Can a Market Anarchy collapse? {Part 2/2}

Continuing from part 1.

A further obstacle to monopolies is that the whole power of a business resides in consumer demand. People naturally abhor businesses what dominate a market, and do their best to hinder it. Just look at the incredible movement against Microsoft, which every month and every year gains power. It is a practical as well as an ideological movement. If Microsoft did not already have the support of lawmakers (notably through the DMCA), its market share would be even lower. The point here is obvious: people do not like to be in a power deficit! They also do not tend to like violence, and would not support businesses which for some reason decided to solve their problems through violence, and made their (now private) streets unsafe in the process.

As a principle, the market brakes inequality to a greater extent than a State does. On a market, any wealth accumulated by one individual has to be created in the form of values that appeal to others. In short, any economic power gained by one person means a raise in some form of power for other individuals within that society (not necessarily economic, of course). We observe in practice that income levels do rise proportionately: on average, growth in the general wealth is proportional with growth in the wealth of the poorest (on this, see Roemer Micheal, Mary Kay Gugerty, “Does Economic Growth Reduce Poverty”).

Finally, people obviously do not mind some levels of concentration. Even within an Anarchy, some people may choose to live within State-like structures, such as private communes or cities. This, however, does not entail that said structures would take over the rest of society, especially since they tend to be self-contained, and tend to attract outliers. Communes are generally assembled on the basis of ideology, and require selectivity in the acceptance or rejection of new members in order to be successful. Their scope is therefore necessarily limited.

Now let’s look at (2). But let us continue. If growing inequality existed, would it entail a collapse of the Anarchic system? How can such a collapse occur? If it cannot occur by voluntary means, then it must occur by coercive means. It must occur against the system, not within it. In clear: we are talking about an attempted takeover by a criminal gang.

It is important to note that this proposition contains one huge unchecked premise: it assumes that the economy in an Anarchy must be uncontrolled, and that no one would be interested in stopping criminal gangs. Yet it is unclear why this must be so. Certainly the economy would be less regulated than under a State, but it remains unclear why people would want violence to occur unchecked.

One may counter to this by saying that the wannabe ruling class wouldn’t care about any diffuse control in a Market Anarchist society, and would just kill all dissenters. But once again, this is the equivalent of a mafia, or any other criminal gang. And there is no reason why people would desire to see a criminal gang, what goes around killing people, to remain unopposed. People would naturally desire to see such criminals neutralized or destroyed: and the honest competitors to these dishonest criminal gangs would have an overriding interest in this.

Socialists and communists view the issue as one of class struggle, although they define class with the terms “means of production”, a term which concretely means absolutely nothing. To simplify, they argue that the extreme inequality of wealth created by the market (by means they cannot demonstrate or give evidence for, even for a capitalist economy, let alone a market economy) must necessarily degenerate into a revolt by the destitute (”workers,” “proles”) against the rich (”bourgeois”), unless such revolt is staved off by the State.

In practice, since a Market Anarchy is less centralizing than a State, we know that the concentration of wealth must be lower in a Market Anarchy. And since we observe no monopolies under the current system, it is highly dubious that one could arise in a less centralized system.

But let’s assume that all of the statist’s absurd premises are correct, and we can have a Market Anarchist scenario with extreme inequality. Many people seek power, that much is obvious. And given the opportunity to gain more power over their fellows, most of those people would take it, especially if it could stave off a revolt. Starting a State, however, seems like a rather inefficient way to do so. Perhaps these ambitious criminals simply lack imagination. Either way, if these criminals were powerful enough to create a State and monopolize society, it seems that they would be powerful enough to accomplish their goals more easily without having to create a State at all.

This argument, all in all, is complete nonsense. It is without any empirical or theoretical foundation, is based on incoherent economic models, and contradicts everything we know about people’s values.

And that’s not even the worse. Indeed, the argument is not only deeply flawed, but it’s not even an argument against Market Anarchy! The argument posits that Market Anarchy is flawed because it eventually leads to the creation of a State, the latter being an undesirable result. Therefore, by using this argument, the statist has already admitted that his position is inferior to Market Anarchy, and that Market Anarchy is desirable, even (as his argument attempts to demonstrate) if it must collapse into a State eventually. The only discussion left is how one can stop such a hypothetical collapse, not whether Market Anarchy is better, since his own premises already prove the latter!

One thought on “Can a Market Anarchy collapse? {Part 2/2}

  1. theconverted August 4, 2007 at 22:08

    Bravo, Francois. Well said.

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