’ is synonymous with ‘Usury’ and AnCom objects to ‘Usury’ (i.e., charging interest on loans…).

    AnCap: Why does AnCom object to Usury?

    AnCom: To summarize it, usury necessarily leads to increasing inequality.

    (Usury is any charge for using a capital investment that another person ‘owns’ whether that capital investment is a loan, or a bread machine. So, one person has a thing, and then, without putting in any work, continues making money off of just having the thing, and, in the process, depriving people who do not have the thing of that money.)

    AnCap 9a: You keep saying the person does not put in any work. But I asked earlier if the person had put in work, would that absolve them, and the answer was ‘no’. So, the fact that the person is or is not putting in work does NOT seem to be the defining factor of ‘wrongness’, correct?

    There must be something else that makes it ‘wrong’ because as soon as the person puts in work, your characterization of why it’s ‘wrong’ is no longer accurate. What am I missing here?

    AnCap 9b: If AnCom objects to Usury because it necessarily leads to increasing inequality, would it be accurate to say that AnCom objects to anything that necessarily leads to increasing inequality (and the practice of Usury just happens to be one of these things)?

    . . .

    10. Ancom objects to what they call ‘Usury’, which they define as ‘when a title holder only allows someone to use their resource on the condition that the user surrenders a portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder.’

    AnCap: Does AnCom ‘object’ to ‘Usury’ even though it is (or ‘even when it is’) 100% voluntary?

    AnCom: This is sort of a trick question, because ‘Usury’ is never 100% voluntary. The reason it is never fully voluntary is because the power differential between the have and the have-not means that some coercion is involved.

    AnCap: How so?

    AnCom: One might only have one option available in any given ‘deal’, and then any deal struck is hardly ‘voluntary’ if there is only one alternative on the table (especially if that alternative is, say, freezing to death).

    AnCap: What if one has many options to choose from? Can it be voluntary then?

    . . .

    11. AnComs have no problem with using force to prevent “usury” from occurring.

    AnCap: The link you provided as evidence of this states that ‘Social Anarchists do not seek… an entirely voluntary society.’ I just want to hear you say it: AnCom is NOT in favor of a ‘voluntary’ society, correct? (And consequently describing any AnCom has ‘voluntaryist’ is a fib?)

    AnCom: People will see that they are truly happier living in this kind of society which we will model, and then force will not be necessary.

    AnCap: So if (hypothetically) force was ‘necessary’ to get people to live in this kind of society, you are saying you would NOT use it?

    . . .

    12. In refusing to help enforce “usurious” contracts of any sort, AnComs may oppose usury peacefully, without using “coercion” in the sense understood by “anarcho-capitalists.”

    AnCap: So… AnComs wouldn’t help enforce the ‘extraction of Usury’, but would they stand in the way of it, using force to prevent it, if necessary? (Like, I just need to be sure I don’t hire an AnCom as my rent-collector and we’re all good?)

    AnCom: It depends on your definition of force. For example, on the one hand, I would not attack rent collectors, but on the other hand, I may (for example) attempt to stop rent collection by, say, chaining myself to a door.

    AnCap: I’ve been using local AnCap legend Hogeye Bill’s definition of force: “interference with the freedom of action of another agent.” So, using that definition, then your answer is ‘yes’, AnCom would initiate force against someone if they thought it would prevent usurious action.

    But, would you define force differently? How do you define force?

    . . .

    13. AnCom objects to IP because preventing people from using particular ideas without their permission, ‘extracting Usury’ by charging prices for goods and services higher than they otherwise could.

    AnCap: AnCom says IP owners are charging prices ‘higher than they otherwise could’ – who or what should rightfully determine how ‘high’ a price could or couldn’t be?

    AnCom: A price could always be free. (Usury means extraction at all, not just extraction excessively.)

    AnCap: I get that a price ‘could’ be ‘free’. My question is ‘Who or what should rightfully determine how high a price could or couldn’t be?’ (Or are you saying in AnCom, there are no prices – all things are ‘free’?)

    . . .

    14. With tariffs, taxes, licensing laws, zoning laws, and so forth, governments ‘extract Usury’ by taking money from those producing and trading.

    AnCap: The (previously given) AnCom definition of ‘Usury’ refers to a ‘title holder’ – does this statement regarding tariffs, taxes, etc. mean governments are a ‘title holder’ of something? (If so, what do they hold title to, or at least, claim to hold title to?)

    If they are not a title holder of anything (or not claiming to be), how can they ‘extract Usury’ when AnCom declares Usury can only be committed by a title holder?

    AnCom: My definition of usury is a little different: ‘Usury’ is a kind of action that involves extracting resources from others in exchange for allowing them the use of a particular resource. (In this case, the governmental infrastructure, etc.)

    AnCap: Got it, I think… Basically, the ‘title holder’ part of the definition (in my summary) is inaccurate, in the sense that it’s the ‘action’ that matters – i.e., one can claim to have a ‘title’ to the thing (or not), that part doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether or not is if they are committing the action of ‘usury’.

    Does that sound right?

    . . .

    15. If the title holder of something only allows the user to use the resource on condition that the user surrenders some portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder, then social anarchists call the share of the produce which the user surrenders to the title-holder “usury”.

    AnCap: Would AnCom say: ‘Usury is only a share of produce that a user of a resource is forced to surrender.’ ? (Or, alternately, would AnCom say they don’t care whether or not the ‘surrender’ was by choice, i.e., voluntary?)

    AnCom: No, same as above…

    AnCap: Let me be sure I’ve got it: ‘Usury’ isn’t the ‘share’ of the produce surrendered – ‘Usury’ is the act itself. So really, the phrase ‘extracting Usury’ isn’t a sensical phrase, right? It would be better to say ‘practicing Usury’, i.e., practicing ‘the extraction of resources in exchange for the use of a resource’ (roughly) – is that right? (You wouldn’t say ‘extracting the extraction of resources’, right?)

    . . .

    16. Business owners (by colluding with governments) ‘extract Usury’ by eliminating competition.

    AnCap: Does that mean that without governments, business owners attempting to ‘eliminate competition’ would no longer be ‘extracting Usury’?

    AnCom: No. That is simply one way in which they do it today.

    AnCap: What other ways (i.e., without governments) could business owners successfully eliminate competition? Can you give me a real world example?

    . . .

    17. The ‘profit’ a capitalist makes merely by holding title to a resource is ‘Usury’ because they take a share of what the workers produce, even though they only ‘allow’ the workers to produce, rather than actively helping them to produce.

    AnCap: You say here that a capitalist ‘only allows’ workers to produce – what do you mean by this? (Why must people wait on a capitalist to ‘allow’ them to begin producing? Why wouldn’t people be able to begin producing without a capitalist?)

    AnCom: Without the capital investment of a means of production, people can not produce. However, in using a means of production, the labourers put work into producing a thing, and ought to profit by that virtue, whereas the capitalist profits by virtue of allowing the workers use of the capital investment. This is not to say that people cannot produce without a capitalist, but that the only “work” that the capitalist does is allowing the use of their investment.

    AnCap: How does a capital investment (or capital good) originally come into existence? Who does that work of bringing it into existence? (And who ‘ought to profit’ from that work?)

    . . .

    18. AnCom advocates… eliminating the ability of some to… keep more value for themselves than what they actually create.

    AnCap: How do you determine how much value someone has created? Example: my boss and I have a customer that comes to us with a problem and we solve that problem, i.e., we created value. How much value did I create and how much value did my boss create? (Like, what info do you need to know to determine how much value I created versus how much value my boss created? How much time did we each spend solving the problem? Or how much the customer paid for it? Or what are the factors you need to determine how much value was created, with an eye towards then dividing up how much value I get to keep versus how much value my boss gets to keep.)

    AnCom: At its most narrow, this could be read as talking only about usury – and the idea that usurious incomes are incomes beyond the “inherent value” of the thing, but this might also be a question better answered by the original author.

    AnCap: I appreciate the stab at it! Since you mentioned it, my question now is: who or what determines the ‘inherent value of a thing’?

    . . .

    19. AnCom argues that AnCap takes away the freedom of those living within it, and AnCap argues AnCom the reverse.

    AnCap: Yes, but AnCom explicitly states that they WILL use force to take freedoms away from people, while AnCap does not – how do you propose I view AnCom as freedom-loving when part of the foundation of the ideology is to maintain that it’s ok to use force to take people’s freedoms away? (For example, the freedom to trade with someone else in the form of, say, loaning me $100 if I pay you back $110 next week. Using force to stop people from making that voluntary arrangement is clearly opposition to freedom – right? Or, what am I missing?)

    AnCom: See my earlier comments about what is voluntary, and what is not.

    Additionally, i think that we would both agree that nobody should have the freedom to drop an atomic bomb on a city that has angered them – we all draw the line somewhere.

    I think that the difference is that ancaps would like to view the individual as sovereign and hope that the invisible hand of the market exists also in, say, censoring individuals that would like to drop atomic bombs, whereas Ancoms recognize that, pragmatically, racism exists, for example, and so if we don’t struggle against it actively, then, in an ancap world, everyone who is black would be much less free than everyone who is white because they would have less access to both financial and social capital. As such, we have to agree that what we are trying to do is minimize the possibility of coercion, which ancaps do not address. Does that make sense? Please push me out on this one if not, too.

    How’s all that look?

    AnCap: It looks freakin’ amazing. I appreciate this!

    However, your last paragraph is arguably the most confusing for me. I’m going to see if I can’t break it down and make sense out of it for myself:

    The difference between AnCaps and AnComs is that (for just one example) when it comse to atomic bombs, AnCaps would like to sit back, relax, and count on the ‘free market’ to prevent anyone from dropping a bomb on somebody. By contrast, AnComs think that when it comes to atomic bombs, people should actively struggle against letting anyone drop those bombs, by taking various actions to ensure people are prevented from dropping those bombs.

    For another example, take racism: AnComs recognize that racism exists, whereas AnCaps do not recognize that racism exists (which seems like a dubious claim to me?). So, where AnComs would actively struggle to end racism, AnCaps don’t even see that it exists, so if AnCap ideology were to spread, everyone who is black would be much less free than everyone who is white because they would have less access to both financial and social capital (as a result of AnCaps inability to recognize that racism exists, and furthermore, their trust that the ‘free market’ would fix racism even if it did exist, as opposed to actively struggling against it).

    (19) Have I got all that right? (If so, it brings up some super interesting thoughts/questions for me!)

    . . .

    20. Additionally, I think that we would both agree that nobody should have the freedom to drop an atomic bomb on a city that has angered them – we all draw the line somewhere.

    AnCap: Right, AnCaps draw the line at the initiation of force. Which, dropping an atomic bomb on a city that has angered them would clearly be an initiation of force. So, kinda silly to say that AnCap is ok with people having the ‘freedom to drop an atomic bomb on a city that has angered them’.

    All that to say, it’s pretty clear where AnCap draws the line – it’s the NAP.

    I feel like AnCap is super clear about that, are we not? How can I/we make it more clear? What would you need to know to make it more clear?

    On the flip side of it, I can’t figure out where AnCom draws the line?

    Would AnCom drop a nuclear bomb on a community that is full of unrepentant usurers? Because, and do correct me if I’m wrong, I’m not hearing anything that IN PRINCIPLE would state that AnCom is opposed to murdering people who disagree with them. Don’t get me wrong, you – like all AnComs I’ve talked with – always say ‘I personally’ and ‘As for me’ and ‘My own belief is’… But I’m wondering: where does AnCom as an ideology draw the line?

    Once can initiate force against ‘anything that causes inequality’ – is that ‘the line’ for y’all? If it in causes/increases inequality, do anything you want to the person/thing…?

    • #460

      empifur
      Participant

      Hey! Empifur here, I wrote that reddit response– I was just told that you had responded on here to my post, and directed here if I wanted to engage with it further. I do, as you have a detailed response here, and I want to make sure that I address it appropriately. That said, it is also a very long response, and I want to get through it all, to do it justice, so I might post my answers over a few days until I’ve got it all responded to, as I have time. I’m excited to re-engage with this, and excited to hear what you think as I work through this!

    • #461

      empifur
      Participant

      (also, since I’m following up from a month ago, I may have forgotten a little bit of the context, please forgive me if I don’t answer what you actually were meaning to convey, I’ll do my best to stay on point!)

      So, here goes:

      1) I don’t think so? In this case, I would say more that “rights” language just doesn’t make sense to me. The language of “rights” isn’t something that I think is either practical, or theoretically useful, in my worldview. If you strongly disagree with this, I’m eager to hear why you think that locating the rights is particularly important to how we live our lives?

      2) My bad on this front– “Natality” is an Arendtian idea that roughly comes out as “by virtue of being human, each person has a project of their own that is axiomatically important to them, and that plurality of purposes is a fundamental part of the human condition, and what makes organizing both difficult and worthwhile,” meaning in this context that reducing another person to a means is ignoring the fact that they have an axiomatically important end, too. The tl;dr: is just that, yeah, no one has a right to reduce others to means.

      3) Your summary, there, seems to me to be a pretty good encapsulation of what I said. As such, I would say, no, there is no possession outside of usufructary possession in AnCom, and that’s exactly what we’re talking about when we talk about “abolishing property rights.”

      4) My definition of coercion is broad enough that I think that I would have to say that I cannot imagine a political system that didn’t involve coercion somewhere along the line. The difference in this case is that in ideal AnCom, one is only subject to coercion from the communities with which one chooses to associate, calling into question how coercive it is if one’s submission to it is, to some extent, by will, whereas in AnCap, the coercion comes from forces that one has no voice in shaping. This might be a pedantic or superficial difference, but I have to believe that when people have a chance to voice dissent in a forum where they are listened to, and a chance to shape community policy in a meaningful way, then they are also much more willing to submit to the will of the community even when it means some personal sacrifice, such as, for example, land redistribution. Really, I think what I’m quibbling over here is what it means to “voluntarily” submit in an AnCap context—ex. if people with fewer material resources need to find an outside patron in order to keep eating, and they only have a few local options to choose between, all of which are exploiting their lack of capital to some extent… is that really voluntary? Some articulations of AnCom have a similar issue with how people choose whether or not to belong to which communities, but I would favour a flavor of AnCom which emphasizes freedom of travel to mitigate those issues, an issue which I feel it is more difficult to deal with in an AnCap context? Does any of that make sense? As far as your second question goes, when I talk about “a different world,” what I’m talking about is the better world which we are trying to create, rather than an alternate world in which humans do not behave as they do in reality, iirc?

      5) Two answers: Personally, I think that it’s wrong for private individuals to profit off of communal resources without sharing those profits through the community which shares the resource because, like, that’s a pretty deeply ingrained part of what “fairness” is for me, I guess? Like, if I sell Lake Michigan to an oil company and turn a pretty profit off of it, without bearing any of the consequences of that sale b/c I don’t live on its shores…. That seems pretty wrong to me. Would you agree, or would you want me to push that further, with a more codified reasoning from principles? Either way, I would also articulate that usury, more generally, is wrong, because it involves making money off of not anything you do, or any value that you bring to the table, but off of simply having capital already, which tends to increase inequality, and, which tends to create that money off of the backs of the poor, rather than out of nothing.

      6) I feel like that rephrase is fine, yeah. I would define “rent” as the usurious fees one extracts in exchange for leasing the use of a space (i.e. loaning the use of capital that one has already accumulated in the form of land or a house). As such, I would say that no landlord does anything in exchange for rent. It is, however, a totally ubiquitous practice among landlords to charge not only rent, but also some money on top of that, for the effort that the landlord knows that they will have to put in for maintaining the property, and, colloquially, we call both of these fees together “rent.” This may seem pedantic, but it’s germane here, because what AnCom would assert is that charging rent is not okay, but providing a service (upkeep of living quarters) in exchange for capital (money, support from the community, what have you) could be totally acceptable, but that’s a very different role to play in a community than that of a “landlord.”

      7) Well, presumably, if the landlord is able to rent out a property, if their lack of profits actually got to the point of endangering their ability to keep a roof over their head, they could kick the tenants out and live in their property. The landlord undeniably has more options than the tenant. Beyond that, if nothing else, the landlord/tenant relationship is one engendered definitionally by virtue of the landlord having capital and the tenant having at least less if not none, and, by virtue of nothing but that inequality, the landlord extracts money from the tenant. Does that answer your question, or do you want a more explicit address of the “voluntariness?”

      8) If the workers wanted to continue being exploited then, well, by golly, I guess I’m not going to stop them. I think that people definitionally don’t like being exploited though, and if I’m wrong on that point, I need to seriously revise my political philosophy. This could potentially get to some tricky ideas about what people “really” want as versus what they are just “conditioned” to want, but we really only need to dive into those if you take serious issue with the earlier part of my answer.

      9) A) Does my separation of the role of the landlord from the role of the maintainer address this point adequately? If not, could you rephrase so I could better understand what that doesn’t address it?
      B) Sure. That seems fair, at least to an extent. If a person wants to work a lot more than another person, and amass more capital in that way, fine, but I would be for an effective 100% inheritance tax, returning all of a person’s capital to the community on their death, in order to prevent generational inequalities from stacking up on top of the advantages that children already get from being born to wealthier parents.

      10) If one has many options to choose from, including the option to abstain from making a deal at all (without fear of major deprivation as a result of that choice), then it could be “voluntary,” and I wouldn’t stand in the way of it… though I also wouldn’t understand why someone would make that choice if they didn’t have to.

      11) Okay, so this gets in to what we mean by “force” and “voluntary” a little bit, because I suspect that we are using them with slightly different nuance. The tl;dr: is that, right, “if we really have the blueprint for the society that will make people the happiest, then we won’t need force because people want to be happy, and if people aren’t actually happier in our society, then we shouldn’t use force because our theory is clearly wrong. Thus, we shouldn’t use force. “ However, this is complicated by issues like “what if the state mobilizes to try to shut you down because that’s what the state does, and the only way to resist is with economic coercion (a sort of force)?” Things become more gray here, and I think that problems of praxis will have to have solutions borne out of the particularity of the practical situations, and we cannot, with our theory, prepare perfectly for every contingency.

      12) Shit, how would I define force? Um, yeah, I like your definition better than the one that I’ve been using up until now, which has been just kind of a colloquial “what does force sound like?” sort of description. By that definition, I think that using force to prevent the collection of usury due because of an agreement borne out of coercion is totally okay.

      That’s all I’ve got in me tonight, I’ll try to get the rest of this out tomorrow!

    • #468

      empifur
      Participant

      13) Yeah, so this is defs a tricky one. A lot of AnComs would advocate for a “gift-giving economy” (when surpluses are created, they are donated to the community kitty, to be drawn from according to need), which would obviate the idea of pricing. That’s one part of AnCom that is not my hill to die on, though, so I think my best tack here is to address your original point in a different, more useful way, since my first answer wasn’t really getting at the meat of the issue. I’ve spoken above about why usury is a problem, and IP is usury (having capital and, by that virtue alone, making money off of it.) If you buy my earlier arguments, then that should be sufficient. If not, then we need to hash out the usury issue before we move farther on this one, I think.

      14) Yesssssss, tentatively. I don’t totally follow the importance being placed on holding title here, as I get back into this, but I think that that summary sounds right to me.

      15) Hmm, I think I’ve been sloppy in this regard. I would talk both about committing usury, and about extracting usury, and extracting usurious tariffs. I’ve been using that ambiguously, but from here on out, I’ll try to use it as you propose, yeah.
      16) Sure. At one end of the plausibility spectrum, they can eliminate competitors by killing them. That is an option that capital holds. At the more realistic end, though, holding monopolies, intimidation, and undercutting at a loss are all ways that business owners have successfully eliminated competition, historically. Does that answer your question, or were you trying to get at something different?

      17) Capital, in this from, can come into existence in a number of different ways.
      a. It can be produced by workers, such as those that work in a pasta-making-machine-making-factory
      b. It can come from capital (e.g., interest is generated (usoriously) by existing capital, creating more capital)
      c. It can come from the community (e.g., people put their labour or capital together in order to create a means of production that the community can use).
      These are all of the modes of capital creation that I can think of off the top of my head right now, though I won’t pretend that I think it’s actually comprehensive. Either way, the trend that we see is that the labour for the capital creation comes from the worker class (in the case of b, the money for the interest comes from interest on loans made to lower-income individuals, usually). As such, the people who “ought” to profit from creation of capital, it seems to me, is the worker class. Either way, though, our goal would be to shift capital production to means c.

      18) Damn, good question. Personally, I would say that inherent value is determined the same way that I think that truth is determined, which is by community consensus. That’s not terribly satisfying or useful, though, so more practically I’d probably say that “inherent value” is just a stand-in, here, for “portion of capital not including interest/usury,” such as the principle of a loan, at simplest, or the maintanence of a factory (but not the profits from the labour in that factory), at a more abstracted level? Does that make sense? It might not.

      19) Your first paragraph, here, I’d grant as a rephrasing of what I said, and which I would affirm (with a little bit of nuance, re: mechanisms of prevention, in that AnComs would locate those mechanisms in the communities and put structures in place that they would hope would stop people from dropping bombs, rather than instituting “no bomb dropping” rules from on high, as we would recognize that ultimately an abstract rule we would impose could be overturned by any community that decided that they just weren’t about it, but if we can engender an anti-bomb-dropping culture or mentality or some such, that’s much easier to maintain as a means of getting people to not drop bombs (this might, of course, also include simple decentralization, because it’s hard to make atomic bombs without a lot of concerted effort towards that goal)) but that is all adequately encapsulated in your rephrase.
      As far as your second paragraph goes, however… On a reread of what I wrote, I can see how that rephrasing is taken from my words, and that’s on me. I articulated poorly what I was trying to convey. I did not mean to articulate that AnCaps do not recognize that racism exists (though I recognize that saying that “AnComs recognize, pragmatically, that racism exists,” I implied that). What I do mean, however, is that in the AnCap literature which I have read, the attitude towards race is either that “if we level the playing field now, everyone will have the same opportunity to get ahead” or that “issues of racism will be fixed by the operation of the market if we suitably release it from statist constraints.” If neither of these are perspectives that you see cropping up in AnCap frequently, then I would love to hear how you think AnCap addresses issues of structural and institutional injustice, because I haven’t run into such an explanation before. If, however, you would grant the former, then I would retort that such a perspective ignores the differences in not just financial but also social and cultural capital that ex. white people and black people have, and would continue to have even if we abolished the state, and the way that those differences can propagate through generations. If, rather, you would grant the latter, then I would be curious to hear what the mechanism is through which releasing the market like that would abolish these generational disparities when, for example, we have clear empirical data that black people tend to be charged more for the same services that are provided to white people at a lower cost—if this seems to be mostly because of racial bias in people, then why would we think that with fewer constraints people would have less bias in their economic interactions?
      Um, okay, so that was a lot of projecting that I just did there from other reading that I’ve done, and I’ve anticipated arguments that you might not even have, so I’m really curious to hear what you think about that hopefully more clear if less concise articulation of why race is an issue for AnCap, and why AnCom handles that differently?

