Voluntarism, Social Anarchism and Coercive Expropriation


A common set of questions by Anarcho-Capitalists to Anarchists is something along the lines of ‘would you use coercion in order to prevent capitalism? And if you would does that not contradict your alleged Anarchism?’ The Anarcho-Capitalist asks this question for two reasons. The first reason is that they believe that Anarchism is the political philosophy that is opposed to coercion, rejects the state because it is coercive and consequently advocates a stateless voluntary society[1]. The second reason is that they believe that socialism is almost always based on coercion against capitalism. Thus, their question is asking, how can one believe in coercing capitalists while nonetheless advocating a voluntary society? In this essay, I shall first assume that  capitalism can exist without the state and is voluntary and answer the Anarcho-Capitalist question by arguing that there is no contradiction between advocating coercion and being an Anarchist in the sense that Social Anarchists use the term. I thus wish to argue that even if capitalism is voluntary Social Anarchists ought to prevent capitalism through, although not necessarily through, coercive means. In short, I shall be arguing that Social Anarchists should not advocate an entirely voluntary society, only a predominately voluntary society.

Voluntary Association VS Free Association

The Anarcho-Capitalist definition of voluntary association is derived from their definition of ‘coercion’ (or ‘force’ or ‘aggression’, the terms are usually used interchangeable by Anarcho-Capitalists). They define ‘coercion’ as the “initiation of the use or threat of physical violence against the person or property of anyone else”. Given this definition an action is defined as voluntary if the agent does not perform the act because they were coerced. Anarcho-Capitalists believe that stateless laissez-faire capitalism is a voluntary society in the sense that it is a society which is not based upon coercion. For example, Rothbard writes in ‘For A New Liberty’ that, “The libertarian creed rests upon one central axiom: that no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else. This may be called the nonaggression axiom.”[2] In virtue of accepting this principle, “The libertarian favors the right to unrestricted private property and free exchange; hence, a system of laissez-faire capitalism.”[3] While in ‘Man, Economy and State’ Rothbard writes that, “Agreements by individuals to make exchanges are called contracts, and a society based on voluntary contractual agreements is a contractual society. It is the society of the unhampered market.”[4] Thus, Rothbard adheres to the non-aggression principle and consequently advocates a voluntary society based on voluntary association and contracts between individuals. Rothbard believes that such a society would be a system of laissez-faire capitalism.

At first appearance, it can seem that Social Anarchists too believe in such a voluntary society and that individuals should be free to voluntarily associate in any given manner. Kropotkin writes that in an Anarchist society “harmony [is] obtained… by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.”[5] While Berkman writes that under anarcho-communism “You are to be entirely free, and everybody else is to enjoy equal liberty, which means that no one has a right to compel or force another, for coercion of any kind is interference with your liberty.”[6]

Nevertheless, such a first appearance may be a false one. This is because all Social Anarchists believe in the expropriation of the private property of capitalists by the organised working class and peasantry. For example, Kropotkin argued that the anarchist revolution aims at “abolishing the exploitation of man by man” via “the complete expropriation of all those who have the means of exploiting human beings”[7] That is to say “everything that enables any man — be he financier, mill-owner, or landlord — to appropriate the product of others’ toil.”[8] Thus an Anarchist revolution “would take care not to touch the holding of the peasant who cultivates it himself …without wage labour. But we would expropriate all land that was not cultivated by the hands of those who at present possess the land.”[9] The involuntary nature of this expropriation is made apparent by Schmidt and Walt who write that, “to allow the ruling class to retain its privileges until it is willing to concede to anarchism, on the grounds that everyone must enter anarchism voluntarily, is to provide that class with a permanent veto on the emancipation of the great majority of humanity.”[10]

