Capitalism is by its very nature hierarchal. To preserve your existence, it’s recommended that you labour for a boss. The bosses have the final say on how the production is run, how resources are used, and who gets and doesn’t get to conserve her or his job. Hierarchy is perfectly capable of existing without a typical government. If you aren’t convinced, I’d be happy to offer you some resources, but only if you are interested. That category should be restored. --Romanophile ♞ (contributions) 01:34, 9 October 2015 (UTC)
- There are various definitions of "capitalism," many of which contradict one another. The term was first used by the free-marketeer Thomas Hodgskin to refer to state-driven monopolisation of capital—something self-described anarcho-"capitalists" and other libertarians roundly oppose. When Marx used the term, he bundled different meanings together; thus, one could not tell whether the term referenced statist capitalism on the one hand or a free market on the other. This was very unfortunate because free-market anarchists and other libertarians, who had always seen themselves as opponents of capitalism (see Benjamin Tucker's "State Socialism and Anarchism"), began, especially in the early twentieth century, to try to unbundle the term in what has, in hindsight, been a method that does not always cut away the confusion introduced by Marx. Thus, e.g., we have the likes of Ayn Rand (a minarchist, not an anarchist) defining capitalism as though it were synonymous with a freed market—something market anarchists and other libertarians obviously support. Thus, when the brilliant individualist anarchist Murray Rothbard, beginning in the '50s, began incorporating the Austrian economics of Menger and Mises into the individualist anarchism of Spooner and Tucker, he did not use the term capitalism in the same fashion as Hodgskin a century earlier—indeed, he described himself as a proponent of "capitalism." In the '60s, Jarret B. Wollstein coined the term anarcho-"capitalism" to refer to the Rothbardian philosophy—again, in contradistinction to the original meaning of the term capitalism. More recently, the likes of Brad Spangler have begun some necessary historical revisionism, saying that anarcho-"capitalism" is, in actuality, a stigmergic form of socialism, and describing Rothbard as a visionary socialist.
Personally, I avoid the term capitalism because of the wild confusion it causes. But, if you are using the term capitalism to refer, as Hodgskin did, to state-driven monopolisation of capital, then you are certainly right that capitalism is by its very nature hierarchical, and I would be happy to agree that anarcho-"capitalists" are strictly opposed to capitalism. A free market, by contrast, is entirely non-hierarchical. Unfortunately, we have no free market; the state and its regulations systematically favour large, established firms, making it difficult for alternative business structures to get off the ground, let along compete. (I have long suspected that, if we had a free market economy (which itself would entail the abolition of the state), mutual aid societies and worker-owned firms would tend to displace communes and capitalist-owned firms alike.) Regardless of how society spontaneously organises itself without the direction and control of central planners (regardless of whether the tendency trends toward worker-owned firms, capitalist-owned firms, communes, or other systems of self-organisation that we have yet to even conceive), society would be free of the hierarchy that the state engenders. Everything (including business) under statism is invariably hierarchical, even if every human winds up with an identical level of nominal wealth; individuals in an anarchy are inevitably level (even if humans do not wind up with similar levels of nominal wealth) because no one has any legal authority in excess of anyone else. Under the present system of state capitalism, where regulations invariably favour large, established firms, there are not as many firms (or types of firms) competing in the market as there otherwise be, and thus it can be acknowledged that not only does state capitalism have a oligopolising effect on the sale of goods and services, thereby nominally driving up the price of goods and services above free-market levels, but likewise it has an oligopsonising effect on the purchase of labour force, thereby driving the value of wages below free-market levels. In short, state capitalism enables the exploitation of both labour and consumer for the benefit of the capitalist—the state-driven monopolisation of capital against which Hodgskin argued. (Spangler has reappropriated the term "wage slavery" to refer to state-capitalism's downward push on wages below free-market levels.) But in a free market, where no one has any greater legal authority than anyone else, this statist privilege would be no more. Indeed, hierarchy (properly defined) would cease to exist. Every individual would be recognised as the sole legitimate owner of her/his own body and of her/his own labour (in other words, the self-ownership championed by abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass would finally be realised), as as such, every individual would be free to determine her/his own destiny. While state capitalism privileges the capitalist at the expense of the worker and the consumer alike, and thereby entails an inevitable hierarchy, these forces would not be present in a free market; employees would finally be on equal legal footing with employers, and as both would have full rights to freedom of association, neither could compel the other to maintain association with one another, therefore dissolving the hierarchy of the present system altogether. In other words, "final say" would belong equally to every individual (in contradistinction to state capitalism). If I, as employee, dislike the manner in which production is run by you, my employer, I would be free to cease my association with you, and you would have to choose whether to alter the manner of your production in order to entice me back into your fold or not; and if a number of employees, or even a union of employees, decides it dislikes the manner in which production is run, again, they are free to cease their association with you, and, again, you would have to choose. There would be no state to force, on behalf of the employer, the employees to return to their previous profession, nor would there be any state to force, on behalf of the employees, the employer to alter the manner in which production is run; instead, there would be true equality, an absence of hierarchy as no individual would have the power to compel with initiatory force any other individual to conform to her/his wishes. (This isn't to say that hierarchy won't rear its ugly head from time to time; whenever a highwayman points a gun to your head and says "your money or your life," that would be an instance of hierarchy. But, it would not be engendered by a legal apparatus that helps to preserve said hierarchy. Rather, the legal system in a true anarchy would promote the payment of restitution to the victims of aggression, thereby disestablishing most of the hierarchies that do crop up, leaving only those in which the criminal has the unfortunate luck of getting away.)
In any event, while I personally tend to avoid the term anarcho-"capitalism" on the grounds that the term capitalism itself means too many different things to too many different people, the term is only an oxymoron when we apply to it its original definition. Insofar as we acknowledge that there are some who earnestly use the term as though it were synonymous with free market, we must likewise acknowledge that, for those who do, there is nothing oxymoronic about the term. Given that those who call themselves "anarcho-'capitalists'" do so without intending to imply "an anarchist who supports state-driven monopolisation of capital" (or any equally-ridiculous concept), given that they instead mean usually to imply that they are free-market anarchists, we can say that those who call themselves "anarcho-'capitalists'" do so in a manner that is not oxymoronic. Insofar as there are some who earnestly mean to refer to freed markets (as opposed to state-driven monopolisation of capital) when they use the term capitalism, we can say that, in that regard, the term is not oxymoronic. In other words, the term is only oxymoronic insofar as we decide that the only appropriate definition of capitalism is its original definition—a definition with which, thanks largely to Marx, most people who call themselves "anarcho-'capitalists'" are largely unfamiliar.
allixpeeke (talk) 03:51, 9 October 2015 (UTC)