Markets Not Capitalism

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Published in November 2011 by Minor Compositions, an imprint of Autonomedia. Now available directly through this Distro.

Individualist anarchists believe in mutual exchange, not economic privilege. They believe in freed markets, not capitalism. They defend a distinctive response to the challenges of ending global capitalism and achieving social justice: eliminate the political privileges that prop up capitalists.

Massive concentrations of wealth, rigid economic hierarchies, and unsustainable modes of production are not the results of the market form, but of markets deformed and rigged by a network of state-secured controls and privileges to the business class. Markets Not Capitalism explores the gap between radically freed markets and the capitalist-controlled markets that prevail today. It explains how liberating market exchange from state capitalist privilege can abolish structural poverty, help working people take control over the conditions of their labor, and redistribute wealth and social power.

Featuring discussions of socialism, capitalism, markets, ownership, labor struggle, grassroots privatization, intellectual property, health care, racism, sexism, and environmental issues, this unique collection brings together classic essays by leading figures in the anarchist tradition, including Proudhon and Voltairine de Cleyre, and such contemporary innovators as Kevin Carson and Roderick Long. It introduces an eye-opening approach to radical social thought, rooted equally in libertarian socialism and market anarchism.

“We on the left need a good shake to get us thinking, and these arguments for market anarchism do the job in lively and thoughtful fashion.”  – Alexander Cockburn, editor and publisher, Counterpunch

“Anarchy is not chaos; nor is it violence. This rich and provocative gathering of essays by anarchists past and present imagines society unburdened by state, markets un-warped by capitalism. Those whose preference is for an economy that is humane, decentralized, and free will read this book with – dare I use the word? – profit.” – Bill Kaufmann, author of Bye Bye, Miss American Empire

“It will be hard for any honest libertarian to read this book – or others like it – and ever again be taken in by the big business-financed policy institutes and think tanks. In a world where libertarianism has mostly been deformed into a defense of corporate privilege, it is worth being told or reminded what a free market actually is. Our ideal society is not ‘Tesco/Wal-Mart minus the State.’ It is a community of communities of free people. All thanks to the authors and editors of this book.” – Sean Gabb, director, UK Libertarian Alliance

“Libertarianism is often seen as a callous defense of privilege in the face of existing (and unjust) inequalities. That’s because it too often is. But it doesn’t have to be, and this fascinating collection of historic and current argument and scholarship shows why. Even readers who disagree will find much to think about.” – Ken Macleod, author of Fall Revolution


Part One: The Problem of Deformed Markets

  • The Freed Market, William Gillis (2007)
  • State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree, and Wherein They Differ, Benjamin R. Tucker (1888)
  • General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (selections), Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1851)
  • Markets Freed from Capitalism, Charles Johnson (2010)

Part Two: Identities and Isms

  • Market Anarchism as Stigmergic Socialism, Brad Spangler (2006)
  • Armies that Overlap, Benjamin Tucker (1890)
  • The Individualist and the Communist: A Dialogue, Rosa Slobodinsky and Voltairine de Cleyre (1891)
  • A Glance at Communism, Voltairine de Cleyre (1892)
  • Advocates of Freed Markets Should Oppose Capitalism, Gary Chartier (2010)
  • Anarchism without Hyphens, Karl Hess (1980)
  • What Laissez Faire? Sheldon Richman (2010)
  • Libertarianism through Thick and Thin, Charles Johnson (2008)
  • Socialism: What It Is, Benjamin R. Tucker (1884)
  • Socialist Ends, Market Means, Gary Chartier (2009)

Part Three: Ownership

  • A Plea for Public Property, Roderick T. Long (1998)
  • From Whence Do Property Titles Arise? William Gillis (2009)
  • The Gift Economy of Property, Shawn Wilbur (2008)
  • Fairness and Possession, Gary Chartier (2011)
  • The Libertarian Case against Intellectual Property Rights, Roderick T. Long (1995)

