Anarchism and business ethics: the social responsibility of the anarchist is to destroy business

Only on ATS will you find a “let’s destroy business” article right next to a “let’s bring back the gold standard” article.

By Benjamin Franks

‘Anarcho’-capitalism has for decades occupied a small but significant position within ‘business ethics’, while the anarchism associated with the larger traditions of workers and social movements has only had a spectral presence. Social anarchisms’ forms of opposition and proposed alternatives to standard liberal business practices, identities and presuppositions have appeared only fleetingly in mainstream business ethics. In the light of these anarchist hauntings, this paper identifies and explores social anarchism’s critique of dominant forms of business ethics, and business practice. It applies anarchism’s critical insights to market-based ethics, of which Milton Friedman’s influential essay, ‘The Social Responsibility of the Businessman is to Increase Profits,’ is used as an exemplar. This paper differentiates the anarchist critique from the criticisms of corporocentric, economic-liberalism emanating from social democrats and advocates of corporate social responsibility. It demonstrates the pertinence of social anarchist approaches to re-thinking the co-ordination of the production and distribution of goods, highlighting inadequacies in state-centred managerial responses to the harms and deficiencies of Friedman’s free-market.


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