In my earlier post I mentioned the idea of market anarchism so I think it’d be best to start off the official sequence of blogs by going into detail about what exactly market anarchism exactly is in the first place. In order to start however terms, must be defined, I won’t go crazy with them but I find it worth my time to define at least the two words in the phrase and separate them from popular misconceptions the reader may have or indeed society at large may have in general. From there popular thinkers will be discussed (though not at length, I leave it to the reader to find out which specific school of market anarchism appeals to them most if any of it does at all) and the schools of thought they help established. And to wrap it up I will go into what school I personally subscribe to and why I subscribe to and what led me to it.The reader can think of this as a second introduction if they want to, first I introduced myself personally and the blog formally, now I am introducing myself politically and the blog informally.

With that how about a discussion about what the term market means?

The Market

The market is something that to some is synonymous (especially with those who favor a welfare-state and support the statist contemporary leftward side of things) with something that exploits the poor and is constantly gotten taken advantage of by the privileged and the elite or perhaps they are a beneficiary to everything business regardless of the  size and path of which it took to obtain it’s capital (see the contemporary statist-right) and an opponent to the big government currently in our lives. Both sides fight about this constantly but what’s so sad about this broken record is that both sides of it are right in a way (now of course neither sides rhetoric are inherently full of anything meaningful or should be taken seriously but SOME of it is meaningful and this is what I intend to discuss) the marketplace certainly can be taken advantage of by the elite and it certainly can be lying in opposition to the state but how can it be both?

Well the market place is simply an environment for transactions of goods and services to be traded off by individuals.

This means that any government regulation or restriction in it can certainly distort the market but the market may be already distorted due to the culture or climate of the environment. For example the market may have been put in place to begin with by big business  or set up in some distorted fashion by aggressors or exploitations. Regardless the marketplace is simply a device, an engine, if you will to get people through their lives in a fairly peaceful and voluntary meaningful way most of the way, but for others it is a means of exploitation so the means to get goods should be differentiated. This is why the German economist and left-wing market anarchist Franz Oppenheimer called the voluntary means of which people interact with each other the “economic means” and the involuntary means “political means” saying that  in one of his most prevalently heard of books (at least in libertarian and anarchist circles) The State he said,

“The tendency of the development of the state was shown in the preceding as a steady and victorious combat of economic means against political means. We saw that, in the beginning, the right to the economic means, the right to equality and to peace, was restricted to the tiny circle of the horde bound together by ties of blood, an endowment from pre-human conditions of society; while without the limits of this isle of peace raged the typhoon of the political means. But we saw expanding more and more the circles from which the laws of peace crowded out their adversary, and everywhere we saw their advance connected with the advance of the economic means, of the barter of groups for equivalents, amongst one another. The first exchange may have been the exchange of fire, then the barter of women, and finally the exchange of goods, the domain of peace constantly extending its borders. It protected the market places, then the streets leading to them, and finally it protected the merchants traveling on these streets.”(The State, Pg. 105)[1]

The state therefore rests on political means and people who participate in the market place operate under economics means, unless the political means of the elite has been used to distort the market place in such a way that both buyers and sellers get less of what they wanted due to the privileged. This is something that is conceptually out of the reach (or seemingly so) from people on the statist right or left to grasp and take a firm hold on. The left is certainly correct in it’s response to people who support freed markets that market places currently are taken advantage of by the privileged, but who handles out those privileges? The state does, through its tax breaks on bigger companies and barrier entries on smaller companies such as licensing fees, regulations, restrictions, making bigger companies big and helping them stay big and hold monopoly profits via copyrights and patents. (More will be discussed about four certain monopolies that hinder progress in the market place in a later blog)

Regardless the current market is heavily distorted as the contemporary statist left tells us and certainly the market can be used against the government and so market anarchists simply synthesize these arguments and say that current markets are full of privilege and therefore must be freed so people can have more wealth and live better and the way to do this is through a voluntary means of thing, the “economic means” as Oppenheimer put it. But what about anarchy how well does it mesh with the concepts of freed markets?

Anarchism

Ah yes, anarchism, the philosophy that, “all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)[2] is one of the most controversial ideas of all time.  But why? Why is the idea that government should be necessarily abolished and that private, communitarian, mutual-aid, and other free associations be the basis of society be such a horrible thing? Well it’s because the image anarchists are associated with and the associations made with the contemporary idea of the state, that it being the “power of the people” (An idea that will be addressed in a different blog at some point) and that “we are the state” and so forth.

