Common misunderstandings about anarchy

Anarchist just want to be criminals and steal and use violence.
First big one, no, we don’t like violence. It’s common for people that are acting violently to be labelled as “anarchist” in the news. If they are using force, they are literally not anarchist. The use of force defies the fundamental belief of anarchism – that nobody should be subject to the will of another. By using violence, you become a dictator to your victim, deciding either how they live, or even whether they live. Theft falls into the exact same category. The use of theft and violence is what is wrong with the state. Anarchy and the love of violence are polar opposites.

Anarchists hate the poor
This one I can almost understand people believing. A lot of anachists/libertarians say things like “why should I have to pay for their ___”. Taken at face value, you may agree with the reasoning, but condemn the spirit of the statement. It sounds like they’re just saying “the poor can go die for all I care”. That is actually not even close to the meaning. The challenge is in the word choice. “Why should I…” could be replaced with “why should you…” or “why should anybody else…”. Of course we object to being forced to pay for things we didn’t consent to, but it’s the practice in general we hate. We wouldn’t want you to be robbed to pay for our needs either.

Another key part of that phrase is “have to”. Anarchists are typically quite charitable. They’re careful with their money, because that’s just smart, but they are more than willing to donate to charities that they feel will use the donation wisely. The problem anarchists have is that the choice to be charitable is being forced on them. If you don’t have the choice to not be charitable, then you equally don’t have the choice to be charitable. Anarchists want to be just as charitable as anyone else, but when you steal from an anarchist, you deprive them of that choice.

Anarchists don’t understand economics
I find this one quite ironic really. Many of the wealthiest people in the world are libertarian or at least conservative. Economics are a topic anarchists typically take pride in. Many practice free market concepts as best they can, and profit significantly from it.

This article is a perfect example of several of the flawed statist reasoning used against libertarians/anarchists. They take each point, and apply it to the context of a state, which, of course, would fail, as everything else does.

Take, for example, their first point, “What if you cut all benefits?” Yes, anarchists would love to have all state backed financial benefit programs end. Of course, the idea is that, if they aren’t funding those programs they could lower taxes. As everyone knows, that would never actually happen. They would end funding there, and shift it elsewhere. Probably to their pockets.

The author of that article uses nothing beyond that single point, spins it out of context.
“But if you believe that those programs create dependency, too…. It never stops: Close down the homeless shelters. Shut down the Salvation Army. Make it illegal to throw a starving person a coin or toss a blanket over them as they lay on the sidewalk.”

Again, this is reductio ad absurdum among many other fallacious arguments all packed into one. Charitable organizations would not disappear, but would likely boom in the free market. Businesses aren’t going to make money if everyone is poor, therefore it is logical to assume an organization that helps individuals become profitable, via education for instance, would be something a business owner would want to donate to, and it would be financially beneficial to do so in the long run. Same logic can be applied to health care. Businesses can’t make money of people too sick to buy their stuff. This author takes the anarchist point that the state shouldn’t control charity, to mean that libertarians hate charity.

He goes on to state the the free market is bad because Sears failed to implement it internally. The free market describes relationships between individuals and business. There’s a balance that is maintained by the voluntary interactions of individuals. If your business isn’t meeting the needs of the consumer why should it exist? By definition, it is not contributing anything of value, and it would be right for it to be eliminated. This logic is insane to force internally at a company like Sears, while simultaneously trying to hold onto your market share in all areas. Either you let your stronger departments survive, and cut the losses, or you empower your business to work cooperatively, with actual competitors as your competition. If you get your business to attack your business, naturally, you’re going to take a hit.

“But the Sears experiment showed us that it works best when there is a fabric which knits the competing parts together into something more than the sum of its parts. We call that something a nation.”
We actually call that something theft and violence, and no business would ever succeed implementing that as a strategy. Would you give them your business? Cooperation is always necessary to succeed, but it’s voluntary cooperation that we need. Not teamwork at the end of the a gun.

He brings up several good points about the challenges facing low income areas, but fails monumentally when he points to state action as libertarian in nature. Sampling anarchy in a limited area still under state influence can’t work. This is incredibly simple to explain. The cost of living, due to the need to recover costs resulting from the increase in minimum wage, among other things, is higher than what someone being paid less than minimum wage can afford. A business would not want to sell a good cheaper locally than it does in a neighbouring town. If they did, their local customers would simply shop at the other location. Good business dictates that they need to have consistent pricing across multiple locations.

Trying to drop a Walmart into a low income area, and tell them they can pay their employees whatever they feel like, will not result in wealthier citizens, but a higher profit business.

This gets into issues like the insanity of sales tax. In Nova Scotia, Canada, sales tax is currently 15%. That means that any time you want to buy something, you end up paying 15% more than the sticker price for that item. That doesn’t include fuel. In Canada, the total taxes paid on fuel is approximately 31% of what you’re paying at the pump. Not only does the state actually force the price of a good to increase by creating minimum wage laws, they then increase the price further by taxing it. Trying to throw in some under-minimum wage jobs at that point is definitely going to cause people to starve. Then, of course, there’s property tax, and income tax. You end up being able to spend very little of the money you earn, and that’s thanks to the state.