      20) So this is my bad—I think that you mentioned that you would draw the line here somewhere earlier in this exchange, and I just spaced out on it—I have interacted with people who have identified as AnCaps who have articulated a more neodarwinian economic model in which initiation of force is acceptable in various circumstances—I recognize that those are fringe individuals, and that AnCap as a formal philosophy doesn’t condone that, but that slipped my mind at the time I was writing.
      All that said, I don’t think that this is quite that clear-cut, even so. I want to deconstruct a few of these ideas here. The first idea that I want to deconstruct is the idea of “force.” Would you be willing to define “force” for me? Is it, like as I have been using coercion, encompassing of economic violences, which affect people’s material circumstances and physical health in very concrete ways, but does not involve laying a hand (or weapon) on them? Why or why not? Does it include psychological violences, such as those that we would attribute to cult leaders seeking to create a docile following? I am interested in these answers in their own right, but this is also particularly germane because of my issue with the idea of “initiation.” I happen to identify as a pacifist, and for me, that means no use of violence even in self-defense. However, in the pacifist community, there are a lot of people who claim that they would never want to use violence *except* in self-defense, and, when pushed on that, they give wildly variant answers in what self-defense is. For some people, it means only if someone is actually hitting them. For some people, it justifies preemptive strikes against opponents clearly gearing up to do you harm. For some people, I cannot differentiate their opinions from a simple Clausewitzian approach to war, where the ideal is that as few people as possible will be hurt, but there is no real prohibition against hurting people to achieve one’s ends. So, coming from that background, I am wary of ideas such as this, where you say that there is a clear line before “initiation of force.” If someone spits on you, have they initiated? If someone takes all of your food from you, have they initiated? If someone damages your reputation in a way that sets you back economically, causing you to go hungry for an evening, have they initiated? If they dropped a bomb on you, does that make it okay to drop a bomb on them? What kinds of force count as initiative forces, and why? Super curious to hear your answers on this front!
      As far as the more constructive answer that I can give to this, I would first say: How does AnCap propose to inforce this “no initiative force” rule? Or is that just the ideological line? (genuinely curious here, haven’t had a lot of exposure to this part of AnCap philosophy) Because for AnComs, I mean, I could tell you what I personally think (pacifist, but economic coercion is okay), but that’s explicitly not what you’re shooting for. The trick here, I think, is that there’s a lot of conflict within the movement over this exact issue. Where we all agree is that communities, ultimately, have to decide for themselves what their rule will be on such things—we can’t hand down from on high a dictum, and expect communities to self-determine in all regards but that one. All we can decide on is what sort of attitude we want to engender in our transition and resistance strategies and, ultimately, in the institutions and structures that we create in the AnCom society, to try to lead people to whatever attitude re: violence that we end up deeming best. I think that AnCaps would agree with us, in praxis, on that, maybe? Beyond that, I think that many AnComs that I’ve spoken with like to invoke the “no initiation of force” thing, but, again, vary wildly on what they think initiation of force is. There is definitely a contingent of AnComs that think that the only way to unseat the state is with violence. There is also a contingent that thinks that the only way to create a better world is through nonviolent means, as the means cannot be separated from the ends. There are AnComs that think that militias would have to be a critical component of AnCom communities. There are those that think that in a world structured along AnCom lines, we wouldn’t need or want militias. It mostly depends on what particular writers you follow—Ocalan is more militant, Bookchin less so, for example. Um, do you feel like this even addresses your question? If so, I’m sure it’s terribly unsatisfying but… How do you feel about all of that?

      Okay, there, I think I’ve addressed all of your explicit points. Excited to hear back from you as you have time to repsond!

      • #469

        Jacob
        Keymaster

        Hello Empifur! Welcome to our forum, and our community! (I’m scarletegret from reddit, the one that asked for help in answering my friend’s questions in this thread.)

        I will wait for Spooner to respond to your answers, and to the answers I tried to come up with to his first set of questions as well, rather than commenting in detail on your posts. Right now I just wanted to say I am immensely grateful that you’d go to the trouble of joining the site and participating in the discussion here. I hadn’t expected that you’d be willing to do so.

        Now that you’re here, though, I hope I can encourage you to stay, and to check out some of our other forum topics as well! The site has only been open since January, and I’m still working on encouraging people to use it, so right now only a handful of voices are here, but I have hopes to draw more people from Facebook, reddit, and other places around the web over time.

        Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I’m glad you’re here, and to make you feel welcome!

  • #422

    Hogeye
    Participant

    Good questions! You make a good point that Proudhon’s “conformity with general utility, with a view to its preservation and development; he has no power to transform it, to diminish it, or to change its nature” is incoherent, especially if you are not a utilitarian and don’t believe that “the public good” concept is legitimate. Mainly, “the public good” is such a fuzzy concept that it is totally unclear what is allowed and isn’t. E.g. I possession-own some land. Can I harvest trees? To a lumber man, I am acting in the public good; to an environmentalist maybe not. As you say, taking Proudhon literally one could not use any land at all in any way, since that would “change its nature.”

    For (4) we need to unpack the semantics. Personal property is a type of (what we ancaps and most people call) private property. So ancoms are not against private property, so long as it is not a multi-user capital good. In ancom terminology, “private property” means “multi-user capital good.” Even in ancom, a single user capital good is okay – a self-employed craftsman owns his tools and machines, even under the anarcho-communist model.

    We talked about self-annihilating arguments last night. (5) is an example of one. Ancoms don’t seem to realize that their collective property has the exact same kinds of “guards,” so the anti-guard argument if it worked would refute communism, too. Commies guard the tools and machines in their collective factories and workplaces. All property systems have “guards” in the sense they use.

    • #424

      Spooner Bookman
      Participant

      Got an idea for Ozarkia:

      “An AnCom Guide to Definitions We Rewrote”

      Monopoly, Capitalism, libertarianism, Private Property, etc.

      I’ve just recently learned all these words (and many more besides) have crucially different meanings in the mind of an AnCom. Now, I have to back and rethink all the stuff I was reading from AnComs using these new definitions. So frustrating.

  • #429

    Jacob
    Keymaster

    Monopoly, Capitalism, libertarianism, Private Property, etc.

    I’ve just recently learned all these words (and many more besides) have crucially different meanings in the mind of an AnCom. Now, I have to back and rethink all the stuff I was reading from AnComs using these new definitions. So frustrating.

    To be fair, there were people calling themselves anarcho-communists before anyone ever called themselves an anarcho-capitalist. The word “capitalism,” for example, was used quite differently before the modern libertarian movement came along, (“modern libertarian” meaning Ayn Rand, Murray Rothbard, Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, and so forth.) Thus, I think it is probably capitalists who have redefined many of these words.

    At this point I personally prefer not to use certain terms, like “capitalism” and “socialism,” because their meanings are too contested and thus they lend themselves too readily to semantic disputes, which frustrate me greatly. I usually try, (whenever possible,) to explain in some detail what I’m advocating for, rather than relying on a brief term to capture my views for me.

    That said, here are some definitions from Shawn Wilbur:

    All of these terms are contested, but perhaps some historical perspective is useful.

    Capitalisme seems to have emerged in the 1830s in France as term, coined by critics of the emerging system, designating a new form of “industrial and financial feudalism.” This is earlier than the OED records it, but the word is present in works by Proudhon, Greene and other early mutualists. For Proudhon, the heart of capitalism is exploitation, understood specifically as the private appropriation of the fruits of collective force, rendered systematic by the at least tacit recognition of a “right of increase” (droit d’aubain), according to which those who controlled capital had a claim on proceeds over and above labor’s basic wage.

    Socialisme emerged, along with individualisme, around 1834, when Pierre Leroux (a friend and ideological rival of Proudhon, and a figure of considerable importance in his time, notably among the North American mutualists, but also to figures like Déjacque) published an essay presenting the two terms as undesirable extremes in social philosophy, which any well-wrought approach out to avoid. Leroux’s approach there is not so far off from Proudhon’s notion of liberty emerging from a synthesis of community and property” (particularly in its mature form, when Proudhon increasing came to think in terms of irreducible *antinomies that must be balanced.)

    I don’t think that market had any particular significance for Proudhon. My sense is that other terms, such as laissez faire or simply economics, carried a lot of the conceptual and rhetorical weight we now associate with the term. And Proudhon certainly found ways, although often provocative ones, to incorporate some of those ideas into his own work. But it is probably worth noting that, if we were to separate the institutions that Proudhon associated primarily with the production of collective force, through the division and association of labor, and those he associated primarily with social conflict, exchange relations seem to have been more closely associated with the latter in the manuscript writings on economics in the 1850s. Gradually, in the later works, the two categories arguably became more closely connected, but I don’t know that we have any evidence that Proudhon came to think of market exchange as less a matter of conflict.

    In another post, Shawn also defines “capitalism” thusly:

    Capitalism is an economic system in which the proprietors of accumulated capital are systematically privileged in the distribution of the fruits of enterprise, giving them additional advantages in other areas of the market. It is characterized by the systematic exploitation of labor.

    A post in a facebook group I joined recently, (for context, the membership seems to consist of everything from state socialists to anarcho-communists to mutualists, (I was a little surprised they let me in, though I’m really just lurking there,)) offers the following list of definitions:

    —Socialism: Where the workers own the means of production. In marxist theory it is the transitional phase to Communism.

    —Capitalism: An economic system focused on the movement of Capital, it has three main characteristics; markets, wage labor, and private ownership over the means of production.

    —Communism: A form of socialism with no classes, no state, and operated on the economic principle of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Generally considered moneyless as well.

    —Means of Production: From wikipedia, “the means of production are physical, non-human inputs used for the production of economic value, such as facilities, machinery, tools, infrastructural capital and natural capital.
    The means of production includes two broad categories of objects: instruments of labor (tools, factories, infrastructure, etc.) and subjects of labor (natural resources and raw materials). If creating a good, people operate on the subjects of labor, using the instruments of labor, to create a product; or, stated another way, labour acting on the means of production creates a good.”

    —Private v Personal property: Private property is the Means of Production, say a toothbrush factory. Personal property is your own personal property, say your toothbrush.

    —Class: your role in society related to material conditions and economic/political/social power, including the bourgeoisie (capitalist class, 1%), and proletariat (working class) among others that exist today, and throughout history as different economic systems such a feudalism had (lord and serf, master and slave, ect.).

    Glancing at an economics textbook on my shelf, the definition given of “monopoly” is simply: “Literally means ‘single seller'”. I’m not sure how to interpret this in a way that captures any real business or group that has ever existed. Even when the government enforces a “monopoly” on behalf of an organization, (e.g. the Post Office,) some competition still exists, (e.g. email, or illegal services like Lysander Spooner’s.) In the case of the government’s “monopoly over the use of force,” for example, some kind of multiplicity of legal systems almost always exists in human societies. In fact I can’t think of any human society where only one person or group has the ability to use force. That doesn’t mean there isn’t one, but they don’t seem common.

    Thus, I prefer to talk about “monopoly powers.” My definition of “State” or “government” is an adaptation of Weber’s definition; I use “government” to mean “an organization with monopoly powers over the use of force in a given geographical area.” Some clarifications on my own usage:

    • An organization does not have to be the only person or group able to use force to be a government. For example, criminal gangs can exist, and the government can have no ability to eradicate them, and yet it could still be a government. For another example, governments may allow other groups to use force with their permission, such as corporations providing policing services on a subscription basis. This does blur the line between a “government” and other kinds of groups, because how much power a group has is a matter of degree, but I think this is, for better or worse, necessary to capture what ordinary people mean by “government,” while still giving us a concept that applies to the real world.
    • I leave out “normative” aspects of concepts like “government” and “law” in my usage, even though these aspects are usually included in scholarly sources. I explain why in a reddit post here.
    • I think I use “monopoly power” to mean basically what you took it to mean in your recent comment on my book review of Kolko’s work. “The ability to eliminate competition, and keep out newcomers,” basically. As for how companies could maintain monopolies without a State, well, it’s a matter of degree. Technically I can’t think of any example of a “monopoly,” in the strict sense of “single seller,” ever occurring in the real world, with or without a state. Unless one chooses to apply the term in unusual ways, such as saying an individual has a “monopoly” over selling their own thoughts, since they are the only ones who can know what they’re thinking.

      The concern, then, I think, is more about how owners of a company treat their employees, customers, and the rest of society. The idea is, very roughly, “the less competition, the easier it will be for people to treat each other poorly.”

      Meh, I’ll have to come back to this, I’m running out of time before I go to work today.

      “Capitalism” I try not to use, but if I had to I’d define it as “an economic system with private property,” which of course just passes the question to “what is private property?” “Libertarianism,” I guess I would define as “an ethical philosophy forbidding the initiation of force,” though that’s not how communists would define it. “Private property” I would use to mean “a form of property, (norms of resource usage,) allowing owners to engage in usury.”

      Alright, I’ll try to come back to this soon and elaborate more.

  • #432

    Hogeye
    Participant

    Yes, in the 19th century “capitalism” meant basically: the collusion of mean old bosses with State rulers to exploit the workers.” Like “queer” and “anarchist,” the derogatory term was adopted by the targets. Friedman the Elder, Rand, Rothbard, Read, and others embraced the term “capitalism,” and redefined it to its modern meaning: an economic system characterized by free trade and private property. It is a loaded term, just like socialism. Not only that, there is a bias to frame “the other guys” as statist. E.g. Mises and Hayek and many pro-capitalism people today define “socialism” as government ownership of the means of production.” They ingore libertarian socialism, and often claim that it is impossible. On the other side, socialists like Naomi Klein and virtually all progressives frame capitalism as crony capitalism, the statist kind, and pretend libertarian capitalism doesn’t exist.

    Spooner, I started a kind of neutral lexicon for libertarians, where we try not to use the loaded words, or at least modify them to be more precise. http://www.ozarkia.net/bill/anarchism/OmnilibertarianLexicon.html

  • #435

    Spooner Bookman
    Participant

    “…I personally prefer not to use certain terms, like ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism, because their meanings are too contested. . .”

    I guess that’s the smartest option!

    I think I’ve balked at this in the past because my thought was ‘the list of words-to-be-avoided would be endless’, making it a ridiculous effort. But maybe the list wouldn’t have to be too long? Capitalism, Socialism, Private Property, Rights… Maybe it would just be like 15-20 words or so?

    And, instead of using the words, I would just use short/working definitions I prefer (a la Hogeye’s lexicon) instead of the words themselves? Thereby avoiding the definitions problem — is that right? (If so, makes sense, I’ll give it a shot!)

    . . . . . . . . .

    Do either of y’all have any links/info on Wilbur’s points about the origin of the word capitalism? The 1830s France, stuff? (Just curious!)

    . . . . . . . . .

    As long as you define your term and then stick to your own definition, you can call it sunffalugajugism and I can still understand your position. Conversely, if you define ANY word in one way and then later you use the word differently than your own definition, it makes understanding/analyzing your position impossible (as far as I can tell).

    What I mean when I say — lightheartedly, (if only) half-jokingly — that AnComs are redefining the words, I don’t mean over the past couple centuries. Words changing meanings over centuries is perfectly natural and entirely to be expected (is it not?).

    What I mean is that AnComs change their definitions ‘on the fly’, so to speak. For example:

    “…the definition given of ‘monopoly’ is simply: ‘Literally means ‘single seller’’… In the case of the government’s ‘monopoly over the use of force,’ for example, some kind of multiplicity of legal systems almost always exists in human societies. In fact I can’t think of any human society where only one person or group has the ability to use force.”

    You are providing an example of a definition of ‘monopoly’ — i.e., ‘single seller’ — with an eye towards analyzing this definition, such that you can make a point about definitions regarding the word ‘monopoly’ and it’s definition(s) — correct so far?

    Then, in your analysis of this definition, you immediately swap the ‘single seller’ definition for a different definition: ‘something only one person or one group has the ability to use’ (with ‘force’ being but one example of the ‘something’).

    Still correct??

    If so, my question is:

    How is this not defining the word one way, and then redefining it another way, essentially in the same breath?

    (If the first definition came from the textbook, where did this new, different, second definition come from??)

    . . . . . . . . .

    Furthermore, and to Hogeye’s point: since when do we use 19th century definitions for anything?

    What makes these particular terms special? Why must they be defined with the ‘old’ definitions when few other words get treated this way?

    (Not that, ultimately, I care all that much: I’m happy to use whatever definitions AnComs want, 15th century, 19th century, present day, whatever… I just need y’all to tell me what y’all are using, otherwise I don’t seen any rational way to proceed.)

    . . . . . . . . .

    “I use ‘government’ to mean ‘an organization with monopoly powers over the use of force in a given geographical area.’”

    This is so confusing to me.

    One word is specifically confusing to me.

    So confusing, I don’t even know how to ask my question. Let me walk you through my confusion, and then you see if you can help me out?

    It’s not ‘organization’ that has me confused because I know what you mean by ‘organization’. I’m not confused about ‘powers’ and ‘force’ because I bet I know what you mean (though I guess we could confirm that). And surely I know what you mean by ‘over’ and ‘use’ and ‘given’ and ‘geographical’ and ‘area’. I also know what the articles and conjunctions mean — thanks Schoolhouse Rock!

    That leaves just one word in your definition that has me confused: ‘monopoly’ — what is it you mean by this word?

    “I use ‘monopoly+power’ to mean… ‘the ability to eliminate competition, and keep out newcomers,’ basically.”

    But what does ‘monopoly (-power)’ mean??

    See my confusion?

    (Regardless, look at this: if we take your definition of ‘government’ and we replace ‘monopoly power’ with your definition of ‘monopoly power’, we discover that government is: “An organization with the ability to eliminate competition and keep out newcomers over the use of force in a given geographical area.” See my confusion??)

    Can you help me out here?

    . . . . . .

    “I think I use ‘monopoly power’ to mean basically what you took it to mean in your recent comment on my book review of Kolko’s work.”

    [Just to clarify: that definition was simply me quoting yourself back to you — it’s certainly not what I take ‘monopoly power’ to mean.]

    Not to sound like a smart ass, but: you say you only ‘think’ you know how you use the word. Surely you can’t be suggesting you yourself aren’t even sure what you mean by it? (What’s with the ‘I think’ part?)

    . . .

    As for the rest of your comments, I’m pretty sure you are responding to the post on Kolko, so I’ll transfer my responses to that post just to keep things tidy!

  • #436

    Jacob
    Keymaster

    I tried to write out my answers to the questions posed in the opening post of this thread. This doesn’t address the later parts of the thread, but I figure Spooner has been patient with me and it’d be nice for me to finally try to answer his questions.

    *Each individual has a right to have as much opportunity to live as others do.

    1. Where does the ‘opportunity’ to live as others do originate? (Where does it come from? Who grants it? Or maybe: How is this ‘right’ derived?)

    I agree with the reddit user whose answer I linked to, it’s axiomatic, or, in Jesse Prinz’s terminology, it’s a “grounding norm.”

    *No one has a right to reduce other people to means to further their own life.

    2. Is it possible to reduce other people to means (against their will) without the use of force? How so?

    Sort of. One can take advantage of a person who is in a worse position than oneself. But anarcho-capitalists advocate using force to protect property, (as they regard violation of their property norms as aggression.) I think the disagreements between ancaps and ancoms arise more from disagreements over the legitimacy of the acts of force used to defend property than over taking advantage of people without engaging in force, though ancoms would object to both.

    *If a person holds title to some resource and makes use of it, that resource is ‘personal property’ (or at least it is ‘treated’ as such). If that person doesn’t use the personal property, while another person does, then the ‘personal property’ is transformed into ‘private property’ (or ‘treated’ as such). Proudhon makes the same distinction with regard to land, using ‘usufruct,’ or ‘possession,’ rather than ‘personal property,’ and ‘property’ rather than ‘private property’. Quoting Proudhon: ‘…this is the right of the usufructuary [i.e., non-title-holding-current-occupier-and-user]: he is responsible for the thing entrusted to him; he must use it in conformity with general utility, with a view to its preservation and development; he has no power to transform it, to diminish it, or to change its nature; he cannot so divide the usufruct that another shall perform the labor while he receives the product.’

    3. How does one go about using something in conformity with general utility without ‘transforming’ or (especially) ‘diminishing’ it? (I can’t think of anything I could use without transforming it in some way…)

    I linked to my “Hopes For a Coalition” blog post on the mutualist subreddit, and multiple people said they thought the distinction between “personal and private property” was not the same as the distinction between “possession and property” made by Proudhon, as I had claimed. So, I must accept correction there.

    I do still think that I captured the nature of ancoms’ objection to “private property” fairly well, though. I still think they object, specifically, to the division between user/producer and owner. The part about “personal property” being the same as “usufructory ownership” is what I got wrong.

    I think that part of Proudhon’s description, about not destroying land, makes the most sense as a prohibition against ecocide. Don’t poison the water, don’t irradiate the land, don’t pollute, don’t burn all the forests down, things like that. Basically, if you change the land so that people who come after you won’t be able to use it any more, for the vast majority of things they would likely want to use it for, (living on it, growing food on it, etc.) then that, I think, is what Proudhon would have objected to.

    As a (rather silly) rule of thumb, I’d say “don’t do anything to the property that you wouldn’t if it belonged, not to you, but to your mother.”

    *AnCom condones ‘personal property’, but objects to ‘private property’.

    4. Would it be correct to say that AnCom doesn’t necessarily ‘object’ to private property so much as AnCom doesn’t believe private property actually exists? (That when something ceases to be ‘personal property’, it doesn’t ‘become’ private property, it just stops being personal property and is now essentially a natural resource again?)

    More or less, yes. Ancoms hold that the moral rights capitalists tend to believe in don’t exist. They reject the moral legitimacy of property. In my blog post, I was using “property” to mean “norms of resource usage,” though, and it’s certainly true that groups of people behave in accordance with various sets of norms. “Property” exists in the sense that people use those norms to guide their behavior. Socialists would not deny this, (at least, I don’t know of any that would.) What socialists deny is that these norms are morally legitimate, or, more clearly, that anyone is morally required to obey these norms.

    *AnCom states that a ‘private property’ owner is like a guard running a toll gate on a road in the sense that the owner – like the guard – solicits a fee from people but doesn’t produce (or offer) anything in return for the money, meaning the guard in effect ‘steals’ from them.

    5. Is it accurate to say that in AnCom, there is no longer any such thing as a ‘guard’ in the sense we mean it today because there would be no ‘private property’ for a ‘guard’ to protect? (That anyone in AnCom doing what a ‘guard’ does in today’s world wouldn’t be considered a ‘guard’, they would be considered a ‘thief’. Is that right? Basically, you can’t be ‘hired’ as a ‘guard’ in AnCom because there is nothing to ‘guard’?)

    I think you are correct here.

    *6. What if the ‘guard’ protects the road from bandits or wolves, something like that – if the ‘protection’ the guard offers is a legitimately desired service that people really want, can’t the ‘guard’ be said to be producing ‘security’, therefore they are producing something themselves, thereby absolving the ‘guard’ in the eyes of AnCom for asking a fee, since they wouldn’t be offering ‘nothing’ in return for the fee?

