Garry Reed combined a professional technical writing career and a passion for all things libertarian to become The Libertarian Opinionizer.
The National-Anarchist Movement has been asking for some time, “Is it possible for anarchists of every kind to work together?”
To put the question in a broader context, can the National-Anarchist Movement and the Modern American Libertarian Movement make common cause in creating a free society while simultaneously retaining their own identities? (Note that for this discussion the word “free” in “free society” means “absence of coercion.”)
Since American anarcho libertarians are individualists while virtually all other anarchos are collectivists, libertarians can only reply, at best, “Yes, if they’ll accept property rights and the non-aggression principle.”
To illustrate the problem suppose a libertarian asked a collectivist this:
“I am an individual. I am not a collective. I own a small plot of land and the house that sits on it in a neighborhood. I bought them with the money I earned by working for it in the pursuit of my career. I pay the mortgage, pay the insurance, pay the taxes, pay the maintenance and upkeep.
“I did not steal anything. I bought my home from a developer who I happen to know bought the undeveloped land from a family who owned it. I don’t know who, if anyone, owned the land before them. If they stole the land from someone else I am not only unaware of it, or ever could have been aware of it, and I am certainly not personally responsible for it.
“I know that socialist philosophy rests on the axiom that “property is theft.” If socialists are able to establish the socialist society that they want what will they do about me and literally tens of millions of people like me who own our own homes, farms, businesses and other real property?
“Will you forcibly dispossess us of our property? Will you forcibly collectivize our individual landholdings? Will you force us into co-ops or communes or kibbutzim? Will you declare our homes to be public property belonging to everyone equally and force us to accept it?
“Remember that no collective helped me pay the mortgage, insurance, taxes or maintenance. Only I did.
Remember that the burden of proof, as a matter of logic, rests with the one who makes an assertion; How can you prove that I stole my property?”
Many who use “anarcho-“ in their belief system reject libertarianism because they see libertarianism only as a rightwing political movement and nothing else, and therefore reject the libertarian non-aggression principle as an oxymoron. Their premise is typically expressed this way:
"Private property cannot exist without a political system that defines its existence, its use, and the conditions of its exchange. That is, private property is defined and exists only because of politics." – International Encyclopedia of Political Science
But anarchist libertarians – voluntaryists, agorists, mutualists, post-statists and anarcho-capitalists (the latter when understood properly is not an oxymoron) – would ask why anyone should concede that “governments” should have any monopolistic “right” or power to define the existence, use and conditions of the exchange of private property. After all, property ownership is a natural extension of self-ownership, not of politics.
Why can’t the private sector offer this proof of ownership and means of defining it without any help from “politics?”
Millions of people right now, today, in America’s current political reality, own and live in their own homes throughout the country. But let’s say we are currently living in a stateless libertarian society. In both cases, they can easily prove their private property ownership without resorting to government.
The people who live in any given home right now know they own their home. Their neighbors, friends and family know they own it. The mortgage and insurance companies to whom they’ve been paying monthly premiums know it. They are on record with water, sewer, electric, gas, private mail and parcel delivery services, security monitoring companies, broadband or cable TV or satellite dish communication delivery systems.
The local fire and security (policing) agencies know who lives in the homes they protect and certainly will have the owners on file.
People hired to perform maintenance or other services—mowing and yardwork, tree trimming, roofers, house painters, plumbers, electricians, room remodelers—can safely assume that whoever pays them to perform their services are being paid by the owners since few people pay them to maintain or remodel property they don’t own or at least have a personal vested interest in.
Virtually all of the same is true for individual business ownership.
Anarchy and Peace
Why would any free society need coercive “governments” to define and identify the existence, use and conditions of exchange of private property? If anarchy is really about peace then coercively imposed anarchy is an oxymoron.
So go ahead socialist, take homeowners and business owners to court – or to a private arbitration service – and prove that an owner doesn’t own his or her property. In a rational society of responsible human beings, the burden of proof that someone doesn’t own a specific piece of personal property rests with the accuser.
But wait! Some socialists will tell us that this is all a lie, that individuals do have a right under socialism to own their own personal “possessions” including homes, cars, boats, etc.
And that may well be true, at least for some definitions of “socialism.” Some self-identified socialists claim that ownership of “personal possessions” applies only to what an individual can personally wear on their bodies or carry in their arms. That would seem to prevent a whole other set of complications.
Either way, socialists are missing the point. Let’s say that the home or business owner that all of the previous paragraphs have been describing is not a libertarian or a capitalist or an individualist but a deeply dedicated socialist. Or communist. Or fascist. Or any other kind of collectivist.
