Capitalism is the enemy of freedom…

I like most of the Anarchist FAQ, but this section is particularly to the point, especially as it relates to the Misesians and other apologists for capitalist values: How does capitalism affect liberty?

In a society of relative equals, “private property” would not be a source of power. For example, you would still be able to fling a drunk out of your home. But in a system based on wage labour (i.e. capitalism), private property is a different thing altogether, becoming a source of institutionalised power and coercive authority through hierarchy. As Noam Chomsky writes, capitalism is based on “a particular form of authoritarian control. Namely, the kind that comes through private ownership and control, which is an extremely rigid system of domination.” When “property” is purely what you, as an individual, use (i.e. possession) it is not a source of power. In capitalism, however, “property” rights no longer coincide with use rights, and so they become a denial of freedom and a source of authority and power over the individual. Little wonder that Proudhon labelled property as “theft” and “despotism”.

As we’ve seen in the discussion of hierarchy (section A.2.8 and B.1), all forms of authoritarian control depend on “coercive molestation” — i.e. the use or threat of sanctions. This is definitely the case in company hierarchies under capitalism. Bob Black describes the authoritarian nature of capitalism as follows:

“[T]he place where [adults] pass the most time and submit to the closest control is at work. Thus . . . it’s apparent that the source of the greatest direct duress experienced by the ordinary adult is not the state but rather the business that employs him. Your foreman or supervisor gives you more or-else orders in a week than the police do in a decade.”

We have already noted the objection that people can leave their jobs, which just amounts to saying “love it or leave it!” and does not address the issue at hand. Needless to say, the vast majority of the population cannot avoid wage labour. Far from being based on the “right to self-ownership,” then, capitalism denies it, alienating the individual from such basic rights as free speech, independent thought, and self-management of one’s own activity, which individuals have to give up when they are employed. But since these rights, according to Rothbard, are the products of humans as humans, wage labour alienates them from themselves, exactly as it does the individual’s labour power and creativity.

One thought on “Capitalism is the enemy of freedom…

  1. Scott Ferrie July 5, 2013 at 17:49

    Reblogged this on The Paleo Revolt and commented:
    Great post by an odd but interesting fellow.

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