“An”cap Activism

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A common accusation that “an”caps make of anarchists is that we’re not real activists because we “spend all our time arguing with them on the internet”. The only place they see us is on the internet and that’s therefore the only place we are. It doesn’t occur to them that the reason they’ve never see us at an anti-war rally is that they would never attend an anti-war rally. They never see us on the picket line but that is only because they are never on the picket line. We’ve never joined forces with them for a direct action, but only because they’ve never been involved in a direct action.

I intend for this to be the first in a series of articles about the ways in which anarchists work towards the society we desire. I hope to look at the many organizations, both anarchist and not, through which anarchists unite to combat the issues we feel are important, and at the ways in which we try to effect change through direct action.

But before moving on to industrial unions, the animal rights movement, prison abolition, and so on, I want to look at a very strange beast indeed: “anarcho”-capitalist activism.
Of course, when discussing “an”cap activism you can only discuss one thing, the only known example of “an”caps trying to make a “difference”: the Keene “Robin Hooders” who hassle low-wage parking attendants.

If you ask an anarchist what is wrong with government you could expect a range of responses, probably including some, or all, of the following: war, the protection of private wealth and power, its’ authoritarian nature, corruption, or the lack of a genuine democratic voice for the people. If you ask an “an”cap, you’ll get: “taxes and business regulations”. The Keene “Robin Hooders” at least manage to expand the “an”cap critique of government to a third topic: parking tickets.
Never mind the arming of dictatorships in third-world countries to enable the free exploitation of markets and resources by capitalists, the REAL problem with government is that they fine people for parking where they’re not supposed to or without paying the stated fare.
That this also happens in the private sector is of no concern to the “Robin Hooders”. Indeed, the only change “an”cappers actually want to the situation is for it to be privatized. If the road were privately-owned and the “meter maid” worked for a privately-owned organization then the actions of the “Robin Hooders” would be considered a violation of the NAP and would be loudly condemned by the “an”cap “movement”.

Most anarchists agree that activism should reflect its’ goals. If you want worker control of the means of production then the best method is surely to organize within the workplace. “An”caps seem to agree with this attitude, and that is why their activism is nothing more than an attack on workers in the interests of private profit.
By targeting those with the least ability to effect change, all they are doing is hassling those who are tring to put food on their tables, and driving them to quit their jobs and face the perils that entails. Somebody else is then hired and has to deal with them.

“An”cap activism: dealing with minor problems by attacking those who can’t change anything, and only if you think private interests have something to gain by doing exactly the same thing themselves.

PS: The myth of Robin Hood is that he stole from the rich to give to the poor, the exact opposite of capitalism, whether “anarcho” or not.

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WHAT IS THE “NAP”?

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The NAP, or “Non-Aggression Principle” (a name that would have George Orwell spinning in his grave) is part of the “anarcho”-capitalist strategy to privatize the state. The idea is that “aggression” is not to be tolerated, which is a noble-enough sentiment. The problem is that the definition of “aggression” would be left up to private courts to determine.

The private court system, as described by David Friedman, is a system specifically designed to ensure that the wealthiest minority get their way absolutely all the time, regardless of any factors. In it everybody “subscribes” to a court, legal code, and police force. If two people have a dispute then they have to decide whose they are going to use, and this is done by pitting your hired polices against one another. In the working person’s corner is dear old Bert, a lovely man but suffering from cataracts in both eyes and armed only with a water pistol and a list of strong adjectives. He’s not the best, he’s very cheap, and the best the working person can afford. In the wealthy person’s corner is Global Defense Initiatives Incorporated, a multi-billion dollar multi-national with an armory that would make the U.S. military tremble.
If dear-old Bert can take down Global Defense Initiatives Incorporated then the working man gets to choose the court and legal code. If, and I must stress that this is the more likely outcome, GDII wins the not-so-epic battle, then they decide. Of course, in nearly all cases the working person will just have to accept the choice of legal system before it comes to that, if only because they don’t have the heart to send poor old Bert to his inevitable demise.
Once the court has been chosen a decision can be made. The judge can choose to favour his client, the very rich person who pays their wages, or the opposition, a poor person who has nothing to offer them. “An”caps tell us that this will be alright because there will be competition. They don’t seem to realize that everybody will be competing for the money of those who have money, and nobody will be competing for the money of those who have none.

It is through that means that “an”caps intend to re-define “aggression” in much the same way the U.S. government has re-defined “terrorism”: if it is done by us or in our interests then it isn’t terrorism/aggression, but if it is done against us or our interests, it is.
And even if the impoverished person can find a court that is willing to find in their favour, they will have no funds with which to enforce the decision. “An”cap claims that police forces would voluntarily uphold the law for free sound more than just a little hollow. Would they really go up against a wealthy, powerful, and heavily protected person for no gain whatsoever?

The “Non-Aggression Principle”, therefore, is, as stated at the start, an Orwellian name for the complete ownership and control of the state by the wealthy minority. In “An”capland the law would be whatever the richest say it is, and the working classes will just have to accept or rebel. I favour the latter, is anyone with me?

Just for fun, here are some scenarios. See if you can guess which would be considered “aggression” in “An”capland and which wouldn’t:

A) Drinking water from a natural spring to quench your thirst. The spring is on privately-owned land.

B) Hanging, drawing, and quartering somebody you caught drinking from the natural spring on your land.

C) Selling your child into sex slavery.

D) Whipping a slave (you legally purchased the slave on the open market) for not doing enough work.

E) Hiring a police force to herd strikers into a confined area and opening fire on them.

F) Depriving people of any access to food and any means of acquiring food until they have no alternative but to accept a slavery contract.

That’s right, only (A) is considered “aggression” to “anarcho”-capitalists.