Beginners november tournament: On balance, anarcho-capitalism is better than anarcho-communism
This debate is part of round 2 of the november beginners tournament.
In history there have been multiple conflicts between capitalism and communism. This debate is about which of the two extremes is favorable. I as con am going to argue in favor of anarcho-communism.
The burden of proof in this debate is shared. The participants have 72 hours to write their posts and the character limit is 8.000.
On balance: With all things considered
Anarcho-capitalism: Term coined by Austrian-school economist Murray Rothbard to describe a market-based society with no government. Instead of government, all goods and services would be provided by private businesses. Politics and taxes would not exist in an anarcho-capitalist society, nor would services like public education, police protection and law enforcement that are normally provided by government agencies. Instead, the private sector would provide all necessary services. For example, people would contract with protection agencies, perhaps in a manner similar to how they contract with insurance agencies, to protect their life, liberty and property. Victimless crimes, such as drug use, and crimes against the state, such as treason, would not exist under anarcho-capitalism. Assistance to the needy would be provided through voluntary charity instead of compulsory income redistribution (welfare). (1)
Anarcho-communism: A theory of anarchism which advocates the abolition of the state, capitalism, wages and private property (while retaining respect for personal property), and in favor of common ownership of the means of production, direct democracy, and a horizontal network of voluntary associations and workers' councils with production and consumption based on the guiding principle: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need". (2)
1. No forfeits
Round 1: acceptance (no arguments)
I'd like to thank my opponent, SolonKR, for accepting this debate and I wish him luck.
In this round I'm going to show why anarcho-communism is preferable over anarcho-capitalism.
I’m going to shorten anarcho-communism to communism and anarcho-capitalism to capitalism. Some accuracy is lost in this process, so please keep this note in mind. Now, let’s look at my first framework.
Framework 1: utilitarianism
Utility is a very abstract concept, so I'm going to use the Pyramid of Maslow to make this concept more tangible. This is what the Pyramid of Maslow looks like:
There are multiple levels. The more levels a person has fulfilled, the more utility that person has. You can only fulfill a higher level after all of the levels below it have been fulfilled. This is logical, because you can have lots of self-actualization, a high self-esteem, love and security, but if you're literally starving to death, you're definitely not happy.
Utilitarianism is a good framework, because if you’re able to objectively prove system A generates many advantages, while system B doesn’t generate many advantages, it’s hard to counter your case.
So now the first framework and the model have been explained, let's look at the first levels and how both communism and capitalism fare.
Level 1: physiological
Let’s pretend a country with the numbers of the USA is communistic. The GDP of the USA was $17,419 billion in 2014 (2) and the USA has a population of 320,087,963 at the end of 2014. But in a communistic country people only produce what people need, which is less than what the USA tends to do. So let’s divide the GDP by 2 to get a more realistic picture. That would make $8,709.5 billion.
In a communistic country the income is spread according to the needs of people. Since that’s pretty close to everybody gets the same amount, let’s just calculate the GDP per capita. That would be about $27,210 per person. Now, what are the costs of the physiological needs? The costs of food and water depend on a lot of variables like gender and age, but it seems like it costs roughly $300 per person per month (4). That makes about $3,600 per person per year. This is way lower than the income per person per year. Therefore communism is wonderful at fulfilling level 1 of the pyramid of Maslow.
In a country with capitalism the production will get distributed in an unequal way. According to the 80/20 principle (AKA the Pareto principle), 20% of the inputs lead to about 80% of the outputs. To prove the 80/20 principle exists, let's look at how the incomes in the world are distributed.
A minority of the world population (17%) consumes most of the world’s resources (80%). This is pretty close to 80/20.
Since people in capitalistic countries produce at a high capacity, let’s keep the GDP at the original level of $17,419 billion. So the richest 20% will get $13,935 billion. That’s $217,675 per person. The remaining 80% of the population have to share the remaining $3,484 billion. That’s $13,606 per person.
But there are more than two levels of income. So I did some math myself and it turns out that 47% of the population earns less than $3,600 per year (6). So almost half of the population struggles with feeding themselves, which means these people aren’t even able to fulfill level 1 of the pyramid of Maslow.
But remember that to fulfill level 1 of the pyramid, it’s not just required to have enough food and water. A shelter and some clothes are also required. Those bring some extra costs with them, so to keep things simple, let’s say 50% of the population isn’t able to fulfill all of the requirements of level 1.
Level 2: safety
In a communistic country people don't have to worry about employment, because working is all voluntary. They also don't have to worry about resources or health, because the system makes sure everybody has the resources somebody needs. Since there’s no private property, property is also of no concern. The only thing that remains is body. But there's nothing in a communistic country that causes abundant violence or dangers. So a communistic country is also wonderful at fulfilling level 2.
