The State, Means of Production, and Means of Immigration


byKeith Preston
http://attackthesystem.com/2013/02/26/the-state-means-of-production-and-means-of-immigration/

Perhaps the principal source of division between anarcho-capitalists and socialist-anarchists in the classical tradition relates to the question of who should control what the Marxists call the “means of production.” Anarcho-capitalists envision a system of absolute private property rights rooted in the homesteading principle and defined along Lockean lines. Anarcho-capitalists also accept wage labor, profit, interest, landlordism, and absentee ownership.

Socialist-anarchists favor “workers control of the means of production” through systems of workers’ council, federations of industrial unions, and autonomous collectives or communes. Wage labor is rejected as exploitation and as therefore incompatible with freedom. Profit and interest are viewed with suspicion. Private property is seen as a form of unjust monopolization of material resources derived from nature.

Both sides often accuse each other of crypto-statism.

A number of branches of anarchist economic theory, such as the mutualists, geoists, and agorists, have tried carving out a happy medium between the socialist and capitalist branches of anarchism. These anarchists point out that, for instance, the institutions of big business and big banking that are the perpetrators of much present exploitation would largely be non-existent or rendered powerless and inconsequential in an authentic free market.

But is it really the case that statelessness implies any specific set of property allocation or economic or arrangements? Larry Gambone, for example, has identified a vast array of alternative economic perspectives that fall within the “socialist” paradigm but reject the state outright or allow for only a very minimal role for the state. Walter Block likewise suggests that it is a mistake to conflate libertarian free markets and private property rights with universal capitalism. Might there not be private communities or non-state collectives that maintain the types of unconventional business arrangements and property systems that Gambone discusses? And might there not be communities that practice anti-capitalism within a framework of Lockean property and contract theory. As Block says:

But there will likely be other areas of the country, for example, the People’s Republics of Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Mass, Greenwich Village in New York City, heck, the entire Big Apple for that matter, where pretty much the opposite outlook will legally prevail. That is, in these latter places, positive mention of free enterprise, capitalism, profits, etc., will be severely punished by law.

Would not these kinds divisions be solved according to localized customs, cultural patterns, and ideological preferences? Might not some provinces within Anarchistan tend towards syndicalism, others towards Georgism, others towards Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, and still others towards Fourierism, mutualism, council communism, Kropotkinism, Chomskyite anarcho-social democracy, Hoppean anarcho-monarchism, or Bookchinite libertarian municipalism?

A similar analysis could be applied to the immigration issue. The majority of anarchists and libertarians hold to the view that nations are merely the creations of states and therefore territorial boundaries are an unjust violation of individual liberty (and perhaps racist to boot) and should be scrapped. A minority of anarchists, such as the national-anarchists, black anarchists, native anarchists, and neo-tribalists, have argued that a nation, tribe, or ethno-culture is a historical or anthropological phenomenon that is distinct from the nation-state per se and that it is improper to conflate the two. Further, some anarchists and libertarians have suggested that mass immigration is in fact driven by states and state-allied institutions in a wide variety of ways. I have made such arguments myself in the past. See here.

But the real question is one of sovereignty. Specifically, who or what has jurisdiction over what might be called the “means of immigration.” These include highways, waterways, public streets and sidewalks, airways, airports, sea lanes, seaports, railways, airlines, coasts, borderlands, public lands, public parks, and other such forms of property or territory. In most contemporaries societies, jurisdiction over these is maintained by the state, or by corporations aligned with the state. But it is certainly easy to envision how such resources might exist without the state or state-allied institution. Any of these could be theoretically owned by private communities, non-state collectives, communes, anarcho-syndicalist workers federations, autonomous municipalities, churches, tribes, families, individuals, neighborhood associations, non-state universities, consumer organizations, and many other types of decentralized, voluntary associations or federations of such associations. Would not individuals, groups, or associations of this kind not have sovereign jurisdiction over who may or may not enter their territories or facilities? And would not the specification for right of entry vary significantly from place to place? Some might maintain a policy such as that favored by Hans Hermann Hoppe:

One would be well on the way toward a restoration of the freedom of association and exclusion as it is implied in the idea and institution of private property, and much of the social strife currently caused by forced integration would disappear, if only towns and villages could and would do what they did as a matter of course until well into the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States: to post signs regarding entrance requirements to the town, and once in town for entering specific pieces of property (no beggars or bums or homeless, but also no Moslems, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, etc.); to kick out those who do not fulfill these requirements as trespassers; and to solve the “naturalization” question somewhat along the Swiss model, where local assemblies, not the central government, determine who can and who cannot become a Swiss citizen.

