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Free-market anarchism, or market anarchism, also known as free-market anti-capitalism and free-market socialism, is the branch of anarchism that advocates a free-market economic system based on voluntary interactions without the involvement of the state. A form of individualist anarchism, and market socialism, it is based on the economic theories of mutualism and individualist anarchism in the United States.
Samuel Edward Konkin III's agorism is a strand of left-wing market anarchism that has been associated with left-libertarianism in the United States, with counter-economics being its means. Anarcho-capitalism, a form of right-libertarianism, has been occasionally referred to as free-market anarchism or market anarchism, among other names. Anarcho-capitalists stress the legitimacy and priority of private property, without any distinction between personal property and productive property, describing it as an integral component of individual rights and a free-market economy. However, anarcho-capitalism is not considered as part of the anarchist movement because anarchism has historically been an anti-capitalist movement and anarchists reject that it is compatible with capitalism.[excessive citations] In addition, an analysis of individualist anarchists who advocated free-market anarchism shows that it is different from anarcho-capitalism and other capitalist theories due to the individualist anarchists retaining the labor theory of value and socialist doctrines.
Free-market anarchism may refer to diverse economic and political concepts like those proposed by individualist anarchists and libertarian socialists such as the Europeans Émile Armand, Thomas Hodgskin, Miguel Giménez Igualada and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, or the Americans Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Batchelder Greene, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker and Josiah Warren, among others.
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Josiah Warren is widely regarded as the first American anarchist and the four-page weekly paper he edited during 1833, The Peaceful Revolutionist, was the first anarchist periodical published, an enterprise for which he built his own printing press, cast his own type and made his own printing plates. Warren was a follower of Robert Owen and joined Owen's community at New Harmony, Indiana. Josiah Warren termed the phrase "cost the limit of price", with "cost" here referring not to monetary price paid but the labor one exerted to produce an item. Therefore, "he proposed a system to pay people with certificates indicating how many hours of work they did. They could exchange the notes at local time stores for goods that took the same amount of time to produce". He put his theories to the test by establishing an experimental "labor for labor store" called the Cincinnati Time Store where trade was facilitated by notes backed by a promise to perform labor. The store proved successful and operated for three years after which it was closed so that Warren could pursue establishing colonies based on mutualism. These included Utopia and Modern Times. Warren said that Stephen Pearl Andrews' The Science of Society, published in 1852, was the most lucid and complete exposition of Warren's own theories. Catalan historian Xavier Diez report that the intentional communal experiments pioneered by Warren were influential in European individualist anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries such as Émile Armand and the intentional communities started by them.
Mutualism began in 18th-century English and French labour movements before taking an anarchist form associated with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in France and others in the United States. Proudhon proposed spontaneous order, whereby organisation emerges without central authority, a "positive anarchy" where order arises when everybody does "what he wishes and only what he wishes" and where "business transactions alone produce the social order". It is important to recognize that Proudhon distinguished between ideal political possibilities and practical governance. For this reason, much in contrast to some of his theoretical statements concerning ultimate spontaneous self-governance, Proudhon was heavily involved in French parliamentary politics and allied himself not with Anarchist but Socialist factions of workers movements and in addition to advocating state-protected charters for worker-owned cooperatives, promoted certain nationalization schemes during his life of public service. Mutualist anarchism is concerned with reciprocity, free association, voluntary contract, federation and credit and currency reform. According to the American mutualist William Batchelder Greene, each worker in the mutualist system would receive "just and exact pay for his work; services equivalent in cost being exchangeable for services equivalent in cost, without profit or discount". Mutualism has been retrospectively characterised as ideologically situated between individualist and collectivist forms of anarchism. Proudhon first characterised his goal as a "third form of society, the synthesis of communism and property".
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was a French activist and theorist, the founder of mutualist philosophy, an economist and a libertarian socialist. He was the first person to declare himself an anarchist and is among its most influential theorists. He is considered by many to be the "father of anarchism". He became a member of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1848, whereupon and thereafter he referred to himself as a federalist. Proudhon, who was born in Besançon, was a printer who taught himself Latin in order to better print books in the language. His best-known assertion is that "property is theft!", contained in his first major work What is Property? Or, an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and Government (Qu'est-ce que la propriété? Recherche sur le principe du droit et du gouvernement), published in 1840. The book's publication attracted the attention of the French authorities. It also attracted the scrutiny of Karl Marx, who started a correspondence with its author. The two influenced each other and met in Paris while Marx was exiled there. Their friendship finally ended when Marx responded to Proudhon's The System of Economic Contradictions, or The Philosophy of Poverty with the provocatively titled The Poverty of Philosophy. The dispute became one of the sources of the split between the anarchist and Marxian wings of the International Workingmen's Association. Some, such as Edmund Wilson, have contended that Marx's attack on Proudhon had its origin in the latter's defense of Karl Grün, whom Marx bitterly disliked but who had been preparing translations of Proudhon's work. Proudhon favored workers' associations or co-operatives as well as individual worker/peasant possession over private ownership or the nationalization of land and workplaces. He considered social revolution to be achievable in a peaceful manner. In The Confessions of a Revolutionary Proudhon asserted that "Anarchy is Order Without Power", the phrase which much later inspired, in the view of some, the anarchist circled-A symbol, today "one of the most common graffiti on the urban landscape". He unsuccessfully tried to create a national bank to be funded by what became an abortive attempt at an income tax on capitalists and shareholders. Similar in some respects to a credit union, it would have given interest-free loans.
