Anarcho-Communism: Impossible Dilemmas

Anarcho-communism seeks to merge two distinct philosophies into one socio-economic system. The two philosophies, for the purpose of this article, can be defined as follows:

  1. Anarchism: (literally: “no rulers”) the rejection of government and belief that society ought to be organized voluntarily.
  2. Communism: (literally: “common”, “universal”) the ordering of society where the means of production are owned collectively, and good are distributed by the maxim “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need.”

Rather than beat around the bush, I’ll state this explicitly: anarcho-communism is its own reductio ad absurdum. Should an anarcho-communist society be established, it would either cease to be anarchic, communistic, or both. This article will explain how by exposing anarcho-communism’s three fatal flaws.

Fatal Flaw One: Exploiting the Workers

Let us travel in our mind’s eye to the anarcho-communist land of Marxistan. Here, the revolution is complete and the proletariat have unseated the bourgeoisie, and the power has been given back to the people! Now the revolutionaries have returned home to live free of their corporate overlords in peace. How could this glorious display of the victory of communism sow the seeds of worker exploitation in Marxistan?

Let’s imagine that comrade Murray has been reading too much Hoppe and now thinks he’s some kind of entrepreneur who is entitled to keep his own private property, and do what he pleases with the fruits of his labor. He decides that he no longer wishes to remain in the commune. There’s only one problem: Murray is a farmer. “His” house is an old family farm, and he along with some other workers harvest grain for the bread lines – err… makers, bread makers. The field he works is rather large, so when he starts talking about it being his property, there’s cause for concern.

So Murray wants to leave the commune. Obviously, if Marxistan is a voluntary society, he must be allowed to leave (otherwise, we would have a different issue, addressed below). The question is what he will be allowed to keep as a person who is no longer in the commune? Given that anarcho-communism is to be a voluntary system, if he were to simply withdraw his home and farm from the commune we see the first manifestation of the first of our fatal flaws.

If members of the commune can simply chose to leave, and in the absence of an agent of force (which would be statism, see below) preventing the leaving party from taking with them what possessions they deem theirs, the remaining members of the commune are exploited. They are exploited in the sense that they all consent to the redistribution of goods, while one individual can simply take more than their fair share, which in turn lowers the available goods available for redistribution. Without a mechanism of force keeping either Murray or that which he would otherwise take with him in the commune, those who do remain in the commune can potentially be exploited by anyone who chooses to leave the commune. Given that one of communism’s chief goals is to prevent the exploitation of the workers, it seems odd that the very nature of an anarcho-communist society would allow such easy exploitation.

Over time, as more individuals in Marxistan see their comrades leave, and they grow poorer and poorer, they come to realize that their particular brand of communism – rather than failing – just wasn’t “real” communism. As such, with what remaining strength they have left, they pack up their “personal” property and head to our next fabled land.

Fatal Flaw Two: State Communism

Welcome to Castroland! Just like Marxistan, Castroland has had a successful communist revolution, but unlike Marxistan, Castroland understands that there needs to be some ways to keep the workers from being exploited. After seeing what happened to their exploited brothers, the Castrolanders have a few changes they’re going to make in order to ensure a more prosperous society for all workers.

So in this society, Randy has been reading too much Rothbard. He too decides to leave the commune. Murray packs up his things, loads his truck with enough food stores to get him by for a while, and begins to drive in the direction of Ancapistan.

Unluckily for Randy, he is stopped before he can get too far. He is informed by his fellow citizens that he is not allowed to leave Castroland! Randy informs them that his association with Castroland is voluntary, and he no longer wishes to continue that association. However, after the fall of Marxistan, the citizens of Castroland do not wish to be exploited. Randy is told that he must go back. Since Randy has no other option, he returns home.

At this point, we must understand that Castroland is no longer an anarchy. Should Randy have made further attempts to leave Castroland, he would have either succeeded in doing so, exposing Castroland to the same exploitation as Marxistan. The only other option is to forcibly keep Randy in Castroland. This is already statist, but the problem goes deeper…

At this point, we have two questions we must ask as to what Randy’s fate is going to be given that Randy cannot leave:

  1. Will he still be made to contribute?
  2. Will he still receive benefits from the commune?

If he will both contribute and receive benefits, he’s essentially in the same position as he was before, except he cannot leave. This makes Randy a prisoner. Keeping an individual imprisoned requires aggression against them, thus making Randy subservient to some ruler over him. In this, Castroland has become a communist state rather than an anarchist commune.

