Weiland: What Kind of Stateless Society?

Jeremy Weiland has published some intelligent questions about the Center (and other matters) well worth discussing.

While not a thorough response, I’ll add briefly that I’ve typically opted for broader ideological diversity rather than narrower, in terms of what we publish. My own principal intent has been to popularize the understanding that free market economics explains pretty well why a relatively “lawful” social order can be achieved without the state. Perhaps that’s too vague for some.


13 thoughts on “Weiland: What Kind of Stateless Society?

  1. I do think that the C4SS places too much emphasis on markets, and not enough on anarchism. But since I don't identify as a market anarchist these days, a market anarchist might not share my views of its priorities. A possible stop-gap solution might be to encourage more anarchists who are not market anarchists (and may or may not prefer markets or some other voluntary systems) to contribute guest posts on various issues (which may or may not agree with market anarchism).
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    1. re: "'I do think that the C4SS places too much emphasis on markets, and not enough on anarchism."

      Well, Marja, as I said above — free market economics explains pretty well why a relatively “lawful” social order can be achieved without the state. This is a principal concern that non-anarchists have about anarchism and why I think market anarchism, as an emphasis within the broader anarchist tradition, has an important contribution to make.


      1. Okay.

        While I support markets, I don't want to tie my anarchism to one economic form. It is possible that some other form can also [better?] combine the voluntary, reciprocal, information-finding, and equalizing/liberating functions that markets can perform.

        While the C4SS is specifically about market anarchism, I think it's important to have dialogue with other anarchists – perhaps saying something to the effect that "these are not the C4SS's views, but these are important [usually] anarchist views which could better inform our views and may interest our readership."


      2. P.S. I suggest this because the disagreements among anarchists in general can shed light on disagreements among market anarchists, and vice-versa.


  2. Okay, I'll put myself out there to be criticized first. While there is no need for either commenters or financial supporters to have 100% agreement with the message of the C4SS, the center itself needs to have a consistent message if it going to be a useful outreach center, and "we want to have a wide range of views" is not a solid enough foundation for such a program. The C4SS must have a vision: hit pieces are easy, but the writers will be better if they have a clearer idea of what to advocate rather than just what to oppose.

    I think the term "market anarchism" must be understood as a viewpoint that takes the autonomy of individuals as its starting point and sees all of the societal relationships that develop, INCLUDING PROPERTY RELATIONSHIPS, as market tools agreed to by sovereign individuals. Many of us are recovering anarcho-capitalists who have, over time, developed a greater appreciation for the criticism of social anarchists as well as the point about vulgar libertarianism made by Kevin Carson. I believe market anarchism is a point of view that might well lead to property relationships in most (but not all) things because of the benefits of economic calculation for all, but no longer see claims over property as deriving from first principles. And Nobel Prize Winner Elinor Ostrom's work on governing the commons has provided plenty of evidence that there is a viable third alternative to government property and private property in many cases. It is time we stopped assuming the ancoms are all economic illiterates.

    Here is how I see market anarchism. It is NOT an ill-defined point of view, but a specific one that consciously embraces individual sovereignty and sees property vs possession as a question of which market tool will work best in which situation, and will ultimately be determined by the people closest to each item, differing from item to item and place to place. Market anarchism EXPLICITLY rejects the idea that all rights are property rights and justice only a matter of title transfer (even if a useful justice system might well find such an approach desirable for dispute resolution in many cases)..

    Of all the articles posted to date, I think Anna Morgenstern's Anarcho-"Capitalism"Is Impossible sparked the discussion we most needed to have about what we advocate, and while I had concerns about some of the arguments in the initial article (which I discussed in the comments) and the thread got way too long and snarky by the end, the different perspectives and contributions provided much of the foundation needed for a statement of views. I suggest a reread by the muckity-mucks in charge here: it might help you make the decision on what you advocate.

    In short, I don't think keeping it vague is going to work. At least, I think you should try, even if you ultimately decide you had it right all along.

    I usually take the time to review and revise my comments before posting, but I have other projects, and it seems important to post quickly this time. I apologize for what will, by tomorrow, seem obvious errors of thoughtlessness. Take this as encouragement for others to offer suggestions: I'm well aware I might be wrong.
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  3. This is what I posted in the comments there:

    Every time a member reads an article that strays from their personal vision, they will question the Center's mission.

    Why is that a foregone conclusion? I'm not exactly a philosopher, but I think is what is called an a priori assumption. And one that I think you are using to support your own feelings rather than anything verifiable.

