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<html>
<head>
<title>F.3 Why do anarcho"-capitalists generally . . . 
</title>
</head>
<p>
<h1>F.3 Why do anarcho"-capitalists generally place little or no value on "equality," and what do they mean by that term?</h1>
<p>
Murray Rothbard argues that <i>"the 'rightist' libertarian is not opposed 
to inequality."</i> [<b>For a New Liberty</b>, p. 47] In contrast, 
"leftist" libertarians oppose inequality because it has harmful effects 
on individual liberty.
<p>
Part of the reason "anarcho"-capitalism places little or no value on 
"equality" derives from their definition of that term. Murray Rothbard 
defines equality as:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"A and B are 'equal' if they are identical to each other with respect to a
given attribute... There is one and only one way, then, in which any two
people can really be 'equal' in the fullest sense: they must be identical
in <b>all</b> their attributes."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
He then points out the obvious fact that <i>"men 
are not uniform,. . . . the species, mankind, is uniquely characterised by a 
high degree of variety, diversity, differentiation: in short, inequality."</i> 
[<b>Egalitarianism as a Revolt against Nature and Other Essays</b>, p. 4, p.5] 
<p>
In others words, every individual is unique. Something no egalitarian 
has ever denied. On the basis of this amazing insight, he concludes that 
equality is impossible (except "equality of rights") and that the attempt 
to achieve "equality" is a "revolt against nature" -- as if any anarchist 
had ever advocated such a notion of equality as being identical! 
<p>
And so, because we are all unique, the outcome of our actions will not 
be identical and so social inequality flows from natural differences 
and not due to the economic system we live under. Inequality of 
endowment implies inequality of outcome and so social inequality.
As individual differences are a fact of nature, attempts to create
a society based on "equality" (i.e. making everyone identical in terms
of possessions and so forth) is impossible and "unnatural."
<p>
Before continuing, we must note that Rothbard is destroying language to 
make his point and that he is not the first to abuse language in this
particular way. In George Orwell's <b>1984</b>, the expression <i>"all men are
created equal"</i> could be translated into Newspeak, but it would make as
much sense as saying <i>"all men have red hair,"</i> an obvious falsehood
(see <i>"The Principles of Newspeak"</i> Appendix). It's nice to know that 
"Mr. Libertarian" is stealing ideas from Big Brother, and for the same 
reason: to make critical thought impossible by restricting the meaning 
of words.
<p>
"Equality," in the context of political discussion, does not mean 
"identical," it usually means equality of rights, respect, worth, power
and so forth. It does not imply treating everyone identically (for example,
expecting an eighty year old man to do identical work to an eighteen 
violates treating both with respect as unique individuals). For anarchists,
as Alexander Berkman writes, <i>"equality does not mean an equal amount but 
equal <b>opportunity</b>. . . Do not make the mistake of identifying equality 
in liberty with the forced equality of the convict camp. True anarchist 
equality implies freedom, not quantity. It does not mean that every one 
must eat, drink, or wear the same things, do the same work, or live in 
the same manner. Far from it: the very reverse, in fact. Individual needs 
and tastes differ, as appetites differ. It is <b>equal</b> opportunity to satisfy
them that constitutes true equality. Far from levelling, such equality opens 
the door for the greatest possible variety of activity and development. For 
human character is diverse, and only the repression of this free diversity 
results in levelling, in uniformity and sameness. Free opportunity and 
acting out your individuality means development of natural dissimilarities 
and variations. . . . Life in freedom, in anarchy will do more than liberate 
man merely from his present political and economic bondage. That will be 
only the first step, the preliminary to a truly human existence."</i>
[<b>The ABC of Anarchism</b>, p. 25]
<p>
Thus anarchists reject the Rothbardian-Newspeak definition of equality
as meaningless within political discussion. No two people are identical
and so imposing "identical" equality between them would mean treating
them as <b>unequals</b>, i.e. not having equal worth or giving them equal
respect as befits them as human beings and fellow unique individuals.
