Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Social Justice and Capitalism?

Can Social Justice be achieved under Capitalism?

Can Equality be achieved under any political or economic structure? Equality of opportunity? Equality of outcome? To what point? At what cost?

What is justice, that gives particular individuals greater rights that others? Can there only be justice under the law (an equality of inequality)? Can egalitarianism only exist under the State's force?

Social justice is also used to refer to the overall fairness of a society in its divisions and distributions of rewards and burdens and, as such, the phrase has been adopted by political parties with a redistributive agenda.

In this sense, social justice can only be achieved through redistribution and a centralized state. Is there a way to achieve this without a State (other than everyone being equaly poor)?

**Wikipedia defines egalitarianism as equality of outcome. My opinion is that that approach is never appropriate.**

Also, many of these definitions are based on the assumption that society wants what the State decides to do -- i.e. that the State defines order or that there is no order without it.

Many people do not understand the order (spontaneous order) of the markets. It is an order that exists beyond and before the State. Just like Anarchy does not have to mean chaos.

I think that you can only have these society directed desires through a State and a heavily coercive State at that.
Well I would think that a) if Capitalism is an economic system, then it is at most secondary to the systems that define social justice, and b)when Chris said that Capitalism is an economic system inside a social structure, you don't have any equality whatsoever, but a state that defines society in economic terms which isn't truly a complete society but one bound by purely inhuman economic means. It is a close cousin to facism. You also have a priori statement that "what is justice, that gives particular individuals greater rights then others." That is totally bizzar. True justice is an equalizing force (although the justice of amerika is hardly equal). Egalitarianism I think can only exist in the absence of the state, in anarchy, just as there is no justice under the law but true justice from the absence of laws. It seems from all the arguments I have read, yesterday and today, there is a peculiar obsession with what the state has rights to. Why are you trying to define and qualify the state?! If any of you think you are anarchists and against rulers and for self-determination, then the purely academic banter of what is and isn't acceptable is quite frankly mental masturbation! When the anarchist communities I take part in meet for discussion of an issue, it is about how to alter and affect change, not some ivory tower discussion of what is right or wrong. You can talk about that with the people you choose to live with. Right now the anarchist movement is about what it should be and equally about unshackling ourselves from what has yoked us for so long. The details come later when we set up our communities. Even then it is limited to the community that is trying to define itself, and its validity doesn't have to be justified by anyone outside of that community. I'm just tired of the hazy boundary between capitalism as a social system or an economic system in these arguments. Lets tighten up these arguments as there is a huge tendency in these posts to speak on general terms that are all inclusive of everyone; that isn't anarchy, that is a centralized state. I think you need to remember if you are espousing anarchy, then there is no right to make these distinctions for everyone, just the people you choose to define a community or some kind of entity with. Outside of that, these questions are no one else's business. It seems you are interested in determining who is right, not building alliances against the state. I don't know how much experience you all have in activist and anarchist circles, but I have worked in these communities almost all of my adult and even pre-adult life. We strive to understand first, then be understood. There is no pissing match about who is right or wrong; that doesn't even enter the equation. We build coalitions, then build collective determination among the groups we are in solidarity with, and then build a consensus. We are practicing how to be equal all the time, and while it is a lot of work, it does work. The details are then up to to the community, i.e. what is justice, what is equality, what is fair. NO GODS, NO MASTERS.
By the way, I might be the only person that would believe in Anarcho-capitalism. The rest of the folks commenting have other opinions and political/economic persuasions.
I agree with Travis that "capitalism" is lacking as a descriptive term. Capitalism seems to me no more than a synonym for economics in practice (not the study of economics, but the subject being observed by that study). Even the most "anti-capitalist" economic system of the Soviets could not replace capital — the Communist Party merely arrogated to itself ownership of all the capital.

Neither "social justice" as defined by the confiscatory Left nor "equality (of outcome)" is possible under free-market capitalism; however, equality before the law (true justice) is possible, and in fact free-market capitalism requires those things to be established and credible in order for its societywide benefits to manifest themselves fully.

So I prefer to argue from the basis of free-market capitalism, with "free-market" providing the much-needed qualifier.
What is the economic system of anarchy?
You seem caught up on the issue of people being measured by an economic system(through capitalism), so what do you recommend? Let us not forget that an economic system necessarily has a social counterpart. They can be very differnt, very similar, or essentially the same.

