Talk:Anarcho-capitalism/Archive 1

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Somebody had written (!):-o that "Prominent anarcho-capitalists include ... Robert Nozick, ... James Buchanan" etc. And that "The Natural Law approach (see for instance Robert Nozick and his book [Anarchy, the State and Utopia]?) argues that the existence of the state is immoral, and that unlimited capitalism is the only ethical political system, or rather anti-political system."

Who ever wrote this, for his information that neither Robert Nozick nor James Buchanan are anarcho-capitalists! On the contrary, about a third of Nozick's book "Anarchy, State and utopia" is devoted on criticizing anarcho-capitalism. Claiming otherwise proves that the person has never read the book. Already in the preface Nozick writes: " Our main conclusions about the state are that a minimal state, limited to the narrow functions of protection against force, theft, fraud, enforcement of contracts, and so on, is justified; that any more extensive state will violate persons' rights not to be forced to do certain things, and is unjustified; and that the minimal state is inspiring as well as right. Two noteworthy implications are that the state may not use its coercive apparatus for the purpose of getting some citizens to aid others, or in order to prohibit activities to people for their own good or protection."

It should be common knowledge, that James Buchanan is an opponent of Anarcho-capitalism, aswell.

I made the needed corrections.

Someone wrote on another page:  

'In case anyone really doesn't know what anarcho-capitalism is supposed to be about, have a look at this article. '

This particular article isn't bad overall, but it might lead the reader to a few misconceptions. First, the anarchocapitalism is not the 'house ideology' of the Libertarian Party. No doubt there are some anarchists in the ranks of the LP, but as far as I know they do not dominate.

It should be noted that the author, MikeHuben, is best known on the Internet for his critique of libertarianism.

Another problem with that article is that Benjamin Tucker is given as an example of an "early" anarcho-capitalist. Tucker's attachment to capitalism is fictional as explained in "Benjamin Tucker: Capitalist or Anarchist?". There were no early anarcho-capitalists; the "movement" was invented out of thin air a mere couple of decades ago. Electioneering experts call this an astro-turf movement. AnarchoCapitalism's styling itself after anarchism is propaganda based on lies.

Nothing wrong with critiques. I find they're usually a better way of evaluating ideas: everyone will defend their own position eloquently, but you can only build a strong counter-attack against an idea with flaws. So looking at how strong criticisms are usually gives you a better idea of how good the original was.

I agree completely. The only point, though, is that Huben may wish to tar libertarianism by association with AnarchoCapitalism.

What does libertarianism mean in the above sentence? Does it refer to the right-libertarianism of the proponents of the Libertarian party or does it also include anarcho-syndicalists as left-libertarians? And what does right-libertarianism mean if one does not take it to be synonymous with AnarchoCapitalism? If Mike Huben does wish to tar left-libertarians by associating them with right-libertarians, he need do no more than recognize the right-libertarians' own claims.

These two claims make no sense to me:

The theory assumes a genuinely free market, independent of geographic distributions and economies of scale, which prevents abuse of monopolies and extreme inequalities in the execution of justice.
A classic argument against cooperatives by anarcho-capitalists is precisely that it is irrational to have all one's stock in one company (your own) and so workers would seek to spread their risk by diversifying their stock portfolio.


The first sentence is my mangled synopsis of the perfect free market, and the second one I copied from the anarchism/talk page or something like that.

The point of the first sentence is, for example: it should be better for a protection company to protect the assets of 100 poor men than the assets of one rich man, since the assets of the poor men are already protected by 100 people. But the reality is the geographic factors and economies of scale come into play, so protection companies would rather protect the rich man's assets.

Hey, I don't get it either, but I'm trying.

--The Cunctator

It is hard to "get" what is insane. But you are to be commended for trying. EofT

A lot of useful text was deleted from this revision.

--The Cunctator

I agree some of that info should go back in, my only concern is finding the right place to put it. -- SJK

The fundamental element of the philosophical approach is a belief in absolute private property rights.

No way.

The fundamental element of the philosophical approach is a belief in absolute individual liberty. This includes, but is not limited, to right to effects of one's work. And proporty right for things that aren't effects of somebody's works aren't absolute. --Taw

But what do they mean by "absolute individual liberty"? They mean property rights without any government interference. You can be silenced, you can be starved to death, just so long as no one takes any of your property. -- SJK
That's about right. As if anyone would really put up with that. In real life, course, cornered animals fight back, especially if they see those who prosper by fraud and cheating and influence peddling taking all they own. This is a common experience among those who have been colonized or subjugated to an Empire whose capital is very far away and whose disputes are settled in a language they don't understand, and cannot afford lawyers to argue in. A-C is an inherently and necessarily small scale theory. But it can't work without a lot of unreal assumptions. EofT


  • There are no serious economic arguments against AC.
This actually says something bad about economics, nothing good about AC. EofT
  • Some people who oppose AC use social arguments.
  • ACists don't accept validity of these social arguments.

