Anarcho-Capitalism? We Already Have It

The previous post dealt with the sheer madness of something called anarcho-capitalism, a baffling philosophy with roots in anarchism, capitalism and especially libertarianism. Because anarchism is typically a Leftist philosophy, one wonders whether anarcho-capitalism is right or leftwing. Anarcho-capitalists are quite coy, like Libertardians, and often refuse to admit that they are extreme rightwingers. Instead, they say they are “neither right nor left.”

This has ended up conning a lot of fools, mostly young, single, moneyed, male fools, usually White but disturbingly sometimes also Black and Hispanic, into lining up with Libertardianism as some sort of weird progressive vision.

It’s nothing of the kind.

True, many anarchists are Leftists, but searching through the Wikipedia article on anarcho-capitalism, I found few if any Leftists. I did find tons of rightwingers, mostly extreme rightwingers, often Libertardians, but also in many cases White racists such as White Separatists, neo-Confederates, paleocons, etc.

There can’t possibly be anything progressive about anarcho-capitalism, not in any possible universe. Most of us on the Left are dubious at best about capitalism. Capitalism may be a necessary evil, but so what? So is death, disease, all sorts of shitty things. Big deal. I should as much cheer for capitalism as I cheer for aging and death. Three cheers!

Anarcho-capitalism is everything fucked about capitalism balled into one horrific, nightmarish mass, compressed into a solid and toxic cannonball with the density of a Black Hole hurling right at your face, and no ducking allowed. Lie back and enjoy it, suckers.

Let us be clear. We Leftists are Big Staters. We like taxation to a degree, government services that benefit the people, redistribution of wealth to a degree, Big Government programs, etc. We don’t need a classless society; I have no objections to a physician making eight times more than a ditch-digger. But at some point extremes of wealth call for intense government redistribution of wealth.

The capitalist or “successful person” has generally “earned” his right to untold multiples of average wealth only in the most dubious in senses.

Capitalism, such that we allow this necessary evil beast to exist at all, needs to be caged, like all wild and dangerous animals. Capitalism must be regulated. Not strangled, but regulated.

As this article makes clear, we’ve already got something like anarcho-capitalism. It’s called the Republican Party. Or the teabaggers. Or the conservatives. It isn’t really the pure, real deal anarcho-capitalism, but it’s heading there.

The Bush Administration was a quasi-anarcho-capitalist administration. The insanity of anarcho-capitalism is shown by the theory that the best society is one in which business regulates itself. The Bush Administration relied on “voluntary regulation” more times than I can count.

The problem with voluntary regulation is that it’s no regulation at all. Business sectors under a regime of voluntary regulation generally refuse to regulate themselves in any way whatsoever. This has been proven so many times, there’s no use testing it anymore.

According to this theory, the good businesses regulate themselves and  win out in the context with the evil businesses who refuse to regulate themselves, and the capitalists get rich and everyone lives happily ever after.

This is the most cruel of fantasy worlds.

In capitalism, bad is much more like to drive out good than the other way around, the prerogatives of capital being what they are.

Looking around the world, capitalists aren’t exactly regulating themselves just to be nice and get workers, society, environmentalists and liberals to love their company and buy their shit instead of Evil Co’s shit. When all the successful corporations are spawns and clones of Evil Co., you either go evil yourself or you’re in Chapter 13.

The main thing is that all the nice stuff that business is supposed to do – not abuse workers or consumers, not pollute, not destroy the environment, pay their taxes, not destroy society and the economy – all of these business ethics are bad for the bottom line.

Abuse your workers and customers and refuse to regulate yourself? Your bottom line goes up.

Destroy the environment, society and the economy? Your stock’s rising.

Do the right thing, treat your workers and consumers well, regulate yourself, be kind to the environment, be a good corporate citizen? Watch your competitors, Mafia Co. and Evil Scum, Ltd. make mincemeat out of you.

