Comparing free market anticapitalism, free market pro-capitalism, and anagorism

The libertarian left, the folkx who embrace markets while rejecting capitalism, are always quick to point out that “free market” used as a media buzzword refers to something that is anything but free, and the think tanks and lobbyists who advocate what they call free market are in practice proponents and beneficiaries of subsidy and rent. This adequately distances the left libertarian movement from “free market” ideology as bankrolled by big business interests. The thing is, the genuinely principled advocates of laissez-faire capitalism are also critical of “free market” as all-too-commonly understood, and are quite orthodox about advocating an utterly subsidy-free society. How does the left-libertarian view of what does or doesn’t constitute a free market, constrast with that of principled, no-quarter right libertiarianism, of the type that calls itself anarcho-capitalism? Maybe there’s no difference of opinion there about what free market is; with any differences being about what it implies. To quote Hagbard Celine’s tract Never Whistle While You’re Pissing:

ANARCHISM: That organization of society in which the Free Market operates freely, without taxes, urury, landlordism, tariffs, or other forms of coercion or privilege. RIGHT ANARCHISTS predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to compete more often than to cooperate. LEFT ANARCHISTS predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to cooperate more often than to compete.

Of course, I’ve always assumed that competition is a defining feature of the Free Market, so it has always seemed natural to me that anyone who prefers cooperation over competition should be anti-market (anagorist). One thing I must find is developments of market theory (if any) that don’t start with the assumption that human nature is competitive.

Could it be that “free market anticapitalism” incorporates a non-hackneyed definition of free market and a hackneyed definition of capitalism? The left libertarians seem at least to be on speaking terms with the people who say capitalism is simply another term for voluntary activity. I have a problem with that definition as, given a choice, I’d rather not practice capitalism, which I understand to mean “running a business.” To me, capitalism is just another word for opportunism. Not something I consider a crime, but not something I consider an admirable personality trait, either. I only resent opportunism when it seems to be a prerequisite for survival, you know, the need to “hustle and grub in the world of commerce.”

About n8chz

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4 Responses to Comparing free market anticapitalism, free market pro-capitalism, and anagorism

  1. Alex Cordrey says:

    A useful distinction I think would be the left libertarian take on ownership. Whilst some left libertarians might agree that there is alot of utility in the effectiveness of ‘market signals’, and that denying people to right to certain forms of trade borders on illegitimate control, most have very left wing views on the ownership of resources, land, means of production etc, from hillel steiner’s view that no land/resources can be fully privately owned, to some left libertarians advocation of co-operatives and worker owned means of production.

    • n8chz says:

      There seems to be a spectrum of ownership theory within the left libertarian community. My instincts are to go “left wing” across the board and strive for the ownership-free society. Call me religious if you must, but even the shirt on my back can be a shared resource. I’ll be happy with anything from the laundry syndicate that fits, in exchange for minimizing my living quarters requirements by the size of a closet. I’m big on minimalism, particularly of the necessity of selling.

  2. A lot of it depends on the intensity of competition. The ideal, I think, is for competition to the extent necessary to clean out artificial scarcity rents, so that stuff is as cheap as possible. The other side of this is that, the lower the expenses of living — “Ramen profitability” — the less pressure there is on the producer. I.e., the smaller the revenue stream required to subsist comfortably. An economy in which the costs of market entry and production are minimized actually mimizes the intensity of competition and conduces to cooperation.

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