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Iain McKay, Bryan Caplan & the Case of the "Anarchist" Anarchist


In the past I have written blog posts disputing claims contained in the online document called An Anarchist FAQ principally written by Iain McKay. I spent those posts trying to contend with Iain's claims re the ancap question and the mode of production called capitalism.

McKay has a bee in his bonnet re anarcho-capitalists' insistence on referring to themselves as anarchists, that much is obvious. Every reference to ancapism runs something along the lines of "an"cap or "anarcho"-capitalism.

I find this very amusing because 'anarchist' or 'anarchism' are words (articulate mouth-sounds) first and specific concepts second.  Ditto 'socialist' and 'socialism' friends. Speaking of socialism...

In the comment section of one of his videos the Youtuber called StatelessLiberty responded to a criticism by linking to Caplan's work on the Anarchist adventure in Spain in the 1930's. The critic shot back with a criticism of Caplan's FAQ by McKay rather than McKay's response to Caplan's Spain work, which also exists.

StatelessLiberty responded by supplying a work by Benjamin Tucker called Instead of a Book, specifically the subsection of said work entitled The Beast of Communism. The reason was, simply;
Anarchist FAQ is really really dumb and butchers history. They make a huge deal about how the meaning of the word "libertarian" has changed but make no similar admission of the term "socialism". They just take it for granted that since Tucker called himself a socialist he would naturally be an ally of the modern vulgar anarchocommunists. Tucker, for example, hated anarchocommunists and believed that they usurped the anarchist doctrine from the individualists (http://fair-use.org/benjamin-tucker/instead-of-a-book/the-beast-of-communism). As Tucker himself points out, "socialism" simply meant the removal of economic privileges. It did not mean collective or state ownership of the means of production as it means today.
Note the points about the definition of socialism. This powerfully undermines McKay's main point in his critique of Caplan's FAQ, that Tucker is necessarily of a sort with anarcho-communists. StatelessLiberty continues;
The second dumb thing they do is fail to make a distinction between normative and non-normative opposition. Proudhon, Tucker, Spooner etc. did not support liberty because it abolished interest and profit, rather they opposed interest and profit because it would be abolished by liberty. They were NOT in favour of banning such things, only that they would disappear on a freely competitive market.
You can see this clearly when Proudhon said: "I protest that when I criticized... the complex of institutions of which property is the foundation stone, I never meant to forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I think that all these manifestations of human activity should remain free and voluntary for all: I ask for them no modifications, restrictions or suppressions, other than those which result naturally and of necessity from the universalization of the principle of reciprocity which I propose."
You also have to remember that Proudhon, Spooner and Tucker were basing their prescriptions on classical economics, and classical economics had numerous errors. They were essentially wrong in believing that free competition would abolish interest. But, again, they were at their core supporters of free competition, and their opposition to rent and interest simply followed from that. Anyone who knows any modern economics knows that the LTV is pretty much indefensible, so I don't see why modern market anarchists should be obliged to oppose interest and such simply because their forefathers did for obviously faulty reasons.
Furthermore, there is little practical difference between what Tucker is advocating and what modern anarcho-capitalists advocate. Moreso than Tucker, Albert Jay Nock entertained views that seemed to even more resemble those of such ancaps as Murray Rothbard, David Friedman, and Caplan as exemplified in Our Enemy the State.

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~~~


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