Anarcho-Pacifist Economics

The misconception that socialism constitutes “absolute state control over the market” and laissez-faire capitalism “absolute state disregard for the market” is irksomely common. ‘State socialism’ is not particularly socialist; nor is laissez-faire capitalism particularly laissez-faire. In fact, both are, outside of the black market, entirely state-run economies. The difference between the two lies in the question of which specific actions the state chooses to take: will it enforce the ‘property rights’ to the means of production on its own behalf, or on the behalf of corporations? As long as the means of production are owned, the greater body of workers will find themselves engaged in more or less the same system of wage labor whether the flag outside their factory is red or white. This is why I reject Marxist-Leninism and Maoism and the rest: ownership of the means of production by a state which is not democratic is not workers’ ownership. For its part, “free market” capitalism is scarcely free when the corporations control the government, the government enforces ownership of the means of production by the corporations, and the corporations are not democratic. The most fundamental characteristic of capitalism is not a lack of state intervention in the market. It is the ban on larceny. And the anti-capitalist economic program, as distinct from the state capitalist, is the abolition of the ban on larceny.
Take what you need, burn the rest. This is the law of anarcho-pacifism, the law which inhibits all predation: take what you need. If the people cannot be prevented from taking what they need, if no one can be prevented from doing so, if the very mechanisms by which the people might be prevented from doing so are disabled, there can be no hierarchy, there can be no ruling class, and there can be no starvation in any society with the means to produce sufficient food for all its people.
What is communism made more communist? It is this- not that the means of production be publicly owned, but that they be res nullius, property of no one. The anti-capitalist renders property non-excludable with respect to himself because he will not be excluded- by disempowering others to coerce, he disempowers them to own. The anti-capitalist economy is one in which any can work, any can take, and the good or ill of one is the good or ill of all; its founding tenet is equality of access. Anarcho-pacifists can be best understood as anti-propertarians- we recognize no right to keep apart from need, and consider all authoritarianism reactionary as coercion is the only obstacle to economic equilibrium.
Value arises from the labor of the working class, and yet it is directed and consumed by the owning class, which is a tiny fraction of its size. Not by strength of arms but by lies and misdirection the owning class maintains this arrangement- drawing its armies from among the working class in exchange for food and money which it only controls through its armies. The goal of the owning class being to prevent the self determination of the greater number of their countrymen, they have made use of self serving praxis cycles, mechanisms which lock individuals into repetitive patterns of harmful behavior and are very difficult to break. The source of a praxis cycle is its taboo: that course of action against which actors have an irrational bias. Their bias against the taboo limits actors’ impression of their range of possible options, resulting in repetitive actions which reinforce the praxis cycle. Where the reinforcing act is harmful, its negative effects compound indefinitely. A praxis cycle can only be broken by taking its demonized option in spite of the taboo. This is possible through consciousness of the praxis cycle’s self-reinforcing nature and of the weight of its resultant harm.
The reinforcing act of the working class’ exploitation is wage labor, and its taboo is refusal of work. The individual is convinced that if he does not work on his boss’ terms, he will not eat, because production is controlled by the upper class. He does not consider that if everyone did not work, his bosses would not eat; that the working class, if it can band together behind this threat, will have the power to dictate its own terms. By working, he makes it a reality that production is controlled by the upper class. By striking, he would have made it otherwise. Likewise, the reinforcing act of the state’s coercion is obedience, and its taboo is crime. The individual is convinced that if he does not obey the police, he will be killed. He does not consider that if he was known not to respond to any threats, but nonetheless determined to strive for the benefit of all men, the police would be fools to kill him. He does not consider that if everyone refused to be coerced, the police would lose all power. By obeying, he makes it a reality that the police would kill him if he did not obey. By disobeying well, he could have made it otherwise. Larceny lies at the intersection of the two, and it is doubly taboo. The individual is convinced that because the rich are powerful, they can destroy him if he steals from them. He does not consider that they are only powerful because they are rich, and only rich because he has not yet stolen from them. By recognizing their property, he makes it a reality that they are powerful. By denying their property, he would have made it otherwise.
Unlike the communist stage of Marxist theory, which is dependent upon the end of scarcity, anarcho-pacifist economics are relevant only while it continues. Scarcity is the engine which circulates wealth from those who have to those who need, and inspires the labor required to meet those needs, through the operation of the one great market force: larceny. An anarcho-pacifist economy is in place only when civil disobedience has sufficiently inhibited coercion for the means of production to have become non-excludable. The case in which the means of production are non-excludable, the goods produced thereby are excludable, and these goods are traded freely according to a labor theory of value, has the same characteristics as the case in which the goods themselves are non-excludable, albeit on a lesser scale. Using the concept of “need” in both its altruistic and egoistic manifestations, what follows can be summarized in a few practices upon which any such  society will likely converge:
1. Take what you need. No one can stop you. If it isn’t nearby, try to find it somewhere else.
2. Maximize production of the things you need. You can’t stop anyone else from taking what they need. If there isn’t enough to go around, you have absolutely no assurance that you will have enough. The only way to improve your chances of having enough is by making the things you need more abundant. Since anyone can take anything at any time, everyone else’s benefit and your benefit are inseparable.
3. Don’t steal selectively. It seems like a good idea if you want to maximize production to steal less from people who are contributing more to it if there’s a chance they might die, but it jams the free flow of goods, creating hierarchies which hurt everyone. It’s better if the most productive people have to try to meet their needs by working as hard as they possibly can to improve the entire economy, rather than working as little as they possibly can while still accomplishing slightly more than everyone else. Do try to get people who can contribute more to production the tools to do it as effectively as possible. The simplest way to get food is to become a farmer, but if you’re an expert on oil refining, you’ll probably be able to improve yields more by refining oil for tractors.
4. Don’t strike. Everyone else’s detriment and your detriment are inseparable, which means no one will ever concede your demands. Even if you increase production by returning to work, the loss of their share makes it not worth it for anyone else.
The result will be the reorganization of the economy in the order of the hierarchy of needs, as self assessed by the sum (significantly: not the average) of all freely willed endeavor in the nation, judging for themselves whether or not it is worth its cost in labor. Certain industries will surely cease to exist entirely- one cannot conceive of an individual choosing to make advertisements or dollar-store merchandise in the absence of artificial incentivization. Really, this is not so unusual as it seems- only the growth of the third economic sector to overwhelm the first and second. This economy will also be classless, and egalitarian in outcome except for the random distribution of goods in shortage, with most possessions facing a high turnover.
This is not the economy of the distant future. This is the economy which already exists in small pockets within family units, tight-nit villages, communitarian neighborhoods and close friendships everywhere. It is growing, and will continue to grow, everywhere, as power is deteriorating in preparation for the final revolution. I did not invent it. I testify to it.
One final note on striking, and the anticipated bloodless revolution. It is very unusual for us, in this day and age, to conceive of a power which we cannot use to coerce others. We have become accustomed to being somewhat protected from the consequences of our actions- and unaccustomed to promotive interdependence- cases in which our benefit is inseparable from the benefit of others and our harm inseparable from the harm of others. But in the age of nuclear weapons, it is a reality which we must come to understand, or die. Everyone knows you’ll never start a nuclear war, because it would kill you too. There’s no possible consequence of not starting one that’s worse than the known consequence of starting one. Everyone knows this- so is it even a deterrent anymore?
But I do have hope that we may begin to understand what it means to be property of no one; the internet age has brought us many opportunities to do so. We have begun to understand it of information. May the day come when we can understand it of ourselves.


Talk back, yo. :)

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