If he will be made to contribute, but receive no benefits, the punishment for his desire to leave is becoming a slave. To make Randy a slave, there must be some agent aggressing against him, which again makes Castroland a communist state rather than an anarchist commune. Additionally, Randy is still a member of the commune, and thus his exploitation in this regard causes him to exploited, which brings us back to the problems discussed above.

If Randy, for some reason, is not made to contribute, but still receives benefit from the community, he becomes a leech which further exploits the Castrolanders, which brings us back to the problems discussed above.

If Randy is not made to contribute and will also not receive benefits, then he is independent from the commune, and forcing him to stay is arbitrary. There is no benefit to to commune in keeping him, and ultimately, this scenario could lead to him being made a prisoner or a slave as described in the previous scenarios.

Finally, if Castroland doesn’t seek closed borders, they may opt to prevent those desiring to leave, like Randy, from bringing any property with them. This, however, would still require an enforcement agent, who would appropriate one’s property apart from their consent. In order for Castroland not to be exploited out of existence like Marxistan, it must exploit those who wish to leave in order to prevent the exploitation of those who wish to stay. Regardless of whether or not Castroland has open or closed borders, to preserve the means of production and the distribution of goods apart from exploiting the workers, Castroland will quickly find itself requiring an agent of aggression. Castroland is a communist state, not an anarchist commune.

Fatal Flaw Three: Social Hierarchies as Safeguards

With the fall of Marxistan, and the descent of Castroland into statism, is there any hope for the revolution? There’s one final option that we can examine. Let us imagine, once more, that the communist revolution is complete. However, this time, learning the lessons of Marxistan and Castroland’s failures, the last beacon of equality proudly waves the black-and-red flag: Obamalia!

In Obamalia, there is no agent of enforcement, which prevents them from becoming a state, but to offset the possible exploitation of the commune by departing comrades, Obamalia requires all incoming members to the commune to receive limited benefits as to not exploit the existing members who have contributed additional resources. So when Bob and Tom wish to leave Obamalia, the commune bids them adieu, but to offset the lost production and the net loss in goods, the commune places new members Paul and Karl in a new members status. They receive less benefits until they contribute enough to the commune to alleviate any exploitation that may occur from either when they may leave; essentially they “pay it forward” as they arrive.

While this may sound just fine, and Paul and Karl may accept this arrangement, it is also not communistic. This intentional generation of social hierarchy accompanied by voluntary wage differentials is more akin to capitalist tendencies than communist ones. Yet this system would theoretically work. The only parts of the system that would not behave as an anarcho-communist society would be the entry and exit system. However, to abandon communist principles to fix communism is nonsensical. In the truest sense, the “success” of Obamalia is that its quasi-communism works so long as it is built upon a foundation of capitalist principles.

So under examination, the concept of anarcho-communism faces the problem of failing to be communism by allowing unrestricted exploitation of workers, failing to be anarchic by requiring agents of aggression to prevent exploitation, or must abandon core principles in order to remain communistic on the surface. From these options, an anarcho-communist society will either collapse all together, devolve into statism, or be communist in name only while hijacking free market principles.

For those of you more visually-inclined, click HERE or on the image below:


The Logical Anarchy Podcast EP 57 – Vault 7 and Some Thoughts on Left Libertarianism


The Logical Anarchy Podcast – Vault7 Leaks and Some Thoughts on Left Libertarianism

Joe and Jon come at you to talk about the Vault7 leaks and some other topics like left libertarianis, taxation, and property.

Vault7 and the Choice Before Us by Jon Torres

The Vault 7 Leaks

Logical Anarchy Merchandise

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Vault7 and the Choice Before Us

“JUDGES: At this grave crisis in the history of our country, you have been offered a peculiarly desirable gift, a gift almost too opportune to be of human origin: it almost seems heaven sent. For you have been given a unique chance to make your Senatorial Order less unpopular, and to set right the damaged reputation of these courts. A belief has taken root which is having a fatal effect on our nation — and which to us who are Senators, in particular, threatens great peril. This belief is on everyone’s tongue, at Rome and even in foreign countries. It is this: that in these courts, with their present membership, even the worst criminal will never be convicted provided that he has money… … Let us imagine, on the other hand, that this great wealth succeeds in undermining the conscience and honesty of the judges. Well, even then I shall accomplish one thing. For the general conclusion will not be that the judges failed to find a guilty defendant — or that the defendant lacked a competent prosecutor. On the contrary: the deduction will be that there are no good judges in the land” 1.