<p>
So what should we make of Rothbard's claim? It is tempting just to quote 
Rousseau when he argued <i>"it is . . . useless to inquire whether there is any
essential connection between the two inequalities [social and natural];
for this would be only asking, in other words, whether those who command
are necessarily better than those who obey, and if strength of body or
of mind, wisdom, or virtue are always found in particular individuals, 
in proportion to their power or wealth: a question fit perhaps to be
discussed by slaves in the hearing of their masters, but highly unbecoming
to reasonable and free men in search of the truth."</i> [<b>The Social Contract
and Discourses</b>, p. 49] But a few more points should be raised.
<p>
The uniqueness of individuals has always existed but for the vast majority 
of human history we have lived in very egalitarian societies. If social 
inequality did, indeed, flow from natural inequalities then <b>all</b>
societies would be marked by it. This is not the case. Indeed, taking
a relatively recent example, many visitors to the early United States 
noted its egalitarian nature, something that soon changed with the rise
of wage labour and industrial capitalism (a rise dependent upon state
action, we must add, -- see section <a href="secF8.html">F.8</a>). This implies that the society 
we live in (its rights framework, the social relationships it generates 
and so forth) has a far more of a decisive impact on inequality than
individual differences. Thus certain rights frameworks will tend to 
magnify "natural" inequalities (assuming that is the source of the 
initial inequality, rather than, say, violence and force). As Noam 
Chomsky argues:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Presumably it is the case that in our 'real world' some combination of
attributes is conducive to success in responding to 'the demands of the
economic system' . . . One might suppose that some mixture of avarice,
selfishness, lack of concern for others, aggressiveness, and similar
characteristics play a part in getting ahead [in capitalism]. . . Whatever
the correct collection of attributes may be, we may ask what follows
from the fact, if it is a fact, that some partially inherited combination
of attributes tends to material success? All that follows . . . is a 
comment on our particular social and economic arrangements . . . The
egalitarian might responds, in all such cases, that the social order
should be changes so that the collection of attributes that tends to
bring success no longer do so . . . "</i> [<b>The Chomsky Reader</b>, p. 190]
</blockquote><p>
So, perhaps, if we change society then the social inequalities we see today
would disappear. It is more than probable that natural difference has been 
long ago been replaced with <b>social</b> inequalities, especially inequalities 
of property (which will tend to increase, rather than decrease, inequality).
And as we argue in section <a href="secF8.html">F.8</a> these inequalities of property were initially 
the result of force, <b>not</b> differences in ability. Thus to claim that social 
inequality flows from natural differences is false as most social inequality 
has flown from violence and force. This initial inequality has been magnified 
by the framework of capitalist property rights and so the inequality within 
capitalism is far more dependent upon, say, the existence of wage labour, 
rather than "natural" differences between individuals. 
<p>
If we look at capitalism, we see that in workplaces and across industries
many, if not most, unique individuals receive identical wages for identical 
work (although this often is not the case for women and blacks, who receive
less wages than male, white workers). Similarly, capitalists have 
deliberately introduced wage inequalities and hierarchies for no other
reason that to divide (and so rule) the workforce (see section <a href="secD10.html">D.10</a>).
Thus, if we assume egalitarianism <b>is</b> a revolt against nature, then 
much of capitalist economic life is in such a revolt (and when it is 
not, the "natural" inequalities have been imposed artificially by those 
in power).
<p>
Thus "natural" differences do not necessarily result in inequality as such.
Given a different social system, "natural" differences would be encouraged
and celebrated far wider than they are under capitalism (where, as we
argued in section <a href="secB1.html">B.1</a>, hierarchy ensures the crushing of individuality
rather than its encouragement) without any change in social equality.
The claim that "natural" differences generates social inequalities is
question begging in the extreme -- it takes the rights framework of
society as a given and ignores the initial source of inequality in
property and power. Indeed, inequality of outcome or reward is more
likely to be influenced by social conditions rather than individual
differences (as would be the case in a society based on wage labour
or other forms of exploitation).