William Batchelder Greene was a 19th-century mutualist individualist anarchist, Unitarian minister, soldier and promoter of free banking in the United States. Greene is best known for the works Mutual Banking (1850), which proposed an interest-free banking system; and Transcendentalism, a critique of the New England philosophical school. American anarchist historian Eunice Minette Schuster states: "It is apparent that Proudhonian Anarchism was to be found in the United States at least as early as 1848 and that it was not conscious of its affinity to the Individualist Anarchism of Josiah Warren and Stephen Pearl Andrews. William B. Greene presented this Proudhonian Mutualism in its purest and most systematic form". After 1850, he became active in labor reform and was elected vice-president of the New England Labor Reform League, the majority of the members holding to Proudhon's scheme of mutual banking. In 1869, he was elected president of the Massachusetts Labor Union. Greene then published Socialistic, Mutualistic, and Financial Fragments (1875). He saw mutualism as the synthesis of "liberty and order". His "associationism is checked by individualism. 'Mind your own business,' "Judge not that ye be not judged". Over matters which are purely personal, as for example moral conduct, the individual is sovereign, as well as over that which he himself produces. For this reason he demands "mutuality" in marriage – the equal right of a woman to her own personal freedom and property".
A form of individualist anarchism was found in the United States as advocated by the Boston anarchists. Most American Individualist Anarchists advocate mutualism, a libertarian socialist form of market socialism, or a free-market socialist form of classical economics. Individualist anarchists are opposed to property that gives privilege and is exploitative, seeking to "destroy the tyranny of capital, — that is, of property" by mutual credit. Some Boston anarchists, including Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner, identified themselves as socialists, a label often used in the 19th century in the sense of a commitment to improving conditions of the working class (i.e. the labor problem). The Boston anarchists such as Tucker and his followers are also considered socialists due to their opposition to usury. By around the start of the 20th century, the heyday of individualist anarchism had passed, On the other hand, anarchist historian George Woodcock describes Spooner's essays as an "eloquent elaboration" of Josiah Warren and the early American development of Proudhon's ideas and associates his works with that of Stephen Pearl Andrews. Woodcock also reports that both Spooner and Greene had been members of the socialist First International.
American individualist anarchist Benjamin Tucker identified as a socialist and argued that the elimination of what he called the four monopolies, namely the land monopoly, the money and banking monopoly, the monopoly powers conferred by patents and the quasi-monopolistic effects of tariffs, would undermine the power of the wealthy and big business, making possible widespread property ownership and higher incomes for ordinary people, while minimizing the power of would-be bosses and achieving socialist goals without state action. Tucker with his market socialism views influenced and interacted with anarchist contemporaries, including Lysander Spooner, Voltairine de Cleyre, Dyer Lum and William Batchelder Greene, who have in various ways influenced later left-libertarian thinking. Kevin Carson characterizes American individualist anarchism by saying: "Unlike the rest of the socialist movement, the individualist anarchists believed that the natural wage of labor in a free market was its product and that economic exploitation could only take place when capitalists and landlords harnessed the power of the state in their interests. Thus, individualist anarchism was an alternative both to the increasing statism of the mainstream socialist movement and to a liberal movement that was moving toward a mere apologetic for the power of big business. Two individualist anarchists who wrote in Benjamin Tucker's Liberty were also important labor organizers of the time. Joseph Labadie and Dyer Lum. Kevin Carson has praised Lum's fusion of individualist laissez-faire economics with radical labor activism as "creative" and described him as "more significant than any in the Boston group".