I open with this poignant quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero because we seem to be at the same point today. We are faced with the same choice. Turn a blind eye or confront and condemn evil for what it is. In Cicero’s time, he was confronting the corruption of Gaius Verres, a governor in one of Rome’s oldest provinces. Sicily. Verres was brought to judgment for complaints brought against him by Sicilian communities under his rule. Large amounts of money were demanded in restoration from Verres, so his case dealt with extortion and other accusations of abuse 2. Some (the reactionary left) may think that our modern-day “Verres” is President Donald Trump. Perhaps. But if that is true, then these same people need to likewise condemn Obama, Bush, Clinton, the older Bush., Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, and so on down the line. For all of these men have put the citizen’s rights in danger through their executive orders and actions. All of them are guilty of the same crimes as Gaius Verres. Indeed, anyone with any government authority is party to some immoral crime in some way. All deserve to be prosecuted by a skilled orator like Cicero. Cicero was successful in convicting Verres for his crimes, though unfortunately for Cicero, his love of freedom and posturing against tyranny would eventually make him a martyr. But the “Verres” confronting us today is something larger and more insidious than anything Cicero could have dreamed of. The extortion and abuse of power is beyond that of anything Verres could have ever hoped to achieve. Our modern-day “Verres” is not a single man, but government. The CIA and the “deep state” specifically.

What is Vault7?

Vault7 is the Wikileaks code name for the largest release of leaked information on the Central Intelligence Agency that has ever occurred. It details a frightening arsenal of Orwellian like weapons used to spy on… well… everyone. Wikileaks notes:

“The first full part of the series, ‘Year Zero’, comprises 8,761 documents and files from an isolated, high-security network situated inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virgina. It follows an introductory disclosure last month of CIA targeting French political parties and candidates in the lead up to the 2012 presidential election… ‘Year Zero’ introduces the scope and direction of the CIA’s global covert hacking program, its malware arsenal and dozens of ‘zero day’ weaponized exploits against a wide range of U.S. and European company products, include Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones” 3.

Essentially, Vault7 contains information to make you apologize to your tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist friend for all the grief you gave him.

You’re TV and other Smart Devices are a Microphone

EDB (Embedded Development Branch) is essentially a piece of malware the CIA used to attack smart televisions and other devices and allowed the microphone on these items to be used as a listening device 4. This sounds so insane that it just couldn’t be true, but the leaked information shows otherwise. You have “Pterodactyl” which was a project designed to be a “custom hardware solution to support media copying” 5. “Gyrfalcon” collected user information and passwords. “Sparrowhawk” logged keystrokes. Wikileaks notes:

“The attack against Samsung smart TVs was developed in cooperation with the United Kingdom’s MI5/BTSS. After infestation, Weeping Angel places the target TV in a ‘Fake-Off’ mode, so that the owner falsely believes the TV is off when it is on. In ‘Fake-Off’ mode the TV operates as a bug, recording conversations in the room and sending them over the Internet to a covert CIA server” 6.

This is some really creepy privacy and property invading criminal activity. As an Anarcho-Capitalist, I put no stock in the US Constitution as a useful document. But there are many big “L” libertarians and Conservatives that worship the document. What happened to the 4th amendment?

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized” 7.

By their own laws, they are not allowed to do this and yet here they are doing it. They are spying on you and me with the ability to enter our respective properties through our electronic devices and gain information outside of the legally proper way as outlined by the US Constitution. I hope this historical point can serve as a reminder and I suggest understanding what Lysander Spooner meant when he said, “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist” 8. My dear limited government friends, your precious document has done nothing for you!

Other Uses of EDB and “Russian Hackers”

One of the most frightening revelations in the CIA leaks is the ability to hack a modern cars computer. Wikileaks again notes, “As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations” 9. It’s very clear in some leaked notes how a branch meeting was set up in applying this malware to things like vehicle systems 10. Think about that for a minute. That is terrifying. Also consider this:

“The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch‘s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation.

With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

UMBRAGE components cover keyloggers, password collection, webcam capture, data destruction, persistence, privilege escalation, stealth, anti-virus (PSP) avoidance and survey techniques” 11.