In level 1 I already showed that a huge portion of the population is starving. Starving people are very dangerous. Especially when the starving people notice others have food in abundance. The starving people will then grab some weapons and attack the rich people for their food.
This is a simplified version of what happened during the French Revolution. People were starving, so they started to overthrow the king. They even decapitated him (8).
But there’s a second problem over here: the mafia. In a capitalistic world with no law it’s easy to start a criminal organization. Here’s a 5 step plan to get rich quickly in a capitalistic world:
1. Recruit multiple people in your crime organization
So for about half of the population level 2 isn't relevant, because level 1 wasn’t fulfilled. A big chunk of the people who remain will then struggle with level 2, because they have to deal with angry, starving people, the mafia or both.
It’s not even needed to evaluate the other three levels. These two levels already show communism generates quite some utility while capitalism already struggles with utility 101: feed the people.
But here’s my second framework which will add subjective matters to my case.
Framework 2: egalitarianism
Egalitarianism is all about equality. To show why equality is important, let’s see what some of the biggest religions have to say about equality. These are Christianity, the Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism (9).Christianity
Galatians 3:28:There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (10)
One basic element in the value system of Islam is the principle of equality or equity… Islam teaches that in the sight of Allaah Almighty, all people are equal, but they are not necessarily identical. (11)
No one is superior, none inferior. All are brothers marching forward to prosperity. (12)
To discriminate against others--in any way--is to discriminate against your own life. (13)
These four religions represent about 5,400,000,000 people in total (9). Therefore the majority of the people value equality.
It’s clear communism believes equality is extremely important. After all, the definition from round 1 states that communism includes common ownership of the means of production and direct democracy. This shows just how important equality is in communism.
In capitalism equality is thrown out of the window. After all, capitalism is basically a free-for-all where you either have to save yourself or be at the mercy of how much others give through charity. Not surprising, income and wealth are incredibly uneven. As mentioned earlier, this will be near an 80/20 distribution and about half of the population will struggle with fulfilling their basic needs.
Communism is simply scoring way higher on equalitarianism than capitalism. Therefore communism wins under this framework as well.
I look forward to an exciting debate.
I thank SolonKR for providing his arguments. In this round I’m going to rebut them to show why anarcho-communism is better than anarcho-capitalism. My opponent shortened anarcho-communism to ACom and Anarcho-Capitalism to ACap. I believe those names are better than what I used in the previous round, so I’m going to adopt those terms as well.
C1+2+3: Businesses care about their workers
Pro’s first three argument are all about pointing out that businesses in an ACap care about their workers. They pay them good wages, they protect them and they make sure they stay happy.
So, why would an ACap country use slaves? Because they are cheap. Workers whom you pay a fair wage might work twice as hard as a slave, but they are also four times as expensive. So slaves have a better cost-revenue ratio.
So, why is slavery bad? You probably already know from your history books, but allow me to point it out anyway:
1. Slavery goes against the moral idea of equality
2. Slaves are threated awfully
In case you haven’t, slave owners tend to motivate their slaves by whipping them to make them do what they want. That leads to things like this:
Slaves are threated awfully in many more ways, but I’m not going to mention them all. There's no need to thread the slaves well, because they can get replaced easily anyway.
3. The unmotivated slaves aren’t very productive
Since slaves are miserable it’s not hard to see that ACap doesn’t score well in an utilitarian framework. On the contrary, ACom doesn’t have slavery, because everybody is equal and all work that’s done is voluntary.
C4: Capitalism promotes innovation, improving the lives of everyone in the long run
Pro points out that ACap makes people invest in R&D, which means that ACap will generate more utility in the long term.
But the big problem with ACap is, and always will be, the enormous inequality. Some companies might find ways to cure cancer, but it will be expensive. Therefore only the rich can afford it. So the extra utility from the R&D will be pretty minimal, since it will only have a positive impact on a limited amount of people.
Furthermore, in ACom countries people will also invest in R&D, but on a voluntary basis. Once something, like a cure for cancer, is discovered, it will get shared with everybody. That way a new discovery generates way more extra utility in an ACom country than in an ACap country.
Con’s methodology for analyzing the likely GDP of the USA under communism is completely arbitrary. Furthermore, the reason the GDP/capita of the USA is so high in the first place is because of its more capitalist system. While no system is perfectly capitalistic or communistic, we can approach either end of the spectrum to see a general trend. A Forbes magazine article noted that the US GDP/capita in the 1950’s is higher than Russia’s near today (1). Con’s source for the cost of living links to an error page, so he does not even have any evidence for his conclusion that has seemingly been reached by voodoo economics. Con has not demonstrated at all that communism is effective, economically speaking. This also renders his point about inequality moot, as capitalism is far more effective at generating productive and more advanced societies than communism. As many personal qualms as I have with Margaret Thatcher, she explains this quite eloquently by noting that capitalism might have a bigger gap, but the people as a whole are much better off (2).