    I would say that, in this case, applying the value of “equity,” but without appealing to “private property” norms, a person could indeed deserve compensation for providing a service like you describe. Their protection of the road would be labor, and their labor would benefit the people using the road. Whether they have a “property right” in the resources that would compensate them, (whether or not it is morally permissible for them to use force to take those resources from others,) is a different question, but I don’t think all ancoms could agree on an answer to that question.

    *Because AnCom states people have a right to have the opportunity to live as others do, AnCom would say that a ‘guard’ on a toll road violates the rights of anyone trying to travel on that road because travelers are entitled to pass by uninhibited (assuming anyone else has the ‘opportunity’ to pass by). AnCom believes this entitlement exists based on the notion that if anyone has the opportunity to pass by, it’s only ‘fair’ that everyone has the ‘right’ to pass by.

    7. I’m just wondering if the preceding paraphrasing is correct, and if it isn’t, what’s wrong with it?

    Your paraphrasing is not completely correct. First, regarding “opportunity to live,” ancoms do not argue that people have “a right to have the opportunity to live as others do,” they argue that each person has an equal right to have an “opportunity to live.” To paraphrase another redditor who commented on my link to this thread, it isn’t “opportunity (to live as others do),” it’s “(opportunity to live) as others do.”

    The objection to the toll is based on, (at least,) two things. First, ancoms deny that preventing passage, in and of itself, is useful labor deserving of compensation. If it is not, then surrendering the toll to the guard violates the value of equity, the guard gains resources they haven’t earned and don’t deserve. Second, ancoms deny the guard’s attempt to justify their behavior by appealing to property rights, because they believe people, merely by being people, have a partial “claim” on the natural resources of the world, and a partial “claim” to the product of “collective force” if they are a part of the collective that produces something. This “claim” is enough for them to have a right to pass by uninhibited, but not enough for them to inhibit others from passing by.

    *AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals from tenants who live on (and/or work) land which the landlord holds title to because the landlord does nothing in exchange for rent other than refraining from ejecting the tenant from the land they hold title to.

    8. I just want to double check that the word ‘nothing’ is correct in the above? (AnCom does not believe a landlord does anything in exchange for that rent?)

    In this case, I exaggerated in order to try and convey the abstract idea. So, actually, ancoms need not claim that no landlords today, or in theory, do anything in exchange for rent. Rather, the claim is that they can not (legitimately) claim rent merely because of the “property right” they claim to have.

    *9. If an absentee landlord did ‘do something in exchange for rent’, does that absolve the absentee landlord in the eyes of AnCom?

    I was actually surprised by the kind redditor’s answer to this, I was actually expecting the answer to be “yes.”

    Upon reflection, I think I understand why they answered “no,” however.

    There are various values being appealed to, here. The value I concentrated on in my blog post was “equity,” and I concentrated on it because, from reading Benjamin Tucker’s work, I think of “equity” as a core “socialist” value. Applying this value, if two people agree between themselves that one will fix the other’s plumbing in exchange for some kind of compensation, then it is equitable for the plumber to receive this compensation upon rendering the service. Landlords who perform such services could be said to deserve compensation for their labor.

    In my opinion, where “socialists” and “capitalists” part ways is in the belief that landlords deserve compensation specifically for allowing people to live on land that they “own.” It is the appeal to property to defend compensation that capitalists accept while socialists reject, while both groups accept the appeal to useful labor.

    In the real world, land lords gain income through both appeals. They do usually provide services, like upkeep of the premises, but socialists would say that it is only this labor that earns them any compensation. Socialists would say that the income they gain merely as a result of their “property claim” over the land is not equitable. (Also, the idea is further that if everyone received only compensation for their labor, and not for just being an owner, then the class divisions existing today and historically could be eliminated.)

    Since I know of no way of disentangling the two portions of rent, the equitable part given as payment for labor and the inequitable part given as fee for using property that is, according to law and/or social norms, “owned” by the land lord, I abstracted the equitable portion out of the discussion entirely in my blog post, the way I would abstract air resistance out of a physics problem while trying to deal with other aspects of the scenario.

    That said, based on reading Shawn Wilbur’s article discussing hotels in a society using “occupancy and use” norms, and on various other answers given by Shawn and other mutualists on reddit, I do think I’m correct in saying that mutualists, as a general rule, believe that people who perform useful labor deserve compensation, and believe that some of the actions currently taken by property owners count as such labor. E.g. managing a workplace, entrepreneurship, maintaining buildings in which people live and/or work, and so forth, can be compensated without violating equity. Mutualists believe, however, that in today’s world the income property owners gain from these actions is only a fraction of their total income, while most of their income is a result of their legally recognized, (or at least socially recognized,) claim of ownership over various resources. Mutualists believe that without legal and social recognition of “sticky” or “capitalist” property norms, people could only gain an income by trading useful labor, (or the product of their labor,) for the same, (for other people’s labor or products.)

    I think this is a core idea, here, so let me know if I’ve explained it adequately.

    The redditor who responded, (and who you responded back to,) appealed to a different value. Rather than discussing equity, they were, (as far as I can tell,) discussing differences in power. Their point was that a landlord has power over their tenant, and can take advantage of them as a result.

    I agree with the redditor, but I think the problem could potentially be solved even in a society with “sticky,” (“capitalistic,”) property norms. With something more like “usufructory” norms, (in so far as there is any such kind of norms,) I think it could be even easier to solve the problem.

    For instance, if person A has power over person B in context 1, but B has power over A in context 2, then the inequalities could balance out to some extent. If a landlord had a tenant who owned a local business, and the landlord worked as an employee at that business, each person would have power over the other. Or, perhaps a more plausible example, in a book by David Beito titled From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State, it sometimes occurred that people who held leadership positions in a Mutual Aid Society were part of the same Mutual Aid Society as their employer. Their employer would have power over them in the workplace, but they would have power over their employer in the Mutual Aid Society, since in the Mutual Aid Society their employer would be lower down the “hierarchy” than they were.

    I think a society could have a far better balance of power than the present society does even while keeping “sticky” property norms. I think Proudhon would have liked this idea of a “balance of power,” as well, my understanding is that he advocated for similar ideas, balancing different potentially harmful forces against each other.

    In any case, communism would probably have the same problem to solve, in my opinion, because having a voice in a collective does not, (again in my own opinion,) eliminate a hierarchical relationship between the collective and the individual. Balancing out hierarchies to try to create and maintain a generally anarchic society, then, would still be needed. Communists seem, sometimes, to treat direct democracy, or sometimes consensus “democracy,” as panaceas, a point which, (assuming I have understood them right,) I disagree with them on. I don’t think “democratic decision making” eliminates hierarchy in organizations, and partially as a result I see less of an improvement in adopting “democratic” organization in the workplace and so forth. Not that I’m against “direct democracy” or “consensus” as decision making methods as such, I just rely on ability to opt out to ensure the freedom of participants far more than I do on any internal organizational structure.

    Let me know if that makes any sense.

    *With wage labor, the capitalist ‘claims ownership’ over the ‘means of production’ – which is synonymous with ‘the means of living’. The capitalist only agrees to allow ‘workers’ into the ‘factory’ on one condition: they must accept money from the capitalist for their ‘means of living’ as opposed to selling the products/services themselves as a ‘means of living’.

    10. Is your assumption that if the ‘capitalist’ that owned the ‘factory’ where I am currently one of the ‘workers’ called us together and said, “I apologize for exploiting y’all, I hereby renounce my ownership, this is all yours,” we workers would then take over our ‘factory’ and sell the products/services ourselves? (Can you think of any reason why we not only wouldn’t, but couldn’t do as AnCom suggests?)

    No. I do believe that if the workers owned and operated the business themselves they would probably be better off, though, something I expect you may agree with. But how the transition would work is a difficult question.

    In some cases, the “capitalist” could simply give their workers the means of production. But because we live in a society based so thoroughly on wage labor, the technology is geared towards wage labor, not towards cooperative or artisan labor. A transition to “socialism” would require an extreme change in our culture and a significant change in our technology.

    The cultural change could be brought about, I think, through a change in how children are educated, (switching to “unschooling” over government schooling, for instance,) and various changes in how adults solve problems. People would need to learn how to interact in a more anarchical way. Today people learn how to obey and not question their authority figures, in anarchy they would need to learn how to interact as “equals,” or “associates.”

    As for the technological change, we would need tools that could be used to create more types of products, rather than machines built specifically to produce enormous quantities of the same item, and we would also need machines that could be used by smaller numbers of people.

    In Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, Kevin Carson says that, through the 1800s and 1900s, business owners moved towards using technology that “de-skilled” workers and shifted power to the bosses.

    This principle is at the center of the history of industrial technology for the last two hundred years. Even given the necessity of factories for some forms of largescale, capital-intensive manufacturing, there is usually a choice between alternate productive technologies within the factory. Industry has consistently chosen technologies which de-skill workers and shift decision-making upward into the managerial hierarchy. As long ago as 1835, Dr. Andrew Ure (the ideological grandfather of Taylorism), argued that the more skilled the workman, “the more self-willed and… the less fit a component of a mechanical system” he became. The solution was to eliminate processes which required “peculiar dexterity and steadiness of hand… from the cunning workman” and replace them by a “mechanism, so selfregulating, that a child may superintend it.” And the principle has been followed throughout the twentieth century. William Lazonick, David Montgomery, David Noble, and Katherine Stone have produced an excellent body of work on this theme. Even though corporate experiments in worker self-management increase morale and productivity, and reduce injuries and absenteeism beyond the wildest hopes of management, they are usually abandoned out of fear of loss of control.

    Thus, we would need to invent and create new machinery designed to be used by a society of artisans and cooperatives, instead of by bureaucratically managed corporations.

    *AnCom states that an absentee landlord has no right to practice ‘Usury’ in the form of rent on land.

    11a. Would it be accurate to say that in AnCom, there is no such thing as an ‘absentee landlord’ in the sense that any self-styled ‘absentee landlord’ would be considered a ‘thief’?

    In ancom, either communism or mutualism, an absentee landlord would have no socially recognized right to the property they claimed to own, correct.

    *11b. If so, would that mean that under AnCom, an ‘absentee landlord’ who practices ‘Usury’ is just the same as saying a ‘thief’ who practices ‘a particular form of thievery’?

    Correct.

    *AnCom objects to interest on loans because ‘interest on loans’ is synonymous with ‘Usury’ and AnCom objects to ‘Usury’ (i.e., charging interest on loans…).

    12. Why does AnCom object to Usury?

    To clarify, interest is a form of “usury”, but not synonymous with it. “Rent, interest and profit” are the usual forms “usury” is said to take in the sources I’ve read that talk about it. I think the word “usury” may have originated in discussions of interest specifically though, and later been applied to rent and profit in addition, as people became more concerned about those things. I could be wrong about that etymology, though.

    The objection to usury comes from a combination of holding equity as a value and rejecting the moral legitimacy and moral authority of “private property rights.”

    Francois Tremblay has an FAQ that answers this question in more detail. When I posted a link to his FAQ on the mutualist subreddit, Shawn Wilbur said that Tremblay’s conception of “libertarian socialism” was mostly unique to Tremblay, which I found frustrating to hear, but I think I can summarize the major differences between Wilbur’s and Tremblay’s views.

    First, Tremblay, in his FAQ, imagines a “mutualist” society as having a legal system of some sort. For instance, he says:

    [Q] What are you going to do when I claim something to be my property? Doesn’t your position necessarily imply coercion?

    [A] Typically, “anarcho-capitalists” believe that the only possible consequence to being against a process or mechanism is to advocate its eradication by coercion. This is the result of a “might makes right” mentality: if one has the “right values,” one must therefore use might to impose one’s values on others. But we do not believe that anyone has the “right values,” let alone that any truth deserves to be imposed by force (coercion is, obviously, the enemy of truth-seeking and its best deterrent). We believe that, as people come back to the fundamental idea that everyone is equally worthy of consideration and that we should all be responsible for our actions towards each other, they will rightly see property claims as an attempt to control others. In a mutualist court, such claims would simply be rejected for being logically invalid.

    We can make a comparison with intellectual property. When ancaps oppose intellectual property, they are not advocating using coercion to end an IP contract. If someone wants to claim their ideas as their own and cut off anyone else, an ancap will reject the contract as invalid, but refrain from using force to end it. The contract would simply be viewed as invalid if it came up in a court case.

    Shawn Wilbur, in contrast, emphasizes that, in his view, an anarchist society would necessarily do away with any kind of legal system or law. (What Wilbur means by “law” is different from what I, personally, mean, but that’s a different topic. If you want to read more about this, you may find this reddit thread interesting. Shawn Wilbur is u/humanispherian, and I’m u/scarletegret.)

    Second, Wilbur has told me that he thinks anarchists should oppose “exploitation,” rather than just “usury,” because he thinks the word “usury” implies a moderate application of capitalist norms rather than an elimination of them. I think one of Wilbur’s descriptions of the differences between Benjamin Tucker and Proudhon is relevant, here:

    Tucker’s approach is firmly individualist, while Proudhon’s sociology treats individuals and collectives as two aspects of a single dynamic. [Tucker’s] focus on the four monopolies tends to naturalize “the market,” while the Proudhonian critique focuses at a different scale. The logical outcome of Tucker’s approach is a kind of balanced capitalism, which would probably reduce exploitation in general, but at a pretty high human cost. The logical outcome of Proudhon’s sociology is harder to predict, but almost certainly involves a lot more attention to the collective aspects of human life.

    Wilbur, then, wants a more radical departure from “capitalist” norms than Tucker did. I think it’s an accurate translation into modern terminology to say that Tucker wanted to eliminate “monopoly profit,” rather than all profit, the difference being between the profit gained by operating in a non-competitive market over a long term and the profit gained in a competitive market.

    Tucker, in other words, has a narrower view of what constitutes “exploitation” than Wilbur does, and Wilbur believes that Tucker’s system would leave a great deal of exploitation intact.

    (If you want to understand better what Wilbur means when he brings up Tucker’s “four monopolies,” I recommend Tucker’s essay State Socialism and Anarchism, if you haven’t read it already.

    *Ancom objects to what they call ‘Usury’, which they define as ‘when a title holder only allows someone to use their resource on the condition that the user surrenders a portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder.’

    14a. Does AnCom ‘object’ to ‘Usury’ even though it is (or ‘even when it is’) 100% voluntary?

    Yes.

    I find it interesting that the redditor who responded argued that “coercion” is present when inequalities in power are present. Their answer makes sense given how the word “coercion” is normally used by most people, I think. Ancaps reserve “coercion” for “physical violence, deprivation of property, and fraud,” with some reducing all three of those to violation of “property rights.” Ancoms, and I think most laypeople, use “coercion” more in the sense of “manipulation.” If I threaten to fire an employee if they don’t give me a ride home after work, (silly example but you get the idea,) then this would be “coercive” by ancom standards, but not by ancap standards because there’s no physical violence or deprivation of property.

    I’m curious what u/Empifur, (the redditor who responded,) would use as a standard for determining what counts as coercion and what does not. Intuitively, though, I think I understand their answer, even while not knowing where they would draw the lines.

    But by the propertarian conception of “coercion,” yes, socialists object to usury because it violates the value of “equity.” Curiously, u/Empifur’s objection has more to do with anarchism than socialism, at least given my own understanding of those terms. I think of “equality of power” as an anarchist value, and of “equity” as a socialist value. Of course, u/Empifur is both an anarchist and a socialist.

    Anyway, on to the next question.

    *14b. If the answer to #14a is ‘yes’, then can we accurately say that ‘AnCom’ is NOT in favor of ALL voluntary interactions, but instead, only some? (And therefore AnCom using the moniker ‘voluntaryist’ is a bit of a fib, at least, if not an outright intentional deception?)

    14c. If the answer to #14a is ‘no’, then what gives?

    This needs clarification. As I understand it, the non-aggression principle, whether Rothbard’s version or Tucker’s, but especially Rothbard’s, is not intended as a full ethical system, only as a part of one. Voluntaryists need not say that all voluntary interactions are morally permissible, and the NAP doesn’t claim that this is the case. Rather, the NAP forbids initiation of force. It does not forbid all involuntary interactions, (it permits defensive force,) and, more to the point, it does not condone anything at all. That is, there is nothing that the NAP says is necessarily morally or ethically permissible. There is only a narrow range of behavior that the NAP says is morally or ethically impermissible. It leaves further questions about specific voluntary interactions up to further principles.

    For example, in Ethics of Liberty Murray Rothbard notoriously claims that passive euthanasia of children should be legal. He says, quote:

    Applying our theory to parents and children, this means that a parent does not have the right to aggress against his children, but also that the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children, since such obligations would entail positive acts coerced upon the parent and depriving the parent of his rights. The parent therefore may not murder or mutilate his child, and the law properly outlaws a parent from doing so. But the parent should have the legal right not to feed the child, i.e., to allow it to die.2 The law, therefore, may not properly compel the parent to feed a child or to keep it alive.3 (Again, whether or not a parent has a moral rather than a legally enforceable obligation to keep his child alive is a completely separate question.) This rule allows us to solve such vexing questions as: should a parent have the right to allow a deformed baby to die (e.g., by not feeding it)?4 The answer is of course yes, following a fortiori from the larger right to allow any baby, whether deformed or not, to die. (Though, as we shall see below, in a libertarian society the existence of a free baby market will bring such “neglect” down to a minimum.)

    (Emphasis mine.)

    Understanding that Rothbard was not “in favor of ALL voluntary interactions,” is critical to understanding his position, here. When I hear, “in favor of,” that sounds like one raises no objection at all. I wouldn’t say Rothbard was “in favor of” letting infants starve to death. Rather, he was opposed to using physical violence to make parents take care of their children. (One could still disagree with this position held by Rothbard as well, but my point is that the distinction needs to be made.)

    There are plenty of non-coercive (by Rothbard’s standards) interactions that I raise objections to, what makes me a voluntaryist is that I refrain from using “force” to interfere. What counts as “force” is contested, obviously, but this clarification is necessary. Voluntaryism objects to the “initiation of force,” but there is no contradiction in voluntaryists also objecting to any voluntary interactions they want to object to.

    *AnComs have no problem with using force to prevent “usury” from occurring.

    15. The link you provided as evidence of this states that ‘Social Anarchists do not seek… an entirely voluntary society.’ I just want to be extra sure this is right: AnCom is NOT in favor of a ‘voluntary’ society, correct? (And consequently describing any AnCom has ‘voluntaryist’ is definitely a fib?)

    Let me first quote the broader set of claims I made in my blog post, which you’re responding to here:

    “Communists” and “collectivists” imagine accomplishing this by making producers joint owners of the means of production, with something like consensus democracy giving them the ability to make decisions. Since all producers would be joint owners of the capital they used to produce, and all owners would participate directly in the work of production, the division between workers and rulers would be abolished.

    “Mutualists”, (or at least some “mutualists”, like Kevin Carson in his early writing,) similarly treat natural resources like land as inalienably, jointly owned by everyone, but say that individuals can claim special title to enough land or resources to make a living, so long as they accept that they have borrowed these resources from the commons for their own use and can’t use the resources as “private” property, renting it to others.

    None of these groups advocate forcing individuals to give up land they live on, cultivate, or work themselves, but they regard “usury” as illegitimate, and sometimes, (though not always,) advocate using force to prevent “usury” or “exploitation” from occurring.

    Your paraphrasing leaves out the “sometimes, (though not always,)” which is important to my answer.

    Based on the essay I linked to there, and on various other evidence, I believe ancoms can be voluntaryists, but need not be. There is overlap, but neither group is completely subsumed in the other.

    u/Empifur says they’re a pacifist:

    I personally am an anarchopacifist, and believe that if our rhetoric is correct, then people will see that they are truly happier living in this kind of society which we will model, and then force will not be necessary to compel people to participate adequately, and if our rhetoric is wrong, we need to address that, but I suspect that I may be in the minority on that front.

    and elsewhere, they say:

    This gets into a big argument about what force is or is not. I would not attack rent collectors, for example, but I would stop rent collection by, say, chaining myself to a door. Is that force? Depends on your definition. Rhetoric without praxis and direct action isn’t very valuable.

    This sounds like they would not use physical violence under any circumstances, but would be willing to violate the “property norms” that usurers wanted to enforce under some circumstances. As they say, whether or not this is “force,” (and thus whether or not it would be an initiation of force,) depends on what one takes “force” to consist of. It may make sense to say ancoms and ancaps have different ideas about what constitutes “force,” and it may also make sense to says that, by the terms of the other side, both groups would be willing to “initiate force” to enforce their own preferred system. (I expect that Rothbard would have condoned a property owner engaging in physical violence against a thief even if the thief had never agreed to be bound by the property norms according to which they were a thief.)

    The other redditor who commented on my link to this thread, u/urdaughtersacutie, explicitly says:

    And yes, we’re not voluntarists – I’m more than happy to shoot a motherfucker who tries to privatize other peoples’ property, such as public property. I’m also more than happy to disregard someone who tries to coerce people to not use public property… until the coercion starts, then it’s shooty-time.

    I’d say u/Empifur sounds like someone voluntaryists can work with, while u/urdaughtersacutie sounds dangerous. But both are anti-capitalists.

    *In refusing to help enforce “usurious” contracts of any sort, AnComs may oppose usury peacefully, without using “coercion” in the sense understood by “anarcho-capitalists.”

    16. So… AnComs wouldn’t help enforce the ‘extraction of Usury’, so they wouldn’t be good as rent-collectors… But would they stand in the way of rent collection, using force to prevent it (even if the agreement was 100% voluntary)?

    Some would, and some wouldn’t. My hope is to persuade those that would that they can become voluntaryists and oppose usury without violence without enabling exploitation, and work with those that wouldn’t to abolish the state and create counter-institutions, (e.g. community farms, mutual aid societies, cooperatives, etc.)

    *AnCom objects to IP because preventing people from using particular ideas without their permission, ‘extracting Usury’ by charging prices for goods and services higher than they otherwise could.

    17. AnCom says IP owners are charging prices ‘higher than they otherwise could’ – who or what should rightfully determine how ‘high’ a price could or couldn’t be?

    The “market,” aka all of us collectively through our interactions with one another. On that point I was drawing heavily from Benjamin Tucker and Kevin Carson. In Carson’s view a competitive market would drive prices towards cost, people would have to charge their customers a price close to what it cost them, (the producer,) to bring the good or service to market, (allowing for the fact that producers will want compensation for their labor, and so will charge a little higher than what it “cost” them when not including their own labor.) Competition accomplishes this in a freed market wihtout any need for violence or force. At least, according to Carson’s theory.

    Now, the trick is that one has to explain what counts as a “free market.” In Carson’s view, both enforcement of intellectual property and enforcement of absentee ownership of land are forms of State intervention into markets. Even so, though, Carson believes that people will end up doing away with IP and adopting a de facto “occupancy and use” system of property norms as time goes on, he doesn’t believe these forms of property are sustainable. Thus, he doesn’t feel any need to advocate using violence to overturn them. (I think I also already quoted him in another thread as saying, (paraphrasing,) that using violence to eliminate usury would be worse than the problem the action was intended to solve.)

    Many communists seem willing to use violence to bring about their preferred system, but it’s possible they could be persuaded to change their tactics. Not something I can do by myself, though.