What this means is that what the former Obama administration and the left are calling “Russian Hackers” may not actually be “Russian hackers” but the CIA pretending to be Russia. If the CIA can tamper with evidence like this, any accusation that Russia “hacked” the election is questionable and the narrative the left is trying to sell should be taken with a very healthy dose of skepticism. Perhaps the whole “Trump is a Russian puppet!” narrative was a set up by the CIA in the first place? It certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

But I Have Nothing to Hide!

I have already had multiple people say, “It’s OK, I have nothing to hide so who cares if they are spying on me?”. That’s fine if you think that way, but your preferences are not shared by everyone else. Some of us like to be secure in our “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and your silly case of Stockholm syndrome is not shared by others (such as myself). So it is absolutely a violation of my person and property and your apathy to having your rights infringed has no business being forced on me. Nor is such a perspective an argument. You’re preference for being spied on through all of your electronic devices by some jerk in Langley Virginia does not count as a sound refutation of the outrage felt by people like myself.

My property is mine and no one else has the right to improperly access my property. You don’t get to set permissions about my privacy or my property.

This brings me back to the beginning and Cicero. He brought up an important question to the Roman Senate and other government officials of his day. He gave them a choice. The Senate could continue to believe that its own were above the law and they could continue to let special interest rather than justice prevail. By doing so, the perception of the Senate would continue to decline in the eyes of the civilian population. The populations both domestically and abroad would understand how “there are no good judges in the land”. Or they could save face and serve justice. What has all of this done for us? Has it made us safer? Obviously it has not.

As an anarcho-capitalist, both of these options can work in the favor of true liberty. Ideally, we want people’s delusions regarding government to be shattered and discarded. The other side, that of “good guys in politics” actually holding the CIA responsible (and maybe by some divine miracle abolishing it), is a shrinking of governmental power. Both option can be used to further liberty. But keep one thing in mind:

If this was 1776 and King George was doing this, it would mean war.

Notes:

  1. Cicero, M. T., & Grant, M. (1965). Cicero: selected works. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books.
  2. Ibid.
  3. W. (2017, March 7). Submit documents to WikiLeaks. Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/
  4. Vault7 Analysis. (2017, March 7). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/#ANALYSIS
  5. EDB Projects. (2017, March 7). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/page_524313.html
  6. Vault7 Analysis. (2017, March 7). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/#ANALYSIS
  7. The Bill of Rights: A Transcription. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript
  8. Spooner, L. (2006). No treason: the Constitution of no authority. Homewood, IL: ABC Zine Distro.
  9. Vault7 Analysis. (2017, March 7). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/#ANALYSIS
  10. Application of EDB. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/cms/page_13763790.html
  11. Vault7 Analysis. (2017, March 7). Retrieved March 08, 2017, from https://wikileaks.org/ciav7p1/#ANALYSIS

The NAP (The Non-Aggression Principle)

This is a video about the ethical principle at the heart of anarcho-capitalism, voluntaryism, and consistent libertarianism. The Non-Aggression Principle.

Walter Block on the NAP
Mises Wiki

 

Liberty Classroom!


Child Labor and the Third World

I have seen the above video making the rounds on Facebook. I have seen people calling for boycotts, regulations, and other methods of “combating” situations like this for children in the third world. I think all of those solutions, while they mean well, are absolutely the wrong way to go about this. Situations like the one in the video above are used by those ignorant of economics with giant bleeding hearts to further some wrong-headed solution they think will save these children. I have written about child labor in the past, but since this video is making the rounds, I figured that I should cover the topic again 1.

Is Child Labor Really Bad?

For many, such a question seems pointless. “Of course it’s bad! That’s why we abolished it here in the United States!” they say. My retort is usually, “Did outlawing child labor actually end child labor?”. “Of course!” is usually the reply. I think such a reply outs such a person as both ignorant of economics and history. So lets delve into why such a common “fact” isn’t actually fact at all. Austrian Economist Ludwig Von Mises noted that, “in the capitalist society there prevails a tendency toward a steady increase in the per capita quota of capital invested… …Consequently, the marginal productivity of labor, wage rates, and the wager earners’ standard of living tend to rise continually” 2. Such a statement seems like a bold claim, particularly in such a climate as we have now where the average person has a relative skepticism of capitalism due to socialist and statist propaganda. “Capitalism” is a dirty word these days. But as the data has shown, free markets and economic freedom are directly correlated with a higher standard of living 3. The graphs below show how those in nations with more economic freedom (who more closely resemble a truly unhampered market), enjoy many other benefits associated with a higher standard of living.