First of all, Con’s numbers are based on the world as a whole, which compares apples to oranges. I wasn’t aware that every nation was capitalistic. Yes, many African nations are poor, but they are also divided by numerous civil wars, and certainly not all capitalistic; they can’t be compared to the United States or to Europe. As well, it ignores the fact that African nations are growing; the rate of growth can’t be expected to be matched in communism, as I have shown. (3).
This makes no sense. If working is voluntary, but goods are shared, people will not work. As Con’s statistics about people starving in capitalist societies are not accurate, there’s no difference at best in levels of violence. All of Con’s evidence for violence in capitalism is just as possible in communism; evidently, he has never heard of the Russian Mafia.
This has absolutely no relevance. It doesn’t matter if people are all equal if they’re all equal in starvation. Saying that the majority of people follow religions that are supposed to value it (but often don’t enact it) is a complete bandwagon fallacy. As that was Con’s only support, that framework falls completely apart. Capitalism allows all people to rise together, even if unequally; communism sees them all suffer together.
Thank you, SolonKR, for providing your rebuttals. I’d also like to thank Donald.Keller for his mentoring. In this round I’m going to defend against them to show why anarcho communism (ACom) is better than anarcho capitalism (ACap).
But first, pro pointed out my fourth source, in which I claimed the average cost of food is roughly $300 a month, wasn’t working. It’s neither working for me, so here’s the link again:
I used the one that got published in October 2015.
Now on to the defenses.
1. In ACom countries all people will starve to death and in ACap countries everybody will rise together
It seems pro both underestimates the power of volunteers and the size of the inequality in ACap countries. Let’s start with the power of volunteers.
It turns out that people who have an unemployment benefit work on average 125 minutes a week as a volunteer (1). The situation from these people comes the closest to the situation of people in ACom countries, because these people are well able to work and have the age to work.
So with 125 minutes a week people work about 108.33 hours a year. Since the average GDP per hour worked is about $67,32 in the US (2), this gives $7,293 GDP per capita.
In round 2 I said the GDP per capita would be roughly $27,210. I hereby take this number back, because I have insufficient sources to back it up. But I’ll replace it with the GDP per capita of $7,293, which I can back up with sources. This is still more than double the yearly expenses from food people have every year (fixed source at beginning of this round). So in ACom countries people really don’t have to worry about starving to death.
Now the power of volunteers is pointed out, let’s continue with the size of the inequality in ACap countries. I already pointed this out in the previous rounds. Inequality tends to be close to an 80/20 pattern. Furthermore, in ACap countries nothing is preventing people from enslaving others. Nobody said ACap was fun.
2. There’s no difference in level of crime between ACap and ACom countries
It seems pro isn’t convinced there’s less crime in ACom countries. I based this mainly on conflict criminology. This states that crime in capitalistic countries can get explained by the fact capitalistic countries have a wealthy elite. This elite wants to oppress the lower class. The lower will sometimes turn to crime to gain the material wealth that leads to equality (3).
Furthermore, the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated this: In 2004, 17% of state prisoners and 18% of federal inmates said they committed their current offense to obtain money for drugs. (4) So clearly money plays a role in a big chunk of the crimes that are committed.
So because many crimes are about conflicts between different classes and money, it’s clear that ACom countries have less crime. After all, there are no classes and money to commit crimes over.
3. The egalitarian framework is bad, because of the bandwagon fallacy
Frameworks are tools to tell judges what they should (and shouldn’t) value. Egalitarianism is a subjective framework, so to show this is a good framework I need to show many people have the opinion that equality is good. Since multiple big religions claim they value equality, I showed the majority of the people have the opinion that equality is important. With that I proved many people value equality. Therefore the framework is relevant.
This was an interesting debate, but there can be only one winner. I’ll recap this debate from my point-of-view to show why I should win this debate.
ACom countries are able to fulfill the physiological needs of people, because volunteers produce enough. Furthermore, ACom countries also have less crime, so the safety is also fulfilled. A third advantage is that in ACom countries there’s lots of equality, which gets valued by many people.
On the contrary, ACap countries struggle with fulfilling the physiological needs of many poorer people. The safety is also not that wonderful. Furthermore, there’s also a lot of inequality, which goes against the egalitarian framework. Since there is nothing in ACap countries that prevents slavery from happening this is also an issue with ACap countries.
I’ll now hand the debate back to pro, so he can post his defenses as well.
Thanks to my opponent in this debate. Vote Pro.