Complete Anarchy: A Geo-Mutualist Definition of the State

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The definition of the state provides common grounds for dispute amongst anarchists. “Winged-anarchisms”— that is “left-” or “right-anarchism,” manifested as anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-communism— represent the “extremes” on boths ends of the spectrum. One side—that of the capitalist— is rooted in negative liberty, wherein rights of retention are held sacred; and another—that of the communist—is rooted in positive liberty, wherein rights of claimancy are held in high esteem. These two philosophies provide biased definitions of the state which need to be transcended in order to approximate a complete anarchism.

The Anarcho-Capitalist Definition of the State

Anarcho-capitalists typically follow a definition of the state provided by the sociologist, Max Weber, though a slightly modified variant. Max Weber suggested that the state was the institution which provides a legitimate monopoly on the use of force. Anarcho-capitalist definitions question the “legitimacy” of any monopoly on force. Instead, they see all monopolies on force as being illegitimate. For the anarcho-capitalist, this illegitimacy is the essence of statehood, an expression of the monopoly on force.

While anarcho-communists—as you will see—concern themselves with decision-making processes and distribution of wealth, anarcho-capitalists are much more concerned with freedom of association. The state, to the capitalist, is that institution which forces association, and especially association to a protection racket. The state is seen as such as racket, because, like many mafias, it takes payment against the will of its customer, who receives “protection” in return for such a payment. This is seen as problematic to the capitalist because they would prefer protection to be delivered voluntarily by way of the market, which they feel would offer better prices, more accountability, and better services. Taxes, to the capitalist, are seen as unfair profits, which are taken by way of force.

While anarcho-capitalists are opposed to the state, they are quite often strong proponents of the rule of law, often as provided by way of common law in dispute-resolution organizations. Here it is necessary to mention that, like the communist who supports free association, it is here that the capitalist and communist share some similarities in terms of the necessity of association (common law is naturally a monopoly on force, of sorts, though often a justified and participatory one). The difference between the two happens to be that capitalist common law provides defense of property and individualism, while the communist’s civil law provides defense of possession and collectivism. The capitalist— who maintains the focus of this section— defends property under the rule of law, and sees the state as an institution which claims to be above the rule of law and the right of property, thereby claiming unfair access to taxes. The state, then, is to be superseded by the rule of law and the right of property.

The capitalist anarchists are opposed to democracy and majority-rule decision-making, and are much more prone to suggest a hierarchy based on merit. They tend to believe that the masses are uninformed on the majority of issues, and that decision-making is best allocated to those who are immersed in the subject, as a professional or expert of some sort. One doesn’t want the general populace to vote on the best way to perform their brain surgery, for instance, but would rather leave the decision up to a few specialists who have experience, knowledge, and the capacity to perform the function at hand.

Economically, the anarcho-capitalists are staunch individualists. They are hardly concerned about the needs of society, but would rather see the members of society tend to their own needs. For this reason, capitalists suggest the right to retain their property. It is through the right of property that the capitalist believes society may look after itself. Those in society who do not look after themselves are seen as being unfit for survival in the real world.

The Anarcho-Communist Definition of the State

Anarcho-communists typically suggest that they are in favor of free association, but the bulk of them will also argue that society is necessary for survival, and so nature, in its own way, will induce people to associate. For the anarcho-communist, the matter of the state is not so much a matter of holding a monopoly on force in a given area— the definition provided by Max Weber and typically latched onto by anarcho-capitalists—, but a matter of political division of participants in these associations into compartments of decision-makers and decision-takers. In other words, the anarcho-communist—though most suggest they favor free association—is less concerned with forced association than with having fair say in the associations they are a part of. They are opposed to hierarchical systems in which one person, or group of people, make decisions that affect other people. For this reason they are generally opposed to giving people the titles of president, employer, executive, senator, landlord, etc.

Anarcho-communists are typically in favor of a radical form of direct- or participatory-democracy, and they are generally okay with the system being practiced on a large geographic scale to a certain degree (though they prefer decentralism when they can have it), as a form of federalism. Rather than presidents and executives, who are empowered to make decisions over the group, anarcho-communists are satisfied with facilitators of meetings and secretaries to keep track of decisions that the group agrees on together, typically by way of majority-rule. Rather than having managers, they support breaking decision-making down into committees.

It is arguable that an institution which is participatory enough, even if—in some senses— it holds a monopoly on force in a geographic area, does not constitute grounds for statehood, but can, instead, be regarded as a form of contract. If decisions are being made together, and are not forced onto others, but are created by way of agreement, even if these decisions occur under one roof, they do not constitute grounds of statehood, or even really monopoly (perhaps a “panopoly”?). This is complicated, however, by majority-rule decision-making, which allows such democratic association the means for the majority to dominate the minority.

