RAC evaluates the meaning of "anti-capitalism" to Anarchists.
Much respect is paid to the label “anti-captalist”. The same is is also paid to labels such as anti-sexist, anti-racist, ect. In principle we should be all of these, but these labels leave much to be desired. None of them imply any specific programs, politics, or policies. Not even specific day to day practices. Without theses finer details being worked out these labels quickly mean very little. Corporations may call themselves anti-sexist for having a female CEO while benefiting from the unpaid labor of women in the home that reproduces their labor force. The American government may call itself anti-racist for having a black president that served two consecutive terms while also incarcerated disproportionate amounts of black people for drug offenses despite white people doing the most the drugs. Being “anti-capitalist” in many cases implies something much more meaningless. Often those who claim to be anti-capitalist are the ones in bed with capitalism. Marxist-Leninists declare that they are anti-capitalist, yet their ideology was created as the prevailing set of ideas which justified the political and economic system of the USSR and it’s cousin states. This political and economic system was one in which the party bureaucracy commanded the state apparatus in order to extract the surplus produced by the laboring population which is then turned into capital for the state to accumulate and use to develop it’s national economy. Here we have only capitalism, where party beurocrats and CEOs have traded places.
Chavismo is often touted as the alternative to neo-liberal capitalism. This is ironic when the country that was modeled off this approach remains completely dependent on selling oil to the United States on the international market. Chavez did not just take power and throw capitalism and imperialism out of the country just as Ho Chi Mihn, Mao Tse-Tung, Kim Ill Sung, and Castro didn’t. What we have in Venezuela is a capitalist society where one’s wealth and status is dictated by the amount of state resources one has access to, just as things were before Chavez took power. The only difference is now there are social services which barely fulfill their stated purpose and serve more to indoctrinate the population into Cuban Stalinist ideology, and community and workplace councils that are either controlled by the state or capitalists. What use is “anti-capitalism” when all it means is capitalist nation-states with a slightly leftist ideological bent?
Naomi Klein often argues against capitalism, especially in her new book “This Changes Everything”. I have to ask however, what is really changed? Klein doesn’t argue for the abolition of capital and the expropriation of private property. She rather argues for decentralized, community co-operation in the existing society. This is because Klein’s problem is not with the fundamental class structure of capitalism, but “unchained” capitalism, where the market can rule without limits. Klein is still looking to preserve capitalism in all reality, just a cuddly, family friendly version of it. Anarchists are against capitalism because capitalism relies on the exploitation of the earth and all of it’s living creatures to operate. To us, the problem with capitalism is not that it’s not on a tight leash of community cooperation, nor that capital is being accumulated by private owners instead of the party beurocracy, nor that the state isn’t “leftist” in it’s ideological declarations. To us capitalism rests on competition within the market, everything in capitalist society is reduced down to the sale of commodities, everything has a price, and thus labor, the environment, non-human creatures, all must be sacrificed at the alter of exploitation so that a few can compete and continue to be profitable. This few carries out this exploitation by the owners of the tools which humanity uses to create the means to survival, or, the means of production. The capitalist class has the legal rite to dispose of this production and thus the product that the working class uses it to create. This means that us workers are separated from the means of subsistence and have to sell ourselves just to gain what little we can to survive. Some of us can’t even achieve this and die of malnutrition, cold, or thirst. By commanding the productive power of humanity the capitalist class controls society, and effectively, the planet, exploiting both for it’s profit needs.
Anarchists, thus seek to eliminate capitalism, abolish the oppression and exploitation of one person by another. We seek to set up a society that runs on the free-participation of each individual and the common administration of society’s productive resources for the common needs of each of it’s members. Instead of the administration of people, we will have the administration of things in the interests of all people. This society is a Libertarian Communist, or Anarchist Communist society. Anarchists are violently anti-capitalist, but on the basis that we want to replace capitalism with a libertarian communist social order.