It is said so often in social discourse that there are two realms of conduct competing for control over society: one being the ‘public’ sector that represents ‘the state’ and the institutions that are dependant entirely upon state largesse; the other is the ‘private’ sector which refers to the institutions which operate outside of the state sphere, and is normally used as a synonym for ‘the market’. More specifically in debates this distinction is expressed as a battle between ‘political’ interests and ‘economic’ interests. This is, however, an entirely false distinction and leads to yet another instance of individuals affixing their loyal banners to one camp or the other. Within the minds of those that take sides in this false battle between empty concepts are grand social narratives which inform their respective positions.
The individual who places his loyalties with the ‘public’ side views the ‘private’ as a disorderly nuisance, a creator of great economic and social inequality: discriminating and elitist. This leads the individual – depending upon how deeply the narrative is ingrained into his world view – to endorse forms of politics ranging from social democracy to communism.
On the other hand, the person who takes side with the ‘private’ sees the ‘public’ as a monster that usurps the private wills of countless individuals and will endorse positions ranging from a libertarian-tinged conservatism to anarcho-capitalism. I should add at this point that both sides of this conflict have legitimate grievances.
The problems of this are expressed in the following examples: I have seen so many ‘anarcho-capitalists’ advocate market absolutism* whereby they will stand up for any ‘private’ economic interest in the face of ‘public’ interference even if the activities of the private interest does not necessarily conform to their own views on the proper conduct of ‘private’ affairs. On the ‘public’ side we see notable self-described ‘anarcho-syndicalist’ Noam Chomsky advocating a project of supporting ‘the state’ against ‘private’ interests in order to curtail their negative effects. Thus on both sides we see people who claim to be ‘anarchists’ supporting forms of tyrannical conduct. These are a product of endorsing the grand narratives described above and lead unsurprisingly to unintentional support of one ‘side’ of the incumbent paradigm. The fact of the matter is that such a distinction is false. The incumbent system is so cross-bred between the interests of ‘public’ and ‘private’ that such distinctions have little to no bearing upon actual social reality. This is the essence of a corporate system and by taking sides within it one is helping to continue the heteronomy that it produces – the very thing that those who agree with me are striving against. In many ways it is a more radical form of the pied-piperism which collects people into the world of electoral politics. It is a final web to constrict you and associate your thinking with the last portion of this heteronomous culture before you are free of it. Do not fall afoul of it.
*This criticism is similar to what Roderick Long refers to as ‘right-conflationism’, however this criticism goes deeper by including those that simply refer to ‘the market’ as a seemingly magical, context-free construct which will always provide the best outcomes. Voluntary association – and how ‘good’ that association may be – depends upon the qualities of the referent individuals who take part in it, not merely the fact of their association being voluntary.