The principle that one ought to expropriate private property in the transition from capitalism to socialism also seems to apply to instances of private property that may re-emerge within socialism because the principle is grounded in the belief that it is just to expropriate property based on exploitation. Clear evidence of this is that Kropotkin writes that, “when we see a Sheffield cutler, or a Leeds clothier working with their own tools or handloom, we see no use in taking the tools or the handloom to give to another worker. The clothier or cutler exploit nobody. But when we see a factory whose owners claim to keep to themselves the instruments of labour used by 1,400 girls, and consequently exact from the labour of these girls …profit…we consider that the people …are fully entitled to take possession of that factory and to let the girls produce . . . for themselves and the rest of the community …and take what they need of house room, food and clothing in return.[11] 

To an Anarcho-Capitalist, it will appear contradictory that Social Anarchists, on the one hand advocates a society based on free agreements and on the other hand advocates coercion against a certain type of agreement – the agreement between worker and capitalist – and advocates the use of coercion in order to destroy the material basis for such agreements, namely private property. Such a contradiction only emerges if we (a) consider the agreement between worker and capitalist to be a free agreement, believe private property to be non-coercive and not reliant upon state enforcement or if we (b) believe that Social Anarchists seek to promote an entirely voluntary society. Given that I am assuming for the sake of argument that private property is non-coercive and that capitalism can be voluntary I must reject (b) and argue that Social Anarchists do not seek or at least should not seek an entirely voluntary society.

I do not believe that it can be argued that the classic Social Anarchist thinkers believed that they were advocating a non-voluntary society. Rather they viewed Capitalism as stemming from violence and the state and so thought Capitalism to be inherently involuntary. Malatesta wrote that the capitalists “have taken what they possess by force”[12]. While Berkman argued that since “the whole system of law and government upholds and justifies [the] robbery” of capitalism, “when government is abolished, wage slavery and capitalism must also go with it, because they cannot exist without the support and protection of government“[13]. The closest, to my knowledge, that any classic Social Anarchist thinker comes to the conclusion that Social Anarchists advocate a non-voluntary society is Malatesta’s insistence that anarchists advocate restricting the freedom of those who restrict the freedom of others. He writes that anarchists support “freedom for everybody … with the only limit of the equal freedom for others; which does not mean … that we recognise, and wish to respect, the ‘freedom’ to exploit, to oppress, to command, which is oppression and certainly not freedom.”[14] And he later claims that  one must have a “right and the possibility to live in a different regime, collectivist, mutualist, individualist — as one wishes, always on the condition that there is no oppression or exploitation of others.” Given that the reason Malatesta offers for restricting the freedom of others is to stop exploitation and oppression and that exploitation and oppression can occur within voluntary associations, it follows that individuals have the duty to restrict the freedom of those who are exploiting and oppressing others even if it is within a voluntary association. One way that one can stop such exploitation and oppression is through coercion.

This point can be clarified by a distinction between two sorts of association. An association is voluntary if and only if those who comprise the association were not coerced into associating into it. An association is free if and only if it is a voluntary association and if those who comprise it are free within it. Thus while all free associations are voluntary associations, not all voluntary associations are free associations.  In order for an association to be shown to be voluntary but not free it is not sufficient to merely point out that certain members of the association are unfree because they could be unfree as a result of events outside of the association which the association is not contributing to. Thus, it is a sufficient condition of a voluntary but unfree association that there is a relevant causal link between the particular person’s unfreedom and the association. Concretely, a tennis club is not a voluntary unfree association if a member is unfree because of an abusive partner; while an abusive relationship in which a person is not coerced into staying within it, is a voluntary unfree association.

If we apply Malatesta’s principle to this distinction individuals possess the right to free association but not unfree voluntary association. In instances of unfree voluntary association others have the moral duty to stop the freedom limiting occurring within the association, either by enabling those who are unfree to leave the association, abolishing the association itself or by removing the freedom limiting person(s) from the association.

