The Instigator
Hailtothethief
Pro (for)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
bluesteel
Con (against)
Winning
17 Points

Anarcho-capitalism is impossible.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,462 times Debate No: 16775
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (85)
Votes (4)

 

Hailtothethief

Pro

Anarchy is the absolute absence of hierarchy in society. This means that a state structure is impossible, this means that an undemocratic/hierarchical military is impossible, this means that capitalism can't exist.

My reasoning why anarchy will not/can not exist in a capitalist society:

Capitalism is based on private ownership of the means of production (factories, tools, profit). What this means is that a small group will own the ability to employ wage labour, whilst a large majority will be subject to sell their labour to these businesses.

This causes an inherent power imbalance, which results in class society. Class society is hierarchical. Lumpen proletariat (criminals, unemployed, disabled) -> Proletariat (Workers who sell their labour, do not own any means of production) -> petit-bourgeoisie (small business owners who own some of their means of production, have the ability to employ wage labour, etc.) -> Bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production, profit, etc.). We know the accumulation of capital means the accumulation of power in a supposed "anarcho-capitalist" society.

As a bourgeoisie, who makes substantial amounts of profit, I am able to employ private militaries to do my bidding. I can even co-opt a contract with many other wealthy bourgeoisie to buy out a private military contract and impose a government of my own, or to enforce hostile takeovers, intimidate, etc. Perhaps I want to do this co-opting to create our own private militia, buy out the stock of the other militias, create a monopoly on militias.

Inb4 everyone can start their own business. Keep your utopia arguments in the fiction section.
bluesteel

Con

Thanks for the topic hailtothethief.

I don't honestly know why no one would take this debate, which is partially why I did. There's no use bickering with the instigator in the comments section. As in any debate, definitions must be justified with dictionaries and must be rooted in the real world, and are thus up for debate.

==Definitions==

Random House Webster's College Dictionary defines anarchy as "a state of society without government" and "a theory that regards the absence of all direct or coercive government as a political ideal and that proposes the cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups as the principal mode of organized society."

Princeton's Wordnet defines capitalism as "an economic system based on private ownership of capital."

Princeton's Wordnet defines impossible as "something that cannot be done."

My opponent points out in the comments section that anarchy, from the Greek, means "without ruler." This is entirely correct. However, Google Dictionary defines ruler as "A person exercising government or dominion." Without ruler means without government. My opponent mistakenly believes "without ruler" to mean "without hierarchy." However, hierarchy is a way of organizing things that does not necessary place value judgments on them (e.g. that higher is better or stronger). In fact, hierarchies can be a web, rather than a ladder, and can include only horizontal linkages, for example the hierarchy of species classification.

Thus, we can see from these definitions that in fact, the opposite is true – capitalism is not possible without anarchy, since when a government exists, the economic system is based on hybrid ownership, not private ownership, of capital.

==Burden of proof==

I should merely have to answer my opponent's objections to an-cap; summarizing Rothbard here to defend my own case would just be tedious, especially when my opponent may immanently forfeit, as new members often do. He has the burden to show it's impossible; by definition, disproving all objections to a possibility being actualized would prove that that possibility is possible. Anything is possible, unless disproven beyond a reasonable doubt.

==Rebuttal==

R1) The false argument for hierarchy

An-cap is all about the non-aggression axiom, which allows for voluntary associations to exist, but not involuntary ones (i.e. the government forcing you to accept their sovereignty). Choosing to sell your labor is a voluntary association, meaning that even though my opponent has created a hierarchy, this does not mean that working for someone is not anarcho-capitalism. Hierarchies are all, by definition, fictional orderings created by humans. I could say that a grasshopper should be placed above a human in my hierarchy of zen; that proves nothing about an-cap. It's my opponent's own personal value judgment, which is clearly informed by Marxist ideology.

Which leads me to the second absurdity with this argument, which is that it sounds more like an endorsement of anarcho-communism than a proof that anarcho-capitalism is impossible. I ask my opponent if he believes that anarchy is possible (just under collective ownership) and he obviously believes capitalism is impossible, so is his only argument that if you finagle the definitions, that the two are incompatible?

