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<html>
<head>
<title>Replies to the FAQ 
</title>
</head>
<p>
<h1>A response to a Response to "Left-Anarchist" Criticisms of Anarcho-Capitalism</h1>
<p>
This is a reply to the anti-anti-"anarcho"-capitalist FAQ which used to 
be found at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/7895 by Chris Wilson
(it no longer is and, in fact, Mr. Wilson now considers himself an 
anarchist and "anarcho"-capitalism an oxymoron!). 
It aims to <i>"correct the misrepresentations of anarcho-capitalism (and 
'right-wing' libertarianism in general) made by the anarcho-socialists
[sic!] who run the Anarchist FAQ webpage, and to counter the
criticisms the authors make which happen to be legitimate"</i> which 
are claimed to be in old section F of our FAQ. 
<p>
The author claims that <i>"[m]uch of the anarcho-socialist FAQ is severely 
distortive of the position that the authors wish to refute, and the authors 
provide little textual evidence in support of their preconceived notions 
of anarcho-capitalism."</i> This has been the first such attempt since the
FAQ went on-line in early 1996. If we did produce <i>"mostly strawmen 
arguments which do not truly address the actual positions that 
anarcho-capitalists hold"</i> then no "anarcho"-capitalist before  
Wilson thought it worthwhile to let us know.
<p>
The author claims that his <i>"FAQ aims to correct these errors, and to set 
the record straight for once."</i> That is his right. However, when he first 
approached us with his criticism we said that we were in the process of
revising that section and that we would like to hear his comments in order
to correct any mistakes or strawmen we may have accidentally placed in 
our FAQ (after all, this section contains some of the oldest work on the
FAQ and it came from our experiences of discussing with "anarcho"-capitalists
on-line so mistakes could easily creep in). Instead of providing us 
with feedback, he decided to place his critique on-line (which again is 
his right). Here we reply is his criticism's of the old section F.
<p>
The new <a href="secFcon.html">section F</a> should also be consulted, which 
was being revised as Wilson created his critique of the old section F. 
<p>
<h1>Section F.1 (Are "Anarcho"-Capitalists Really Anarchists?)</h1>
<p>
This section of the FAQ has been extensively revised and so much of the
comments made are to text now found in other sections. The new section
<a href="secF1.html">F.1</a> is far more explicit on why "anarcho"-capitalism is not part of the
anarchist tradition. However, it is worthwhile to discuss the old version.
<p>
Mr Wilson starts off by noting us <i>"that this FAQ does not begin by giving a 
general explanation of what anarcho-capitalism is.  The authors instead
decided to launch right into their rebuttal, without first informing the 
reader of their opposition's position."</i> Yes, very true. We assumed that
the reader would be familiar enough with the concept so that such a
general explanation would not be required. In section <a href="secBcon.html">B</a>, for example, 
we discuss general capitalist attitudes towards, say, property, wage
labour and so as "anarcho"-capitalism bases itself on these concepts
it would be unnecessary to repeat them again. 
<p>
He then quotes our FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     So-called "anarcho"-capitalists only oppose the centralised state,
     not the hierarchical-authoritarian capitalist workplace. Thus
     it is absurd for them to call themselves anarchists, because the
     capitalist workplace is where the majority of people have their
     most frequent, direct, personal, and unpleasant experiences of
     authoritarianism.
</blockquote><p>
And comments:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"More accurately, anarcho-capitalists oppose the governing of a person's
behaviour by other persons without that first person's prior consent.
A-C'ers do not support the centralised state because it holds a geographical
monopoly upon the use of force, which infringes upon the individual
sovereignty of those living within that area.  Regardless of whether the
state is a representative democracy or a dictatorship, it necessarily
violates the conditions that make consent a possibility.  Specifically, 
the state thrives on a policy of coercion, which consists of initiating
interference with the actions and will of individuals and benefiting at
their expense."</i>
</blockquote><p>
So, in other words, "consent" is required and that makes authoritarianism
okay. Thus capitalist hierarchy is fine because workers agree to it but
state hierarchy is bad because citizens do not "consent". But as we 
argue in the new section F.2.3 (<a href="secF2.html#secf23">Can "anarcho"-capitalist theory justify 
the state?</a>) in a liberal or democratic state citizens are free to move 
to another state. They can withdraw their "consent" just as a worker 
can withdraw their "consent" and look for another job. If consent is 
the key aspect of whether something is evil or not then the modern 
state is not an evil as it is based upon consent. No one forces you 
to stay in a given state. Thus "consent" is not enough in itself to 
justify hierarchy.
<p>
In addition, we should not that the boss also interferes with the actions
and will of individuals and benefits at their expense. Indeed, Murray 
Rothbard actually states that <b>if</b> the state legitimately owned the
land it claims then it would be perfectly justified in "interfering" 
with those lived on its property in exactly the same way that any 
other property does! (see section <a href="secF2.html#secf23">F.2.3</a>). His opposition to the state
is simply that the property it claims was <b>unjustly</b> acquired, not
that it restricts individual freedom. 
<p>
Thus, for "anarcho"-capitalists, the difference between restrictions 
on freedom created by property and those created by statism is that 
the former are caused by a "just" history (and so are fine) while the 
later are caused by an "unjust" history (and so are bad). However, 
given that the property regime we live in is deeply affected by past 
state actions (see section <a href="secF8.html">F.8</a>), this 
criteria is phoney as capitalism 
shares a history of violence with the state. If state hierarchy is 
wrong, so is capitalist hierarchy -- if "history" is actually to 
account for anything rather than just as rhetoric to justify capitalist 
oppression.
<p>
Wilson goes on to state that "anarcho"-capitalists <i>"do not wish to 
abolish the 'hierarchical-authoritarian capitalist workplace', because 
of the fact that doing so would place a restriction upon the number of 
alternatives people can choose to improve their situations without 
violating the liberty of others."</i>
<p>
Sounds lovely and freedom enhancing does it not? Until you think about 
it more deeply. Then you realise that such glorification of choice is
just a "dismal politics", where most of the choices are bad. After all,
in "actually existing" capitalism the percentage of non-wage slaves
in the workforce is around 10% (and this figure includes bosses and
not just self-employed workers). The percentage of self-employed has
steadily decreased from the dawn of capitalism which means that capitalism
itself restricts the number of alternatives people have to choose from!
<p>
And let us see what the <i>"hierarchical-authoritarian capitalist workplace"</i>
involves. It is based upon the worker selling their liberty to gain entry
to it. Why do they do that? Because the circumstances they face means
that they have little choice but to do so. And these circumstances are
created by the rights framework within society; in other words <b>capitalist</b>
property rights. Wilson assumes that abolishing capitalist property rights
will involve "violating the liberty of others" but it is clear that
that maintaining these rights results in people "voluntarily" selling
their liberty due to the circumstances created by these property rights.
In other words, the enforcement of property rights involves the 
violation of liberty of those subject to the rules and regulations
of the property owner. For example, the boss can ban numerous free
actions, agreements and exchanges on his property -- the joining of a 
union, free speech, freedom to wear what you like and so on.
<p>
Wilson goes on to argue that <i>"a person enters into a bilateral exchange with 
another person out of an expectation that the benefits of the exchange will 
exceed its costs.  . . . He [the capitalist] underwent the expense involved 
in purchasing and/or producing these capital goods, and if he does not 
consent to give them up to the workers, any forceful appropriation of 
them on behalf of the workers would be a violation of his autonomy."</i>
<p>
So, just to be clear, if the worker has the option of selling her labour
and starving to death then the worker "freely" sells her liberty. Any
attempt to change the rights framework of society is a "violation" of
the capitalist's "autonomy". The same could be said of the state. After all,
the state has went to the expense of acquiring and protecting the land
it claims. But, of course, this initial claim was invalid and so the
state is to be opposed. But the capitalist class has profited from the
state's use of force many a time and the economic circumstances it 
has helped create. After all, it was state enforcement of the "land
monopoly" that created a pool of landless workers who had no choice
but to enter into wage slavery. The capitalists enriched themselves
at the expense of desperate people with no other options, with state
aid to repress strikes and unions.
<p>
If the state's claims of ownership are phoney, then so are the
claims of capitalists.
<p>
Wilson then laments that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"A worker who does not possess the same amount of wealth as an entrepreneur
will often consent to what anarcho-socialists would call an 'unequal
exchange' because of the fact that he forecasts that an improvement in his
situation will result from it. To prevent this type of exchange from
occurring would be to constrain the number of options available that one can
choose to improve one's lot."</i>
</blockquote><p>
As noted above, it is capitalism that constrains the number of options
available to "improve one's lot". But Wilson seems to be assuming that
anarchists desire to somehow "ban" wage labour. But we made no such claim.
We argued that we need to change the rights framework of society and
take back that which has been stolen from us. After all, capitalists 
have used the state to enrich themselves at our expense for hundreds
of years (indeed, as we argue in section <a href="secF8.html">F.8</a> 
the state played a key role in the development of capitalism in the 
first place).
<p>
As Nozick argues in <b>Anarchy, State, and Utopia</b>, only "justly" acquired
property can be legitimately transferred. But under capitalism, property
was not justly acquired (indeed, even Nozick's conceptual theory of
land acquisition does not justify land ownership -- see 
<a href="secB3.html#secb34">section B.3.4</a>).
Thus we are not violating the liberty of capitalists if we take their
property and modify the rights framework because it was not their
property to begin with! 
<p>
Wilson goes on to argue that <i>"[d]espite the unpleasant rules that 
a worker may
have to follow when on the job, the worker does it for the purpose of
securing something greater in the end."</i>
<p>
The same logic has been used to justify the state. Despite the unpleasant
rules that a citizen may have to follow, they do it for the purpose of 
securing something greater in the end -- security, liberty, whatever.
That is hardly a convincing argument and seems more to do with justifying
and rationalising unfreedom than anything else.
<p>
So what is the <i>"something greater"</i>? Usually to have enough money to buy
food, shelter and so on. Most workers are a pay packet away from poverty.
As the "something greater" is to be able to live, that suggests that 
workers do not "consent" freely to become a wage slave. They have little
choice.