Moral Rights and Indirect Consequentialism

This position outlined above can be further clarified with the use of basic normative ethics within analytic philosophy. To do so I must first explain two theories within normative ethics. The first ethical theory is rights theory.[15] Rights are usually defined as entitlements to perform or not perform certain actions or entitlements that others perform or not perform certain actions.  Every right has four elements. Firstly, every right has a subject, meaning the holder or bearer of the right. Secondly, an object, which is the person or persons against whom the right is held. Thirdly, the content, as in what the right to do or have done is. Fourthly, the strength, which is the rights level of resistance to rival normative considerations. To illustrate this, the inalienable right of Jim to not be tortured can be broken down into its subject, Jim, its object, all other people capable of having duties, its content, not to be tortured, and its strength, it cannot be overturned by any other rival normative consideration as it is inalienable. Rights can further be broken down into different sorts of rights. Moral rights are rights grounded in moral reasons, legal rights are rights derived from the law and customary rights are rights derived from convention.

The second ethical theory is Consequentialism[16], which is the ethical theory that places primary emphasis on the ends which actions are aimed to promote, or what is usually called ‘the good’. What actions are right to perform and what people should be like can then be understood in terms of the extent to which a given action or a given character trait promotes the good. Consequentialism is thus the position that the correct moral response by an agent to a value that is identified as being good is to promote it. The goal of ethics is therefore to promote the good, whatever that is. Different theories of consequentialism emerge depending upon what the good is taken to be and how it is thought that we should go about promoting the good. What the good is taken to be can be anything which can be promoted, for example one could argue that the good is the number of dogs the Queen owns such that an action is the right action to the extent to which it increases the number of dogs that the Queen owns. This is not to say that such a theory of the good would be remotely plausible or persuasive but that such a theory could be outlined in a consequentialist framework. Perhaps the most historically famous consequentialist theory of the good is utilitarianism, according to which the good is utility. However, there have been other plausible consequentialist theories of the good, such as respect for persons, freedom or dignity. Some consequentialists are pluralists whereby they believe there are multiple goods which ought to be promoted, while others are monists who believe that there is a single good which ought to be promoted.

The good may be pursued directly, by aiming at promoting it at every instance, or indirectly, by aiming at other goals whose accomplishment achieves the ultimate goal of promoting the good. An obvious example of such an indirect approach would be the goal of happiness. In order to achieve the goal of happiness it is best to aim to achieve other goals whose fulfilment results in happiness, such as engaging in fun activities or speaking with people whose company you enjoy. The usual line of argument for indirect consequentialism is that agents are fallible, at least in the heat of decision making, and that as a result of this, were moral agents to promote the good directly, by calculating which action produced the best consequences any time they made an ethical decision, the good would not ultimately be promoted as people would make poor decisions. Thus, agents may best promote the good in behavioural choices if they restrict the tendency to calculate the consequences of their actions to only very specific circumstances, such as disaster scenarios, and so not calculate in day to day decision making. In everyday scenarios, or moral dilemmas that are not disaster scenarios, agents should accept and internalize a set of constraints on their direct pursuits whose adherence generally promotes the good. If one advocates pursuing the good directly then there is no room for rights theory in the promotion of the good. While if one advocates pursuing the good indirectly, then rights theory can serve an important role as a set of constraints on one’s direct pursuits.  Hence in order to make room for rights one must advocate an indirect approach.

On the assumption that such an indirect approach is correct, we can adopt moral rights as our constraints. If we do this, a moral right will count as genuine just in case its recognition within some conventional rule system is morally justified, where the standard of justification is promotion of the good. For example, in general the moral right to not be tortured promotes the good and as a result people ought to internalise the moral right to not be tortured as a constraint on day to day actions, such that all people have a moral right to not be tortured and moral agents have a duty to not torture any given person. Thus, when making moral decisions the moral right to not be tortured acts as a defensive barrier to other normative considerations and cannot, except in specific circumstances, be overridden by rival normative considerations. This means that one cannot generally seek to promote the good via torture because torturing violates a person’s moral right to not be tortured. Thus even if torturing a person would result in better consequences than not torturing them, on this view it would still be immoral to torture them. Nevertheless, since it is the case that within a consequentialist framework no moral right is inalienable, because all moral rights are justified in reference to their promotion of the good, it would be moral to torture a person if the normative consideration was greater than the right’s strength.  Perhaps in the case of torture, it is moral to torture a person if and only if doing so overwhelmingly promotes the good. An obvious example would be torturing someone when doing so will almost certainly prevent a nuclear war resulting in nuclear winter.

