F.1 Are "anarcho"-capitalists really anarchists?

In a word, no. While "anarcho"-capitalists obviously try to associate themselves with the anarchist tradition by using the word "anarcho", their ideas are distinctly at odds with those associated with anarchism. Because of this any claims that their ideas are anarchist or that they are part of the anarchist tradition or movement are false.

"Anarcho"-capitalists claim to be anarchists because they say that they oppose government. As such, as noted in the last section, they use a dictionary definition of anarchism. However, this fails to appreciate that anarchism is a political theory, not a dictionary definition. As dictionaries are rarely politically sophisticated things, this means that they fail to recognise that anarchism is more than just opposition to government, it is also marked a opposition to capitalism (i.e. exploitation and private property). Thus, opposition to government is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being an anarchist -- you also need to be opposed to exploitation and capitalist private property. As "anarcho"-capitalists do not consider interest, rent and profits (i.e. capitalism) to be exploitative nor oppose capitalist property rights, they are not anarchists.

So in what ways do "anarcho"-capitalists differ from anarchists? There are three main ones:

Firstly, unlike both Individualist and Social anarchists, "anarcho"-capitalists support capitalism (a "pure" free market type of capitalism). This means that they reject totally the ideas of anarchists with regards to property and economic analysis. For example, like all supporters of capitalists they consider rent, profit and interest as valid incomes. In contrast, all Anarchists consider these as exploitation and agree with the Individualist Anarchist Tucker when argued that "[w]hoever contributes to production is alone entitled. What has no rights that who is bound to respect. What is a thing. Who is a person. Things have no claims; they exist only to be claimed. The possession of a right cannot be predicted of dead material, but only a living person." [quoted by Wm. Gary Kline, The Individualist Anarchists, p. 73] (And this, we must note, is the fundamental critique of the capitalist theory that capital is productive. In and of themselves, fixed costs do not create value. Rather value is creation depends on how investments are developed and used once in place. Because of this the Individualist Anarchists considered non-labour derived income as usury, unlike "anarcho"-capitalists).

Similarly, anarchists reject the notion of capitalist property rights in favour of possession (including the full fruits of one's labour). For example, anarchists reject private ownership of land in favour of a "occupancy and use" regime. In this we follow Proudhon's What is Property? and argue that "property is theft".

As these ideas are an essential part of anarchist politics, they cannot be removed without seriously damaging the rest of the theory. This can be seen from Tucker's comments that "Liberty insists. . . [on] the abolition of the State and the abolition of usury; on no more government of man by man, and no more exploitation of man by man." [cited by Eunice Schuster in Native American Anarchism, p. 140]. He indicates that anarchism has specific economic and political ideas, that it opposes capitalism along with the state. Therefore anarchism was never purely a "political" concept, but always combined an opposition to oppression with an opposition to exploitation. The social anarchists made exactly the same point. Which means that when Tucker argued that "Liberty insists on Socialism. . . - true Socialism, Anarchistic Socialism: the prevalence on earth of Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity" [Instead of a Book, p. 363] he knew exactly what he was saying and meant it whole heartedly.

This combination of the political and economic is essential as they mutually reinforce each other. Without the economic ideas, the political ideas would be meaningless as inequality would make a mockery of them. As Kline notes, the Individualist Anarchists' "proposals were designed to establish true equality of opportunity . . . and they expected this would result in a society without great wealth or poverty. In the absence of monopolistic factors which would distort competition, they expected a society largely of self-employed workmen with no significant disparity of wealth between any of them since all would be required to live at their own expense and not at the expense of exploited fellow human beings." [Op. Cit., pp. 103-4]

By removing the underlying commitment to abolish non-labour income, any "anarchist" capitalist society would have vast differences in wealth and so power. Instead of a government imposed monopolies in land, money and so on, the economic power flowing from private property and capital would ensure that the majority remained in (to use Spooner's words) "the condition of servants" (see sections F.2 and F.3.1 for more on this). The Individualist Anarchists were aware of this danger and so supported economic ideas that opposed usury (i.e. rent, profit and interest) and ensured the worker the full value of her labour. While not all of them called these ideas "socialist" it is clear that these ideas are socialist in nature and in aim (similarly, not all the Individualist Anarchists called themselves anarchists but their ideas are clearly anarchist in nature and in aim).

Because "anarcho"-capitalists embrace capitalism and reject socialism, they cannot be considered anarchists or part of the anarchist tradition.

Which brings us nicely to the second point, namely a lack of concern for equality. In stark contrast to anarchists of all schools, inequality is not seen to be a problem with "anarcho"-capitalists (see section F.3). However, it is a truism that not all "traders" are equally subject to the market (i.e. have the same market power). In many cases, a few have sufficient control of resources to influence or determine price and in such cases, all others must submit to those terms or not buy the commodity. When the commodity is labour power, even this option is lacking -- workers have to accept a job in order to live. As we argue in section F.10.2, workers are usually at a disadvantage on the labour market when compared to capitalists, and this forces them to sell their liberty in return for making profits for others. These profits increase inequality in society as the property owners receive the surplus value their workers produce. This increases inequality further, consolidating market power and so weakens the bargaining position of workers further, ensuring that even the freest competition possible could not eliminate class power and society (something B. Tucker recognised as occurring with the development of trusts within capitalism -- see section G.4). Little wonder Proudhon argued that the law of supply and demand was a "deceitful law . . . suitable only for assuring the victory of the strong over the weak, of those who own property over those who own nothing." [quoted by Alan Ritter, The Political Thought of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, p. 121]

Wage labour is a key way of creating, maintaining and increasing inequality (as well as being a source of domination and subordination, i.e. unfreedom). Needless to say, inequalities of power and wealth do not restrict themselves solely to workplaces nor is the damage of hierarchy upon individuals and their liberty limited to working hours. Both have a deep impact on the rest of society, expanding into all areas of life and restricting liberty everywhere (see section F.3 for a further discussion on this). You cannot isolate one aspect of life (i.e. work) and believe that it will somehow not affect all others. However, the "anarcho"-capitalist seems to believe you can.

