Voluntaryists, Market Anarchists, Left Anarchists and Marxists

From time to time, I often hear of libertarians claiming that left-anarchism and Marxism are diametric opposites to libertarianism. As a result of this claim, such libertarians would advocate that our movement be wary of such people, since they may call for initiations of force against us. Superficially, I can understand where these libertarians are coming from. Libertarians believe in free markets, whilst Marxists and left-anarchists call for collective ownership of the means of production. However, I believe that those who voice these views are missing the point in a very monumental manner. In this piece, I'll attempt to state that Marxists and left-anarchists are not necessarily our "enemy" in addition to stating who our "enemies" really are.

Distrust of the state

For the time being, let me ask you, the reader, a question. What are the fundamental principles of voluntaryist/market anarchist thought? Is this a silly question to ask those who read Strike The Root? Maybe, but bear with me for a moment. Of course, the base principles of voluntaryist thought are self-ownership and the non-initiation of force against person and/or property. It's from these tenets that we derive the position of a stateless society, since government is force and only undermines our individual liberty. So really, voluntaryism can be characterised as a great distrust of government, in a sense.

In a similar fashion, Marxists and left-anarchists distrust government, albeit for differing reasons than ourselves. Still, these reasons do not matter, as such. The pertinent point is that Marxists and left-anarchists share an important commonality with libertarians. All that differs in our respective ideologies is the economic nature of our desired societies. Because we share a vital common point with Marxists and left-anarchists, then why necessarily should we fear them?

When the late, great Harry Browne was alive, he would often say that it's wrong "to trip up people headed in the same direction as yourself.' By this, he meant that even if someone held differing views to you on a specific issue, one should still consider that person an ally if their fundamental whims and desires are the same as yours. Browne would continually make this point in reference to arguments regarding minarchism vs. voluntaryism/market anarchy, in that both sets of people equally desired the drastic reduction in the size and scope of government. Antagonism or schisms would only be self-defeating. Marxists and left-anarchists, to a great degree, are headed in the same direction as ourselves. Both sets of people understand the inherent evil surrounding the state and rightly view government as a cancer on the world.

Since government is force, we really are shooting ourselves in the foot when we view anti-statists as our nemesis. And since government shows no evident sign of disappearing soon, then we as a movement probably require extra aid in achieving a stateless and completely voluntary society. It may seem strange, but I suggest that we should leave economics aside and start forming alliances with Marxists, anarcho-communists and anarcho-syndicalists. The enemy of our enemy, in this instance, should be our friend.

So then, who are our enemies?

If those who call for reducing governmental scope are our allies, then it's only logical to assume that those calling for greater governmental scope are our enemies. Who are these people exactly? Well, think about it for a second. Which type of people generally value greater governmental power over our lives? The answer is social democrats (think Tony Blair or his successor Gordon Brown), democratic socialists (think Hugo Chavez in Venezuela ), social liberals (as we call them in Europe ), conservatives and fascists.

All of the aforementioned ideologies advocate governmental power to some degree. Social democrats and democratic socialists, as socialists in general, value the state since in their view, state power lessens economic inequality. Social liberals call for state powers to secure positive freedoms for the poor and worse off. Conservatives cherish the state as, in their mind, it can secure the retention of tradition and prevents rapid societal change. And of course, fascists reckon that state power is so munificent that the individual must be subordinate to its needs.

In some other pieces I've written for Strike The Root, I have often mentioned that education should be the primary means of disseminating our views and achieving an eventual stateless society. However, I feel there is such a thing as "preaching to the choir" in this instance. For example, isn't it ineffectual and futile to convince left-anarchists and Marxists that the state is coercive and immoral? After all, such people already believe that state power is intrinsically evil! As a means of education, we can better allocate our limited time by appealing to statists of differing shades. Such people would be natural stumbling blocks in our goal to create our vision of a stateless society.

So whenever a liberal speaks out for state intrusion, ask them about the state's legitimacy. Whenever a conservative calls for state intrusion, ask them about the state's moral justification. Educating others about liberty should be a full-on process, since we should directly tackle our opponents on issues of liberty. By doing so, our movement can properly undermine and expose our opponents' beliefs, hastening the end of the common reverence towards the state.

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Christopher Awuku's picture
Columns on STR: 26

Christopher Awuku lives in the UK and works in the voluntary/community sector.  He runs a market anarchist blog at http://chrislib.blogspot.com