<p>
Wilson goes on:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This is why anarcho-capitalists do not wish to abolish consensual hierarchy
or a mutual acceptance of rules (which is what the anarcho-socialists call
'authoritarian' in this case).  If people consent to such relationships,
it's for the purpose of acquiring a higher degree of freedom that will
exceed the degree of sacrifice that the transaction involves.  They value
the projected outcomes of the exchanges they make more than they value the
result of not making the exchange at all."</i>
</blockquote><p>
And what is the result of not making the exchange? Poverty, starvation. 
Wow, some "choice". But anarchists do not wish to abolish consensual
hierarchy. We wish to give people a real choice. This real choice is
impossible under capitalism and so the vast majority sell their liberty.
That Wilson ignores the circumstances that force people to wage labour
says a lot.
<p>
Now, anarchists have no problem with the <i>"mutual acceptance of rules"</i>. This
does not need to be <i>"authoritarian"</i> (no matter what Wilson claims we think).
For example, in a co-operative the members create their own rules by
mutual agreement and debate. That is not authoritarian. What <b>is</b> 
authoritarian is when one person says "I make the rules round here and
you can love it or leave it". That is what the state does and it is
what the capitalist does. It is authoritarian because the rules are
imposed on the rest -- who then have the choice of following these
rules or leaving. Thus the capitalist workplace is a dictatorship and
so authoritarian.
<p>
Moving on, Wilson disagrees with anarchist claims that capitalism is
based upon exploitation and oppression. He states that <i>"[w]hat this FAQ 
does not mention (in this particular section) is that exploitation doctrine 
is based upon an economic theory of value, which is, shall we say, less
than universally accepted by political theorists and economists today.
This is the labour theory of value (LTV). . . "</i>
<p>
Yes, it is true that most economists and political theorists do not
accept the Labour Theory of Value. Most do not understand it and present
strawmen arguments against it. But small but significant groupings of
economists and political theorists do accept it (for example, individualist
anarchists, Marxists, many social anarchists, many post-keynesianists). But 
the question arises, <b>why</b> is the LTV rejected? Simply because it argues
that capitalism is based upon exploitation and that non-labour income is
usury. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to supporting economic theories,
the wealthy will pick those which justify their incomes and riches, not
those which argue that they are illegitimate. Thus the LTV along with
Henry George's ideas would not be selected within the "free marketplace
of ideas" -- indeed the followers of George argue that neo-classical
economics was deliberately funded by the wealthy to marginalise their
ideas.
<p>
So, to state that the LTV is a <i>"less than universally accepted"</i> is like
arguing that because democratic theory was "less than universally accepted"
in Nazi Germany there must be something wrong with it. Wilson falls into
the common fallacy that economic ideas are value free and do not reflect
class interests.
<p>
He goes on to state "anarcho"-capitalists do not <i>"accept that theory"</i>
(which comes as no surprise as they do not like to think about what
goes on at the point of production that much) and even if we <b>do</b> 
accept the LTV that it is <i>"still not obvious that the 
'profits = exploitation' conclusion follows from it. In his book 
Hidden Order, David Friedman makes an interesting point that 'the 
laws of physics tell us that the sum total of energy can neither
be increased, nor reduced.  What we call 'production' is the rearrangement
of matter and energy from less useful to more useful (to us) forms.' [David
Friedman, Hidden Order, p 128]  Production managers, just like manual
labourers, do precisely this.  They produce by rearranging matter through
time and space, but rather than rearranging constituent parts to produce a
good, they rearrange the goods themselves into the hands of customers (which
manual labourers do not do)."</i>
<p>
Funnily enough, the FAQ does not deny the importance of management and
administration skills. No anarchist has ever maintained that workplaces
do not need to be managed. Nor did we argue that "manual labour" was the 
only form of labour that added value. Quite the reverse in fact. What we
<b>did</b> argue was that in a dictatorship those at the top will consider
that <b>their</b> contribution added most value to a product and reward
themselves appropriately. We argued that the higher up the management
structure you go, the less value the labour adds to output. Indeed,
the basic function of management is to organise labour in such a
way as to maximise profits. That is why the hierarchical workplace
exists. In the words of one economist:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Managers of a capitalist enterprise are not content simply to respond 
to the dictates of the market by equating the wage to the value of
the marginal product of labour. Once the worker has entered the 
production process, the forces of the market have, for a time at least,
been superseded. The effort-pay relation will depend not only on 
market relations of exchange but also. . . on the hierarchical relations
of production - on the relative power of managers and workers within
the enterprise."</i> [William Lazonick, <b>Business Organisation and the
Myth of the Market Economy</b>, pp. 184-5]
</blockquote><p>
Thus profits are maximised by maximising the labour workers do while
minimising the amount paid to them. That is what the management structure
exists for. That Wilson denies this suggests that he views the firm
as some kind of "black-box" within which human social relationships
and action are irrelevant. But this is not the case -- what does on 
in production is the key to profitability. As the early socialist
Thomas Hodgskin put it:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Fixed capital does not derive its utility from previous,
but present labour; and does not bring its owner a profit because
it has been stored up, but because it is a means of obtaining a
command over labour."</i>
</blockquote><p>
And nothing has changed. As Proudhon long ago argued, only labour 
is productive. Without labour capital would rust away. Thus the
LTV is far more applicable that Wilson would like us to believe.
<p>
Now, Wilson claims that "manual labourers" do not "rearrange the goods
themselves into the hands of customers" but in a co-operative the
workforce does just that. They elect managers and take part in the
management structure. Wilson fails to notice that workers do not do
that in capitalist firms because the management structure is top-down
and is designed to disempower workers. So if workers do not do these
tasks it is because management has the monopoly of (official) power
and decides that <b>it</b> adds most value and deserves a higher reward.
So, in other words, capitalist property rights create dictatorship
and those in the dictatorship enrich themselves. Not a surprising
outcome.
<p>
Wilson then argues that "anarcho"-capitalists <i>"reject the labour theory of 
value in favour of marginal utility theory, which holds that prices are 
determined by the subjective preferences and plans of individuals."</i>
<p>
Of course, the LTV also argues that prices are determined by the subjective
preferences of individuals. In order to have exchange value, a commodity
must have a use value to a customer. And, of course, exchange value does
not equal price but is instead an abstraction of the fact that when a
commodity is produced a specific set of costs have been spent on it.
These costs are objective facts and determine whether a commodity makes
a profit or not. In the long term, commodities would exchange at a
price equivalent to the abstract exchange value but in the short term
they vary according to supply and demand. As we argue in <a href="secCcon.html">section C</a>,
the marginal utility theory ignores the fact that a commodity has an
objective cost associated with it which is its exchange value. When
it boils down to it, the profit which a product generates is what 
capitalists "subjectively value" and these profits are dependent on
the productivity of labour (i.e. the more workers make in a given 
period for the same wage, the higher potential profits will be).
<p>
Wilson goes on to state that <i>"[i]t's obvious that the author has little 
respect for the reasoned arguments published by free-market economists 
and political theorists in the last century.  It's pretty insulting when 
somebody responds to a reasoned argument by scoffing at it and referring 
to it as 'apologetics' or 'rationalisation', rather than giving it serious 
consideration."</i> But, strangely enough, we discussed why we think the
LTV is a better way of analysing capitalism that than those provided
by "free-market economists and political theorists" and in our humble
opinion, it is apologetics and rationalisations. Sorry if Mr Wilson 
does not agree, but then again he would not. For example, most of
"anarcho"-capitalism seems to involve apologetics and rationalisations
for the restrictions of individual liberty associated with capitalism.
See, for example, section <a href="secF2.html#secf21">F.2.1</a> in 
which Murray Rothbard rationalises
away capitalist oppression even when it clearly has similarities
with statist oppression. Similarly, many Stalinists and supporters of
Nazism provided many "reasoned arguments" to indicate why the fact
of dictatorship was essential. Just because currently capitalist 
ideology is widely accepted does not make it any less apologetics
than these "reasoned arguments." Again, Wilson assumes that economic
theory is value free rather than being the <a href="http://204.181.81.182/zmag/articles/hermanjuly97.html">
"economics of the rich"</a>
to use Edward Herman's cutting phrase.
<p>
Wilson then states that <i>"[t]his paragraph is both a form of argument 
from intimidation and argument ad hominem, and hence we shall let it pass 
without further comment."</i> Well, having discussed in <a href="secCcon.html">section C</a> why we
think that capitalism is exploitative we did not think we really had
to repeat ourselves. And as far as arguments from intimidation and 
arguments ad hominem go, Wilson indulges himself in this later with
his "parasite", "dictator" and other comments.
<p>
He then quotes the FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     "Anarcho"-capitalists, however, believe that capitalist companies
     will necessarily remain hierarchical even if the public state has
     been dissolved. This is because only hierarchical workplaces are
     "efficient" enough to survive in a 'free' market. 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. In addition,
     such hierarchies will need "defending" from those oppressed by
     them; and hence, 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).
<p></blockquote>
And argues that <i>"[t]his is rhetoric, not argument.  Apparently, the authors 
would rather rave on about their own beliefs, rather than give a fair 
representation of anarcho-capitalism.  Notice that no assertion in the 
above quote is defended--not the assertion that capitalist production 
involves 'domination, coercion, or exploitation', nor the assertion that 
ownership of private property is 'authoritarian'.  Nor do we receive a 
definition for any of these slippery concepts.  Nor do they bother to 
give a fair explanation as to why anarcho-capitalists disagree with them 
on these issues."</i>
<p>
Now, lets see about these claims. Now, the reason why anarchists think
that  capitalist production involves <i>"domination, coercion, and exploitation"</i>
of workers was discussed at great length in sections <a href="secBcon.html">B</a> and <a href="secCcon.html">C</a> of the FAQ.
Indeed, it is mentioned in passing in <a href="secAcon.html">section A</a> on why anarchists are
socialists and why anarchists support direct democracy. Apparently we 
should have repeated all our arguments again in order to meet Wilson's 
inability to look at the rest of the FAQ. Of course, perhaps, we should
have placed links to the appropriate sections but given that we doubted
that anyone would jump straight into section F.1 we did not. Now as far
as a "fair explanation" as to why "anarcho"-capitalists disagree with
real anarchists on these issues we indicate why capitalistic property
is wrong (and we argued in section <a href="secB3.html">B.3</a> and <a href="secB1.html">B.1</a> why private property
is "authoritarian" -- something, we should note, that "anarcho"-capitalists
do not actually disagree with. They just argue that "consent" ensures
that the authoritarian relationships it creates are not a restriction
of liberty). Now, the aim of <a href="secFcon.html">section F</a> of the FAQ was to explain why
"anarcho"-capitalism was not a form of anarchism. And this is what
we did. Hence Wilson's comments are misplaces, to say the least.
