Anarchism and corporate owners…

There seems to be somewhat of a confusion amongst my fellow Market Anarchist bloggers regarding the status of corporations in Market Anarchist theory. The trouble with Market Anarchy is that most of us come from libertarianism, and libertarians tend to support capitalism and corporations a great deal.

As Anarchists, we have to get rid of that unfortunate tendancy and realize that corporations are part of the State. They receive stolen money, stolen land, the favour of new laws designed to crush their smaller competition, corrupt contracts and war profiteering, and all sorts of other advantages. They are part of the system of exploitation of the working class. But just in case you think I’m being “leftie” by saying that, I will remind you that unions, with their coercion and hierarchical dominance of the worker, are also part of the State’s exploitation system. All hierarchies, no matter what side they pretend to be on, must be eliminated.

Because corporations are part of the State, the concept of the corporation must be eliminated and replaced with that of the self-managed business. Our position is that we must be given back what belongs to us, and these businesses are included. After all, who has homesteaded these businesses but the workers? Therefore these businesses should be managed by the workers themsleves in a system of self-management. This both restores proper ownership and eliminates all hierarchies (why do you need bosses or unions when you decide things yourself and set your own wages?).

Agents of the State are not allowed to own anything in its name because the State is an illegitimate entity and thus cannot own anything. Of course there are small business owners who do not receive any help from the State. These people should be allowed to retain ownership of their business, since they actually do own it and are not part of the State. But these will be rare, and in time will disappear.

For those of you interested in more on this subject, I recently made a new episode of Machinery of Freedom devoted to it (episode 23).

14 thoughts on “Anarchism and corporate owners…

  1. David Z February 5, 2008 at 00:14

    I was expecting a little bit more detail :)

    I understand the basic premise, but I still believe that merit-based hierarchies can and will exist, without a state to support them. A newspaper needs an editor, a construction crew needs a foreman, a fine restaurant needs an executive chef, and a diner needs a head waiter. It’s fine to say the business will be collectively owned by the employees, but this doesn’t address the problem of how the business’ day-to-day operations will be managed…

  2. Francois Tremblay February 5, 2008 at 00:16

    Then you should listen to my latest Machinery of Freedom episode, I talked about the whole thing for an hour.

  3. roma38 February 5, 2008 at 05:37

    yes the State creates concentrations of private power and hierarchies and prevents a flat or more distributed economy from emerging.

  4. David Z February 5, 2008 at 10:57


    Is it downloadable? I won’t get a chance to listen to it unless I can throw it on my mp3 and listen to it during my commute or on the stationary bike.

  5. esun67 February 5, 2008 at 12:40

    “Therefore these businesses should be managed by the workers themselves in a system of self-management.”

    I think your conception of the corporation is limited to the evil ones that prey on taxpayer and gov’t. while enjoying huge favors. Granted they are created or sanctioned by the ‘state’, but so to is the small business (often incorporated). If not just to be a taxed entity that can ultimately pay for the favored/influential ones.

    As a small business I have incorporated for the purposed of liability protection. While I would have no problem with the elimination of the concept of corporation, I would take umbrage with the idea that employees would suddenly own or manage what was my risk, capital and otherwise consistent hard work as employees have come and gone.

    Ultimately I think you asking that certain corporations be punished for their ill gotten gains and that employees assume the mantle of ownership or management based on some paradigm of readjustment.

    I suspect that operations like Disney might be OK or equitable to employees if they were granted no special favors. Thus a large ‘company’ or interest need not suffer the diseased mantle of ‘corporatism’ and still have a structure to base their future successful operation.

  6. David Z February 5, 2008 at 14:34

    esun67 –

    I think the liability protection may be characterized as one of the evil facets of the corporate form, i.e., why should you (and your employees) not be personally liable for the products your company puts to market, if they be defective or dangerous? As anarchists, we object to the liability protection granted to police officers and heads of state, for their misdeeds or mistakes; so to should we object to the corporation as such.

    I think there is a middle ground between caveat emptor and negligence/tort law which could be reconciled through a natural law approach. Of course, we have to make certain assumptions, e.g., companies would not grow so large as to suffer from the “deep pockets” jurisprudence, and further that competitively equitable courts would not award ridiculously punitive damages on these or other frivolous bases. This is one instance where insurance could be used to mitigate the risk on each side of the transaction.

  7. Francois Tremblay February 5, 2008 at 17:00

    Latest episode, called “Capitalism versus the Markets”

  8. Francois Tremblay February 5, 2008 at 17:05

    You fail to grasp what I am saying if you believe that I want to “punish” some people. No! That’s not what this is about, and apparently I was not clear enough. This is about OWNERSHIP.

    You cannot legitimately control something if you can’t own it. And we believe that the State cannot legitimately own anything. Therefore corporations and big businesses, which are part of the State, cannot be owned by State agents. If they are not owned, then we have to fall back to homesteading. Who is homesteading the corporations? Their workers.

  9. esun67 February 6, 2008 at 01:08

    david z – I simply explain why I incorporated, not whether I agree with its ultimate form or purpose. I consider my service (product, if you insist)something I am responsible for and subsequently liable for. To act otherwise even in a ‘corporate’ form is business suicide. The act of incorporation is simply a defensive mechanism in a world of sharks. It becomes rather indistinguishable from the giants, legally.

    FT – Yes it is about ownership. Simply because one incorporates, does not mean that the assets and goods are surrendered to the state or monolithic entity titled a ‘corporation’, perhaps ‘taxable’ becomes the operative understanding at best. To conclude that falling back on ‘homesteading’ is the sole option seems like it requires more decisive assertion. Is this an attempt to reconcile Rothbard’s Cruesoe analogy in ‘The Ethics of Liberty’ ?

  10. Francois Tremblay February 6, 2008 at 01:12

    I never said that incorporation (which is not the only way to become part of the State) is a “surrender to the State.” I don’t know where you get that idea.

  11. esun67 February 6, 2008 at 07:58

    ‘Therefore corporations and big businesses, which are part of the State, cannot be owned by State agents.’

    Isn’t the implication of this conclusion that said corporations and big business are illegitimate because they are ‘owned’ by the State ? Therefore homestaeding must be assumed ? My working understanding of corporate law is that assets and property of the owners (in this case stockholders and officers) and if the state failed to exist (the ideal situation) ownership would be retained by the principles.

  12. esun67 February 6, 2008 at 07:59

    Substitute ‘owned’ in that last post with ‘part’. Apologies.

  13. Francois Tremblay February 6, 2008 at 15:27

    I’m an Anarchist, so why would I give two cents about “corporate law”? I’m talking about fundamental property rights and the overthrow of capitalism.

  14. […] responds to my inquiry about the nature of self-management with his own blog post. I understand the basic premises, but I find his brief analysis to be lacking. He has recommended […]

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