<p>
Another reason for "anarcho"-capitalist lack of concern for equality is 
that they think that <i>"liberty upsets patterns"</i> (see section <a href="secF2.html#secf25">F.2.5</a>, for
example). It is argued that equality can only be maintained by 
restricting individual freedom to make exchanges or by taxation of
income. However, what this argument fails to acknowledge is that 
inequality also restricts individual freedom (see <a href="secF3.html#secf31">next section</a>, for 
example) and that the capitalist property rights framework is not
the only one possible. After all, money is power and inequalities
in terms of power easily result in restrictions of liberty and the
transformation of the majority into order takers rather than free
producers. In other words, once a certain level of inequality is
reached, property does not promote, but actually conflicts with,
the ends which render private property legitimate. Moreover, Nozick 
(in his "liberty upsets patterns" argument) <i>"has produced . . . an 
argument for unrestricted private property using unrestricted private 
property, and thus he begs the question he tries to answer."</i> [Andrew 
Kerhohan, <i>"Capitalism and Self-Ownership"</i>, from <b>Capitalism</b>, p. 71] 
For example, a worker employed by a capitalist cannot freely exchange 
the machines or raw materials they have been provided with to use but 
Nozick does not class this distribution of "restricted" property rights 
as infringing liberty (nor does he argue that wage slavery itself 
restricts freedom, of course). 
<p>
So in response to the claim that equality could only be maintained by 
continuously interfering with people's lives, anarchists would say that
the inequalities produced by capitalist property rights also involve 
extensive and continuous interference with people's lives. After all, as 
Bob Black notes <i>"[y]our foreman or supervisor gives you more or-else 
orders in a week than the police do in a decade"</i> nevermind the other 
effects of inequality such as stress, ill health and so on [<b>Libertarian 
as Conservative</b>]. Thus claims that equality involves infringing liberty
ignores the fact that inequality also infringes liberty. A reorganisation 
of society could effectively minimise inequalities by eliminating the 
major source of such inequalities (wage labour) by self-management (see 
section <a href="secI5.html#seci512">I.5.12</a> for a discussion of "capitalistic acts" within an anarchist
society). We have no desire to restrict free exchanges (after all, most
anarchists desire to see the "gift economy" become a reality sooner or
later) but we argue that free exchanges need not involve the unrestricted
property rights Nozick assumes. As we argue in sections <a href="secF2.html">F.2</a> and <a href="secF3.html#secf31">F.3.1</a>, 
inequality can easily led to the situation where self-ownership is used 
to justify its own negation and so unrestricted property rights may 
undermine the meaningful self-determination (what anarchists would 
usually call "freedom" rather than self-ownership) which many people 
intuitively understand by the term "self-ownership".
<p>
Thus, for anarchists, the "anarcho"-capitalist opposition to equality
misses the point and is extremely question begging. Anarchists do not 
desire to make humanity "identical" (which would be impossible and a 
total denial of liberty <b>and</b> equality) but to make the social 
relationships between individuals equal in <b>power.</b> In other words, 
they desire a situation where people interact together without
institutionalised power or hierarchy and are influenced by each other
"naturally," in proportion to how the (individual) <b>differences</b> 
between (social) <b>equals</b> are applicable in a given context. To quote 
Michael Bakunin, <i>"[t]he greatest intelligence would not be equal to a
comprehension of the whole. Thence results. . . the necessity of the
division and association of labour. I receive and I give -- such is human
life. Each directs and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no
fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual,
temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination."</i> 
[<b>God and the State</b>, p. 33]
<p>
Such an environment can only exist within self-managed associations, 
for capitalism (i.e. wage labour) creates very specific relations 
and institutions of authority. It is for this reason anarchists are 
socialists (i.e. opposed to wage labour, the existence of a proletariat
or working class). In other words, anarchists support equality precisely
<b>because</b> we recognise that everyone is unique. If we are serious about
"equality of rights" or "equal freedom" then conditions must be such
that people can enjoy these rights and liberties. If we assume the right
to develop one's capacities to the fullest, for example, then inequality
of resources and so power within society destroys that right simply because
people do not have the means to freely exercise their capacities (they 
are subject to the authority of the boss, for example, during work hours).