We can see that government taking a step back from the economy creates more economic freedom which means those that live within a country are able to more easily accumulate capital. Accumulating capital raises the standard of living which lowers the amount of full-time hours required to survive and also means things like child labor become unnecessary. Thomas DiLorenzo notes that in 1870, the average number of hours considered “full-time” were 61. Today, it’s only 34 4. And if the data shows that less regulation, not more, creates a higher standard of living, that means regulations like abolishing child labor either do nothing to improve the standard of living or actively make the rise in the standard of living more difficult.

Bangladesh is a perfect example of this. In the 1990s, Bangladesh was faced with the United States and other western nations banning imports from the poor country because of its use of child labor. The Bangladesh government passed laws banning child labor which forced factory owners to fire around 30,000 children 5. No doubt those with bleeding hearts suffering from economic ignorance would count such an outcome as a victory. Unfortunately, it was not. Those that think such an outcome was ideal (hooray! We ended child labor!), are blind to the unforeseen consequences that occurred. I want to ask such people who may have cheered at this outcome, what they think happened to those children? Did they just magically go to school? No, of course not. Those kids took the sweatshop jobs because it was better than any other option open to them. “According to the British charity Oxfam, these kids didn’t go back to school or find better lives. Most of them took worse jobs or ended up on the streets. Thousands of children went into prostitution” 6. Those ignorant of the economic realities of the world don’t seem to grasp the fact that ignorance has consequences. Whether they realized it or not, their preference for ending child labor in Bangladesh was a preference that said, “I would rather you kids become prostitutes and sleep on the street than work in the ‘terrible conditions’ of the sweatshop”.

So what we have learned here is two-fold: (1) Free markets and economic freedom are directly connected to a continually rising standard of living. It becomes easier to gain capital and lowers the required number of hours of labor to live, which means longer work days and work weeks are no longer needed and children eventually no longer need to work in order to help support the family. (2) People will always seek the maximum value. In the case of job selection, they want the best pay and the best conditions and how these things are balanced are going to be subjective to each individual (that’s why here in the states, someone becomes a crab fisherman and someone else, a chef). Which means when even a child selects a job in a mine or factory, it’s because that was probably the best option available to them. So limiting that choice of that child is probably the worst thing those with bleeding hearts can do (as made clear by the Bangladesh example).

Back to the Congo and What to Do

So let us go back to the Congo. What are the options for this kid in the video? Well, prostitution is probably his last option after this mine since prostitution, and child prostitution in particular, are still a huge problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo 7. Either prostitution or child soldiering seem to be the only other viable job opportunities to these kids 8. UNICEF reported in 2011 that 30,000 kids lived on the streets 9. Really, given the nature of this data, that kid is probably a lucky one to even have a job mining. The fact that Sky News and those sharing the video are not talking about the lesser options available to kids in this country is a giant red flag that they want to push anti-capitalist propaganda at the expense of children rather than actually help said children.

So what is the solution then? Pressure, but of a different kind. Instead or pressuring bans and government regulation, pressure should be placed on the Congo government to liberalize markets. Currently, The Democratic Republic of Congo is ranked 117 in economic freedom, placing it in the “mostly unfree” category 10. Given the data already presented here, the solution is quite clear, free up the market and let that liberalization of the market allow that observation Mises had in a rising standard of living to occur naturally in the country. This would easily phase out the need for child labor. For those who want to do something, they should put their money where their bleeding hearts are and provide economic opportunities to people there by investing in businesses that will treat their workers kindly and fairly (or starting their own business there that will do just that). Create a demand, and there will be an entrepreneur there to provide it.

As a final thought I would like to point something out. Child labor has been around since before the idea of “capitalism” was even coined. Children had to work because, as I have already noted, their was not enough capital accumulated to phase it out. It wasn’t until the advancements brought about by capitalism that created efficiency and reduced the needed number of hours spent laboring, that children no longer needed to work. Simply put, those that want to place the laurels on government for ending child labor are doing so on false claims. The data provided here, hopefully, clearly illustrates that point.