Given this ethical framework, Social Anarchists can argue that individuals possess the moral right to voluntary association but that the strength of this moral right is up to the point whereby the association is a voluntary unfree association. At this point, other normative considerations, namely stopping unfreedom and specifically domination and exploitation, override the moral right to voluntary association such that the moral right to voluntary association of individuals who are making other individuals unfree no longer trumps the normative consideration of promoting the good via coercion.

Of course how one ought to act in promoting these other normative considerations varies according to the sort of association in question and the type of unfreedom occurring. Obviously one will respond differently to a verbally abusive partner than to a capitalist. In instances of voluntary unfree association, where coercion is an appropriate means of promoting overriding normative considerations, there is a prima facie case to use coercion. This does not mean that coercion is always the most just or the most efficient or the only means of promoting these overridden normative considerations.  Whether it is can only be decided after an analysis of the specific concrete event in question and the predictable consequences of the known possible actions and the extent to which said consequences promotes the good or not.

There may for example be situations where preventing private property via non-coercive means are superior to coercive means. For example, were an individual to set up a capitalist workplace within an anarchist society, anarchists would not necessarily have to resort to expropriation. Rather the Anarchists could spread propaganda among the workers informing them that they could work in a nearby federation and so encourage the workers to leave the capitalist workplace, or they could out-compete the capitalist workplace by selling the relevant commodities at a far lower price, or distributing them for free according to need. Both of these actions, if successful, would give the capitalist no choice but to close his firm and so cease to exploit workers as he would have little to no workers and little to no market share.

Indeed many Anarchists doubt that anybody would work for a capitalist under socialism in the first place. Kropotkin wrote that, “an anarchist society need not fear the advent of a Rothschild who would settle in its midst. If every member of the community knows that after a few hours of productive toil he will have a right to all the pleasures that civilization procures, and to those deeper sources of enjoyment which art and science offer to all who seek them, he will not sell his strength for a starvation wage. No one will volunteer to work for the enrichment of your Rothschild.”[17]

But were a capitalist business to grow within an Anarchist society, despite the attempts by Social Anarchists to non-coercively prevent its growth, Social Anarchists would have a moral obligation to promote the normative considerations of stopping exploitation, domination and unfreedom via coercive means, on the condition that the use of coercion would result in a greater promotion of the good than were coercion to not be used. This coercion would not be targeted against the workers but the Capitalist, via the expropriation of her private property, and if necessary those who defend via violence the Capitalist’s claim to private property. This is because the moral right to voluntary association is only overridden, in this instance, if one is exploiting and dominating others, and since the workers are not doing this, were a Social Anarchist to coerce any worker they would be violating the workers moral right. It is also crucial to note that the Capitalist would not be sent to a prison, or a work camp or killed. The only thing that would happen to her is that she will be deprived of her private property, which is her means of exploiting and dominating workers, and possible banned from entering into any Anarchist federations because she is an enemy of the working class.

In summary, in virtue of an indirect consequentialist approach to ethics, individuals possess a moral right to voluntary association. This moral right trumps any normative consideration that the good ought to be promoted via coercion, except in instances of voluntary unfree association, in which case the moral right is overridden by the normative consideration of preventing unfreedom and specifically domination and exploitation. Although coercion is only justified prima facie and in any given concrete situation whether or not the good of preventing unfreedom will best be promoted via coercion can only be decided via an analyses of the situation itself and the predictable consequences of the known possible actions and the extent to which said consequences promotes the good or not.