<p>
So, in direct contrast to anarchism, right-Libertarianism is unconcerned 
about any form of equality except "equality of rights". This blinds
them to the realities of life; in particular, the impact of economic and 
social power on individuals within society and the social relationships 
of domination they create. Individuals may be "equal" before the law and
in rights, but they may not be free due to the influence of social 
inequality, the relationships it creates and how it affects the law and
the ability of the oppressed to use it. Because of this, all anarchists 
insist that equality is essential for freedom, including those in the 
Individualist Anarchist tradition the "anarcho"-capitalist tries to 
co-opt -- <i>"Spooner and Godwin insist that inequality corrupts freedom. 
Their anarchism is directed as much against inequality as against tyranny"</i> 
and <i>"[w]hile sympathetic to Spooner's individualist anarchism, they 
[Rothbard and David Friedman] fail to notice or conveniently overlook 
its egalitarian implications."</i> [Stephen L. Newman, <b>Liberalism at Wit's 
End</b>, p. 74, p. 76] 
<p>
Why equality is important is discussed more fully in the <a href="secF3.html#secf31">next section</a>.
Here we just stress that without social equality, individual freedom is 
so restricted that it becomes a mockery (essentially limiting freedom
of the majority to choosing <b>which</b> employer will govern them rather
than being free within and outside work).
<p>
Of course, by defining "equality" in such a restrictive manner, Rothbard's 
own ideology is proved to be nonsense. As L.A. Rollins notes, <i>"Libertarianism, 
the advocacy of 'free society' in which people enjoy 'equal freedom' and 
'equal rights,' is actually a specific form of egalitarianism. As such, 
Libertarianism itself is a revolt against nature. If people, by their very 
biological nature, are unequal in all the attributes necessary to achieving, 
and preserving 'freedom' and 'rights'. . . then there is no way that people 
can enjoy 'equal freedom' or 'equal rights'. If a free society is conceived 
as a society of 'equal freedom,' then there ain't no such thing as 'a 
free society'."</i> [<b>The Myth of Natural Law</b>, p. 36]
<p>
Under capitalism, freedom is a commodity like everything else. The more 
money you have, the greater your freedom. "Equal" freedom, in the 
Newspeak-Rothbardian sense, <b>cannot</b> exist! As for "equality before the 
law", its clear that such a hope is always dashed against the rocks of 
wealth and market power (see <a href="secF3.html#secf31">next section</a> for more on this). As far as 
rights go, of course, both the rich and the poor have an "equal right" to 
sleep under a bridge (assuming the bridge's owner agrees of course!); but 
the owner of the bridge and the homeless have <b>different</b> rights, and so 
they cannot be said to have "equal rights" in the Newspeak-Rothbardian 
sense either. Needless to say, poor and rich will not "equally" use the 
"right" to sleep under a bridge, either.
<p> 
Bob Black observes in <b>The Libertarian as Conservative</b> that <i>"[t]he 
time of your life is the one commodity you can sell but never buy 
back. Murray Rothbard thinks egalitarianism is a revolt against 
nature, but his day is 24 hours long, just like everybody else's."</i>
<p>
By twisting the language of political debate, the vast differences
in power in capitalist society can be "blamed" not on an unjust
and authoritarian system but on "biology" (we are all unique
individuals, after all). Unlike genes (although biotechnology 
corporations are working on this, too!), human society <b>can</b> be 
changed, by the individuals who comprise it, to reflect the basic
features we all share in common -- our humanity, our ability to 
think and feel, and our need for freedom.
<p>
<a name="secf31"><h2>F.3.1 Why is this disregard for equality important?</h2>
<p>
Simply because a disregard for equality soon ends with liberty for the 
majority being negated in many important ways. Most "anarcho"-capitalists 
and right-Libertarians deny (or at best ignore) market power. Rothbard, 
for example, claims that economic power does not exist; what people 
call <i>"economic power"</i> is <i>"simply the right under freedom to refuse to 
make an exchange"</i> [<b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, p. 222] and so the concept 
is meaningless.
