by Keith Preston
Perhaps the principal source of divsion between anarcho-capitalists and socialist-anarchists in the classical tradition relates to the question of who should control what the Marxists call the “means of production.” Anarcho-capitalists envision a system of absolute private property rights rooted in the homesteading principle and defined along Lockean lines. Anarcho-capitalists also accept wage labor, profit, interest, landlordism, and absentee ownership.
Socialist-anarchists favor “workers control of the means of production” through systems of workers’ council, federations of industrial unions, and autonomous collectives or communes. Wage labor is rejected as exploitation and as therefore incompatible with freedom. Profit and interest are viewed with suspicion. Private property is seen as a form of unjust monopolization of material resources derived from nature.
Both sides often accuse each other of crypto-statism.
A number of branches of anarchist economic theory, such as the mutualists, geoists, and agorists, have tried carving out a happy medium between the socialist and capitalist branches of anarchism. These anarchists point out that, for instance, the institutions of big business and big banking that are the perpetrators of much present exploitation would largely be non-existent or rendered powerless and inconsequential in an authentic free market.
But is it really the case that statelessness implies any specific set of property allocation or economic or arrangements? Larry Gambone, for example, has identified a vast array of alternative economic perspectives that fall within the “socialist” paradigm but reject the state outright or allow for only a very minimal role for the state. Walter Block likewise suggests that it is a mistake to conflate libertarian free markets and private property rights with universal capitalism. Might there not be private communities or non-state collectives that maintain the types of unconventional business arrangements and property systems that Gambone discusses? And might there not be communities that practice anti-capitalism within a framework of Lockean property and contract theory. As Block says:
But there will likely be other areas of the country, for example, the People’s Republics of Santa Monica, Ann Arbor, Cambridge, Mass, Greenwich Village in New York City, heck, the entire Big Apple for that matter, where pretty much the opposite outlook will legally prevail. That is, in these latter places, positive mention of free enterprise, capitalism, profits, etc., will be severely punished by law.
Would not these kinds divisions be solved according to localized customs, cultural patterns, and ideological preferences? Might not some provinces within Anarchistan tend towards syndicalism, others towards Georgism, others towards Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, and still others towards Fourierism, mutualism, council communism, Kropotkinism, Chomskyite anarcho-social democracy, Hoppean anarcho-monarchism, or Bookchinite libertarian municipalism?
A similar analysis could be applied to the immigration issue. The majority of anarchists and libertarians hold to the view that nations are merely the creations of states and therefore territorial boundaries are an unjust violation of individual liberty (and perhaps racist to boot) and should be scrapped. A minority of anarchists, such as the national-anarchists, black anarchists, native anarchists, and neo-tribalists, have argued that a nation, tribe, or ethno-culture is a historical or anthropological phenomenon that is distinct from the nation-state per se and that it is improper to conflate the two. Further, some anarchists and libertarians have suggested that mass immigration is in fact driven by states and state-allied institutions in a wide variety of ways. I have made such arguments myself in the past. See here.
But the real question is one of sovereignty. Specifically, who or what has jurisdiction over what might be called the “means of immigration.” These include highways, waterways, public streets and sidewalks, airways, airports, sea lanes, seaports, railways, airlines, coasts, borderlands, public lands, public parks, and other such forms of property or territory. In most contemporaries societies, jurisdiction over these is maintained by the state, or by corporations aligned with the state. But it is certainly easy to envision how such resources might exist without the state or state-allied institution. Any of these could be theoretically owned by private communities, non-state collectives, communes, anarcho-syndicalist workers federations, autonomous municipalities, churches, tribes, families, individuals, neighborhood associations, non-state universities, consumer organizations, and many other types of decentralized, voluntary associations or federations of such associations. Would not individuals, groups, or associations of this kind not have sovereign jurisdiction over who may or may not enter their territories or facilities? And would not the specification for right of entry vary significantly from place to place? Some might maintain a policy such as that favored by Hans Hermann Hoppe:
One would be well on the way toward a restoration of the freedom of association and exclusion as it is implied in the idea and institution of private property, and much of the social strife currently caused by forced integration would disappear, if only towns and villages could and would do what they did as a matter of course until well into the nineteenth century in Europe and the United States: to post signs regarding entrance requirements to the town, and once in town for entering specific pieces of property (no beggars or bums or homeless, but also no Moslems, Hindus, Jews, Catholics, etc.); to kick out those who do not fulfill these requirements as trespassers; and to solve the “naturalization” question somewhat along the Swiss model, where local assemblies, not the central government, determine who can and who cannot become a Swiss citizen.
At the other end of the opinion spectrum, some might take a position such as that of Charles Johnson:
Hoppean covenant communities are deliberately designed to be the worst sort of closed-minded, culturally fascist, hyperbureaucratic HOAs from hell, and even if it were much more plausible than I think it is to get them up and running in a competitive market without land monopoly, government control over public space, etc., no sane person would have any interest in participating in that kind of crap even if it were available. In Tuscaloosa, there’s this retirement community that is about 60% or 70% doddering old Klansmen from the bad old days; and this is essentially what the market for Hoppeville would look like: maybe a city block or two of the Klan Kondo Kommunity.
Definitely there are shared-values sorts of things where there might be good reason to signal that certain norms will be binding within a given space. But my guess is that these will more or less always take the form of non-enforceable social pressures, voluntary certifications etc. in non-continguous networks of people & places, not these elaborate contractually-riveted arrangements based on enforceable exclusive control over community space. (So like vegetarian restaurants, community events, etc., not like Vegetarian-Town where only delivery trucks with certified-vegetarian food moves down the privately-managed roads, where you sign a contract agreeing you’ll be thrown out of your apartment if your neighbor snitches on you for lapsing and eating a fish stick one day, etc.)
However one assesses the respective positions of Hoppe or Johnson on this question, it is clear that either perspective, and various in-between positions, could exist in Anarchistan and probably would co-exist, abeit uneasily.