- Image unrelated by 27147 via Flickr
Every time I argue with Stateless (or minarchist) Propertarians of various degrees of vulgarity, I keep seeing a few types of reaction over and over. Not only are they common but they seem to follow in a very particular progression which made me think of the 5 stages of grief.
With the same lack of scientific accuracy then, I will now present you with the 5 stages of “Anarcho”-Capitalist reaction to Libertarian Socialists. For the lulz.
1. Surprise and Denial
“Libertarian Socialism? Isn’t that an oxymoron?”; “I can’t believe someone can support communism at this time and age.”; “You’re not a true Anarchist if you don’t support private property!”
Surprise usually occurs to those who have had a fairly sheltered political life and have only just began to radicalize recently by discovering Ayn Rand or Austrian Economics but have only the slightest experience with the wider libertarian movement or conceptions of Socialism outside of McCarthyian propaganda . It is quickly followed by denial as the position of LibSocs quickly assaults their recently acquired radicalism but disentangling the concept of liberty from the concept of property. For someone who has just recently embraced the NAP or the self-ownership principles as true and inviolable, any direct challenge to those principles is likely to be dismissed out of hand.
2. Misunderstanding and Anger
“Stalin! Mao! Pol Pot!”; “Try to take over my house and I’ll shoot you!”; “You’re just a bunch of hippies dreaming of utopias. Get a job!”; “You’re just hate Capitalism because you’re lazy and jealous.”
This often follows and complements denial when the discussions continue for a any length of time. Occasionally someone may start from this position when he’s had discussions with LibSocs in the recent past as well. The reasons for such a reaction is generally the persistent assault on AnCap principles and the opposition to some basic building blocks such a the “Free Markets”, an opposition which is misunderstood as expression of authoritarianism. Another common cause is the misunderstanding of LibSoc positions, assuming that they support involuntary societal organization, such as forced collectivization or forbidding of trade. In general, As such discussion grows longer, the probability of comparing the LibSocs to Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot or their corresponding regimes approaches 1. (Db0′s Law?)
“Why don’t we put aside our differences and focus on toppling the state?”; “We would never be opposed to communes and co-operatives within Anarcho-Capitalism.”; “We’re all Libertarian socialists at the end of the day.”
The bargaining phase of the AnCap reaction tends to come as one’s understanding of the Anarchist position increases and they realize that they too are suggesting voluntary rather than coerced relations and social organization. Missing the point of Anarchists not considering voluntarism to be enough, they reach the flawed conclusion that the two movements are close enough to ally in opposition to the state. It is at this point that the crucial differences in tactics start to be expanded which can lead the discussion to back into Anger as AnCaps interpret refusals of potential alliance as stubborness or given convincing argument on why Agorism or “Libertarian” Reformism is not good enough to crush the state, they may descend into…
“The state is too powerful to topple.”; “I want to smash the state as much as anyone else but we need to find a way to do it peacefully.”; “I’m only an Anarchist ideologically. Practically we can’t change the system without making things worse.”; “The free market/internet/cryptography will lead to the state’s demise naturally.”; “Vote Ron Paul!”
The end of the road for the “Anarcho”-Capitalism movement remains firmly within the current system. While they have truly numerous criticisms of the state and quite a bit of perfect-society theories and literature, they are sorely lacking in transitional ideas. In short, they have no idea how to get from here to there and as a result they are stuck. There’s a lot of rationalization for this predicament of course, from claiming that they would only support “peaceful revolutions”, to insisting that they are waiting for most humans to turn AnCap due to their superior arguments to my all-time favourite, waiting for the internet to revolutionize society towards the direction they expect.
This is of course nothing but a way of giving up, of raising up their hands in frustration and devolving into wishful thinking. Those who take a more practical approach either turn to Agorism or Reformism as a best-next-solution. Supporting Socialist Revolutions and then trying to convince people to voluntary turn to propertarianism is of course out the question. One guesses because they realize the futility of achieving the later. Silently consenting to the current system is apparently a better option.
“Fine. What do you suggest we do?”; “If you don’t want to force me into collectives I have no problem with you doing your own thing.”;
This last step is usually irreversible. At this advanced stage, LibSoc ideas have finally started making sense, usually when coupled with real-life experience of wage-slavery and hierarchical domination. The veteran AnCap now understands the perspective of the LibSocs and knows better than to make egregious strawmen as he’s been in the same discussions too many times already. Rather, he turns far more to lurking as he’s also too tired to try and correct his fellow AnCap’s misunderstandings and thus draw their online ire.
At this stage, one cannot help but see a character of wary tolerance to ideas of Anarchists. The whole “I don’t see it working in practice but I’m willing to be proven wrong and if I do, I’ll join you guys in a heartbeat.” mentality. This stage is characterized by attempts at constructive criticism and attempts to distance oneself from the more extreme elements of their own camp (Block, Kinsella etc).
Of course, Acceptance is not the end of the road. Fortunately quite a few AnCaps are eventually brought over by the very viral ideology they have to argue against and pass through the veil to the opposing site as more open minded mutualists. The Libertarian Socialist Pull claims one more “victim”.