<p>
However, the fact is that there are substantial power centres in
society (and so are the source of hierarchical power and authoritarian 
social relations) which are <b>not the state.</b> The central fallacy of 
"anarcho"-capitalism is the (unstated) assumption that the various 
actors within an economy have relatively equal power. This assumption
has been noted by many readers of their works. For example, Peter Marshall 
notes that <i>"'anarcho-capitalists' like Murray Rothbard assume individuals 
would have equal bargaining power in a [capitalist] market-based society"</i> 
[<b>Demanding the Impossible</b>, p. 46] George Walford also makes this clear 
in his comments on David Friedman's <b>The Machinery of Freedom</b>:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The private ownership envisages by the anarcho-capitalists would be very
different from that which we know. It is hardly going too far to say that
while the one is nasty, the other would be nice. In anarcho-capitalism there
would be no National Insurance, no Social Security, no National Health
Service and not even anything corresponding to the Poor Laws; there would be
no public safety-nets at all. It would be a rigorously competitive society:
work, beg or die. But as one reads on, learning that each individual would
have to buy, personally, all goods and services needed, not only food,
clothing and shelter but also education, medicine, sanitation, justice,
police, all forms of security and insurance, even permission to use the
streets (for these also would be privately owned), as one reads about all
this a curious feature emerges: everybody always has enough money to buy 
all these things.
<p>
"There are no public casual wards or hospitals or hospices, but neither is
there anybody dying in the streets. There is no public educational system
but no uneducated children, no public police service but nobody unable to
buy the services of an efficient security firm, no public law but nobody
unable to buy the use of a private legal system. Neither is there anybody
able to buy much more than anybody else; no person or group possesses
economic power over others.
<p>
"No explanation is offered. The anarcho-capitalists simply take it for
granted that in their favoured society, although it possesses no machinery
for restraining competition (for this would need to exercise authority over
the competitors and it is an <b>anarcho</b>- capitalist society) competition
would not be carried to the point where anybody actually suffered from it.
While proclaiming their system to be a competitive one, in which private
interest rules unchecked, they show it operating as a co-operative one, 
in which no person or group profits at the cost of another."</i> [<b>On the 
Capitalist Anarchists</b>]
</blockquote><p>
This assumption of (relative) equality comes to the fore in Murray
Rothbard's "Homesteading" concept of property (discussed in section
<a href="secF4.html#secf41">F.4.1</a>). "Homesteading" paints a picture of individuals and families
doing into the wilderness to make a home for themselves, fighting
against the elements and so forth. It does <b>not</b> invoke the idea
of transnational corporations employing tens of thousands of people
or a population without land, resources and selling their labour to
others. Indeed, Rothbard argues that economic power does not exist 
(at least under capitalism; as we saw in section <a href="secF2.html#secf21">F.2.1</a> he does make
-- highly illogical -- exceptions). Similarly, David Friedman's example 
of a pro-death penalty and anti-death penalty "defence" firm coming 
to an agreement (see section <a href="secF6.html#secf63">F.6.3</a>) assumes that the firms have equal 
bargaining powers and resources -- if not, then the bargaining process 
would be very one-sided and the smaller company would think twice before 
taking on the larger one in battle (the likely outcome if they cannot 
come to an agreement on this issue) and so compromise.
<p>
However, the right-libertarian denial of market power is unsurprising. The 
necessity, not the redundancy, of equality is required if the inherent 
problems of contract are not to become too obvious. If some individuals 
<b>are</b> assumed to have significantly more power than others, and if they 
are always self-interested, then a contract that creates equal partners 
is impossible -- the pact will establish an association of masters and 
servants. Needless to say, the strong will present the contract as being 
to the advantage of both: the strong no longer have to labour (and become 
rich, i.e. even stronger) and the weak receive an income and so do not 
starve.