    *With tariffs, taxes, licensing laws, zoning laws, and so forth, governments ‘extract Usury’ by taking money from those producing and trading.

    18a. The (previously given) AnCom definition of ‘Usury’ refers to a ‘title holder’ – does this statement regarding tariffs, taxes, etc. mean governments are a ‘title holder’ of something? (If so, what do they hold title to, or at least, claim to hold title to?)

    18b. If they are not a title holder of anything (or not claiming to be), how can they ‘extract Usury’ when AnCom declares Usury can only be committed by a title holder?

    The government claims “title” to the land within their domain, to the territory they rule, as well as to a vast array of social infrastructure, (e.g. the court system.) I confess that, in this part of my post, I was extending “usury” beyond the “rent, interest, and profit,” most commonly given as forms it can take. I was attempting here to draw an analogy between the various violations of “equity” in order to persuade ancoms and ancaps that they were really objecting to similar things.

    Perhaps, though, “usury,” isn’t the best term. Maybe “exploitation,” or “surplus labor extraction” or some such? I’m not sure. It’s unclear whether governments, in general, frame their sovereignty as a “property right,” but I don’t think it’s entirely unheard of for defenders of government to frame government as the “owner” of the land upon which its citizens live. This isn’t the only way government’s defenders describe it, but it is one way. (I think John Locke suggested something like this in his version of the social contract theory, that citizens had given title to their land to the government they created when they created it, though I could be wrong about this.)

    For people who are skeptical of both “sticky” property and political authority, though, the analogy between the government’s claim to a right to coerce people living in “their” territory, and a landlord’s claim to a right to “coerce” people living on their land, seems like a short step to make. Even if a government doesn’t appeal to “property” in their own defense, the critique of power over anyone living on a piece of land is quite similar.

    *Business owners (by colluding with governments) ‘extract Usury’ by eliminating competition.

    19. Does that mean that without governments, business owners attempting to ‘eliminate competition’ would no longer be ‘extracting Usury’?

    No, but without governments I personally think we’d be most of the way there. People can engage in usury without governments through either a stateless legal system designed to protect absentee ownership of resources, or through social norms, (enforced through ostracism or other non-violent means,) recognizing what Shawn Wilbur calls a “right of increase,” more or less a “right” to be compensated merely for allowing others to use one’s property.

    But, in my personal opinion, without a State both exploitation and “usury” would probably decline to the point where they were almost completely gone. I’m fine with a society that changes social norms the way Shawn Wilbur suggests, so that people are only compensated for labor and have no special privilege due to having legal, or socially recognized, title to property. But what counts as “occupancy and use” is too vague for my taste. Instead I would suggest that people could form into groups to enforce property norms that all those bound by those norms agreed to be bound by, and if they did so I would expect them to agree to adopt norms that looked more “occupancy-and-use-ish,” than “stickyish.”

    As evidence I’d offer Terry Anderson and P.J. Hill’s book The Not So Wild, Wild West, which discusses, in one chapter, mining camps that were formed through contractual agreement, (and which allowed for secession, or opting back out without physically relocating after one had joined.) The camps had laws defending the property claim of each member to a given mine, but because they needed everyone to be present in order to help defend everyone else’s property claims, they only defended claims for those who remained present on their property. This seems close to “occupancy and use,” and when I brought it up once, a while back, in the mutualist subreddit, one person agreed that it sounded like an acceptable system to them, and like the kind of system they were advocating for.

    I think similar economic constraints would be present in other cases as well. The more that other people in society besides a “property owner” thought that the owner was doing them harm with the property, the more costly it would become to enforce the property claim. My point here is purely “positive” rather than “normative,” I know the idea of people violating “property rights” raises red flags for ancaps, but I do think that people would be more likely to violate the “property claims” of those they thought were doing them harm.

    Thus, for example, someone testing nuclear bombs on their own property might have a more difficult time persuading others to respect their property rights than someone building a nature preserve. Any organization defending their property on a subscription basis would probably take this into account when coming up with prices. People who irradiated or otherwise “damaged” property, (even their own property since it might not remain theirs forever,) could be charged a higher price that those that a defense agency thought of as “good stewards.” People running a sweatshop could be charged a higher price than those running a more humane workplace. And so forth.

    Anderson and Hill’s book on the Old West provides empirical evidence that incentives like these matter when people come up with systems for defending property claims. They also provide evidence that States can, through taxing power and legal control over land and other resources, give some people an ability to exploit others in ways they otherwise couldn’t, for instance when the military helped subdue the native americans.

    Anyway, let me know if this explanation works.

    *If the title holder of something only allows the user to use the resource on condition that the user surrenders some portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder, then social anarchists call the share of the produce which the user surrenders to the title-holder “usury”.

    20. Would AnCom say: ‘Usury is only the share of produce that a user of a resource is forced to surrender.’ ? (Which would mean that any portion of produce surrendered as part of a voluntarily entered into arrangement is NOT ‘usury’?)

    “Usury” is the part the proprietor gains merely as a result of their proprietorship, rather than as a result of labor.

    *The ‘profit’ a capitalist makes merely by holding title to a resource is ‘Usury’ because they take a share of what the workers produce, even though they only ‘allow’ the workers to produce, rather than actively helping them to produce.

    21. You say here that a capitalist ‘only allows’ workers to produce – what do you mean by this? (Why must people wait on a capitalist to ‘allow’ them to begin producing? Why wouldn’t people be able to begin producing without a capitalist?)

    Sometimes they can, but, as Carson details in *Studies in Mutualist Political Economy*, proprietors historically gained (legal) ownership over a great deal of resources through force, (in violation of an ancap version of the NAP, not to mention a tuckerite version.) This set up the game in their favor, and various forms of State intervention have served to enable them to keep their advantage.

    Without a State, (and with various technologies that now exist and are being improved upon,) Carson suggests wage labor could almost completely, if not entirely, disappear, replaced by worker owned and run cooperatives and self-employed artisans.

    *In Marx’s view, capitalists gained the ability… In Proudhon’s view, capitalists gained the ability…

    22. What was your goal in bringing up these two contrasting views? (It looks like maybe you’re just saying regardless of which AnCom thinker you start with, all AnComs think that workers aren’t getting a fair share of the value they are creating?)

    Yes, I was saying exactly that. Also, I thought that some readers might potentially be familiar with Marx but unfamiliar with Proudhon, and I wanted to encourage them to read Proudhon, because I think that if they draw more influence from Proudhon than from Marx they’ll come closer to my own views.

    *AnCom advocates… eliminating the ability of some to… keep more value for themselves than what they actually create.

    23. How do you determine how much value someone has created? Example: my boss and I have a customer that comes to us with a problem and we solve that problem, i.e., we created value. How much value did I create and how much value did my boss create? (Like, what info do you need to know to determine how much value I created versus how much value my boss created? How much time did we each spend solving the problem? Or how much the customer paid for it? Or what are the factors you need to determine how much value was created, with an eye towards then dividing up how much value I get to keep versus how much value my boss gets to keep.)

    Having thought about this more since my blog post, I would say that I know of no objective way of determining this, and I don’t expect to find one. Rather, I advocate creating a situation in which we expect equity to arise, or in which we think we can get as close as possible.

    I would rely on voluntary agreement in multiple ways. On the one hand, one can argue that in a freed, competitive market laborers end up receiving the value they create, because competition drives prices towards costs, and “cost,” in the end, reduces to labor. (As Benjamin Tucker asks, “s is there anything that costs except labor or suffering (another name for labor)?”) In a way, I’m relying, here, on voluntary arrangements between people to determine what is “equitable,” and so one might argue that you and your boss would simply have to agree between yourselves what you each deserve.

    But this leaves out the other hand, which I shall discuss presently: the overall context in which one is operating matters. Just because you work for someone today, and agree to work for them for a certain pay, doesn’t necesarilly satisfy the value of “equity.” Differences in power, property claims, and so forth can cause people to agree to things that they would not otherwise. Today, employers have inflated their own bargaining position and systematically destroyed the bargaining positions of their workers. (For evidence I recommend Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, by Carson, Markets Not Capitalism by a variety of authors, and The Conscience of an Anarchist by Gary Chartier.)

    Now, what counts as “equal” bargaining positions is also, for better or worse, subjective. The best solution I can think of is for people to come up with systems of norms that they think enable them to achieve equity, (or as close as possible,) amongst themselves and abide by those norms in their own groups. The norm-set I would advocate for in my own group would probably look something like the individualism of Benjamin Tucker or Josiah Warren, or the “mutualism” of Carson or Wilbur. (I intend to offer details, as time goes on, but in other places.) I have concerns about how societies predominated by either “sticky” norms or “communist” norms might turn out, but I would expect neither of these to remain predominant in a stateless society. While a lot of the criticisms “socialists”, (like, say, Bakunin,) make of “capitalism” make sense, I think, as criticisms of the systems that have existed, and possibly as criticisms of “anarcho-capitalism,” (in the sense of a stateless society with “sticky” property norms,) I think that in a stateless society with only pockets of sticky property among minorities, but with an overall pluralist system, the consequences they expect to occur as a result of sticky property probably wouldn’t occur.

    *AnComs advocate using force to either appropriate “private property,” or to enforce other sorts of norms of resource use (e.g., defending a squatter from an angry land owner). Furthermore, AnCom treats certain voluntary arrangements (e.g., loan me $100 and I’ll pay you $110 next week) between consenting adults as necessarily illegitimate, and that NOBODY has a right to make voluntary agreements (like the example) with anybody else.

    24. So, just to be crystal clear: AnCom advocates for the use of force, and, as a rule, does not support voluntary arrangements between people?

    I think some ancoms would advocate abolishing these kinds of arrangements through force, while others would advocate abolishing them through peaceful and/or non-coercive means, while still refusing to condone or engage in violence.

    *…those with property can consume what those who work for them produce without helping to produce themselves, all while the producers live with no property of their own.

    25. Does AnCom somehow assume that the two are mutually exclusive – that if you work for a property owner in AnCap you can’t also be a property owner yourself? (Seems like a silly thought but I don’t know how else to read this…)

    Honestly, most ancoms don’t seem to think deeply about what “anarcho-capitalism” would look like. (I thank you, by the way, for trying to understand what left libertarian societies would look like.) The point here was more about real world societies existing today and historically. I don’t have statistics on hand, but I believe a lot of workers, (most?,) rent their homes rather than owning land or houses in the U.S. and Europe. (A smaller fraction of the population, of course, are entirely homeless, though I don’t know how many homeless people have jobs.) Apart from homes, only a minority of the population own workplaces, as far as I know.

    *AnCom argues that AnCap takes away the freedom of those living within it, and AnCap argues AnCom the reverse.

    26. Yes, but AnCom explicitly states that they WILL use force to take freedom away from people, while AnCap does not – how do you propose I view AnCom as freedom-loving when part of the foundation of the ideology is to maintain that it’s ok to use force to take people’s freedom away? (For example, the freedom to loan $100 in exchange for getting paid back $110 in the future.)

    For this, I’ll have to go through the work of various ancap authors I’ve read or seen scary quotes from. An example off the top of my head, Hoppe advocates “physically removing” a range of people from society, which sounds like use of force to me.

    I’m simply not convinced that ancaps are better than ancoms, as a rule, here.

    What I think I’ll do, though, is try to come up with a similar list of questions to pose to anarcho-capitalists, the way you posed these questions to me, (and others.) If I’m making assumptions about ancaps that are incorrect, as you and Hogeye sometimes suggest, questions seem like the best way to remedy that.

  • #496

    Spooner Bookman
    Participant

    @empifur, thanks so much! I assure you your effort wasn’t in vain as I’ve dug through your responses super carefully, and I feel like I’ve gained a ton of understanding thanks to you!

    There are still huge chunks I’m not understanding, so I’ve got another round of questions for you/Jacob, if y’all are up for it? (No hard feelings if you’ve got other fish to fry! Coming up the questions was pretty helpful for me just by itself…)

    What I’ve done is list my new questions below, and then below my questions, I’ve put the previous questions/responses into a somewhat conversational format. The idea behind this is that I’m sure we’ve all forgotten the context, so not only did I try to ask the questions such that you would need as little context as possible, I also included the ‘conversation’ view so you can scroll down to see where a given question came from in regards to the rest of the conversation (if that helps you in your response).

    Another thing to note: You asked me a few direct questions and I’ve declined to answer them here as this thing is super long already with just my questions… I figured I’d go ahead and post this round of questions, and if by the end of it, you’re still wanting me to answer some stuff (and/or have new stuff you want me to answer), feel free to add those to your reply and I’ll tackle them in the next round.

    @jacob, you mentioned doing a list of questions for AnCaps – I think that would be awesome. I was thinking it would be fun to post the questions, then have me and Hogeye each write a response, BUT, we don’t post our responses until we’re both done – I think it would be fun to see how similar/different our answers are…

    Anyhoo, here are my new questions for the AnCom world:

    1. Jacob reasons that the claim ‘each individual has a right to have as much opportunity to live as others do’ is ‘axiomatic’ (i.e., ‘self-evident or unquestionable’). Empifur reasons that ‘individuals profiting off of communal resources without sharing is wrong’ because its wrongness ‘is a deeply ingrained [self-evident/axiomatic?] part of what fairness is’. Jacob says AnComs believe ‘people, merely by being people’ [self-evident/axiomatic?] have a partial claim on the natural resources of the world. What are the key differences between this sort of reasoning and a priori reasoning?

    2. Is it possible to ‘reduce other people to means to further one’s own life’ (an AnCom claim) without using ‘aggression’ (i.e., initiatory violence/force, or physically ‘interfering with the freedom of action of other people’)?

    3. If/when one gets accused of having transformed a thing to the point where no one else can use it, but they deny the charges, who determines guilt or innocence in AnCom?

    4. I’m rephrasing something Jacob said, so my question is just whether or not this rephrasing is accurate? “Because AnCom rejects the moral legitimacy of ‘property’, they would say ‘property exists’ only in the sense that it ‘exists’ (as a morally-legitimate-right) in some people’s minds. Of course, AnCom doesn’t deny some people think like that, so in that sense, they don’t deny property ‘exists’ (in these people’s minds). What AnCom denies is that ‘property’, i.e., ‘these norms’ — these ‘ideas in some people’s minds’ — are morally legitimate (i.e., no one is morally required to obey these norms, so for anyone who opts to not ‘obey’ them, well, can it be said they really ‘exist’ for these folks?). Since they are not legitimate, the answer is basically: in ideal AnCom, property won’t exist, not even in anyone’s mind. Until then, it does ‘exist’ in the sense described in the preceding sentences.”

    5. Empifur says ‘in ideal AnCom, one is only subject to coercion from the communities with which one chooses to associate.’ Is your implication/understanding that in AnCap one would be subject to coercion from communities with which one does not voluntarily choose to associate with?

    6. Jacob says that AnCom believes that people who perform useful labor deserve compensation, and one example of the kind of useful labor that is deserving of compensation is ‘entrepreneurship.’ What exactly is ‘entrepreneurship’?

    7. Empifur says that ‘definitionally’ people don’t like being ‘exploited’. What exactly is ‘exploitation’?

    8. Would it be accurate to say that some AnComs regard Non-Aggression as equal to the value of ‘Equality’, and in a showdown between the two, some AnComs would side with Non-Aggression and only ‘fight’ inequality with non-violent/non-aggressive means (protests, boycotts, sit ins, etc.); but, other AnComs regard Equality as MORE valuable than Non-Aggression, and when push comes to shove, they’re ok with initiating aggression if they believe the aggression would result in a more equitable outcome/future? (To Jacob’s point: AnComs run the gamut from total pacifist, not willing to use violence even in self-defense, all the way up to condoning the initiation of violent, aggressive ‘direct’ action?)

    9. If two consenting adult men, in the privacy of their own bedroom, take their clothes off, and, uh, ‘enter into’ an agreement with each other, voluntarily, and this agreement does not include the initiation of aggression/force/violence in any way, and no one is injured in the situation, or is threatened with injury in any way — financial, physical, etc.: would AnCom as a school of thought oppose (with violence/aggression/force, as colloquially defined) this agreement between these two naked men?

    10. Jacob seems to be saying that Rothbard did not approve of certain voluntary interactions, but names no voluntary interaction that Rothbard is opposed to (only involuntary ones) — so, can you name one voluntary interaction Rothbard would have wanted ‘outlawed’?

    11. Empifur indicates that in AnCom, some people will get to be the ones who rightfully judge how much of the fruits of people’s labor is a ‘surplus’. Jacob indicates that in AnCom some people will get to rightfully judge whether the ‘compensation for the labor’ of another group of people is ‘a little higher than’ the ‘cost’, or not. Who are the people that will get to make these judgement calls in AnCom?

    12. Empifur defines ‘Usury’ as any charge for using a ‘capital investment’ (such as a bread machine) that the person who ‘owns’ the capital investment charges another person for using that capital investment. The reason this is ‘wrong’ is that the person who brings a bread machine into existence makes money off of just having the bread machine without putting in any work. This has me curious: can one bring a bread machine into existence without ‘putting in any work’ and/or is the work involved in bringing a bread machine into existence not worthy of compensation?

    13. Empifur says that without the State, businesses would eliminate competition a number of ways that aren’t available to them with a State. Some examples of eliminating competition without the State include (a) murdering competitors, (b) ‘holding monopolies’, and (c) operating at a loss to keep prices so low that the competition goes out of business. I have a question on each of these examples: 13a. Is killing competitors a realistic way to eliminate competition? (1. What would prevent new, more heavily armed competitors from arising? 2. After one or two competitors got killed, wouldn’t the other competitors ban together and eliminate the murderer? I guess they could pull a Cersei and dragonfire ‘em in the Sept all at once, but, barring that… 3. People boycott businesses over far less than murder — wouldn’t people find a way to make do without the goods/services in protest, putting the firm out of business? 4. How many people would want to work for a murderer — wouldn’t it be hard to find workers willing to work under such conditions?) 13b. What exactly is a ‘monopoly’ to an AnCom? 13c. Why would lower priced goods be something to be avoided?

    14. Empifur says that a ‘capital investment’ (or capital good) comes into existence in two ways: (a) Capital goods are produced by workers and (b) capital goods are produced by capital goods, e.g., interest is generated by existing capital, creating more capital. 14a. Once a capital good is produced by workers (in AnCom), who gets to decide what to do with it? 14b. I’m super confused here. Capital goods come from capital goods because interest comes from interest and the labor for the capital comes from the worker class? I’m not understanding what you’re saying?

    15. Empifur says that the ‘inherent value’ of a thing is determined by community consensus. How does the community come to a consensus regarding the ‘inherent value’ of a thing?

    16. Jacob says ‘cost reduces to labor’ — what does this mean? Are you saying the inherent value of a thing — i.e., the ‘cost’ — is determined by the total amount of labor required to produce it?

    17. Jacob points out that a lot of workers rent vs own, but my question is/was: does AnCom assume that if you work for a property owner you can’t also be a property owner yourself (as the original AnCom claim suggests: ‘…producers live with no property of their own’)? Surely you would acknowledge one can rent an apartment and own a car at the same time?

    18. Can you give me one example of a structural or institutional injustice (or generational disparity) that I, on behalf of AnCap, could address specifically? Like, take the case of black people getting charged more than white people: can you give me a specific example of where this is the case (and then I’ll attempt explain how AnCap would ‘address’ it)?

    19. This is a paraphrasing of some of Empifur/Jacob’s words that when rephrased, sounds kinda ridiculous to me, so I’m sure I’ve gotten a few parts of the following wrong. My goal is that the silly rephrasing highlights my misunderstanding of y’all’s words, so that you can restate this (or just change it up) so it makes sense: AnCom is explicitly ‘ok’ with initiating force/violence/aggression when it’s done to make things more equitable among people. AnCom doesn’t require you to use initiatory violence/aggression, but it wouldn’t condemn you for it (which explains the array of positions various individual AnComs take regarding this). For example, charging interest on a loan is something an AnCom could legitimately use initiatory violence to prevent/stop because charging interest on a loan makes people less equal. For another example, AnCom would condone initiatory violence/aggression to ‘censor’ the ‘freedom’ to drop an atomic bomb, because, crucially, it’s not the death and destruction the atomic bomb would cause that AnCom is opposed to, it’s the inequality that would result from its use. Death and destruction are fine, even dropping an atomic bomb is fine, so long as it’s done under the flag of ‘equality’ — so long as the initiatory violence is intended to result in greater equality, any violence is fine?

    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: Each individual has a right to have as much opportunity to live as others do.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Where does the ‘opportunity’ to live as others do originate? (Where does it come from? Who grants it? Or maybe: How is this ‘right’ derived?)

    Empifur: This right is derived from the idea that it’s in my own best interest to try to ensure that this opportunity exists. (Also: This right is ‘inherent’ to human beings. And: This is axiomatic to some degree.)

    Jacob: I agree. It’s ‘axiomatic’, or in Jesse Prinz’s terminology, this right is a ‘grounding norm.’

    AnCap: Empifur, Are you saying that if it is in your best interest to try and ensure something exists, then that something is therefore a right you have?

    Empifur: ‘Rights’ language just doesn’t make sense in AnCom. The language of ‘rights’ isn’t practical or theoretically useful for AnCom.

    AnCap: Question #1

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: Because AnCom states people have a right to have the opportunity to live as others do, AnCom would say that a ‘guard’ on a toll road violates the rights of anyone trying to travel on that road because travelers are entitled to pass by uninhibited (assuming anyone else has the ‘opportunity’ to pass by). AnCom believes this entitlement exists based on the notion that if anyone has the opportunity to pass by, it’s only ‘fair’ that everyone has the ‘right’ to pass by.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: I’m just wondering if the preceding paraphrasing is correct, and if it isn’t, what’s wrong with it?

    Empifur: The reason that there shouldn’t be a guard is because it’s unjust for anyone to make money through usury, which is what tolls are. It isn’t right for the guard to profit off of preventing people from using a communal resource (a road).

    AnCap: Why isn’t it ‘right’ for the guard to profit off of preventing people from using a communal resource?

    Empifur: It’s wrong for individuals to profit off of communal resources without sharing those profits with the community which shares the resource. The reasoning for this is that it is a pretty deeply ingrained part of what ‘fairness’ is. Do you want a more codified reasoning from principles?

    AnCap: Empifur says that ‘individuals profiting off of communal resources without sharing’ is ‘wrong’ based on the premise that ‘individuals profiting off communal resources w/o sharing is a pretty deeply ingrained part of what fairness is’. How did you come up with this premise? Specifically: is the way you came up with it ‘a priori’ or something different? (#1)

    . . .

    Jacob: Your paraphrasing is not completely correct. First, regarding “opportunity to live,” ancoms argue that each person has an equal right to have an “opportunity to live.” To paraphrase another redditor who commented on my link to this thread, it isn’t “opportunity (to live as others do),” it’s “(opportunity to live) as others do.”

    AnCap: Ah, got it, that makes (more) sense.

    Jacob: The objection to the toll is based on at least two things.

