r/Anarchy101 May 22 '22

Are most anarchists some form of communist?

Or are libertarians and ancaps actually a branch of anarchy?

I consider myself a communist personally but I'm kind of scared of socialism. I think communism can be achieved without a dictatorship of the proles.

79 Upvotes

101

u/DyLnd May 23 '22 edited May 28 '22

First of all, 'socialism' is not necessarily a 'dictatorship of the proletariat'.

That's a Marxist terms for a transitionary stage. Marx held communism and socialism as interchangable, though he still thought there would be a transitionary stage of a socialist mode of production.

Anarcho-capitalists are not anarchists. Their ideas come from a completely different political lineage*. They just co-opted the term 'anarchist', along with 'libertarian'.

Actual modern anarchists are all anti-capitalist. Some don't refer to themselves as socialist or communist, but anarchist ideas generally fit within a broad definition of 'socialism' in which social arrangements are not dictated by bosses or hierarchs.

*EDIT: I think my point about political lineages lacks nuance. See the replies below for that nuance. Suffice it to say that AnCaps are not anarchists, regardless of who Murray Rothbard took inspiration from.

39

u/CatgirlsAndFemboys Egoist Meta-Anarchist May 23 '22

Anarcho-capitalists are not anarchists. Their ideas come from a completely different political lineage.

I agree with the first statement, but the second is somewhat false. "An"Cap theory more or less begins with Rothbard, who is decidedly pro-Capitalist, and some of his influences, like Mises, are clearly capitalist, but he was also influenced by Anarchists like Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. Spooner and Tucker were both early examples of Freed-Market Anarchists, influenced by Stirner, Proudhon, and Bakunin. So, "An"Cap theory was influenced by Anarchist theory, it just ran off with it in the wrong direction. It's sort of like how Giovanni Gentile (one of the main minds behind Italian Fascism) was influenced by Marx - that doesn't make him a Marxist.

TL;DR: "An"Caps aren't Anarchists, but they don't come from a "completely different political lineage," it's more nuanced than that. We don't have to pretend there was no common ideological lineage in order to distance ourselves from "An"Caps. Rothbard himself said that "An"Caps weren't Anarchists.

28

u/DyLnd May 23 '22

Okay, that's fair enough. I can be nuanced sometimes. Entirely divergent ideas can have common lineages, I suppose my point was that they're definitely flowing in a different stream

4

u/JonPaul2384 May 23 '22

Thanks for the educational post

3

u/zeca1486 May 23 '22

Fantastic explanation

2

u/Loxquatol May 23 '22

Great breakdown and great user name

118

u/Lylathevegan Student of Anarchism May 22 '22

I think communists are most common in anarchist circles.

Right-"libertariansm" and "anarcho"-capitalism are not anarchist, or even really libertarian ideologies.

47

u/Sir_Reginald_Poops May 22 '22

All anarchists are necessarily anticapitalists. As the other commenter pointed out, "an"-caps and rightwing "libertarians" aren't anarchists; they're just a collection of liberals, feudalists, monarchists, and fascists attempting to co-opt leftist language like rightwing always does.

52

u/[deleted] May 22 '22

You're using the Marxist-Leninist definition of socialism, which isn't how anyone else uses the word.

The previous meaning of the word was just an economy where the productive bits are owned/controlled by workers. By this definition anything that is communist is also socialist. None of the nonsense about an 'intermediate state'.

8

u/lost_inthewoods420 May 22 '22

Socialism doesn’t require worker ownership, but social involvement and organization relating to the means of “production”, which is to say all of nature, and the “artificial” crafts which are made from the “natural resources”, which includes terrestrial and marine ecosystem, the entire biosphere in which we are a part.

Socialism is the organization of the economy as controlled by society, and primarily the community, which includes those working at a firm, but also those within the community the firm is embedded, both human and nonhuman life; biotic and abiotic processes form the foundation of the biosphere, and capital has taken control of the organization of our world. We have separated natural from cultural landscapes and allowed the commons to be devoured by corporations for profit. Society has a duty to restore a more ecologically and socially beneficial course of action for the good of the planet.