Therefore anarchists recognise that "free exchange" in unequal circumstances will increase inequality between individuals and classes, not reduce it (and that inequality will produce social relationships which are based on hierarchy and domination, not freedom). As Noam Chomsky put it:

"Anarcho-capitalism, in my opinion, is a doctrinal system which, if ever implemented, would lead to forms of tyranny and oppression that have few counterparts in human history. There isn't the slightest possibility that its (in my view, horrendous) ideas would be implemented, because they would quickly destroy any society that made this colossal error. The idea of 'free contract' between the potentate and his starving subject is a sick joke, perhaps worth some moments in an academic seminar exploring the consequences of (in my view, absurd) ideas, but nowhere else." [Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, interview with Tom Lane, December 23, 1996]

Because of the evil effects of inequality on freedom, both the social and individualist anarchists desired to create an environment in which circumstances would not drive people to sell their liberty to others in return for wages. In other words, they desired an equalisation of market power by opposing interest, rent and profit and capitalist definitions of private property. Kline summarises this by saying "the American [individualist] anarchists exposed the tension existing in liberal thought between private property and the ideal of equal access. The Individual Anarchists were, at least, aware that existing conditions were far from ideal, that the system itself working against the majority of individuals in their efforts to attain its promises. Lack of capital, the means to creation and accumulation of wealth, usually doomed a labourer to a life of exploitation. This the anarchists knew and they abhorred such a system." [Op. Cit., p. 102]

And this desire for bargaining equality is reflected in their economic ideas and by removing these underlying economic ideas of the individualist anarchists, "anarcho"-capitalism makes a mockery of any ideas they do appropriate. Essentially, the Individualist Anarchists agreed with Rousseau that in order to prevent extreme inequality of fortunes you deprive people of the means to accumulate in the first place and not take away wealth from the rich. An important point which "anarcho"-capitalism fails to understand or appreciate.

In addition, we must note that such inequalities in power and wealth will need "defending" from those subject to them ("anarcho"-capitalists recognise the need for private police and courts to defend property from theft -- and, anarchists add, to defend the theft and despotism associated with property!). Due to its support of private property (and thus authority), "anarcho"-capitalism ends up retaining a state in its "anarchy"; namely a private state whose existence its proponents attempt to deny simply by refusing to call it a state, like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand (see section F.6 for more on this and why "anarcho"-capitalism is better described as "private state" capitalism).

For anarchists, this need of capitalism for some kind of state is unsurprising because:

"Anarchy without socialism seems equally as impossible to us [as socialism without anarchy], for in such a case it could not be other than the domination of the strongest, and would therefore set in motion right away the organisation and consolidation of this domination; that is to the constitution of government." [Errico Malatesta, Life and Ideas, p. 148]

Because of this, the "anarcho"-capitalist rejection of anarchist ideas on capitalist property economics and the need for equality, they cannot be considered anarchists or part of the anarchist tradition.

Thirdly, unlike anarchists, "anarcho"-capitalists consider a society of generalised wage labour as a free and non-exploitative one -- but such a society is opposed by anarchists. Like all socialists, anarchists desire to see workers reunited with the means of production they use and so end the exploitation of workers by capitalists and landlords. In other words, when the Individual anarchists called themselves "socialists" they meant it (see section G for more details on this)!

If we look at the work of Individualist Anarchist Lysander Spooner, we find that he considered capitalism to result in labourers becoming "mere tools and machines in the hands of their employers" and labour "only for the benefit of their employers." [A Letter to Grover Cleveland, p. 50] He considered the Money Monopoly (a combination of specie commodity money and a 10% tax on non-registered banks) as "the one great obstacle to the liberation of the labouring classes all over the world", a monopoly created by "the employers of wage labour" to ensure necessity "compel[led] them [the great body of wealth producers] . . . - by the alternative of starvation - to sell their labour to the money monopolists." [Op. Cit., p. 49, p. 48, p. 20]

Such an analysis is essentially socialist in nature, recognising that apparently "free" markets create conditions which drive working class people to sell their liberty on the market. Similarly, his vision of a free society is also socialist, with wage labour no more. With the end of the money (and land) monopolies, he considered that "with few or no exceptions" working people would stop being wage slaves and become self-employed workers. In stark contrast to wage labour, he considered that free labour involved the worker "appl[ying] both his . . . head and his hands" [Op. Cit., p. 48, p. 50]. Thus Spooner recognised that under wage labour, there is a division of labour, with a few using their heads (giving orders) and the many using their hands (following orders).

"Committed as they were to equality in the pursuit of property," argues Kline, "the objective for the anarchist became the construction of a society providing equal access to those things necessary for creating wealth. The goal of the anarchists who extolled mutualism and the abolition of all monopolies was, then, a society where everyone willing to work would have the tools and raw materials necessary for production in a non-exploitative system . . .the dominant vision of the future society . . . [was] underpinned by individual, self-employed workers." [Op. Cit., p. 95]

"Anarcho"-capitalists assume that generalised wage labour would remain under their system (while paying lip-service to the possibilities of co-operatives -- and if an "anarcho"-capitalist thinks that co-operative will become the dominant form of workplace organisation, then they are some kind of market socialist, not a capitalist). It is clear that their end point (a pure capitalism, i.e. generalised wage labour) is directly the opposite of that desired by anarchists. This was the case of the Individualist Anarchists who embraced the ideal of (non-capitalist) laissez faire competition -- they did so, as noted, to end wage labour and usury, not to maintain them (indeed, their analysis of the change in American society from one of mainly independent producers into one based mainly upon wage labour has many parallels with, of all people, Karl Marx's presented in chapter 33 of Capital).

"Anarcho"-capitalists, in contrast, believe that it is likely that workplaces will remain hierarchical (i.e. capitalistic) even if the public state has been dissolved and that this is of no concern. This belief reveals the priority of their values: "efficiency" (the bottom line) is considered more important than eliminating the domination, coercion, and exploitation of workers. Similarly, they consider that profits, interest and rent as valid sources of income while anarchists oppose these as usury and exploitative.

Moreover, in practice, wage labour is a major source of oppression and authoritarianism within society -- there is little or no freedom within capitalist production (as Bakunin noted, "the worker sells his person and his liberty for a given time"). So, in stark contrast to anarchists, "anarcho"-capitalists have no problem with factory fascism (i.e. wage labour), a position which seems highly illogical for a theory calling itself libertarian. If it were truly libertarian, it would oppose all forms of domination, not just statism. This position flows from the "anarcho"-capitalist definition of freedom as the absence of coercion and will be discussed in section F.2 in more detail.

This whole-hearted support for wage labour and capitalist property rights indicates that "anarcho"-capitalists are not anarchists because they do not reject all forms of archy. They obviously support the hierarchy between boss and worker (wage labour) and landlord and tenant. Anarchism, by definition, is against all forms of archy, including the hierarchy generated by capitalist property. To ignore the obvious archy associated with capitalist property is highly illogical.