From the article:

If you are an anarcho-capitalist, you believe that the force of the market will have companies do the right thing. The problem with this idea is that what is right for a nation is not the same as what is right for a profit making enterprise…

This is what corporations are for, the pursuit of profit. If they are not limited, then they become rapacious entities which will cut any corner, bend any rule to make more and more money. Corporations are prone to this kind of behavior even when they are limited by regulation, which is why there must be strong enforcement as well.

As you can see, anarcho-capitalism is utopia!

It is time to stop calling the Republicans capitalists, they are no longer that benign, we need to start pointing out the fact they would be happiest with no regulation. This is a powerful meme, if we are willing to use it.

No regulation means a return to acid rain. No regulation means not knowing if your medicines are safe. It means that our drinking water could have lead and PCP’s and other contaminants. It means that we would be unable to have an confidence in the safety of our cars or washing machines or ovens. It would take us to a society where the only motto is Caveat Emptor, buyer beware.

Yeah right. Some utopia.

Noam Chomsky, an anarcho-syndicalist Leftist, on anarcho-capitalism:

Anarcho-capitalism, in my opinion, is a doctrinal system which, if ever implemented, would lead to forms of tyranny and oppression that have few counterparts in human history. There isn’t the slightest possibility that its (in my view, horrendous) ideas would be implemented, because they would quickly destroy any society that made this colossal error.

The idea of “free contract” between the potentate and his starving subject is a sick joke, perhaps worth some moments in an academic seminar exploring the consequences of (in my view, absurd) ideas, but nowhere else.

Anarcho-capitalism? We’ve already got it, or we’re heading there anyway.

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6 thoughts on “Anarcho-Capitalism? We Already Have It”

  1. I agree that the problem is the Libertarians aren’t asking the question “will a free market move X to equilibrium.” In Adam Smith’s world of principals — producers, distributors and consumers — prices move with supply and demand until they reach equilibrium. In many markets, that is what happens. But there are important exceptions:

    1) Speculative markets — when everyone is just trying to guess what way prices are going to move, they act in the OPPOSITE way to rational supply/demand economics, leading to bubbles and busts in tech stocks, housing, petroleum and mortgages. This is why the financial sector and hedge funds should be more heavily regulated than retail — no one should be to big to fail at guessing market movements.

    2) Basic necessities — as Robert wrote a couple of days ago about Maoist China, life expectancy doubled compared to their pre-war primitive capitalism. The most lucrative medical specialties are the ones that serve the wealthiest patients, like sports medicine and cosmetic surgery, not the most useful ones. Some needs are so basic (food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and physical security) that in communities that don’t have them, free markets don’t function in the first place.

  2. I remember being in my twenties when I started to question this worship of capitalism in our society. I didn’t question it in any serious way, I just started to wonder about certain things.

    I saw that entities and individuals could pass costs down the line, and then I thought of the person at the end of the line, who couldn’t pass the costs on anymore! That person was stuck. I remember being young and thinking there was something wrong with that, but I didn’t give it a whole lot of serious thought.

    What’s weird is that I felt a strange guilt about even thinking bad thoughts about capitalism. I had had it ingrained in me that it was God’s gift or something to humanity. This is so funny to me when I look back on it.

  3. Isn’t Chomsky an anarcho-syndicalist?
    Where does this rank on Lindsay’s hierarchy of worthwhile ideologies?

  4. Jesus Robert a bunch of hogwash and conjecture. First try to represent anarcho-capitalist theory properly and then try to destroy it.

    The Bush Administration was a sort of anarch0-capitalism? That’s just ridiculous, friend. Think about what you’re saying:

    ANARCHISM= a society in the absence of any form of political authority. CAPITALISM= an economic system where capital and land, the means of production, are privately owned.

    Neither is true of the Bush Administration. Moreover the article you linked to completely changes the definitions of what it’s arguing. “In capitalism there is an understanding that there will be limits on the market, for socials purposes”, beyond the incorrect grammer, it’s not talking about Capitalism. There is no understanding of that definition. That is Socialism.

    CAPITALISM requires ANARCHISM just as anarchism requires capitalism. One cannot exist without the other.

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