Could somebody please change these into some statements that adhere to NPOV ? --Taw

The first "fact" you mention here may or may not be a fact, but probably doesn't belong in an encyclopedic presentation. One of the key difference between encyclopedics and polemics is that an encyclopedic tends to refrain from drawing conclusions or making evaluations.

Additionally, I think that there are serious economic arguments against AC. I have made such arguments myself to David Friedman and he conceded that my arguments were, at the least, interesting. He thinks I'm wrong of course, but I think he would concede that my argument is at least serious.

To sum it up in one paragraph: many forms of organized crime involve A violating B's rights in such a fashion that A and B both make money at the expense of C. From economics we know that the only thing that can sustain a cartel is coercion, i.e. the use of force or threat thereof. Sustaining a cartel under AC is possible for a corrupt defense agency which represents only clients in a particular industry.

Like, oh, say, hm, the oil industry? Just a guess. EofT 02:59, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)

The costs of the cartel are spread widely throughout the population in such a <fashion that non-cartel defense agencies will not find it worthwhile (due to free rider problems) to engage in an expensive fight to "save" B from A.

Thus, it seems likely that AC will lead to some very un-libertarian outcomes.

Now, you may not agree with the argument, but at least it is both economic and serious. --Jimbo Wales

"* Some people who oppose AC use social arguments.

  • ACists don't accept validity of these social arguments."

-Isn't that the case for any dogma in general? The fact is that there is arguments aginst the dogma, but the supporters of the dogma doesn't accept the validity of the arguments.


"There are no serious economic arguments against AC"? I am not aware of any, but I am sure there are. Most economists reject AC, and I am sure at least some of those opposed to it have come up with at least some arguments against it. -- SJK.

They do ? Really ? If you know some arguments, please list them. --Taw

Fare: indeed, if you do, please list them.

I have a problem with the wording of this sentence that was inserted during Revision 11: Services traditionally provided by governments (police, defense, courts) are provided by private corporations. 'Corporation' is NOT a generic term for any type of business and there is nothing in Anarcho-capitalism that requires these services to be provided by corporations (as opposed to sole proprietorships or whatever). Moreover corporations, as such, would not even exist in a purely free market as they require a charter from the state which shields their CEOs and stockholders from certain kinds of legal liability (by the way the free market equivalent is a 'joint stock company'). I suggest the more neutral: "Private businesses compete to supply services traditionally provided by governments(like police, defense, and courts)".

I removed Wendy McElroy from the list of proponents of Anarcho-capitalism. She is an Individualist Anarchist, not an Anarcho-capitalist.

I'd really like to see a suggested reading list about Anarcho-capitalism but is that appropriate?

What's the difference? Maybe you could explain, and in your explanation cite Wendy McElroy as an example of an individual anarchist. Would she herself consider herself an anarcho-capitalist? --Larry Sanger

There is an interesting essay here: by McElroy herself on the various differences between several flavors of anarchism. But the most obvious difference is that "under individualist anarchism, you could have communist communities existing beside capitalist ones so long as membership was voluntary" (a concept also known as Panarchy). While anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-communismare ends oriented (ie resulting in a specific economic system), individualist anarchism is means oriented (anything that's peaceful) with no hard vision of what would result. You can see from her website: she prefers the label individualist anarchist.

Fare: No, anarcho-capitalism, like classical liberalism in general, is not ends-oriented. It predicts general results, and claims several essential liberties. By no way would anarcho-capitalists accept that anyone be forced to work in a company rather than a cooperative. Anarcho-communists seem to be ends-oriented indeed, although I prefer to believe (until given sufficient evidence) that not all left anarchists are. About a classical liberal view on means and ends, I recommend of Henry Hazlitt's Foundations of Morality.

Fare: I removed Brian Giovannini from the list of prominent anarcho-capitalists. I had never heard about him. It turns out he's a cartoonist (see his site), and he's anarcho-capitalist indeed: he wrote one web page about anarcho-capitalism. But I don't think this qualifies to put him in the same list as Murray Rothbard.

Fare: Do quotes fit in here? e.g. Emile Faguet: "[U]n anarchiste est un libéral intransigeant." An anarchist is an uncomprimising liberal. -- Émile Faguet, Politiques et moralistes du dix-neuvième siècle, Vol. 1 (Paris: Société Française d'Imprimerie et de Librairie, c. 1898), p. 226.