<p>
Wilson then does on to argue that capitalist production <i>"does involve 
hierarchy, considering that the owners of the means of production must 
direct the disposal of their resources so that they don't go to waste."</i> 
So, as noted, he agrees that capitalist private property <b>is</b> authoritarian
(how could hierarchy be anything else?). Thus his laments that we just
<i>"assert"</i> this fact is somewhat strange. He then tries to get out of
this by noting that:
<p>
<i>"the same situation will accrue under worker ownership.  All production 
strategies and guidelines would be established by a system of majority 
vote, and so it's doubtful that any single individual will have a much 
greater influence in determining them than one would under a under 
an hierarchical capitalist corporation."</i>  
<p>
Really? But a key aspect of anarchist ideas of self-management is that
capitalist corporations must be broken up and replaced by a confederation
of self-managed workplaces. The workers in a given workplace would
have extensive control over what affects them directly and the possibility
of influencing the decisions of the wider issues that affect their
industry. So it is nonsense to say that individuals will not have a
greater influence than in a hierarchical capitalist firm. Unlike in 
a capitalist firm they are not just order takers (and lets not forget
that this is what the worker is under capitalism). They can and do
have control over many important aspects of their work. This can
be seen when limited workers control is introduced into capitalist
firms, so Wilson's claims are just an attempt to justify factory
fascism.
<p>
Talking of which, he celebrates this when he argues that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The only difference that might possibly accrue as a result of worker 
ownership would be a higher degree of gridlock involved in determining 
company policy.  With respect to a political institution, gridlock is 
good; it prevents any single individual from having too much power and from
subsequently passing a great deal of tyrannical statute law.  With respect
to a business, gridlock is bad, because it prevents business from adapting
to constantly changing market conditions."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Which is, of course, a fascist argument transferred from the political
to the economic regime (which, of course, is something fascists also
do). And, as Bob Black argued in <A HREF="http://www.unicorn.com//lib/libertarian.html">The Libertarian as Conservative</a>,
it is also an argument put forward by Marx, Engels and Lenin. What
strange bed-fellows right-libertarians have! Now, Wilson is attacking
economic democracy because it creates "grid lock" (although, as all
co-operatives indicate, it does nothing of the kind) which, he claims,
is good in politics because "it prevents any single individual from
having too much power". What "logic". Economic dictatorship <b>does</b> place 
"too much power" in the hands of the boss, that is why anarchists have
always recognised that (to use Proudhon's words) that <i>"property is
despotism"</i>. 
<p>
How strange. Identical social relationships switch from being bad to
good purely on whether it is a capitalist that has power or a state
official. Such is the power of "consent"!
<p>
Wilson then moves onto bigger and better claims:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Some 'anarchists' claim that there will not be any competition between
worker-owned firms under their version of 'anarchy', because all individual
firms will be subordinated to the direction of a larger system of worker
management.  Of course, what this 'larger system of worker management'
amounts to is an institution that falls neatly under the Weberian definition
of a state.  That isn't to say, of course, that the 'anarchists' who
advocate this social arrangement aren't opposed to statism.  On the
contrary, they're vehemently opposed to the state provided that they and
their comrades aren't in charge of it."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Yes, anarchists who favour workplace self-management <b>really</b> want to 
be "in charge" of a new state! What wonderful logic! Using this logic
it would be simple to prove that Hitler was an anarchist (he argued
for dictatorship but obviously he favoured anarchy just as the anarchists
who argue for self-management desire dictatorship). Moreover, Wilson
totally misrepresents anarchist ideas of workplace confederation. The
"larger system of worker management" is based upon freely joining a
confederation and the individual workplaces within it have as much
autonomy as they agree they need. To claim that this is statist is
just plain silly -- it is clearly an agreement between groups to
work together.
<p>
Now, let us look at the capitalist workplace or corporation. Within
these the boss bans all competition within his/her property he/she
does not desire. So if the anarchist system of confederation meets
the Weberian definition of a state so does the capitalist firm! 
Indeed, as we argue in section <a href="secF6.html#secf64">F.6.4</a>, 
the property owner can "ban"
workers from, say, joining a union or subscribing to specific "defence"
firms. In other words, the "anarcho"-capitalist are vehemently
opposed to the state provided that the capitalists are not in charge
of it.
<p>
So Wilson highlights the central fallacy of "anarcho"-capitalism, namely
that private property some how does not meet the Weberian definition of 
the state. But, in fact, it clearly does. Something, a may note that 
Murray Rothbard (in his own way) recognised but did not consider 
important enough to draw the obvious conclusions from. Which
presents us with the question: Is voluntary democracy more libertarian
than voluntary dictatorship? Anarchists think that self-management has
far more to do with liberty that hierarchy and so oppose capitalism.
"Anarcho"-capitalists seem to think that dictatorship has no effect
on liberty. Which is somewhat strange, to say the least.
<p>
Wilson then goes on to state that <i>"worker ownership and even communal 
ownership of the means of production would be perfectly legitimate under 
anarcho-capitalism, provided that nobody violates anybody else's consent."</i>
<p>
Which is ironic, as capitalism was created by violating the rights of
working people to worker ownership/control and communal ownership 
(see section <a href="secF8.html">F.8</a>). How that the capitalists 
have the upper hand, 
they can embrace "free competition" knowing that their advantage on
the market will ensure that workers control will not spread (see
sections <a href="secJ5.html#secj510">J.5.10</a>, <a href="secJ5.html#secj511">J.5.11</a> and <a href="secJ5.html#secj512">J.5.12</a>). Kind of like the thief who 
argues that you can take back what was stolen from you as long
as you do not violate his consent (which he is not going to give)!
<p>
So Wilson is simply acknowledging that under capitalism you have to
buy the freedom which should be your birth right from those who have
stolen it! How generous.
<p>
Wilson then goes to agree with the FAQ by stating that management <i>"does 
set the terms of the use and disposal of company property (whoever the owners 
happen to be)"</i> and so workers <b>are</b> subject to authoritarian social
relationships and so are not free. But, he argues, <i>"according to what
standard would the workers have a right to forcibly seize the means of 
production out of dissatisfaction with the situation?"</i> There are many
answers to this (answers which Mr Wilson does not present which means,
to paraphrase his good self, "nor does he bother to give a fair explanation 
as to why anarchists disagree with them on this issue").
<p>
If we take a Stirnerite point of view, we could argue that workers need
no "right" to take them over. They desire them and desire freedom. That
is good enough in itself. As the capitalists have no "right" to restrict
the liberty of workers, workers have no "right" to stop that restriction.
They do it anyway. Or we could take a Proudhonist viewpoint which argues
that the land cannot be appropriated and so capitalists have no right to
their capital as the initial appropriations were illegitimate and they
have enriched themselves by the labour of others who have been placed
in evil circumstances by capitalist property rights. Or we could argue
along Bakuninist lines that freedom is what we value most and so society
should be re-organised so that unnecessary domination is eliminated,
particularly the domination that flows from unpaid labour.
<p>
Of course Wilson assumes that capitalist "rights" to their property are
beyond question. Let us turn the question on its head. By what right
do capitalists have of oppressing workers and barring people from their
property? If we take Rothbard's "Homesteading" conceptual theory (see
section <a href="secF4.html#secf41">F.4.1</a>) then it boils down to 
"finders keepers" and so humanity
will always be enchained by the first people to appropriate land. So
living people will see their liberty restricted because of past history.
<p>
Wilson <b>does</b> present one "right", namely:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Because they use it while working on it?  By this criterion, it's 
acceptable for one to seize anything that one is capable of using, without 
regard to those who already hold it in their possession.  I would imagine 
that any anarcho-socialist who prefers an arrangement in which there is 
some form of peaceful social order would hold that certain predatory forms 
of behaviour are not acceptable, but to grant use-rights to anybody who is 
capable of using something is to encourage such forms of behaviour. If there 
are to be rights of usage at all, people must forgo the power involved 
in appropriating resources that are already in use by other people.  If 
people do not forgo that particular freedom, then nobody will be able to 
secure access to the resources that they use, or to be able to exercise 
their freedom in relation to it.  The physical objects and resources that 
one utilises for one's purposes would always be up for claim by the next 
person who comes along (and may the strongest man win!)."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Well, where to start. Anarchists argue that use-rights will ensure that
workers self-management is secured. This is because whoever is currently
using a resource (as a factory) has the right to take part in the
management of that resource. Now, it kind of goes without saying that
use rights are based upon respecting other people's use of resources.
Thus it is not a case of Hobbesian "anarchy" in which people do not
respect others. Thus people will "forgo the power" of taking what other
people are using (except in emergencies, of course). Thus the "strongest"
would not be able to kick tenants out of the house they are living in.
So, use-rights simply means that when using something people manage its
use. Workers in a workplace manage its use and anyone who newly joins
the co-operative gets to take part in decision making. Use rights are
the way of restricting domination by promoting self-management.
<p>
Wilson argues that granting "use-rights" will encourage Hobbesian behaviour,
which suggests that he thinks that people cannot live together peacefully
without police forces and laws (well, then again, he <b>is</b> an 
"anarcho"-capitalist). It seems strange to think that an anarchist 
society would develop in which people would have so little respect
for others. Given that the whole point of the expropriation of the
capitalists was to maximise individual freedom and dignity, it is
doubtful that people would start to violate those values. But Wilson
is assuming that without police forces humanity would turn into
a Hobbesian war of all against all but this has never been the case
of communities based upon use rights (see Kropotkin's <b>Mutual Aid</b>
for extensive evidence).
<p>
Wilson, after misrepresenting anarchist ideas, now moves on to justifying
capitalist domination:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Abiding by the rules and codes enforced on the job may be irritating at
times, but an exchange is a relationship that one enters into voluntarily."</i>
<p></blockquote>
But the same could be said of the state. No one forces you to remain in
any given state. There are plenty more to choose from. If you do not
want to move then you have voluntarily consented to the social contract.
So, abiding by the rules and codes enforced in the state may be irritating
at times, but an exchange is a relationship that one enters into
voluntarily. After all, as Rothbard himself argued, <b>if</b> the state had
acquired its property "justly" then the "anarcho"-capitalist would 
have no problems with its laws, rules and codes (see section <a href="secF2.html#secf23">F.2.3</a>).
