Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Anarcho"-communism: Tyranny With a Smiley Face

A writer for the Libertarian Alliance explains why he chose to abandon "anarcho"-communism:

My former goal of a stateless communist
society became repellent to me. Jealous of
preserving my individuality I had no wish to
have my ego dissolved into the
amorphousness of an egalitarian herd.
Communism would render me powerless
before the economic collectivity. The
common ownership of the means of
production would confront me with the
choice: integrate or perish. Any group, or
federation of groups, can be as powerful as
any State if it monopolises in any given area
the possibilities of action and realisation. The
result would be social totalitarianism, even if
it were done in the name of "anarchism". In
practice stateless communism would vest all
executive power in the hands of mass
assemblies or elected delegates. Either way it
would be expressed de facto government of
the individual by the majority. What power
could I exercise for example if I were stuck
at the base of the pyramid of workers'
councils proposed as the administrative
structure for industries in the communist

Rothbard on leftist "anarchism":

The nearest those anarchists have come to resolving the problem has been to uphold syndicalism as the ideal. In syndicalism, each group of workers and peasants is supposed to own its means of production in common, and plan for itself, while cooperating with other collectives and communes. Logical analysis of these schemes would readily show that the whole program is nonsense. Either of two things would occur: one central agency would plan for and direct the various subgroups, or the collectives themselves would be really autonomous. But the crucial question is whether these agencies would be empowered to use force to put their decisions into effect. All of the left-wing anarchists have agreed that force is necessary against recalcitrants. But then the first possibility means nothing more nor less than Communism, while the second leads to a real chaos of diverse and clashing Communisms, that would probably lead finally to some central Communism after a period of social war. Thus, left-wing anarchism must in practice signify either regular Communism or a true chaos of communistic syndics. In both cases, the actual result must be that the State is reestablished under another name. It is the tragic irony of left-wing anarchism that, despite the hopes of its supporters, it is not really anarchism at all. It is either Communism or chaos.

Also recommended:

The Anarcho-Statists of Spain
The Coercive Anarchism of Noam Chomsky
The Fallacy of 'Libertarian Socialism'
The Death Wish of the Anarcho-communists


anarcho-mercantilist said...

If the definition of anarcho-communism is interpreted literally, it is perfectly compatible with anarchism. An example of an anarcho-communist association is the traditional family. Each member contributes due to reciprocal altruism, and the parents take care of their children without any self-interest. There are no internal prices in the traditional family, which is also the primary feature of communism. On a large scale, however, anarcho-communism wouldn't work due to the economic calculation problem. That's why in an anarchist society, markets would be the dominant forces due to its flexible price mechanism in response to the volatility of supply and demand. Even though the traditional famility structure is inefficient due to no price system, individuals have the right to voluntary associate. Another example of anarcho-communism based on reciprocal altruism is open source software.

However, the mainstream definition of "anarcho"-communism does not have any concise definition. Even the self-identified "anarcho"-communists have internal disagreements that are far larger than the disagreements between the anarcho-"capitalists" and mutualists. "Anarcho"-communists vary on ideology. Some are pacificits, which are no worry.

If you redefine anarcho-communism to its literal definition, then you would perfectly accept the ideology. "Anarcho"-communism, in its quoted form is different than the literal anarcho-communism.

If you are using the term "free-market anarchism" to identify your ideology without accepting the literal definition of anarcho-communism, then the adjective "free-market" is redundant. You would simply define your ideology as anarchism. Ergo, the adjective "free-market" in the term must be a flavor or leaning, and that you accept all ideologies that are labeled anarchism whatever the adjective is. So it would be contradictory to criticize "anarcho"-communism, without the quotes surrounding anarchism.

If your identify yourself as an anarchist, then you must accept all anarchist ideologies that use the term anarchism, regardless of its adjectives. It's likely that left-libertarians such as Rodereck T. Long and BrainPolice are using the literal definition of anarcho-communism, not the mainstream one. Therefore, it is useless to criticize the left-libertarians who advocate anarcho-communism (without the quotes), since they are assuming the literal definition, which is compatible with anarchism.

Cork said...


"An example of an anarcho-communist association is the traditional family."

Paradoxically, most of them want to abolish the family.

"On a large scale, however, anarcho-communism wouldn't work due to the economic calculation problem."

Agreed. It would "work" only in the sense of creating authoritarian structures.

" "Anarcho"-communism, in its quoted form is different than the literal anarcho-communism."

I disagree. It is inherently authoritarian because it requires a small group of elites to plan the economy. Like Rothbard said,

"I don't think you can be an anarcho-communist or an anarcho-syndicalist. You know if the commune runs everything, and decides for everything, whether it is a neighborhood commune or a mass country commune – it really does not matter in this case, somebody's got to make the communal decision. You can't tell me that you'll have participatory democracy and that everybody is going to equally participate. There is obviously going to be a small group, the officiating board or the statistical administrative board or whatever they want to call it, whatever it's going to be, it's going to be the same damn group making decisions for everybody. In other words, it's going to be a coercive decision for the collective property. It will be another state again, as far as I can see."

"If your identify yourself as an anarchist, then you must accept all anarchist ideologies that use the term anarchism"

Nearly all of them support the abolition of private property to be replaced with some sort of authority structure run by "leaders."

Authority and control are what I seek to overthrow. That's why I don't accept collectivist or communist 'anarchist' ideologies. They are frauds.

anarcho-mercantilist said...

Anarcho-communism is oxymoronic, since the suffix "ism" cannot be placed after a noun. The "ism" suffix must be placed after an adjective. So it is acceptible for "communal" to have an "ism" suffix but it is not acceptible for "commune" to have an "ism" suffix. Therefore, anarcho-communalism is the lexiographically correct word.

Since anarcho-communalism does not have any connotations, you can define it however you want. You can define anarcho-communalism as a theory compatible with anarchism, such as open source software and the traditional family.

ElimGarak said...

The beauty of English (and all languages) is that you can put any suffix on any word you want. Quibbling about lexicographical analyses isn't really getting to the heart of the matter. The point of the whole thing is that VOLUNTARY anarcho-communism or other communalist arrangements would be fine: it's when the anarcho-communists resort to coercion, which they inevitably would, that puts the lie to the 'anarcho' bit. Communistic types are generally so because they have issues with the whole 'voluntary' thing.