Would Wage Slavery Still Exist in Anarcho-Capitalism?

One of the common left anarchist critiques of market anarchism, especially anarcho-capitalism, is the existence of “wage slavery”. Generally the concept is understood as such: Within contemporary capitalism, sometimes referred to as crony capitalism or state capitalism, there exists a compulsion to work for a wage. This compulsion is not a typical form of coercion. There is rarely a cruel master with a whip beating you if you don’t choose to work. Instead this compulsion is an institutional compulsion. Workers are forced into wage labor because the property norms and laws of capitalist society would lead them to starve to death if they do not take on a job.The concern socialists seem to have is that wage slavery would continue to exist in a market anarchist society due to how it’s property relations are similar to that of crony capitalism.

wageslavery

The “Nature is Oppression” Strawman

Now before I address the validity of this position, I want to touch on a common straw man. Many libertarians on the rights will falsely critique this argument by suggesting leftist simply want everything for free without having to put any labor in. They imagine that if property and laws can coerce people into labor then clearly nature itself must be oppressive for forcing us to labor to eat. This is not a fair critique. Leftists are well aware that there is a need to do some sort of labor in order to not starve to death. Leftists have no problem with living off the land or putting in labor as a community to gather resources. Instead the concern lays in the lack of choices. The view is that wage labor or starve are pretty much the only option available in capitalist society is an artificial limit to the choices of a worker. Also, it’s easy to see how natural forces are in a completely different category than man made limitations.

Abolish The State, Free The Laborer

Though I don’t personally subscribe to the wage slavery theory, there is some value to what the leftists are saying here. It is true that the state has monopolized land ownership. 60 percent of land in Alaska is federally owned. The federal government owns about 28 percent of the 2.27 billion acres of land in the United States. “Owns” of course in a strictly legal sense, not in a legitimate property claim sense. It’s reasonable to suggest that this ownership of land has limited the options available to those who might want to homestead and live independently. Furthermore, regulations serve as barriers to those who might want to escape wage labor. Starting a small business is a red tape hell hole. The license and taxes required create a market where there is an artificially low amount of entrepreneurs and business owners.

It seems clear to me that market anarchism would address all these concerns. By abolishing the state we abolish federal land and the regulatory mazes. The available options for those who don’t want to work for a wage would increase drastically. The barriers to entry for starting a worker owned business or being self employed would largely disappear.

Would The Rich Buy Up All The Land?

Now the committed left anarchist might stop me here, and suggest that the rich and powerful may still find a way to privately monopolize all of the land. In a world where everything can be owned the rich may have some incentive to buy it all up. In theory this could create a sort of private feudal society. To those who believe this I simply ask, “How?”. Even in contemporary capitalist society where businesses have the power of the state at their hands, they have been unable to monopolize vast areas of land. Walmart does not currently own your apartment complex. Consider also that absent of state power and police that acquiring all of the land would be even more difficult. With publicly funded law the capitalist can push off his cost of protecting his property to society at large. He can leach off of the taxpayer. Absent of state power the capitalist must cover all of his costs. In a free market society the incentives is to only purchase land that is going to be put at use.

Now assume that maybe that there is something inherently problematic with the wage labor aspect of wage slavery. Perhaps the extraction of “surplus value” is a legitimate problem.  Maybe in an ideal society wage labor would be extremely rare.

To give the leftist as much slack as possible in their argument I will even address this claim.

Would Wage Labor Still Exist In Market Anarchism?

First of all we have to consider the values of a libertarian a culture. Obviously free markets and free societies would have huge of variety of belief systems and ideas. However markets seem to incentivize some universal values. A increased value in self ownership and individualism seem common in all market orders. This sense of self ownership would lead more people in the market to look for opportunities outside of having a boss or working for a wage so that they keep more of the  value they create.

The leftist should also consider the reasons for that assumption that wage labor would still exist. I believe a big part of this is that they see successful businesses in the current market who are dependent on the wage labor model. This assumption seems to have a bit of status quo bias to it. It’s true that most large businesses do rely on wage labor to a degree. However this is only drawing conclusions from a broken model. We can’t really 100% predict if the practice would carry on in a free society as they incentives, laws and institutions that have built it up would be gone. I think it’s preferably reasonable to assume that under different base structures lead to different results.

 

It’s a particular interest of mine to address socialist claims against market anarchism. I believe here I’ve covered all my bases but if you feel I’ve missed something key then shoot me an email. I’d love to chat.

Gabrieljmitchell@gmail.com

Advertisements

Nightmares and Self Confidence

I used to have nightmares. Almost every night. Usually they were some sort of stress dream. Maybe an unstoppable creep chasing me through the house. Other times my teeth falling out while I watched helplessly in the mirror. One thing that was very common was a sense of helplessness. Even in the rare dream where I had the courage to throw a punch at an attacker my fists would simply be soft, damageless blows.

Sometime a few years ago things changed. My life was starting to get together. I was working past a lot of youth insecurities and unhealthy behaviors. Suddenly the nightmares just stopped. I maybe only have one once every few months during times of serious stress. Most interesting though, isn’t that the nightmares stopped being so frequent, but that when they do I happen I am now able to overcome them. When being chased down endless hallways I can find courage. I can throw a punch at whatever beast is following me and it lands with an impact.