<p>
By stressing "consent" and ignoring the relationships generated by the
contract, "anarcho"-capitalism ends up justifying state-like structures.
If the current system of states was replaced by, say, 500 large companies,
would that make the rules and codes any different from state laws? Of
course not. 
<p>
Wilson argues that <i>"if one does not think that the value offered by the
other party is sufficient to cover the cost of the transaction, then one 
should not make the exchange in the first place."</i>
<p>
How true. The woman who agrees to sleep with her boss to keep her job,
the drowning man who agrees to pay a passing boatman $5 million to be
saved, the landless peasant who agrees to work in a sweatshop for 
14 hours a day all "freely" make an exchange. After all, if they do
not what they face is even worse than the options of the "exchange".
Who can deny that they all think that the "value" offered by the
other party makes it worthwhile to enter into the exchange? And who
but an "anarcho"-capitalist will deny that these exchanges are 
evil ones which violate the liberty and dignity of the party in
unfortunate circumstances? 
<p>
To concentrate on "exchange" is simply to blind oneself to relations
of domination and oppression.
<p>
Wilson then goes on to wax-lyrical on the "mentality" of the strawman
he has created above:  
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The opinion that one has the right to appropriate from others at whim 
without their consent whenever one is dissatisfied with one's situation 
is the doctrine of a thief or a dictator. He who accepts this doctrine 
possesses the mentality of a parasite and a free-rider, not the mentality 
of a person who is willing to respect the sovereignty of other people 
(i.e., a person fit to live in a civilised society)."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Now, do anarchists say that we support appropriation from others "at 
whim"? No, anarchists argue that we support appropriations that stop
unnecessary domination and oppression. Thus we argue for the appropriation
of the capitalist class because, firstly, their goods are stolen property
and, secondly, they create relations of domination and dictatorship
between people. It was only a matter of time before Wilson started
going on about "free-riders" and "parasites" and we are surprised it 
has taken this long for him to do so. It is somewhat ironic, to say
the least, that supporters of capitalism argue that anarchists are 
"parasites". Far from it. Anarchists desire to end the system where
capitalists are parasites upon the working class. Similarly, we desire
to end capitalist property because it does not respect the sovereignty
of other people (workers do not have the right of self-management within
capitalist workplaces and circumstances force them to sell their liberty
to others in order to survive).
<p>
Actually, it is Wilson who expresses the mentality of a dictator when
he attacks use-rights. You can just imagine a feudal lord or aristocrat
arguing that just because someone lives on their land, it does not
give them any right to determine the laws they are subject to. That
rests with the owner, namely the lord or state. Indeed, we have shades
of Locke in Wilson's argument. Locke argued that only the wealthy should
pass laws within civil society. The poor, while being subject to them,
do not have a say in them. They are included within, but not part of,
civil society. Wilson's diatribe against use rights exposes the elitist
roots of "anarcho"-capitalism and that this regime will universal
monarchy and dictatorship in the name of "liberty" (after all, it will
be the property owner who determines the laws and rules which those
who just happen to work or life there are subject to).
<p>
Now, as far as people able to "live in a civilised society" goes it is
pretty clear that a rights system that can result in famine, hierarchy
and extreme poverty is hardly "civilised". Indeed, until the rise of
capitalism the idea that people had a right to life was a common one.
All that changed and now we face the option "work or starve". How
<b>very</b> civilised. And, of course, how "civilised" is a system which
ensures that the majority has to sell their liberty to others? If
civilisation is the progress of individual liberty, then capitalism
is not a form of civilisation.
<p>
 Wilson then quotes the FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     And, of course, inequalities of power and wealth do not restrict
     themselves 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.
</blockquote><p>
and asks:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Evidence?  If people enter into relationships that they perceive as leading
to improvements over their initial situation, it's difficult to see how
liberty can be restricted as a result.  One can make errors of judgement when
making these decisions, but one of the conditions of living in a free
society is that one possess the freedom to make mistakes (even disastrous
ones!) and to learn from them."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Evidence? Section <a href="secB1.html">B.1</a> has evidence on the wider 
effects of capitalism.
That inequalities of wealth and power have a deep impact on the rest
of society is a truism (see section <a href="secF3.html">F.3</a> for some discussion). Now
Wilson claims that <i>"people enter into relationships that they perceive 
as leading to improvements over their initial situation, it's difficult 
to see how liberty can be restricted as a result"</i> which is wonderful!
<p>
Let as see, workers enter into relationships they perceive as leading 
to improvements over their initial situation (their initial situation
is that they will starve to death unless they get money; unsurprisingly
they enter into the wage slave relationship). As a result of this
relationship, profits accumulate in the hands of the few. This increases
inequality within society and, after all, money is power. Thus "bilateral
exchanges" can result in restrictions of liberty for those involved
and externalities in terms of inequality which affect other people 
(see sections <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a> and <a href="secF3.html">F.3</a>). Increasing inequality means that the few have 
increased clout and so can hang out longer then the less well off.
This means that the less well off compromise faster and deeper than
they would otherwise do. These compromises increase inequalities
and so the process continues, with the few increasing their power
within society and the amount of land/resources they own. 
<p>
Yes, indeed, people can make errors of judgement and the freedom to
make mistakes is essential, but neither of these facts means that 
we should support capitalism. If making decisions is the thing we
value then supporting a system which actively restricts decision
making (for example, in work) is somewhat strange. Similarly, 
to support a system which promotes inequalities which end up
restricting out options to (effectively) choosing which boss
will govern us hardly promotes choice. So, in a free society, we
must take responsibility for our decisions but capitalism so
restricts these decisions as to make a mockery of freedom.
That is why anarchists oppose it.
<p>
Wilson then says that it is <i>"interesting to note that the first person the 
FAQ quotes in its section on anarcho-capitalism is an anarcho-socialist who 
understands the position being critiqued about as well as the authors of 
the FAQ."</i> Actually, Chomsky gets to the root of the problem with 
"anarcho"-capitalism, it is just "anarchism for the rich" and would
soon result in extensive restrictions of liberty for the majority. It 
is clear that Wilson does not understand this basic point and so ignores
it.
<p>
He then states:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"So much for providing textual evidence in support of the position being 
critiqued. But then again, fair representation of the opposition is obviously 
not one of the intentions behind the FAQ."</i>
<p></blockquote>
But, as Wilson himself as indicated, we have not needed to provide textual
support of the position being critiqued. He himself as acknowledged that
"anarcho"-capitalism has no problem with capitalist hierarchy and has
indeed went out of his way to justify factory fascism. Perhaps he will ask
us to provide textual evidence that "anarcho"-capitalism supports 
capitalism? And the intention of the FAQ? To argue why "anarcho"-capitalism 
is not anarchist, something Wilson has done so in his critique.
<p>
Wilson quotes the FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     It is clear, then, that "anarcho"-capitalists are not really
     anti-authoritarians, because they would allow authoritarianism to
     persist where it has the most direct impact on ordinary people: in
     the workplace.
</blockquote><p>
and comments:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It's not clear from the FAQ at all, considering that it doesn't once site a
work written by an anarcho-capitalist in this section, nor does it give a
considerate explication of anarcho-capitalist viewpoints."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Well, why cite a work on "anarcho"-capitalism which states that they
support capitalism? Perhaps we should also cite a work by Marxists 
which states they support Marxism? As Wilson himself makes clear, 
our argument that "anarcho"-capitalists are not anarchists 
because they support capitalist hierarchy is correct. He agrees that 
"anarcho"-capitalists <b>are capitalists</b>! Now, as far as a "considerate
explication" of "anarcho"-capitalist viewpoints go we have argued
that they are not anarchists because they support capitalist hierarchy.
As Wilson agrees, they do support them. We discussed why we fought that
capitalist claims that workers "consent" to wage labour were phoney 
in section <a href="secB4.html">B.4</a> and so did not go into details here. Thus we <b>did</b> 
present the case that capitalist hierarchy was fine because workers
"consent" to it (and that, after all, is Wilson's "defence" of capitalist
hierarchy).
<p>
In other words, Wilson "critique" is bogus as he fails to place 
the section he is critiquing in context.
<p>
Wilson then states that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It's much more clear that it would be authoritarian to prevent 'capitalist
acts among consenting adults' (Nozick's term), because people enter in these
relations to improve their lot."</i>
<p></blockquote>
But, as noted above, anarchists have no desire to prevent wage labour in
an anarchist society. Thus Wilson totally misrepresents anarchist ideas.
Moreover it is <b>capitalism</b> that actively restricts the number of 
relationships that people can enter into to improve their lot, <b>not</b> 
anarchism. Similarly, Nozick's argument fails to acknowledge that
these "acts" generate authoritarian social relationships and creates
circumstances in which the majority have little choice but to "consent"
to capitalist acts (i.e. wage labour).
<p>
Moreover, within the capitalist workplace the capitalist can and does
prevent socialist acts among consenting adults (for example, the
forming of a union, self-managed work, and so forth). So it is much 
more clear that capitalism is authoritarian simply because it creates
relations of domination between the property owning class and the
working class. Wilson fails to understand this because he makes an
idol of "consent", an idol which can and has been used to define 
the state (after all, no one forces you to live in a given state).
<p>
Thus Wilson's defence of "freedom" indicates a definition of freedom 
which is little more than the justification of relationships of
domination and authority (see section <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a> for more on this).
<p>
He quotes the FAQ again:
<p><blockquote>
     But anarchism is, by definition, anti-authoritarian (see sections
     A.1 and A.2.8). Thus "anarcho"-capitalists have illegitimately
     appropriated the prefix "anarcho" to describe themselves. In
     reality they are bogus anarchists.
</blockquote><p>
and states, <i>"[i]n reality, the authors of the anarcho-socialist FAQ are 
offering no more than a bogus critique."</i> Which is funny, as  Wilson
has agreed with our analysis. Yes, he acknowledges, capitalist workplaces
<b>are</b> hierarchical. Yes, "anarcho"-capitalists have no problem with
them because they are "voluntary". Of course, he fails to note the
objective conditions facing those who "consent" and makes no attempt
to discover whether "anarcho"-capitalism would reinforce these pressures
or not (just as he fails to note we addressed this issue of "consent"
in section <a href="secB4.html">B.4</a> of the FAQ).