Freedom as A Social Phenomenon

It should by now be clear that Social Anarchists advocate restricting an individuals freedom in order to prevent them from limiting the freedom of others, that is producing some unfreedom in order to create far more freedom overall. This view can be better understand when we consider the broader Social Anarchist attitude to freedom.

Social Anarchist believe that freedom is a social phenomenon and arises only in society and the relations between individuals. Bakunin wrote that, “freedom itself, the freedom of every man, is the ever-renewed effect of the great mass of physical, intellectual, and moral influences to which this man is subjected by the people surrounding him and the environment in which he was born and in which he passed his whole life.”[18] Moreover, “man completely realizes his individual freedom as well as his personality only through the individuals who surround him, and thanks only to the labor and the collective power of society…Society, far from decreasing his freedom, on the contrary creates the individual freedom of all human beings. Society is the root, the tree, and liberty is its fruit.” From these remarks, it follows that “I can feel free only in the presence of and in relationship with other men.”[19] It is further believed by Social Anarchists that freedom understood as such is not maximised by any form of organisation one could care to imagine, but arises and grows to great heights only under conditions favourable to liberty. Social Anarchists believe that such favourable conditions are a decentralised, non-hierarchical, stateless socialist society.

Given these beliefs Social Anarchists can understand restricting the freedom of those who organise in a centralised, hierarchical and capitalist manner as preserving the conditions from which freedom is maximised via limiting the freedom of those who threaten said conditions. Social Anarchists therefore believe that it is legitimate and just to restrict freedom if freedom would destroy the very conditions from which freedom itself arises. On this account, Social Anarchists advocate a society comprised primarily of free association with elements of coercion and freedom limiting as one of the means by which the free associations are protected from far greater coercion, tyranny and domination.


I shall conclude by answering the Anarcho-Capitalist questions directly. In answer to the first question, ‘‘would you use coercion in order to prevent capitalism?’, any Social Anarchist must answer yes and given their strong commitment to preventing exploitation answer so even in instances of voluntary capitalism because exploitation is exploitation, be it voluntary or involuntary and that while one possesses the moral right to free assocation one does not possess the moral right to unfree voluntary association. In answer to the second question, ‘if you would does that not contradict your alleged Anarchism?’, Social Anarchists must answer no because in prohibiting capitalism via coercion, and thereby limiting the freedom of another, they are promoting greater overall freedom via ending the domination and exploitation of workers, and protecting the conditions from which freedom itself is maximised.

I wish to end by stating that I hope that the theory I have outlined in this essay enables Social Anarchists to better understand and articulate these answers, and is not seen merely as intellectualizing of no worth to political anarchism. I wish also to note that I am well aware that this theory is insufficient to justify these conclusions, as it rests on the premise that capitalism is exploitative, a premise that has not been defended in this essay. The defence of this premise must be made either by economists who articulate and defend a theory of exploitation based on the extraction of surplus value or some non labour theory of value equivalent such as John Roemer’s theory of exploitation, or by ethicists who articulate and defend a theory of exploitation based on some moral notion of exploitation such as taking advantage of.

[1] For a critique of this account of Anarchism see my ‘Anarchism Is More Than Anti-Statism Parts 1 & 2’

[2] Rothbard, For A New Liberty, p27

[3] Rothbard, For A New Liberty, p28

[4] Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, p91

[5] Kropotkin, ‘Anarchism From The Enclopedia Brittanica 1910

[6] Berkman, What is Communist Anarchism

[7] Kropotkin, Words of A Rebel p206, 207

[8] Kropotkin, Conquest of Bread p61

[9] Kropotkin, Words of A Rebel p214

[10] Schmidt and Walt, Black Flame, p203

[11] Kropotkin, Act For Yourselves p105

[12] Malatesta, At The Cafe

[13] Berkman, What is Communist Anarchism

[14] Richards (Ed.); Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, p53

[15] For more information see Sumner, ‘Rights’,

[16] For more information see Pettit, ‘Consequentialism’, A Companion to Ethics p230

