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Anarchism, libertarianism, and the way forward

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In Are Occupiers aiding Grover Norquist? I presented a critique of anarchism, claiming that anarchist Occupiers were unwittingly aiding right-wing libertarians and ignoring the benefits of government. Dave Fryett responded to my analysis in On the Appeal of Anarchism, a Response to Don Smith's "Are Anarchists in Occupy Aiding Grover Norquist?".  In this article I want to further develop my understanding of anarchism and to reply to some of Fryett's comments.

When many people hear the word "anarchists" they think of violent youths breaking windows and starting fires. That certainly is not the notion of anarchism I have in mind in this article.  Nevertheless, I think that because of the bad associations, anarchists would benefit from renaming their movement "cooperativism", or something positively positive like that.

Anarchism is "a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies based on non-hierarchical free associations."  Anarchists oppose both government power and corporate power.

Nathan Schnieder makes this point in The government shutdown -- an anarchist dream?.  Anarchism isn't just a preference for the absence of government, he says. "The rule -- the -archy -- it seeks to dismantle is also the rule of those with too much property over those with not enough, and of those whose privilege of race or gender gives them priority over others. Anarchists seek a society in which ordinary people can freely and democratically govern themselves, organizing to meet everyone's basic needs."

David Fryett, in the article referenced above, explains anarchism like this:

At the core of our thought is equality, anarchism is unimaginable without it. And equality not just in one aspect of life but in all. Anarchism is the end of hierarchical authority, the master-servant relationship, the end of the rule of coercive power. Thus our notion of economic justice requires the abolition of capitalism, which is positively medieval in its hierarchy. For us corporatism and capitalism are undifferentiated, and the distinction made between the two in contemporary political parlance utterly specious, a canard. Thus our goals are incompatible with those of the Democrats who want to tame capitalism, not eliminate it.

In its entirety, the state is the enforcement apparatus of ruling class power.

Modern day anarchists, who were influential in the Occupy Movement, want a direct transition to a horizontal, non-hierarchical society -- not by first going through an authoritarian state like the ones that developed in the USSR and China, and not by relying on the kind of state we see in Western Europe and America, where the state is supposed to regulate and balance the corporations.

Libertarianism is "a set of related political philosophies that uphold liberty as the highest political end. This includes emphasis on the primacy of individual liberty, political freedom, and voluntary association. It is the antonym to authoritarianism. Different schools of libertarianism disagree over whether the state should exist and, if so, to what extent."

In America, the most common form of libertarianism nowadays is right-libertarianism,  which supports private property rights and laissez-faire capitalism.  Grover Norquist and the Koch brothers support that kind of libertarianism.  According to right-libertarianism, the state should exist minimally: only to enforce laws and protect private property.  (But there are also libertarian socialists, who favor common ownership and management of property and the means of production.)

So, in short:  libertarians want to get rid of, or shrink, government but are OK with corporations, while anarchists want to get rid of, or weaken, both government and corporations.

And replace it with what?

Cooperative, local, worker-owned/managed ventures.

Noam Chomsky is an anarcho-syndicalist. Anarcho-syndicalism is radical industrial unionism  leading to worker control and ownership. Chomsky defines it as "a conception of a very organized society, but organized from below by direct participation at every level, with as little control and domination as is feasible, maybe none."

In The Kind of Anarchism I Believe in, and What's Wrong with Libertarians Chomsky explains the difference between libertarianism and anarchism this way:

What's called libertarian in the United States, which is a special U. S. phenomenon, it doesn't really exist anywhere else -- a little bit in England -- permits a very high level of authority and domination but in the hands of private power: so private power should be unleashed to do whatever it likes. The assumption is that by some kind of magic, concentrated private power will lead to a more free and just society. Actually that has been believed in the past. Adam Smith for example, one of his main arguments for markets was the claim that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets would lead to perfect equality. Well, we don't have to talk about that! " Anarchism is quite different from that. It calls for an elimination to tyranny, all kinds of tyranny. Including the kind of tyranny that's internal to private power concentrations."

On forming groups

I have some questions about this.  What force or convention will prevent private power concentration? What if a bunch of people decide to join up in a group (or gang or corporation or militia) and to use their power to harm others?  Who or what will stop them from doing that?

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http://waliberals.org

DFA organizer, Democratic Precinct Committee Officer, writer, and programmer. My op-ed pieces have appeared in the Seattle Times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and elsewhere. See http://WALiberals.org and http://TruthSite.org for my writing, my (more...)
 