    But if we take that statement to be true, and if they were to broaden the scope of the articles, would that not then alienate just as many people if not more by presenting more articles that will almost assuredly stray from someone's views?


  4. Maybe it's the bottle of wine, but I really don't understand the problem Jeremy brings up. Why should the Center for a *Stateless Society* advocate anything more specific than the absence of the state? Why the hang-up on the term "market anarchism?" That just means voluntary relationships. What am I missing here?
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    1. I agree, Darren. It seems to be a hang up on the term market. And like you said all it means is voluntary interactions. Somehow some anarchists see market as synonymous with property, and property as to close to capitalism. They see the word market and shiver at the thought that they may be in league with anarcho-capitalists. As long as people are precise when defining their terms, their should be no problem. And like you said, it seems to be a hang up, an aesthetics problem, more than anything fundamental. Its the same revulsion expressed by an anarcho-capitalist when capitalism is questioned and called out for what it really is.


  5. You know, the debate that prompted my statements, and Jeremy's post, was not initially about "market anarchism" at all. It was about the sloppy argumentation in a piece that attacked "those environmentalists" who wouldn't pay attention to the data and made sloppy arguments. Jeremy went ahead and made a case study of me — and people here seem eager to guess what "hang up" may be behind it all (again, without much attention to the data.) Let me add the details Jeremy didn't have.

    I certainly have never "shivered" at the word "market." I was one of the social anarchists who helped form the ALLiance, and was an early advisory board member at the Center. I'm a small businessman and anarchist entrepreneur. I'm also a historian of the anarchist movement. (Seriously, it doesn't hurt to know who you're talking about before you decide publicly that they got all scared by a word….) I've defended the term "market anarchism" and the broad definition of "market" — but I stopped doing so precisely because my ALLies, and particularly the writers at the Center, demonstrated to me that there were significant problems with the approach. Count this among the accomplishments of the Center, that you managed to convince me that "consistent anti-statism" was a dead end, and that, despite the protestations, "the market" always seems to mean more — or less — than just voluntary interactions. If that wasn't what you intended, and you want your arguments to be persuasive to people who care about the details, you might consider the case.
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    1. re: "'the market' always seems to mean more — or less — than just voluntary interactions."

      Thanks for your input, Shawn. I'm curious, though, whether I should understand your objection to be lack of adherence to a strict "party line".


      1. I don't think either Jeremy or I have suggested a "party line." Honestly, it's a bizarre suggestion. I got into it with David about an article I took to be divisive and badly argued, and the discussion turned to the question of our "agreement" on issues where we seem to me to fundamentally disagree. Unfortunately, I have become convinced that conceptual tools based on that sort of "agreement" don't function very well as levers for real change, and that the insistence on "agreement" across obvious, substantive disagreement can actually work against the sorts of clarification necessary for concrete application.

        The concern that Jeremy focused on — a leaning towards private-propertarian understandings of what is "voluntary," while your "constituency" (for lack of a better term) presumably includes plenty of mutualists and egoists very skeptical of "private property" and the rights theories associated with it — is certainly a concern of mine, based on my interactions here, but it's not a "party line" concern, so much as a concern that too much is left implicit, and masked by false (or at least untested) assumptions of agreement. When David assumes that "possession" is the same thing as "private property" with a term based in occupancy and use, including the "right to defensive force," he may be in agreement with some more-or-less "Carsonian" mutualists, but almost certainly not with others, and almost certainly not with Proudhonians or many egoists, for whom "rights" play out very differently. You and I presumably both care about "property," but are committed to positions with diametrically opposed understandings of just appropriation. This is no small disagreement, in practical terms. When David says that he "agrees" with George Reisman, and then that he and I "agree," it's all stretched much too thin — and the broad "agreement" is not a place I want to be. I have no fear of words, but I have enough problems getting my own ideas out there, without people encouraging the confusion of, say, explicitly ecological, "two-gun" mutualism and anti-environmental flat-earthism.

        Obviously, I am not the audience for C4SS pieces. And I don't have a clue at this point what you intend by the Center's propaganda. But I'm guessing my responses have not been it. It's up to those invested in the Center to figure out if that matters.
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      2. it's not a "party line" concern, so much as a concern that too much is left implicit, and masked by false (or at least untested) assumptions of agreement.

        Right. To expand on that, it's not even that WE might not agree. It's not about you and I. It's about the people we're reaching – whether they are being exposed to ideas and rhetoric that reflect our variety in this movement, or whether they're being exposed to a narrower vision and therefore never encounter other constructions of "market anarchism".


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