'Men of ideas and men of action have much to learn from each other, and the truly great are men of both action and abstraction.' -Jack Donovan, The Way of Men

Anarcho-Communism Criticism, Pt. 2

by Ethan Glover, Sun, Oct 06, 2013 - (Edited) Sun, Oct 06, 2013

15 Questions - Part 1 - Part 3

In Part 1 of my Anarcho-Communism Criticism, I went over the first five questions that I asked communists and explained how and why those answers were entirely unsatisfactory. Since then I have had commenters tell me that I should not be focusing on people who call themselves anarcho-communists. Instead, I should be reading and critiquing authors like Proudhon, Kropotkin and Karl Marx. I mentioned that the current communists and their beliefs are the foundation of the philosophy as is. They may look up to certain figures, but if they can not explain it themselves, they either don’t know it or the philosophy doesn’t work. The communists who refer me to other sources without saying a word need to understand that they are the introduction into their philosophy. They are the reason people are either attracted or repulsed by communism. Not the hardcore authors of their philosophy. If I were a fan of Justin Bieber, and I asked someone who hates him to watch his documentary, should I expect them to do so? I need to expect that they will look at the idea with resistance. So I must be able to explain with reason that the documentary shows another side of Bieber. It shows that he is a hard working prodigy of great talent. I would have to provide examples and give a full summary of the entire thing before I can expect that other person to even consider watching it. Similarly, communists need to be able to explain their philosophy to the curious. When they crumble under the basic questions I asked, I am turned off at the thought of reading 300 pages of explanation. Of course, I’m a little weird and the more flabbergasted at the answers I received, I do become a little curious on how these people think. I find the ability of people to stick to this philosophy for longer than a week fascinating. Much like I am fascinated at the liberals inability to look at the plain evidence that where their ideals are enacted, those places tend to disintegrate into terrible, poor and violent places.

Before I get into Part 2, I want to mention that Part 1 received limited response, which was expected. But that is not a good sign for the communists. Some of the people who tried to develop the longest responses were trolls more interested in repeating themselves and creating drama with political doublespeak than having an honest conversation. I mention this because I hope communists read this and take it with a grain of salt. While I obviously hate their philosophy, I am willing to listen to those who care about spreading it. (As opposed to those who just enjoy arguing.) As I said in Part 1, I would love to see a communists analysis of capitalism, or even an analysis of communism. That is, a breakdown of what it means to be a communist and how it can work when it comes to building a large, sustainable society. So, enough of the introductions, on to Part 2.

Is There Any Incentive for Personal Growth?

Question six of my fifteen questions was, “Is there any incentive for personal growth?”. This may have been a poorly worded question because the immediate response is that you don’t need money for personal growth. I and every person on earth understands this, but fair enough. I expanded the question and added more details. If there is no money and even no value, why would anybody want to do better? Why would someone want to continue to improve if it does not mean more for himself? To this the communists said that the idea of improving things for society as a whole is motivation enough to want to work harder and produce more. The first thing that needs to be taken into consideration here is that the amount of work that a single individual needs to do to see an effect in everyone’s lives, let alone his, under this idea is extraordinary. No one person can have that much of an effect on society. The idea is that everyone will think like this. Everyone will want for society to improve so they will all come together and work in a way to make the improvements that they all want. With this point we can point out that not everyone will ever want the same thing, everybody works for a different end, when people must all work for the betterment of mankind they are working for essential basics. This is no path to happiness, at the very most it produces the bottom two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (physiological and safety). If people are to be happy they must be able to produce for their own means, and this is what a medium of exchange allows for. Money introduces a central point in which people can come together. Money is the common goal. It measures how much each individual produces for society and acts as a foundation for many other goals. It allows people to work for each other and move on to use that work to go after personal goals.

That is not to say that money is the root of happiness, although if we were to be perfectly honest, it does provide a means. When communists act as if people will come together and work for mankind in general they are expecting something that does not exist. What they see is roommate relationships, old Indian tribes, and the dream of world peace. They do not look at reality and how people act. I am not a psychologist, and as one communist oddly tried to accuse me of, I am no sociologist, nor do I study these things. I have spent time with these people, taken introductory classes and have read the occasional paper here and there. If the communists can produce me any evidence or scientific explanation of how they would change the way society as a whole thinks and treats one another on a mass scale, in the way that people will work for mankind as a whole, I will immediately drop my current project, whatever it may be, and read one of the following books. The choice would be up to vote by communists. I list these because they are available at my library.