<p>
So is this a "bogus critique"? No, far from it. While we have totally
revised this section of the FAQ in order to make the differences
between anarchism and "anarcho"-capitalism clearer, it cannot be
said that it is "bogus". After all,  Wilson has agreed with our
analysis. He just thinks that "consent" makes unfreedom okay. But
for anarchists the circumstances which we face are essential for
determining whether something is truly consented to. As Wilson
takes capitalism and capitalist property rights as given and
unchangeable, his objections are question begging in the extreme.
<p>
Thus, far from being a "bogus critique"  Wilson indicates well 
why "anarcho"-capitalists are not anarchists. Indeed, their theory
is little more than an attempt to justify capitalist domination
and cloak it with the title "liberty". As  Wilson himself shows.
<p>
<h2>A Critique of Section F.1.2 (How libertarian is right-Libertarian theory?)</h2>
<p>
Wilson starts off by insults:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Unfortunately, the authors aren't in any position to assess whether or 
not libertarianism is based upon critical thought, considering that they
themselves haven't exercised the critical thought necessary to understand
the position they're attempting to critique."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Strong words. The truth of this statement will be discussed below. He
notes that <i>"As for 'theory based upon assumptions', we will see during 
the course of this FAQ that once we look at these assumptions, they'll 
appear to be much more sound than the anarcho-socialists [sic!] have 
let on."</i>
<p>
Which, of course, is acknowledging that right-libertarianism <b>is</b>
built upon assumptions! It is just that these assumptions are 
considered "sound" by "anarcho"-capitalists. 
<p>
He then states that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"As far as 'change and the ability to evolve' go, 'right' [sic!] 
libertarians do not have any problems with it in itself.  There are 
many forms of changes that most anarcho-capitalists avidly support (such 
as technological development), but they do not advocate change for its 
own sake, nor do they advocate just any form of change.  Change is not 
desirable if it somehow compromises the individual integrity and autonomy 
of individuals; that cannot be stressed enough."</i>
<p></blockquote>
How true. "Anarcho"-capitalists do stress technological change. After all,
that is one of needs of capitalism. But the point is that right-libertarians
do not stress change within society's rights framework. They assume that
capitalist property rights are unchangeable, regardless of how they
compromise <i>"individual integrity and autonomy of individuals."</i> That 
Wilson starts off by using an example of technology (which has often
been used to control workers and compromise their autonomy, by the way)
is an example of this. As we will see, the assumption that capitalist
property rights are unchangeable is one that is commonplace within
right libertarianism (and we wonder why  Wilson puts right in quotes.
Does he not know that "libertarian" was first used by anarchists in
the 1880s and that right-libertarianism has stolen the name?).
<p>
He quotes the FAQ as follows:
<p><blockquote>
     Right-Libertarianism is characterised by a strong tendency of
     creating theories based upon a priori theorems. Robert Nozick in
     Anarchy, State and Utopia makes no attempt to provide a
     justification of the property rights his whole theory is based
     upon. Indeed he states that "we shall not formulate [it] here."
     [Anarchy, State and Utopia, p. 150]  Moreover, it is not
     formulated anywhere else by Nozick either. And if it is not
     formulated, what is there to defend? His whole theory is based
     upon assumptions.
</blockquote>
<p>
And argues that <i>"[i]t's true that Nozick builds his argument upon certain 
starting 'assumptions' that go undefended within the course of the book.  
What the authors do not say is that Nozick's main 'assumption' is that 
'[i]ndividuals have rights, and [that] there are certain things no person 
or group may do to them (without violating their rights).' [Anarchy, State, 
and Utopia, p. ix]  This 'assumption' isn't one that turns out to be all 
that implausible."</i>
<p>
Quite. And the question now becomes, what rights do we assume that they
have? Do people have a right to be free? Not according to Nozick, as
his self-ownership thesis ensures that people will be subject to authoritarian
social relationships if they "consent" to them. Similarly, many people
think that individuals should have a right to life but that is not one
that Nozick accepts. From his perspective, if you are starving to death 
then it would be a worse evil to tax a millionaire $1 than to tax 
the millionarie and use that $1 to feed you (see <a href="secF4.html">
section F.4</a> for example, or the new <a href="secF1.html#secf12">
section F.1.2</a>).
<p>
Now, the assumption is "plausible" but that was not the assumption we
focused upon. Nozick assumes his property rights system, the whole
basis of his theory. Thus his theory of transfer is based upon his
theory of appropriation of property, a theory which he clearly states
he will not provide us with! Somewhat strange that the crux of his
whole theory is just not provided. After all, if his argument for 
appropriating land is proven false then his whole entitlement theory
also falls (indeed, as we argue in section <a href="secB3.html#secb34">B.3.4</a>, such a defence
can be put together from Nozick's work and it does not provide such
support). So to just assume its truth is amazing. That Wilson fails
to even acknowledge the importance of this omission is not surprising,
after all it would mean that our argument was correct -- Nozick 
assumed <b>the</b> key aspect of his theory and that his whole book is
built upon an unproven assumption. Little wonder he does off on a
tangent and does not address the point we make.
<p>
Wilson then continues with Nozick's "rights" assumption by stating that
<i>"[t]hough this is a moral intuition that Nozick doesn't defend in ASU, it 
is a sufficiently broad-based intuition to be held securely by a rational
person.  Is the intuition that people have rights one that the authors of
the FAQ would deny?  If they don't accept the premise that there ought to be
certain obligatory side-constraints upon human behaviour for the purpose of
preserving the autonomy of people (i.e., rights), that would seem to suggest
that they have a rather weak commitment to the ideal of human freedom."</i>
<p>
Quite what to make of this is difficult to tell. After all, what (say)
Marx, Hitler, J.S. Mill, Bakunin, Stirner and so on would consider
as "intuitive" rights and what Nozick would consider as such is open 
to much debate. A rational person would, perhaps, consider the consequences
of these rights and determine whether they actually <b>did</b> ensure a
strong commitment of the ideal of human freedom. If, for example,
Nozick's rights resulted in a society of large scale (voluntary) slavery
due to minority control of resources then that society would hardly
be based on a commitment to human freedom. 
<p>
Thus a rational person rather than following a train of logic which
resulted in massive violations of human liberty would decide to change
the rights framework they supported. Such a process could be seen at
work in J.S. Mill who realised that under capitalism workers could
be in a situation little than slavery. Thus an abstract commitment 
to liberty may result in circumstances that violated the liberty of
the many. Thus to claim that anarchists have a <i>"rather weak commitment
to the ideal of human freedom"</i> is nonsense. It is rather the right
libertarian whose definition of freedom is such so weak as to make
a mockery of freedom in practice.
<p>
And notice that Wilson has still not addressed the issue of the
assumption of capitalist property rights and instead decided to
imply that anarchists are into violating the rights of others
(these rights, of course, being undefined).
<p>
Wilson then goes on:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Perhaps they reject Nozick's starting moral premise because it hasn't been
rationally validated.  The truth is: Neither has any basic moral premise.
Hume's dictum that it is impossible to derive a normative statement from a
set of descriptive statements (assuming that they're free of normative
content) still holds, and I challenge the anarcho-socialists to demonstrate
that their most basic normative premises can validated in a way that doesn't
rely upon intuition."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Or perhaps not. Perhaps we reject Nozick's starting premise because it
cannot deliver what it promises, namely a free society of free individuals.
<p>
Wilson continues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It should also be mentioned that although Nozick assumes premises as basic
as the one that people have rights, he does not simply assume the form they
must take or their form of application.  On the contrary, he argues for his
libertarian conception of rights via a critical analysis of other political
conceptions of justice as well as his own, and he does so rigorously and
brilliantly."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Actually, quote a lot of ink (and electrons) has been used to indicate
that Nozick's "rigorous" and "brilliant" "critical analysis" is nothing
of the kind. For example, his (in)famous "Wilt Chamberlain" argument
that "liberty upsets patterns" is based on the very capitalist property
rights he is defending. Thus his example is question begging in the
extreme. Indeed, many authors have recognised that his analysis is
little more than a justification of capitalist domination and that
it fails to acknowledge that the consequences of his theory could
result in a society in which the major have little or no option 
but to follow the orders of the few (for a decisive critique of
Nozick which shows how weak his theory is see Will Kymlicka's 
<b>Contemporary Political Philosophy</b>).
<p>
Wilson again:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Notice that the authors of the FAQ offer no criticisms of Nozick's actual 
arguments, but simply dismiss him as quickly as possible. They quote 
isolated sections of text for their own purposes of "refutation",
and completely fail to engage the sections of ASU that really matter.  Many
political philosophers have expressed serious disagreement with Nozick over
the past few decades, but unlike the authors of the anarcho-socialist FAQ,
they have critically engaged Nozick's views because they recognised that if
they were to advocate a non-libertarian political theory, Nozick's
objections would have to be answered."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Funnily enough, we have quoted Nozick and his arguments many times and
have attempted to answer his "objections" (for example, sections B.3.4,
J.5.11, J.5.12, F.2 and I.4.12). As for "criticisms" of his "actual
arguments" you can find them there. What this section of the FAQ was
discussing was the starting basis of Nozick's arguments, namely in
assumptions. And as Wilson acknowledges, Nozick does build his system
on assumptions. Now, given that Nozick's whole argument is based on
providing a justification for property rights then this section
"really matters". If he provides no arguments for private property
then the rest of his system is nonsense (after all, as the initial
appropriation was unjust, then all the other transfers are unjust
as well). So for Nozick is state he will not provide it is important.
That Wilson does not recognise this is strange to say the least.
<p>
After presenting a list of other right-libertarian theorists (although
see Will Kymlicka's <b>Contemporary Political Philosophy</b> for an
excellently critique of many of these theories along with Nozick)
he then states that <i>"we will eventually arrive at section F.7, which 
does an excellent job demolishing a fictitious strawman of the admittedly 
elusive concept of 'natural law'.  This FAQ will demonstrate why the 
anarcho-socialist FAQ doesn't actually refute a moral theory that many 
libertarians buy into"</i> although section F.7 does not refute a strawman
unless it is a strawman created by supporters of "Natural Law" themselves.
