Hierarchy, Class, and Employment
Many anarchists argue that capitalism runs contrary to an egalitarian power structure, which is necessary to anarchism. They also argue that the system of wage labour, a staple characteristic of capitalism, is authoritarian and coercive in nature, and oppose class distinction between labourers and employers. A major line of reasoning is that employees are subject to the authority of their employer with respect to the latter's property and, because such an hierarchy could not be tolerated within an egalitarian power structure, it is essential to anarchism for such practices to be abolished. The writers of An Anarchist FAQ argue that "social relations between capitalists and employees can never be equal, because private ownership of the means of production gives rise to social hierarchy and relations of coercive authority and subordination".
Individualist anarchists, however, did not necessarily object to private ownership of the means of production, nor universally reject wage labour as illegitimate hierarchy. Nineteenth century individualist anarchist Stephen Pearl Andrews said, "The 'Wages System' is essentially proper and right. It is a right to that one man employ another, it is right that he pay him wages, and it is right that he direct him absolutely, arbitrarily, if you will, in the performance of his labor. It is not in any, nor in all of these features combined, that the wrong of our present system is to be sought and found. It is in the simply failure to do Equity. It is not that men are employed and paid, but that they are not paid justly...." Any that had opposition to employment by others, opposed it for monetary reasons rather than condemning it as hierarchical. For example, Spooner argued that "each man should be his own employer, or work directly for himself, and not for another for wages; because, in the latter case, a part of the fruits of his labor go to his employer, instead of coming to himself." Rather than object to wages being paid, individualist anarchists believed that wages were not adequately compensating labor due to state interference in the economy. Benjamin Tucker thought that the elimination of state intervention would increase competition in capital, eliminate the possibility of an employer receiving an income without himself laboring, and create a society in which "every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers."
Anarcho-capitalist David D. Friedman stated a preference for a society not based in wage labor, but one in which "almost everyone is self employed. Instead of corporations there are large groups of entrepreneurs related by trade, not authority. Each sells, not his time, but what his time produces." Like all individualist anarchists, anarcho-capitalists support the liberty of individuals to be self-employed or to contract to be employed by others, whichever they prefer. Anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard, however, explicitly stated that "wage-wage" was one of "a whole slew of institutions necessary to the triumph of liberty" (including "organization, hierarchy, wage-work, granting of funds by libertarian millionaires, and a libertarian political party"). According to Rothbard, "rejection of wage-labor" was "unlibertarian."
The writers of An Anarchist FAQ argue that wage labour is not consistent with anarchist principles, including the stated principles of individualist anarchists like Tucker. Unlike anarcho-capitalism, however, it "can easily be made consistent anarchism by applying its own principles consistently."
Anarcho-communists do not, however, ban wage labor, but say that "'agreements' in which workers sign away their liberty would not be enforced."
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