Ghoststrider (ghoststrider) wrote in a_versus_l,

Definition Time

It seems we're confused about what is what. So I proclaim a time for definitions.

Let's come to some consensus (or at least make the appearance of trying to, for debate's sake) on what capitalism, corporatism, communism, socialism, libertarianism, anarchism, and minarchism really mean. Other terms can, of course, also be defined.

If we're ever going to have a meaningful discussion between anarchists and libertarians (some of whom are probably both), we're going to need to have some base line to stand on. I can't see us having anything of value if one side is speaking Cantonese and the other is speaking Mandarin.

Speaking of Mandarin, I like oranges...

PS: Can someone other than me please make a post? This is supposed to be a community, not my second blog. :p
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There's lots to say. A little history behind the terms might help.

Modern libertarians (and anarcho-capitalists) tend to use the Misean/Randian definition of "capitalism", which is synonymous with "free market". Others, including most modern socialists, use the original Ricardian definition as a system in which the government intervenes on behalf of property owners (or at least the large prominent ones) as contrasted against a free-market devoid of those privileges. Capitalism was originally coined by dissident free marketeers opposed to it, as a proxy for what you might call corporatism.

I don't argue that most socialists really aware of this history; for them, it's more about the connotations that come from using the word as a proxy both for the free market and the existing corporatist mixed economy. Libertarians often make the same mistake in reverse, defending aspects of the current system on the basis of free market principles (what market anarchist Kevin Carson has termed vulgar libertarianism). I just note that the different political traditions have inherited two different mentalities surrounding the word. It's important to qualify terms to avoid angry misunderstanding, as you did in the original post.

Regarding "anarchism", most social(ist) anarchists would define it as the opposition to rulers, but not to rules or order. I would be more precise in saying it's the opposition to imposed rule, or "aggression" in libertarian lingo. Disparities in authority within an association are not archist per se, but generally undesirable from a libertarian perspective for same reasons that oppressive cultural norms are bad: they detract from a culture liberty and the self-actualization of it's inhabitants. I differ with social anarchists in this regard, in that I can accept anarchy as simply the non-aggression principle, and let the anti-authoritarian elements (anti-sexism, anti-racism, worker autonomy) come about through thickness rather than definition.


January 31 2008, 00:55:16 UTC 10 years ago

Capitalism: an economic system with unfettered markets.
Corporatism: commonly referred to as capitalism; confluence of state and economic power.
Communism: the absence of class and state.
Socialism: a political/economic system characterized by central ownership of all productive property.
Libertarianism: a variety of political beliefs ranging from anarchism to minarchism; basically meaningless; with a capital L, it generally refers to minarchism.
Anarchism: communism.
Minarchism: capitalism; anarchism, but with a state and class—not anarchism—and an either state- or market-focus on security (protection of productive property ownership).
So by your definitions, anarcho-capitalism isn't anarchism because it doesn't espouse communism?

You're free to have your own definitions, but come now--communism isn't really the absence of class and state, it's merely the community controlling the means of production (and thus, virtually everything else.) It creates a whole new state. Whether it has classes is arguable.


January 31 2008, 22:58:05 UTC 10 years ago

"anarcho-capitalism isn't anarchism because it doesn't espouse communism?"

Anarcho-capitalism isn't anarchism because it is an ideological basis for class society.

"communism isn't really the absence of class and state… It creates a whole new state. Whether it has classes is arguable."

You're mistaking socialism for communism. The state apparatus in the USSR, Korea, China, Cuba (to an extent) and other "communist" countries were never referred to by communists as a communist state of being, they were referred to as socialist. Nearly all Marxist and Marxist-*ist literature on the subject refers to this as the "dictatorship of the proletariat"—as opposed to capitalism ("dictatorship of the bourgeoisie")—a first step (from their movements' perspectives) towards communism—which, in all of this literature, is defined as a society without class or state. The fact that a stateless-classless society was never achieved in any of these projects is damning to the concept of socialism as any kind of a meaningful step towards communism, and that is the major ideological difference between anarchists and Marxists.

Some more keen anarchists take this analysis further, as anarchism is a project aimed at eliminating *all* social power and control, and include the institution of civilization ("any society that has cities"[1]) as one to be abolished, as it is itself a primary mechanism of class and the foundation of the state.

[1] Anthropological Dictionary,