<p>
If freedom is considered as a function of ownership then it is very
clear that individuals lacking property (outside their own body, of 
course) loses effective control over their own person and labour (which 
was, lets not forget, the basis of their equal natural rights). When 
ones bargaining power is weak (which is typically the case in the 
labour market) exchanges tend to magnify inequalities of wealth 
and power over time rather than working towards an equalisation. 
<p>
In other words, "contract" need not replace power if the bargaining 
position and wealth of the would-be contractors are not equal (for, if
the bargainers had equal power it is doubtful they would agree to sell
control of their liberty/time to another). This means that "power" and 
"market" are not antithetical terms. While, in an abstract sense, all 
market relations are voluntary in practice this is not the case within 
a capitalist market. For example, a large company has a comparative 
advantage over small ones and communities which will definitely shape 
the outcome of any contract. For example, a large company or rich person 
will have access to more funds and so stretch out litigations and strikes 
until their opponents resources are exhausted. Or, if a local company is 
polluting the environment, the local community may put up with the damage 
caused out of fear that the industry (which it depends upon) would relocate 
to another area. If members of the community <b>did</b> sue, then the company 
would be merely exercising its property rights when it threatened to move
to another location. In such circumstances, the community would "freely" 
consent to its conditions or face massive economic and social disruption. 
And, similarly, <i>"the landlords' agents who threaten to discharge agricultural 
workers and tenants who failed to vote the reactionary ticket"</i> in the 1936 
Spanish election were just exercising their legitimate property rights
when they threatened working people and their families with economic 
uncertainty and distress. [Murray Bookchin, <b>The Spanish Anarchists</b>, 
p. 260]
<p>
If we take the labour market, it is clear that the "buyers" and "sellers"
of labour power are rarely on an equal footing (if they were, then 
capitalism would soon go into crisis -- see section <a href="secF10.html#secf102">F.10.2</a>). In fact, 
competition <i>"in labour markets is typically skewed in favour of 
employers: it is a buyer's market. And in a buyer's, it is the 
sellers who compromise."</i> [Juliet B. Schor, <b>The Overworked American</b>, 
p. 129] Thus the ability to refuse an exchange weights most heavily on
one class than another and so ensures that "free exchange" works to
ensure the domination (and so exploitation) of one party by the other.
<p>
Inequality in the market ensures that the decisions of the majority
of within it are shaped in accordance with that needs of the powerful,
not the needs of all. It was for this reason that the Individual Anarchist 
J.K. Ingalls opposed Henry George's proposal of nationalising the land. 
Ingalls was well aware that the rich could outbid the poor for leases
on land and so the dispossession of the working classes would continue.
<p>
The market, therefore, does not end power or unfreedom -- they are still 
there, but in different forms. And for an exchange to be truly voluntary, 
both parties must have equal power to accept, reject, or influence its 
terms. Unfortunately, these conditions are rarely meet on the labour market 
or within the capitalist market in general. Thus Rothbard's argument that 
economic power does not exist fails to acknowledge that the rich can 
out-bid the poor for resources and that a corporation generally has 
greater ability to refuse a contract (with an individual, union or 
community) than vice versa (and that the impact of such a refusal is 
such that it will encourage the others involved to "compromise" far 
sooner). And in such circumstances, formally free individuals will 
have to "consent" to be unfree in order to survive. 
<p>
As Max Stirner pointed out in the 1840s, free competition <i>"is not 'free,'
because I lack the <b>things</b> for competition."</i> [<b>The Ego and Its Own</b>, 
p. 262] Due to this basic inequality of wealth (of "things") we find
that <i>"[u]nder the <b>regime</b> of the commonality the labourers always fall
into the hands of the possessors . . . of the capitalists, therefore. The
labourer cannot <b>realise</b> on his labour to the extent of the value that
it has for the customer."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 115] Its interesting to note that
even Stirner recognises that capitalism results in exploitation. And we 
may add that value the labourer does not <i>"realise"</i> goes into the hands of 
the capitalists, who invest it in more "things" and which consolidates and
increases their advantage in "free" competition.