Lastly, my opponent clearly acknowledges that anarcho-capitalism is POSSIBLE, i.e. that it can exist, but argues that it may be undesirable, by creating hierarchies. There is a difference between the possibility of something and its desirability.

R2) The Security Objection

My opponent argues that private firms may create a monopoly (properly termed a cartel, since collusion of multiple businesses is not a monopoly) on the use of force, thus recreating a government. There are two main problems with this.

The first is that cartels can rarely be maintained because cooperation nearly always breaks down, through cheating. Let's consider a game theory game, and work in reverse as you are supposed to do in game theory.

Scenario: Company A and Company B collude to pay a security firm to extort money from private citizens and call it "taxation"

Step 2: Company B realizes that it can pay the security firm a bit more to back-stab and destroy Company A, allowing it to keep all the extorted tax revenue. Doing so doubles its tax revenue, meaning it can afford to give the security company a significant amount of money and still turn a profit on the back-stabbing venture. The Company is stealing from citizens and violating the non-aggression axiom so it clearly has no morals. It chooses to backstab.

Step 1: Company A must decide whether to enter a cartel with Company B. Knowing Company B will backstab it, it decides not to collude.

The second problem with the cartel is that private security firms have an incentive to undercut the arrangement. Let's say Company A and Company B hire Security Firm A to extort "taxes" from 311 million Americans. Let's say they pay Security Firm A the reasonable sum of $20 billion a year.

Let's say I want to start a security firm, called Security Firm B. I offer to protect American citizens from all aggression (including aggression from other security firms) for the reasonable fee of $100 a year. Currently, Americans are being extorted by Security Firm A ("taxed") for 50% of their income, which is approximately a total of $7 trillion a year. Clearly, Americans will pay the $100 a year, which amounts to profits of $31.1 billion a year. I am making a lot more money than Security Firm A, which lets me buy lots more guns and soldiers. Suddenly the cartel fails.

Thus, the free market has solved our security problem. As security firms compete to offer better and more fair protection services to the public, the price will decrease and the services will improve.

Look to Somalia, whose security has actually improved in the absence of government (compared to security under its former government) by allowing security competition between private firms.

Negated.
Debate Round No. 1
Hailtothethief

Pro

Hailtothethief forfeited this round.
bluesteel

Con

According to cliff, my opponent was online. I assume he saw my awesome refutations and decided to concede.

I still thank him for the great debate.

Sincerely yours,
bluesteel
Debate Round No. 2
Hailtothethief

Pro

Prior argument, I may have been online but I wasn't home. Oh dear, what shall I ever do...well here it is:

Anarchism: a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups. (As defined by Miriam Webster).

Anarchists seek to diminish or even abolish authority in the conduct of human relations, "Anarchism as a Theory of Organization" by Colin Ward.

Authority: derived from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command.

Hierarchies can be a web...sure...I'm not discussing scientific hierarchy, however, nor literary hierarchy. I'm discussing social hierarchy...I didn't realize I had to make that clear.

The private ownership of capital still exists in these "hybrid" situations. The private ownership is no co-opted with the government, they are not joint-ventures. Private individuals still own the means of production, lest you can give me an example. Perhaps Canadian Crown Corporation Petro-Canada? Well, they still operate in a capitalist fashion, regardless of the government owning the stores, pumps, etc. It's, in this case, a form of state capitalism, but we look to the wider of society and realize that 90% (rough guess) of the means of production is privately owned, and the capitalist mode of production, even within the state corporations, is still n effect.

I'm talking about a power hierarchy in society. One in which money is power, and your ability to accumulate more wealth than me, will result in you holding dominion over me. The same is said for having a boss. That boss has dominion over you in the workplace.

What is a workplace but a private government? They govern my actions in said workplace, they govern how much I am paid, my conduct, my hours, etc. In an "an-cap" society, the wealthy as well, would easily decide what laws, what policy is in effect by their power and influence with money.

Capitalism and anarchism are incompatible. Correct. Just as anarchism and the dictatorship of the proletariat are incompatible.

I never said it was possible...surely a quote would help you. I insist, on the contrary, it is impossible. The reason it is impossible is the situation of hierarchy.