Communists are a barrier to their own philosophy. I don’t think that is because they don’t understand it or because they are terrible at explaining it. Rather, I think it is because the system does not and can not work in any way. When a capitalist describes the direction he would like to see society go in, he could give you lots of examples on any subject. Government, economics, law, enforcement, chances are he is well equipped to go into detail on any subject and answer any question with absolute clarity. This goes for any anarcho-capitalist. This is not because they necessarily read more or are smarter than communists, but because the philosophy of free trade and the non-aggression principle are broad enough, consistent enough and easily applied to any situation. There are tough subjects for some, but those are usually a matter of perspective and not quite having all the information. In the end, I am confident in my fellow AnCaps, and I think the philosophy is the best represented and always will be. (This includes voluntarists and agorists.) If I were a communist I might take a look around and think, “Why do these people struggle so much?” AnCaps may in fight, and this is unarguably a good thing, but to the extent that communists do? Not so much. Of course, look at a communists forum and you won’t see it as fighting as much as mass confusion and answers to questions that vary so much that you would forget that the forum is dedicated to a single philosophy. Differing opinions are great, but if they contradict each other all the time, you may not have a philosophy at all.

So to sum up the answers I got to this question, the communists told me that growth is up to society as a whole. No one rises above the other. In order to swim to the top, you must hold hands with the entire population and hope everyone can swim well enough that the drag won’t be too horrendous.

Who does the hiring/firing/promotions? (promotions can include movement from one job to another based on necessity)

The answer to this question was fairly consistent and uneventful. The communists believe that job movement, who should be hired and who should be fired, should be up to a vote. A vote of everyone who works at a particular place. This is not an impossible business model for small businesses. Although, if a business decided to do things this way, the chances of it being unproductive and lazy are fairly high. Partly because the votes could create an environment where friendship and fun get more concentration than production. That aside, this ignores the fact that communists believe everyone has the right to work, and anyone should just be able to walk into any factory and start working because any factory is not to be considered property. So there would never be any hiring at all. Instead, the production or items must depend on people just showing up and making stuff because they feel they need it. The chances of this happening in a fashion that is organized enough is close to 0.

With no hiring, there can apparently still be firing. About half of the communists I talked to agreed that people can be kicked out of a factory if they are doing something that harms the production. From there, they can go work at another factory that makes whatever he wants or needs. What the communists were totally unable to answer is, what if the person keeps up the behavior? That is, what if he sabotages his reputation as a way to not have to work, and then claims he is not being allowed to and should still get access to all products? I asked this question many times in many different forms, and I swear to god, the communists only found different ways to say, “I don’t know what you mean.” From previous questions, I had gotten the idea that about half of these communists would be willing to allow a person to starve if they outright refuse to work. The other half rejects the possibility of scarcity and believes that the system can support an infinite amount of people living off the backs of others.

Finally, there are promotions. I had to specify that by promotions, I just mean, how do you decide who does what work? On this, the communists once again believe that it should be up to vote. Except, when I pressed the issue and asked, “What if people don’t want to do a particular job?”, I again got a feeling of instability. When people have a right to work and can use factory equipment anytime they want, there can never really be any vote on what people do, unless it is seen as purely ceremonial and done with the hopes that the vote will be respected. But for those on the short end of the stick, this is very unlikely. As the conversation expanded, I asked about who would collect garbage. To this the communists answered that it would be done as needed. This of course leads to people having to take their garbage to a dump on their own and maybe even burn it, compact it or recycle it themselves. Simply because no one would want to do that on a consistent basis for everyone. This brings up a point that communists seem to be forgetting. They’re taking for granted all the little things that are done for them on a day to day basis by thousands of individuals all across the world. Each one doing it for money and the ability to use that money for trade down the line. Again, money is the common goal and great unifier. Things like garbage collection, water filtration, product stocking, oil production, commercial fishing, and even cooking. They fail to recognize that people don’t do these things because somebody wants a new car, they do it because the job offers money. The job offers money because many people want a product, not necessarily the employee, but people in general. The money offered is a representation of that demand. This is the most basic of economics and communists reject it outright. They instead claim that if people want something done, it will simply be done, even without any more incentive than wanting to make the world a better place. While people may be able to walk into a factory and begin working on machinery they don’t necessarily know how to use to put some materials together to make something they want, most people are not willing to make those materials and most people are not willing to provide the behind the scene services that make it possible. It is worth mentioning that when searching for different jobs I found that the most hated jobs are by a large margin management jobs due to the stress and amount of work involved. Of course, to the communist these jobs should not exist, even though they provide a good service. (See Part 1).

Moving on from hiring and firing I was curious to find out how the communists handle problems within the workplace and who acts as an authority in these matters. When answering all questions the communists never made an appeal to the law or general dispute resolution. I did not ask any questions about law enforcement but instead concentrated on non-criminal annoyances, which do still need to be dealt with.

Who handles internal dispute resolution?

Again, a few of the communists misunderstood this question from the beginning. Some of them don’t seem to understand that problems can arise in the workplace that require resolution from a third party. One of the answers I received said that all problems should be resolved by an external third party firm. The answer was of course laughable but I simply asked if he meant that a third party firm needs to be present in order to solve fights, drama and bad attitude. This question, was also not understood, the communist I was speaking to here said that and refused to address the issue any further. The reason this needs to be addressed is that in the communist society if there are no managers, if there is no hierarchy, and if anyone can just walk into a factory and start making things, there can be no way to handle the problems between people that will inevitably arise. If these things are decided “democratically”, do you expect to stop all work to hold a vote of anyone who decides to wander in on what to do with the two teenagers fist fighting in the hall? If communism were to be applied consistently it becomes an embarrassing joke. When communists insist on answering everything in the same way, “Hierarchy is bad, voting is good, factories can’t be owned, there is no value.”, they tend to become mindless drones spouting catch phrases and incapable of critically thinking about anything. Through the comments on my last article and my original 15 questions I have found that communists, even the ones who think the communists who answered my questions are idiots, do not give a damn about much of anything except saying life is unfair. Big surprise.

The next question was “What is the exact definition of property?” and I can’t really dedicate a section to this one. The last question received no answers and this one could not be answered with any excuse because communists don’t know what property is. In Part 1 I mentioned that I asked them what is and isn’t property, with that question I was looking for specific examples. The communists failed to answer this. This question was supposed to be a dictionary definition. Most of the communists ignored it, said I had already asked it and gave me the same, terrible answers I got with the other question. Communists don’t know what property is and arbitrarily define it in the moment to suit their needs. They think that in a massive society, full of hundreds of millions of people, everyone will just develop some sort of magical mutual understanding of what people “commonly use”. The unrealistic nature of this claim can not be overstated. The truth of the matter is that not everyone is going to agree about property. Not everyone is going to agree about value,and not everyone is going to agree that the market is criminal. Which leads us to the next question.

How do you prevent hoarding and trading on black markets if what they hoard and trade is not property?

Another embarrassment for the communists. When asked this question every one of them has the belief that the black market wouldn’t exist, and there is no point in hoarding because you can have whatever you want at any time for no cost. Hearing this, I simplified the question and asked, “What if a person wants multiple TV’s to sync together to create a home theater system?”, “What about preppers who want to store a lot of food in case of a meteor or solar flare?”. While reading the answers to these questions, I noticed something very disturbing. Communists think there is something wrong with both of these acts. They referred to excessive consumption and once again started talking about rations (yes even for TV’s). These self-proclaimed “anarchists” are proclaiming the right to rule over people’s lives and their right to live as they see fit. If someone has earned the money in the capitalist world to buy a bunch of TV’s or to buy a bomb shelter and some MRE’s, more power to them, that is their choice. This leads us to a bigger problem. As I mentioned in Part 1, communists do not believe in a persons right to work for someone else. Most people do this because they would prefer a steady paycheck now, rather than the chance of profits later. The employee produces something and gets an agreed to amount of money, no matter how it does on the market down the line. This is just a matter of time preference and risk preference. It’s not exploitation. It is an adult decision, and a good one at that considering most businesses fail. When communists say this interaction is wrong, they are trying to rule over peaceful people. Without even really addressing my questions about TV’s and prepping, communists set the tone for controlling and ruler-ship once again. They want to control how much each individual has, they think it is wrong for a person to have more than one TV. They think it is wrong for people to overeat. They think it is wrong for people to prepare for the future. If you go through the comments left on the original 15 Questions, you will see this mentality over and over again. Communists are just another group trying to rule over others, they want nothing more than to tell you what to do. Like the sociopaths who are currently in government, they think they are doing the right thing. They think they have the moral high ground, but they are no better than every other group of tyrants and controlling psychopaths throughout history.

Some will try to turn this argument around on capitalists and say that they try to force hierarchy on others. They do not, co-op companies are OK. You don’t have to work for anyone. You can start your own business, without excessive regulation this is incredibly easy. You don’t have to work at all, but you will want to find a way to obtain some property and food if you decide not to produce and earn. The communists will say that property is force because it takes property away from the rest of society. What do those communists have to say about a pencil lying on the ground? Pick it up and start using it and it becomes your property, right? A house can be property, but not the land it is built on? Fine, I’m taking the dirt underneath your house. The communist can’t even define property. I’ll be damned if they tell me it is force.

When the communists told me they want to control the amount of TV’s a person has and how much food they can store, I took it with a grain of salt and tried to expand the conversation. I asked, “What if someone works on cars as a hobby and he keeps spare parts around, maybe he has a few rare parts, what happens when someone simply asks for a rare engine? If he is not using it at the moment, surely he can not keep it.” This question was Evaded (with a capital E). The answer went back to the usual taglines of, “No one can pillage your books, you should share you car.”, nonsense. The communist knows that no matter how he answers this question it will mean recognizing that the philosophy doesn’t work. If he were to say, “He can keep the engine, that’s his hobby.”, then he must consider many other things and have to admit that he is wrong on property. If he says, “No he can’t keep the engine.”, he has to recognize that rare items would quickly disappear, physical hobbies would no longer be any fun and would phase out, and when applying this to everything else, life becomes a meaningless drab of growing peaches for hobos. Instead of facing these basic realities the communist instead chooses ignorance so that he may continue his already meaningless existence of hugging Proudhon books and declaring to the world he was the first ever anarchist. (Which, for a word that has been around for… ever… is a stupid claim to begin with, governments have not always existed.) As a capitalist, I have to be willing to admit that Rothbard is a little behind on his times (understandably) and that I must look to modern thinkers, other capitalists and myself to find answers to match the world around us. The communists need to recognize that the world can indeed handle capitalism. They need to recognize that in 2013 capitalism, and simple trade is a good thing. They need to recognize that what they call capitalism is not capitalism. The Industrial Revolution has gone and past. It was an exciting time full of lots of great ideas, but I think we’ve got this producing things idea figured out. The evil “Robber Baron Age” was not as bad as the government school books made it look out to be. It is time for communists to get out of their old books and let go. It’s OK to be all about fairness and equality, but they need to understand what that means. It does not mean forcing equality. It does not mean holding the talented back, it does not mean pretending there is no such thing as scarcity or theft or value. Communists run scared from anything that suggests inequality like Al Sharpton in Southern Alabama. When people have the right to live their lives, without intervention, and to make their own decisions about how they want to live, and whom they want to associate themselves with, this will be equality. This is what real anarchy offers, not this obscure and outdated thinking of telling people to not work where they want and to not purchase what they want.

Conclusions

Coming soon will be the final part with the last five questions. I want to note that when I published the first part there were a small minority of individuals who decided they would make it their job to find some way to piss me off. I only ask that you be respectful. This is a controversial topic. Capitalists and communists/socialists are like police and firemen, they will never get along. That, however, is no reason to act like a child. There are a few individuals who have proven their inability to read and act with a bit of decency, they know who they are, and they will not be responded to. Inevitably these gnats will fly towards the light as is in their nature and try to create confrontation. Why they’ve chosen me as their light, I do not know, I just ask that they pretend I’m not here. Their style of responding is recognizable by adding nothing worth any value (which I suppose I should expect from a communist). Instead they just want to tell me I’m wrong, these shallow replies are what create shallow replies in return. I suggest no one respond to them because there is a troll under that bridge. Any personal attacks on me or others will be reported according to the rules of the respected websites that you are commenting on.

15 Questions - Part 1 - Part 3