Part Four: Corporate Power and Labor Solidarity

  • Corporations versus the Market, or Whip Conflation Now, Roderick T. Long (2008)
  • Does Competition Mean War? Benjamin R. Tucker (1888)
  • Economic Calculation in the Corporate Commonwealth, Kevin Carson (2007)
  • Big Business and the Rise of American Statism, Roy A. Childs, Jr. (1971)
  • Regulation: The Cause, Not the Cure, of the Financial Crisis, Roderick T. Long (2008)
  • Industrial Economics, Dyer D. Lum (1890)
  • Labor Struggle in a Free Market, Kevin A. Carson (2008)
  • Should Labor Be Paid or Not? Benjamin R. Tucker (1888)

Part Five: Neoliberalism, Privatization, and Redistribution

  • Free Market Reforms and the Reduction of Statism, Kevin A. Carson (2008)
  • Free Trade is Fair Trade: An Anarchist Looks at World Trade, Joe Peacott (2000)
  • Two Words on ‘Privatization,’ Charles W. Johnson (2007)
  • What Are the Specifics? Karl Hess (1969)
  • Confiscation and the Homestead Principle, Murray N. Rothbard (1969)

Part Six: Inequality and Social Safety Nets

  • Let the Free Market Eat the Rich! Economic Entropy as Revolutionary Redistribution, Jeremy Weiland (2011)
  • Individualism and Inequality, Joe Peacott
  • How Government Solved the Health Care Crisis, by Roderick T. Long (1993)
  • The Poverty of the Welfare State, Joe Peacott (1998)

Part Seven: Barriers to Entry and Fixed Costs of Living

  • How ‘Intellectual Property’ Impedes Competition, Kevin A. Carson (2009)
  • The American Land Question, Joseph Stromberg (2009)
  • English Enclosures and Soviet Collectivization: Two Instances of an Anti-Peasant Mode of Development, Joseph Stromborg (1995)
  • Health Care and Radical Monopoly, Kevin A. Carson (2010)
  • Scratching By: How Government Creates Poverty as We Know It, Charles W. Johnson (2007)

Part Eight: Freed-Market Regulation: Social Activism and Spontaneous Order

  • Regulation Red Herring: Why There’s No Such Thing as an Unregulated Market, Sheldon Richman (2009)
  • We Are Market Forces, Charles Johnson (2009)
  • Platonic Productivity, Roderick T. Long (2004)
  • Libertarianism and Anti-Racism, Sheldon Richman (2010)
  • Aggression and the Environment, Mary Ruwart (1993/2003)
  • The Clean Water Act versus Clean Water, Charles W. Johnson (2010)
  • Context-Keeping and Community Organizing, Sheldon Richman (2010)

Introduced November 2011.

21 thoughts on “Markets Not Capitalism: Individualist Anarchism Against Bosses, Inequality, Corporate Power, and Structural Poverty

  1. Em “esferas” ou “dimensões”, reduzindo-a a uma parte ou a um aspecto da sociabilidade. Na maioria das vezes, no processo de Migração do Capitalismo, muitos problemas de gestão em áreas protegidas, o destaque é feito ao jurídico ou ao politico, como se não fossem “fatores” que integram e se definem na unidade da diversidade social os ” POLITICOS VAGABUNDO ” não vespeita a sociedade como todo° vamos mudar esta realidade?

  2. How about to offer the book for free on pdf or epub for people who doesn’t have visa/bitcoin or paypal because they haven’t enough money due to they live in the third world? (:

  3. AGGRESSION AXIOM: Holding real property—Monopoly use of Land—requires State aggression.

    170 years ago, the State forced Injuns off my land with guns and into PRIVation, then redistributed the earth’s wealth via an enTITLEment program (Land Title.)

    We PRIVileged owners pay support by property taxes to the State for its aggression.

