'The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers.' -Erich Fromm, Man for Himself

Anarcho-Communism Criticism, Pt. 3

by Ethan Glover, Tue, Oct 08, 2013 - (Edited) Wed, Oct 09, 2013

15 Questions - Part 1 - Part 2

I have completed and written my analysis of the first ten questions that I asked communists here and here. The responses by communists on Part 2 are confirmation for my own beliefs. They refused to read any further than a single paragraph and insisted that I read some old texts. If they were to read my criticisms of communism, they would have seen that I issued a challenge to them. I gave them a way to get me to read their books, but I think it is an impossible challenge because the communist philosophy rests on changing how people act and think by nature. Without those changes communism quickly dissolves into government and central planning. Communists refuse to take responsibility for their own beliefs and realize that they can not explain it in modern terms. Instead, they beg the reading of old books that hold very little relevancy today. I understand the importance of these things, but as I said before, the communists of today are the reason people are either attracted to or repulsed by communism. I think it is fair to say that most are repulsed by the idea. Not on the level that they would be or might be repulsed by the government, but on the level of communism being an insult to individuality and societal advancement. Communists have failed to answer the most basic criticisms of their philosophy and continue to do so. I received very little in the way of content as far as a response to Part 2, and I predict that the response to this final part will be dismal. That is because the communists can only repeat themselves so much and they can only ignore so much. That being said, here is my analysis of the final five questions.

If I trade what I produce for bricks and machinery and build a factory, why can't I own it?

This question was of course the most theoretical of the bunch and most communists refused to answer it because of that. However, for the ones who recognized the difficulty of building a factory for yourself but answered anyways, they agreed that I can own that factory. Yet, they said that if I open the factory up to workers in any way, they must be able to obtain what they produce, even if that means they are only producing a portion of an item. However, I am permitted by the communists to keep that factory for myself so long as I don’t “hire” anyone for a specific pay. When I expanded this conversation, I asked if when I create such a factory, “Can I only allow particular people on that property under a written contract, to work there for a particular amount of hours, and pay them a particular amount?” Only one communist answered this question, and he stated that this is indeed OK, but there is no way anyone would be willing to work for me or agree to such a thing. Of course, the willingness of billions of people to do this every single day proves him wrong. The communist would continue to say that people work for capitalists because they have no choice. It’s what everybody does because they believe it is the only way. This is of course not true. As I explained in Part 2, most people do this because of time preferences and risk preferences. Many people prefer a guaranteed paycheck that they may plan around rather than the fluctuations of profits based on supply and demand. Most people aren’t prepared or equipped to run a business in a way to make the customers happy, that is a tremendously huge and stressful job. When the communists call this system slavery, they are showing a huge misunderstanding of not only what capitalism is, but what slavery is. (Slave is now available on the Commonly Confused Words List [Discontinued] along with capitalism.)

This question and the answers I received, like everything else, distorted the communists arbitrary idea of what property is. They believe that toothbrushes are private property, but cars are not. I assume due to the hygienic nature of toothbrushes. If I were to trade some items for bricks and machinery (which the communists believe would never happen because they don’t believe markets would exist), those items are not private property. Nor were the things I traded for those bricks in the first place, unless of course, I traded toothbrushes. While toothbrushes may be of small value compared to bricks and machinery, remember, there is no concept of value in CommieStan, so the transaction is completely possible. If I were somehow able to build a factory by myself without someone coming along and taking the bricks I have laying around (not currently in use) that factory is still not a house. Which seems to be the only building considered private property - although I think you’re supposed to share it. That factory, that I spent all that time building, is not mine, it doesn’t belong to anyone. Instead, it is just an object to be used by others in any way they want. By the communists previous answers, I can’t own it. Yet, by the answers following this question, I can. So which is it? Oh right, the idea of property is arbitrary and decided in the moment by the community as a whole because you know, communities always agree and if not, they can just vote. We can't ignore the fact that that vote creates an opinion in itself and forces it on others and their personal livelihood. No single vote can ever apply to all, and it will always make somebody worse off, this fact is undeniable.