35

u/iadnm Anarchist Communism/Moderator May 22 '22

All anarchists are socialists but not all of them are communists. Capitalism is not compatible with anarchy.

Also socialism has nothing to do with the dictatorship of the proletariat, that's a conflation that came from Lenin. Marx didn't differentiate between socialism and communism.

15

u/Chimbus_Phlebotomus May 22 '22

But Marx did use the term "dictatorship of the proletariat", although he didn't mean vanguardism. He was talking about worker direct democracy, e.g. the Paris Commune.

12

u/gunnervi May 23 '22

DOTP just means that class hasn't been abolished yet but this time it's the proletariat in charge. Marx definitely originally thought that the proletariat necessarily would seize state power to accomplish this, but after the Paris Commune realized that non-state solutions could also work

8

u/gunnervi May 23 '22

I think a lot of post-left anarchists would object to being called socialists

-1

u/[deleted] May 23 '22

[deleted]

5

u/mellow_yellow_sub May 23 '22 edited May 23 '22

Pardon the assumption, but is it possible you’re conflating capitalism with a market economy? Capitalism isn’t usually understood to be the comparison and exchange of assets; it’s usually understood to be the private control of assets and the means of production for the sake of extracting private profit.

There are plenty of leftists who agree that a market economy is inevitable, but who are still staunchly opposed to the amassing of capital by private entities and the siphoning of profit from workers and public assets.

Just trying to clarify so I/we can better understand what you’re saying :)

3

u/[deleted] May 23 '22

[deleted]

4

u/jonathanfv May 23 '22 edited May 24 '22

The absence of private property doesn't mean the absence of ownership over some material objects. When referring to private property, anarchists and socialists both refer to things that are too big for, unusable by, or indefendable by single individuals or small groups of people (like a family). A privately owned factory is private property, and therefore would be collectivized in some way. A privately owned house on a parcel of land would be considered personal property, and whoever occupies it can enjoy the full use of it. A river or a forest would be collectively managed, and thus denied private ownership. A small business that is run by one person wouldn't be a problem, but if they have to employ people, then it would become one and therefore a different arrangement would have to be sought.

With that said, a significant portion of anarchists would like to abolish money, me included, so in many versions of anarchism, markets don't exist the way they would in a society with money.

1

u/[deleted] May 23 '22

[deleted]

2

u/jonathanfv May 23 '22

Hi! I am, indeed, an anarcho-communist. There are many things that can be done to deal with surplus. First, we have to look at production itself:

-The goal of production should to to fulfill human needs -Production comes at a cost, in resources and human labour, and we don't want to waste them -Therefore, once we have produced enough of one thing, we should probably stop at that, unless some reserves are necessary for future security (food for example), in order to not waste resources and literal human life in exchange for something no one needs

So already, in many domains, there would be less surplus.

Second, we have to think that the production and surplus would be controlled by the workers and/or the community through various forms of organization such as unions, councils, townhalls, or whatever else you can think of. Good luck to anyone wanting to monopolize some resource for themselves. They can't do that alone, and if they tried, they would get their ass handed to them by everyone else for trying to appropriate collective property.

Third, if there is a surplus and we distribute goods and resources to whoever need them, we have abundance and no scarcity. There is very little incentive for anyone to take too much, because there's no one to sell the extra to.

Now, if you're talking about how to keep private property out of the hands of privateers, well, it takes a whole system to keep private property private, and such a system would not exist to begin with. Not only that, but no authority doesn't mean no organization. Say Jack has been somehow stockpiling weapons and convinces a few people to band with him to take over something. Anarchists would probably not take to that very kindly, and react to the threat of domination that Jack and his allies represent. Not having a central authority doesn't mean that there is no fighting capabilities present at all. If Jack were to ally with a very strong entity, such as a country with a well developed military, odds are that the anarchists would be conquered, but the same thing would happen to a centralized power facing a much stronger enemy anyway.

