Markets Without States?

Markets Without States?

A RageAgainstCapital piece dealing with the question of weather markets can possibly exist without the state.

A rather important question arises out of debates centering around markets in Anarchist circles, this is the question of weather or not Markets can actually exist in a free-society or without the existence of a state, so I thought I would answer this question since this question is both interesting to me and is an important one for Anarchists to answer if they are to move forward.

I suppose this should start with a definition of markets and a definition of the state. The state exists as a historical point in production where relations to production become hierarchically organized into relations of subordination and supremacy in production. The state came about with the division of labor, i.e. the restriction of laborers to specific tasks, and relies on such a division to exist, without that domination inherent in the division of labor that alienates people from the work they do in order to allocate that work to serving a specific purpose in a hierarchical structure the state can not exist. The state itself is as Engels says a power above society and thus exists to hold class rule over society and allocate power to a minority of the population as 20th century Anarchists put it. Markets on the other hand are defined by the production of and then buying and selling of production goods, in order for markets to exist things must be produced to be exchanged and thus the production of what Marx calls “exchange value” or the value something has on the market must be practiced. This is the very essence of the market, the mechanism by which objects gain their exchange value and are sold at the market price for other objects with exchange value.

I think it’s very fair to suggest that division of labor is present in any market. In order for markets to function we must see production being taken out of the hands of producers in mutually beneficial free-associations and assimilating into the cycle of exchange, people in a market system of production thus will have to produce things to be exchanged so they have things to exchange for other things which they require. This is the fundamental class make-up of the market where people are alienated from control over their labor and assimilated into a structure of hierarchical power relations in which the ability to control your own productive activities is contingent upon the amount of exchange value you hold in your possession.

The state as we already stated constitutes a hierarchy at the point of production where power is monopolized for the few, this can be shown to be the case in market forms of production if just because they involve a division of labor and thus must form a hierarchical structure of production that allots power to a minority.

Markets have only ever existed in a state context, before the state arose out of communal hunter-gatherer societies markets did not exist and the small scale production of the time was based on production specifically for social use and not for market exchange, more or less the type of production you would see in a communist society, simply less wide-scale and not integrated into an industrial civilization. This seems to be because the market forms class relations, or differing relations to production and the means of said production, class is built on the foundation of the state as for social relations to production to be different some must control production while others do not creating that hierarchical structure at the point of production earlier referred to.

I think we can clearly ascertain from this information that markets can not exist without the state and further without domination, it is thus that I think any socialist or Anarchist project needs to move beyond them and thus reject market-Anarchism and market-socialism.

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Apr 16 2016 06:01


  • it is thus that I think any socialist or Anarchist project needs to move beyond them and thus reject market-Anarchism and market-socialism.

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Apr 17 2016 00:37

cf: "whether"