By Suicrat 33 Comments
I often hear my anarcho-capitalist friends accusing socialists of "rebelling against nature" when they refute arguments against capitalism. Though the constant, outward, ever-flowing pool of what humans know of biology points towards a biosphere that maximizes efficiency as it evolves, and that this process is held in place by arguably the most important physical observation in existence: the law of conservation of energy, the invocation of anti-capitalism as "rebellion against nature" is itself quite avaricious.
Socialists, especially those of the more culturally-liberal bents, do not perceive that they are rebelling against something "real" or "natural" in economics; their perceived threats are the artificial aspects of modern economics: the accelerating (and often coercive) coalescing of capital into ever-larger corporations, the employment of public and private forms of coercion to deny workers the full acknowledgment of their value, et cetera. These are not objections to nature but objections to humans' economic inhumanity to other humans. Only arguments against the existence of free will can support the position that objecting to acts of coercion is objecting to nature. That is to say, if we have free will it would be wise to employ it consciously and reduce, limit, sequester, ban, or end the use of coercion. If we don't, then the very notion of rebelling against or acquiescing to nature is moot, and so is the notion of coercion.
The fact is, the artificial is the real rebellion against nature. Humanity butts heads with entropy and finite energy every second, and is doing so right now. It is the construction of a tool, the writing of an essay, the erection of a structure, the performance of a song, the act of indebting oneself on the promise of future, interest-bearing reimbursement. This is humanity rebelling against nature. These acts cannot possibly seen as acquiescing to nature unless one conceptualizes acquiescing to nature in the same way one conceptualizes responding to nature's demands on living things, and that would appear to be contradictory.
This does not, however, allow capitalists to broad-brush the claim that the diverse array of capitalism's critics are merely acquiescing to nature in their advocacy either.
Only those fringe environmentalists who advocate human extinction are actually demanding the species acquiesce to nature in any coherent sense of the word. This is to say anti-capitalism equates with acquiescence to nature only insofar as it objects to the human virtue of productivity.
This is not the nature of the overwhelming majority of anti-capitalists' objections -- at least not consciously.
Living anti-capitalist advocates are all beneficiaries of the aforementioned virtue, and a large number of them are practitioners of it, to one extent or another. As mentioned earlier, their objections to capitalism as it exists are not objections to free markets, but to politicized markets. They object to the executive as political merchant, they object to the coercive commandeering of purchasing power by idle wealthy. Temporarily leaving aside the hypocrisy of endorsing a monopolistic safety net structure, supported by the coercive sequestration of wealth; we can find much room for reconciling liberal socialism and liberal capitalism.
All parties have much to gain by attempting to find ways of integrating other-focused and self-focused economic activity as part of humankind's continual, glorious, frightening rebellion against nature.