<p>
To quote Stephan L. Newman:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Another disquieting aspect of the libertarians' refusal to acknowledge 
power in the market is their failure to confront the tension between freedom 
and autonomy. . . Wage labour under capitalism is, of course, formally free 
labour. No one is forced to work at gun point. Economic circumstance, however, 
often has the effect of force; it compels the relatively poor to accept work 
under conditions dictated by owners and managers. The individual worker 
retains freedom [i.e. negative liberty] but loses autonomy [positive 
liberty]."</i> [<b>Liberalism at Wit's End</b>, pp. 122-123]
</blockquote><p>
(As an aside, we should point out that the full Stirner quote cited above
is <i>"[u]nder the <b>regime</b> of the commonality the labourers always fall
into the hands of the possessors, of those who have at their disposal some
bit of the state domains (and everything possessible in State domain belongs
to the State and is only a fief of the individual), especially money and
land; of the capitalists, therefore. The labourer cannot <b>realise</b> on his 
labour to the extent of the value that it has for the customer."</i>
<p>
It could be argued that we misrepresenting Stirner by truncating the quote,
but we feel that such a claim this is incorrect. Its clear from his book that 
Stirner is considering the "minimal" state (<i>"The State is a - commoners' 
State . . . It protects man . . .according to whether the rights entrusted 
to him by the State are enjoyed and managed in accordance with the will, 
that is, laws, of the State."</i> The State <i>"looks on indifferently as one grows 
poor and the other rich, unruffled by this alternation. As <b>individuals</b> 
they are really equal before its face."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 115, p. 252]). As 
"anarcho"-capitalists consider their system to be one of rights and 
laws (particularly property rights), we feel that its fair to generalise 
Stirner's comments into capitalism <b>as such</b> as opposed to "minimum state"
capitalism. If we replace "State" by "libertarian law code" you will see
what we mean. We have included this aside before any right-libertarians
claim that we are misrepresenting Stirner' argument.)
<p>
If we consider "equality before the law" it is obvious that this also
has limitations in an (materially) unequal society. Brian Morris notes
that for Ayn Rand, <i>"[u]nder capitalism . . .  politics (state) and economics
(capitalism) are separated . . . This, of course, is pure ideology, for
Rand's justification of the state is that it 'protects' private property,
that is, it supports and upholds the economic power of capitalists by
coercive means."</i> [<b>Ecology & Anarchism</b>, p. 189] The same can be said
of "anarcho"-capitalism and its "protection agencies" and "general
libertarian law code." If within a society a few own all the resources
and the majority are dispossessed, then any law code which protects 
private property <b>automatically</b> empowers the owning class. Workers 
will <b>always</b> be initiating force if act against the code and so 
"equality before the law" reinforces inequality of power and wealth.
<p>
This means that a system of property rights protects the liberties of
some people in a way which gives them an unacceptable degree of power 
over others. And this cannot be met merely by reaffirming the rights
in question, we have to assess the relative importance of various kinds
of liberty and other values we how dear.
<p>
Therefore right-libertarian disregard for equality is important because 
it allows "anarcho"-capitalism to ignore many important restrictions of 
freedom in society. In addition, it allows them to brush over the negative 
effects of their system by painting an unreal picture of a capitalist 
society without vast extremes of wealth and power (indeed, they often 
construe capitalist society in terms of an ideal -- namely artisan 
production -- that is really <b>pre</b>-capitalist and whose social 
basis has been eroded by capitalist development). Inequality shapes 
the decisions we have available and what ones we make:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"An 'incentive' 
is always available in conditions of substantial social inequality that 
ensure that the 'weak' enter into a contract. When social inequality 
prevails, questions arises about what counts as voluntary entry into 
a contract . . . Men and women . . . are now juridically free and equal
citizens, but, in unequal social conditions, the possibility cannot be
ruled out that some or many contracts create relationships that bear
uncomfortable resemblances to a slave contract."</i> [Carole Pateman, 
<b>The Sexual Contract</b>, p. 62]
</blockquote><p>
This ideological confusion of right-libertarianism can also be seen from 
their opposition to taxation. On the one hand, they argue that taxation 
is wrong because it takes money from those who "earn" it and gives it to 
the poor. On the other hand, "free market" capitalism is assumed to be 
a more equal society! If taxation takes from the rich and gives to the 
poor, how will "anarcho"-capitalism be more egalitarian? That equalisation
mechanism would be gone (of course, it could be claimed that all great
riches are purely the result of state intervention skewing the "free
market" but that places all their "rags to riches" stories in a strange
position). Thus we have a problem, either we have relative equality or
we do not. Either we have riches, and so market power, or we do not.