You're whole argument against my security analysis is that companies cannot work together, they can't trust each other. However, you disregard that a contract, which is legally binding and plays a major role in a free market, will be in effect. With said contract, no "backstabbing" or anything of that nature would result, without legal repercussion.

As well, you disregard the ability of a monopoly to crush out competition physically (in the case of a private security monopoly), and through hostile takeovers (which I'm sure you haven't forgotten, right?).

Thus, the free market has solved nothing. When competition is bought out, absorbed if you will, the monopoly grows, and the customer base which has likely become loyal, or has been rced to sign contract, cannot turn, or afford to turn to any sort of "competition".

I have looked to Somalia. One thing you fail to realize. Somalia has a government. In fact, one could argue multiple governments. Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is the president. In the cities in which conflict has prevented the government, criminal cartels have formed pseudo-governments and maintain dominance over the civilians in the areas they exist. Surely, pirating other people's private property, and people's lives, etc. is not a part of your ideology?

(I'm well aware of the disorganized nature of my post. Don't really care).
bluesteel

Con

Thanks hailtothethief.

==Definitions==

My opponent's definition from Merriam-Webster's dictionary I agree with, stating that "Anarchism [is] a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups."

I disagree with my opponent's definition of anarchy as "Anarchists seek to diminish or even abolish authority in the conduct of human relations." According to the book Anarchy Now!, anarchists each hold their own set of beliefs and often have different political agendas (there are anarchists with a communist agenda, anarchists with a capitalist agenda, anarchists with an environmentalist agenda); the only thing ALL anarchists agree on is the desire to be free from government oppression.

Anarcho-capitalists are distinct from other anarchists in that they still believe in capitalism and in capitalists. Contrast this with definitions like my opponent's and this website's http://www.infoshop.org..., which try to claim that all anarchy is rooted in breaking down hierarchies, including getting rid of capitalists. Many anarchists are socialist and they cannot conceive of an anarchist that still believes in capitalism, just without government, but that is exactly what anarcho-capitalism is.

So of course my opponent is confused and thinks he can prove that anarcho-capitalism is self-contradictory: he uses an anarcho-communist's definition of anarchy and then shows how this anarchy (i.e. anarcho-communism) is incompatible with capitalism. But that is tautological; communism is by definition "not capitalism."

And definitions are of course, subjective; language is imperfect and is supposed to express the ideas of the speaker. When debating whether anarcho-capitalism is possible, you need to, of course, use the anarcho-capitalists definition of anarchy, which is only compatible with the Merriam Webster's definition. Otherwise, you are not really even trying to understand what anarcho-capitalism is; you're engaging in a flawed semantics debate.

This reminds me of J.Kenyon's debate with charleslb – if you define capitalism as "an economic system that exploits and enslaves its workers," you're not even really trying to have a debate about the issue.

My opponent's definition of authority is pretty silly. Using his definition of authority, then, his definition of anarchy is a system that lacks "invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command." In this context, authority, from Random House, means "persons having the legal power to make and enforce the law; government."

==Rebuttal==

My opponent says he's discussing social hierarchy. First of all, look back to the definition: anarchy allows people to form voluntary associations. If that means joining a social club with a president, vice president, and regular members, thus creating a social hierarchy, that's their choice, which means it's still anarchy as long as they are not FORCED into said social hierarchy.

In addition, my opponent's value judgment that a boss is higher in the social hierarchy than a worker is not inherently true; that's his subjective opinion. Some people gain more satisfaction in life from working shorter hours and having a strong family life. If a worker works short hours and enjoys his family, and the boss works really long hours and has a horrible home life, some people would place the worker above the boss in the hierarchy of "life satisfaction." Building hierarchies is meaningless and proves nothing about an-cap.

In addition, under an-cap, people can choose not to work; they can choose to become bosses themselves (self-employed); they can choose to join a commune or live on a kibbutz, where everything is owned jointly; they can even start a business where every single worker has a joint stake (i.e. collective ownership). Anarcho-capitalism allows people to do whatever they like, as long as they don't violate the non-aggression axiom, which includes deciding not to participate in the capitalist system and instead create their own anarcho-communist system.

