The Old Anarchism and the New

By Charlie Lee, Springtime of Nations

In a previous video “Yes, Anarcho-Capitalists are Anarchists,” the case was made that anarcho-capitalism is a continuation of the historical anarchist tradition of Proudhon, Bellaguerrigue, Tucker and the rest, contrary to claims by ancoms that anarcho-capitalism has nothing to do with historical anarchism and is utterly foreign to it.

Some people mistakenly seemed to think that in that video we were calling Proudhon an anarcho-capitalist, which is a very different claim than the one we were making. Proudhon had more favorable and nuanced views about property than people expect when all they know about him is he is most famous for saying “property is theft.” But he wasn’t an Ancap.

While Proudhon defended private property in capital goods, he thought it was unjust for capitalists to profit from their ownership.

The most important argument he makes on this point is that there is a “collective force” of labor which is not getting paid.

In a review of Proudhon’s book What Is Property? The National Quarterly Review puts his argument this way “By an association of force five men are able to take a train of cars and two hundred passengers from New York to Chicago in thirty hours–a task no single man could accomplish in thirty years. The wages of these five men, working in combination, however, is just the same as they would be if they worked singly. So is it with every branch of productive industry in which the principle of associated labor can be utilized: the advantage accruing therefrom is carried to the account of profit, and goes to enrich the employer. Whose conscience is so dormant as to deny the right of the laborer to a share in such profits above the daily wages which he receives?”


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