    If anybody comes onto my PRIVate real property, I call a State officer to perform the exact same armed aggression done to Injuns 170 yrs ago.

    The AGGRESSION AXIOM of Civilization (State Society) is evidence-based reality.

    Ayn Rand recognized it:

    “Any white person who brought the element of civilization had THE RIGHT TO TAKE over this continent.” ~Ayn Rand, US Military Academy at West Point, March 6, 1974

    Anthropology recognizes it:

    “Civilization originates in conquest abroad and repression at home.” ~Stanley Diamond, In Search of the Primitive: A Critique of Civilization, p. 1

    MIGHT MAKES (property) RIGHT

    • RIGHT on (and funny too at times). Expands on an argument I make to friends (a.k.a. those who actually LISTEN) all the time. Thanx.

    • From that it follows that another state/individual can act by the same right. Might makes Right….teehehehe;)

      Its good to win

  4. It is obvious to any thinking person that Capitalism in America & throughout the world makes a few very wealthy & expoits the workers that make this possible forcing them to live in poverty. Why the protests & riots in egypt? Simple, a very few are very rich & the great bulk of the people live in awful conditions treated live slaves by the aristocracy. It’s the same thing throughout all third world countries. Here in America we have a consumer based society that can buy cheap clothes & other products at Walmart & buy cheap food at fast food joints. Whether you’ll still be able to buy a $1 burger a year from now remains to be seen as fast food workers go on strike for a living wage. Where the Occupy Movement missed the boat was it isn’t just the 1% Wallstreet thugs, it’s the 40% relatively well off Americans that see the poor as drags on the economy & freeloaders. They couldn’t care less about the poor as long as they can buy an Suv, big pickup or nice boat & enjoy the good life. But the real problem is deeper than expoiting the working poor. The planet cannot support 7 billion people with any degree of decent living conditions. Conditions cannot change because most Americans are so ignorant of science & history & are so brainwashed by their religious beliefs.

    • You must not understand religious beliefs if you think that they entail exploitng people and buying SUV’s. Most of what is called science today is actually more akin to a religion than what would technically be called science, through the scientific method. Where the occupy movement and YOU missed the boat-is most of exploitation (99.99%) takes place in Washington DC–the SUVs clothes and boats are dangled out their to confuse the masses–including you.

    • You assert a number of things that I think need discussion, but I’d like to focus on this: “The planet cannot support 7 billion people with any degree of decent living conditions.” I believe it is a valid question, can the plant support 7 billion people as specified? First of all, the current system being touted as the most capable is very wasteful. It produces massive biological damage in order to prop up gradually declining plant and soil health. By over-watering, over-fertilizing, tilling, and by mass killing of beneficial life diversity in an area, through various poisons and practices, modern farming actually destroys an areas ability to support human life by destroying the potential for healthy food. In ends up producing large amounts of empty calories and degenerative disease.

      Second, modern farming segregates originally integrative components of an ecosystem, turning all the would-be beneficial connections into factories producing pollution. Chickens for example are separated from their own behaviors, from natural food, from societal relations, from natural medicines (many animals make use of medicinal plants by instinct), their outputs except meat and eggs are now pollution instead of fertilizer. Each of these broken connections requires a replacement or leads to a state of illness, an additional cost or a lower quality.
      Going toward a sane, local, sustainable (not borrowing from tomorrow to pay for today) and stable food production system such as the many variations of permaculture techniques I believe could feed a great deal more people than the current system, and they wouldn’t need to be mere consumers, since the techniques are not based on scarce resources such as oil, but the boundless biological resources that currently sustain the unmanaged natural world without effort. Anyone could do it with minimal learning and some decent effort up front. I don’t buy into the idea that the only way the current population can survive is as huddled masses scraping by on the scientifically crafted food of the corporations, especially when you realize that claim is based on the assumption that our current system is the most efficient possible and understand the inefficiency of that system. I also reject the idea that our planet is anywhere near max biological potential. It is possible, in fact, it goes hand in hand, to increase the diversity, biomass (total amount of biological matter) and the human-usefulness of the natural systems of the world while gaining more health and nutrition for people world wide. Surviving and thriving in harmony with the natural systems that support us is an undesirable method to some, but in general it should be desirable to rational thinkers, and is a possibility.