At the other end of the opinion spectrum, some might take a position such as that of Charles Johnson:

Hoppean covenant communities are deliberately designed to be the worst sort of closed-minded, culturally fascist, hyperbureaucratic HOAs from hell, and even if it were much more plausible than I think it is to get them up and running in a competitive market without land monopoly, government control over public space, etc., no sane person would have any interest in participating in that kind of crap even if it were available. In Tuscaloosa, there’s this retirement community that is about 60% or 70% doddering old Klansmen from the bad old days; and this is essentially what the market for Hoppeville would look like: maybe a city block or two of the Klan Kondo Kommunity.

Definitely there are shared-values sorts of things where there might be good reason to signal that certain norms will be binding within a given space. But my guess is that these will more or less always take the form of non-enforceable social pressures, voluntary certifications etc. in non-continguous networks of people & places, not these elaborate contractually-riveted arrangements based on enforceable exclusive control over community space. (So like vegetarian restaurants, community events, etc., not like Vegetarian-Town where only delivery trucks with certified-vegetarian food moves down the privately-managed roads, where you sign a contract agreeing you’ll be thrown out of your apartment if your neighbor snitches on you for lapsing and eating a fish stick one day, etc.)

However one assesses the respective positions of Hoppe or Johnson on this question, it is clear that either perspective, and various in-between positions, could exist in Anarchistan and probably would co-exist, abeit uneasily.

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3 responses to “The State, Means of Production, and Means of Immigration

  1. An end to massive state intervention would NOT mean an end to big busines or big money lending. Nor does being big automatically mean you are “exploiting” anyone.

    Large factories and large money lending operations existed when government was quite small (in both size and scope).

    So, of course, did large farming and ranching enterprises.

    Neither paid labour or rent are “exploitation” – claims that they are exploitive are, at best, based upon ignorance.

    However, perhaps a distinction should be drawn between money lending and “banking”,

    Even in the United States (which had no Central Bank at the time) courts (for example in New York) as far back as the 1850s were ruling that banks did not actually have to have the money they were lending.

    Lending “money” that does-not-actually-exist might be wrong for a money lender (said the court) a money lender might well actually have to have the money (either their own savings or the savings of other people – entrusted to them to be lent out), but a “bank” was a different thing than a money lending operation.

    If that is a true (and I do not express an opinion here about whether those court judgements were correct) then a “bank” is not a good thing.

    As for people who want to live in a communal way……..

    This is quite legal already

    Someone can (for example) become a monk or a nun.

    And, if someone wants an atheist community, they can join a secular commune.

    At one time some 5% of the Jewish population of Israel were members of such secular communes (of one sort or another) – although I suspect it is rather less now.

    So communal anarchists (or mutualists – or all the other factions) should be quite happy – as they can go and live in a little community of their own.

    And the state should certainly NOT harm them – leave them alone (as the Amish and others should be left alone).

    It is only when such people try to force their way of life on others that they become unlibertarian.

    “I do not want to work for the Koch brothers” is fine.

    “I do not want the Koch brothers to be allowed to employ you” is not fine.

    Just as…..

    “We want to buy some land for our commune” is fine.

    “We want to TAKE your land for our commune” is not fine.

  2. For a refutation of the idea that paid labour is “exploitive” (the fallacies of the Labour Theory of Value) see the Austrian School of economics from Carl Menger to Ludwig Von Mises (although many other economists had refuted the Labour Theory of Value before this time).

    For a refutation that rent is “exploitation”, and the whole idea that land-is-special, see Frank Fetter.

    The second most famous man to come out of Peru Indiana (the first being, of course, Cole Porter) and the person who also refuted Irving Fisher on the idea that monetary expansion (credit bubble ism) was not dangerious as long as the “price level” did not go up.

    Sadly about the only modern economist who wrote about the importance of Frank Fetter was the late Murray Rothbard.

  3. On immigration…..

    The violation of the private property of ranchers (and others) along the Mexican-American border is an outrage.

    The American govenrment (the very people who claim they are unable to enforce their own immigration laws) threaten to send to prison ranchers and others who try and defend their private property from people who invade it.

    In tort law also – the invaders take ranchers, and others, to court claiming their “civil rights” have been violated, or just by using the “legal fiction of the invitee” (the same nonsense that house breakers use when they sue you, when they have injured themselves in invading your home).

    On the ethnic matter (not dealt with by the post).

    I keep being told that “75% of hispanics” want the American government to be even bigger (to “provide more services”).

    From a limited government point of view (let alone a no government point of view) this, if true, is deeply disturbing.

    Also disturbing are the claimed (the alleged) opinions of many Muslims in Britain and other countries.