While anarchism is seen as a diversionary philosophy, leaving people on their own and leaving the old and sick to die, the military to take over, the goblins of yesteryear to eat us all up and suck on our bones. The association most anarchists get as bomb wielding, mustache crazed, molotov cocktail carrying hoodlums who want nothing but disorder in society. Of course nothing could be further from the truth, such associations are certainly not true at the very least of anarco-pacifists like Robert LeFevre or Leo Tolstoy or plainly advocated by people such as Murray Rothbard (the founding grandfather of anarcho-capitalist, the father technically would be Gustave de Molinari and his essay “The Production of Security” in which he discusses the market as an alternative to the state back in 1849) or many other contemporary anarchists such as Roderick T. Long, Charles Johnson, Stefan Molynex, Marc Stevens, David D. Friedman, in fact the only anarchist to really ever to suggest such activities proudly was Peter Kropotkin an anarcho-communist (and I am not blanketly blaming the anarcho-communists for the bad image of anarchism is now associated with just stating a historical fact) who took pleasure in advocating total revolution against the privileged and the state. This revolution he called “propaganda of the deed” which involved in killing powerful figures to disrupt the systems gears and make it fall apart. Unfortunately whenever it was done successfully or not it merely resulted in the persecution of anarchists (specifically in the early 1900s in Russia and America). Killing top officials and sending bombs to congressman, judges and so on did not give people a good idea of what anarchism was all about  but to be sure not all anarchists at the time advocated such positions, it was merely the idea of the day taken too far by a few too many anarchists and from there the corporate press ate it up and spit it  back out at the public warning them of these anarchists as terrorists! And since then anarchists have been hard pressed to get such an idea out of the public’s head.

But how accurate is such a picture? As I’ve already pointed out it’s not that accurate at all, most anarchists currently would abhor such violent activities (I consider myself a philosophical pacifist and therefore would as well) I challenge any statist to ask as many anarchists as you can and ask them if they support violence and violent revolution as a viable and strategically sound way of achieving a stateless society, chances are you’ll be greatly disappointed.

This all being said, what is anarchism all about? Well the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary definition is actually very accurate, while not a complete definition it’s not supposed to be and I feel it will do for this blog in particular. Anarchists want nothing more than the abolishment of the state, that is,

“a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” (Max Weber, Politics as a Vocation)

Anything further than that is a mere add-on to the anarchist label, therefore market anarchists support a freed market place in which the goods and services can be exchanged voluntarily without the involvement of a coercive institution known as the state. This is how the two labels mix and always have and always will mix together. But what thinkers have established these add-ons to begin with?

For market anarchism specifically there have been several figures and although some (such as Jacob Mauvillion) may have actually been before thinkers like Gustave de Molinari in his thinking, in some cases I may go for popularity or the more well known in lieu of which one was historically called first, after all it’s hard to say for certain who really invented market anarchism when there are so many different parts to the idea then just what Gustave gave in his essay. But without further ado here are some of the major thinkers.

Gustave de Molinari

As was already said Gustave was one of the first people to appreciate and in fact advocate market alternatives to the state in general, from him comes the schools of thought such as anarcho-capitalism as individualist anarchism can also be said to have drawn influences from him. Gustave later on in his life though (like some anarchists did) changed his views and started favoring private monopolies in the economy instead of free competition. One of the most valuable works he had produced was The Production of Securtiy in which he said,

“No government should have the right to[…]require consumers of security to come exclusively to it for this commodity.”[2]

Murray Rothbard

Certainly one of the biggest figures in the libertarian movement, Rothbard was the founding grandfather of anarcho-capitalism and leading contemporary father of the movement itself, though he fluctuated throughout his life politically, at one point trying to make establishments with the anti-war new left and so forth at other points he’d be decidingly more rightist in his approaches to his philosophy. Regardless Rothbard was an important figure and helped shape the tradition of anarcho-capitalism that is currently seen in contemporary anarchism. Rothbard is most known for his over 1,000 page magnum opus Man, Economy and State, Market and Power. In addition to David D. Friedman (another anarcho-capitalist who relies more on consequentialist arguments and utilitarian viewpoints) Murray Rothbard is credited to reviving the idea of market anarchism.

Benjamin Tucker

Before Rothbard and Friedman however another free market anarchist named Benjamin Tucker had his own views on how anarchism should be properly handled, his views are now most seen in free market anti-capitalists and individualist anarchists as well as mutualists. His views on property were at first based on occupancy and use but later was favored by might makes right sort of theory and held on to an idea that society was kept in it’s cage through the four big monopolies of intellectual property such as patents and copyright as well as the money, land and tariff monopoly. (Which I shall discuss later on)

My own personal philisophy

I currently prescribe to left-wing market anarchism, it is a collection of mutualists, agorists, voluntary socialists, individualists and anarchists who I specifically like which is also called the “libertarian left”.  As far as economics and philosophy I have not delved into much of either at this time of my life and mostly focus on political philosophy but in that I do read a bit of everything, currently I find myself leaning towards mutualism in certain cases. Good examples of contemporary mutualists would be Shawn P. Wilbur and Kevin Carson and I’d also  recommend other libertarians who are on the left such as Charles Johnson, Sheldon Richman, Gary Chartier, Brad Spangler and if you look at their blogs you’re sure to find more. I’m always looking for more to read and tighten up my ideas so I can get a better handle on them so if you have any recommendations for me let me know.

[1] An internet version of the book can be found here:

http://www.franz-oppenheimer.de/state0.htm

[2] Said defenition can be found at this link:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/netdict/anarchism

http://www.theanarchisttownship.freedom-blogs.com/9/what-is-market-anarchism/