Economically, the concerns of the communist are collectivistic in nature. While the capitalist is concerned with retaining their property, the communist is concerned with the ability to claim needs for survival. The communist anarchist wishes to abolish the institution of property, and respects only community-given rights of possession, which typically excludes private use of productive capital and land, but suggests rights to use of one’s own living quarters and the moveable possessions in them (clothes, toiletries, art, etc.). The state, and especially the hierarchical capitalist state, is seen as the institution that disallows communism to come to natural fruition, and thereby to allocate things to those who need them in order to lead happy lives.

An Integrated Definition of the State

We can see that, while both the capitalists and the communists claim access to the term “anarchist,” the two schools of thought are coming from drastically different—seemingly oppositional—angles. The capitalist suggests that the state is the institution that holds a geographic monopoly on force, often for the benefit of the majority, and for the sake of infringing on the right to property. The communist, on the other hand, suggests that the state is the institution that separates decision-makers from those who must follow the decisions, often for the benefit of a minority, and for the sake of keeping others from having title of possession. The communist tends toward holding the majority as sovereign, and sees their will as being distinct from that of the state. The capitalist tends to hold the private holder of property as sovereign, and does not believe the private holder of property to be a form of state. Some, such as Spencer Heath, promote a quasi-feudalistic and monarchistic system of private communities as being distinct from the state.

Both sides are incomplete in their analyses. They are incomplete because they ignore one another’s truths. If the goal of anarchism is the gestation of freedom, both of these sides would do best to listen to one another, as they are both very concerned with the issue of freedom. The communist sees freedom as social equality, a freedom grounded in positive rights. The capitalist sees freedom as social liberty, a freedom grounded in negative rights. The communist levies the challenge that one cannot be free while they are subject to the use of another’s property, and supports shared-ownership and democratic decision-making in the stead of property rental. The capitalist suggests that one cannot be free if they are restricted by the efforts of others. They suggest that equality, taken to its extreme conclusion, entails taking the good fortune from the strong and successful. The only way to make a blind man and a man who can see equal, for instance, is to remove the eyes—the right to see— from the latter.

A more complete analysis of the state would suggest that elements of both sides are correct, and that negative and positive liberties both play necessary functions in society. Negative liberty— being left alone— is manifested in its positive sense by way of market competition, which keeps prices low; the ability to keep one’s wealth and invest in the future, leading to longevity; and the ability to differ in one’s priorities, a necessary precondition to evolution and progress. Positive liberty—social influence— is manifested in its positive sense by way of unbiased starts and equality of opportunity, without which fairness cannot be said to exist; one’s right to have access to help in dire conditions; and a healthy level of consideration in social circumstances. Positive liberty can become repressive, however, when it is applied outside of the range of free association; and negative liberty can become problematic when it keeps others from having anything to retain for themselves. The task at hand is in describing the proper allocation of negative and positive liberties, and thereby to allow for the maximum amount of equal liberty. Equal liberty is the condition under which one’s liberty does not impede on the liberty of another to do the same thing.

Geo-Mutualism as Complete Anarchy

Having been left with the task of allocating positive and negative liberties, in a manner that is neither forced nor domineering, we come to geo-mutualism as our resolution. Geo-mutualism resolves the conflicting views of statehood by relating positive liberties to land and negative liberties to labor, with capital having varying degrees of positive and negative liberties accorded it.

If one depends solely on another’s land for sustenance, one will forever be reduced to serfdom. The landlord, having a monopoly and therefor controlling the price, can always charge rent equal to the productivity of the tenant, minus the absolutely necessary expenditures needed in order to preserve the tenant’s life for future production. With land already having been monopolized, freedom entails the positive right of society to claim land, despite negative claims of retention today in existence on behalf of the landlord.

If one depends solely on society for their needs, and maintains little or no right of self-determination, one is reduced to an agent of society, and must set aside their individuality, personal preferences, and merited status. One has little ability to satisfy their own wants or priorities, but relies on others for such satisfaction and for definition of needs. Positive liberty may demand labor without reward, ingenuity without satisfaction. In many ways, positive liberty, when it applies to labor, reduces humanity to the status of automatons.

It must be clear that greatest amount of the most realistically accessible freedom is a matter of exclusive rights to one’s own labor and products, and inclusive rights to the use of the Earth, and to scarce resources extracted from it. One cannot be free while others command their work, but neither can one command their own efforts without land upon which to labor. The state, then, is that institution which manages the labor of others and keeps them from having access to their own land, or an equal share of the outputs of the Earth.

