What a breath of fresh air! An intellectual opponent who doesn’t resort to silencing the opposition, defamation, or shutting down the lines of communication. Is it too good to be true? No, it’s Anna Morganstern at the Center for a Stateless Society.
Regular readers may recall a post from last week titled “Left Anarchy is Impossible“, which was a response to Anna’s 2010 piece at C4SS titled “Anarcho ‘Capitalism’ is Impossible“. Anna today responded to that article, in a new piece at C4SS, titled “Anarchism And Capitalism – A Revisitation“. In it, she acknowledges some points that I made, refutes others, and explains how her thoughts have changed over the years since the original piece was published.
She’s certainly given me some things to think about, but in the meantime, here’s an excerpt from her article, you can read the entire piece at Center for a Stateless Society.
Recently, a rebuttal of my previous article “Anarcho-Capitalism is Impossible” was brought to my attention. The author, Christopher Cantwell, made some points that are worth addressing and my own thoughts on the matter have shifted somewhat over time. Therefore, I think it would be worth revisiting the topic with fresh eyes.
In his introductory paragraphs, he defines “the left” as being basically anti-propertarian, and socialism as the state ownership of property. Anti-propertarian in this case would mean against anyone but the state owning property. Under these definitions, there’s no such thing for sure as left-libertarianism or anarcho-socialism. Socialism is a pretty nebulous word, in fact, so is the concept of being “left” as opposed to “right” wing. Capitalism is equally nebulous, and yet has a concrete historical instance. One of the concepts I was trying to lay out in my original essay was that if one judged “capitalism” by its concrete history, and not its various theoretical definitions, then anarcho-capitalists were certainly anarchists, but certainly not “capitalists” because the changes they would make in society would make the historical appearance of “capitalism” impossible. This is in opposition to what anarcho-socialists usually claim which is that ancaps are capitalists, but not anarchists. This confusion arises I believe because of conflation problems (commonly known as the “xaxlebax” problem, after a thought exercise in an essay by Roderick Long: “Left and Right, 40 Years Later”). Basically, what is being conflated in people’s minds is the free market and the historical, actual economy we think of as “capitalism”. This conflation, I believe, is a mistake.