    First, ancoms deny that preventing passage for no reason is useful labor deserving of compensation. Surrendering the toll violates the value of equity because the guard is gaining resources they haven’t earned and (therefore) don’t deserve.

    Second, ancoms deny the guard’s attempt to justify their behavior by appealing to property rights, because they believe people, merely by being people, have a partial “claim” on the natural resources of the world, and a partial “claim” to the product of “collective force” if they are a part of the collective that produces something. This “claim” is enough for them to have a right to pass by uninhibited, but not enough for them to inhibit others from passing by.

    AnCap: On the first point, that seems sensible — I don’t know of anyone who would disagree. On the second point, you say AnComs ‘believe’ all this based on the premise that ‘being human means you can rightfully/legitimately make certain claims’. How is this ‘belief’ arrived at, i.e., is it via ‘a priori’ reasoning, or some other way? If it’s a different way, how is it different from ‘a priori’ reasoning? (#1)

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: No one has a right to reduce other people to means to further their own life.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Is it possible to reduce other people to means (against their will) without the use of force? How so?

    Empifur: No person is ever just a means, as they will always possess their own natality, but it is important that we don’t mentally reduce other people to means in our minds, as that is where violence often comes from?

    AnCap: I’m sorry, but I’m not understanding your response at all. (I’m not even sure if it is a statement, or a question of some kind? Not trying to be rude! Just genuinely confused!!)

    Empifur: The tl;dr: is that no one has a right to reduce others to means.

    AnCap: Got it, but is it possible to reduce other people to means without the use of force?

    Jacob: Sort of. One can take advantage of a person who is in a worse position than oneself.

    AnCap: Question #2.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: Quoting Proudhon: ‘…this is the right of the usufructuary [i.e., non-title-holding but current occupier-and-user]: he is responsible for the thing entrusted to him; he must use it in conformity with general utility, with a view to its preservation and development; he has no power to transform it, to diminish it, or to change its nature; he cannot so divide the usufruct that another shall perform the labor while he receives the product.’
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: How does one go about using something in conformity with general utility without ‘transforming’ or (especially) ‘diminishing’ it? (I can’t think of anything I could use without transforming it in some way…)

    Jacob: AnCom objects to changing a thing so that people who come after you won’t be able to use it any more, for the vast majority of things they would likely want to use it for. Basically, ‘Don’t do anything to the property that you wouldn’t if it belonged, not to you, but to your mother.”

    AnCap: So in AnCom, you can transform and diminish a thing, but you can’t transform or diminish it past a certain point. That ‘point’ would be the point where no one else would be able to use it any more. Is that right?

    Empifur: What Proudhon means here is simply that when one is treating possessions as usufruct, one ‘must’ use it with an eye towards its longevity, with an eye towards maintaining its ability to be used by other people later on. One would not have the right to DESTROY a thing simply because you are using it (unlike private property, for example, with which you could ‘rightfully’ destroy it without a second thought, so long as it was ‘yours’, so to speak). “Transforming” is just another couching of this same idea.

    AnCap: Got it, I think that makes sense. Correct me if I’m wrong: Proudhon’s ‘conformity with general utility’ simply means that if you use something, you are going to ‘transform’ it to some degree, and that’s fine and to be expected – what’s NOT fine is ‘transforming’ it in such a way as to deliberately exclude others from being able to use it in the future (assuming it is at all possible to leave them that opportunity). Is that right?

    Empifur: Yes.

    AnCap: You say this is the case ‘when one is treating possessions as usufruct’ – my next question is, ‘Are there other ways of treating possessions other than usufruct under AnCom?’

    Empifur: No, there is no possession outside of usufructuary possession in AnCom. (This is what AnComs mean we talk about abolishing ‘property rights’.)

    AnCap: Question #3.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: “AnCom condones ‘personal property’, but objects to ‘private property’.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Would it be correct to say that AnCom doesn’t necessarily ‘object’ to private property so much as AnCom doesn’t believe private property actually exists? (That when something ceases to be ‘personal property’, it doesn’t ‘become’ private property, it just stops being personal property and is now essentially a natural resource again?)

    Jacob: Because AnCom rejects the moral legitimacy of ‘property’, they would say ‘property exists’ only in the sense that it ‘exists’ as a morally-legitimate-right in some people’s minds. Of course, AnCom doesn’t deny some people think like that, so in that sense, they don’t deny property ‘exists’. What AnCom denies is that ‘property’, i.e., ‘these norms’ — these ‘ideas in some people’s minds’ — are morally legitimate (i.e., no one is morally required to obey these norms, so for anyone who opts to not ‘obey’ them, well, can it be said they really ‘exist’ for these folks?). Since they are not legitimate, then answer is basically: in ideal AnCom, property won’t exist because it won’t be in anyone’s mind. Until then, it does ‘exist’ in the sense described in the preceding sentences. Does that answer the question?

    AnCap: Question #4.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: AnCom states that a ‘private property’ owner is like a guard running a toll gate on a road in the sense that the owner – like the guard – solicits a fee from people but doesn’t produce (or offer) anything in return for the money, meaning the guard in effect ‘steals’ from them.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Is it accurate to say that in AnCom, there is no longer any such thing as a ‘guard’ in the sense we mean it today because there would be no ‘private property’ for a ‘guard’ to protect? (That anyone in AnCom doing what a ‘guard’ does in today’s world wouldn’t be considered a ‘guard’, they would be considered a ‘thief’. Is that right? Basically, you can’t be ‘hired’ as a ‘guard’ in AnCom because there is nothing to ‘guard’?)

    Empifur & Jacob: Yes, you are correct here. (Although, it could just as easily be looked at as ‘everyone guards everything together.’)

    AnCap: What if the ‘guard’ protects the road from bandits or wolves, something like that – if the ‘protection’ the guard offers is a legitimately desired service that people really want, can’t the ‘guard’ be said to be producing ‘security’, therefore they are producing something themselves, thereby absolving the ‘guard’ in the eyes of AnCom for asking a fee, since they wouldn’t be offering ‘nothing’ in return for the fee?

    Jacob: A person could indeed deserve compensation for providing a service like this. (Whether they have a “property right” in the resources that would compensate them is a different question.)

    AnCap: Awesome, I believe I’m starting to understand this one now as well. Empifur, do you agree the answer is ‘yes’?

    Empifur: In a sense, the answer to your question is ‘yes’ in this way: If a community member has been tasked with producing security, their production of that security does in fact ‘absolve’ them in the eyes of AnCom.

    However, this is different from an individual (or group of individuals) claiming ownership of a community good and then practicing usury – even if the results look superficially similar.

    One of these processes for delegating responsibilities to community members to provide security is the result of a process that actually lets everyone in the community speak, and helps to create healthy communities.

    The other process – the private production of security – is a coercive function, regardless of whether people want it or not.

    This whole idea relies on the notion that in our current society, providing ‘security’ is seen as valuable by people, but in a different world than the one we live in, we wouldn’t necessarily want ‘security’ in the same way. In some imaginary world, like in the hypothetical future, people might not even want security, and in that future imaginary world, anyone collecting money for security would be a thief – a Usurer.

    AnCap: So in AnCom, like in AnCap, some individuals and groups of individuals will be tasked with producing security by other individuals (or groups of individuals).

    In AnCom, this delegation process will never, under any circumstances, be coercive? (And by contrast, in AnCap, it IS coercive, EVEN if/when everyone involved voluntarily agrees to the delegation process?)

    Empifur: I cannot imagine a political system that didn’t involve coercion somewhere along the line, so in that sense, both AnCom and AnCap will inevitably involve coercion to some extent. The ‘delegation process’ in AnCom (like in AnCap) will necessarily be coercive under some circumstances.

    In ideal AnCom, one is only subject to coercion from the communities with which one chooses to associate. (How ‘coercive’ can it really be if one’s submission to it is voluntary?)

    Whereas in AnCap, the coercion comes from forces that one has no voice in shaping.

    When people have a chance to shape community policy in a meaningful way, then they are also much more willing to submit to the will of the community even when it means some personal sacrifice.

    The following example explains what it means to “voluntarily” submit in an AnCap context: if people with fewer material resources need to find an outside patron in order to keep eating, and they only have a few local options to choose between, all of which are exploiting their lack of capital to some extent… is that really voluntary?

    AnCap: Question #5.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals from tenants who live on (and/or work) land which the landlord holds title to because the landlord does nothing in exchange for rent other than refraining from ejecting the tenant from the land they hold title to.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: I just want to double check that the word ‘nothing’ is correct in the above? (AnCom does not believe a landlord does anything in exchange for that rent?)

    Empifur: The summary should be more robustly phrased as being unjust because the landlord is committing usury.

    AnCap: Ok, let me rephrase the summary more robustly to include that the landlord is committing usury:

    AnCom believes that an absentee landlord steals from tenants who live on (and/or work) land which the landlord holds title to because the landlord does nothing in exchange for rent other than refraining from ejecting the tenant from the land they hold title to – committing usury.

    Is the rephrasing accurate now, or what needs to change to make it more accurate?

    Empifur: I feel like that rephrase is fine, yeah.

    AnCap: Awesome.

    I just want to double check that the word ‘nothing’ is correct in the above? (AnCom does not believe a landlord does anything in exchange for rent? Or, alternately, AnCom does concede landlords can and do offer things in exchange for rent – that it’s not some one-sided money-making affair?)

    Empifur: No landlord (or anyone, for that matter) ‘can’ do anything in exchange for ‘rent’ because ‘rent’ is/are the fees paid in exchange for being loaned the use of capital that one has already accumulated in the form of land or a house. Landlords charge not only rent, but also for the effort to maintain the property. Colloquially, we call both of these fees together “rent.” AnCom asserts that charging ‘rent’ in the first sense of the word is not okay, but providing a service in exchange for capital is acceptable (i.e., ‘rent’ in the second sense of the word).

    Jacob: In this case, I exaggerated in order to try and convey the abstract idea. The claim is that they can not (legitimately) claim rent merely because of the “property right” they claim to have.

    AnCap: If an absentee landlord did ‘do something in exchange for rent’, does that absolve the absentee landlord in the eyes of AnCom?

    Jacob: Where “socialists” and “capitalists” part ways is in the belief that landlords deserve compensation specifically for allowing people to live on land that they “own.” It is the appeal to property to defend compensation that capitalists accept while socialists reject, while both groups accept the appeal to useful labor.

    In the real world, landlords gain income through both appeals. They do usually provide services, like upkeep of the premises, and AnCom would say that this labor is deserving of compensation. AnCom would say that the income they gain merely as a result of their “property claim” over the land is not equitable.

    Since I know of no way of disentangling the two sources of income (the part given as payment for labor and the part given as fee for using property), I abstracted the equitable portion out of the discussion entirely in my blog post.

    AnCom believes that people who perform useful labor deserve compensation, and believe that some of the actions currently taken by property owners count as such labor, for example, entrepreneurship. In today’s world the income property owners gain from entrepreneurship is only a fraction of their total income, while most of their income is a result of their claim of ownership over various resources. AnComs believe that without legal and social recognition of private property, people could only gain an income by trading useful labor (or the product of their labor) for the same.

    AnCap: Question #6.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: With wage labor, the capitalist ‘claims ownership’ over the ‘means of production’ – which is synonymous with ‘the means of living’. The capitalist only agrees to allow ‘workers’ into the ‘factory’ on one condition: they must accept money from the capitalist for their ‘means of living’ as opposed to selling the products/services themselves as a ‘means of living’.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Is your assumption that if the ‘capitalist’ that owned the ‘factory’ where I am currently one of the ‘workers’ called us together and said, “I apologize for exploiting y’all, I hereby renounce my ownership, this is all yours,” we workers would then take over our ‘factory’ and sell the products/services ourselves? (Can you think of any reason why we not only wouldn’t, but couldn’t do as AnCom suggests?)

    Empifur: It depends on what the workers wanted to do. Taking over the factory would definitely be an option.

    AnCap: You say, ‘It depends on what the workers wanted to do.’ What if the workers – for whatever reason – wanted to continue the original arrangement whereby the capitalist continues to ‘exploit’ us? What happens then?

    Empifur: If the workers wanted to continue being exploited then, AnCom would not stop them. I think that people definitionally don’t like being exploited though. (This could potentially get to some tricky ideas about what people “really” want as versus what they are just “conditioned” to want.)

    AnCap: Question #7.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: AnCom objects to interest on loans because ‘interest on loans’ is synonymous with ‘Usury’ and AnCom objects to ‘Usury’ (i.e., charging interest on loans…).
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Why does AnCom object to Usury?

    Jacob: To clarify, interest is a form of “usury”, but not synonymous with it. “Rent, interest and profit” are the usual forms “usury” takes. The objection to usury comes from a combination of holding equity as a value and rejecting the moral legitimacy and moral authority of “private property rights.”

    Empifur: To summarize it, usury necessarily leads to increasing inequality.

    (Usury is any charge for using a capital investment that another person ‘owns’ whether that capital investment is a loan, or a bread machine. So, one person has a thing, and then, without putting in any work, continues making money off of just having the thing, and, in the process, depriving people who do not have the thing of that money or the thing as the case may be.)

    AnCap: If AnCom objects to Usury because it necessarily leads to increasing inequality, would it be accurate to say that AnCom objects to anything that necessarily leads to increasing inequality (and the practice of Usury just happens to be one of these things)?

    Empifur: Sure. That seems fair, at least to an extent. If a person wants to work a lot more than another person, and amass more capital in that way, fine, but I would be for an effective 100% inheritance tax, returning all of a person’s capital to the community on their death, in order to prevent generational inequalities from stacking up on top of the advantages that children already get from being born to wealthier parents.

    AnCap: Question #8.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: AnComs have no problem with using force to prevent “usury” from occurring.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: The link you provided as evidence of this states that ‘Social Anarchists do not seek… an entirely voluntary society.’ I just want to hear you say it: AnCom is NOT in favor of a ‘voluntary’ society, correct? (And consequently describing any AnCom has ‘voluntaryist’ is a fib?)

    Empifur: People will see that they are truly happier living in this kind of society which we will model, and then force will not be necessary.

    AnCap: So if (hypothetically) force was ‘necessary’ to get people to live in this kind of society, you are saying you would NOT use it?

    Empifur: Right, we wouldn’t use force in that hypothetical.

    AnCap: See, this is confusing, the link said that AnCom doesn’t seek an entirely voluntary society, now you’re saying it does? I mean, if you wouldn’t force me to live the way you want, that means I get to voluntarily choose how to live, so… That IS an entirely voluntary society, right? AnComs ARE ‘voluntaryists’, then, right??

    Jacob: AnComs CAN BE voluntaryists, but need not be. There is overlap, but neither group is completely subsumed in the other.

    AnCap: I’m hoping question #8 helps get to the bottom of this…

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: In refusing to help enforce “usurious” contracts of any sort, AnComs may oppose usury peacefully, without using “coercion” in the sense understood by “anarcho-capitalists.”
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: So… AnComs wouldn’t help enforce the ‘extraction of Usury’, but would they stand in the way of it, using force to prevent it, if necessary? (Like, I just need to be sure I don’t hire an AnCom as my rent-collector and we’re all good?)

    Empifur: It depends on your definition of force. For example, on the one hand, I would not attack rent collectors, but on the other hand, I may (for example) attempt to stop rent collection by, say, chaining myself to a door.

    AnCap: I’ve been using local AnCap legend Hogeye Bill’s definition of force: “interference with the freedom of action of another agent.” So, using that definition, then your answer is ‘yes’, AnCom would initiate force against someone if they thought it would prevent usurious action.

    But, would you define force differently?

    Empifur: Shit, how would I define force? Um, yeah, I like your definition better than the one that I’ve been using up until now, which has been just kind of a colloquial “what does force sound like?” sort of description. By that definition, I think that using force to prevent the collection of usury due because of an agreement borne out of coercion is totally okay.`

    AnCap: So, AnCom in general thinks that, or just you in particular?

    Jacob: Some AnComs think that, some don’t.

    AnCap: Hmmm. Is the answer to #8 the key to unlocking this mystery? I hope so, cuz I am stumped!

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: Ancom objects to what they call ‘Usury’, which they define as ‘when a title holder only allows someone to use their resource on the condition that the user surrenders a portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder.’
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Does AnCom ‘object’ to ‘Usury’ even though it is (or ‘even when it is’) 100% voluntary?

    Empifur: This is sort of a trick question, because ‘Usury’ is never 100% voluntary. The reason it is never fully voluntary is because the power differential between the have and the have-not means that some coercion is involved.

    AnCap: How so?

    Empifur: One might only have one option available in any given ‘deal’, and then any deal struck is hardly ‘voluntary’ if there is only one alternative on the table (especially if that alternative is, say, freezing to death).

    AnCap: Yes, but what if one has many options to choose from? Can it be voluntary then?

    Empifur: If they also have the option to abstain from making the deal without fear of major deprivation as a result of that choice, then it would be ‘voluntary’. (I wouldn’t understand why someone would make that choice if they didn’t have to.)

    Jacob: Yes, by the propertarian conception of “coercion,” AnComs object to usury — even when it is part of a voluntary affair — because it violates the value of “equity.”

    AnCap: Then can we accurately say that ‘AnCom’ is NOT in favor of ALL voluntary interactions, but instead, only some? (And therefore AnCom using the moniker ‘voluntaryist’ is a bit of a fib, at least, if not an outright intentional deception?)

    Jacob: Voluntaryists need not say that all voluntary interactions are morally permissible.

    AnCap: That’s not my question, my question is just confirming what you and Empifur have already confirmed: AnCom is opposed to usury even when it is voluntary.

    Jacob: The NAP forbids initiation of force. It does not forbid all involuntary interactions.

    AnCap: My question isn’t about involuntary interactions, it’s about voluntary ones.

    Jacob: The NAP does not condone anything at all. That is, there is nothing that the NAP says is necessarily morally or ethically permissible. There is only a narrow range of behavior that the NAP says is morally or ethically impermissible. It leaves further questions about specific voluntary interactions up to further principles.

    AnCap: Question #9.

    Jacob: For example, in Ethics of Liberty Murray Rothbard notoriously claims that passive euthanasia of children should be legal.

    AnCap: ‘Passive euthanasia’? That’s a thing?

    Jacob: Rothbard says ‘…the parent should not have a legal obligation to feed, clothe, or educate his children…’ Rothbard was not “in favor of ALL voluntary interactions.”

    AnCap: Nothing you’ve quoted indicates Rothbard is opposed to a single voluntary interaction. So far you’ve produced no evidence for your claim.

    Jacob: Rothbard was opposed to using physical violence to make parents take care of their children. Voluntaryism objects to the “initiation of force,” but there is no contradiction in voluntaryists also objecting to any voluntary interactions they want to object to.

    AnCap: Question #10.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim:</strong AnCom objects to IP because preventing people from using particular ideas without their permission, ‘extracting Usury’ by charging prices for goods and services higher than they otherwise could.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: AnCom says IP owners are charging prices ‘higher than they otherwise could’ – who or what should rightfully determine how ‘high’ a price could or couldn’t be?

    Empifur: A price could always be free. (Usury means extraction at all, not just extraction excessively.)

    AnCap: I get that a price ‘could’ be ‘free’. My question is ‘Who or what should rightfully determine how high a price could or couldn’t be?’ (Or are you saying in AnCom, there are no prices – all things are ‘free’?)

    Empifur: A lot of AnComs would advocate for donating ‘surpluses’ to each according to need, which would obviate the idea of pricing.

    Jacob: Short of that, the “market,” aka all of us collectively through our interactions with one another.

    AnCap: AnCom would have a market?

    Jacob: A competitive market would drive prices towards cost (allowing for the fact that producers will want compensation for their labor, and so will charge a little higher than what it “cost” them when not including their own labor). Competition accomplishes this in a freed market without any need for violence or force. Now, the trick is that one has to explain what counts as a “free market.”

    AnCap: Question #11.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: If the title holder of something only allows the user to use the resource on condition that the user surrenders some portion of what they produce with the resource to the title-holder, then social anarchists call the share of the produce which the user surrenders to the title-holder “usury”.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Let me be sure I’ve got it: ‘Usury’ isn’t the ‘share’ of the produce surrendered – ‘Usury’ is the act itself. So really, the phrase ‘extracting Usury’ isn’t a sensical phrase, right? It would be better to say ‘practicing Usury’, i.e., practicing ‘the extraction of resources in exchange for the use of a resource’ (roughly) – is that right? (You wouldn’t say ‘extracting the extraction of resources’, right?)

    Empifur: Hmm, I think I’ve been sloppy in this regard. I would talk both about committing usury, and about extracting usury, and extracting usurious tariffs. I’ve been using that ambiguously, but from here on out, I’ll try to use it as you propose, yeah.

    Jacob: “Usury” is the part the proprietor gains merely as a result of their proprietorship, rather than as a result of labor.

    AnCap: Question #12.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: Business owners (by colluding with governments) ‘extract Usury’ by eliminating competition.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Does that mean that without governments, business owners attempting to ‘eliminate competition’ would no longer be ‘extracting Usury’?

    Jacob & Empifur: No. That is simply one way in which they do it today.

    AnCap: What other ways (i.e., without governments) could business owners successfully eliminate competition? Can you give me a real world example?

    Empifur: Sure. At one end of the plausibility spectrum, they can eliminate competitors by killing them. That is an option that capital holds. At the more realistic end, though, holding monopolies, intimidation, and undercutting at a loss are all ways that business owners have successfully eliminated competition, historically. Does that answer your question, or were you trying to get at something different?

    AnCap: Question #13.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: The ‘profit’ a capitalist makes merely by holding title to a resource is wrong to make because they take a share of what the workers produce, even though they only ‘allow’ the workers to produce, rather than actively helping them to produce.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: You say here that a capitalist ‘only allows’ workers to produce – what do you mean by this? (Why must people wait on a capitalist to ‘allow’ them to begin producing? Why wouldn’t people be able to begin producing without a capitalist?)

    Empifur: Without the capital investment of a means of production, people can not produce. This is not to say that people cannot produce without a capitalist, but that the only “work” that the capitalist does is allowing the use of their investment.

    AnCap: How does a capital investment (or capital good) originally come into existence? Who does that work of bringing it into existence? (And who ‘ought to profit’ from that work?)

    Jacob: Proprietors historically gained (legal) ownership over a great deal of capital goods…

    AnCap: I was trying to understand how capital goods come into existence?

    Empifur: Capital investments can be produced by (a) workers in a factory, or a community.

    Or, Capital investments can also come from (b) capital, e.g., interest is generated by existing capital, creating more capital. The money for the interest comes from interest on loans. The labour for the capital creation comes from the worker class. (Loans with interest are statistically speaking more likely to be made to lower-income individuals in today’s world.)

    AnCap: Question #14.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: AnCom advocates… eliminating the ability of some to… keep more value for themselves than what they actually create.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: How do you determine how much value someone has created? Example: my boss and I have a customer that comes to us with a problem and we solve that problem, i.e., we created value. How much value did I create and how much value did my boss create? (Like, what info do you need to know to determine how much value I created versus how much value my boss created? How much time did we each spend solving the problem? Or how much the customer paid for it? Or what are the factors you need to determine how much value was created, with an eye towards then dividing up how much value I get to keep versus how much value my boss gets to keep.)