The anti-anarchist nature of "anarcho"-capitalism can best be seen by quoting a leading "anarcho"-capitalist, Murray Rothbard. He argues, that the state "arrogates to itself a monopoly of force, of ultimate decision-making power, over a given area territorial area." [Rothbard, The Ethics of Liberty, p. 170] In and of itself, this definition is unremarkable. Unfortunately for him (and "anarcho"-capitalist claims of being anarchist), he also notes that capitalist property owners have similar powers. As he states, "[o]bviously, in a free society, Smith has the ultimate decision-making power over his own just property, Jones over his, etc." [Op. Cit., p. 173] and, equally obviously, this ultimate-decision making power extends to those who use, but do not own, such property (i.e. tenants and workers). The statist nature of property property is clearly indicated by Rothbard's words -- the property owner in an "anarcho"-capitalist society possesses the "ultimate decision-making power" over a given area, which is also what the state has currently.

As we argue in more depth in section F.2, "anarcho"-capitalism cannot be considered as anarchist simply because they replace the authority of the state with that of the property owner. Both has "ultimate decision-making power" over a given area and so over those who live in (or use) that area. The similarities between capitalism and statism are clear -- and so why "anarcho"-capitalism cannot be anarchist. To reject the authority (the "ultimate decision-making power") of the state and embrace that of the property owner indicates not only a highly illogical stance but one at odds with the basic principles of anarchism.

Thus anarchism is far more than the common dictionary definition of "no government" -- it also entails being against all forms of archy, including those generated by capitalist property. This is clear from the roots of the word "anarchy." As we noted in section A.1, the word anarchy means "no rulers" or "contrary to authority". As Rothbard himself acknowledges, the property owner is the ruler of their property and, therefore, those who use it (hence Bakunin's above quoted comment that "the worker sells his person and his liberty for a given time"). For this reason "anarcho"-capitalism cannot be considered as a form of anarchism -- a real anarchist must logically oppose the authority of the property owner along with that of the state.

Because "anarcho"-capitalism does not explicitly (or implicitly, for that matter) call for economic arrangements that will end wage labour and usury they cannot be considered anarchists or part of the anarchist tradition.

To conclude.

Political theories should be identified by their actual features and history rather than labels. Once we recognise that, we soon find out that "anarcho"-capitalism is an oxymoron. Anarchists and "anarcho"-capitalists are not part of the same movement or tradition. Their ideas and aims are in direct opposition to those of all kinds of anarchists.

While anarchists have always opposed capitalism, "anarcho"-capitalists have embraced it. And due to this embrace their "anarchy" will be marked by extensive differences in wealth and power, differences that will show themselves up in relationships based upon subordination and hierarchy (such as wage labour), not freedom (little wonder that Proudhon argued that "property is despotism" -- it creates authoritarian and hierarchical relationships between people in a similar way to statism).

Their support for "free market" capitalism ignores the impact of wealth and power on the nature and outcome of individual decisions within the market (see sections F.2 and F.3 for further discussion). For example, as we indicate in sections J.5.10, J.5.11 and J.5.12 wage labour is less efficient than self-management in production but due to the structure and dynamics of the capitalist market, "market forces" will actively discourage self-management due to its empowering nature for workers. In other words, a developed capitalist market will promote hierarchy and unfreedom in production in spite of its effects on individual workers and their wants (see also section F.10.2). Thus "free market" capitalism tends to re-enforce inequalities of wealth and power, not eliminate them.

Furthermore, any such system of (economic and social) power will require extensive force to maintain it and the "anarcho"-capitalist system of competing "defence firms" will simply be a new state, enforcing capitalist power, property rights and law.

Overall, the lack of concern for meaningful freedom within production and the effects of vast differences in power and wealth within society as a whole makes "anarcho"-capitalism little better than "anarchism for the rich." Emma Goldman recognised this when she argued that "'Rugged individualism' has meant all the 'individualism' for the masters . . . in whose name political tyranny and social oppression are defended and held up as virtues while every aspiration and attempt of man to gain freedom . . . is denounced as . . . evil in the name of that same individualism." [ Red Emma Speaks, p. 112] And, as such, is no anarchism at all.

So, unlike anarchists, "anarcho"-capitalists do not seek the "abolition of the proletariat" (to use Proudhon's expression) via changing capitalist property rights and institutions. Thus the "anarcho"-capitalist and the anarchist have different starting positions and opposite ends in mind and so they cannot be considered part of the same (anarchist) tradition.

As we discuss further in later sections, the "anarcho"-capitalist claims to being anarchists are bogus simply because they reject so much of the anarchist tradition as to make what they do accept non-anarchist in theory and practice. Little wonder Peter Marshall said that "few anarchists would accept the 'anarcho-capitalists' into the anarchist camp since they do not share a concern for economic equality and social justice." [Demanding the Impossible, p. 565]

F.1.1 Why is the failure to renounce hierarchy the Achilles Heel of right-wing libertarianism and "anarcho"-capitalism?

Any capitalist system will produce vast differences in economic (and social) wealth and power. As we argue in section F.3.1, such differences will reflect themselves in the market and any "free" contracts agreed there will create hierarchical relationships. Thus capitalism is marked by hierarchy (see section B.1.2) and, unsurprisingly, right-libertarians and "anarcho"-capitalists fail to oppose such "free market" generated hierarchy.

Both groups approve of it in the capitalist workplace or rented accommodation and the right-Libertarians also approve of it in a 'minimal' state to protect private property ("anarcho"-capitalists, in contrast, approve of the use of private defence firms to protect property). But the failure of these two movements to renounce hierarchy is their weakest point. For anti-authoritarianism has sunk deep roots into the modern psyche, as a legacy of the sixties.

Many people who do not even know what anarchism is have been profoundly affected by the personal liberation and counterculture movements of the past thirty years, epitomised by the popular bumper sticker, "Question Authority." As a result, society now tolerates much more choice than ever before in matters of religion, sexuality, art, music, clothing, and other components of lifestyle. We need only recall the conservatism that reigned in such areas during the fifties to see that the idea of liberty has made tremendous advances in just a few decades.