And its clear from the likes of Rothbard, "anarcho"-capitalism will
not be without its millionaires (there is, after all, apparently nothing
un-libertarian about <i>"organisation, hierarchy, wage-work, granting of
funds by libertarian millionaires, and a libertarian party"</i>). And so
we are left with market power and so extensive unfreedom.
<p>
Thus, for a ideology that denounces egalitarianism as a <i>"revolt against
nature"</i> it is pretty funny that they paint a picture of "anarcho"-capitalism
as a society of (relative) equals. In other words, their propaganda is 
based on something that has never existed, and never will, namely an 
egalitarian capitalist society.
<p>
<a name="secf32"><h2>F.3.2 But what about "anarcho"-capitalist support for charity?</h2>
<p>
Yes, while being blind to impact of inequality in terms of economic and 
social power and influence, most right-libertarians <b>do</b> argue that the 
very poor could depend on charity in their system. But such a recognition
of poverty does not reflect an awareness of the need for equality or the
impact of inequality on the agreements we make. Quite the reverse in 
fact, as the existence of extensive inequality is assumed -- after all,
in a society of relative equals, poverty would not exist, nor would 
charity be needed.
<p>
Ignoring the fact that their ideology hardly promotes a charitable 
perspective, we will raise four points. Firstly, charity will not 
be enough to countermand the existence and impact of vast inequalities 
of wealth (and so power). Secondly, it will be likely that charities 
will be concerned with "improving" the moral quality of the poor and 
so will divide them into the "deserving" (i.e. obedient) and "undeserving" 
(i.e. rebellious) poor. Charity will be forthcoming to the former, those
who agree to busy-bodies sticking their noses into their lives. In this
way charity could become another tool of economic and social power (see
Oscar Wilde's <b>The Soul of Man Under Socialism</b> for more on charity). 
Thirdly, it is unlikely that charity will be able to replace all the
social spending conducted by the state -- to do so would require a
ten-fold increase in charitable donations (and given that most 
right-libertarians denounce the government for making them pay taxes
to help the poor, it seems unlikely that they will turn round and
<b>increase</b> the amount they give). And, lastly, charity is an implicate
recognition that, under capitalism, no one has the right of life -- its 
a privilege you have to pay for. That in itself is enough to reject the
charity option. And, of course, in a system designed to secure the life 
and liberty of each person, how can it be deemed acceptable to leave the
life and protection of even one individual to the charitable whims of
others? (Perhaps it will be argued that individual's have the right to
life, but not a right to be a parasite. This ignores the fact some people
<b>cannot</b> work -- babies and some handicapped people -- and that, in a
functioning capitalist economy, many people cannot find work all the
time. Is it this recognition of that babies cannot work that prompts many 
right-libertarians to turn them into property? Of course, rich folk
who have never done a days work in their lives are never classed as
parasites, even if they inherited all their money). All things 
considered, little wonder that Proudhon argued that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Even charitable institutions serve the ends of those in authority
marvellously well.
<p>
"Charity is the strongest chain by which privilege and the Government, 
bound to protect them, holds down the lower classes. With charity, 
sweeter to the heart of men, more intelligible to the poor man than 
the abstruse laws of Political Economy, one may dispense with justice."</i>
[<b>The General Idea of the Revolution</b>, pp. 69-70]
<p></blockquote>
As noted, the right-libertarian (passing) acknowledgement of poverty does 
not mean that they recognise the existence of market power. They never
ask themselves how can someone be free if their social situation is such 
that they are drowning in a see of usury and have to sell their labour
(and so liberty) to survive.
<p>
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