no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Ownership & the Use of Force

September 3rd, 2011

By way of a rather lengthy example, this article at discusses the difference between barter trade and capitalism, in order to arrive at the conclusion that some anarchist approximation of “capitalism” is AOK.

Since all these things are directly derived from the simple barter situation and no force is added it cannot be any less ethical or moral than the original situation. If you find this development ethically offensive you are not considering the actions or behavior of the people involved–you only take the results into account. If you want to guarantee a certain result or rules of conduct in a society you will have to rely on the use of force. Relying on force simply cannot be anarchist.

I think the idea is that the fisherman never “owned” the boat in the same sense that the capitalist “owns” the factory, or the plot of land, etc. Rather, he simply used it and possessed it, and in that regard he had some superior claims to it. But he didn’t own it, and further, even if he had made it with his own two hands he still would not have “owned” it.

Therefore the force is added when he attempts to prevent someone else from using it even while he no longer has any interest in using it.

This follows from the left-Anarchist position that “ownership” is wrong per se because it implies absolute control, which implies (and justifies) hierarchy/power imbalances. Since the consequences are undesirable, one ought also oppose the concepts of “ownership” and “property” which are inseparable.

I’m not necessarily endorsing this statement, but I think I understand it. Or am I completely missing the point?

I’m just not convinced that this philosophy isn’t simply a dogmatic, knee-jerk reaction to historical abuse. Likewise I am not at all convinced that in a free society with genuine community (a concept so foreign to most people that I will not attempt to define it here – maybe another time) such abuses would be the exception rather than the rule.





no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics