vrijdag 4 december 2009


Bryan Caplan legt hun fundamentele contradictie hier uit.

Suppose that there were a standard capitalist economy in which a class of wealthy capitalists owned the means of production and hired the rest of the population as wage laborers. Through extraordinary effort, the workers in each factory save enough money to buy out their employers. The capitalists' shares of stock change hands, so that the workers of each firm now own and control their workplace. Question: Is this still a "capitalist society"? Of course; there is still private property in the means of production, it simply has different owners than before. The economy functions the same as it always did: the workers at each firm do their best to enrich themselves by selling desired products to consumers; there is inequality due to both ability and luck; firms compete for customers. Nothing changes but the recipient of the dividends.

This simple thought experiment reveals the dilemma of the anarcho-socialist. If the workers seize control of their plants and run them as they wish, capitalism remains. The only way to suppress what socialists most despise about capitalism - greed, inequality, and competition - is to force the worker-owners to do something they are unlikely to do voluntarily. To do so requires a state, an organization with sufficient firepower to impose unselfishness, equality, and coordination upon recalcitrant workers. One can call the state a council, a committee, a union, or by any other euphemism, but the simple truth remains: socialism requires a state.

A priori reasoning alone establishes this, but empiricists may be skeptical. Surely there is some "middle way" which is both anarchist and socialist? To the contrary; the experience of Spanish Anarchism could give no clearer proof that insofar as collectivization was anarchist, it was capitalist, and insofar as collectivization was socialist, it was statist. The only solution to this dilemma, if solution it may be called, is to retain the all-powerful state, but use a new word to designate it.

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