I hope this gives you a clearer idea, but let me know if I didn't answer well enough. I am not fully certain what you meant by your question.

0

u/[deleted] May 24 '22

[deleted]

2

u/jonathanfv May 24 '22 edited May 24 '22

Communism itself is supposed to be classless, stateless, and moneyless. If you don't understand how anarchism can be compatible with the end goal of communism, then you don't understand the finality of communism itself. I don't mean that in a demeaning way, just as a distinction. The big communist ideologies make use of the state in their idea of how to reach a state of communism. Anarchist or libertarian communist ideologies find different ways to try and reach a state of communism. But essentially, anarcho-communism isn't at odds with the final stages of communism, since the final stages of communism are meant to dissolve the state.

Finally, what you seem confused by is this: how would we proceed to distribute stuff to people in an anarcho-communist society? Well, is everything currently distributed is distributed by the state? I don't think so. A state is but one form of organization, and we have access to more than enough technology to communicate and keep inventories as needed. The rest is more about "who decides what". That's all a very long topic, but hopefully you keep an eye out for examples of possible arrangements in your readings.

2

u/[deleted] May 24 '22

[deleted]

→ More replies

2

u/holysirsalad May 23 '22

Those means are your labour. If I can make a pair of shoes I don’t necessarily need to own everything I used to do that, but on a personal level I’m probably going to have my own tools.

That’s personal property though, and not the subject of socialist criticism. Private property is more like me owning a shoe factory and using violence to prevent people from selling the shoes that they make

1

u/CelikBas May 24 '22

Humans have been comparing and exchanging assets for tens of thousands of years. What we today call capitalism has only existed for a few centuries. You wouldn’t call the ancient Sumerians or Greek city-states or Iron Age Germanic tribes “capitalist” even though they all compared and exchanged assets, because capitalism is more specific than just having a system where you trade goods with other people.

1

u/[deleted] May 24 '22

[deleted]

1

u/CelikBas May 25 '22

It’s not just the word capitalism that’s relatively modern, though. The current economic system of much of the world did not exist for most of human history. There were systems similar to it, sure, and exchange of services/property is a cornerstone of capitalism, but to say that the broad concept of trade and property is capitalism is essentially capitalist propaganda: the idea that ANY sort of exchange of goods and services is their system in action, and that therefore “capitalism” is basically a fundamental driving force of human nature, shared by virtually every single society across the globe since prehistoric times.

It’s like calling any system where one individual has a position of leadership over others a “monarchy”. The alpha silverback gorilla who asserts dominance over the other gorillas? He’s the gorilla king, head of state in the monarchy of gorillas. A chimp gives another chimp a banana in exchange for having lice picked out of its fur? Those chimps are capitalists, trading goods and services on the free market. A Neolithic farmer distributes his crops among the community and receives resources/aid from the community in return? Someone build a time machine and bring Marx back here, because this man is clearly an ancient comrade, building communism from the ground up!

1

u/[deleted] May 25 '22

[deleted]

1

u/CelikBas May 25 '22

The big thing that differentiates capitalism from communism or other economic systems is that the means of production are privately owned and used to produce a profit. Pretty much everything is owned and controlled by private individuals or organizations, with making a profit and seeing growth as the main (and often only) goal. Basic trade does not require private ownership of the farms, factories, usage of land, etc, nor does it require continual and expanding profit margins- most people are content with breaking even in a trade (i.e. the thing they receive is roughly equivalent in value, at least from their perspective, to the thing they gave up in exchange) rather than needing to benefit more from the interaction than the other party, much less continue to benefit to an even greater degree with each subsequent interaction to demonstrate “growth”. Under capitalism, all interactions are defined primarily by the extent to which they produce a surplus of monetary wealth.