Some of the American individualist anarchists later in this era such as Benjamin Tucker abandoned natural rights positions and converted to Max Stirner's egoist anarchism. Rejecting the idea of moral rights, Tucker said that there were only two rights, "the right of might" and "the right of contract". He also said after converting to egoist individualism: "In times past it was my habit to talk glibly of the right of man to land. It was a bad habit, and I long ago sloughed it off. Man's only right to land is his might over it". In adopting Stirnerite egoism in 1886, Tucker rejected natural rights which had long been considered the foundation of libertarianism. This rejection galvanized the movement into fierce debates, with the natural rights proponents accusing the egoists of destroying libertarianism itself. So bitter was the conflict that a number of natural rights proponents withdrew from the pages of Liberty in protest even though they had hitherto been among its frequent contributors. Thereafter, Liberty championed egoism although its general content did not change significantly.
Geolibertarianism, a libertarian form of Henry George's philosophy called geoism, is considered left-libertarian because it assumes land to be initially owned in common, so that when land is privately appropriated the proprietor pays rent to the community. Geolibertarians generally advocate distributing the land rent to the community via a land value tax as proposed by Henry George and others before him. For this reason, they are often called "single taxers". Fred E. Foldvary coined the term geo-libertarianism in a Land and Liberty article. In the case of geoanarchism, the voluntary form of geolibertarianism as described by Foldvary, rent would be collected by private associations with the opportunity to secede from the rent-sharing community and not receive the community's services.
Similar economic positions also existed within European individualist anarchism. French individualist anarchist Émile Armand shows clearly opposition to capitalism and centralized economies when he said that the individualist anarchist "inwardly he remains refractory – fatally refractory – morally, intellectually, economically (The capitalist economy and the directed economy, the speculators and the fabricators of single are equally repugnant to him.)". He argued for a pluralistic economic logic when he said: "Here and there everything happening – here everyone receiving what they need, there each one getting whatever is needed according to their own capacity. Here, gift and barter – one product for another; there, exchange – product for representative value. Here, the producer is the owner of the product, there, the product is put to the possession of the collectivity".
Spanish individualist anarchist Miguel Giménez Igualada thought that "capitalism is an effect of government; the disappearance of government means capitalism falls from its pedestal vertiginously. That which we call capitalism is not something else but a product of the State, within which the only thing that is being pushed forward is profit, good or badly acquired. And so to fight against capitalism is a pointless task, since be it State capitalism or Enterprise capitalism, as long as Government exists, exploiting capital will exist. The fight, but of consciousness, is against the State". His view on class division and technocracy are as follows: "Since when no one works for another, the profiteer from wealth disappears, just as government will disappear when no one pays attention to those who learned four things at universities and from that fact they pretend to govern men. Big industrial enterprises will be transformed by men in big associations in which everyone will work and enjoy the product of their work. And from those easy as well as beautiful problems anarchism deals with and he who puts them in practice and lives them are anarchists. The priority which without rest an anarchist must make is that in which no one has to exploit anyone, no man to no man, since that non-exploitation will lead to the limitation of property to individual needs".
The doyen of modern American market-oriented libertarianism, Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard, was initially an enthusiastic partisan of the Old Right, particularly because of its general opposition to war and imperialism. However, Rothbard had long embraced a reading of American history that emphasized the role of elite privilege in shaping legal and political institutions—one that was naturally agreeable to many on the left—and came increasingly in the 1960s to seek alliances on the left—especially with members of the New Left—in light of the Vietnam War, the military draft and the emergence of the Black Power movement.
Working with other likeminded people like Ronald Radosh and Karl Hess, Rothbard argued that the consensus view of American economic history, according to which a beneficent government has used its power to counter corporate predation, is fundamentally flawed. Rather, he argued, government intervention in the economy has largely benefited established players at the expense of marginalized groups, to the detriment of both liberty and equality. Moreover, the robber baron period, hailed by the right and despised by the left as a heyday of laissez-faire, was not characterized by laissez-faire at all, but it was in fact a time of massive state privilege accorded to capital. In tandem with his emphasis on the intimate connection between state and corporate power, he defended the seizure of corporations dependent on state largesse by workers and others.
Rothbard himself ultimately broke with the left, allying himself instead with the burgeoning paleoconservative movement. Drawing on the work of Rothbard during his alliance with the left and on the thought of Karl Hess, some thinkers associated with market-oriented American libertarianism came increasingly to identify with the left on a range of issues, including opposition to war, to corporate oligopolies and to state-corporate partnerships as well as an affinity for cultural liberalism. One variety of this kind of libertarianism has been a resurgent mutualism, incorporating modern economic ideas such as marginal utility theory into mutualist theory. Kevin Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy helped to stimulate the growth of new-style mutualism, articulating a version of the labor theory of value incorporating ideas drawn from Austrian economics. Other market-oriented left-libertarians have declined to embrace mutualist views of real property while sharing the mutualist opposition to corporate hierarchies and wealth concentration. Left-libertarians have placed particular emphasis on the articulation and defense of a libertarian theory of class and class conflict, although considerable work in this area has been performed by libertarians of other persuasions.
