Down with anti-market “anarchists”

by Stephan Kinsella

Down with anti-market “anarchists”

Posted by Stephan Kinsella on September 9, 2008 01:46 AM

There’s a lot of noise being made by the left- and mutualist-libertarian crowd about the arrest of some so-called “anarchists” (scare quotes because anti-market “anarchists” are not real anarchists, i.e. anarcho-libertarians) and seizure by the police of “anarchist” and anarchist literature, including some by mutualist-libertarian Kevin Carson. From what I can gather from various incoherent media and blog descriptions, an “anarchist” group called the RNC Welcoming Committee was going to protest the Republican convention in Minnesota; some market anarchists tried to join up to make some inroads with the commie “anarchists”, and some Ron Paul supporters. For some reason the cops made arrests and seized literature, which included some of Carson’s writings.

This mutualist-libertarian material apparently was found because some market anarchists wanted to participate in the RNC Welcoming Committee march. (See Kevin Carson, public enemy; RNC 08: America, support your patriot youth!; Market Anarchists at the RNC: Street View.)Yes, the mutualists and left-anarchists have some good insights about how the state has distorted and corrupted the corporate and business world. But anarchists–real anarchists, i.e., anarcho-libertarians–are not opposed to the market and free enterprise, nor even opposed to “corporations” (see my “In Defense of the Corporation“).

Left-anarchism suspicious of the admixture of state and business is one thing; socialist “anarchism” is another. The “Anticapitalist Bloc” pseudo-anarchists are hostile to free markets and private property rights.  Take a look at this video, where one of them condones the breaking of a Macy’s window because of her hatred of “capitalism.” [Note: a libertarian friend told me he thinks this woman perhaps meant by “capitalism” merely state-regulation of markets, which we all oppose. I disagree. Listen for yourself. It’s Macy’s, for crying out loud, not Lockheed or even ADM.] And the commie lingo: “The crowd marched down the sidewalk, and in the right lane of the road when no sidewalk was available. Most of the time the marchers chanted ‘We won’t falter we won’t fail! Let our comrades out of jail!'” Comrades! Ick!

These people are just confused socialists. Sure, I’m glad they are anti-war. But unless you are pro-market, pro-private property, you have no basis to oppose the state, for the state is simply the agency of institutionalized aggression against private property rights. To oppose the state is to support property rights, since opposing aggression means opposing the invasion of property. Conversely, those who oppose property rights inevitably support the state or other forms of aggression.

Of course, the so-called RNC 8 should be freed. Of course, the state is the real enemy. But these pseudo-anarchists are not on our side.

Update: Roderick Long got the impression I was saying Kevin Carson is anti-market (I am not familiar with Gillis). Let me clarify: I tried to distinguish between genuine libertarians and anarchists, on the one hand, and the pseudo-anarchists, by using scare quotes. I never meant to imply that the “left” or market anarchists and mutualists are not libertarian. As far as I know they support individual rights and property rights and oppose aggression; and they rightly oppose–as do I–state-business admixtures or distortions that arise from this. We might disagree on the extent of these distortions, and on some of our personal preferences, but so what.

But anyone who runs around breaking storefront windows and treating Macy’s as some kind of evil state agency is not one of us: not a libertarian, not an anarcho-capitalist, not a market anarchist. (Not that I even see anything wrong with trying to make strategic alliances with these socialist anti-state types, or making inroads with them; but they are not us.) I would think, I would hope, I would expect that Carson and Long would agree with me on this. I certainly did not mean to be unfair to or impugn Carson, who is a sincere and intelligent thinker whose work I admire, even where I do not agree.

14 responses to “Down with anti-market “anarchists”

  1. As I keep saying, Kevin Carson is anti-market; his method of pretending not to be is to redefine markets as to make them not-markets. A = Not A.

    Of course, I would not approve of the seizure of writings by the State, and so on. I support the right of everyone to speak; even “radical” Islamists calling for Holy War and the killing of gays or neo-Nazis. The right to speak is fundamental.

    But it is mistaken to think that people like Carson are distinct from ordinary communists. They are ordinary communists, but with a somewhat new rhetoric (as a parallel example, in the same way that Radical Second Wave Feminists are simply old fashioned First Wave Social Purity Feminists, with a different justifying narrative and jargon to describe the same intentions). Carson’s way is to say that what Macy’s does is illegitimate because in his view Macy’s only exists because of a conspiracy by the State. Rather than a libertarian, who wishes shops to succeed or fail on their merits, Carson dreams of communist collectives producing “commodities” without evil capitalist middle men. He’s entitled to that view, but it does mean that the distinction in this article is entirely imaginary.

  2. Stephan Kinsella is a fairly major libertarian theorist, and he rates KC as one of us.

  3. “One of us” is inherently collectivist.

    Thatcher was big on “One of us.”


  4. Kinsella’s on the left too isn’t he? I’m always getting told to go and read his stuff by anti-propertarians.

  5. In with Hoppe. In with the von Mises Institute. Always hammer and tongs with KC. Not a lefty, I suggest.

  6. Sam Konkin’s “New Libertarian” carried this motto on its masthead:

    “Everyone here DISAGREES”


  7. IanB,

    Kinsella is a Mises-affiliated “right” anarcho-capitalist, closely associated with Hoppe.

    His major affinity with Carson and with “left” market anarchists is opposition to the anti-property supersition of “intellectual property.”

  8. Yep thought so, he’s for communism in creative works. I tried to read his stuff once on being urged to (here in fact, IIRC) but it came down to the usual “I WANT” argument combined with the “you can’t catch us anyway” argument and thus offered nothing new.

    • The anti-concept of “intellectual property” runs as follows:

      1) You have an idea; therefore

      2) You automatically acquire an indisputable property right in everyone else’s brains and everyone else’s stuff, whether they’ve agreed to transfer that right to you or not, such that you can forbid them to have the same idea or to use their stuff pursuant to said idea.

      You can be in favor of “intellectual property” rights, or you can be in favor of genuine property rights. You can’t be in favor of both.

  9. Depends what sort of IP we’re talking about. My particular interest is copyright, which is not a property right in ideas, but in the realisation of ideas. I cannot copyright “the idea of a picture of Conan The Barbarian” but I can copyright “a picture of Conan The Barbarian”.

    We have property rights in whatever we want a market in. Goods, land, our bodies, songs, whatever. Without property, there is no market. So you have to choose.

    Copyright is as “genuine” a property right as the right to own land. It is also arbitrary, like the right to own land. Neither right existed for the majority of human history. If you’re in favour of rights in general, you should support copyright. It is as simple as that.

    Patents are another area of human endeavour. Do you want a market in inventions or not? That is the basis on which you should make the judgement; not the pretense that some rights are natural and some are artificial. Because they’re all artificial, invented by human minds in rather recent history, too.

  10. Bradley Strider

    Leave it to an IP defender to criticize “you can’t catch us” and then, a scant few posts later, respond with a might-makes-right argument.

  11. Mikhail Bakunin : 1814-1876
    Murray Rothbard: 1926-1995

    Darn those so-called socialist anarchists, with their time machines and their hijacking your movement a full century before you came up with it.

  12. Eh, IP really seem to be the litmus test of real libertarians.

  13. The origin of copyright is not pretty. It entailed the State’s granting permission for writings to be printed and published i.e. censorship).