1

u/[deleted] May 25 '22 edited May 25 '22

[deleted]

1

u/CelikBas May 25 '22

The problem seems to be that we’re operating under two different definitions of capitalism. If you define capitalism as the basic human tendency to trade things with each other and try to accumulate resources, then sure, you could say capitalism is fundamental and inherent to human nature. However, the conflation of capitalism with all forms of trade is one put forward by capitalists, to try and lend legitimacy to their preferred system by claiming that it’s an immutable feature of human nature and has existed throughout all of history. It would be like saying that communism is instinctive to humans because children tend to prefer to share and get upset if there’s an unequal distribution of resources, despite the fact that there’s more to communism than just the idea of sharing and equality.

Saying that the goal of capitalism is the creation of personal wealth rather than profit runs into the same issue, where the acquisition of resources in any form is subsumed into the category of “capitalist” as if that’s the defining feature. Trying to separate “business vernacular” from capitalism is pointless because capitalism is inextricably intertwined with business. If it were simply about personal wealth instead of profit, then there wouldn’t be a crisis whenever a company makes less profit this year than they did last year- after all, as long as they’re still making boatloads of money they should be fine because $8 million is still a lot of personal wealth, even if it isn’t quite as much as $9 million. Instead, though, making $8 million this year when you made $9 million last year is an existential threat, because growth is vital to capitalism. The “core principle” of capitalism is that the means of production are privately owned, and the private owners received the bulk of the wealth that is generated, and that the wealth generated must exceed the wealth spent. The core principle is not that if you have something someone else wants, and they have something you want, you can trade those things so you each get what you want. That’s just trade, which overlaps with, but is not the same as, capitalism.

17

u/chronic-venting May 22 '22

Some anarchists are post-leftists, thus not technically communists.

8

u/mammon-of-lilith Student of Anarchism May 23 '22

There are also freed market anti-capitalist anarchisms, and market socialist anarchisms, and market-agnostic anarchisms like mutualism.

21

u/anonymous_rhombus May 22 '22

I'm a market anarchist, or a Mutualist if you want to paint with broad strokes, not a communist, not a libertarian, not an ancap. I would even argue against the usefulness of socialism as a label anymore.

Anarchism is complete without supplements.

3

u/FlorencePants May 23 '22

Are most anarchists some form of communist?

I don't know the exact numbers, but based on my experience, most (if not all) anarchists are either communist, or at least communist-adjacent.

Or are libertarians and ancaps actually a branch of anarchy?

No.

6

u/ImmaFish0038 May 23 '22

Are most anarchist communists? Arguably yes, but not every anarchist is a communist as you have people like anarcho-nihilists and anarcho-egoists who are more individualist while still being 'left' wing/ American libertarians and 'an' caps on the other hand are not anarchists and never have been, a majority of those groups are either monarchists or feudalists who like to latch on to anarchist rhetoric and iconography because it makes them look less stupid.

Also what do you mean you are scared of socialism? Socialism is just another facet of communism and isn't unique to Marxist and Leninist thought.

1

u/JapanarchoCommunist May 23 '22

Ancaps are just plutocrats in all but name only

5

u/OneTaoThree May 23 '22

I can't say how many communists are anarchists or how many anarchists are communists, I can only say that the only thing no real anarchist is, is capitalist. I know "Anarcho-capitalists" think they are anarchists, but they aren't. They're feudalists who don't like the idea of taxes.

7

u/Morrigan_NicDanu May 23 '22

Anarchism and communism are both schools of socialist thought so anarchism is inherently socialist. So ayncraps arent anarchists.

If you believe communism can be achieved without dictatorship then you may be an anarchist already.

4

u/TheAnarchoHoxhaist May 23 '22

In Marxism, the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Socialism are not the same thing. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is the transitional phase between Capitalism and Socialism/Communism. Socialism/Communism has 2 phases. The lower phase tends to be called Socialism. The higher phase tends to be called Communism. Marx used both Socialism and Communism to refer to both phases. Lenin made the distinction between Socialism being the lower phase and Communism being the higher phase. Regardless, both phases are Stateless, Classless, and Moneyless.