    Empifur: Usurious incomes are incomes beyond the “inherent value” of the thing.

    AnCap: Who or what determines the ‘inherent value of a thing’?

    Empifur: Damn, good question. Inherent value is determined the same way that truth is determined: by community consensus. Moreover, ‘inherent value’ is just a stand-in (here) for “portion of capital not including interest/usury,” such as the principle of a loan or the maintenance of a factory. Does that make sense? It might not.

    AnCap: Question #15.

    . . .

    Jacob: Who or what determines the ‘inherent value of a thing’? I know of no objective way of determining this, and I don’t expect to find one.

    “Cost,” in the end, reduces to labor. Voluntary arrangements between people will determine what is “equitable,” and so one might argue that you and your boss would simply have to agree between yourselves what you each deserve.

    However, the overall context in which one is operating matters. Differences in power, property claims, and so forth can cause people to agree to things that they would not otherwise. Of course, what counts as “equal” bargaining positions is also, for better or worse, subjective.

    AnCap: Question #16.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: Those with property can consume what those who work for them produce without helping to produce themselves, all while the producers live with no property of their own.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Does AnCom somehow assume that the two are mutually exclusive – that if you work for a property owner you can’t also be a property owner yourself? (Seems like a silly thought but I don’t know how else to read this…)

    Jacob: A lot of workers rent their homes rather than owning land or houses in the U.S. and Europe. Apart from homes, only a minority of the population own workplaces, as far as I know.

    AnCap: Question #17.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    AnCom Claim: AnCom argues that AnCap takes away the freedom of those living within it, and AnCap argues AnCom the reverse.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    AnCap: Yes, but AnCom explicitly states that they WILL use force to take freedoms away from people, while AnCap does not – how do you propose I view AnCom as freedom-loving when part of the foundation of the ideology is to maintain that it’s ok to use force to take people’s freedoms away? (For example, the freedom to trade with someone else in the form of, say, loaning me $100 if I pay you back $110 next week. Using force to stop people from making that voluntary arrangement is clearly opposition to freedom – right? Or, what am I missing?)

    Empifur: I think that we would both agree that nobody should have the freedom to drop an atomic bomb on a city that has angered them – we all draw the line somewhere.

    I think that the difference is that ancaps would like to view the individual as sovereign and hope that the invisible hand of the market exists also in, say, censoring individuals that would like to drop atomic bombs, whereas Ancoms recognize that, pragmatically, racism exists, for example, and so if we don’t struggle against it actively, then, in an ancap world, everyone who is black would be much less free than everyone who is white because they would have less access to both financial and social capital. As such, we have to agree that what we are trying to do is minimize the possibility of coercion, which ancaps do not address. Does that make sense? Please push me out on this one if not, too.

    How’s all that look?

    AnCap: Your last paragraph is the most confusing for me. I’m going to see if I can’t break it down and make sense out of it for myself:

    The difference between AnCaps and AnComs is that (for just one example) when it comse to atomic bombs, AnCaps would like to sit back, relax, and count on the ‘free market’ to prevent anyone from dropping a bomb on somebody. By contrast, AnComs think that when it comes to atomic bombs, people should actively struggle against letting anyone drop those bombs.

    For another example, take racism: AnComs recognize that racism exists, whereas AnCaps do not recognize that racism exists. So, where AnComs would actively struggle to end racism, AnCaps don’t even see that it exists, so if AnCap ideology were to spread, everyone who is black would be much less free than everyone who is white because they would have less access to both financial and social capital (as a result of AnCaps inability to recognize that racism exists, and furthermore, their trust that the ‘free market’ would fix racism even if it did exist, as opposed to actively struggling against it).

    Have I got all that right? (If so, it brings up some super interesting thoughts/questions for me!)

    Empifur: I’d add a bit of nuance regarding ‘mechanisms of prevention’ to your rephrasing of the first paragraph: AnComs would set up ‘mechanisms of prevention’ in communities that would (hopefully) stop people from dropping bombs. We recognize that ultimately an abstract rule imposed from on high could be overturned by any community that decided that they just weren’t about it. So instead, AnCom would engender an anti-bomb-dropping culture. That would be an easy to maintain means of getting people to not drop bombs.

    As far as your second paragraph goes, however, I did not mean to articulate that AnCaps do not recognize that racism exists. What I do mean, however, is that in the AnCap literature which I have read, the attitude towards race is either that “if we level the playing field now, everyone will have the same opportunity to get ahead” or that “issues of racism will be fixed by the operation of the market if we suitably release it from statist constraints.” If neither of these are perspectives that you see cropping up in AnCap frequently, then I would love to hear how you think AnCap addresses issues of structural and institutional injustice, because I haven’t run into such an explanation before.

    If, however, you would grant the former, then I would retort that such a perspective ignores the differences in financial, social, and cultural capital between (for example) white people and black people — differences that would continue to exist (and propagate through generations) even if we abolished the state.

    If, rather, you would grant the latter, then I would be curious to hear what the mechanism is through which releasing the market would abolish these generational disparities when, for example, black people tend to be charged more for the same services that are provided to white people at a lower cost—if this seems to be mostly because of racial bias in people, then why would we think that with fewer constraints people would have less bias in their economic interactions?

    AnCap: Question #18.

    . . .

    Jacob: For this, I’ll have to go through the work of various ancap authors I’ve read or seen scary quotes from. An example off the top of my head, Hoppe advocates “physically removing” a range of people from society, which sounds like use of force to me.

    I’m simply not convinced that ancaps are better than ancoms, as a rule, here.

    AnCap: Question #19.

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Spooner Bookman. Reason: Grammar/Typos
    • #500

      empifur
      Participant

      @Spooner: Wow, you’ve put a lot of time and work into thinking this through and making everything very readable—this formatting is stellar! Thanks for putting that effort in—without it it’d be difficult to maintain a thread this detailed and long!
      As I read through these questions, it seems, as I read them, that there is a certain amount of flow between them, so for my part to keep this more readable, and out of respect to the request of @jacob, what I will try to do here is answer a few questions, and then, when I feel like the next question is a more significant departure from the theme’s we’ve been exploring in the last few questions, I’ll answer it in a new comment, so that hopefully we can get a few different threads spiraling off of this if other people want to jump in and, if they do not, it may improve readability just for the few of us here!
      As far as direct questions go, tbh, I’ve forgotten most of what I asked last time—if I happen upon threads where questions seem to be relevant to me, though, I’ll continue to ask them!

    • #501

      empifur
      Participant

      At any rate, let’s dive in;
      1) Hmm, having checked out the context-conversation you have below, it seems like we’re still talking past each other here. As you’ve phrased it, I don’t see a difference between the AnCom rhetoric and “a priori reasoning” as an idea—supposing a principle as axiomatic is definitionally making an a priori argument for it. I think that the point that Jacob and I are trying to make, however, is simply that every ethical system by necessity has at least one axiom, you can’t argue from literally nothing, and this seems like one that gels pretty well with pretty common human ideas and emotions about how fairness should work, as a bonus. As such, the idea of whether or not these are inherently “rights” or not simply doesn’t hold much interest to us, because the “rights-based” ethical system has less defensibly axioms and implications (e.g. what do rights mean for an interventionist perspective? When ‘rights’ come into conflict with one another, how do we arbitrate between them?) I would go so far as to say that, if you disagree with these articulations of what fairness is, then let’s dig into that, and we can go back and forth on that front, but if you don’t actually disagree, then what does it matter if something is axiomatic, or a right, or not? With more nuance, I would say that all of the points I was making that you are questioning the a prioriness of are implied by what I view as just one a priori axiom, rather than being a priori themselves but… again, if we don’t actually disagree about what fairness looks like, it doesn’t matter. Or would you say that an AnCap system has no a priori assumptions? From my perspective, the idea of the “rights” of the individual and of the supremacy of the sovereignty of the individual that AnCap presumes is also a priori—it’s just a different set of axioms. Unless you disagree?

      2) Okay, I think I get what was going on here now. The question that I was answering was “Can a person be inherently nothing but means?” and the answer to that was no. But the question that I hear now you were actually asking is “Can a person treat another person as only a means (without using “aggression”)?” In this case, it still depends on what you mean by “aggression” or “force,” which you’ve given a few examples of here, but would you be so kind as to articulate for me a definition which you use, so I can grapple with that, instead of with what I’m assuming you are using to define it? Either way, in the case of this particular question, I think that the answer is “yes.” I would recommend, on this subject, Foucault’s lectures on “biopower,” but the tl;dr is that the way that people in power maintain their power today is predominantly not through physical force, but through controlling the material living conditions of others. For example, in a very general case, by enabling the creation of food deserts in low-income neighbourhoods, the capitalist class ensures that low-income people do not have the material means to feed themselves well enough to be able to, for example, concentrate adequately on schooling, and, as such, limiting social mobility. In a more specific and possibly relevant example, a person who worked to make sure that the workers they employed were paid below a living wage and had non-compete clauses in their contracts such that they couldn’t reasonably find other work if they left the job that they were in would, by your definition, not be acting “aggressively,” but would certainly be doing their best to reduce those workers to means alone. Does that answer your question, or have I still not got it?

      3) There is a façade in our current system which says that our institutional checks and balances etcetera are capable of providing “justice,” and yet the murder of Philando Castile goes unaddressed. In an AnCom system, we refuse to use a façade like that. Today in the U.S., “justice” is dispensed as the masses want it to be, but we must also recognize that the perspectives of the masses are powerfully shaped by the influence of the capitalist class. Thus, the reasoning goes, police go unpunished for their murders because people want to protect the institution of the police, and they want to protect the institution of the police because the capitalist class has made them so scared of the other that people feel that they need violent coercive protection, or that such protection can make them “safe.” In an AnCom system, we recognize that justice is what the community wants it to be, and we let the community decide—we simply also hope that, as we create this world, fighting against the capitalist forces, people will also fight against capitalist ideologies such as the one above that leads to the excusing of murderers in the offices of policepeople. Additionally, we hope that struggling together to create strong communities causes people to value those communities, and so desire to mete out justice fairly in them. I’ve tried, in this answer, to offer a generalizable answer, but in the specific case in question (“who determines if a means of production is changed too much”) the answer is much easier: The community decided because it is the community for which keeping the means of production intact matters.

      4) Um, sure, this seems rephrasing seems mostly alright to me. I would quibble with a few of the nuances (particularly, similarly to our “rights” discussion, the idea of “moral legitimacy” doesn’t feel very relevant in praxis to me—particularly when we talk about how people who don’t believe in those norms should interact with people who do believe in those norms, I don’t think that this worldview is very helpful) but, for what we’ve been discussing here… Yeah, I think that that captures it pretty well!

      • #512

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        1. “‘There aren’t any differences (supposing a principle as ‘axiomatic’ is definitionally an a priori argument).’”

        Got it, that clears that up for me. (I had got the impression elsewhere that ‘a priori reasoning’ was something AnCom frowned upon as a rule.)

        . . .

        2. “Yes, some people could not be acting ‘aggressively’ but would certainly be doing their best to reduce workers to means.”

        I realize that people could ‘do their best’ but my question was is it possible?

        . . .

        3. “In an AnCom system, the community decides.”

        How does the community decide?

        (I’m asking essentially the same question in numbers 11, 12, 14a, 15, and 16 — I’m pretty sure you could just pick any one of these as representative of the others.)

        . . .

        4. “Yeah, I think that that captures it pretty well! I would quibble with a few of the nuances but, for what we’ve been discussing here, this phrasing seems mostly alright.”

        Nice, got it.

        • #526

          empifur
          Participant

          1) I think that most folks who want to have a compelling political vision would frown upon a priori reasoning, and I would say that AnComs would seek to minimize it, but there’s a certain extent to which one has to build something on the basis of an emotional appeal, at some level. I hope that, in only making the one appeal (community will make you happier), I minimize that similarly, but I would be curious if you could show me any political system which avoids a priori reasoning entirely?

          2) In short, yes. If I, for example, proposition a woman on the street, I am reducing her to a means, in that I am ignoring her needs (safety in public spaces, respect as a complex person, &c) to sate my own (sex drive, ownership of public space). This is a reduction of a person to a means. This is a more philosophical idea than political one though, so if you want me to answer this differently, I may need you to rephrase your original question so that I can try to understand it better?

          3) I’ll answer this one on one of the subsequent asks, so as to keep this particular post more on theme and shorter.

          4) great.

          • #543

            Spooner Bookman
            Participant

            1. Real quick, the way your first sentence is worded, it sounds like you are saying ‘a priori reasoning’ is the equivalent of ‘an emotional appeal’ — almost like you are using them interchangeably — are you, or am I reading that wrong? (And to your question: No, I don’t think I could show you a compelling political system that avoids a priori reasoning.)

            2. So for AnCom, ‘No one has a right to ignore any other person’s needs in a way that also sates one’s own need’ – is that right?

            3. AnCom & the Myth of Monopoly

    • #502

      empifur
      Participant

      5) Absolutely, yes, that is my assumption. I raised this question earlier, and I think it’s still relevant here, and I don’t know if we can proceed until I hear how you feel about it—when you say “voluntarily,” what do you mean? The typical AnCap articulation which I have heard before would be that any contract you sign is a “voluntary” association, but I can think of all kinds of scenarios (e.g. your family is starving and you cannot grow your own food because all land is owned, but only one person will offer you a job, and getting that job requires you signing yourself up for lifelong indentured servitude) in which this “free” association is really the result of economic coercions leveraged by virtue of inequitable distributions of wealth, and so I would not call those associations “voluntary” in any meaningful sense? Does this address what you’re talking about, or have I missed it?

      • #514

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        5. “Absolutely, yes, that is my assumption. When you say ‘voluntarily’ what do you mean?”

        AnCap defines ‘voluntarily’ as ‘not forced’ (with ‘force’ being the ‘interference with the freedom of action of another individual’). Is your understanding still that in AnCap one would be subject to coercion from communities with which is not forced to associate with?

        • #527

          empifur
          Participant

          5) I realized after posting this that you had rendered this definition earlier, which changed someof my subsequent responses, but I didn’t make it back to edit this one.

          Here, as far as I can tell, you’re using “coerced” and “forced” interchangeably, and I’m going to push back against that. However, to first respond to your direct question, I would say that, by your definition of “forced” (and, as such, “coerced,” in your question), it really depends on what you mean by “freedom of action.” Freedom to act as one pleases? AnCaps don’t really believe in that, as they would eschew unjust force. Freedom from outside forces determining your lot in life/mode of action? AnCaps don’t really believe in that, because they believe in allowing people to be so economically marginalized that their only option to continue surviving may be to sell themselves into slavery. If we take the narrowest and most conservative definition, something to the order of “freedom from having your autonomy or property impinged upon by others, and having actions determined by that virtue” then I would say that in AnCap theory, one would not be subject to force from communities which one did not choose to “voluntarily” associate with. That said, I think that there are some critical caveats:

          a) I think that a system which pledges to protect the sovereignty of property will necessarily result in forceful violence against individuals, because it will be in the interest of the system to use violence in edge cases where it is unclear if a violation occurred or not, rather than to not (ex. if two people create a thing together, and both claim soveriegnty over it after a falling out, who gets it? If a dead parent doesn’t leave a will, who does their land belong to? What agents enforce these property rights, and do we really think that these agents could not be influenced by wealth? Suppose a good is unowned. How does a person come into ownership of it? If there are competing claims?) As such, whether in theory there is excessive violence, if it is a necessary result of praxis, so what?

          b) I think that the issue of “freedom” in your definition is a really important one. I would phrase the goal of AnCom also as ensuring maximum freedom of individuals, but I would define “freedom” as “the ability to achieve as much happiness in one’s life as one chooses to.” As such, “freedom of action” for me would have more to do with the ability to reach for happiness, rather than a safeguarding against cutting off of choice. Why is this definition of freedom necessarily worse than (that which I assume is) yours? Or how would you define that?

          c) The issue of coercion vs. force may seem semantic but I think is really important. I have been using coercion as an umbrella term for different ways of compelling people– physical (force), economic, etcetera. I think that AnCap would necessarily be rife with coercions of various sorts– just not, in theory, necessarily, that of force.

          d) clearly what I’m leading to here is a question of, like, if “freedom of action” means something other than “freedom for everyone to achieve maximum happiness,” why should we value it?

          • #544

            Spooner Bookman
            Participant

            5. “Then in that case, I would say that in AnCap one would NOT be subject to aggression (initiatory force) from communities which one did not choose to ‘voluntarily’ associate with – at least in theory. (That said, I think that there are some critical caveats.)”

            Awesome, glad we cleared that up. (Responses to your ‘caveats’ will be in Empifur’s Caveats.)

            Back to the initial ‘guard’ on the toll road (the original line of inquiry):

            AnCom Claim: A ‘private property’ owner is like a guard running a toll gate on a road in the sense that the owner – like the guard – solicits a fee from people but doesn’t produce (or offer) anything in return for the money, meaning the guard in effect ‘steals’ from them.

            So in the end, the claim is simply that a ‘private property owner’ is like a thief, not a guard, in that they ‘solicit a fee from people’ but they don’t ‘produce or offer anything in return’. And then, incidentally, almost as an aside: a ‘guard’ would also happen to be like a thief IF the ‘guard’ isn’t doing anything but soliciting ‘a fee’ from people and doesn’t ‘produce or offer anything in return’ (since that is the definition of a ‘thief’ and not the definition of a ‘guard’). (In which case, all rational observers would surely just refer to the person in question as a ‘thief’ for the sake of clarity.)

            Do I understand this claim now?

    • #503

      empifur
      Participant

      6) I won’t presume to answer for Jacob here, but in my perspective, this is articulating that communities would be excited about supporting people who were willing to take a risk on something new that might not pan out but which, if it did, would help the community. Today our society says that failed entrepreneurs don’t deserve support, but if we could give people a safety net to fall back on… Imagine what kind of innovation might come about, if people didn’t have to worry as much about whether a good idea is also capable of allowing them to make a living in a world dominated by capitalist-class consciousness!

      7) This might be an unsatisfying answer, but I’m going to go back and rely on our one axiom here—again, if you feel like fairness exists in a different way from the way in which I have articulated it above, let’s get into that. If you don’t, however, I would articulate exploitation as “action that uses a person against our conception of fairness” or “action which treats a person as a means rather than an end” or “action which draws benefit for a person in power by virtue only of their holding that power, from another person.”

      8) I’m going to quibble with this language here, because I think that language is important. You’ve earlier been using “aggressive” the way that I use “coercive,” but then here you equate “non-violence” with “non-aggression” when I’ve articulated the importance of coercive nonviolent action. Would you be able to define “aggressive” in the general for me, so that I can grapple with this better, rather than just by example? That said, /if/ I’m understanding this question correctly, there are people who call themselves AnComs who would say that physically violent means are justified by utopian ends, but I would argue that any reading of Proudhon, Bakunin, Bookchin, Arendt, or Goldman that I can imagine (to name only the classics) would assert that using physical violence is creating a new injust power dynamic in a concretely different way from economic coercions (because economic coercions only work if a community is united in enforcing them, whereas one individual can try to take justice into their own hands to hurt another individual, in short (note bene that under this schema, property destruction is not necessarily “physically violent”)), and so cannot lead to a world without injust hierarchies. As such, what you have is not a gamut of AnCom, but rather, AnCom and Arrogants.
      I think that getting a definition of “voluntary” to work with from you will help me to clear this up in my mind, too, seeing some of your contextualizing below. Does this answer anything for you?

      • #515

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        6. “‘Entrepreneurship’ is ‘People who are willing to take a risk on something new that might not pan out but which, if it did, would help the community’. Furthermore, in AnCom, there would be a ‘safety net’ that ‘people who are willing to take a risk’ could fall back on — they wouldn’t have to worry as much about whether a good idea is also capable of allowing them to make a living.”

        If the ‘safety net’ of AnCom eliminates the ‘risk’ to an individual of trying something new, would it be accurate to say that there isn’t really ‘entrepreneurship’ in AnCom since ‘willingness to take a risk’ is a defining characteristic of ‘entrepreneurship’?

        . . .

        7. “‘Exploitation’ is defined as (1) ‘Action that uses a person against our [?] conception of fairness’ or as (2) ‘action which treats a person as a means rather than an end’ or as (3) ‘action of one person which benefits another person by virtue only of the latter holding power.’”

        How does the person you’re communicating with know when you are using which of the three definitions?

        . . .

        8. “Some AnComs (1) would say that physically violent means are always justified by utopian ends. Some AnComs (2) would argue physically violent means are never justified, for any reason. Some AnComs (3) would argue physically violent means are never justified but in AnCom ‘property’ destruction is not necessarily ‘physically violent’ and as such some AnComs could be ‘pro’ physical violence in the eyes of those who believe ‘property rights’ are morally legitimate, but to those who do not recognize this legitimacy, well, it’s no violence at all (so they are pro/anti-aggression depending on your point of view). All that to say, you are almost correct, but what you have is not a gamut of AnCom, but rather, AnCom and Arrogants.”

        Which of the three AnCom types are the Arrogants, and which are true AnComs?

        • #528

          empifur
          Participant

          6) I might say it dampens it, but it certainly is not eliminated. On the one hand, risk as being necessary for entrepreneurship is more a descriptive feature in our current system, than an inherent part. Even if that weren’t so, however, it is not the case that there is no risk in an AnCap system. To convince the community to enable one to take a risk, one would have to burn social capital which one would not receive back if one’s venture failed, one would lose face/reputation, and one would lose the confidence of the community in one’s ability to do things like this in the future. These are all still real risks, if not risks to one’s ability to continue living, as is sometimes the case today.

          7) Good question. What I was trying to do here is descriptively encompass my use of the word, so as to be most honest to what I’ve previously said, rather than pinning down one exact definition, which may not have been fair of me. All of these get at the idea of using people unfairly, though, and if we want one simple encompassing definition, I’d put that one forth, but I’d also be more curious– how would you define exploitation?

          8) I’m arguing that types 1 and 2 are “arrogants,” and type 3 (incidentally me) is in the right. There are those who would disagree with me, but that’s what I’m choosing to assert.

      • #545

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        6. AnCom & Entrepreneurship

        7. ’Exploitation’ is (for a simple encompassing definition) ‘using people unfairly’. How would you define exploitation?

        I’m fine with that definition.

        To return to the hypothetical, i.e., the factory’s capitalist boss hands over the biz to the workers and the workers choose to maintain the arrangement with capitalist: At the factory where I currently work, we workers would unanimously vote to continue the arrangement with the capitalist.

        We all believe it is what we ‘really’ want. The reason we believe this is that we see ourselves ‘using’ the capitalist, and the capitalist is ‘using’ us, and this mutual exchange is almost entirely ‘fair’ except for the fact that in most regards, it’s actually a little more ‘unfair’ to the capitalist than it is to us, i.e., if anyone is exploiting anyone, it’s we workers exploiting the capitalist. But you’re saying no – the capitalist is definitely exploiting us.

