One well-known argument made in favor of landlords and landlordism is that landlords are justified in extracting rent from tenants because they themselves face taxation from the state. The reason this argument holds no weight is because, not only is it a non-sequitur (“does not follow”) but because it does absolutely nothing to prove that the act of extracting rent does not account for oppression or extortion; it simply states that the landlord has to sacrifice a little bit of his or her income to the institution which protects his or her ownership of the property he or she uses to extract rent from you. Regardless as to whom the landlord has to answer to, the fact of the matter remains that the landlord’s control of his or her property is identical to a mini-state.
During the time of feudalism, feudal lords may have had to pay taxes to the king, but that did not mean they were not mini-kings themselves, nor did it mean they had every right to enslave others in the manner they did.
To use another example or analogy: in international relations, how many states are there which have to answer to other states or else have guns pointed to their territory? Would you claim that a US-supported dictator is justified in oppressing his own people simply on the fact that he has to answer to the US or else be overthrown by a CIA-backed coup? Would the state in which that dictator ruled over “not really be a state” in this case? Of course not.
The other argument used to play down the oppression of landlordism is that no one is forcing you to sign a contract with that landlord. Then again, no one is “forcing” you to live under the government and pay taxes – save up enough money and you’ll be able to afford your own tax-free private island where you can escape to. That, of course, would not justify taxation, so why should the notion of being able to get out of paying rent justify the existence of rent? Overall, the argument begs the question: does being able to leaveoppression mean oppression should be tolerated? Absolutely not.
I would make the claim that no one can ever be fully free so as long as others remain in chains. Any hierarchical or oppressive system must be abolished. True anarchism is against all forms of political and economic hierarchy, no matter how many “levels” on the hierarchy there are. The act of paying tribute, whether it is to a landlord or state, is an act of theft, which is why anti-authoritarians must fight against both.
Julia Riber Pitt: Is a philosophy major at McDaniel College. She grew up in the Merrimack Valley, started college at CSU Northridge in Los Angeles. For most of 2010 she was a collective member of the Lucy Parsons Center in Boston where she learned how to co-run an infoshop.