Although this liberatory impulse has so far been confined almost entirely to the personal and cultural realms, it may yet be capable of spilling over and affecting economic and political institutions, provided it continues to grow. The Right is well aware of this, as seen in its ongoing campaigns for "family values," school prayer, suppression of women's rights, fundamentalist Christianity, sexual abstinence before marriage, and other attempts to revive the Ozzie-and-Harriet mindset of the Good Old Days. This is where the efforts of "cultural anarchists" -- artists, musicians, poets, and others -- are important in keeping alive the ideal of personal freedom and resistance to authority as a necessary foundation for economic and political restructuring.

Indeed, the libertarian right (as a whole) support restrictions on freedom as long as its not the state that is doing it! Their support for capitalism means that they have no problem with bosses dictating what workers do during working hours (nor outside working hours, if the job requires employees to take drug tests or not be gay in order to keep it). If a private landlord or company decrees a mandatory rule or mode of living, workers/tenets must "love it or leave it!" Of course, that the same argument also applies to state laws is one hotly denied by right-Libertarians -- a definite case of not seeing the wood for the trees (see section F.2.3).

Of course, the "anarcho"-capitalist will argue, workers and tenants can find a more liberal boss or landlord. This, however, ignores two key facts. Firstly, being able to move to a more liberal state hardly makes state laws less offensive (as they themselves will be the first to point out). Secondly, looking for a new job or home is not that easy. Just a moving to a new state can involve drastic upheavals, so change changing jobs and homes. Moreover, the job market is usually a buyers market (it has to be in capitalism, otherwise profits are squeezed -- see sections C.7 and F.10.2) and this means that workers are not usually in a position (unless they organise) to demand increased liberties at work.

It seems somewhat ironic, to say the least, that right-libertarians place rights of property over the rights of self-ownership, even though (according to their ideology) self-ownership is the foundational right from which property rights are derived. Thus in right-libertarianism the rights of property owners to discriminate and govern the property-less are more important than the freedom from discrimination (i.e. to be yourself) or the freedom to govern oneself at all times.

So, when it boils down to it, right-libertarians are not really bothered about restrictions on liberty and, indeed, they will defend private restrictions on liberty with all their might. This may seem a strange position for self-proclaimed "libertarians" to take, but it flows naturally from their definition of freedom (see section F.2 for a full discussion of this). but by not attacking hierarchy beyond certain forms of statism, the 'libertarian' right fundamentally undermines its claim to be libertarian. Freedom cannot be compartmentalised, but is holistic. The denial of liberty in, say, the workplace, quickly results in its being denied elsewhere in society (due to the impact of the inequalities it would produce) , just as the degrading effects of wage labour and the hierarchies with which is it bound up are felt by the worker outside work.

Neither the Libertarian Party nor so-called "anarcho"-capitalism is genuinely anti-authoritarian, as those who are truly dedicated to liberty must be.

F.1.2 How libertarian is right-Libertarian theory?

The short answer is, not very. Liberty not only implies but also requires independent, critical thought (indeed, anarchists would argue that critical thought requires free development and evolution and that it is precisely this which capitalist hierarchy crushes). For anarchists a libertarian theory, if it is to be worthy of the name, must be based upon critical thought and reflect the key aspect that characterises life - change and the ability to evolve. To hold up dogma and base "theory" upon assumptions (as opposed to facts) is the opposite of a libertarian frame of mind. A libertarian theory must be based upon reality and recognise the need for change and the existence of change. Unfortunately, right-Libertarianism is marked more by ideology than critical analysis.

Right-Libertarianism is characterised by a strong tendency of creating theories based upon assumptions and deductions from these axioms (for a discussion on the pre-scientific nature of this methodology and of its dangers, see the next section). Robert Nozick, for example, in Anarchy, State, and Utopia makes no attempt to provide a justification of the property rights his whole theory is based upon. His main assumption is that "[i]ndividuals have rights, and there are certain things no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights)." [Anarchy, State and Utopia, p. ix] While this does have its intuitive appeal, it is not much to base a political ideology upon. After all, what rights people consider as valid can be pretty subjective and have constantly evolved during history. To say that "individuals have rights" is to open up the question "what rights?" Indeed, as we argue in greater length in section F.2, such a rights based system as Nozick desires can and does lead to situations developing in which people "consent" to be exploited and oppressed and that, intuitively, many people consider supporting the "violation" of these "certain rights" (by creating other ones) simply because of their evil consequences.

In other words, starting from the assumption "people have [certain] rights" Nozick constructs a theory which, when faced with the reality of unfreedom and domination it would create for the many, justifies this unfreedom as an expression of liberty. In other words, regardless of the outcome, the initial assumptions are what matter. Nozick's intuitive rights system can lead to some very non-intuitive outcomes.

And does Nozick prove the theory of property rights he assumes? He states that "we shall not formulate [it] here." [Op. Cit., p. 150] Moreover, it is not formulated anywhere else in his book. And if it is not formulated, what is there to defend? Surely this means that his Libertarianism is without foundations? As Jonathan Wolff notes, Nozick's "Libertarian property rights remain substantially undefended." [Robert Nozick: Property, Justice and the Minimal State, p. 117] Given that the right to acquire property is critical to his whole theory you would think it important enough to go into in some detail (or at least document). After all, unless he provides us with a firm basis for property rights then his entitlement theory is nonsense as no one has the right to (private) property.

It could be argued that Nozick does present enough information to allow us to piece together a possible argument in favour of property rights based on his modification of the "Lockean Proviso" (although he does not point us to these arguments). However, assuming this is the case, such a defence actually fails (see section B.3.4 for more on this). If individuals do have rights, these rights do not include property rights in the form Nozick assumes (but does not prove). Nozick appears initially convincing because what he assumes with regards to property is a normal feature of the society we are in (we would be forgiven when we note here that feeble arguments pass for convincing when they are on the same side as the prevailing sentiment).

Similarly, both Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand (who is infamous for repeating "A is A" ad infinitum) do the same - base their ideologies on assumptions (see section F.7 for more on this).