<p>
Wilson then disagrees with Murray Bookchin's arguments against "the law
of identity" arguing that identity <i>"doesn't merely account for an entity's 
current state of being.  The concept of 'identity' easily accounts for 
existential change by subsuming the attribute of potentiality.  This 
criticism attacks Aristotle's first law of logic while ignoring his 
conception of the material cause."</i>
<p>
This is strange. If we assume "potentiality" then we are arguing that
"A can <b>potentially</b> be A", not that "A is A". Water can "potentially"
be both steam and ice, does that mean "water is steam" or "water
is ice"? If you argue that "A is A" and then modify it to acknowledge
that "A can perhaps be A sometime in the future" is somewhat strange.
Either the law of identity states that "A is A" or it does not. Adding
on "potentiality" just indicates how limited the law of identity 
actually is.
<p>
He then quotes the FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     In other words, right-Libertarian theory is based upon ignoring
     the fundamental aspect of life - namely change and evolution.
</blockquote><p>
And argues that the authors <i>"have in no way demonstrated this.  They're 
simply pulling arguments out of a hat with out heed to whether or not 
they actually apply to the position they're trying to critique."</i>
<p>
Now, we argued that must of right-libertarian theory was built upon 
assumptions. Indeed, Wilson agrees with us. We argued that by using
assumptions and deducing things from these assumptions means that 
you fail to take into account change (this can be clearly seen from
Rothbard's claims on "Natural law" quoted in <a href="secF7.html">
section F.7</a>). Thus, 
using "natural rights" as Nozick, Rand and Rothbard do is to use
the law of identity and this, as Bookchin noted, fails to take
into account change. Thus we are not "pulling arguments out of a
hat" but trying to draw out the implications of the methodology
used. Now,  Wilson is free to consider that these points do
not apply to the positions in question, but obviously we do not
agree with him. If you start with certain assumptions about "Man"
and then deduce conclusions from these assumptions then you
fail to see now these assumptions can change in use. For example,
the assumption of self-ownership is all fine and well but in
practice it can become the means of denying liberty, not protecting
it (see section <a href="secB4.html">B.4</a> and <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a>). Also, to assume "Man's nature" 
is unchanging (as Rothbard et al do) is itself to force capitalist
assumptions onto the history of the human race.
<p>
Wilson then quotes the FAQ again:
<p><blockquote>
     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.
</blockquote><p>
And states:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Where precisely have 'right' libertarians denied any of this, and how is
this supposed to be a rebuttal to 'right' libertarian theory?"</i>
<p></blockquote>
It is true that right-libertarians do pay lip service to human beings
as living organisms but in much of their ideology they deny it. Thus
Rothbard, for example, argues that "natural law" is unchanging, which
is to state that human beings do not change. What inspires people changes.
What people think is right and wrong changes. Thus a theory that
uses the law of identity ("natural rights" and so forth) fails to take
this into account and so there is a mechanical core to the theory. A
core which can be seen from the mechanical attempts to justify capitalist
property rights in ways that can create terrible consequences (see
sections F.4, F.4.2, F.2.3 and F.2.7 for example). Indeed, Robert Anton
Wilson in <b>Natural Law</b> makes a similar point, namely that right
libertarianism is infected with "robot ideologists" and this undermines
liberty with dogma.
<p>
So a theory which mechanically argues, for example, that "slave contracts" 
are an expression of liberty is simply nonsense. That is how it is supposed
to be a rebuttal to right-libertarian theory -- that it places the theory
above common-sense and justifies extreme unfreedom in the name of liberty.
<p>
Wilson goes on to argue that <i>"[a]s of so far, the authors have only given 
a single short and out-of-context example of Nozick's as evidence that 
'right' libertarians do not base their theory upon facts, and I have 
already shown how that example is utterly misleading.  Right now, the 
authors are doing no more than shooting down imaginary positions and citing 
Bookchin quotes that give bad arguments against the law of identity."</i>
<p>
Now, was the Nozick example "out-of-context"? Wilson has not even addressed
the example and instead concentrated on another assumption of Nozick's
(namely that people have rights -- an intuitive argument which produces
some very non-intuitive outcomes, we must note). As far as "bad arguments
against the law of identity" goes we have indicated that this is not
the case and that Rothbard and Rand base their arguments on said law.
So, just to be clear, as "evidence" we presented Nozick, Rand and 
Rothbard as right-libertarian thinkers who base themselves on assumptions.
Far more evidence than Wilson suggests we present.
<p>
Wilson then quotes the FAQ again:
<p><blockquote>
     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).
</blockquote><p>
And argues that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This makes very little sense.  If a business owner both purchased capital
and hired labours to help him produce, there is no economic reason why one
would necessarily be more important than the other."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Actually there is as capital investments are far more valuable than
individual workers. You can easily fire a worker, it is somewhat
harder to dismantle a workplace with millions of dollars of capital
within it. It can also be seen when capitalists hire workers to
labour in unsafe and dangerous conditions as it gives them a competitive
edge that would be eroded if they invested in safe working conditions.
So, there are plenty of economic reasons why capital is more important
than labour -- and history (and current practice) proves this argument
again and again. That Wilson cannot see this says a lot about his ideology.
<p>
Moving on Wilson argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The marginal utility of a capital good or a worker would depend upon its 
marginal product, i.e., the level of output that increases as a result of 
an additional input.  Perhaps the authors find something vulgar about this 
because certain people are assigning 'utility' to other people.  But this 
means nothing more than that people obtain a measure of subjective value 
from the presence or activities of a person."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Or to translate from marginalist speak, the capitalist employs a worker
because he/she has a <b>use value</b> for the capitalist; namely that they
produce more goods than they get paid for in wages (the exchange value
of goods produces is higher than the exchange value of the worker). 
We have no problem with individual's subjectively valuing other
individuals but we do have a problem with exploitation. And this is
what the "marginal utility" theory was invented to deny. But it is
clear that the capitalist will only "value" a worker who produces
more than they get paid -- i.e. performs unpaid labour. If this 
condition is not meet, then they are fired. 
<p>
Wilson argues that <i>"[t]his doesn't imply that people are necessarily being 
misused, and libertarians hold that they aren't, provided that the value one 
derives from the presence or activities of another doesn't entail that that 
person's actions are determined in a way that doesn't involve his/her consent."</i>
<p>
Which brings us straight back to "consent". So, if the state taxes you 
then this is wrong because you do not "consent" to it. However, as
noted above, you are free to leave a state at any time and seek out a
state closer to your desires -- just as the worker is free to seek
out a new capitalist. Since the worker does not do this, "anarcho"
capitalists assume that the worker "consents" to the rules and orders
of her boss. That the same argument can be applied to the state is
one that is hotly denied by "anarcho"-capitalists (see  
<a href="secF2.html#secf23">section F.2.3</a>).
<p>
Now it could be argued that ordering people about is "misusing" them,
after all you are subjecting them to your will. Similarly, when the boss
orders the worker into dangerous conditions that too could be classed
as "misuse". But "consent" is the key and for anarchists capitalism is
marked by inequalities that make "consent" purely formal (just as
the "consent" associated with the liberal state is purely formal).
We discuss this in sections <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a> and <a href="secF3.html">F.3</a> and so will not do so here.
<p>
Wilson continues and quotes the FAQ again:
<p><blockquote>
     This 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 of capital came before the
     needs of the living.
</blockquote><p>
He argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This is an invalid application of the odd statement the authors made above,
as well as being an odd and nonsensical statement in its own right.  Capital
doesn't have needs.  Only the living have needs, and the cited case is one
in which one group of people perceived it as being to their advantage to
sell unsafe automobiles to people willing to buy them.  This means that
sellers unethically endangered the lives of others for the sake of profit.
Under no social arrangement will such a phenomenon always be avoided, but
the fact is that there will necessarily be much less of it under an
arrangement in which people are legally required to bear the full liability
for the costs of their actions.  This is the type of arrangement that
anarcho-capitalists advocate."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Which is an interesting argument. Under <i>"no social arrangement will such
a phenomenon always be avoided"</i>? But it was the desire to make a profit
and so survive on the market that prompted Ford's decision. Such "phenomenon"
would have been avoided in a socialist society simply because competitive
pressures would have been lacking and people would be placed before 
profits. And Ford was well aware that it would face "the costs of their
actions" and did those actions anyway. Now as "anarcho"-capitalists
support a market based law system it is not at all clear that a corporation
would "bear full liability for the costs of their actions." After all, the
law system will be marked by inequalities in the bargaining position 
and resources of the agents involved. It could be that Ford would be able
to use its market power to undermine the legal system or skew it in its
favour (see <a href="secF6.html#secf63">section F.6.3</a>) but the 
fact remains that Ford deliberately
placed profits before human beings. The same occurs everyday in capitalism
where workers are placed in unsafe working conditions. 
<p>
So our point remains. Capitalism <b>does</b> create an environment where
people are used as resources by others and the needs of profit are
placed before people. Wilson sees that this is the case but refuses to
look at why it happens. If he did so then, perhaps, he would realise
that capitalist ideology places property before/above liberty (as
can be seen from their definitions of "freedom" -- see section <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a>)
and so the actions of Ford as an expression of a deeper psychosis.
<p>
He ends by arguing that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It's unclear why the authors need to speak incoherently about 'the needs of
capital' to prove a point.  Perhaps it's to single out capitalism as the
primary cause of the type of disaster that they speak of.  Contrary to the
false impression that the authors give, such incidents are more likely to
occur under a socialistic economy in which the funding of industries are
guaranteed, and in which workers have nothing to lose from performing the
job in a irresponsible manner.  Recently, there have been numerous train
crashes in Italy, and many deaths have occurred as a result.  Many of the
engineers were reportedly drunk while operating the trains.  These trains
were a part of a socialised railroad scheme.  The authors are arbitrarily
and unjustly singling out the free market as a producer of defective
products and services."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Strange, we were not aware that Italy was a socialistic economy. Nor do
we consider <b>nationalised</b> industries the same as "socialised" ones. But
let us ignore these obvious points. Wilson presents the example of the
drunk engineers as an example of how a "socialistic" economy would create
more of the Ford Pinto type situations. Now, did the bosses of the 
nationalised railways deliberately decide to employ the drunk engineers?
Did they do a cost-benefit analysis and decide that employing drunk
engineers would be more profitable than sacking them? Of course not. What
was a deliberate act on the part of Ford was not done with the nationalised
Italian railways. <b>If</b> the managers of the railways <b>had</b> acted in the
way that Ford did then Wilson would have had a point, but they did not.