My opponent somehow claims that state ownership is still capitalism because state "companies" still run like private companies, but this simply isn't the case. The government can enforce its monopoly rights and prevent entrants from competing, like in the provision of public services currently (police, firefighters, utilities, etc). That's not capitalism or private ownership.

My opponent argues that a workplace is a private government because they dictate your hours and conduct. However, the workplace is a voluntary association – you can quit at any time. You cannot quit the government – they come after you if you stop paying your taxes.

Thus, the hierarchy argument has been put to rest, since it is merely my opponent trying to use an anarcho-communist's definition of anarchy and apply it to anarcho-capitalism. This doesn't prove that it's impossible to have no government but still have capitalism. In fact, Somalia proves that it's possible to have no government and still have capitalism, since the government there only controls one city block worth of space. That's not really a government since it cannot coerce anyone to do anything and doesn't have a monopoly on the use of force.

The Desirability Debate

Whether something is desirable is a different debate than whether it's possible, but I'll continue debating the Security Question just for the sake of argument.

My opponent says that the cartel will succeed because it can sign a contract, but Company B will merely break the contract in step 2. Without a government to enforce the contract, company A still has no faith in said contract, so it will refuse to cooperate with Company B, knowing Company B will backstab it. Even under an-cap, where contracts are enforced by voluntary trade associations and voluntary court systems, neither would have any part in enforcing a contract that violated the non-aggression axiom and helped private companies to steal from the rest of that court's clients. So under an-cap, there is no one to enforce this devil's contract.

My opponent talks about a security monopoly, but I already showed how competition undercuts monopolies. If a security firm gained a monopoly by extorting citizens, another company would rise up, charge slightly less to protect citizens, and reap all the profits, since citizens would save money by hiring the protective security firm. As more firms enter the market and compete, not only does monopoly extortion become impossible, but the market price for security services decreases.

My opponent starts talking about non-security monopolies, but these will be much harder to form under an-cap because without government interference in the free market (in the form of guaranteed patents), competition will prevent monopolies. Microsoft can only maintain it's monopoly because even if I spent 1 million programming hours improving Windows, I would not be able to sell my improvements on the free market due to patent protection. So without patents, monopolies become less likely.

But some monopolies do provide so much efficiency in the provision of goods that citizens still benefit, even if they pay the monopoly price. Monopolies do not have some sort of infinite ability to extort citizens. If Microsoft started charging $1000 for Windows, people would switch to Macs or open-source operating systems, or start pirating Windows. There are still limits on a monopoly's ability to raise prices, since if the price becomes too large, entrants can reap huge profits, even with large startup costs.

Somalia

According to a study by Peter Leeson of West Virginia University, Somalia is better off today under statelessness on 18 indicators (including life expectancy and security) compared to 15 years ago prior to its government's collapse. http://tinyurl.com...

Negated.
Debate Round No. 3
85 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by J.Kenyon 5 years ago
J.Kenyon
"No, you are not understanding what I am saying. My whole point is that EVEN IF moral facts do not exist, so what?"

Red herring. I'm not talking about the political implications of nihilism, this is about how you went full retard by claiming nihilism is "self refuting" while agreeing that moral facts don't exist.

"Societal consensus is that some things are really wrong. Insofar as that is true (most think wanton and capricious murder is wrong) you have no real basis to say that societal consensus is not a good way of going about making laws."

orly? http://en.wikipedia.org...

"You would have to say that it does not work as well or that moral facts don't exist. But so what? Most disagree with you, sorry. Thus, the perception of moral facts means that there will be moral impositions, and moral nihilism does not, in itself, refute societal consensus as a standard."

Morally? No shït. Thanks, Captain Obvious.

"You have to bring in an independent principle"

Maybe that's why nihilist libertarians appeal to egoism?

"Non-aggression I would assume, which is deontological in nature. So I really don't see how 'freedom' can be justified by moral nihilism in itself, which was the point I was making."

Not necessarily. There are utilitarians who adhere to the NAP as a general, though not inviolable rule. Egoists can utilize a similar framework by arguing that non-aggression is generally in your self interest.

BTW, I'm not a nihilist, I just SMH when retards like you fail to understand it properly.
Posted by J.Kenyon 5 years ago
J.Kenyon
"Either way, whether I refuted your argument or not, the clear imbalance on this website would vote in your favour regardless."