When people make decisions for themselves, when they make their own adult decisions based on what they know about themselves, such as working for a company rather than managing one, they do that for a reason. Not because they are slaves or oppressed, but because they see it as a good decision. This freedom of choice is what anarcho-communists reject while they seek to oppress people in the way that they see fit. (See Part 2) This question was only another portal into the contradictions and hypocrisy of the communist, and the next question is only more revealing.

It takes thousands of people to produce a single pencil or toothbrush, are they all part owner? How is it different when construction workers build factories and machinery?

The answers I received to this question were some of the most fascinating. Some communists told me that the lumber workers do indeed partially own every pencil that comes out of wood that they produced. When I asked how you keep track of that and which pencils the lumber workers own I was met with a stone wall and a refusal to respond any further. Other communists took a slightly more sustainable approach and said no. They claimed that people who create those things and produce resources do it for the good of mankind. The lumber worker may have access to pencils anytime because everything is free anyways. But he will continue to produce wood because of some inherent dedication to the production of wood. This of course says that in the communist system, people do not own what they produce; instead they can only own what their local community has decided is allowable as private property, everything else can just be picked up and taken at any time. This all showed, once again, the insecurity communists have towards all things property and all things capitalist, two concepts they speak against but don’t understand enough to rightfully criticize. Of course, by saying that I am opening the door to the only complaint the communists have left but has already been answered throughout this entire series and in detail in Part 2. “You obviously don’t understand communism because you haven’t read Proudhoun.” The reason I was attracted to reading Rothbard for the first time is because someone took the time to give me an outline and could easily answer my questions while painting a clear and coherent picture. This is something 100% of communists fail to do because they themselves don’t understand their own philosophy well enough to defend it against curiosity. I can’t imagine the train wreck that would result from an actual debate. If there were any such debate it would be the debates involving the Zeitgeist Movement which can easily be considered communist.

Within the above 2 hour debate, Peter Joseph shows the same personality traits as the anarcho-communist. An unjustifiably arrogant child who is afraid of bosses and refuses to see beyond his own limited and biased views of what capitalism is. He talks a big game, but in the end, when you really pay attention, all that word soup is empty and meaningless. It doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t establish anything, and it doesn’t help anyone. This is what I have found in every conversation I have ever had with a communist including my 15 questions in which I only asked and listened. They have this belief that people will just work and not worry about what that actually means and just assume everyone else will do the same. This is extraordinarily dangerous thinking. If you want to know what its like when people make such assumptions that you can just do what you want to do, and someone else will do everything else, try joining the military. Or working for the government. You will see first hand as I have, the effects of this mentality. You get laziness, stupidity, tension and corruption. This is never the case when I have worked for private companies. I worked for a Motocross track in which our concern was two things, the customers happiness and the safety of the riders. We worried about these things because if we ignored them, the company would go under. Our pay was based on ticket sales, which allowed it to raise and lower based on the quality of our work. This is the kind of incentive that allows companies to continue to strive to become better and better. Without these systems of measurement, the communist world is a bleak and empty place that is a highway straight to collapse.

The next question was a follow up to this one and one that I tried to keep open worded as a way to make sure that the previous acted as a clarification and the communists would recognize that and just answer. Luckily, most of them saw this and gave me the best answers they could without focusing on semantics that give no answer.

If the makers of toothbrushes are not all part owner is it because they traded that ownership for a currency? (And is trade OK?)

The first thing to take out and throw away from this question is the idea of currency. Remember, all these questions were proposed from the beginning, and they were meant for socialists. Once I learned that communists don’t believe in any money or system of measuring value, this question did become a bit different, but the concept remains the same. If the communists believe that the thousands of makers of each individual item are not part owner, is that because they are trading their labor for access to the system? That is, can it be said they are working for access to all the free items they could possibly want? This, the communists say no to… sort of. They say, once again that people will simply work for others and the fact that they can have whatever they want, whenever they want, or inevitably, have a rations card has nothing to do with it. This point, I think is a big take away. Communists try their best to remove themselves from any form of market while ignoring that they too have a market system. It is an inefficient and unsustainable one, but it is a market nevertheless. When it leads to as I showed before, rations and limits on what each individual can have (to prevent consumerism and obesity) this leads to central planning, which leads to government. This is the point where communism crumbles completely and what I have been saying, in different terms, referencing different questions, over and over throughout this whole series. These are the kinds of thought processes that the communists refuse to go through, they refuse to see these things because they have an irrational dream of a world without inequality, without scarcity and without having to worry about anything despite that these things are natural, inherent and can not be avoided. When I say that Peter Joseph is a child, I say that because he does not think and act like an adult, he does not understand that the world is not perfect. It does not revolve around him, there are natural obstacles that we must all fight through in order to earn and build the lives we want. The communists act and think just like he does, rejecting any concept of having to work, but instead replace it with a, “mommy will take care of me” mentality.

