Yesterday, my good friend @pomperipossa posted this article, asking questions of those who identify as anarchists, but not as anarcho-capitalists. I began writing my response in the comments, but it got REALLY big, and so I figured it would make more sense to post it myself, which might then help to bring more folks into the conversation as well. Please be sure to hop over to his original post and give him an upvote if you like the conversation he's started.
I have some questions for people who self-identify as anarchists but are against the free market. I think they confuse free markets with government, crony capitalism and mother nature. If you live on an island like Robinson Crusoe and you don’t work to acquire shelter, drinking water, and food, mother nature will kill you. I guess you could say you are oppressed by mother nature. I don’t think I will get all my questions answered, maybe they will answer questions that I didn't ask, but I doubt they will answer my questions. I believe they will reject the definitions of the words I use. I believe they will refer me to read some book instead of answering. The reason I think this, is because I believe they can’t make convincing non-contradictory arguments. Am I wrong? Fine prove me wrong!
- Do you think there should be rulers or do you think every person should rule themselves?
- If private property is violence or oppression, then how would you separate people from their property?
- Would you do it without violence or oppression? If so please tell me how.
- Do you think people should own the food they are about to eat?
- If you think people should own the food they are about to eat but that they should be prohibited from accumulating too much, where do you draw the line?
- How much is one allowed to own?
- How do you get the right to decide this?
- If someone accumulates a store of food in case of a future food shortage while someone else chooses to rest and play, do you think the slacker owns the food that the industrious person worked hard to obtain?
- If the accumulated food is enough for one person to survive until more food can be obtained, do you think the industrious person has to give half of his food away so they both starve?
As someone who spends a lot of time with people who self-identify as "anarcho-capitalists", "anarcho-syndicalists", "anarcho-communists", "anarchists", "agorists", "voluntaryists", "libertarians", "sovereign beings", and so on, I feel like I am in a unique position to answer your questions, and to point out some false-dichotomies & misunderstandings that all of these folks who choose to self-identify with words [words that they know come with a lot of connotations & in some cases, centuries-long smear campaigns].
The most important bit of confusion that I see from the an-cap side is that people who promote cooperative, rather than competitive, interaction necessarily oppose free markets. Just because someone wants to share the fruit of their time & energy with others, freely associating with people who also want to share the fruit of their time & energy, does not mean they promote forcing/coercing anyone else to act in that way. They do want to associate with people who share their morals & philosophies (as does everyone else), and they most likely want to promote their morals & philosophies to more people (as does everyone else).
Now then, to your specific questions (these are my personal answers):
- Every being is the creator of it's own reality, owner of it's body, and should not be infringed by another being capable of morality.
- I don't think the concept of private property is "violence or oppression". I do think that cultures which place accumulation of private property as one of their top measures of "success" are destined to suffer from unnecessary stratification, classism, and huge differences in mental & physical health, education, et al between those classes.
- I don't think that the concept of "ownership" really needs to apply to food as raw materials (plants). Now if someone takes plants & puts in their own time, energy, and skills to create a dish (or they are from someone's garden, where they have put their own time & energy into growing them), obviously they get to choose how that is distributed.
- One is "allowed" to do anything, as long as it doesn't harm or threaten to harm others. So as long as you "owning" (I find this to be a artificial, limiting, and outdated concept) things isn't causing harm/threat of harm to another being, it's fine.
- That's hard to say. From one point of view, since we are each creating our own experiences, we have the "right" to decide whatever we want about our experience. From another, every being is free to make their own decisions, and therefore none of us have a "right" to try to change how anyone else lives (including deciding that they should not have rulers, have slaves, etc). From another, if there is an absolute truth, then no being has the "right" to differ from that truth.
- I've already answered the purpose of this question I believe, so I would just like to point out that this sort of hypothetical, with a clear false-dichotomy, and so many assumptions about the level of competition/cooperation in the hypothetical culture, which is going to decide what is right/proper. This is also an example used often, which doesn't translate to everything. There is a difference between someone working hard, farming, and stocking up food, and someone say, owning a bunch of stock (or cryptos), having the value of those go up (without any input of time or energy from said owner), and then selling all of them and buying a bunch of food. Looking at it from another angle, what kind of human could see someone else starving to death and not share their food with them (unless they only had enough for the immediate survival of themselves & family).
- I feel like my response to number 8 covers this one. I would like to point out that food is not a scarce resource as soon as you remove corporations, GMOs, toxic pesticides/herbicides, transporting it 1000s of miles, and throwing away half of what is produced to maintain the illusion of scarcity. (Here's an example of how food production works when done in a reasonable manner)