Not true. I've intentionally abstained from voting even though I think bluesteel won, and most of the other ancaps are doing the same. So far, only one ancap has voted against you, while three non-ancaps have voted against you. Sieben and I have both done competitive NFL debate and we take judging very seriously. Both of us have voted against ancaps on several occasions.
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
explain to me how our campaign in Libya is necessary to protect my private property rights
Posted by bluesteel 5 years ago
bluesteel
@the video

he says capitalism cannot exist without the military-industrial complex and our vast network of bases and overseas commitments

lol, true b/c capitalism doesn't exist when our generation has to slave to pay off debts accrued while the US military plays world policeman
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Hailtothethief, I am not exactly popular with the an-caps on this site aside from Seiben (we are BFFF's), but you clearly were outperformed in this debate by Bluesteel, it was no-contest.
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
Lol whoever that guy is I would like to debate him I've never debated someone who is a complete moron if he knew anything about our gov't or others he would know why his analogies fail this guy made me pissed off seriously talk about fallacies appeals to consequence appeal to antiquity appeal to status quo Appeal to not changing the definition of something hmmm that sounds a bit wrong though oh well
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
Also I will add that blueS continued to successfully use the resolution and definition of impossible to win this and hailtochief what you're doing now is a bit petty just debate the resolution again you think people here aren't open minded which may be true but it can also be that they're stubborn surprise I don't think they give damn if they thought you won they would have voted for you if not then obviously that's why you're losing
Posted by Hailtothethief 5 years ago
Hailtothethief
I will leave my argument with a single video, which can do a much better job of debating the issue than myself (though, the likelihood that any of you will watch this is close to 0):
Posted by Hailtothethief 5 years ago
Hailtothethief
Part 3 (final):

=The Desirability Debate=

I'm arguing that this is one reason why ancap impossible, not whether it is or is not desirable.

You're suggesting that this is the case 100% of the time though. As well, with the contract, this idea of a "non-aggression" axiom makes no sense, and would effectively make all contracts null and void by simply "backstabbing" someone.

My opponent talks about a security monopoly, but I already showed how competition undercuts monopolies. If a security firm gained a monopoly by extorting citizens, another company would rise up, charge slightly less to protect citizens, and reap all the profits, since citizens would save money by hiring the protective security firm. As more firms enter the market and compete, not only does monopoly extortion become impossible, but the market price for security services decreases.

Why would another company rise up? And if said company did begin to rise up, you ignore the idea of a hostile takeover. You are also taking the position that the people who will work as private security are at an infinite number.

Less-likely, but not impossible. In which case you merely agree with my argument, but suggest that it will be harder.

People pirate windows and switch to make now. However, let's ignore the idea of a monopoly, huge businesses can co-exist whilst competing. This can be considered a oligopoly.

Somalia

Whether or not it is "better off" does not negate my point that a government is still existent, or that it is somehow at a pinnacle of being better. Lenin improved the lives of those in the USSR, doesn't mean those lives were improved as much as they could have been.

Negated.
Posted by headphonegut 5 years ago
headphonegut
I think the vote because of use of definition is crap but there is a clear winner here blueS successfully dealt with disproving your arguments and then some. He made interpretations of definitions and the implications of those definitions and how they related to your case furthermore you forfeited a round You did not object to his establishment of burden of proof and that leads me to believe that you accepeted it. It also seemed as hailtothechief did not fully understand blues R2
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by SuperRobotWars 5 years ago
SuperRobotWars
HailtothethiefbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro did not use sources and forfeited an round without excuse.
Vote Placed by mcc1789 5 years ago
mcc1789
HailtothethiefbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Con successfully negated the resolution on all points, especially since Pro assumed a definition of anarchy that excludes all social hierachy, not simply no state.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
HailtothethiefbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:16 
Reasons for voting decision: Nice to see someone argue against anarcho-capitalism, 1 pt for merit, but total domination by bluesteel 6 pt
Vote Placed by ExNihilo 5 years ago
ExNihilo
HailtothethiefbluesteelTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con won the debate, pro had the truth.