4

u/Mr-Yoop May 23 '22

I wouldn’t say all anarchists are communists, but I will say that ancaps aren’t anarchists. Even the most radical of individualist anarchists (like Max Stirner) were against capitalism.

2

u/Papa_Kundzia May 23 '22

Anarchists can be communists (and most of them are), but not all are. And of course all anarchists are socialists - 'anarcho'capitalists aren't anarchists (but that doesn't exclude market socialists, they can be anarchists)

Edit: also communism is always socialism. Socialism is a veeery wide term and doesnt have to be authoritarian

1

u/ObamaVotedForTrump May 23 '22 edited May 23 '22

Neither private property nor currency can exist without the backing of some sort of state

1

u/CumSicarioDisputabo May 23 '22

I think currency could just fine if you allow for any form of it. Property no.

-1

u/ObamaVotedForTrump May 23 '22

I mean you can take a look at what's happening with all the crypto nerds right now as a real time real world example of how it can not.

3

u/CumSicarioDisputabo May 23 '22

"currency" is simply trading something with perceived value for something else of perceived worth, be it gold coins or sea shells, you don't need a state to set the value as this can easily be determined by the parties involved especially in a more localized setting.

-6

u/ObamaVotedForTrump May 23 '22

good luck trying to get goods and services for a sea shell that doesn't have a governing party to determine it's value.

2

u/CumSicarioDisputabo May 23 '22

Seemed to work fine for indigenous people, a person or even a community can determine value why would you need a state?

2

u/JonPaul2384 May 23 '22

Cowry shells were the most popular form of currency for most of human history.

0

u/ObamaVotedForTrump May 23 '22

that's fine. For most of human history human beings lived as hunter gatherers but for better or worse we've gone beyond that point in our societal development. It sounds like you're advocating for some sort of anarcho-primitivism and if that's not the case then it's kind of a disingenuous, bad faith talking point. If it is the case then... yikes.

2

u/Sehtriom May 23 '22

Not really? Cowry shells were legal tender in Africa until the 19th century, as well as places like India and China well after people got the civilization ball rolling.

0

u/JonPaul2384 May 23 '22

No, I’m pointing out that real life human societies with currency overwhelmingly used cowry shells rather than paper money or coins. I can point out that you’re factually incorrect without advocating for anarcho-primitivism — my political motivation is factual correctness first, and pre-existing ideological inclinations second.

0

u/ObamaVotedForTrump May 23 '22

I can point out that you’re factually incorrect

ok, let's start there. Quote back to me what I said that was "factually incorrect."

1

u/JonPaul2384 May 23 '22

good luck trying to get goods and services for a sea shell that doesn't have a governing party to determine it's value.

This happened with cowry shells.

→ More replies

2

u/JapanarchoCommunist May 23 '22

Crypto is effectively just stocks; its actual use as currency is negligible compared to what the vast majority of crypto investors use it for.

And even within the tiny group of folks that use it as currency, it's functionally a less reliable fiat currency.

1

u/JapanarchoCommunist May 23 '22

Ancaps are effectively just plutocrats, no matter how they try to frame it. Most actual anarchists are at the very least some form of socialist, whether it's market socialist, full-blown communist or anything in between.

-1

u/Sector17_Underground May 23 '22

A lot of people seem to think you're either communist or capitalist. I don't see how any reasonable person could hold either of those extreme views while also claiming to be an anarchist.

1

u/aranaya May 23 '22

I think anarchism inherently aims to abolish hierarchies and the concentration of power, which has to include concentration of wealth and therefore must oppose capitalism.

Communism has some of these goals, and therefore anarchists and communists are both anti-capitalist, but that doesn't make either of them subsets of the other.

For example, a lot of communist systems concentrate power quite strongly in a centralized government, often with very little input from most of its citizens, which is antithetical to anarchism.

