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Contemplating Economic vs Political Power and Power in Left-Wing Market Anarchy

Ayn Rand stated:

Now let me define the difference between economic power and political power: economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction.

True enough in left-wing market anarchy. It’s not true under capitalism though. An employer may use their ability to offer a reward to dependent employees as a tool of control. A lowered wage may be enacted to punish the dissenting worker. Political power also bolsters capitalists, so a strict separation of them under capitalism isn’t present. Not to mention that employer-employee wage labor often involves government on the side of the employer.

If not forcibly suppressed, there may still be employer-employee wage labor in a free society. The liberating effects of a freed market would render the power dynamics involved much more egalitarian though. This would render the destructive form that can be taken by economic power above relatively null and void. It may not be entirely eliminated, but it would be significantly reduced than under capitalism.

Under left-wing market anarchy, power would also be much more dispersed. The decentralizing effects of market forces would render concentrations of power unstable or unworkable. The ability to inflict damage on others through economic means would be tempered by massive market competition. There would be tons of independent producers and cooperatives of producers to deal with. This would make it easy to avoid a producer who is economically abusive.

Such economic abuse in left-wing market anarchy might take the form of demanding far too much for a product or denying someone access to economic resources for bigoted reasons. Freed markets would be one, but not the only, way of dealing with this scenario. One can also imagine a social boycott or protest as a means of ensuring people aren’t exploited. Oppressive power need not always be fought with coercive means. It depends on the form such power takes. There would be no institutional home of aggression in left-wing market anarchy, but there might be instances of power projection like the above. It’s also true that rogue individuals or collectives might try to initiate force, but the power of a left-libertarian culture would render this less likely.

In working for the realization of left-wing market anarchism, one shouldn’t lose sight of the above. The analysis of power dynamics is crucial for understanding what freedom looks like. All are welcome to add their own analysis of said dynamics in the comments section below.

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