August 24, 2021
From Center For Stateless Society

The Concentration of Capital: The Benefits of Non-Capitalist Markets

An inherent problem of capitalism (and maybe its greatest) is the concentration of capital. Let us look at it in a critical light.

The concentration of capital is a direct result of the capitalist construction of legal property: contrary to (for example) freedom of expression, which is a very practical right, this “right” is a hypothetical right that can only be exercised if one’s circumstances permit it. This is not the case with pure freedoms, like freedom of religion or freedom of assembly, which anyone, anywhere, can pursue if they so wish. The state, and most people, think it is normal if a person does not have the means necessary to exercise this right, but why? 

The problem of concentration of capital is based on this “right” of property. Because capitalism functions according to this principle: the more capital one has, the faster that capital multiplies. And so luck sets classes into stone, and the luck (or lack thereof) of our ancestors still affects us today. Social mobility may be greater than ever due to technology, still, it is handicapped by capital and property. Labour is rewarded with hourly wages a fraction of the worth of the product they, the labourers, produce, while capital doubles, triples, with every investment… How much longer can we pretend that this is somehow a legitimate law of nature and not some monstrous construct inherent to only capitalism?

The collective ownership of capital is an obvious solution to this problem, but how do we organize this? There are a few broad directions to go in. On the one hand, there is the Leninists’ and Stalinists’ proposal: wherein the state is a kind of mediator for the proletariat, in all matters, so economics as well. This can’t but end in the tyranny of bureaucrats who call themselves proletarians, but are dukes and kings of the red terror. In short: corrupt aristocrats, Mafiosi. This system is as flawed as our current hierarchy, we shan’t be content with only reversing or reforming the hierarchies of capitalism and the state: we must erase them. The second option is anarchy: to have all matters that were, in earlier times considered matters of state or matters of capital, in the hands of consensus-based communes or associations. The third option is a mixture, where matters like policing and defense are still in the hands of the state but more democratically (however still electorally so), but the economic matters are brought into the hands of the workers themselves.

Option one is the death of the working-class movement, and murderous tyranny. Option three is better, but still, the state can abuse its power, and people are still divided into classes. 

Instead, the people should ideally be viewed as individuals, as egos floating on the plains, and all these individuals should have the space of movement they deserve. For that, we need anarchy and consensus-based ownership of the means of production and consensus-based organization of society. Only then will we truly free the people, all people, not only people of a certain class, race, gender, or sex.  

Now, to choose how these voluntary collectives of free individuals interact with each other, we only have two options: the socialist market, based on the labor theory of value and voluntary exchange, or the planned economy, based on the principle of “to each according to their ability, to each according to their needs.” It is a cleavage between more Marxist-inspired anarchism like anarcho-communism, and the market anarchism of mutualism (followed by Agorism and Egoism, etc), with the collectivist Bakuninites somewhere in the middle. For me, the decision is clear.

We must favour the market, because a planned economy, first of all, needs bureaucracy, which, in an anarchist society is almost impossible to organize. Because all functions that the market normally would carry out, will then be replaced by officials and elected delegates. Those are perfectly fine if the federation principles are adhered to, for example, that those delegates adhere fully to the will of the commune or group. However, there shouldn’t be more than needed, as this is dangerous, as the more delegates and representatives one has, the more chance of power and hierarchy appearing. So, we must conclude, the socialist market has a greater eye for individual freedoms of voluntary exchange and is more efficient at fighting hierarchy. 

Property and the concentration of capital that is inherent to capitalism ruins that “free” market as it creates hierarchies and inequality. These inequalities are not merely the result of the individuals themselves. The market, if truly free, without concentration of capital or hierarchies of any kind, will bring the motives for change and technology to thrive. And so, is our best option.