Arguing that vast disparities in wealth and social influence result from the use of force and especially state power to steal and engross land and acquire and maintain special privileges, members of this thought typically urge the abolition of the state. They judge that in a stateless society the kinds of privileges secured by the state will be absent and injustices perpetrated or tolerated by the state can be rectified. These left-libertarians rejects "what critics call "atomistic individualism". With freed markets, they argue that "it is we collectively who decide who controls the means of production", leading to "a society in which free, voluntary, and peaceful cooperation ultimately controls the means of production for the good of all people". According to libertarian scholar Sheldon Richman, left-libertarians "favor worker solidarity vis-à-vis bosses, support poor people's squatting on government or abandoned property, and prefer that corporate privileges be repealed before the regulatory restrictions on how those privileges may be exercised", seeing Walmart as a "symbol of corporate favoritism" which is "supported by highway subsidies and eminent domain", viewing "the fictive personhood of the limited-liability corporation with suspicion" and "doubt[ing] that Third World sweatshops would be the "best alternative" in the absence of government manipulation". These left-libertarians "tend to eschew electoral politics, having little confidence in strategies that work through the government. They prefer to develop alternative institutions and methods of working around the state".
Gary Chartier has joined Kevin Carson, Charles W. Johnson and others (echoing the language of Stephen Pearl Andrews, William Batchelder Greene, Thomas Hodgskin, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker and Josiah Warren, among others) in maintaining that because of its heritage and its emancipatory goals and potential, radical market anarchism should be seen by its proponents and by others as part of the socialist tradition and that market anarchists can and should call themselves socialists.
While adopting familiar libertarian views, including opposition to civil liberties violations, drug prohibition, gun control, imperialism and war, left-libertarians are more likely than most self-identified libertarians to take more distinctively leftist stances on issues as diverse as class, egalitarianism, environmentalism, feminism, gender, immigration, imperialism, race, sexuality and war. Contemporary free-market left-libertarians show markedly more sympathy than American mainstream libertarians or paleolibertarians towards various cultural movements which challenge non-governmental relations of power. Left-libertarians such as Long and Johnson have called for a recovery of the 19th-century alliance with libertarian feminism and radical liberalism.
There is also a tendency to support labor struggles. Kevin Carson has praised individualist anarchist Dyer Lum's fusion of individualist economics with radical labor activism as "creative" and described him as "more significant than any in the Boston group". Roderick T. Long is an advocate of "build[ing] worker solidarity. On the one hand, this means formal organisation, including unionization – but I'm not talking about the prevailing model of "business unions," [...] but real unions, the old-fashioned kind, committed to the working class and not just union members, and interested in worker autonomy, not government patronage". In particular, Long has described the situation as such:
[T]he present status of unions as governmentally privileged labor cartels is in large part the result of legislation supported by big business, inasmuch as the corporate elite found unions less threatening as regulated junior partners in the corporate régime, playing on its terms, than as independent actors. After all, the achievements, much heralded by the Left, which unions won in their heyday, such as the weekend and the eight-hour day, were won primarily by market means, often over strong government resistance; likewise, the most notable victories of unions in recent years have been won mainly by unofficial, disapproved unions, without violence of either the governmental or freelance variety, and outside of the traditional labor-law establishment. By contrast, the influence of mainstream unions has been steadily declining ever since they accepted the devil's bargain of "help" from big-daddy government, with all the regulatory strings that go with it. Thus when left-wingers complain that unions are in decline and that workers are disempowered on the job, they're complaining about a situation created and sustained by government – and once again, we should be pointing that out to them.
Some libertarians follow Rothbard and other natural rights theorists and cite the non-aggression axiom as the basis for their economic systems while others follow David D. Friedman and base it on consequentialist ethical theories. These left-Rothbardian libertarians consider private property rights to be individual natural rights deriving from the primary right of self-ownership. Like Rothbard, they endorse the use of any tactic to bring about market anarchy so long as it does not contradict their libertarian moral principles.
Murray Rothbard stated that his interpretation of American individual anarchism influenced Anarcho-capitalism. Although anarcho-capitalism has been regarded by some as a form of individualist anarchism, individualist anarchism is largely socialistic. Rothbard argued that individualist anarchism is different from anarcho-capitalism and other capitalist theories due to the individualist anarchists retaining the labor theory of value and socialist doctrines. Many writers deny that anarcho-capitalism is a form of anarchism at all, or that capitalism itself is compatible with anarchism.
The notion of anarchy in politics is just as rational and positive as any other. It means that once industrial functions have taken over from political functions, then business transactions alone produce the social order.