If all property was private property, everyone with property would be a dictator
I’d like to point out the irony of this concept as well. “To avoid the possibility of millions of minarchies, we must continue with our one enormous oligarchy”.

“If “private ownership” is a barrier against these governmental prerogatives, where does it end? If you can’t outlaw discrimination on private property, what can you outlaw: Fraud? Theft? Murder?”
Ya, it’s that crazy guy again, from that article I linked to in the previous point. Discrimination, so far as it doesn’t violate life, liberty, or property, is not a violation of a fundamental human right. Neither is fraud in some cases. Theft and murder definitely are.

“In Paul Randian libertarianism there is no limit to the deeds a business owner can commit inside the confines of his own business.”
If any anarchist believes this, then, once again, they are not yet anarchists. If you invite someone onto your property (for instance, by opening a business) then you can no longer claim any violation of property, and therefore, have no justified use of force against a trespasser for the act of trespassing. You are free to run your business in absolutely any way you see fit. If it’s bad, the people will let you know by taking their business elsewhere. If it’s good, they’ll support you.

If you invite people on to your property, then start shooting, those would-be victims are absolutely justified in using force to defend themselves against you. Business property is the last place where I’d ever expect any dictatorial attitudes to be present.

Personal private property is an interesting topic though. Remember, the fundamental, inherent rights are to defend yourself against the violation of life, liberty, and property. So what if someone buys up all the property around your home, and does not allow you to travel through their property? You may find a variety of answers, and perhaps in the future of personal air travel, this question will become moot, but as it stands, it’s a logical concern. I’d suggest that the buyer of the property is, in essence, whether intentionally or not, is using the land as a weapon against you. You would be justified in limited trespassing on the property, only to the extent of escaping the imposed confines. You would not be justified in violating the land owner’s own right to property by spending time in his home, or setting up camp, for instance.

Anarchists don’t believe in rules
Anarchists don’t believe in rulers. Huge difference. A ruler is one who imposes their rules on you, whether you consent or not. It’s not the rules that are necessarily objectionable, it’s the lack of consent.

I could elaborate on that, but I think Robert P. Murphy describes it very well in his lecture “The Market for Security”. Here is a part of particular interest on the subject of “free market law”. The entire lecture is excellent, and I recommend watching it from start to finish, but that portion in the link is especially relevant.

Anarchists are stupid and selfish
Wrong. We’re just selfish.

Selfishness is an interesting virtue (yes, I used that word intentionally), and it’s very unlikely that you’ve ever chosen to do a good deed that did not have a selfish benefit. Have you ever donated money to charity? That’s selfish. Perhaps you were motivated by the urge to eliminate guilt, or maybe the urge to experience the satisfaction of helping others. If you had no motive, you wouldn’t do it.

Perhaps you were asked to do something you didn’t want to do, and hated doing it the entire time, and didn’t feel good about it afterwards. How could that possibly be selfish? Maybe you’re uncomfortable with saying no to people, so the inconvenience of performing the task outweighed the unpleasantness associated with rejecting it. Maybe you were asked by a family member, and therefore were satisfying a guilt, or sense of obligation. It could be that you were concerned about the relationship with that individual deteriorating as a result of not helping them, therefore that relationship is worth more to you than the unpleasantness of the task.

Denying this selfishness is unnecessary, as it has no downside. It is evolutionary to be concerned with your own well being. Selfishness has no victim.

What about people who do bad things for “selfish” reasons. If they doing bad things in the name of selfishness, then they are actually not selfish enough. Consider a free market, where all interactions are voluntary. I am a weirdo that steals money from women’s purses (I should have prefaced that with “pretend that I am…”). I’m only going to be able to do that for so long before someone catches me. Then my reputation is immediately garbage. Nobody has to interact with me, therefore few people would interact with me. I would financially and socially suffer as a result of my stupid behaviour. The risk versus the reward or purse change, is really stupid. Therefore, if i was trying to be extremely selfish, I would be doing all I can to improve my reputation whenever possible, by doing things society approves of and appreciates like helping these ladies cross the street (They were all old ladies in my head).

Anarchists are racist/anti-gay/anti-religion/anti-puppies/etc
Nope. In fact, we are literally as tolerant of these groups as you can be. We don’t try to dictate whether your private behaviour is acceptable or not. We stay out of it. It is absolutely nobody else’s business. We even respect the right to think stupidly about these groups. Racism, for example, (that doesn’t result in the violation of anyone’s rights, remember) would technically be allowed, but would be unbelievably stupid. Not just because it’s illogical either. Society doesn’t like racism. That’s not because the government told us it’s bad, that’s just because we’ve decided that it’s insane and based on nothing.

In a free market, nobody has to do business with you. You aren’t entitled to the money someone else has, and nobody is entitled to have you as an employee. Just as a racist is free to not do business with someone of a different race, I’m free to not do business with racists. Further more, I’m free to spread that information around, so that others become aware of the racist practices of an individual. Bigotry of any kind is very likely to result in a loss of income. I don’t even just mean as a business owner, but even as an employee. If people are avoiding your business because your employee is racist, it’s a smart move to replace them with a new employee. Offensive behaviour has natural repercussions.

In fact, only an idiotic business man would turn down a paying customer…

Also, anarchists don’t have a problem with puppies.

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