State vs. Market
As long as anyone is living in a “state”—a politically defined territorial entity run by a government claiming monopolistic control and enforcement over it—absolutely nobody’s private property or personal possessions are safe. Governments by definition hold a monopoly on power, and the people who operate that government can and will write laws, rules, regulations and other controlling orders for the primary benefit of themselves at the expense of everyone else. That, throughout history and worldwide, has always been the fundamental purpose of government.
Some reject private ownership only when it comes to monopolizing natural resources. Yet the only way anyone can monopolize anything in the marketplace – goods, services or natural resources – is in direct collusion with statist governments or similar criminal organizations that act in the same way as governments. All anarchos need to learn this simple lesson.
People can argue which type of government is “better” than other types but when it comes down to it if the power elites want your property they will get it. Being a socialist in a socialist society, a communist in a communist society, a capitalist in a capitalist society changes nothing.
Example: In today’s recent political climate in North Texas owners of a shopping mall, a major industrial airport, a major motor speedway, and a major league football stadium needed land to create or expand their projects. They used political connections like “eminent domain” to forcibly divest private property owners to give up their land and demolished people’s businesses and private homes in order to get what they wanted. The fact that the government compensated people for the land they legally stole doesn’t mean that the land wasn’t stolen.
It also didn’t matter whether the people living in or doing business on those properties were libertarians, socialists, communists, Republicans, Democrats, Tea Partiers, legal Sufi immigrants or just elderly people dying of cancer. What government and its crony corporatist political bankster developers want it takes.
And worse: In America today governments can “legally” use civil asset forfeiture laws to seize private property without even arresting or convicting a person of anything. That isn’t “libertarian” under anyone’s definition.
But many people other than anti-statist libertarians have also come to understand this. That’s why there has been a growing movement of anarcho-socialists, anarcho-communists, anarcho-libertarians (sometimes known as “left-libertarians”) and many other anarcho ideologies that reject governments and statism.
Unfortunately, rejecting states and governments isn’t enough. Unless all of these “anarchos” explicitly accept that each individual owns oneself and therefore embrace the non-aggression principle against physical coercion, intimidation and fraud little is really gained.
That’s because many anarcho concepts, including democracies of every kind, are still collectivist and simply seek other non-government non-statist means of imposing the will of the group on the will of the individual. Any private social, cultural, communal, co-operative, collective or other groups of individuals that substitutes its own coercion, intimidation or fraud for government or statist coercion, intimidation or fraud is no less a criminal organization than the governments and states they purport to replace.
Through coercion, they simply turn themselves into another Mafia, another mob, another crime syndicate, another street gang.
It’s also imperative for all “anarchos” to learn that they actually have more in common than not. When everyone can accept that the individual is not only the fundamental unit of society – and of their own group as well --that each individual owns himself or herself – their bodies, minds, values, thoughts, feelings, ideas and by extension the things they create and the things they require to sustain their self-ownership – then all anarchos have the opportunity to live, if not in harmony, at least in tolerance.
In short, we each own our own lives and must therefore always interact on a voluntary basis.
It isn’t about capitalism over socialism or free markets over fair markets or individualism over collectivism; it’s simply about “Volunteerism over Coercion,” the name of a Being Libertarian article from Baruti Libre, one of the growing number of libertarians who are finally beginning to get it.
In a free mutually voluntary society in which everyone agrees not to impose anything on anyone, it won’t matter that a libertarian, socialist, communist, fascist, racist, fundamentalist religionist are all living in the same apartment complex or on the same block, and it won’t matter if a worker-owned business operates right next door to an owner-employee business or a contractual-freelance business or an owner-operator business or a stockholder-owned business or any other kind of business.
Non-coercion will not result in a utopia – nothing will – but it allows the most freedom for the most people. In such a society everyone who wants to help others or pursue a cause or a belief or a religious conviction or whatever should never be prevented from doing so as long as all actions among people are mutually voluntary.
The bottom line is not what people think or believe or advocate or dream about that matters, it’s what people actually physically do or don’t do that matters. While morality may be based on the content of a person’s mind all ethical matters in any form of society is based on a person’s interactions with others.
The Great Satan for all anarchos is government. So how about it people? Just get over it. Stop trying to dictate your own worldview on everyone else and figure out how to create the post-statist society we all dream about.
All examples of anarcho-socialism/communism in this article came from left-libertarian writings or messaging directly to the author. Any disagreements should be addressed to them.
- National-Anarchist Movement – Can Anarchists Work Together?
- Private property without government
- Post-Statism – Consumer-Controlled Government
- Volunteerism over Coercion – Back to the Basics
- A Socialist Lectures a Libertarian on Libertarianism
Free Markets NOT Crony Capitalism – Ron Paul from 2016
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.