His example seems to be an arbitrary and unjust attempt to whitewash the
actions prompted by free market pressures.
<p>
It seems strange that  Wilson does not consider the implications of
Ford's acts. After all, most normal people would be horrified by these
acts (like the actions of any capitalist firm that harms people in order
to make a bit more profit) and seek a reason for them (i.e. in the
system that created the pressures Ford and other employers face). 
However, rather than look at the pressures that resulted in this act, 
he seems to take them as unavoidable and isolated from the economic 
system he supports. How strange, but unsurprising.
<p>
<h2>Critique of Section F.1.3 (Is right-Libertarian theory scientific in
nature?)</h2>
<p>
Wilson starts by quoting the FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     Usually, no. The scientific approach is inductive, 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 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.
</blockquote><p>
And states that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This is partially true.  It's not true that libertarians reject the method
of drawing generalisations upon the basis of data.  What libertarians do
reject is the position that one can approach aggregate and statistical data
with any hope of possibly understanding it if they have not previously laid
down a reliable theoretical grounding for it's interpretation.  Economic
data are highly complex, and it's fallacious to believe that one can infer a
causal relationship between two or more macroeconomic phenomena on the basis
of observances of correlations.  Too many elements play a role in
constituting the identity of concepts such as 'GNP', 'GDP', 'the money
supply', 'consumption', etc., for one to be able to gain an understanding of
them without the aid of 'preconceived generalisations'.  This is why
libertarians hold that it's necessary to apply a microeconomic theory
founded upon generalisations made from simple facts to the study of
macroeconomic data."</i>
<p></blockquote>
Actually, the Austrian school of economics (which has inspired much of
right-libertarianism) argue at great length that you cannot use past
any data to test theories. Murray Rothbard states approvingly that: 
<p><blockquote><i>
"Mises indeed held not only that economic theory does not need to be 
'tested' by historical fact but also that it <b>cannot</b> be so tested."</i>
["Praxeology: The Methodology of Austrian Economics" in <b>The Foundation 
of Modern Austrian Economics</b>, p. 32] 
</blockquote><p>
And this applies to <b>all</b> data. Including simple data. They argue,
in effect (and misleadingly), that the econometrician is a historian
<b>not</b> a theorist. Moreover, many economists would argue that using 
complex data should be taken with care. Now, the claim that it is 
"necessary to apply a microeconomic theory founded upon generalisations 
made from simple facts to the study of macroeconomic data" is false, 
at least from the viewpoint of the Austrian school. They 
explicitly argue that economic 
theory <b>cannot</b> be tested and that economic theory is <b>not</b> 
built upon generalisations from simple facts but rather from logical deductions 
from assumptions (perhaps these are the "simple facts" that Wilson is 
referring to but in that case his "simple facts" is the axiom that
"humans act" and not, say, simple facts/data gathered from the studying 
specific events as might be imagined).
<p>
Wilson continues by saying <i>"[i]t certainly isn't surprising that the authors 
derived their (mis)information concerning Austrian economic theory through 
a secondary source written by an author more in their favour.  In light of 
source of the authors (mis)information, it should be remembered that their
(mis)representation of Austrian economics is no more than an interpretation
of an interpretation."</i>
<p>
But as we will see, nothing could be further from the truth. In the new
section <a href="secF1.html#secf13">F.1.3</a> we provide more quotes from Austrian sources which state
exactly the same thing as we argue here. The Rothbard quote above
clearly indicates that our comments are correct. Let us not forget
that Austrian economics is based upon deductions from the basic axiom
"humans act". 
<p>
He states that <i>"we arrive at a commonly made, and yet highly fallacious 
criticism of Austrian economics"</i> namely that (quoting von Mises) that
Austrian economics is based upon rejecting any data that conflicts with 
their theory. This, Wilson argues <i>"constitutes a serious misunderstanding 
of the importance of Mises' method"</i> and states that <i>"[s]ince the authors 
do not even mention what Mises' theorems actually are, it's easy for the 
uneducated reader to dismiss Mises as a crackpot without first understanding 
him.  The methodological individualism and methodological subjectivism of 
the Austrian school is predicated upon the simple and relatively 
uncontroversial premise that humans act."</i>
<p>
Is the assumptions of the methodology actually relevant to discussing the
methodology itself? The assumptions may be "uncontroversial" but if the
net result is that you dismiss data that contradicts your theory then
the theory itself and its assumptions cannot be evaluated! 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] Now A is
the premise "humans act" but upon this axiom is built a whole series
of other axiom's, all claimed to be true because the first one is true. 
Given that this premise of one that Proudhon, Marx, Keynes, Kalecki and 
a host of non-free market economists would have agreed too it seems a very 
big leap of faith to claim that all the other axioms are true. Now, if the
facts of reality are to be dismissed if your theory is logically 
consistent (after all, that is what von Mises is arguing, let us not 
forget that) then it is impossible to evaluate your theory and the 
axioms you have generated. Hence our comments. The methodology von Mises 
supports means that your theories can <b>never</b> be revised since A was 
correct. This is the opposite of the scientific method, as we argued.
<p>
Wilson states that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"What the praxeologist methodology intends to do is to explain more holistic
economic phenomenon--such as prices, firms, production, etc--through the
analysis of the discrete components that give rise to them, namely
individual actors purposefully pursuing their own plans and goals on the
basis of the information they have access to.  It's a microeconomic approach
that seeks to inquire into the nature of complex entities by analysing the
behaviour of it's simple components. Econometric methods discard human
behaviour as irrelevant, and deal solely with aggregate data while attempting
to draw inferences of causation through observation of statistical
correlation.  Too many variables have an influence upon aggregate data for a
methodological holist procedure to yield conclusive results explaining human
behaviour, and this is why Austrians reject this approach."</i>
<p></blockquote>
But that may be what it intends, but that is not what it achieves. What
it achieves is a mindset that prefers to reject facts in favour of theory.
It also ignores the fact that the more holistic phenomenon has an important
impact on discrete components and that by concentrating on these 
components important facts are ignored. As we argue in <a href="secF2.html">section F.2</a>, 
right-libertarians concentrate their analysis on the "discrete component"
of contracts within capitalism. This effectively blinds them to the
way the objective facts of a given society influence these contracts.
For example, contracts made during periods of full employment have 
different impacts than those made during high unemployment. The human
behaviour expressed in these contracts are influenced by aggregate
facts which the Austrian analysis discards. Similarly, the aggregate
outcome of these discrete acts may have a distinctly different impact
than we would guess at if we looked at them in isolation and so 
aggregate analysis can provide us with insights the microeconomic 
approach fails to provide.
<p>
Also, when deductively generating axioms from the "simple data" of
"humans act", it is easy to discard or ignore forms of human 
behaviour which do have an impact on the final outcome. Dealing 
solely with deductive generation can also fail to take into 
account human behaviour.
<p>
Wilson goes on to argue that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"If theory is grounded in one's knowledge of simple facts (like human 
action) and deductions made from those facts, yes, it would be silly
to accept the validity of aggregate data that conflicts with one's theory.
Data is composed of many elements and components, and is far too complex for
one understand with a greater degree of certainty than basic facts about
human behaviour (e.g. preference, choice, incentives, etc.).  If a piece of
statistical data yields conclusions that appear to conflict prima faciae
with a theoretical framework grounded upon simple observations, it is
completely reasonable to either [a] look to see how the statistical data
might be misinterpreted, or [b] reject the data. Knowledge of simple data 
is more reliable than Knowledge of complex data, and without knowledge of
simple data it is impossible to interpret complex data.  It is always
possible that one's theoretical analysis may be invalid, but within the
context of the social sciences, it's unwise to determine the validity of
one's theory by comparing it to complex data that seems to conflict.  One
can demonstrate the invalidity of one's theory through logic and conceptual
analysis, however."</i>
</blockquote><p>
But, as noted, Austrians think that <b>all</b> economic theories are untestable.
Including those based upon "simple data" as opposed to "aggregate data"
(and simple data is somewhat different than simple facts). However, by
"simple data" Wilson is referring to the axioms derived from the first
axiom "humans act". Thus he is arguing that <b>if</b> you base yourself on
deductive logic from an initial axiom, then you will not be inclined
to view experience as being very useful to evaluating. This approach is
taken by most churches who can easily dismiss arguments against the
existence of god as being irrelevant to the first axiom that "god exists".
Wilson is essentially arguing that we perform a "leap of faith" and
join the Austrian school in deductive logic and pre-scientific logic.
<p>
Now, the Austrian approach is such that they reject the idea that data 
can be used to evaluate their claims. They argue even if the facts 
contradict one of their theories that does not mean that their theories 
are false, far from it. It just means that in this case their theory 
was not applicable (see the new section <a href="secF1.html#secf13">F.1.3</a> for a quote on this)! Now  
Wilson seems to be trying to present this argument in the best possible 
light but it does not change the fact that von Mises and other Austrian's 
argue that their theories are true <b>no matter what</b>. They are essentially 
placing their economic ideas above analysis as all and any evidence can be 
ignored as not applicable in this case -- just, as we may note, religions 
do.
<p>
In contrast to Wilson, we think it is "silly" to have a theory which
is grounded in denying and/or rejecting empirical evidence or
using empirical evidence to inform your theory. It seems "unwise"
to accept a theory which major argument seems to be that it cannot
be tested. After all, logic can lead us to many areas and it is only
by seeing whether our chain of thought approximates reality can 
we evaluate the validity of our ideas. If econometric methods 
discard human behaviour as irrelevant, then so can the Austrian system
-- 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 "Austrian Man"
onto the rest of society and history, for example).
<p>
Wilson quotes the FAQ again:
<p><blockquote>
     Such an approach makes the search for truth a game without rules.
     The Austrian economists (and other right-libertarians) by using
     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 (or Buddha or Mohammed or Gaia). 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 different conclusions.
</blockquote><p>
And argues that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"It is certainly the case that certain small and undetectable flaws in one's
train of logic can result in horridly inaccurate conclusions, but precisely
the same thing can be said concerning statistical and historical analysis.
The problem is even more pervasive when dealing with statistical and
historical analysis because of the phenomenon of incomplete information.
Certain facts will always be unintentionally discarded from the equation,
and certain factors responsible for the existence of complex facts and
events will always go unaccounted for."</i>
</blockquote><p>
But we are not arguing that we base our theories <b>totally</b> on historical
data. Such extreme empiricism is just as false as von Mises method.
