Palaver: What is capitalism and is it compatible with anarchism?

C4SS argues for, among other things, a freed market anti-capitalism. It is because of this that we are regarded as grotesque by some and misguided, even “dangerous”, by others. Curiously, we charitably agree. We see ourselves as attempting to navigate in new territory without a map, only a compass and wanderlust as guides.

Our compass is discourse. Our wanderlust is to see a world where no one is pushed around.

It is from this expressed sensitivity to the push or the feel of our cultural-structural contexts that we can not help but listen to more sides of an issue than may be warranted or to assume sincerity where none may exists. This places us in the weird position of being in a sense friends with those who regard us as “enemies” and being enemies with those who regard us as “friends”. As Roderick T. Long explains:

To be a proponent of [freed market anti-capitalism] is to be perpetually (well, until the revolution) at odds both with mainstream libertarianism and with its critics, urging the former to recover its original leftist goals and the latter to recognise its proper leftist effects.

We have reached out to two of our sites friendly sparring partners, Null Void and PeaceRequiresAnarchy, and asked them if they would like to participate in a C4SS Mutual Exchange:

Mutual Exchange is the Center’s goal in two senses — we favor a society rooted in peaceful, voluntary cooperation, and we seek to foster understanding through ongoing dialogue.

Mutual Exchange will provide opportunities for conversation about issues that matter to the Center’s various publics. A lead essay, deliberately provocative, will be followed by responses from inside and outside of C4SS. Contributions and comments from readers are enthusiastically encouraged.

They have both agreed, but with a condition – that they be allowed to talk openly and publicly with each other prior to settling on any one position for a Mutual Exchange.

We were impressed by this condition. As indicated, our compass is discourse and discourse begins with palaver:

Another reflex is to call a general assembly at the slightest sign of movement, and vote. This is a mistake. The business of voting and deciding a winner, is enough to turn the assembly into a nightmare, into a theater where all the various little pretenders to power confront each other. Here we suffer from the bad example of bourgeois parliaments. An assembly is not a place for decisions but for palaver, for free speech exercised without a goal. –The Coming Insurrection

It is in this spirit that C4SS would like to present its first Palaver and because of it is a continued point of contention, curiosity and controversy, we have directed the first volleys of this discussion towards the questions: What is capitalism and is it compatible with anarchism?

The expected arrangement between our participants will be an ongoing discussion or interview in the comment section of this post for the rest of the month of August, 2012. It will hopefully culminate in a fruitful series of Mutual Exchanges articulating where each stands or what each has learned.

We also extend this offer to our readers, feel free to participate in the Palaver. If you would also like to contribute a Mutual Exchange article, then email

What is capitalism and is it compatible with anarchism?

Anarchy and Democracy
Fighting Fascism
Markets Not Capitalism
The Anatomy of Escape
Organization Theory