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Wow. Good article Don. A lot to think about. ... by David Vicks on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 8:03:43 PM
Good comments Dave but I've been thinking a lot la... by patricia win on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 12:16:38 PM
Yes agreed on all points. This capitalism is not c... by David Vicks on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 1:56:34 PM
The Problem... by unknown... by Deborah Dills on Friday, Oct 4, 2013 at 10:27:14 PM
Just saw "Inequality for All"  and though thi... by patricia win on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 11:47:12 AM
Great article,it says what I have been saying abou... by liberalsrock on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 9:23:36 AM
What libertarians support is the right of people t... by June Genis on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 12:10:29 PM
I'm confused? How does a liberal agenda, a democra... by David Vicks on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 8:36:51 PM
Elizabeth Warren says We are not a country of Anar... by Don Smith on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 11:35:31 AM
Libertarian anarchists, and I include myself here,... by June Genis on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 12:24:14 PM
Societies, or social groupings, begin with familie... by Derryl Hermanutz on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 2:33:11 PM
Valuable comments, Derryl.Since I don't think we c... by Don Smith on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 3:29:23 PM
As soon as I see the word reform I know you're abo... by Darren Wolfe on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 5:34:02 PM
Good points.No shades of gray or middle ground you... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 8:39:40 PM
I still have a dream, that one day writers & e... by Darren Wolfe on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 5:30:35 PM
You're talking about "corrupt" government not a he... by David Vicks on Saturday, Oct 5, 2013 at 11:02:49 PM
First, govt is based on the initiation of force, a... by Darren Wolfe on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 7:07:55 AM
The POWER of government to protect the individual ... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 8:20:02 PM
Your or you're?  Think about that too.Yes, it... by Darren Wolfe on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 6:23:29 AM
Of course government is bought out by the corporat... by David Vicks on Friday, Oct 11, 2013 at 2:08:06 PM
Libertarians are right wing weather you want to ad... by David Vicks on Friday, Oct 11, 2013 at 2:40:38 PM
I'm wondering if open source software projects are... by Don Smith on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 12:43:24 AM
"democratic democracy" gets in the way when it tri... by June Genis on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 3:14:16 PM
I completely agree with what you said.There have t... by David Vicks on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 4:20:00 PM
Please David, educate us libertarians about our id... by Darren Wolfe on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 7:04:33 PM
Let's start from the beginning.Let's have no gover... by David Vicks on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 7:45:56 PM
Even with all of the atrocities that govts do you ... by Darren Wolfe on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 8:32:53 PM
Government can be used to do GOOD or BAD. Without ... by David Vicks on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 1:15:34 PM
How can we have law without some governing body to... by David Vicks on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 7:01:45 PM
Well actually clicked on the thumbs up button. Whe... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 11:02:00 PM
Sure, let's have anarchism in countries with govts... by Darren Wolfe on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 6:23:56 AM
What laws do you insist we have and how are you go... by David Vicks on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 7:54:43 PM
I agree that there's way too much theft of money i... by Don Smith on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 4:54:09 PM
No, Don, taxation is money taken by force for the ... by Darren Wolfe on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 7:09:54 PM
We should use our tax money to improve the quality... by David Vicks on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 8:00:12 PM
How about improving people's quality of life by no... by Darren Wolfe on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 8:22:33 PM
Is there ANYTHING you WOULD like to be taxed for?A... by David Vicks on Sunday, Oct 6, 2013 at 10:04:05 PM
LMAO Is that the best you can do? Ignore the princ... by Darren Wolfe on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 4:39:13 AM
I could go on and on about how wrong you are on so... by David Vicks on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 12:44:01 PM
"Non-aggression". The opposite of "aggression". "A... by Daniel Penisten on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 7:50:27 PM
Well yes you are right you need AGGRESSION to enfo... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 1:44:48 AM
Interesting reply and questions. That caused me to... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 11:54:18 AM
"They want EVERYONE to leave "me" and "you" alone.... by Darren Wolfe on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:24:14 PM
Daniel,One dictionary defines aggression as "The a... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 6:57:41 AM
What Is Law? What, then, is law? It is the col... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 7:00:08 AM
(continued) Such a perversion of force would be,... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 7:01:38 AM