Therefore, we see that most of the leading right-Libertarian ideologues base themselves on assumptions about what "Man" is or the rights they should have (usually in the form that people have (certain) rights because they are people). From these theorems and assumptions they build their respective ideologies, using logic to deduce the conclusions that their assumptions imply. Such a methodology is unscientific and, indeed, a relic of religious (pre-scientific) society (see next section) but, more importantly, can have negative effects on maximising liberty. This is because this "methodology" has distinct problems. Murray Bookchin argues:

"Conventional reason rests on identity, not change; its fundamental principle is that A equals A, the famous 'principle of identity,' which means that any given phenomenon can be only itself and cannot be other than what we immediately perceive it to be at a given moment in time. It does not address the problem of change. A human being is an infant at one time, a child at another, an adolescent at still another, and finally a youth and an adult. When we analyse an infant by means of conventional reason, we are not exploring what it is becoming in the process of developing into a child." ["A Philosophical Naturalism", Society and Nature No.2, p. 64]

In other words, right-Libertarian theory is based upon ignoring the fundamental aspect of life - namely change and evolution. Perhaps it will be argued that identity also accounts for change by including potentiality -- which means, that we have the strange situation that A can potentially be A! If A is not actually A, but only has the potential to be A, then A is not A. Thus to include change is to acknowledge that A does not equal A -- that individuals and humanity evolves and so what constitutes A also changes. To maintain identity and then to deny it seems strange.

That change is far from the "A is A" mentality can be seen from Murray Rothbard who goes so far as to state that "one of the notable attributes of natural law" is "its applicability to all men [sic!], regardless of time or place. Thus ethical law takes its place alongside physical or 'scientific' natural laws." [The Ethics of Liberty, p. 42] Apparently the "nature of man" is the only living thing in nature that does not evolve or change! Of course, it could be argued that by "natural law" Rothbard is only referring to his method of deducing his (and, we stress, they are just his -- not natural) "ethical laws" -- but his methodology starts by assuming certain things about "man." Whether these assumptions seem far or not is besides the point, by using the term "natural law" Rothbard is arguing that any actions that violate his ethical laws are somehow "against nature" (but if they were against nature, they could not occur -- see section F.7 for more on this). Deductions from assumptions is a Procrustean bed for humanity (as Rothbard's ideology shows).

So, as can be seen, many leading right-Libertarians place great store by the axiom "A is A" or that "man" has certain rights simply because "he" is a "man". And as Bookchin points out, such conventional reason "doubtless plays an indispensable role in mathematical thinking and mathematical sciences . . . and in the nuts-and-bolts of dealing with everyday life" and so is essential to "understand or design mechanical entities." [Ibid., p.67] But the question arises, is such reason useful when considering people and other forms of life?

Mechanical entities are but one (small) aspect of human life. Unfortunately for right-Libertarians (and fortunately for the rest of humanity), human beings are not mechanical entities but instead are living, breathing, feeling, hoping, dreaming, changing living organisms. They are not mechanical entities and any theory that uses reason based on such (non-living) entities will flounder when faced with living ones. In other words, right-Libertarian theory treats people as the capitalist system tries to -- namely as commodities, as things. Instead of human beings, whose ideas, ideals and ethics change, develop and grow, capitalism and capitalist ideologues try to reduce human life to the level of corn or iron (by emphasising the unchanging "nature" of man and their starting assumptions/rights).

This can be seen from their support for wage labour, the reduction of human activity to a commodity on the market. While paying lip service to liberty and life, right-libertarianism justifies the commodification of labour and life, which within a system of capitalist property rights can result in the treating of people as means to an end as opposed to an end in themselves (see sections F.2 and F.3.1).

And as Bookchin points out, "in an age of sharply conflicting values and emotionally charges ideals, such a way of reasoning is often repellent. Dogmatism, authoritarianism, and fear seem all-pervasive." [Ibid., p. 68] Right-Libertarianism provides more than enough evidence for Bookchin's summary with its support for authoritarian social relationships, hierarchy and even slavery (see section F.2).

This mechanical viewpoint is also reflected in their lack of appreciation that social institutions and relationships evolve over time and, sometimes, fundamentally change. This can best be seen from property. Right-libertarians fail to see that over time (in the words of Proudhon) property "changed its nature." Originally, "the word property was synonymous with . . . individual possession" but it became more "complex" and turned into private property -- "the right to use it by his neighbour's labour." The changing of use-rights to (capitalist) property rights created relations of domination and exploitation between people absent before. For the right-Libertarian, both the tools of the self-employed artisan and the capital of a transnational corporation are both forms of "property" and (so) basically identical. In practice, of course, the social relations they create and the impact they have on society are totally different. Thus the mechanical mind-set of right-Libertarianism fails to understand how institutions, like property, evolve and come to replace whatever freedom enhancing features they had with oppression (indeed, von Mises argued that "[t]here may possibly be a difference of opinion about whether a particular institution is socially beneficial or harmful. But once it has been judged [by whom, we ask] beneficial, one can no longer contend that, for some inexplicable reason, it must be condemned as immoral" [Liberalism, p. 34] So much for evolution and change!).

Anarchism, in contrast, is based upon the importance of critical thought informed by an awareness that life is in a constant process of change. This means that our ideas on human society must be informed by the facts, not by what we wish was true. For Bookchin, an evaluation of conventional wisdom (as expressed in "the law of identity") is essential and its conclusions have "enormous importance for how we behave as ethical beings, the nature of nature, and our place in the natural world. Moreover. . . these issues directly affect the kind of society, sensibility, and lifeways we wish to foster." [Bookchin, Op. Cit., p. 69-70]

Bookchin is correct. While anarchists oppose hierarchy in the name of liberty, right-libertarians support authority and hierarchy, all of which deny freedom and restrict individual development. This is unsurprising because the right-libertarian ideology rejects change and critical thought based upon the scientific method and so is fundamentally anti-life in its assumptions and anti-human in its method. Far from being a libertarian set of ideas, right-Libertarianism is a mechanical set of dogmas that deny the fundamental nature of life (namely change) and of individuality (namely critical thought and freedom). Moreover, in practice their system of (capitalist) rights would soon result in extensive restrictions on liberty and authoritarian social relationships (see sections F.2 and F.3) -- a strange result of a theory proclaiming itself "libertarian" but one consistent with its methodology.