With our new definition, we can see that there is now made some discrepancy between tacit and explicit forms of anarchism. That is, with this new definition set into place, some who may regard themselves as statists, and who many self-proclaimed anarchists may also regard as statists, may, for this reason, be explicitly statist, but—according to the definition now at hand—must be understood to be, or at least approximate, tacit anti-statism. One such example would include many forms, or at least aspects, of Georgism. On the other hand, this definition being set into place entails that many who are explicitly anarchist—such as our “winged-anarchists,” the capitalists and communists— are implicity unanarchistic. Both sides like to levy these shots at one another, anyway, so it should come as no surprise that, for a mutualist, such as me, neither side can be seen as being consistently anarchist. The communist cannot be understood as being completely anarchist, because communist “anarchists” often suggest that those who do not work will face repercussions from their community, such as restrictions from consumption. It matters not if the worker feels the non-market “price” being offered is a fair exchange. Therefore, the community claims the efforts of labor. The capitalist cannot be understood as being consistently anarchist, because capitalist “anarchists” suggest that society must live according to land arrangements that are based in force, rather than contract. By assuming perpetual and exclusive rights to the use of land, without community approval, the capitalist restricts others from the use of the commons.

Geo-mutualism does not favor one side or the other. It allows for both group decision-making and decision-making according to merit. Generally speaking, geo-mutualists don’t believe merit belongs exclusively to one individual, nor do they suppose that groups have to be all-inclusive. Geo-mutualists generally favor small groups of people, who are related by common experience, making decisions to the degree they are affected by them. In this manner, merit is preserved, but is expressed largely in groups of specialists, even if not restricted by one all-encompassing group (the state). Geo-mutualism does not restrict the right to live in communes or to employ others, though geo-mutualists do tend to believe that a geo-mutualist economy greatly disincentivizes these behaviors. One would be free to join in on a communal lease, or to try to employ others in the market, but privacy issues and interest-free loans would make such decisions quite scarce, even if allowable.

Defending the Approach

The two main aspects a state must maintain in order to sustain its definition as such is forced-combination and unilateral decision-making. An institution which is not the state must be limited to voluntary association and shared decision-making.

Some may levy the challenge that the geo-mutual institution does not satisfy definitions of voluntary association, because the geo-bank claims geographic control over a certain area. It must be remembered, however, that the condition of voluntary association is a focus on the right wing, of anarcho-capitalists. In order to satisfy their definition, the new model must only satisfy the terms of free association as far as an anarcho-capitalist model does. Now, the anarcho-capitalist suggests that one must have a right to associate with any provider of law they want to, in a polycentric system of law. However, capitalists are also in favor of landlords and employers, and do not see their jurisdiction of private property as an example of monocentric law, even though an employer may have many employees, and a landlord many tenants, under the same jurisdiction in a certain area. It does not matter if they have access to all of the best land. If there is land that is accessible, and it is not claimed by government, the conditions of free association are satisfied. This being the case, and with the logic applied to our new system— with the community as a whole treated as the landlord, and, even if many participate in the community—, this must not be seen as exclusive geographic monopoly, but a matter of property. Under a geo-mutualist system, sub-marginal land is always available for free, and without hassle. One always has a place to secede into. Society’s claim to land is treated as property, and, even if the jurisdiction is applied geographically, property claims are not antithetical to polycentric law, but are participants in it.

Others may levy the claim that the geo-mutual bank does not satisfy the definitions of participatory decision-making. This argument can be rooted in the fact that the purpose of the bank is not so much to apply uniform decisions to society, but to allocate decision-making power to subsidiary units. For this reason, some anarcho-communists may suggest that mutualism allows for people to make “anti-social” decisions, and that, therefor, capitalism will return. It must be remembered that even in anarcho-communism decisions are decentralized when they can be, such as into committees and working groups. Decentralism does not go against the demands of anarcho-communism. What is left to satisfy the basic demands of anarcho-communism, then, is to demonstrate that decisions in large and subsidiary units alike maintain a great level of participation. While they are correct to suggest that capitalist systems of banking promote employer-employee dichotomization, and decision-making models that result, these communist claims may not justly be levied against the mutual bank, whose very purpose is to distribute capital in a manner in which those who work the capital own it and make decisions over it, either as individuals (as with the artisan) or in groups (as with industries requiring associated efforts). If decisions affect, or require the concerted activity of, groups, associations may be formed that represent the interests of all involved parties.

A geo-mutualist institution functions according to consensus-based decision-making processes and sphere-sovereignty. In other words, people are allowed to associate freely according to common interests, but within these associations decisions are made together. Decisions are “private” in the sense that smaller units don’t have to have the approval of larger conglomerations in order to act, but they are “social” in the sense that one cannot force their decisions onto their associates, but have to consult them. This isn’t due to a decree from the top, but to the fact that capital is so widely distributed that no one relies on an employer for access to work.


I hope to have demonstrated the necessity of an integral definition of the state to approximating a “pure” or “complete” anarchism. Communist and capitalist anarchisms—which provide the “soft” varieties of anarchism, found on the margins of the spectrum— would do better to synthesize than to find one another at odds. The proper outcome of such synthesis can be found in the program of geo-mutualism, which can be argued to be the only true form of “hard,” “pure,” “consistent,” “integrated,” or “complete” anarchism.

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