  5. Interesting work, though I’m not sure why there exists a difference in definition of the word “Capitalism” between right- and left- libertarians, as they are both essentially anarchistic.

    Left-Libertarian’s version of capitalism seems to require it be a corrupted form that requires government and corporatism to exist, while the Right-Libertarian version is used most often to refer to Anarcho-Capitalism, something that seems an awful lot like your sought-after goal.

    It’s sad and it’s petty, I know, but I feel insulted when you use the word in the left-libertarian context, and not the right-libertarian context. This difference in usage is how the left- and right- libertarian groups will eventually try to rip each other apart through miscommunication.

    As there are more right-libertarians than left-libertarians, I would suggest that left-libertarians pick a different word than Capitalism to embody Capitalism-distorted and shoe-horned into a Statist society. I think that would be reasonable; else, make it clear what system of word meanings you’re using when you mention Capitalism.

    You don’t have to follow that advice, but you risk tempers flaring and unnecessary in-fighting.

      • Paul, there are a great many things we of the left libertarian persuasion and those on the right agree on. Essentially, when one gets down to it, the only difference between our ideologies, syntax aside, that differentiates all left libs from right libs is that we believe when the state is finally gone and we have a truly free market, that most people will choose to organize society in a highly freely associated manner as well, particularly with regard to labor relations. We believe that in such a society, the prevailing modes of labor will be partnerships, worker cooperatives, and working for one’s self. This differs from the view of capitalists who give little thought to the future of labor relations in a stateless society, and who see it as enough to simply achieve the goal of “smashing the state”.

        The reasons for us not using the term “capitalism” to describe ourselves, and to specifically speak against capitalism, will become very clear once you actually begin reading this book by the way. I’d recommend you do so. In short, the definition you hold of capitalism ignores actual historic definitions of the word prior to the libertarian movement of the 20th century in the US and parts of Europe, and, though that is one common usage of the term, it is not the only one (of which there are many by those who oppose it). As such, much confusion over the term still persists, and the title of this book is not a jab at capitalists, but rather a deliberate appeal to the left.

  6. I think people’s strategy is to say what ever they think is in their interest. I don’t expect them to actually be correct about what any of that is.

    That is the philosophy of life

  7. By reading some of the articles on this site, I have the feeling that the difference between mutualism and anarcho-capitalism basically lies in the use of terminology. What mutualists regard as capitalism seems to be the same thing as what anarcho-capitalists call corporatism. And mutual markets = capitalism. If this is the simple reason why the libertarian left and the libertarian “right” argue, then it is pretty pathetic. If you think I am wrong, then please elaborate why. I am open to your opinions.

    • Chris,

      I think that there are many disputes between anarcho-capitalists and mutualists that are ultimately due to differences in terminology, and where that’s true, the best thing to do is to clarify terms and to make sure that we’re not just arguing about two different things.

      However, I don’t think that, once terms are clarified, all of the disputes simply boil down to an avoidable terminological difference. Part of the reason for getting clear on terminology, in my view, is not to avoid a dispute but to make sure that you’re clear on where the dispute really is.

      If it helps, you might take a look at this comment on “capitalism” as a label, and Is this all just a semantic dispute? (there’s an expanded version of the same arguments towards the end of “Markets Freed From Capitalism,” in the book), or On being pretty much OK with that.

      Note that I am speaking only for myself here, not for other mutualists broadly, or for other contributors to Markets Not Capitalism. Different folks in the book have different approaches on this question. (And not all of them are mutualists.)

      Hope this helps.

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