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<TITLE>G.3 What about "anarcho"-capitalists' support of . . .</TITLE>
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<p>

<H1>G.3 What about "anarcho"-capitalists' support of Tucker's "defence 
    associations"?</h1>
<p>
The individualist anarchists advocated individual possession of land 
and tools and the free exchange of the products of labour between
self-employed people. Therefore they also supported the idea of "defence
associations" to ensure that the fruits of an individual's labour would
not be stolen by others. Again, the social context of individualist 
anarchism -- namely, a society of self-employed artisans (see sections 
<a href="secG1.html">G.1</a> and <a href="secG2.html">G.2</a>) -- is crucial for understanding these proposals. However, 
as in their treatment of Tucker's support for contract theory, 
"anarcho"-capitalists (e.g. Murray Rothbard) remove the individualists' 
ideas about free-market defence associations and courts from the social 
context in which they were proposed, using those ideas in an attempt to 
turn the individualists into defenders of capitalism.
<p>
As indicated in <a href="secG1.html">section G.1</a>, the social context in question was one in
which an economy of artisans and peasant farmers was being replaced by a
state-backed capitalism. This context is crucial for understanding the
idea of the "defence associations" that Tucker suggested. For what he
proposed was clearly <b>not</b> the defence of capitalist property relations.
This can be seen, for example, in his comments on land use. Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"'The land for the people' . . . means the protection by . . . voluntary
associations for the maintenance of justice . . . of all people who desire
to cultivate land in possession of whatever land they personally
cultivate . . . and the positive refusal of the protecting power to lend
its aid to the collection of any rent, whatsoever."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 299]
</blockquote><p>
There is no mention here of protecting <b>capitalist</b> farming, i.e.
employing wage labour; rather, there is explicit mention that only land
being used for <b>personal</b> cultivation -- thus <b>without</b> employing wage
labour -- would be defended. In other words, the defence association would
defend <i>"occupancy and use"</i> (which is a clear break with capitalist property 
rights) and not the domination of the landlord over society or those who
use the land the landlord claims to own.
<p>
Refusal to pay rent on land is a key aspect of Tucker's thought, and it is
significant that he explicitly rejects the idea that a defence association
can be used to collect it. In addition, as a means towards anarchy, Tucker
suggests <i>"inducing the people to steadily refuse the payment of rent and
taxes"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 299]. It is hard to imagine that a landowner
influenced by Murray Rothbard or David Friedman would support such an 
arrangement or a "defence association" that supported it.
<p>
The various economic proposals made by the individualist anarchists were
designed to eliminate the vast differences in wealth accruing from the
<i>"usury"</i> of industrial capitalists, bankers, and landlords. For example,
Josiah Warren <i>"proposed like Robert Owen an exchange of notes based on
labour time. . . He wanted to establish an 'equitable commerce' in which
all goods are exchanged for their cost of production. . . . In this way
profit and interest would be eradicated and a highly egalitarian order
would emerge."</i> [Peter Marshall, <b>Demanding the Impossible</b>, p. 385] Given
that the Warrenites considered that both workers and managers would
receive equal payment for equal hours worked, the end of a parasitic 
class of wealthy capitalists was inevitable.
<p>
In the case of Benjamin Tucker, he was a firm adherent of the labour theory 
of value, believing that a free market and interest-free credit would 
reduce prices to the cost of production and increase demand for labour 
to the point where workers would receive the full value of their labour. 
In addition, recognising that gold was a rare commodity, he rejected a
gold-backed money supply in favour of a land-backed one, as land with
<i>"permanent improvements on [it]. . . [is] an excellent basis for currency."</i>
[<b>Instead of a Book</b>, p. 198] Given that much of the population at the
time worked on their own land, such a money system would have ensured that
entry into the banking market was easier as well, by allowing easy credit
secured by land. Mutualism replaced the gold standard (which, by its very
nature would produce an oligarchy of banks) with money backed by other,
more available, commodities. 
