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+2 votes
Just had a debate online with an anarcho-capitalist. Besides having a huge migraine he's given a reply I've no idea how to answer to.

Let me try to give as much info as I can to help give good answers.

It all started with me getting into a debate on Youtube over psuedo-anarchist Walter Block encouraging anarchists to vote for Rand Paul. Amazingly a user who appears to be an actual, consistent anarchist made a detracting comment saying he wouldn't nor could he get down with other coercive functions like taxation.

In comes the anarcho-capitalist who belittles him saying that he should vote to change the political system and is obligated to do so if he wants liberty.

That got sympathy from another user and me to support him for his consistency. I made the comment Walter Block was an elitist shill in my last reply to him and off to the races I went with the anarcho-capitalist who was in awe at someone stating the obvious.

Went back and forth from him claiming Rand Paul wasn't a statist, Murray Rothbard being a "real anarchist" and so forth. Did pretty good I thought in replying to such claims.

I appeared to have him stumped when I replied to his ridiculous claim that only statism can force class systems and hierarchies out of existence (insert canned laughter here). I told him that it would be suicidal for the state to do that considering it is dependent on those to survive.

And then he said this:

"My point is that hierarchy and class system are the natural consequences of human differences. Such a society has never existed. Even where so called communist have gained control over society the result was not the end of class and hierarchy,but the formation of different classes and different hierarchies. Mao and Stalin were not equal to whom ever cleaned their toilets. They were the top of the hierarchy."

Bear in mind that I am VERY new to anarchism so this has me in check. I'm still in the process of studying anarchism to my utmost to be more effective in debating for it and I've no idea how to respond to such a claim.

How you respond to a proponent such as him? I know that he's definitely on the wrong track.
by (570 points)
edited by

some questions you might want to ponder alongside this:

what does it mean to be "natural" (in this context)?

is there some set of behavior that is universally natural? (even if just referring to humans, and not all of life)

is there a single, objective way of perceiving and interpreting human behavior?

how did humans exist on this planet for many hundreds of thousands of years prior to the rise of civilization and the nation-state? 

do you think there is a single, objectively correct way for all of humanity to live? 

The heart of the matter is that human differences are real, and generally greater than most defenders of hierarchy will acknowledge, but the universal yardstick by which any evaluation of those differences might be considered natural and definitive does not seem to exist outside of the various systems that have been imposed on us.

1 Answer

+3 votes

1. There is no such thing as 'anarcho-capitalism.' There is nothing anarchic within capitalism. There is just capitalism, which is the accumulation of capital which has never, nor can be, accumulated through anarchic means, since...

2. It is impossible for capitalism to exist without the state or without being the state. Capitalism has always relied upon statist means in order to accumulate capital: through enclosure; through colonialism and social fragmentation; through slavery; through genocide; through compulsory education; through the state-sanctioned churches . Always. Capitalism has always been reliant upon gunboat diplomacy and/or followed in the wake of the complete shattering of indigenous lifeways through such 'diplomacy.' Always.

3. Your interlocutor (as you present them anyway) unquestioningly presumes: a) mass society = all, or the high point of human socializing; b) civilization and history at the expense of pre- and un-civ and so-called 'pre-history' which has not always included hierarchic/class relations (nor has it been the oft-repeated yet demonstrably false assumption of the Hobbesian 'state of nature') c) they have a clear idea of what 'nature,' and 'society' means; d) that one must think in terms of false dichotomies such as, leftism or capitalism; e) unquestioningly believe in industrialism and progress, mass society, some kind of mass production, etc.

You may wish to mine the following questions for gems to cobble together a more thorough response:

by (7.5k points)
Actually I am aware of the fact "anacho-capitalism" isn't anarchism but rather psuedo-anarchism. I used to be one for a while before I made the jump to genuine anarchism. That's how I knew he was wrong.

In fact his claim that Murray Rothbard was a "real anarchist" led me to point him directly at an essay he wrote where he even admitted he wasn't.

Amazingly, in a textbook case of denial, he STILL said that Rothbard was still an anarchist simply on the basis of him wanting to get rid of the government alone.

My reply to him where I told him that on the basis of Rothbard still supporting systems of hierarchy, class and coercive methods like wage slavery wasn't the behavior of a genuine anarchist.

It inevitably got to the reply I posted above.

Honestly it looks like he's incredibly entrenched in his belief that it's justifiably okay for others to use force to maintain social classes and hierarchies. So much for that whole non-aggression principle.

"I used to be one for a while before I made the jump to genuine anarchism. That's how I knew he was wrong."

just a thought: i'd be careful of claiming your (or anyone's) ideas as "genuine anarchism". it starts to sound like "the one true way", which is really no different than any other religion or dogma.

Yeah, good point. I used to do that all the time when I was running with the Rothbardian crowd. It's still a bad habit I carry over from that. I'll do my utmost to refrain from doing so.