From a wider viewpoint, such a rejection of liberty by right-libertarians is unsurprising. They do, after all, support capitalism. Capitalism produces an inverted set of ethics, one in which capital (dead labour) is more important that people (living labour). After all, workers are usually easier to replace than investments in capital and the person who owns capital commands the person who "only" owns his life and productive abilities. And as Oscar Wilde once noted, crimes against property "are the crimes that the English law, valuing what a man has more than what a man is, punishes with the harshest and most horrible severity." [The Soul of Man Under Socialism]

This mentality is reflected in right-libertarianism when it claims that stealing food is a crime while starving to death (due to the action of market forces/power and property rights) is no infringement of your rights (see section F.4.2 for a similar argument with regards to water). It can also be seen when right-libertarian's claim that the taxation "of earnings from labour" (e.g. of one dollar from a millionaire) is "on a par with forced labour" [Nozick, Op. Cit., p. 169] while working in a sweatshop for 14 hours a day (enriching said millionaire) does not affect your liberty as you "consent" to it due to market forces (although, of course, many rich people have earned their money without labouring themselves -- their earnings derive from the wage labour of others so would taxing those, non-labour, earnings be "forced labour"?) Interestingly, the Individualist Anarchist Ben Tucker argued that an income tax was "a recognition of the fact that industrial freedom and equality of opportunity no longer exist here [in the USA in the 1890s] even in the imperfect state in which they once did exist" [quoted by James Martin, Men Against the State, p. 263] which suggests a somewhat different viewpoint on this matter than Nozick or Rothbard.

That capitalism produces an inverted set of ethics can be seen when the Ford produced the Pinto. The Pinto had a flaw in it which meant that if it was hit in a certain way in a crash the fuel tank exploded. The Ford company decided it was more "economically viable" to produce that car and pay damages to those who were injured or the relatives of those who died than pay to change the invested capital. The needs for the owners of capital to make a profit came before the needs of the living. Similarly, bosses often hire people to perform unsafe work in dangerous conditions and fire them if they protest. Right-libertarian ideology is the philosophical equivalent. Its dogma is "capital" and it comes before life (i.e. "labour").

As Bakunin once put it, "you will always find the idealists in the very act of practical materialism, while you will see the materialists pursuing and realising the most grandly ideal aspirations and thoughts." [God and the State, p. 49] Hence we see right "libertarians" supporting sweat shops and opposing taxation -- for, in the end, money (and the power that goes with it) counts far more in that ideology than ideals such as liberty, individual dignity, empowering, creative and productive work and so forth for all. The central flaw of right-libertarianism is that it does not recognise that the workings of the capitalist market can easily ensure that the majority end up becoming a resource for others in ways far worse than that associated with taxation. The legal rights of self-ownership supported by right-libertarians does not mean that people have the ability to avoid what is in effect enslavement to another (see sections F.2 and F.3).

Right-Libertarian theory is not based upon a libertarian methodology or perspective and so it is hardly surprising it results in support for authoritarian social relationships and, indeed, slavery (see section F.2.6).

F.1.3 Is right-Libertarian theory scientific in nature?

Usually, no. The scientific approach is inductive, much of the right-libertarian approach is deductive. The first draws generalisations from the data, the second applies preconceived generalisations to the data. A completely deductive approach is pre-scientific, however, which is why many right-Libertarians cannot legitimately claim to use a scientific method. Deduction does occur in science, but the generalisations are primarily based on other data, not a priori assumptions, and are checked against data to see if they are accurate. Anarchists tend to fall into the inductive camp, as Kropotkin put it:

"Precisely this natural-scientific method applied to economic facts, enables us to prove that the so-called 'laws' of middle-class sociology, including also their political economy, are not laws at all, but simply guesses, or mere assertions which have never been verified at all." [Kropotkin's Revolutionary Pamphlets, p. 153]

The idea that natural-scientific methods can be applied to economic and social life is one that many right-libertarians reject. Instead they favour the deductive (pre-scientific) approach (this we must note is not limited purely to Austrian economists, many more mainstream capitalist economists also embrace deduction over induction).

The tendency for right-Libertarianism to fall into dogmatism (or a priori theorems, as they call it) and its implications can best be seen from the work of Ludwig von Mises and other economists from the right-Libertarian "Austrian school." Of course, not all right-libertarians necessarily subscribe to this approach (Murray Rothbard for one did) but its use by so many leading lights of both schools of thought is significant and worthy of comment. And as we are concentrating on methodology it is not essential to discuss the starting assumptions. The assumptions (such as, to use Rothbard's words, the Austrian's "fundamental axiom that individual human beings act") may be correct, incorrect or incomplete -- but the method of using them advocated by von Mises ensures that such considerations are irrelevant.

Von Mises (a leading member of the Austrian school of economics) begins by noting that social and economic theory "is not derived from experience; it is prior to experience..." Which is back to front. It is obvious that experience of capitalism is necessary in order to develop a viable theory about how it works. Without the experience, any theory is just a flight of fantasy. The actual specific theory we develop is therefore derived from experience, informed by it and will have to get checked against reality to see if it is viable. This is the scientific method - any theory must be checked against the facts.

However, von Mises goes on to argue at length that "no kind of experience can ever force us to discard or modify a priori theorems; they are logically prior to it and cannot be either proved by corroborative experience or disproved by experience to the contrary . . ."

Von Mises makes a similar claim in his work Human Action, namely that experience "can never . . . prove or disprove any particular theorem . . . The ultimate yardstick of an economic theorem's correctness or incorrectness is solely reason unaided by experience." [p. 858]

And if this does not do justice to a full exposition of the phantasmagoria of von Mises' a priorism, the reader may take some joy (or horror) from the following statement:

"If a contradiction appears between a theory and experience, we must always assume that a condition pre-supposed by the theory was not present, or else there is some error in our observation. The disagreement between the theory and the facts of experience frequently forces us to think through the problems of the theory again. But so long as a rethinking of the theory uncovers no errors in our thinking, we are not entitled to doubt its truth" [emphasis added -- the quotes presented here are cited in Ideology and Method in Economics by Homa Katouzian, pp. 39-40]

In other words, if reality is in conflict with your ideas, do not adjust your views because reality must be at fault! The scientific method would be to revise the theory in light of the facts. It is not scientific to reject the facts in light of the theory!

Von Mises rejects the scientific approach as do all Austrian Economists. Murray Rothbard states approvingly that "Mises indeed held not only that economic theory does not need to be 'tested' by historical fact but also that it cannot be so tested." ["Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics" in The Foundation of Modern Austrian Economics, p. 32] Similarly, von Hayek wrote that economic theories can "never be verified or falsified by reference to facts. All that we can and must verify is the presence of our assumptions in the particular case." [Individualism and Economic Order, p. 73]

This may seen somewhat strange to non-Austrians. How can we ignore reality when deciding whether a theory is a good one or not? If we cannot evaluate our ideas, how can we consider them anything bar dogma? The Austrian's maintain that we cannot use historical evidence because every historical situation is unique. Thus we cannot use "complex heterogeneous historical facts as if they were repeatable homogeneous facts" like those in a scientist's experiment [Rothbard, Op. Cit., p. 33]. While such a position does have an element of truth about it, the extreme a priorism that is drawn from this element is radically false (just as extreme empiricism is also false, but for different reasons).