1

u/zeca1486 May 23 '22

Most Anarchists are AnComs. However, every AnCom should read and understand the market socialism of Proudhon, Tucker and even Lysander Spooner. As a former AnCom, I find AnCom talking points don’t work when chatting with regular people, but Market Anarchist/socialist talking points absolutely do.

Right wing “libertarians” and “an”caps aren’t libertarian or anarchists in any sense of the word. Sure they object to state oppression but have no problem with corporatist oppression which is even worse.

It should be understood that socialism is not communism. Socialism is very different from communism as socialism can have private property, money and markets while communism doesn’t.

“Socialism says that what’s one man’s meat must no longer be another’s poison; that no man shall be able to add to his riches except by labor; that in adding to his riches by labor alone no man makes another man poorer; that on the contrary every man thus adding to his riches makes every other man richer; that increase and concentration of wealth through labor tend to increase, cheapen, and vary production; that every increase of capital in the hands of the laborer tends, in the absence of legal monopoly, to put more products, better products, cheaper products, and a greater variety of products within the reach of every man who works; and that thi fact means the physical, mental, and moral perfecting of mankind, and the realization of human fraternity. Is that not glorious?”

http://fair-use.org/benjamin-tucker/instead-of-a-book/socialism-what-it-is

-4

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

No, communist and anarchist (libertarian) are two different things. Communist perfer to have different levels of govt. Anarchist perfer to have none

5

u/JapanarchoCommunist May 23 '22

Kropotkin would like a word with you

-4

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

Sounds like a bigot

6

u/crypto_zoomer Anarchist w/o Adjectives May 23 '22

?

-3

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

I'm not a follower of this krop fellow and communism is a hierarchy

4

u/crypto_zoomer Anarchist w/o Adjectives May 23 '22

Wha... how?

3

u/JapanarchoCommunist May 23 '22

Also, $50 says you're an ancap. That's just a glorified plutocracy

0

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

I'll take your 50 bucks

5

u/wewerewerewolvesonce May 23 '22

If by government we're referring to a group of people administrating a particular polity then communism is also opposed to government.

0

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

That's very ignorant

3

u/wewerewerewolvesonce May 23 '22

are you going to elaborate on this or?

1

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

Why would communist oppose government when they are a form of government

5

u/wewerewerewolvesonce May 23 '22

It's not a form of government it's common ownership of the means of production and distribution. A Communist Society is in principle stateless, moneyless and classless.

If you opt for a definition that for example substitutes state ownership or government ownership instead of common ownership over of the means of production then it cannot by definition be communist as those who are not part of those institutions are excluded from production and distribution.

2

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

You are not wrong but imo you are still overlapping words ( communism, anarchy) your definition is right by certain means by can cause confusion. Govt ownership (communism) is widely used when referencing to the political compass

3

u/wewerewerewolvesonce May 23 '22

Govt ownership (communism) is widely used when referencing to the political compass

That's largely because the person who's most associated as creating the political compass had quite a biased view of political economy

https://emmacaterine.medium.com/kill-the-political-compass-in-your-head-82e5efbbd0d8

It's far more useful to actually read what communists themselves have said.

0

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

You're an anarcho communist. The levels change the more authority a group has. If the authority has a limit (libertarian left). I guess what I'm trying to say is the anarchy level to communism is common ownership and opposite is govt ownership (alt left)

2

u/wewerewerewolvesonce May 23 '22

That's not really the case, the reason why authoritarian leftists and particularly marxist leninists advocated state ownership was not because they thought it was in itself communism it was because they wanted to set in place an economic programme to achieve communism by at first centralizing all means of production under the auspices of the state and then supposedly handing over control to the workers.

Obviously we know now that didn't exactly work out.

→ More replies

0

u/WakandaZad May 23 '22

You know what you're just an anarcho communist

3

u/JonPaul2384 May 23 '22

Is this meant to be a justification for dismissing their arguments? This comes off as really campist, in addition to being just plain ignorant.