[17] Kropotkin, Conquest of Bread

[18] Maximoff, (Ed.); The Political Philosophy of Bakunin: Scientific Anarchism, p167

[19] Bakunin, Man, Society and Freedom

19 thoughts on “Voluntarism, Social Anarchism and Coercive Expropriation

  1. “I shall conclude by answering the Anarcho-Capitalist questions directly. In answer to the first question, ‘‘would you use coercion in order to prevent capitalism?’, any Social Anarchist must answer yes and given their strong commitment to preventing exploitation answer so even in instances of voluntary capitalism because exploitation is exploitation, be it voluntary or involuntary. In answer to the second question, ‘if you would does that not contradict your alleged Anarchism?’, Social Anarchists must answer no because in prohibiting capitalism via coercion, and thereby limiting the freedom of another, they are promoting greater overall freedom via ending the domination and exploitation of workers, and protecting the conditions from which freedom itself is maximised.”

    While your conclusion is sound from a consequentialist basis, could you not simply answer “would you use coercion in order to prevent capitalism?” with “no”, and further elaborate that as an anarchist you don’t agree with the definition of property used by anarcho-capitalists – and hence whilst they regard employees expropriating their employer on threat of sabotaging the workplace as being a case of the employees using physical violence against someone else’s proprety, you (in believing the workplace as rightfully belonging to to the employees) do not?

  2. your essay seems to depend on the definition of “exploitation” being “to appropriate the product of others’ toil”. but “appropriation” presumably means “to take without just compensation”. and this leaves us with the question of what “just compensation” is. i’m not sure if you believe in the subjective theory of value, marx’s labor theory of value, or some other theory of value?

    as a voluntaryist i believe in the subjective theory of value – things are worth whatever someone thinks they are worth. ie there is no objective measure to determine if something is too expensive or too cheap, other than to say, “i’d buy that” or “i’d not buy that”. and the same goes for human labor. if i need some work done then i put an ad online saying what i would be willing to pay per hour and people will respond back if they agree or not. there is no objective measurement by which to say, “you’re offering too low an hourly rate” or “you’re offering too high an hourly rate”. the only way to tell if the wage i offered online is worth the work that needs doing is to put the ad up and see if anyone takes it.

    i think you will need a theory of value other than the subjective theory of value if you wish to maintain that a certain wage is either too low or too high. i’m interested to hear your response.

    • I know.

      To quote myself in this essay

      “I wish also to note that I am well aware that this theory is insufficient to justify these conclusions, as it rests on the premise that capitalism is exploitative, a premise that has not been defended in this essay. The defence of this premise must be made either by economists who articulate and defend a theory of exploitation based on the extraction of surplus value or some non labour theory of value equivalent such as John Roemer’s theory of exploitation, or by ethicists who articulate and defend a theory of exploitation based on some moral notion of exploitation such as taking advantage of.”

      • yeah i got to the end and read that :p i was hoping to hear which theory of value you adhere to though. i think such a theory must be well established before jumping into an explanation of how to end exploitation. i say this because the exact nature of the problem must be known in order to propose a good solution.

        • I’m undecided and have a stack of books on the topic to read. I’m most attracted to Marx’s theory and Marxist theories of exploitation which don’t rely on the LTV.

  3. hi ‘pac;

    forgive me for using this space for an unrelated matter, but i cudnt find an email address for u.

    just found yr site, most impressive. also listened to ‘anarchisn v marxism’ and one speaker, whom i take to b u, quoted Lenin abt worker obedience. where did that come from? i know it wasnt SAR. i dont read much lenin [y?], so i’m not so familiar with the canon. u cud answer here but i wud prefer if u didnt ‘approve’ this comment as i’m going to leave my e-mail address.

    and if i may make a suggestion: e-mail subscription. it wud b nice to get this stuff in my inbox.

    thx. keep up the good work.

    red and black regards,
    dave fryett

    ps. speaking of a’ism v m’ism: there’s an interesting piece on the spanish civil war at insurgent notes website. it’s written by a leninazi, but, all things considered, its not so bad. i made a lengthy comment below. thx agn.