Those who hold such a position ensure that their ideas cannot be evaluated beyond logical analysis. As Rothbard makes clear, "since praxeology begins with a true axiom, A, all that can be deduced from this axiom must also be true. For if A implies be, and A is true, then B must also be true." [Op. Cit., pp. 19-20] But such an approach makes the search for truth a game without rules. The Austrian economists (and other right-libertarians) who use this method are free to theorise anything they want, without such irritating constrictions as facts, statistics, data, history or experimental confirmation. Their only guide is logic. But this is no different from what religions do when they assert the logical existence of God. Theories ungrounded in facts and data are easily spun into any belief a person wants. Starting assumptions and trains of logic may contain inaccuracies so small as to be undetectable, yet will yield entirely false conclusions.

In addition, trains of logic may miss things which are only brought to light by actual experiences (after all, the human mind is not all knowing or all seeing). To ignore actual experience is to loose that input when evaluating a theory. Hence our comments on the irrelevance of the assumptions used -- the methodology is such that incomplete or incorrect assumptions or steps cannot be identified in light of experience. This is because one way of discovering if a given chain of logic requires checking is to test its conclusions against available evidence (although von Mises did argue that the "ultimate yardstick" was "solely reason unaided by experience"). If we do take experience into account and rethink a given theory in the light of contradictory evidence, the problem remains that a given logical chain may be correct, but incomplete or concentrate on or stress inappropriate factors. In other words, our logical deductions may be correct but our starting place or steps wrong and as the facts are to be rejected in the light of the deductive method, we cannot revise our ideas.

Indeed, this approach could result in discarding (certain forms of) human behaviour as irrelevant (which the Austrian system claims using empirical evidence does). For there are too many variables that can have an influence upon individual acts to yield conclusive results explaining human behaviour. Indeed, the deductive approach may ignore as irrelevant certain human motivations which have a decisive impact on an outcome. There could be a strong tendency to project "right-libertarian person" onto the rest of society and history, for example, and draw inappropriate insights into the way human society works or has worked. This can be seen, for example, in attempts to claim pre-capitalist societies as examples of "anarcho"-capitalism in action.

Moreover, deductive reasoning cannot indicate the relative significance of assumptions or theoretical factors. That requires empirical study. It could be that a factor considered important in the theory actually turns out to have little effect in practice and so the derived axioms are so weak as to be seriously misleading.

In such a purely ideal realm, observation and experience are distrusted (when not ignored) and instead theory is the lodestone. Given the bias of most theorists in this tradition, it is unsurprising that this style of economics can always be trusted to produce results proving free markets to be the finest principle of social organisation. And, as an added bonus, reality can be ignored as it is never "pure" enough according to the assumptions required by the theory. It could be argued, because of this, that many right-libertarians insulate their theories from criticism by refusing to test them or acknowledge the results of such testing (indeed, it could also be argued that much of right-libertarianism is more a religion than a political theory as it is set-up in such a way that it is either true or false, with this being determined not by evaluating facts but by whether you accept the assumptions and logical chains presented with them).

Strangely enough, while dismissing the "testability" of theories many right-Libertarians (including Murray Rothbard) do investigate historical situations and claim them as examples of how well their ideas work in practice. But why does historical fact suddenly become useful when it can be used to bolster the right-Libertarian argument? Any such example is just as "complex" as any other and the good results indicated may not be accountable to the assumptions and steps of the theory but to other factors totally ignored by it. If economic (or other) theory is untestable then no conclusions can be drawn from history, including claims for the superiority of laissez-faire capitalism. You cannot have it both ways -- although we doubt that right-libertarians will stop using history as evidence that their ideas work.

Perhaps the Austrian desire to investigate history is not so strange after all. Clashes with reality make a-priori deductive systems implode as the falsifications run back up the deductive changes to shatter the structure built upon the original axioms. Thus the desire to find some example which proves their ideology must be tremendous. However, the deductive a-priori methodology makes them unwilling to admit to being mistaken -- hence their attempts to downplay examples which refute their dogmas. Thus we have the desire for historical examples while at the same time they have extensive ideological justifications that ensure reality only enters their world-view when it agrees with them. In practice, the latter wins as real-life refuses to be boxed into their dogmas and deductions.

Of course it is sometimes argued that it is complex data that is the problem. Let use assume that this is the case. It is argued that when dealing with complex information it is impossible to use aggregate data without first having more simple assumptions (i.e. that "humans act"). Due to the complexity of the situation, it is argued, it is impossible to aggregate data because this hides the individual activities that creates it. Thus "complex" data cannot be used to invalidate assumptions or theories. Hence, according to Austrians, the axioms derived from the "simple fact" that "humans act" are the only basis for thinking about the economy.

Such a position is false in two ways.

Firstly, the aggregation of data does allow us to understand complex systems. If we look at a chair, we cannot find out whether it is comfortable, its colour, whether it is soft or hard by looking at the atoms that make it up. To suggest that you can is to imply the existence of green, soft, comfortable atoms. Similarly with gases. They are composed to countless individual atoms but scientists do not study them by looking at those atoms and their actions. Within limits, this is also valid for human action. For example, it would be crazy to maintain from historical data that interest rates will be a certain percentage a week but it is valid to maintain that interest rates are known to be related to certain variables in certain ways. Or that certain experiences will tend to result in certain forms of psychological damage. General tendencies and "rules of thumb" can be evolved from such study and these can be used to guide current practice and theory. By aggregating data you can produce valid information, rules of thumb, theories and evidence which would be lost if you concentrated on "simple data" (such as "humans act"). Therefore, empirical study produces facts which vary across time and place, and yet underlying and important patterns can be generated (patterns which can be evaluated against new data and improved upon).

Secondly, the simple actions themselves influence and are influenced in turn by overall (complex) facts. People act in different ways in different circumstances (something we can agree with Austrians about, although we refuse to take it to their extreme position of rejecting empirical evidence as such). To use simple acts to understand complex systems means to miss the fact that these acts are not independent of their circumstances. For example, to claim that the capitalist market is "just" the resultant of bilateral exchanges ignores the fact that the market activity shapes the nature and form of these bilateral exchanges. The "simple" data is dependent on the "complex" system -- and so the complex system cannot be understood by looking at the simple actions in isolation. To do so would be to draw incomplete and misleading conclusions (and it is due to these interrelations that we argue that aggregate data should be used critically). This is particularly important when looking at capitalism, where the "simple" acts of exchange in the labour market are dependent upon and shaped by circumstances outside these acts.

