The Official, State-mandated FAQ by LibSocs for “An”Caps

Noor and I have come together to write a FAQ addressing the “anarcho”-capitalist objections to libsoc. Check it out here. Repost it widely, so we can finally clearly address the total lack of arguments on the ancap’s side without getting bogged down by ancap diversions.

11. What are you going to do when I claim something to be my property? Doesn’t your position necessarily imply coercion?

Typically, “anarcho-capitalists” believe that the only possible consequence to being against a process or mechanism is to advocate its eradication by coercion. This is the result of a “might makes right” mentality: if one has the “right values,” one must therefore use might to impose one’s values on others. But we do not believe that anyone has the “right values,” let alone that any truth deserves to be imposed by force (coercion is, obviously, the enemy of truth-seeking and its best deterrent). We believe that, as people come back to the fundamental idea that everyone is equally worthy of consideration and that we should all be responsible for our actions towards each other, they will rightly see property claims as an attempt to control others. In a mutualist court, such claims would simply be rejected for being logically invalid.

We can make a comparison with intellectual property. When ancaps oppose intellectual property, they are not advocating using coercion to end an IP contract. If someone wants to claim their ideas as their own and cut off anyone else, an ancap will reject the contract as invalid, but refrain from using force to end it. The contract would simply be viewed as invalid if it came up in a court case.

9 thoughts on “The Official, State-mandated FAQ by LibSocs for “An”Caps

  1. Marja September 5, 2009 at 11:26

    1. Is it unjust to lend something while expecting payment for any wear and tear on it? (The ancaps go farther, favoring present goods over future goods, and regard the mere passage of time as another devaluation of the good.)

    2. I would add that the idea that “if you oppose something, you must advocate using coercion to stop it” is one of the bulwarks of statism in this society. For example, the war on sex workers.

    4a. Actually, in my understanding, the STV is concerned with the personal act of valuing (measuring personal utility), while, in its early forms, the cost theories of value are various models for the social interactions between individual acts (measuring market price or other modes of interpersonal valuing). The LTV is simply a CTV for the social interactions with free, equal participants, in the absence of states and other monopolies.

  2. Kyle Bennett September 5, 2009 at 13:18

    You ought to learn what the STV is before you attempt to debunk it. Your FAQ is arguing against something that has no relation to the STV.

  3. Aaron September 9, 2009 at 14:46

    4a.

    I guess I agree about the LTV, but how does one go about calculating these labor costs? You say, “LTV, on the other hand, is based on a non-arbitrary, measurable, factual standard: the actual costs involved in making a given product, including labour time, that is to say the person’s wage”

    Say I create some amazing new widget, and it costs me $100 in hard material costs, and months of research and production time. I estimate my I’ll sell a million of these units, so my per unit cost should be $100*(total labor cost / million). But how the hell do I figure out what my time is worth?

    I figure the only valid way is to make a guess and see what the market does. Let’s say I’m really greedy, and I try to make 100x my hard production costs in profit, so I charge $10,000/unit. Is it immoral of me to charge that? I’d say definitely not. If people are willing to pay for it, great. (I’m not ancap, so don’t shoot me yet!)

    However! You notice my bitchin product and say “what the hell? I can do that for $5000/unit” and because I can’t guard my product with state violence, you can go to market with that for that price and drive me out. Then, I can go “fine, $10,000 is too much, I’d be happy to let these things go for $1,000/unit” So I adjust my pricing and you start getting pushed out. You think “To hell with that, I’m willing to do it for $150/unit!” And you start to push me out. I say “Dammit, it’s not worth it to me put that kind of work in and only get $50/unit.”

    You have calculated your labor cost @ $50/unit, and mine is somewhere >$50 and <$900/unit. But we only came to that by bringing it to market and allowing the consumer to subjectively set the price. In and of itself, charging huge prices and making hordes of profits isn't immoral. It's immoral when you use violence to protect those profits. So let someone charge whatever price they want, and if it's a free market, they won't be making huge profits for very long, and will eventually learn that they better be more reasonable and not as greedy when setting prices in the future, else they will quickly get out competed.

    So, in my mind, the LTV is incomplete without some STV theory.

  4. Aaron September 9, 2009 at 14:58

    “While most mutualists are of the opinion that usury should not be eliminated but rather be phased out voluntarily, all agree that usury is undesirable and exploitative.”

    I agree, but I think it’d be clearer to ancaps if you emphasized the usury is only obtainable because of state violence. Without state violence, you’ll be pushed out of the market by competitors who are willing to accept less for their labor.

    If the state disappeared now, it would be phased out voluntarily, but not because someone says “hey, that’s immoral to charge profits!” but because they say “why the hell would I give you my money when you are charging so much more than this guy over here?” So people who exploit others through profit/usury will naturally disappear in a free and just market.

    I used to be ancap, and I could never understand the libsoc position until it was pointed out that it is the monopolistic violence on a good or market that allows such exploitation, and that’s what is immoral, not merely making a profit. (Of course all that could be summed up into the word profit, but whatever. It’s fine to make money from your work. It’s fine to charge whatever you want and see if people pay you for it. It’s not fine to use violence to make them pay you, or keep others from charging less.)

  5. Francois Tremblay September 9, 2009 at 15:55

    You seem to be mixing up STV and LTV, and using that to prove that we need STV as well. Remember that all arguments for STV are circular. When you say:

    “But we only came to that by bringing it to market and allowing the consumer to subjectively set the price. In and of itself, charging huge prices and making hordes of profits isn’t immoral.”

    That’s an inherently circular statement.

  6. Francois Tremblay September 9, 2009 at 15:58

    “I agree, but I think it’d be clearer to ancaps if you emphasized the usury is only obtainable because of state violence. Without state violence, you’ll be pushed out of the market by competitors who are willing to accept less for their labor.”

    Yes, that’s the official mutualist position. I’m more to the left than that, but I accept that most mutualists believe what you just said.

  7. Aaron September 9, 2009 at 15:58

    Ok, I can go along with you on that for a bit. How then do we calculate the value of our labor? How do I know how much to charge for my services?

  8. Francois Tremblay September 9, 2009 at 15:59

    “Cost the limit of price”

  9. […] Following my debates with “anarcho”-capitalists and my participation in the anti-ancap FAQ, I have been somewhat of a defender of the Labour Theory of Value against its dogmatic, […]

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