<p>
Rothbard rejects all of this, the social context of Tucker's ideas on
"defence associations." In fact, he attacks what he considers the "bad
economics" of the individualists without realising it is <b>precisely</b> 
these "bad" (i.e. anti-capitalist) economics which will make "defence
associations" irrelevant as workers' received the full product of their
labour (so destroying usury) and workers' control spreads and replaces the
irrational authority of the capitalist-labourer social relationship with
the egalitarian relationships of co-operative and artisan production.
Unless this social context exists, any defence associations will soon
become mini-states, serving to enrich the elite few by protecting the
usury they gain from, and their power and control (i.e. government) over, 
those who toil. In other words, the "defence associations" of Tucker and 
Spooner would not be private states, enforcing the power of capitalists 
upon wage workers. Instead, they would be like insurance companies, 
protecting possessions against theft (as opposed to protecting capitalist 
theft from the dispossessed as would be the case in "anarcho"-capitalism 
-- an important difference lost on the private staters). 
<p>
In addition, the emphasis given by Tucker and Lysander Spooner to the
place of juries in a free society is equally important for understanding
how their ideas about defence associations fit into a non-capitalist
scheme. For by emphasising the importance of trial by jury, they knock 
an important leg from under the private statism associated with
"anarcho"-capitalism. Unlike a wealthy judge, a jury made up mainly of
fellow workers would be more inclined to give verdicts in favour of
workers struggling against bosses or of peasants being forced off their
land by immoral, but legal, means. It is hardly surprising that Rothbard
rejects this in favour of the mysticism and authoritarianism of <i>"natural
law."</i> As Lysander Spooner argued in 1852, <i>"[i]f a jury have not the right
to judge between the government and those who disobey its laws, and resist
its oppressions, the government is absolute, and the people, legally
speaking, are slaves. Like many other slaves they may have sufficient
courage and strength to keep their masters somewhat in check; but they are
nevertheless known to the law only as slaves."</i> [<b>Trial by Jury</b>] And
"Natural Law" implies a body, a "Natural Government" perhaps, which 
determines what it is -- in Rothbard's case a system of professional and 
wealthy "arbitrators" who determine what is and what is not "custom" 
and "reason." 
<p>
As Individualist Anarchist Laurance Labadie (the son of Joseph Labadie) 
argues against Rothbard's misrepresentation of the idea that there
would be <i>"no rational or objective body of law"</i> in Individualist Anarchy:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Mere common sense would suggest that any court would be influenced by
experience; and any free market court or judge would in the very nature
of things have some precedents guiding them in their instructions to
a jury. But since no case is exactly the same, a jury would have
considerable say about the heinousness of the offence in each case,
realising that circumstances alter cases, and prescribing penalty
accordingly. This appeared to Spooner and Tucker to be a more
flexible and equitable administration of justice possible or
feasible, human beings being what they are . . .
<p>
"But when Mr. Rothbard quibbles about the jurisprudential ideas
of Spooner and Tucker, and at the same time upholds <b>presumably
in his courts</b> the very economic evils which are at the bottom 
the very reason for human contention and conflict, he would
seem to be a man who chokes at a gnat while swallowing a camel."</i>
[quoted by Mildred J. Loomis and Mark A. Sullivan, <b>Benjamin R. 
Tucker and the Champions of Liberty</b>, Coughlin, Hamilton and 
Sullivan (eds.), p. 124]
</blockquote><p>
By focusing selectively on a few individualist proposals taken out 
of their social context, Murray Rothbard and other "anarcho"-capitalists 
have turned the potential libertarianism of the individualist anarchists 
into yet another ideological weapon in the hands of (private) statism and
capitalism. As Peter Sabatini argues (in <b>Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy</b>):
<p><blockquote>
<i>"in those rare moments when [Murray] Rothbard (or any other [right-wing] 
Libertarian) does draw upon individualist anarchism, he is always highly
selective about what he pulls out. Most of the doctrine's core principles,
being decidedly anti-Libertarianism, are conveniently ignored, and so what
remains is shrill anti-statism conjoined to a vacuous freedom in hackneyed
defence of capitalism. In sum, the 'anarchy' of Libertarianism reduces to 
a liberal fraud."</i>
</blockquote><p>
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