Eran wrote:While I know you don't think highly of American democracy, consider the likelihood that Americans will pass a Constitutional Amendment nominating a single person to be dictator-for-life with unlimited powers. In theory, this is a possibility. In practice, we can all agree, highly unlikely.
Sure. But that was not what I was suggesting. What I mentioned--"a small few from gaining control of the vast majority of capital and then employing all means, such as propaganda, incarceration, war, to ensure their secured and continued power"--actually occurs in the current US. No constitutional amendments for dictatorial powers were needed for the government to be controlled largely by private corporations, for the amount of wealth inequality, perpetual war state, high incarceration rates, and for massive propaganda campaigns to keep people in line to occur. Under current conditions of power distribution, I don't see any reason why a gradual transformation to an an-cap society would not be guided by the super rich to ensure their continued wellbeing. I think much of what we see today would still occur, only it would be organized by private corporations colluding together.
Even in the Golden Era of the 19th century America, while a few individuals rose to a position of great wealth, none individually or even collectively owned a significant fraction of the nation's wealth.
I wouldn't call 19th century America as the "Golden Era"--that is typically defined as the period between 1945 and 1970. Still, neither period is something we would want to emulate. 19th century America was characterized by slave populations, expansionism, large amounts of inequality, gender inequality, lack of labor laws, burgeoning corporatization, and several economic crises. While the period between '45 and '70 saw more inequality and steady growth, there was still a large underclass population, and economic power was conserved by both the destruction of other economies after WWII and military might abroad. But this may be a digression...
It is impossible to justify an aggressive war by the NAP, as such war, invariably, results in harm to innocents. Yes, you can justify removing trespassers from private property. But in practice, only a tiny fraction of the land area of the continent is likely to be exclusively owned. You could certainly not imprison people indefinitely for trespass, as the sanction, under the NAP, has to be proportionate to the damage caused by the offender.
They way I would urge you to think of the NAP is not in the context of a worst-case capitalist society, but rather in the context of the culture, values, priorities and sentiments that are essential for your society to emerge. For your society to function, people have to be dedicated to certain principles such as mutual aid and a healthy suspicion of large accumulation of capital.
So while large concentrations of wealth under a general NAP-based society are unlikely, such concentrations of wealth under an NAP-based society which also values mutual aid, worker solidarity, etc. is completely impossible.
One of the reasons I referenced the US is because, even though it is in perpetual warfare, it boasts of being "non-aggressive", and often "justifies" its warfare as either national defense or humanitarianism. The issue is not how likely the NAP will or will not allow for this. The issue is that an an-cap society does not preclude such centralization of power--at least as far as I can tell--and therefore, these kinds of injustices, the very things an anarchist society is supposed to overcome, become likely, even with the NAP.
I do understand that you are calling for cultural transformation. However, I still don't see how right-wing libertarian values becomes appealing for the least advantaged in today's society, and largely because of what I posted in my first paragraph. I think it is worth noting that the marginalized and poor rarely ever group together for social transformation in order to create a more privatized society. Perhaps it is because they recognize, like I do, that such principles by themselves are just as much to the advantage of the most powerful, in fact more so to their advantage, and therefore does little to address their plight. For a socialist society to emerge, as I mentioned before, there would indeed need to be, what has traditionally been called the emergence of "class consciousness". This is similar to your "cultural transformation", except it understands the context of modern capitalism by linking working class, the poor and the marginalized within mutual interests against the dominant capital owning class. In this context, more than just cultural transformation occurs. Real material transformations begin to emerge, through conflict (e.g. general strikes and sit down, protests, democratic organization and mutual aid). Thus in both culture and practice, capitalism and the state are made superfluous. The ideological solidarity is coeval with the actual mutual ownership and participation that goes into social transformation, which develops out of
class and social conflict. Mutual ownership and ending wage labor are not options among others in some sort of future contract, but the thrust and engine of social transformation.
I disagree with the bold statement. Today's power structure is deeply influenced by government involvement. The most powerful people in society aren't the super-rich, they are senior politicians. Their power is bought by crony capitalists ("crapitalists") who use their wealth to buy political power. Without government, wealthy people's power is extremely limited.
Sure - wealthy people control capital and assets. But realistically, no one person or small group of cooperating people can control substantial fraction of society's resources. A rich man can order you off his land, but as I have shown elsewhere, no single person controls more than a tiny fraction of the country's land. Further, rich people, in a free society, become and stay rich by using their capital wisely, by serving consumers, not by catering to their individualistic whims. IF a wealthy person tried to use his capital in ways that are frowned-upon by the rest of society, his power will evaporate even quicker than his wealth.
I don't think that most individual politicians are necessarily more powerful than super wealthy capitalists, who can often end political careers. Politicians still have to work within government and its checks and balances. I also don't agree that the rich stay rich simply by their "good service". They stay rich by controlling markets, by colluding with other major corporations, by buying and controlling politicians, and by massive propaganda campaigns (both political and commercial). Certainly, without government, wealthy people's power is limited--likewise, without wealthy business people, government is extremely limited--however, this has rarely been the case in modern capitalism. What I am arguing is that the an-cap world simply becomes a quasi-state, controlled by those with the most economic power. However, instead of it being publicly accountable, it is entirely private.
Truth lives, in fact, for the most part on a credit system. Our thoughts and beliefs 'pass,' so long as nothing challenges them, just as banknotes pass so long as nobody refuses them.