        How did we get it so backwards? You said ‘this could potentially get to some tricky ideas about what people “really” want as versus what they are just “conditioned” to want’ — what do you mean by that? What is it that we are supposed to ‘really’ want?

        8. AnCom & Aggression

    • #504

      empifur
      Participant

      9) Looking at your conversation chain below, this seems like a question for Jacob. I am quoted in that chain as saying that I think that usury is fine /if/ it meets my standards for “voluntary,” but that I think that, when presented with a broad enough array of options to meet that standard, no one would choose to be subject to usury. As such, this question doesn’t seem germane to my particular argument? Unless you disagree, I’ll let Jacob take that one on.

      10) This, too, is Jacob’s argument and not mine. If I were to take a stab at it, what I think Jacob is saying is that Rothbard wouldn’t approve of passive euthanasia, but that we would refuse to outlaw it? I dunno

      • #516

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        9. “This question doesn’t seem germane to my particular argument? Unless you disagree, I’ll let Jacob take that one on.”

        I find it very germane to your argument, but you’ve done so much already, feel free to skip a few!

        • #529

          empifur
          Participant

          9/10) Yo, if you find these germane to my argument, if you want to put int he time to rephrase your thought so that your questions make it clear how you’re interrogating what I’ve said instead of just being responses to what Jacob said, I’d be glad to engage with these farther!

    • #505

      empifur
      Participant

      11) Ultimately the answer here is going to riff off of my comments above on how justice is dispensed without the façade of pretending that “justice” is anything but another vehicle for the will of the people. The community decides.

      12) Bringing the bread machine into existence is worthy of whatever compensation the community deems appropriate for the work involved to fabricate that machine. I think a better articulation of the problem would be that in an AnCap system, a capitalist can buy a bread machine that another person has made, and then by virtue of having that capital investment, make money on renting it out alone. This highlights the independent nature of the “fabrication” action and the “renting” action better than my earlier example.

      • #517

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        11. “The community decides.”

        How does the community decide? (Basically same as question #3.)

        . . .

        12. “Bringing the bread machine into existence is worthy of whatever compensation the community deems appropriate.”

        How does the community decide what to deem appropriate? (Basically same as question #3, with a little bit of difference.)

        • #530

          empifur
          Participant

          11) Okay, let’s take this on. So there’s a lot of diversity in AnCom thought here on how this’ll happen, but I’m going to try to outline what I think is the most reasonable mainstream argument here, leaving some of the other ones alone, for brevity’s sake. Before diving in, though, I would offer the v significant caveat that really what AnCom is about is empowering people/communities to selfgovern, and so if everyone decides that they want to do things some way, and it isn’t this, AnComs would try to support that (within bounds– e.g., not supporting forcefully violent action), and some of the best ideas would probably only emerge in transition– this cannot be mapped out entirely beforehand, and so this gets into transition theories a little bit as well, which is why this is going to be a long story.

          So, the ideal mode of transition currently is the “out of the shell of the old” mode, wherein AnComs create various AnCom institutions (schools, hospitals, community councils, road repair squads, whatever). People interact with these institutions, and, if we’re right about our theory, they find themselves proved happier through interacting in these empowering institutions. If they are, then, their mode of thinking and interacting with the world will be changed by virtue of that interaction to favour modes of structuring institutions similar to those which they have experienced positively. As such, as we create institutions in a statist system, we are able to only iteratively approach an ideally structured institution, and then, eventually, once we have enough of those around to provide all of the services of the state, the state will whither, the allegiances of the people shifted to these alternative institutions. Okay, so, that said, this iterative nature means also that things will be a little different from what I outline, but the standard outline runs something like this: The end goal is communities of around or less than 5,000 individuals. These communities would have plenary meeting on the reg (weekly? Monthly? Flexibly depending on when a meeting is called? Whatever). During these meetings, we have various measures in place to try to ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard equally (everyone has to vote on everything? Time limits on speaking by demographic? Majority rule? Consensus-based decision making? More nuanced systems? Who knows.) This meeting is the mechanism through which the community decides on things. What if we want to talk about larger-scale, regional communities, to coordinate between hundreds of thousands of people? Well, suppose there’s a regional assembly. The community assemblies each decide on what positions they want represented at the lower assembly. Then, a person volunteers to represent the community at the lower assembly as a delegate. The important idea here, and the way that it is delegatory rather than representative, is that you are not electing a person who has a platform, you are all choosing a platform together, and a person simply represents that– if they fail to do so, they can be immediately recalled, and replaced with another individual who will. This system of delegation can go all the way down from the locus of power(the people) to a low-level global coordinating system, if necessary. How do people decide what communities they get to influence? Voluntary association, with further rules set by the community. This is, clearly, a very rough framework, and any part of this could be rewritten by a community to fit their particular needs better– the point is that this is a means of placing the locus of power in the people, and still allowing coordination and organization accross larger scales.

          So, given that context, in succinct answer to your actual question: The community decides how to community decides, but the initial models for how communities should decide will be directly democratic, probably 2/3rds majority needed to decide upon a thing, with committees delegated as needed for more specific issues, and norms of behaviour strongly in place to avoid marignalization of voices based on identity (the way that we implement those norms is a different, also well-developed argument).

          Um, does that answer your question at all? The scope of the question is pretty enormous, so I wanted to cast a wide net, but I lose specificity as a result?

          12) Using the mechanism above, the community can decide how they want to make that decision. Communities that haven’t found themselves marginalized through capitalist practices might implement those on a smaller scale as a means of communicating scarcity and value of goods, with moderation in terms of safety nets and such. Communities that have found themselves more marginalized by that might take a more “from each according to their ability and to each according to their needs” approach, prioritizing happiness in production over happiness in consumption. Whatever works?

      • #548

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        11. How does ‘The Community’ differ from ‘The State’? They both sound like territorial monopolies of ultimate decision making, which is how what I understand a ‘State’ to be. But AnCom is opposed to the State, right? So what am I not understanding about the distinction?

        12: I got the impression from the original post (Jacob’s ‘Hopes for a Coalition’) that “Usury” is the ‘part’ or the ‘share’ one gains merely as a result of ownership, rather than labor. But that’s not true: ‘usury’ isn’t a ‘part’ or a ‘share’ of anything – ‘usury’ is an action. ‘Usury’ is like the murder, not the dead body that is a result of the murder… ‘Usury’ is like coal mining – it’s not the actual coal itself, or some amount of coal. ‘Usury’ is to ‘illicit/undeserved profit/gain’ as ‘coal mining’ is to ‘coal’. If I’m practicing usury, I’m extracting more of a share of something than I should have (i.e., illicit/immoral/’wrongful’ gain/profit) — have I got that right? Am I (finally) understanding ‘usury’ correctly??

    • #507

      empifur
      Participant

      14) a) Either the workers, or the community, depending on which flavor of ancom you subscribe to. Personally, I would advocate for the community, but granting the workers a larger voice in that community forum than a person uninvolved in the fabrication.
      b) Yeah, I think you’ve summed it up pretty well. Capital can come from capital through interest generation, which is, ultimately, subsidized by the working class. It was a rhetorically flashy way of commenting that, really, all capital has its roots in the labour of the working class. If this isn’t addressing your confusion, could you ask a more specific question for me to respond to?

      15) Good question. In capitalism, communities come to consensus on the value of goods through the mechanisms of the market. In AnCom, communities come to these consensuses through explicit conversation. Communities decide what kind of labour is deserving of what kind of remuneration, based on what the community members bring to the table and/or need. I should avoid using the word “inherent,” because this philosophy is postmodern to the extent that it articulates that no thing inherently has value, but rather has value only as we choose to assign it.

      16) I would bet “yes,” but this is a question for Jacob and not me, because I think that I think of value slightly differently from how he thinks of it.

      17) Yes, renters on one axis can be owners on another axis, and so they may be exploited on the first axis and exploiters on the second. So what? Unless you are asserting that everyone really owns as much value as they are exploited for, the observation that the vast majority of people own very little, and a small minority owns much, and so, by and large, usury is a power leveraged from that minority over the majority, still holds. If nothing else, being injustly more powerful on one axis does not justify or excuse being injustly less powerful on another, nor vice versa.

      • #519

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        14a. The workers who produced the capital good, or the community in which the capital good was produced — that’s who decides what to do with it.

        How do the workers (and/or the community) go about deciding what to do with it?

        . . .

        14b. Capital can come from capital through interest generation, which is, ultimately, subsidized by the working class — i.e., all capital has its roots in the labour of the working class.

        Ok, I think I’ve got it: one way that capital can APPEAR to come into existence is from capital itself by charging interest on loaning capital. However, this isn’t actually a source from which capital comes from, because what is happening is that when the loan is given out, the worker that received the loan goes and produces new value, and from that new value, the worker pays the interest on the loan back to the lender — the capitalist now has new capital, BUT it wasn’t ACTUALLY produced by their capital — the new value, the extra money, the interest: it was produced by the worker. That is to say, all capital (i.e., ‘value’ in a lot of ways) ultimately comes from workers (rather than capitalists, for example). I feel like that’s gotta be right?

        . . .

        15. In AnCom, communities come to these consensuses through explicit conversation. Communities decide what kind of labour is deserving of what kind of remuneration, based on what the community members bring to the table and/or need.

        How do the communities hold these ‘explicit conversations’? How do they decide what labor is deserving of what remuneration? (A version of Question #3…)

        . . .

        16. I would bet “yes,” but this is a question for Jacob and not me, because I think that I think of value slightly differently from how he thinks of it.

        If the answer is ‘yes’, my next question is going to essentially be: How does one calculate the ‘cost’ of something from the labor input? (A version of Question #3…)

        . . .

        17. Yes, renters on one axis can be owners on another axis.

        Got it, just wanted to clear that one up.

        • #531

          empifur
          Participant

          14a) See above.

          14b) Yup, that sounds like a pretty good paraphrase to me. I tend to shy away from words like “value” because they seem a little absolute and economic theory pertaining to value creation is not my strength, but that sums up my mental model pretty well, I think.

          15) See above

          16) See above

          17) Cool

      • #549

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        14: Ok, got it. The question I was asking was ‘How do capital goods come into existence?’ So far we’ve identified who brings them into existence — workers — but beyond the ‘who’, my questions was more about the ‘how’… How do capital goods come into existence?

        15: In capitalism, communities ‘come to consensus on the value of goods’ through the mechanisms of the market. By contrast, in AnCom, communities vote on the value of goods.

        It seems unlikely to me that voting would successfully translate the voters subjective values into the information necessary for the rational allocation of resources. Are there any good arguments and/or evidence that voting would result in rational resource allocation? (Or, alternately, is AnCom unconcerned with rationality in this arena, i.e., as long as everyone gets a say in the process, it matters not how irrationally allocated resources are?)

    • #509

      empifur
      Participant

      Oops, evidently missed #13 here:

      13) Okay, so yeah, this, again, isn’t my area of expertise, but I’ll push this out by answering your particular questions, and we’ll see how far we can run with this:

      a) While I granted that outright murder of competitors was on the farther end of the plausibility spectrum, it is a tactic that capital has used before, and I see no reason to think that, barring regulations against that sort of behavior, capital wouldn’t do it again, at least sometimes.

      i) Nothing would prevent new, more heavily armed competitors from arising. This, in fact, often happens in some less regulated regions of the world—we just usually call them “warlords” instead of “capitalists,” but the nature of the spiraling violence could be the same.

      ii) You assume perfect information transfer networks. First of all, human beings usually don’t act perfectly rationally, so even if that /were/ the consequence, that doesn’t make it necessarily a deterrent. Secondly, this only works if the killings are transparently the work of one easily identifiable actor, and if all of that actor’s competitors can put aside their differences and create a coalition for this purpose, which also only works if there are enough competitors that actor #1 only forms a plurality rather than majority of the market—if the actor committing the killings has more power than all of it’s competitors put together, so what if they band together? Either way, this sort of violence often does occur in the contemporary world—again, we simply identify it as “warlordry.”

      iii) While I think that boycotting can be a powerful strategy, it is usually only so powerful in the context of an already powerfully organized movement. In this case, implicit assumptions in your statement are that 1) the good/service provided is one that people can afford to do without, rather than something like “water utilities” or something, 2) it is clearly and unambiguously apparent that this one actor is committing all of the murders, 3) it is easy to identify what products on the market are produced by this actor and 4) the norms of the market are such that these violences are seen as particularly aberrational, rather than just “a cost of doing business” or some such. I can think of plenty of firms today that /do/ kill people (e.g. Exxon, Chiquita, or, more literally, Blackwater), and there is no organized boycott affecting their business in a meaningful way.

      iv) How many people would want to work for a murderer? How many people do you think want to work today in their bullshit jobs? How many people do you think really want to be in the army? How many people want to work for the state? How many people want to work for Chiquita? People work for murderers all the time—they rationalize and do what they have to to make ends meet. If you advertise your company as “those people that murder their competitors!” then, yeah, getting employees might be a bit trickier, but exxon seems to have no shortage of geologists lining up to take its cushy jobs, to me!

      b) A “monopoly” is an organization of the market such that one individual or entity controls the entirety of the economy necessary to provide a particular good or service to the public, or nearly so.

      c) Lower priced goods are fine. What I was alluding to there was the business practice by which a monopoly holder normally jacks the price of their good way up, because there are no competitors in the market and so they can, but if a competitor tries to enter the market, they operate at a loss for a short time to keep their prices artificially low so that no one buys from the competitor, until the competitor goes out of business, and then prices are jacked back up to their normally exorbitantly high levels.

      • #520

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        [The numbering below is new, i.e., these numbers are to help you respond to the following — they aren’t related to the numbers in the preceding comment…]

        . . . . . . . . .

        Is killing competitors a realistic way to eliminate competition?

        Empifur: Outright murder of competitors is a tactic that capital has used before, and I see no reason to think that, barring regulations against outright murder, capital wouldn’t do it again, at least sometimes.

        AnCap: I’m not asking whether or not they would attempt it, I’m asking (#1) if it is a ‘realistic way to eliminate competition’? (You note that nothing would prevent new competition from arising — this concession alone means you admit it is not a realistic way to eliminate competition, or no?)

        . . . . . . . . .

        After one or two competitors got killed, wouldn’t the other competitors ban together and eliminate the murderer?

        Empifur: You assume perfect information transfer networks.

        AnCap: What is (#2) a ‘perfect information transfer network’?

        .

        Empifur: Even if competitors banned together to take out the murderer, it doesn’t make it necessarily a deterrent.

        AnCap: If you take out a murderer, (#3) the murderer’s death wouldn’t be a deterrent to the murderer? (The murderer would go on killing even though they’re dead??)

        .

        Empifur: All of that actor’s competitors would have to be able to put aside their differences and create a coalition for this purpose.

        AnCap: Are you saying that (#4) given the choice between being murdered or forming a coalition, competitors would often choose to be murdered instead of joining together?

        . . . . . . . . .

        People boycott businesses over far less than murder — wouldn’t people find a way to make do without the goods/services in protest, putting the firm out of business?

        Empifur: The norms of the market would have to hold these violences wrong for boycotting to work. For example, plenty of firms today do kill people (e.g., Exxon, Chiquita, Blackwater, etc.), and there is no organized boycott affecting their business in a meaningful way.

        AnCap: We’re not discussing firms killing people as a general concept — we’re talking about firms specifically murdering competitors.

        . . . . . . . . .

        How many people would want to work for a murderer — wouldn’t it be hard to find workers willing to work under such conditions?

        Empifur: How many people do you think want to work today in their bullshit jobs? How many people do you think really want to be in the army? People work for murderers all the time—they rationalize and do what they have to to make ends meet.

        AnCap: Great point, let me rephrase: (#5) How would murdering competitors impact the acquisition and retention of top talent (for most firms)? (Would it have a negative or positive impact? That is: is ‘murdering competitors’ actually ‘good for business’ when it comes to the always difficult task that every entrepreneurial entity faces: finding/retaining top talent.)

        . . . . . . . . .

        What exactly is a ‘monopoly’ to an AnCom?

        Empifur: A “monopoly” is an organization of the market such that one individual or entity controls the entirety of the economy necessary to provide a particular good or service to the public, or nearly so.

        AnCap: Would you agree that (#6) based on this definition we can take this off the list of tactics (or ‘ways’) for eliminating competition? (That is, you listed ‘holding monopolies’ as a ‘way’ of eliminating competition, but isn’t it really the end-result of having eliminated the competition and/or successfully maintaining the elimination of the competition?)

        . . . . . . . . .

        Why would lower priced goods be something to be avoided?

        Empifur: Lower priced goods are fine. What I was alluding to there was the business practice by which a monopoly holder operates at a loss for a short time to keep their prices artificially low whenever a competitor tries to enter the market until the competitor goes out of business, and then prices are jacked back up to exorbitantly high levels. Sure, for a short time consumers enjoy low prices, but that is only temporary — long term, they are still losing out overall since they are generally paying exorbitantly high prices.

        AnCap: Can you give me (#7) an example of where this strategy has proven to be effective/profitable for a business?

        • #532

          empifur
          Participant

          1) Yes, it is realistic. There are always barriers to entry in any market, some smaller and some larger, some more or less just, but the fact that it takes any effort to start a new business at all means that on eliminating a competitor, another won’t just immediately pop up to start gobbling your profits. It takes time, during which one can continue to dominate the market.

          2) Historically, one way that, for example, robber barons got away with murdering so many of the people inconvenient to them was either through using state apparatus to do it, or by maintaining plausible deniability. If you can’t be certain that a particular company offed an activist, there will always be elements in society that will argue we should give them the benefit of the doubt and not sanction them.

          3) Oh, you meant “take out” like “kill,” not like “remove from the market–” even so, to believe that that would not only fix that one injustice (if you believe that you can fix injustice through murder) but act as a deterrent would require one to believe that, for example, longer jail sentences tends to deter murder in the U.S. today, when all evidence indicates that length of prison sentence does not have a significant deterrent effect.

          4) Competitors would often choose to become vassals instead of killing a competitor and risking their own death (note that this does not conflict with #3 because in #3 I am arguing that threat of possible recrimination when one is in a position of power is not a significant deterrent, whereas this proposition is coming from a position of total lack of power, where such a murder would be to declare war from a weaker position). This sort of thinking can, arguably, have lead historically to the rise of feudal economic systems.

          4.5 (boycott)) Exactly. Chiquita literally murdered their competitors. They are not meaningfully impeded by the consumers. I would have to ask for an example that supports your proposition if you want to continue to engage with this idea, simply because I’m not aware of many cases where boycotts of the sort that you propose have been successful (since I would see some categorical differences betweent his kind of boycott and, say, the Montgomery Bus boycotts, or the South African Apartheid boycotts, as a result of both of those being state institutions that have been boycotted)

          5) Shoot, I dunno. Maybe it’s good business? Good question.

          6) To some extent– if you dominate a source up the supplystream, a common tactic of monopoly hodlers, you could choke out competition… But I grant that that is not an inherent property of holding a monopoly, sure.

          7) Couldn’t find an example with a quick google but this source
          https://books.google.com/books?id=bot3MOPlxzMC&pg=PA317&lpg=PA317&dq=unfair+undercutting+to+maintain+a+monopoly&source=bl&ots=z2lj2XtfGy&sig=PQLegyEAiiyMYUe2u2_Hr4ZSDHY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwio6OjVv6DVAhWENz4KHbrzBfoQ6AEIJDAA#v=onepage&q=undercut&f=false
          suggests that that may be because it’s currently illegal in most western countries.

          That said, the Wikipedia article for “predatory pricing” backs this theory up, and, additionally, provides some examples of alleged instances– mostly accused are WalMart and Amazon. Is this proof of profitability? No. That said, like, if walmart’s doing it… I’d assume that there’s a reason?

      • #550

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        [oops, accidental reply.. Admin: feel free to delete!]

    • #510

      empifur
      Participant

      18) With pleasure! Do you mind if I give you a few specific examples, so that I can hear a few different analyses at once, and get a better idea of your position, rather than just going back and forth on one at a time? This particular question I think is vital, and so if you choose to respond to no other part of this back-and-forth, I would be eager to hear your response on these examples, as this is a part of AnCap that mystifies me more than any other.

      a) White people own far more property and hold far more value in equity than black people do, in the U.S. This is not an accidental state of affairs (which is to say that the data do not indicate that white people work harder than black people). Rather, it is the result of both generational disparities, and violent state policy. In the generational disparity category, I would put both i) at the beginning of the reconstruction era, white people had more capital than black people, because black people had recently defeated explicit slavery during which time they were not allowed to own capital, and, since capital can make money simply by existing (in the form of usury/interest), that gave white demographics effectively a free and eternal cash revenue that black people never had to build up capital with to pass on to their children, and then their children, and then their children, and ii) if your parents are racist, and refuse to make fair deals with black people, you are much more likely to have that trait passed on to you, and be less likely to make fair deals with black people also. If for no other reason than the preponderance of white people in the U.S. and the minority status of black people, this issue of racial prejudice will disproportionately affect black people. Beyond that, I would assert that fewer white people are conscious of actions they take which are discriminatory because they don’t have to be as conscious of their race, being part of the “unmarked norm” compared to black people, who have to confront racial issues on the daily.

      In the “violent state policy” category, I would put i) slavery, ii) segregation, iii) redlining, iv) the construction of the interstates, v) miscegenation laws, vi) jim crow laws, vii) environmental racisms ensuring that the communities where black people live are also the communities with the fewest trees, the least secure food sources, and the most pollution, viii) disproportionate policing of minority bodies, and ix) mass incarceration of minority bodies as the most relevant and immediately apparent points re: prevention of black people accumulating capital.
      While these are some of the structural issues currently in play in the operation of white supremacy in the U.S., I think that the important question here is not just “how would AnCap fix these injustices” but also especially “Given that these are all viewed as “normal” by most people, and that racism is ingrained into the behavior of most people both economically and behaviourally (e.g., house prices are lower near black neighbourhoods by virtue of those neighbourhoods being black, leading to a continuing unwillingness of white homeowners to sell to black prospective buyers, even now that redlining practices are less a part of official policy), how could AnCap create a system that works even for black people, when most people (esp. white people) wouldn’t be willing to make fair deals with them?
      Now, you asked for a specific example, and I gave you an entire structure here, because I think that these things are really hard to pick apart, especially when we’re talking about something as broad as “how to appropriately distribute and regulate capital.” I have a number of implied issues above, but if you want concrete interpersonal examples of manifestations of the above to grapple with, keeping the above context in mind I would offer a) the common practice of policing the behavior of “driving while brown,” b) when the interstate highway system was created, the mandate was to create it in the cheapest way reasonably possible. This meant putting it right through black communities because land in black communities was the cheapest, by virtue only of them being black communities. This destroyed many black communities, and left white communities relatively untouched. How would AnCap suggest untangling this tricky issue, to ensure that black communities are not getting discriminated against by virtue of being seen as less economically relevant in this way? And c) Many people who are black report feeling societal animus because, for example, white shopkeepers follow them around, keeping a suspicious eye on them, while the shopkeepers do not do that for their white clients. How does AnCap address this kind of community-destroying behavior?

