Do market anarchists buy into the “bourgeois nursery tale” of primitive accumulation?

Good market anarchists don’t. Here at C4SS we acknowledge that capitalism and modern private property rights are the product of state usurpation of preexisting peasant property rights and continuous state intervention in the economy for the benefit of the elite.  This has caused a snowball effect over the centuries which has led to existing property relations, which Kevin Carson refers to as “the subsidy of history.”

The growth of modern urban centers and the Industrial Revolution required very cheap labor to occur. In destroying the peasants’ relatively autonomous chosen lifestyles through state action like The Enclosure Acts, they had no choice but to accept dismal and dangerous working conditions in the incredibly filthy emerging metropoli.  This is not to say that technological innovation, emerging economies of scale and the lowered transaction costs of urban centers didn’t also encourage the move from the countryside to the cities, only that the transition from feudalism to capitalism was not a purely economic set of phenomena.

If libertarians leave this historical perspective out of their philosophy, they are missing a key piece of the puzzle as to why our modern world looks the way it does. If this process is integrated into libertarian thinking they’ll find that their sympathies often lay far nearer to the Left than they may have initially suspected.

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