When talking to Ancaps or other pro-market/pro-capitalism anarchists about other forms of anarchy I find a curious argument continuously resurface. The argument is that if we ever achieved anarchy that we would finally do away with communism. If you’ve ever observed debates between anarcho-capitalists and anarcho-communists (or Ancaps and Ancoms) then you will see the type of rhetoric I’m referring to. In our critique of communism we follow the same mistake that Ancoms make in assuming capitalism will simply disappear should “real” anarchism be achieved.
In my most recent episode of Coffee Shop Philosophy shown above (apologies for missing last week), I discussed the topic of panarchy and some of the misconceptions people have regarding the purpose and structure, for lack of a better term, that anarchy would have. This brings us to the first issue with this argument: anarchy having a particular structure. If we were to ever truly remove the state, then, the current method for organizing societal structures would also be removed. This means that the decision on how to organize would be left to the people themselves.
Frankly, and especially considering the current political climate, it is a pipedream to think that everyone is going to organize themselves in accordance with the worldview of Murray Rothbard. Some will practice capitalism, others communism, and some will even reorganize themselves with a state or state-like order about them. A key component of anarchy is that people are free to make those choices for themselves. There is no person or singular group that can decide the rules of anarchy.
Another issue is the idea of “real” anarchism in general. This clear No True Scotsman fallacy becomes the spine of the argument. Capitalists get accused of being incapable of being anarchists because capitalism, in the workplace at least, has hierarchies whereas communism, in theory, does not. The argument gets turned back on communism when it comes to how resources would be allocated and distributed. Since someone would need to have that form of power, capitalists will argue that communism cannot be anarchy. Both of these arguments are terrible for the same reason. The back and forth quickly devolves into little more that shifting the burden of proof of their arguments back and forth like a bad game of tennis.
One clear red flag against these types of arguments is how they are unfalsifiable. We can wax philosophic and make as many a priori arguments as we please, but we cannot confirm our suspicions until we actually accomplish anarchy. If we look to history, we can see many forms of anarchy and other forms of legal systems that have existed, and we can learn from where they’ve gone wrong or failed. In the case of communism and socialism, it has generally been state interference that’s led to its failure whether from outside of it as with the Paris commune, or from within as with the USSR. As long as there are those that believe in the idea, and if we ever accomplish anarchy, communism wouldn’t be going away.
Read more from Killian at Think Liberty here.