      That all got a lot longer than I was anticipating it would be, so I would shorten the rest of what I was going to say, in this iteration, to “b) Also, let’s not forget that gender is a thing—“ specifically, I would be curious to hear how AnCap would address issues like the glass ceiling, and the increased targeting of sexualized violence towards women. I’m also eager to hear about how AnCap would address other structural injustices, but these seem like a solid number for starters.

      Alllllllllll of that said, I would be particularly eager if you could address these issues also in the context of our earlier conversation—the questions that I asked that brought about your question 18 still intrigue me!
      Sorry this got so long, I’m particularly interested in this point, so I hope that if you have time to respond to anything here, you respond to this, but if you don’t that is, of course, understandable also!

      Also sorry that this ended up being a more far ranging answer than you were looking for, but I think that that context is potentially important, and hopefully it can head off some potential mutual confusion?

      • #522

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        18. With pleasure! I’ll give you a fairly wide array of examples (with varying degrees of specificity) so you can give a few different analyses at once.

        Sounds good!

        To be clear, the primary question is: how would AnCap ‘address’ the following injustices? Specifically, how would AnCap ‘untangle’ these (often tricky) issues? If AnCap gets its way, how will these issues be improved or resolved?

        Makes sense, I’m pumped!

        #1: White people own far more property and hold far more value in equity than black people do in the U.S as a result of generational disparities and violent state policy.

        When it comes to ‘violent state policy’, AnCap is opposed to the State as well as initiatory violence, so the more accepted AnCap ideas become, the less ‘violent state policy’ will exist. If AnCap were to succeed at any scale, it would cease to exist altogether, thereby resolving the issue.

        As for untangling generational disparities among races, that’s quite a hill to climb and I just did leg day at the gym. I feel that way about several of the following injustices, so I hope it’s not considered cheating if I ask you to climb these hills first (i.e., show me how it’s done):

        How would AnCom untangle generational disparities among races?

        #2: If your parents are racist, you are much more likely to have that trait passed on to you.

        How would AnCom climb this hill?

        #3: Because there are more white people in the U.S. than black people, racial prejudice will disproportionately affect black people.

        If AnCap were to succeed, there would be no such thing as the ‘US’ so it could no longer be said there are ‘more white people in the US than black people’, thereby resolving the issue (as it is worded here).

        #4: Fewer white people are conscious of actions they take which are discriminatory because they don’t have to be as conscious of their race, being part of the “unmarked norm” compared to black people, who have to confront racial issues on the daily.

        How would AnCom untangle this?

        #5. Slavery, Segregation, Redlining, Construction of the interstates, Miscegenation laws, Jim Crow Laws, Disproportionate Policing of Minorities, Mass Incarceration of Minorities, ‘Driving While Brown’.

        Considering these are all State activities, and AnCap is opposed to the State, if AnCap were to succeed at any scale, these activities would cease to exist altogether, thereby resolving all of these issues.

        #6: Environmental racisms ensuring that the communities where black people live are also the communities with the fewest trees, the least secure food sources, and the most pollution.

        I just need some education on this one: ‘environmental racisms’? Who/what is ensuring black people live with the fewest trees/food and most pollution? How is the entity ensuring it?

        #7: House prices are lower near black neighbourhoods by virtue of those neighbourhoods being black, leading to a continuing unwillingness of white homeowners to sell to black prospective buyers.

        You say the housing prices are lower ‘by virtue of those neighbourhoods being black’ — why/how are the prices lower by virtue of those neighborhoods being black?

        #8: White shopkeepers follow black people around, keeping a suspicious eye on them, while the shopkeepers do not do that for their white clients.

        How would AnCom untangle this?

        #9: Gender Injustices like the Glass Ceiling and Increased Targeting of Sexualized Violence Towards Women.

        How would AnCom untangle this?

        Follow Up: Given that the above injustices are all viewed as ‘normal’ by most people, and that racism is ingrained into the behavior of most people both economically and behaviourally, how could AnCap create a system that works even for black people, when most people (esp. white people) wouldn’t be willing to make fair deals with them?

        I would argue first that the above injustices are not viewed as ‘normal’ by most people, e.g., slavery — who thinks that’s normal these days? Surely not ‘most’ people in the civilized world.

        I would point out that AnCap does not seek to ‘create a system’, so we can’t really answer the question, ‘How could AnCap create a system that works even for black people?’ (AnCap seeks to establish a ground rule, the NAP, and ‘on top of that’ you can create any system you want — even an AnCom one, presumably, if only AnCom would agree to the NAP.)

        As for what to do about white people who won’t make fair deals with black people: how would AnCom untangle this?

        • #533

          empifur
          Participant

          #1) “If AnCap were to succeed at any scale, it would cease to exist altogether, thereby resolving the issue.”

          I have to respectfully disagree here. If the state unjustly seizes the product of someone’s labour and redistributes it, then the state disappears, is that injustice addressed? Someone else is still profiting from the capital created by their labour, even in the post-state world, no?

          #2) So on the one hand, no, I don’t think it’s quite fair to ask how AnCom would do it first– if AnCap has no constructive solution of its own that is demonstrably better than statist safety nets and affirmative action or something, then AnCap has failed to meet its threshold of evidence for convincing us that we should dissolve the state, regardless of whether or not AnCom has a solution (and I do think that this is a crucial enough issue for enough people that it’s worth abandoning ambitions of dissolving the state over this if one cannot adequately address it). I bold this not because I’m trying to shout out a “shame, shame” or anything, but rather because I think that outlining constructive options is suuuuuper important, and I’m realllllllly curious what options AnCap would outline, and so I want to make sure that your response to what I say here is not just a picking apart of the options that I lay out, because no idea that I have is perfect, but also includes a constructive option, because I want to learn about AnCap! All of that said, AnCom does have a few options, which I am glad to outline here because when it comes down to it, I am a proselytist at heart.

          AnCom would suggest three options.

          a) The first is what I call “The Anarchist Cop-out.” This one isn’t very satisfying. This one hinges on that transition strategy (“out of the shell of the old”) which I detailed earlier, and argues that, if everyone finds themselves happier in the context of more egalitarian AnCom organizations, this will cause them to adopt more egalitarian norms. Based on this transition mode, a prerequisite for an AnCom society coming about is at least most people being AnComs, and since being AnCom entails embodying antiracist antisexist etc. practices, in any AnCom society that works, these problems would have been fought against already. This one’s weak. Related to this, the argument also exists that as people get more involved in their community, and in the lives of the people around them, as opposed to the current alienation that exists, empathy will grow, and some of these problems will work themselves out/to create a non-statist world we will need to organize ourselves in a coalition with the broader left, growing empathy with egalitarian causes. Also not a super strong argument. The takeaway from both of thse ideas that I like is that we accomplish these things through the generalized mechanism of “changing cultural norms.” I think that that’s a powerful idea, that changing normative expressions of self is the way to effect these changes, which transitions really well to option 2:

          b) Option two, which I happen to like, is related to the nature of the transition institutions that we create. Here, we pull from the work of Foucault on the deconstruction of binaries: Foucault argues that a binary is a system composed of two concepts defined exclusively in opposition to each other (e.g., poetic/prosaic). One of these concepts is arbitrarily (definitionally) privileged over the other (e.g., poetry is seen as more artistic in today’s society than prose writing). In order to deconstruct a binary like this, it is not enough to work to ameliorate this difference– there will always be rightist elements which pull any attempt at compromise away from actually equality (e.g., if you say “Why don’t we view /both/ poetry and prose as art!” there will always be people who say “Yeah, sure, but poetry’s deeper”, and so consensus will remain still on the poetry-is-more-art side of the line). As such, what one must do is actually flip the binary (create a faction that argues that prose is more artistic than poetry). After doing this, rightist factions will react by trying to pull the consensus back to their side (organizing Poetry Over Prose groups), and consensus will swing back and forth in a dampening oscillation, until it finally settles down and the two ideas remain “at play” (any person can see either poetry or prose as more artistic). This translates very well to privilege issues as well– for example, with the man/woman binary, we’ve been going about it all wrong. Attempts to empower women such that they are equal with men will always be met by rightist resistance, and so never achieve equality. If, however, what we try to do is actively privilege women over men for a time it not only plays really well into Foucault’s model for change, but it also would teach men more empathy which we tend to be sorely lacking about what structural oppressions feel like. As such, this model for working against structural injustices says that we need to create institutions that, as a matter of policy, privilege demographics which are currently udnerprivileged, in order to allow for that series of dampening oscillations approaching a more equitable future. This is one blueprint for change, that fits particularly well with AnCom because of they way that AnCom already relies on community institutions and structures, while AnCap does not (is my impression). As far as how this is achieved, Foucault and Girard and Latour also have some ideas about the power of norms, and how those operate to create who people are, and ways of manipulating those… but I don’t think that those are as relevant to this point, so I’ll leave them out unless you want me to expound?

          c) The less radical policy option involves a lot of nuts and bolts that, hopefully all together would work to fix this to some extent. These things include, but are not limited to:
          — 100% inheritance tax, so that you don’t benefit unjustly from your parents’ capital (beyond the educational and nutritional advantages they may give you as a child)(combined, of course, with a strong social safety net, so that you won’t be beggared by not getting help from your parents)
          — A strong social safety net (see above) to prevent chance accidents from ruining people’s lives (ex. single-payer healthcare, UBI, &c).
          — Land reform a la the Sandinistas
          — Usury bans
          — &c
          These are, of course, measures that could be implemented in the nearer future, as in the more distant future, ideas like “taxes” would have to be framed differently– in a situation where we have posession rights as opposed to property rights, though, all of one’s capital would revert to the community pool on one’s death, so it wouldn’t, in effect, be so different in some ways.

          I definitely had another option for how we could deal with this which I thought was the most elegant one, but I totally forgot what it was, as I had to make a long drive between beginning to type this and finishing now. Hmm. Oh well. Those are a few options which AnCom would suggest, which don’t work so well under AnCap. There is also, of course, always the Brave New World option, by which children are raised communally, which I personally like, but I recognize that there is no humane or just way to implement, so I entertain that idea only flippantly.

          So what are the AnCap solutions?

          #3) This is a nonanswer. Yes, the U.S. as an entity wouldn’t technically exist, but it wouldn’t change the fact that the landscape where the U.S. previously was, and the economy that existed there still, would be dominated by people who are white relative to people who are black. Dissolving the state doesn’t affect the existence of cultural norms.

          #4) AnCom would address this with the strategies above, among others. Particular strategies that I also use on the daily, as small ways of fighting against this particular norm:
          — always mention a person’s race if they’re white, but not if they aren’t (e.g., “my friend Bryan, who’s white, told me the other day that…”, “Oh, are you talking about that white boy over there?”)
          — noting cultural expressions as white (e.g., “oh, yeah, he loves starbucks because he’s just really white”, “You’re only asking me to go to a hockey game because you think I’ll like it because I’m white”)
          — working to put myself in spaces where people who aren’t white hold most of the power (e.g., Black Lives Matter protests, historically black colleges/universities, living in immigrant communities without gentrifying, etc.)

          These are not, of course, perfect solutions, and are little/nothing compared to the kind of societal change that institutions can bring about, but it’s something.

          What would AnCap suggest?

          #5) See my answer to #1 in this post– Additionally, just because the state would stop enforcing these policies does not mean that they would stop existing. After all, what, in AnCap, would stop white homeowners from banding together to redline people of colour from their town? What would stop Jim Crow? More importantly, in line with #1, how would this address the fact that everyone is not coming from an even playing field because these policies ever existed?

          #6) This is something I’m particularly passionate about, so i’m glad to expound! Environmental racism is when racism manifest through environmental policy. For example, the “Not In My Backyard (NIMBY)” movement has very effectively meant that solar farms, wind farms, power plants, etcetera, are not built in white neighbourhoods– they’re built where the people of colour live. There is some intersection here with class, also, as some of this happens along more strictly classist than racist lines, such as when property prices are lower over soils which have been contaminated by lead, and so the incidence of lead poisoning is much higher in poorer populations not because they’re choosing to drink lead, but because they cannot afford to live somewhere where the ground isn’t contaminated by lead, and the powers that be don’t care enough about poor people to enforce environmental legislation that would require that lead to be cleaned up, or, if it is cleaned up, those neighbourhoods are often promptly gentrified. I think that a prime example of this kind of thing is the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan– here, a population of primarily black and brown people had their water contaminated for years, because it was cheaper for the state, and because issues that don’t affect white people simply aren’t on legislative agenda. Additionally, there is usually less tree cover in neighbourhoods which cities don’t care about as much, (i.e., where black people live), leading to higher temperatures and worse air quality, both risk factors for disease and death… the list goes on. This sort of thing is what I’m talking about when I speak of “environmental racism.” If you want to know more than that, because that’s not a satisfying answer for you, there are some other resources (I’d start with the wikipedia article), but I won’t take up more of your time here if you’re not interested in pursuing it farther, necessarily.

          #7) Here are three studies that I would point you towards:
          https://academic.oup.com/sf/article-abstract/82/4/1523/1942025
          http://www.jstor.org/stable/2657496?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0094119004000397

          These are not comprehensive, but a sampling of work on this subject. The book “Evicted,” by Matthew Desmond, takes a more narrative approach to answering a similar question, and I would recommend that, and “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander, for the most comprehensive answer to your question here.

          In short, though, what I mean is that a house loses value by being owned by people who are black, or most especially if it exists in a neighbourhood which is primarily black, even if we control for socioeconomic status/location/etc. of the neighbourhood. The only reason that the house doesn’t appreciate as fast, or is seen as less valuable, is because there are people who are black or brown around. I would posit that this is because the U.S. is still a pretty racist place, but the studies above can give you a more in-depth answer, probably.

          #8) See answers above.
          What would AnCap do about this?

          #9)See answers above.
          What would AnCap do about this?

          Follow-up) First, I would pettily point out that it’s important to remember that slavery as an institution is alive and well today. Does it exist in the same way as it has historically? Absolutely not. But sex slavery is still a massive global issue, and, in the U.S., we have more black people incarcerated and working without sufficient pay to exit indenture today than were enslaved at the height of the trans-atlantic slave trade (Source: “The New Jim Crow,” by Michelle Alexander).

          That said, while I would agree that slavery as it existed in the 1800s would certainly be looked down upon widely in the contemporary U.S.A., to say that “the above injustices are not viewed as ‘normal'” is a stretch. After all, if redlining wasn’t “normal,” then why are neighbourhoods so strongly segregated in the U.S. today? If environmental racism wasn’t viewed as “normal,” why are the health effects of our energy production disproportionately borne by people who are black and brown? If suspicion of black and brown people isn’t “normal,” then why did Arizona pass “show me your papers” laws? If it weren’t “normal” to view women as less competent, why does the glass ceiling exist? These all exist as societal ills because societal norms prop them up, norms created by the demographics in power. These are hierarchies that, as anarchists, we are obliged to struggle against just as much as that of state over people.

          you say that “AnCap does not seek to create a system–” so does it only represent destruction, teh tearing down of institutions? How can we create cultures that foster happiness for people out of a movement centered on destruction, and not on the creation of anything after that? Beyond that, if AnCaps tear down a state which, at a minimum, assures that it is illegal for hate crimes to be committed, even if thoes laws are not regularly enforced, and then claims it has no responsibility to replace that with anything else to ensure that racists and sexists and homophobes are not given free reign to do what they will, so long as they don’t, in the light of day and public, lay an actual hand on a person, how can it wash its hands of the inevitable violence (both forceful and nnonforcefully coercive) that would necessarily come as a result? Even if AnCom doesn’t have perfect solutions on this front, if it’s at least trying to figure it out, trying to provide safety nets and such, it is striving for a world in which a person cannot be cast out simply because their neighbours are hateful people, whereas AnCom does not seem to me to be aspiring even for that?

          Anyway, that got really long again, but as I mentioned earlier, I think that this is a really crucial reason, for me, that I align with AnCom over AnCap, and so I am suuuuuuuuper curious to hear what AnCap has to say about this! Some of these questions might, without my vocal inflection, intimate vehemence, but I assure you, I am asking genuinely, because I amreally curious what the AnCap response to these issues is!

          Again, if you have time to respond to only a small part of our conversation here, I would love it if it would be this part that you dedicate that time to, because I think that this is a really interesting part for me! (of course, if you don’t have time to respond to anything at all, taht also makes sense!)

    • #511

      empifur
      Participant

      19) Hmm, okay, so I would use “force,” “aggression,” and “violence” all in different ways (following Arendt, “force” is a physically-based power, “aggression” is a propensity to initiate violence, and “violence” is any application of one’s will that causes a person to actualize themself at a level lower than their potential capacity for actualization) so I’m reading into this an assumption that by all of these things you mean to bring to mind the definition of “aggression” that you gave me earlier (something to the order of “physical coercion.”). Given all of that, and in line with my other answer above, I would say that I am okay with non-physical coercions (which I would call “violent” but not “forceful”), but not with what I am hearing you call “aggression,” or use of physical coercion, and I do not think that any AnCom can adequately justify a different position. That said, I am but human and weak of will, and so I am hesitant to condemn force when it is working against fascism, but that’s a personal failing, not an “AnCom position.” Following from this, in all of the examples that you list where you would suppose an AnCom would justify using force, I would say that an AnCom could use non-forceful violence. While some people would condemn “non-forceful violence” as inadequate to bring about change, I could cite many examples where it has been sufficient even in the face of adversity (the book “coals of fire” details some of these on an interpersonal level, and on an organizational level, I would point to the women’s suffrage movement in the U.S., and the corpus of work produced by Erica Chenoweth, my favourite scientist ever, for larger scale change being brought about by non-forcefully violent means). Does that answer this question for you, or at least clear some of my inconsistancies up?

      Anyway, there it is– if you’ve read through all of these, kudos! I’m really excited to read a lot of your answers, and have been learning a lot about AnCap and AnCom as I work to answer these as best I can, and so I hope that you do end up getting back to me if you can, though I understand if you’ve got other more pressing things on your plate!

      Fin

      • #523

        Spooner Bookman
        Participant

        I am not okay with ‘aggression’ (as you have defined it), and I do not think that any AnCom can justify a different position. That said, I am personally hesitant to condemn force when it is used for ends I approve of, but that’s not an ‘AnCom position.’ In all of the examples that you list where you would suppose an AnCom would justify using aggression, I would say ‘no’, that an AnCom could not justify using aggression.

        So is it safe to safe that AnCom does not take a principled position on ‘aggression’? Some AnComs are ok with it in a lot of cases, some are ok with it in very few, some are ok with it never. That your stance on aggression is neither here nor there with AnCom — it’s a ‘big tent’ when it comes to views on aggression? To my point: you have a higher ideal/objective than aggression — which is ‘equality’. When the only way to make things more equal is via aggression, then aggression is an option that is on the table for AnCom, even if many (or even most) AnComs personally reject aggression as an option (for various reason). Is that right?

        • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Spooner Bookman. Reason: Typo, Formatting
        • This reply was modified 2 months ago by  Spooner Bookman. Reason: Clarity
        • #534

          empifur
          Participant

          Following my statement above, in the spirit of trying to remain consistent, I would say that what I think AnCom is is mutually exclusive with forcefully violent aggression. There are other people who will disagree. I don’t know if I can be more specific than that– there are those who use the name of AnCap as a justification for eugenic programs, but does that mean that AnCap as a movement doesn’t have a principled position on forced sterilization? What I am hearing from you is that that would not be okay, so, by that same metric, I feel comfortable saying that AnCom is principledly against forceful, violent aggression.
          It’s just that not everyone would agree that I’m speaking truth when I say that. Shoot, I dunno. Is that at all helpful for you?

  • #498

    Jacob
    Keymaster

    Thanks for your in depth reply, Spooner!

    I can’t reply to all of your points right now, but I will think about them and try to answer your questions in the future.

    I have a couple quick suggestions. First, I’m interested in what Spooner and Empifur think of my book review of Peter Kropotkin’s Conquest of Bread. I tried to contrast Kropotkin’s view of communism, based on everyone having a partial share in the collective product of the human species, with Benjamin Tucker’s more individualistic view, where a system is set up to try and give individuals control over their own lives.

    Regarding the present conversation, and my Hopes For a Coalition post, I’ve tried to paint “socialism” as a philosophy based around valuing “equity,” and in my Conquest of Bread review I try to explain what I mean by “equity,” and how Kropotkin appeals to the value in a very different way than Tucker. I thought the contrast might help clarify things I left unclear in my Hopes for a Coalition post, in which I think I tried too hard to conflate communist, mutualist, and individualist anarchist, (e.g. Benjamin Tucker’s,) ideas. Since I’m guessing Empifur is more familiar with Kropotkin’s writings than I am, I’m hoping they can take a look at my review and point out how much they think I got correct in my summation of Kropotkin’s views, and in my contrast between Kropotkin and Tucker.

    Secondly, I am grateful to everyone for their willingness to write such in depth forum posts! However, I think it may be beneficial to branch off into new topics for specific issues. Race-relations may deserve a topic of its own. The question of how to think about monopolies could probably branch off into a new topic, because opposition to monopoly is an important, and complex, part of Benjamin Tucker’s writings and modern “left market anarchist” discourse. A lot of the topics we’re dealing with here could branch off into discussions of their own. I’m wondering if doing this would make our discussions more reader friendly.

    Those currently participating seem willing to read and respond in depth to long posts, and I am glad you all are! But attracting new forum members, and encouraging current members to keep up discussion, might be easier with more bite-sized topics, I think. Right now, if I were lurking on the forum and thinking about joining the site and jumping into a discussion, I might worry about not being able to respond to every point in a discussion like the present one with twentyish questions being discussed each round, whereas I might be more likely to jump in and offer an opinion in more focused topics. I figure encouraging people to start lurking here is one step towards building our community, and encouraging lurkers to join in is another; readability probably helps with both.

    That said, The numbered points, use of color, and so forth do help make the in-depth posts readable! I don’t want to say the participants in the present discussion are doing anything wrong, quite the contrary, I think this is a fantastic discussion, and I’m grateful to everyone for taking part! But I do think it might be easier to continue the discussion by branching off some of the parts of it that can fill topics of their own.

  • #554

    Spooner Bookman
    Participant

    I will try to read the Kropotkin review this week!

    As for branching off into new topics, I spent the last month breaking apart my thoughts/questions across a range of topics and I just posted nearly all of them here (believe it or not, I have a few more I didn’t post, ha!). This was following Jacob’s suggestion to get out of this massive thread and try to offer up some ‘chunks’ that would hopefully be easier for folks to jump into wherever it strikes their fancy. Not sure if I just made things better or worse – no offense will be taken if Admin/Jacob feels the need to do a little house cleaning with my posts! (No need to ask, just hack away if you need to!)

    Last but not least – actually, most importantly: A big thanks to @empifur and @jacob for taking all this time with me; I really think I learned more in the past month working through this conversation than I would have learned in like six months of reading. Jacob may remember back when I first chimed in on the forum, it was in the hopes that discussing the stuff I usually just read about it would help me comprehend this stuff more quickly and I feel like that hope has been rewarded in full THANKS TO Y’ALL! Really appreciate it!!

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