What we in fact argued that statistical and historical data should
be used to back-up any theory we have and if this data disproves our
theory then modify the theory, <b>not</b> reject the data. Von Mises'
methodology is such that this approach is dismissed (due to the
untestability argument) and that is its problem. Without a founding 
in fact, Austrians are free to theorise about whatever they like, 
without such irritating constrains as facts, statistics, data, 
history and so forth. Wilson's arguments have not refuted our analysis, 
rather he has provided apologetics for von Mises' methodology (a 
methodology he admits <i>"can result in horridly inaccurate conclusions"</i>). 
As Austrians can dismiss evidence as "inapplicable" they are in no 
position to re-evaluate their ideas in the light of reality and so 
their ideas are little more than dogmas.
<p>
Now, how logic chains deduced from axioms can also unintentionally
discard certain facts and factors responsible for the existence of
complex facts. And the question remains, how do you evaluate whether
your logical chains are indeed correct? By evaluating them against
reality (i.e. "complex facts"). A given chain of logic does not
provide any idea on the relative strengths of certain derived 
factors (which empirical study can indicate). Nor can it indicate
whether the chain is incomplete or missing essential factors. A
given chain may be internally consistent but still miss out 
important factors or stress insignificant ones. So deductive 
logic has all the problems of statistical analysis and a few
more as statistical analysis at least recognises that theories
must be evaluated using experience rather than reason alone.
<p>
Wilson argues that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Most libertarians would find it reasonable to rethink the basic principles
or derivations of one's theory if one found them to consistently fail to
explain historical events or macroeconomic data, but those of the Austrian
persuasion, and even to some extent those of the neoclassical persuasion,
would say that the observance of historical and macroeconomic facts is
never, in itself, sufficient to invalidate the conclusions of deductive and
conceptual analysis."</i>
</blockquote><p>
But let us not forgot that many right-libertarians follow the ideas of
Murray Rothbard and Ayn Rand, both firm supporters of Austrian economics.
Politically, the dangers of this approach are easily seen. For example,
Wilson himself has indicated how his "basic principles" produce
relations of domination and oppression which are identical to those
created by the state and he sees nothing wrong with this. Similarly,
macroeconomic data indicates that capitalism has done best under
Keynesianism rather than laissez-faire and the current economic 
performance in the USA is dependent upon the state maintaining a
"natural" rate of unemployment. 
<p>
Let us not forget that, as Wilson points out, von Mises' method if one
used by more mainstream economics as well (as pointed out by Homa Katouzian
who, it seems, is are fair more reliable guide than Wilson would like to 
admit). So, let us be clear, that the case for "free market" capitalism
often involves theories which <i>"the observance of historical and macroeconomic 
facts is never, in itself, sufficient to invalidate."</i> That is some claim. 
No matter the evidence, capitalist theory cannot be disproved. That says 
a lot about capitalist economic ideology and its role in society.
<p>
Moving on, Wilson again quotes the FAQ:
<p><blockquote>
     So, von Mises, Hayek and most right-libertarians reject the
     scientific method in favour of ideological correctness and so deny
     the key aspect of both life (change and evolution) and liberty
     (critical analysis and thought).  A true libertarian would
     approach a contradiction between reality and theory by changing
     the theory, not by ignoring reality.  Right-Libertarian theory is
     neither libertarian nor scientific.
</blockquote><p>
He then states that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Here, the authors demonstrate how ignorant they are of the position they're
critiquing.  If they had pained themselves to study the primary sources,
they would have learned about how Mises and other Austrians were concerned
with grounding their theory upon simple observable facts of reality so that
they could enable themselves to understand the subjects of macroeconomics
and history--two realms of complexity."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Let us not forget that these "simple observable facts" is "humans act"
and the axioms deduced from this fact. That is it. This is the "two"
realms of complexity -- that individual acts and the resultant of
these acts. Now, von Mises argues that (in the quote we provided)
that no experience can disprove these derived axioms. If we look 
at the primary sources (such as these we quote in the new section <a href="secF1.html#secf13">F.1.3</a>) 
we find that Austrians are clear about the use of data and how it 
relates to their theories (which are <b>all</b> deduced from the axiom 
"humans act" and nothing else). This axiom ("humans act") is the 
"grounding" of the Austrian theory which Wilson talks about. Everything 
else flows from this. And anything else above this axiom (or derived 
axioms) is another "realm of complexity" -- so the actual workings and 
results of the capitalist system is another realm (which is true, 
reality <b>is</b> another realm than that of logic deductions within 
the mind).
<p>
So, far from showing "ignorance" all we have done is to point out the
implications and religious nature of these perspectives. Austrians
"ground" themselves on the axiom "humans act" and argue that simple
and/or complex observable facts cannot be used to evaluate the axioms
they derive from this initial axiom. Hence our comments and analysis
are painfully accurate. Austrian economics is more like a "free market"
religion than a scientific analysis of capitalism.
<p>
So the primary sources argue that because Austrian economics is based
upon the axiom "humans act" all its other axioms and arguments are
correct <b>and</b> that these cannot be disproven by experience. Thus 
our comments on von Mises seem appropriate and the rationale for
this rejection of experience seems inappropriate.
<p>
Wilson goes on to state that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The implication of the views being espoused by the authors above is that 
it's inappropriate to learn about the world via the application of a 
methodology.  If the authors would alter their methodology (if they have 
one) every time they stumble across a series of facts that that appear, 
prima faciae, to conflict with it, then it would appear that the authors 
see no need for methodology at all, and would prefer to rush headlong 
into the complex realm of the social sciences, unequipped with any
 reliable means of interpretation.  Now which approach is more closely 
connected to reality?"</i>
</blockquote><p>
But such an "implication" is so radically false as to be a misrepresentation
of our argument. We argued that any analysis or theory we have should be
grounded in facts and that if a set of facts contradict our theory then,
assuming that the facts are correct of course, change the theory, <b>not
deny reality.</b> Quite simple really and a methodology which most people
would consider as sensible (assuming that you are not an Austrian
economist of course). For example, Proudhon argued that competition 
tends to undermine competition. That is a theory which
can be tested against facts. The facts indicate that, over time, 
capitalist markets evolve towards oligopoly and that this market
power results in super-profits (see sections <a href="secC4.html">C.4</a> 
and <a href="secC5.html">C.5</a>). Now, if 
the facts indicate that a market does not become dominated by a
few firms then we would be inclined to reject that theory. But,
if we were Austrians, we could just argue that our theory is true
but that it has not been applicable! Now, which approach is more
closely connected to reality?
<p>
Then, as an aside, Wilson argues that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"(To accuse Hayek, of all people, of denying change and evolution is simply
astounding.  When one considers all of his writings on his principle of
'spontaneous order', and on the dispersed evolution of customs within a
society, this charge becomes as absurd as one claiming that Noam Chomsky
doesn't report upon international politics.  The authors are ignoring the
primary subject matter of most of Hayek's popular works.)"</i>
</blockquote><p>
Now, unlike Kropotkin who also studied evolution, von Hayek used the example
of "evolved" or "spontaneous" order to justify "free market" capitalism
rather than to analyse how society itself was evolving and changing.
Because (according to von Hayek) the "market" is a "spontaneous order"
you should not mess with it. But such an analysis is false as the
"order" on the market is dependent on the state determining the 
rights framework in which this order to generated. Thus, rather than
supporting change and evolution, von Hayek's work is about stopping
change and evolution (i.e. the change and evolution of society into
a different, non-capitalist, form). He supported the state and the
capitalist rights it enforces and, moreover, desired to ensure that
capitalist property rights were unchangeable by modifying democracy
as to place effective power into the hands of a few people (for example,
his schemes for using age as a determining, and restricting, factor 
in voting and being able to occupy a seat in Parliament).
<p>
Similarly, his "analysis" of the evolution of customs just assumes
that those customs he dislikes (as socialistic or tribal) have been
made irrelevant by evolution. However, that is the thing about evolution,
you just do not know which of these social customs are required to
progress the species. It could be that the social customs von Hayek
approves off have been generated within society by state action and
would not survive in a truly free society.
<p>
And, as the history of capitalism shows, it is very far from an
"evolved" order -- state action played a key role in creating it.
Thus Hayek's claims are somewhat strange, unless you realise his
motivation for them -- namely to counter any attempt to change
capitalism into something better. 
<p>
Thus von Hayek, unlike Kropotkin, can be said to deny change and
evolution simply because he assumes that we have reached the
"end of history" (to coin a phrase). Just because von Hayek talks
about evolution and change does not mean that he supports it.
In fact, quite the reverse -- he uses the concepts to try and 
stop change and evolution. 
<p>
Wilson concludes as follows:
<p><blockquote><blockquote>
     The real question is why are such theories taken seriously and
     arouse such interest. Why are they not simply dismissed out of
     hand,
</blockquote><p>
<i>"Because more honest and responsible people bothered to first come to an
understanding of them before passing judgement."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Really? But as we have indicated our comments on right-libertarianism
are accurate. That Wilson does not like the way we have presented then,
but that does not make them false. Indeed, his "critique" of our 
account has not found anything incorrect about them, which seems 
strange for "dishonest" and "irresponsible" people. His comments that
we, for example, ignore Nozick's assumption that "individuals have
rights" ignores the point we made that Nozick <b>assumes</b> the property
rights that are the basis of his system. Instead Wilson discusses 
something else altogether. Similarly, Wilson's attempt to justify the
axiomatic methodology of von Mises fails to appreciate that this
methodology cannot be evaluated from looking at the starting axiom
as it ensures that its logical chains cannot be tested. Moreover, he
attempts to discredit the strawman of extreme empiricism rather
than truly addressing the issue that von Mises methodology presents 
a dogmatic, pre-scientific attitude which has more of a religious
feel than anything else. If anything, his comments actually show that 
we were correct in our analysis -- after all, he has indicated that 
"anarcho"-capitalists have no problem with capitalist hierarchy, the 
right-libertarians <b>do</b> based their ideas of assumptions and deductions 
from these without regard for consequences and that the Austrian school 
rejects the use of empirical evidence to test their theories.
<p>
How strange. Could it be that we have just informed people of a
few home truths about right-libertarianism that its supporters
prefer to keep quiet about?
<p>
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