So to claim that (complex) data cannot be used to evaluate a theory is false. Data can be useful when seeing whether a theory is confirmed by reality. This is the nature of the scientific method -- you compare the results expected by your theory to the facts and if they do not match you check your facts and check your theory. This may involve revising the assumptions, methodology and theories you use if the evidence is such as to bring them into question. For example, if you claim that capitalism is based on freedom but that the net result of capitalism is to produce relations of domination between people then it would be valid to revise, for example, your definition of freedom rather than deny that domination restricts freedom (see section F.2 on this). But if actual experience is to be distrusted when evaluating theory, we effectively place ideology above people -- after all, how the ideology affects people in practice is irrelevant as experiences cannot be used to evaluate the (logically sound but actually deeply flawed) theory.

As we indicated above (in section F.1.2) and will discuss in more depth later (in section F.7) most of the leading right-Libertarian theorists base themselves on such deductive methodologies, starting from assumptions and "logically" drawing conclusions from them. The religious undertones of such methodology can best be seen from the roots of right-Libertarian "Natural law" theory.

Carole Pateman, in her analysis of Liberal contract theory, indicates the religious nature of the "Natural Law" argument so loved by the theorists of the "Radical Right." She notes that for Locke (the main source of the Libertarian Right's Natural Law cult) "natural law" was equivalent of "God's Law" and that "God's law exists externally to and independently of individuals." [The Problem of Political Obligation, p. 154] No role for critical thought there, only obedience. Most modern day "Natural Law" supporters forget to mention this religious undercurrent and instead talk of about "Nature" (or "the market") as the deity that creates Law, not God, in order to appear "rational." So much for science.

Such a basis in dogma and religion can hardly be a firm foundation for liberty and indeed "Natural Law" is marked by a deep authoritarianism:

"Locke's traditional view of natural law provided individual's with an external standard which they could recognise, but which they did not voluntarily choose to order their political life." [Op. Cit., p. 79]

In section F.7 we discuss the authoritarian nature of "Natural Law" and will not do so here. However, here we must point out the political conclusions Locke draws from his ideas. Pateman summary is worth repeating at length:

Locke believed that "obedience lasts only as long as protection. His individuals are able to take action themselves to remedy their political lot. . . but this does not mean, as is often assumed, that Locke's theory gives direct support to present-day arguments for a right of civil disobedience. . . His theory allows for two alternatives only: either people go peacefully about their daily affairs under the protection of a liberal, constitutional government, or they are in revolt against a government which has ceased to be 'liberal' and has become arbitrary and tyrannical, so forfeiting its right to obedience." [Op. Cit., p. 77]

Locke's "rebellion" exists purely to reform a new 'liberal' government, not to change the existing socio-economic structure which the 'liberal' government exists to protect. His theory, therefore, indicates the results of a priorism, namely a denial of any form of social dissent which may change the "natural law" as defined by Locke.

So, von Mises, von Hayek and most right-libertarians reject the scientific method in favour of ideological correctness -- if the facts contradict your theory then they can be dismissed as too "complex" or "unique". Facts, however, should inform theory and any theory's methodology should take this into account. To dismiss facts out of hand is to promote dogma. This is not to suggest that a theory should be modified very time new data comes along -- that would be crazy as unique situations do exist, data can be wrong and so forth -- but it does suggest that if your theory continually comes into conflict with reality, its time to rethink the theory and not assume that facts cannot invalidate it. A true libertarian would approach a contradiction between reality and theory by evaluating the facts available and changing the theory is this is required, not by ignoring reality or dismissing it as "complex".

Thus, much of right-Libertarian theory is neither libertarian nor scientific. Much of right-libertarian thought is highly axiomatic, being logically deduced from such starting axioms as "self-ownership" or "no one should initiate force against another". Hence the importance of our discussion of von Mises as this indicates the dangers of this approach, namely the tendency to ignore/dismiss the consequences of these logical chains and, indeed, to justify them in terms of these axioms rather than from the facts. In addition, the methodology used is such as that it would be fair to argue that right-libertarians get to critique reality but reality can never be used to critique right-libertarianism -- for any empirical data presented as evidence as be dismissed as "too complex" or "unique" and so irrelevant (unless it can be used to support their claims, of course).

Hence W. Duncan Reekie's argument (quoting leading Austrian economist Israel Kirzner) that "empirical work 'has the function of establishing the applicability of particular theorems, and thus illustrating their operation' . . . Confirmation of theory is not possible because there is no constants in human action, nor is it necessary because theorems themselves describe relationships logically developed from hypothesised conditions. Failure of a logically derived axiom to fit the facts does not render it invalid, rather it 'might merely indicate inapplicability' to the circumstances of the case.'" [Markets, Entrepreneurs and Liberty, p. 31]

So, if facts confirm your theory, your theory is right. If facts do not confirm your theory, it is still right but just not applicable in this case! Which has the handy side effect of ensuring that facts can only be used to support the ideology, never to refute it (which is, according to this perspective, impossible anyway). As Karl Popper argued, a "theory which is not refutable by any conceivable event is non-scientific." [Conjectures and Refutations, p. 36] In other words (as we noted above), if reality contradicts your theory, ignore reality!

Kropotkin hoped "that those who believe in [current economic doctrines] will themselves become convinced of their error as soon as they come to see the necessity of verifying their quantitative deductions by quantitative investigation." [Op. Cit., p. 178] However, the Austrian approach builds so many barriers to this that it is doubtful that this will occur. Indeed, right-libertarianism, with its focus on exchange rather than its consequences, seems to be based upon justifying domination in terms of their deductions than analysing what freedom actually means in terms of human existence (see section F.2 for a fuller discussion).

The real question is why are such theories taken seriously and arouse such interest. Why are they not simply dismissed out of hand, given their methodology and the authoritarian conclusions they produce? The answer is, in part, that feeble arguments can easily pass for convincing when they are on the same side as the prevailing sentiment and social system. And, of course, there is the utility of such theories for ruling elites - "[a]n ideological defence of privileges, exploitation, and private power will be welcomed, regardless of its merits." [Noam Chomsky, The Chomsky Reader, p. 188]