Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 561, March 14, 2010

"The state is death."

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

Critique of Anarkismo
by Jim Davidson

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

A friend of mine on Facebook composed a note about a web site she had seen. Perhaps if there were any interest, I could send along an essay I've written about Facebook and some of the things you can do with it.

My friend Diana bases her text on this link: which she basically copied into her note for her friends to review. She tagged several of her friends to draw our attention to the note, inviting comments. Here are my thoughts in response.

Diana, people who spend their time in the anarchist movement often ask me about my unwillingness to use terms like anarchist or even anarcho-capitalist to describe my political philosophy. Some of these people see the history of the term capitalism and its application widely in the culture to identify the marriage of big business with big government and say "well, that's why I don't call myself a capitalist."

Now you see from this screed at anarkismo dot net that my use of anarchism to describe my propertarian and libertarian philosophy of individual self government without externally imposed coercion would certainly cause just as much confusion. If saying that I'm a sovereign individual, an agorist, a propertarian, and a self governor is more confusing, then I would invite further discussion.

Voluntary and self-responsible individual sovereignty seems to me to be essential. Free markets for finding market clearing prices without compulsion and intervention are necessarily based on private property. Agorism as a basically Taoist strategy of withdrawal and the appearance of poverty seems to be much more effective than many of the other strategies under consideration.

I am transnational, not international. Beyond borders, not about borders. The anarchist collective from which you quote seems to be focused on recognising and working within existing nation state and provincial boundaries. This seems odd at best, pathetic at least.

What anarkismo dot net is not, apparently, is any attempt to reach out to other forms and flavours of anarchism. On that basis, they can kiss my shiny metal ass. They are interested in an echo chamber where their premises may not be challenged. Okay by me.

Unfortunately, I anticipate the same difficulties faced by anarchists like George Orwell with outfits like POUM during the Spanish civil war against Soviet communist anti-anarchist pogroms. The long sad history of communism as a death machine has been chronicled by Bryan Caplan, among many others. Your graphic is on target. (She had included a photo of some bloody skulls with a caption about the grim equality of communism. Caplan has a "museum of communism" web site in which he chronicles the many tens of millions slaughtered in the name of communist doctrine.)

With regard to unity, I don't see any reason to stand with people who are getting shot at. My preference is to shoot from the prone position. Even laying down next to some idiot who is standing up drawing fire seems absurd. Unity and collective action seem unwise and there is no way that discipline could possibly enter into a relationship based on distrust and lack of consent. As for federalism, I've no idea what that means in this context, but it makes me extremely suspicious.

"Haven't we just gotten out of a fucked up relationship with a president?" asks Katt Williams, "Couldn't we just be single for a while?"

That is how I feel about anarkismo. Nor do I agree with their class theory. If they want, as they say, theoretical unity, I should like them to review Konkin's agorist class theory, or L. Neil Smith's libertarian class theory. I have more in common with the entrepreneur who is creating value than I do with the government worker. Yet the entrepreneur is supposedly in the "ruling" class while the government employee is supposedly in the "working" class. I believe the government is parasitic and the workers and entrepreneurs and owners of capital who are outside the government are the productive class. But there is apparently no room for this class theory in the theoretical unity of anarkismo.

Nor is it clear to me that there is any point in requiring ideas. I do not "require that anarchist ideas become the leading ideas." Indeed, I look around me and I see 57% of the population didn't vote in the November 2008 election, and roughly that same percentage (a bit more) did not file any sort of personal income tax form in April 2009. Do I really give a flying flip what their ideas are? I'm interested in results. If the ascension of anarchist ideas makes more results available, great. If not, who cares?

However, it is clear that the spontaneous order of the free market, especially the market for ideas, is not acceptable to these goons. They require their ideas to be the leading ones, and they assert it won't happen spontaneously. We must therefore suppose that they mean to impose their ideas.

Given the hostility toward productive persons, the extensive history of racism, sexism, age discrimination, and use of violence by labour organisations and trade unions, I am extremely skeptical of their plans. It seems very likely, to me, that what we may anticipate from anarkismo is violence, purges, and more violence. It seems to me that by saying "we fight for ...democratic structures" that what anarkismo is really saying is that (a) they are primarily violent and (b) their goal is a form of direct democracy, rather than anarchy. What have 309 million rulers to offer me that I'm not already getting from 535 or so?

Were big labour not already married to big government in ways far more corrupt, insidious, and riddled with organised crime than the extensive marriage of big business with big government, I might be of a different view. If there were labour organisations suited to the negligible government world, such as private mutual aid groups, purchasing cooperatives, and the like, I would be happy to work with them. However, compulsory trade unions are just another form of coercion.

I am admittedly skeptical of their call for anarchist political organisations. What is it about the excesses and corruption brought on by excessive political activity that are to be ameliorated by the addition of more politics?

The evidence for the effectiveness of struggles, as opposed to entrepreneurship in particular, for building decent places to live seems minimal. Where people go and take over abandoned property, improve it, and make use of it, they are doing far more good than those who merely struggle and demand the government act, or intercede. Where rent control has been imposed and enforced, the availability of low cost housing has been obliterated.

Nor is there any evidence that I find credible that the highly political scientific establishment's claims about global warming and environmental degradation are based on truth. The environment is much cleaner than ever. Inventions and innovations are making it possible for far more people to live far more cleanly. I am hostile toward what I suspect is an implicit desire by anarkismo to attack individuals, oppress those who seek to reproduce, and steal from those they think are "polluting" by, e.g., exhaling carbon dioxide.

On the plus side, I actively oppose all manifestations of prejudice in society in general. I think racism, sexism, religious sectarianism, homophobia, xenophobia, and war are specifically conservative ideologies, based on bigotry and authoritarianism. I reject them all.

Anarkismo, however, sees no reason to eliminate them until after the revolution. This suggests to me a willingness to compromise on principle. Nor am I confident that their revolution would be anything but a bloody mess—meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The men who spurred us on, sit in judgement of our wrongs, they decide and the shotgun sings the song. (Hat tip: The Who)

By recognising a purported need for federation on an international basis, the anarkismo people seem to be conceding the existence of imaginary boundaries and imaginary nation states. This seems bizarre and contrary to anarchist philosophy. Building national or regional organisations seems contrary to the whole point of anarchism. It also seems to be characteristic of the 1930s style of employment model, union organising, and political philosophy with which they appear to be most comfortable. I think there is an obvious 21st Century alternative, which is to organise across borders and beyond the reach of any single jurisdiction. In my past writings I have proposed "jurisdictional arbitrage" as a way of maximising resources by taking advantage of the differing rules that apply in many different jurisdictions.

So, that's all I have to say on this subject. I think my responses merit a note on my FB page, and shall tip my hat your way when I write.

Jim Davidson is an author, entrepreneur, and anti-war activist. His 1990 venture to offer a sweepstakes trip into space was destroyed by government action as was his free port and prospective space port in Somalia in 2001. His 2002-2007 venture in free market money and private stock exchange was destroyed by government action in 2007. He's going to Mars if he has to walk. His second book, Being Sovereign is now availble from Lulu and Amazon. His third book Sovereign Self-Defence will be released for Kindle very soon. His fourth book Being Libertarian will be available for free download as a .pdf, being a compilation of all his essays and letters in "The Libertarian Enterprise" since 1995. Contact him at or

Like this? Why not pay the author!
Select amount then click "Donate Now"

Pay to Jim Davidson


Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.
We cheerfully accept donations!

Big Head Press