  4. I found this to be one of the most incredibly succinct and frank summaries of the underlying ethics of Social Anarchism I’ve read. It tackles matters, that are nebulous or often avoided, directly and neatly.

    On a personal note I would love to know how you differentiate between the ‘worker’ and the ‘capitalist’. More precisely if one considered ‘capital’ as any form of self enrichment (one could be paid in books or even direct teachings (or just simply spending currency on enriching oneself)) what is the difference between a person who sells their labour for capital and a person who sells their capital for labour?

    Taking it a step further, do you agree that the word ‘capital’ could be applied to anything? If so, how would a Social Anarchist ‘state’ deal with the exchange of any goods or services? Even barter can lead to market places and business models regardless of a currency or ‘medium of exchange’ (‘capital’ in the sense I think you’re describing it in this essay).

    Anyway, good stuff all the same, always look forward to the ‘capital’ of your thoughts.

    • I define class as referring to groups of people who share common relations to the means of production. Capitalists are the class of people who own means of production and profit off the labour power of others during the process of commodity production. Workers are the class of people who do not own means of production (or a sufficient amount to not sell their labour power to capitalists e.g small land owners in Spain who worked as farm hands in order to survive) and so must sell their labour power to capitalists in exchange for a wage.

      As for what ‘capital’ means, I’m mainly familiar with Marxist definitions. According to which there is constant capital (capital goods), variable capital (labour-inputs) and fictitious capital (intangible representations or abstractions of physical capital, such as stocks, bonds and securities)

      • That’s a pretty clear model for distinguishing human activity, thanks.
        I know you’ve explored various avenues in ancap systems for new violent states / monopolies to emerge (thus the system collapsing and it reverting back to statism), am I right in thinking you’re not a great believer in any system emerging that doesn’t require violence (theft in the case of AnSoc (though one would presume some amount of violence would be needed to achieve the theft)) somewhere uphold it?

        On another point – what is your stand point on Social Anarchism existing with Anarcho-Capitalism (it seems to be an idea I’ve heard banded about, plus the inverse of which is seemingly impossible)? For example, a group of like-minded Socialists form a syndicate to purchase a tract of land, they then invite anyone who wishes to surrender their labour/produce/possessions to the state to come and live there. It’s voluntary just as Kropotkin envisioned and is in harmony (in a kind of ‘leave us alone’ way) with the capitalist system around it (no one to come to collect taxes / rent by force) – ownership of the land would be sovereignty in effect.
        Furthermore this would present people with an unhindered view of both systems to choose from (as they’d be free to move between both) and in the long run the less favourable one may be abandoned. Or they could go on as natural counterparts to each other, who knows?

  5. Hello anarchopac,

    Im new to anarchism, (having dismissed it after initially reading anarcho-capitalists views presented as being what anarchy was). I’m coming from a social democrat view, that like/agree with *some* aspects of RBE (as described by the Venus Project/Zeitgeist movement) and so far I agree with virtually all the aspects of the version of anarchy you describe (but have difficulty imagining how it would work in practice).

    I have a few questions about what a pragmatic version of Anarchy might look like with respect to how society is organized and how rules that a community sets are enforced.

    In a given community, most or all of the citizens want automobile drivers to slow down to 30km/h, can an individual drive 100 km/h and disregard the rules (or the safety/lives of children) and if not how is it enforced, do citizens form a volunteer security force (like volunteer firefighters) out of people that volunteered for training this end?

    If a factory up a river releases toxic chemicals that are damaging the environment and potentially risks killing people with cancer how is that (could be) handled in a Anarchic society?