The communists say that trade is OK in some cases but say it is unnecessary. They say that there is no ownership, but while saying that, they develop and unsustainable and imaginative version of a market that revolves around being taken care of while doing little to no work. My next question, as always, only created more conflicts with their philosophy and created more hypocrisy.

How is trade hierarchical, even on a large scale of trading currency for buildings and labor?

This was one of those questions in which the answers I received were so all over the place it was obvious that the communists were just guessing. They believe that trading items on a small scale is OK, but when money is involved, all of the sudden that is wrong. This is once again ignoring what money is. They are concentrated on fiat and show no understanding of how or why the concept of money evolved in the first place. This is the question where the follow up questions of mine were ignored the most. I got the common catch phrase of, “hierarchy is violence,” but not much else. The communists refuse to recognize that money is simply something that everybody wants. As I have already explained, it is a central goal that unites people. It is what allows for the specialization of trade. Money can not exist without voluntary trade. Money is created by production and labor. Fiat is printed from a machine, and it is a perverse insult of what money is. Much like corporatism, mercantilism and protectionism is a perverse insult to capitalism. If I can trade a toothbrush for a brick, why can’t I trade a toothbrush for a silver coin? Why can’t I trade a silver coin for some help mowing my lawn? This is not exploitive. It is not violence, it is not coercive, it is simply me agreeing to give up something I own for a service I want. This is how wealth is created. If I have a tuna sandwich and you have a peanut butter sandwich. If I want the peanut butter more than you want the tuna, and if you want the tuna more than you want the peanut butter, we trade. Guess what? This is the market. What just happened, with this simple trade, is that I gained something I value more while giving up something I value less. You did the same thing. We both gained value, we both win. This concept is something that is taught in grade school. It happens every single day. The communists participate in it every single day and benefit because of it to a great degree. This is not evil. Communists must learn to point their fingers at the right things. Government and forced monopolization, involuntary trade, and true slavery.

The final, fifteenth question was a very simple one that I believe has already been addressed within my rants. It is, “Are teachers, mentors, coaches or parents hierarchical?” The communists agreed that these things are hierarchal. Their definition of hierarchy is decided in the moment to meet their needs. It is the same thing as property and value and slavery. Communists show a fundamental misunderstanding of the English language, basic grade school economics, maturity, trade, money and a whole host of other things. Because of these questions, and the answers I have received, I have less respect for anarcho-communists than I have for liberals, conservatives, religious zealots, government communists, socialists and every other philosophy. I went on a mission of curiosity, and I came back with an incredible repulsion that propelled communism straight to the bottom of whatever rankings may exist for philosophies. They are unable to defend themselves on the most basic levels, they have showed me disrespect for asking simple questions and making no assumptions. A few of them have followed me across the web and insulted those whom I do respect. The communists get no recognition from me, no respect, they are not on the same stateless team as I am, they deserve no sympathy, they are not half right. They are wrong. Theoretically, empirically, provably, morally, wrong.

Conclusions

I think my overall conclusions are fairly clear. I am glad this is the last of this little trilogy and relieved that I can go back to ignoring this obscure and irrelevant philosophy. I try to show respect for all thoughts and ideologies but the answers I received, and most importantly the responses to these articles have left me with a very strong distaste in my mouth. I don’t think capitalists and communists can ever get along, mostly because the communist system rejects the freedom to choose capitalism while capitalism respects the freedom to choose communism. Capitalism respects the right of grown adults to make their own decisions, and it provides a consistency for which society can actually be built on. But to wrap up, here are the main takeaways for this entire series:

Some related sources worth checking out:

Breakdown of Peter Joseph and his Arguments (From above debate)

Anarcho Capitalism vs. Anarcho Communism

15 Questions - Part 1 - Part 2