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+1 vote

What are anarchists thoughts on the origins development and origins ? Do they have their own ideas about the origins the development and origins of capitalism that isn't just a derivative of Marx's ideas in Capital. In particular the 'so-called primitive accumulation' (part 8 of Capital)? If so, could y'all tell me who and the name of book/long essay?
There are numerous books/long essays by Marxists that try to explain how capitalism came about like Michael Pearlman, Harry Braverman, Ellen Wood, Karl Polanyi (not a marxist, but some claim he was a socialist of sorts), and probably more I'm unaware about.

I have found writings by anarchists that tries to address it, but they usually defer to the ideas developed by Marx and other Marxists. For example, the anarchist faq (F. 8) tries to, but they fall back to Marx. Kevin Carson tries to too in Studies of Mutualist Economy, but defers to Marx and/or other Marxists too most of the time. However, I have difficulties finding books/long essays on the beginning  of capitalism (development) by an anarchist that is unique.

Perhaps y'all might know if there are anarchists books/long essays about the origins of capitalism that diverges or is different from Marxists ideas about it?

I couldn't find any questions on this site about capitalism origins development and origins. You can leave your personal thoughts on the origins and development of capitalism, if you want to. I couldn't make up my mind if I should ask this question or not. Primarily because there isn't really a simple-ish answer to it. I'll try to clarify questions y'all have if confuzzled.

Edit: Tried to improve my question to make it clear and understandable. Here are the names of people that have different ideas about the development and origins of capitalism: Frernand Braudel, Balki Bartokomous, Karl Polanyi, Adam Smith and def some more. You can duckduckgo them for more info

by (4.7k points)
edited by
i assume you mean to go back further than adam smith, in contextualizing the term "capitalism"? modern capitalism is usually tied (at least partly) to his "...wealth of nations", but the concepts of markets, property, profit, greed, wealth accumulation, usary, etc all precede him by millennia.

not really related, but this question made me think of the last full book i read on capitalism (probably 20 years ago): "when corporations rule the world" by david korten. i found it quite an interesting critique of corporatism, with a good amount of historical/contextual background.
If their ideas on how capitalism came to be started thousand or two years ago, then sure. Do they have explanation of how it eventually turned into capitalism?

Perhaps my question is confusing and maybe I should edit it. I'll check out that book and see if i can find a free copy for my e-reader thingy.

1 Answer

+1 vote

First of all I'm pretty sure Marx these days is getting too much credit for the term and theory. Yes he spent a lot of time in the library, and yes he made a lot of charts and bullshit about capitalism, but the fact is he was part of a milieu where lots of people, many of them anarchists, many of them older than him, were talking about the same thing. Marx has so many disciples now, and so many of them are professors, he gets treated as if he came up with it, but Proudhon, Fourier and others had already theorized it before him. Proudhon for example wrote What Is Property? in 1840.

On a different note, I think Against His-story, Against Leviathan qualifies as not derivative of Marx. Of course Perlman is well aware of Marx, and wrote the best paraphrase of Marx that I'm aware of ("Reproduction of Daily Life"), but he takes leave in AHAL in the sense that he doesn't centralize capitalism but Leviathan.

One of the reasons Perlman is able to do this is that he's asking a different question than "what are the origins of capitalism". He's trying to understand colonization (AHAL starts as a footnote to The Strait, which is about the history of the place he lives when he's writing it), and he fully commits to it. You see some marxists trying to talk about colonization and patriarchy through the language of marxism, so they'll talk about it in the language of primitive accumulation. The problem is that in trying to challenge the limits of marxist discourse (dismissive of colonization, race, gender, etc) they end up accepting the framework and that relegates race, gender, etc as secondary. It's like a weird biblical debate where you're actually just trying to express your own ideas, but you have to find a scriptural reference for them in The Holy Book of Marx. Because you want the boring as fuck marxists to listen to you, or because your career opportunities, or something. Fuck it.

Anyway, I'd recommend checking out the Libertarian Labyrinth, I think it might give you a different angle on your question. Especially the anarchists who were around before or contemporary with Marx.

by (20.5k points)

I'm not asking about colonization nor civilization. If I want to ask a question about those I would have, but I'm not. I've noticed anarchists use the primitive accumulation idea for how capitalism came to be. Hence the mention of Marx. However, Marx and Marxists aren't the only ones that have seriously tried to explain how capitalism came into existence. I guess I should've been more clear of what I'm asking. The origins of capitalism and how it turned into capitalism. It could've possibly prevented your needless rant about Marx and Marxists.  I dunno.

I've read Perlman's Against His-Story and Proudhon's What is Property. Perlman's fetishization and romanticized notions of native peoples, and the oversimplification of 8,000 years or so crammed into his book of questionable historicity was a bit too much for me. Parts of it is kind of humorous to me though. It reads like a religious text and/or those New Age religious/spiritual texts. Anyways, it gives no explanation for how capitalism came to be. Is Perlman's book the equivalent to the bible for anti-civ folk? Perhaps this question is for another time? Anti-civ folk sure do seem to often fawn and commence in circle-jerks over it. I suppose it's cause it tells them what they want to hear. Either way, I find it strange and it's not for me, but whatever floats those peoples boat.

What is Property isn't about how capitalism came to exist. Proudhon's argument is that property (private property) is stealing. He argues that the social conditions like crime, exploitation, inequality... blah, blah, etc is caused because of property. He's not presenting the case of how capitalism developed and came into fruition. I didn't find it to read like a religious text, but it can be dry reading at times and it didn't make me chuckle.

Anyways, thanks. I know about libertarian-labyrinth. Perhaps, I should email the guy that runs that page about my question.

Did you get the "marxist professors" bit from Jordan Peterson or Cult of Kek? I didn't see that before. Jordan Peterson always goes on and on about the marxist professors. anyways, the amount of of marxist professors at colleges/universities (US) is like, at tops, a percent or maybe two, and they don't really have much influence.
Well I don't know what I did to incite the something-died-up-my-ass attitude, but I did leave out a lot of the framing from my response.

"I'm not asking about colonization nor civilization." I think this is the heart of it. If you are asking for anarchist analyses of the origins of capitalism, and some anarchists see the origins of capitalism in colonization and civilization, then, yes, you are asking about them. If private property is one of the foundations of capitalism, and it goes back to the time when the first woman or slave was exchanged as property, then suddenly the question of capitalist origins becomes a question of civilization or colonialism. How do you draw a clear line, while also asking about origins? And what place are you asking from? I mean place literally. If you ask what are the origins of capitalism in Detroit, you may go down a different path then if you ask a question what are the origins of capitalism in Europe. In other words, my point was largely to point out that there's a framing issue.

"Perhaps, I should email the guy that runs that page about my question." If anyone knows the answer to your question, it's Shawn.