    I am imagining networks of communities with very basic network rules (about aspects that affect the common environment/ecosystems and that affect people in other communities) where each community is able to create local rules that affect local people. But I do not know if or which type of Anarchy leans towards something like this.

    Not wanting to take too much of your time, is there a forum you attend or could recommend, where I could ask further questions or discuss implementation strategies?

    best regards,


    • About the enforcement of a shcool zone speed limit example:
      I am assuming that:
      the enforcement of any rules would be the last element in an array of solutions;
      that would start with preventing the problem by focusing on the root causes,
      then finding technical solutions (like a fence on a balcony as opposed to a sign that says its illegal to fall off)
      then education/informing people about why something is to be avoided
      then informing people of the local rules (which could be based on preferences/lifestyle of people like noise) so they can respect the people in a community or find a community that is a good match for their preferences)
      and that and the end of the process for exceptional situations an enforcement mechanism might come into play?

  6. You’ll use coercion to make me live a way of life I don’t want to live? Expect rebellion coming from MANY individuals. Some people DESERVE to own a means of production. There is this man in Hong Kong who goes by the name Li Ka Shing. He was a lower class high school dropout and was forced to work 16 hours a day at a plastic trading company after his father passed away in the 40s…all of this suffering at the age of 14. Now, however, thanks to hard work and ingenuity in a free market, Li Ka Shing is worth over 30 billion dollars.

    This isn’t just one incident: there are a lot more examples of hard working INDIVIDUALS who stand OUT from the CROWD (or in your case, the oppressed “collective”).

    Now let me ask you ancoms this: would you in all seriousness be willing to strike down Ka Shing from his well earned position in the name of the proletariat? If I was in his position and you forcefully collectivized my property to achieve egalitarianism, I’d be quite compelled to commit suicide. All that hard work for nothing. Why should I work for the thieves who severely reduced my quality of life?

    You don’t have to be oppressed by the system!!! You can MAKE your own wealth! If Ka Shing could do it under those circumstances, the ONLY viable complaint people from capitalist nations can make is how tightly restrained Business is by the government! Don’t blame it on racism. Don’t blame it on monopoly men Trying to kick down the ladder that brought them there, because that’s only the result of government subsidies. Blame it on the STATE for getting Involved in the economy. Leave us be. Don’t infringe. Keep to yourselves. Mind your own business. If people want to leave an an com society and form an an cap one, so be it. Same logic applies vice versa. Otherwise, there will be ceaseless fighting between the two.

    Anyways, we really don’t need to care because we’re going to build our societies as we prefer whether you like it or not. Heck, I think it’s already in progress.


    I want to be like Ka Shing. I don’t care about hierarchy as long as social mobility exists. I want to live life…REAL life that’s complete with all of it’s struggles. I want to make my own “rags to riches” story and reap in the benefits. As long as it’s all done voluntarily…don’t try and block me. Those in the ancap society who wish to move to ancom regions are completely free to do so. But those who wish for a hellish, high risk, high reward path to heaven…will stay. You only confirmed my thoughts. This was the clearest answer I’ve ever gotten in how tolerant anarcho communists are of those who abide by different philosophies.

    Equality requires Tyranny, the Trees by Rush

    There is unrest in the forest,
    There is trouble with the trees,
    For the maples want more sunlight
    And the oaks ignore their pleas.

    The trouble with the maples,
    (And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
    They say the oaks are just too lofty
    And they grab up all the light.
    But the oaks can’t help their feelings
    If they like the way they’re made.
    And they wonder why the maples
    Can’t be happy in their shade.

    There is trouble in the forest,
    And the creatures all have fled,
    As the maples scream “Oppression!”
    And the oaks just shake their heads

    So the maples formed a union
    And demanded equal rights.
    “The oaks are just too greedy;
    We will make them give us light.”
    Now there’s no more oak oppression,
    For they passed a noble law,
    And the trees are all kept equal
    By hatchet, axe, and saw.

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