Your NON-AGRESSION principle starts of good but is... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 2:46:47 PM
Thank you for the reply Darren. "The act of initi... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:36:44 PM
Daniel, just as the police have the right to use l... by June Genis on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:52:43 PM
Thanks June Genis. Makes Good sense to me.Defendin... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 6:45:34 PM
Retaliatory force is still aggressive unless you c... by June Genis on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 9:48:13 PM
Well, what happens if you don't pay taxes? I know ... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 6:03:48 AM
"...the private courts in the American West."Darre... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:43:20 PM
The Not So Wild, Wild West http://mises.org/daily/... by Darren Wolfe on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 7:19:47 PM
Yeah but governing with just profit oriented priva... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 8:47:03 PM
When you buy something at the store, are the store... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 2:05:15 AM
Really? The store owner doesn't hold anyone up, fo... by Darren Wolfe on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 6:20:30 AM
Frist get the enormous revenue that you don't want... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 2:29:41 PM
Taxes are not harmful. Right wing thinking is... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 2:36:41 PM
Government enforces laws which produce penalties l... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 8:09:39 PM
Some people just cannot embrace the idea of doing ... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 12:51:32 PM
Agreed. However I mention that "relocation" i... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 2:16:11 PM
Well. I suppose this enclave for special interests... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 6:20:43 PM
Well they couldn't be allowed to leave their regio... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 7:47:30 PM
Actually, taxes are destructive of civil society. ... by Darren Wolfe on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 7:43:30 PM
Your already living on government money. How hard ... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 7:58:54 PM
How about taxing extreme wealth and not taxing inc... by David Vicks on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 12:49:47 PM
"...and a government with the power to tax and cre... by Daniel Penisten on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 7:25:46 PM
Printing money only serves to dilute the value of ... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 1:35:36 AM
Now here. I really have trouble understanding the ... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 1:02:09 PM
Probably need an economist to explain. I'm no expe... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 2:06:26 PM
It would certainly be better to have the treasury ... by June Genis on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 10:00:21 PM
Yes we have to do something about the Federal Rese... by David Vicks on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 11:24:25 PM
Remember that government money is a NECESSARY (wel... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 1:54:13 AM
Well ok I seemed to of missed the bottom part.Stea... by David Vicks on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 8:32:04 PM
Why is the majority justified in stealing?  W... by June Genis on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 10:11:11 PM
You seem to think your not getting ANYTHING from g... by David Vicks on Thursday, Oct 10, 2013 at 11:48:17 PM
I have written a longer response which will be pos... by RanDomino Ksc on Monday, Oct 7, 2013 at 6:14:05 PM
I don't know why but apparently it's not being pos... by RanDomino Ksc on Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 9:25:02 AM
Foreign Policy  must turn around so we can fo... by Michael Dewey on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 6:46:54 AM
Darren continues to say that taxation is a form of... by Don Smith on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 8:25:02 PM
Well it's clearly a waste of time to try to convin... by David Vicks on Tuesday, Oct 8, 2013 at 9:46:11 PM
"Your dream of a society without government is she... by Daniel Penisten on Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013 at 1:06:29 PM
If I'm not supposed to use govt services can I als... by Darren Wolfe on Friday, Oct 11, 2013 at 5:58:13 AM
How do we make sure that no government services ar... by David Vicks on Friday, Oct 11, 2013 at 3:00:47 PM
To a person who holds non-aggression as a principl... by RanDomino Ksc on Friday, Oct 11, 2013 at 6:32:55 PM
I doubt that.Non-aggression is your cover story. S... by David Vicks on Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 at 12:30:04 AM
Corporations are legal fictions created by governm... by RanDomino Ksc on Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 at 10:44:02 AM
Interesting. Especially interesting that you are a... by David Vicks on Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 at 3:15:38 PM
"so they can deregulate and lower their taxes" We... by RanDomino Ksc on Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 9:17:11 AM
"How do you fend of corruption and power abuse?" ... by RanDomino Ksc on Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 9:17:39 AM
Still not sure what you are going to replace gover... by David Vicks on Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 7:06:32 PM
I certainly wasn't surrendering to Darren's argume... by Don Smith on Saturday, Oct 12, 2013 at 9:17:51 PM
"without government there might not be corporation... by RanDomino Ksc on Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 9:24:16 AM
I have to read your link still about Anarchy. ... by David Vicks on Monday, Oct 14, 2013 at 2:34:19 PM