The subconscious is a curious thing.

How to Get Companies to Use Your Designs

 

Today I want to discuss how designers can get businesses to use their work. Though my experience is running a t-shirt company, I think what I’m about to say has wider application for designers in all fields. I’m going to dissect three messages I’ve received from artists with offers to use their work. None of these are perfect and the first one is absolutely terrible. 

Let’s start with the worst:

message1

So this fella sends me a message asking if I’m interested in his shirt design. The wording is pretty vague.I have no idea if he already has a design created or if he’s just throwing around an idea and wants to get feedback. There’s also nothing to give me any indication of his design quality. This message creates a lot of work for me. I have to ask further for further details that should have been given. 

Message2

This message is a little better. It’s a step up from the first one by offering some samples of his work  and shows that he’s already done designs in my field (cryptocurrencies like Ethereum) . This keeps me from having to ask too many questions as I can gauge his limitations and strengths by looking at the portfolio. He also offers a bit more of a specific offer. However I get a lot of message like this from designers. It’s important to look for opportunity but this message does little to help him stand out. Why should I choose him over any other free lancer I could find online? There is no attempt to build any sort of relationship or give me value. 

Message3

This message gets even closer to the ideal. The designer just straight up sends me some work I could use. I’m prompted to respond, especially given that these designs very usable. It’s completely eliminates any guess work on my end and even saves me the trouble of having to come up with a design idea to commission. This designer has my attention by offering me something with clear value. The context of this specific conversation made the lack of written out value proposition okay. The designer established a relationship with me by having a conversation on a different topic. If you don’t already have an in to a conversation with the business you may want to include a message along with the designs you send in.

If you want businesses to use your designs, do everything you can to minimize the work on their end. Some sort of combination of the second and thirds messages is going to be the way to go. Send them samples of your work, send them designs ideas, and even potentially go as far as sending a free design. Good luck!

Today I’m Grateful for Jakob Mathis

Life has always been a rollercoaster. I hit intense highs and fall into some brutal lows. Though I’m over all happy and confident there’s a lot of uncertainty.

Lately every weekend I’ve been meeting up with my close friend Jakob Mathis. We get together at his place and play through the Call of Duty Zombie Games. It’s nothing special. Plenty of guys have built their friendships around throwing back a beer and playing video games. However seeing Jakob has become a real highlight of my week. It’s one point of consistency and ordered in my otherwise chaotic life. We get together and accomplish somethibg. Bonding every weekend, getting closer and closer to reaching the games end goals.

Jakob is an amazing person to spend time with. He’s impressive, at only 20 he already manages restaurants for a living. He’s extremely charitable, goes out of his way to make sure I’ve been fed. He’s unbelievably kind, I’ve never heard him say absurdly negative things about anyone. Always gives people the benefit of the doubt. He’s hilarious, we crack some of the best jokes when together. Even inventing little speech games to sharpen our wit through rhyme. I could go on and on!

Jakob is super great and I’m happy to call him my friend. Today I am grateful for Jakob Mathis.

Lessons From a Failed T-shirt Store

Before my success with Ethereum Clothing I had a failed T-shirt store, Stateless Apparel (aka SA). It was a side project I took up during my time with the Praxis program. Inspired by my interest in freedom and Libertarian Philosophy, I decided I could find a way to help spread ideas through design. Lots of fun but it was definitely a failed project. An extremely educational failure at that. Here’s what I’ve learned about running a t-shirt store.
1) Avoid acquiring inventory before making sales.

The most expensive mistake I made with SA was printing a couple boxes of shirts before I had any sales. Several years later I still have shirts sitting in my closet. This was an amateur mistake especially in the e-commerce clothing market. Now I know that printing as I get orders is the best way to do it. With Ethereumclothing.com I outsource my printing and shipping to the company Printful. It helps me keep my upfront costs low while freeing up my time to grow the business.

2) Keep website costs low.

Though not as costly as the product problem, I definitely lost some money with my web hosting. Before establishing my revenue I committed to a monthly payment of over $25 on Shopify. Now this isn’t a big cost, but for a first time entrepreneur it was a mistake. With the right combination of WordPress and web hosting systems I was able to get the monthly hosting cost down to under $10. I love Shopify, mind you. I actually currently run my site on it. If you kind of know what you’re doing, you’ll what to use it. I have an affiliate link you can check out. For a first timer though, it’s worth looking at your other options.

3) Start with several designs.

When I was running AS I only had two designs. They were pretty decent looking, but having such an empty site made my store unprofessional. Also if I had more designs I could have made a lot more sales. With my new site and all future projects I’ve decided to start with at least 5 designs.

4) Learn to do the designs yourself when possible.

Both of the designs were outsourced to a friend of mine. Great work! However the designs weren’t too complicated and I could easily recreate them now with my current design skills. I also overpaid. Unfamiliar with the market I offered much higher than I should have. My friend even gave me a discount, likely feeling the commissioned work wasn’t worth the cost. I also missed out on a great opportunity to learn a skill. I currently design most of the work at Ethereumclothing.com and will likely continue to sharpen that ability with further projects.

Failure is a necessary part of the growth process. Though it was unfortunate to lose time and money, I’m glad I had the courage to give it try.