How can anarchy be anything more than a group of poor people making everything themselves and having no time for leisure? Even when we barter, or have groups of individuals trading, we would loose so many of the things that we have now (luxuries, medicines, and any leisure goods or services). Under an anarchist state with no economic system (or whateveryou would propose), how can we even hope to achieve even the lowest standard of living that we now enjoy today?
<"How can anarchy be anything more than a group of poor people making everything themselves and having no time for leisure? Even when we barter, or have groups of individuals trading, we would loose so many of the things that we have now (luxuries, medicines, and any leisure goods or services). Under an anarchist state with no economic system (or whateveryou would propose), how can we even hope to achieve even the lowest standard of living that we now enjoy today?"> Well you've obviously made a lot of presumptions. Anarchy does not automatically mean poverty. It does not automatically mean no leisure time. It does not automatically mean the loss of 'luxury', or technology or services. It is the right to self-determination, and I sound like a broken record but I don't think you are hearing my point: you and your community can do and determine how your infrastructure works for yourselves and you can have whatever trappings of material existance you want, as long as you don't force your system on me. We don't have to define how anarchy works for EVERYONE, just for ourselves in our region of people, or whatever defined entity. But for me, the conspicuous consumption by 25% of the world's population of around 80% of world's resources is not going to last long regardless of political or social ideation. Luxury, leisure, and unbound consumerism is destroying the world. I am not suggesting a socialist or communist state to remedy it, I am making an observation: resources are finite and things are going to change quickly. If you want to be responsible for enslaving the majority of the worlds labor and resources through the rule of law and the global economy to suit your "right" to have unlimited material wealth and your favorite economic system, well lets say your going to hit the wall sooner than you think. When 80% of world's population lives in poverty, (which the U.S. standard of poverty seems extremely rich when compared to the 3rd world state of poverty) then you are perpetuating suffering and harming people in ways your ignorance and your concept of "right" can't save you. I think this is a fundamental delusion in the pro-Capitalist platform: you want your cake and eat it too. The reality is the U.S. government is inherently flawed as well as it's economic and political motives. During the age of ancient Rome, all the statesmen and proponents of its system thought it was going to last forever. It only lasted 800 years. The amerikan system is 225 years old and already is breaking apart. Either you adapt and change, or you perish alongside the other dinosaurs, and all your rationalizations won't do a thing to preserve it.
1. A question is not a presumption. It is statement that you can defend, agree with or decline to compat.

2.How can anarchy work, if it is only implemented in some small community? Is it really anarchy? Don't you think you would need significant compliance to work properly? And then if we require compliance, aren't we just then forcing a particular choice upon people?

3. You recognize that resources are scarce and then also state that anarchy doesn't mean loss of luxury. How will so many things continue to be made, if not be some business and wage labor?

4. Lastly, our friend QÖTSÁISAW has decided to leave us. I apologize for his quick departure and I apologize to him if were too harsh in any of our statements.
Well it isn't for harshness that I bow out. I have taken nothing personally. It's the inability to think openly. 1)you have implied statements and presumptions in your previous 'questions', especially as they don't begin as questions but as statements. The statement/question "How can anarchy be anything more than a group of poor people making everything themselves and having no time for leisure?" has several obvious suppositions in just the way the 'question' is asked. If a reporter asks "how come that item is blue" to a man holding an apple, there is supposition. 2)You don't need significant compliance to work properly, or even compliance at all; it seems you are operating from an a priori base that there are limited possibilities as to how anarchy should work. People that I have worked with form a collective decision that is defined and entered into freely to form consensus, yes consensus, that has no coercion or compliance or sacrifice involved. There is no hierarchy to enforce such a thing if it did exist. It has worked in small sustainable communities for thousands and thousands of years. It exists now. I've lived on or near Indian reservations my whole life and despite the genocide of the past 500 years, native america is alive and well and getting stronger because they operate as small interdependent and self-determinate communities that fly under the radar of the federal government. They are only one example; anarchy is alive and well and is the spring board for a better world. Anarchists have been written out of history in many ways, but that doesn't mean they don't exist or work well. I have been engaged in many anarchist communities and can personally say they work as far as we've been able realize them in today's circumstance of proto-facism. 3)You assume what luxury is defined as, is the one of conspicuous consumption, decadent surplus, unchecked use of resources; the definition of luxury that is enforced by society and state. I define luxury as free time to engage in meaningfull interaction and creative pursuit. Do you know that contemporary amerikans spend more energy (measured in calories)'making a living' than indigenous cultures have for millenia? Indigenous cultures had time for the 'luxury' of developing a heightened sense of their place in the world and responsibility to their all their relations. It is a hard fact that the predominant model of human existance has lasted and been sustained many times longer and more successfully than what we know as 'civilization' which has crippled us in so many ways in just the years of the industrial revolution alone.
And lastly, I heard it said once that "the mark of a free man [person] is the nagging and constant questioning if he is completely right or not." One must strive to have an open mind and consider things you may not normally consider, to be your own critic, if one is going to truly evolve and find a better way. With that I take my leave. Thanks,
What the radical left thinks of Capitalism:

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