Hi, folks. I'm Ethan Mitchell, and I'm new here. I am one of these terrible left-anarchists we've been hearing about; I am also an economist and right now I work as a market analyist. I think it is silly for any of us wingnut fringe ideologues (left or right) to make statements like "There are no serious arguments against our crazed scheme." Of course there are. "Your scheme is crazed" is a serious argument all by itself, its called majority rule.

That aside, I want to take a shot at characterizing the problem here. Most (I almost said all) schools of anarchy envision a stateless market. We cannot be entirely sure how people would behave in such a situation. Really we can't. Anarcho-capitalists tend to assume that people would not form cooperatives, labor unions, mutual aid societies, or other collectivist organizations. Left-anarchists (which for some ^*#$ing reason we are calling libertarian socialists)

Left-anarchist is subordinated as a term mostly because no one sees left-anarchism as a legitimate name of a political movement. But there are in fact texts on libertarian socialism. To me left-anarchist is a more extreme form of it, though.
tend to assume that at least a significant number of people *would* form such organizations.  The fact that e.g. labor unions continue to exist in state economies, despite a lot of pressure to eliminate them, is at least evidence for this assumption.  But either way, we are making *assumptions* about how the market would behave in the absence of the state.
Obviously, and they are bad assumptions, given how humans behave in situations without states now: badly, and with a kind of herd mentality that make soldiers look enviously individualistic.

Next, there is relatively little anarcho-capitalist discussion of asset inequality patterns. Yet right now, we see that gini or thiel inequality is increasing over several economic scales, including the global.

Whoa. One step at a time. How about Gini inequality and Thiel inequality and economic scale as articles on the list of economics articles? You can't expect us to assess what we can't read about.

Probably the magic wand of no-more-government would reduce the spread we are currently experiencing, but it is hard to believe that it will *reverse* it. So the question must be asked: Does anarcho-capitalism countenance a free society with drastic imbalances in assets? Forget the moral issue; it is a practical issue. If a small group of people hold all the wealth, and a large group of people are facing extremity, they are very apt to resort to warfare, government, and similar troublemaking. And while we (rich people) might argue that inequality is not our fault, that is unlikely to be a persuasive position.

Reference to "anomy" deleted. From what I've been reading anomie is more a root of some kinds of anarchy than an equivalent to any of them. Eclecticology, Wednesday, May 1, 2002

about anarcho-capitalisms and corporations : some argue that you can have limited liability in a state-less society : by incorporating, you are saying that you accept only limited responsability, so potentials creditors are warned and can take the risk in account before accepting or refusing to contract with you(actually it's a part of the contract). see for a more clear and detailled explanation, and a better english ;-) susano 03:40 Sep 2, 2002 (PDT)

A previous editor compared anarcho-capitalism to green anarchism, based on the expression "natural law". I don't think that this expression has quite the same meaning to anarcho-capitalists and green anarchists, so that the comparison is confusing rather than enlightening:

It did require more depth, so, that depth is now there. EofT

to a libertarian, natural law is law as it should be, law such that the violations of it naturally lead to pain, sorrow, destruction, etc. To an ecologist, "natural law" would mean something like letting nature rule, not acting "against nature". While these two interpretations have common roots, they are independent, and variants of them can be construed to be compatible as well as incompatible.

Hoom. Acting "against nature" would seem to "naturally lead to pain, sorrow, destruction, etc". Last I heard libertarians did not advocate allowing someone with property upstream to dump unlimited toxic waste in it to flow downstream. The concept of diversity may or may not favour biodiversity if it is based on delusions, like Ayn Rand's delusion that pollution did not cause any kind of illness, or that one could prosper by ignoring say deforestation as if only human values placed on things mattered. So there is an answer to the anarcho-capitalist from medicine, from environmental sciences, from ecology, from biology, much of which did not exist when the ideology was formed. EofT

I don't think that it is wise to mention a comparison here. But there certainly ought to be an article on natural law to discuss these things. -- Faré 14:06 6 Jun 2003 (UTC)

Not only does it seem wise to me, but, it seems necessary. As it stands this article is a bald-faced promotion of anarcho-capitalism as the ideal political system, and would simply be deleted without same kind of serious balancing. Thus the Dan Sullivan mention, and more contrasting of different views than just the "bad old left" would help. For instance what do anarcho-capitalists think of feminism? Syndicalism? This article is about to become an NPOV dispute. It needs not less comparison to other recent movements, but more.
I think the dispute has its place on Wikipedia, just not in this article.
Of course you don't think so, since you advocate this position yourself, obviously, and don't want to see challenges to the a-c idea of natural law appearing right beside it. But you have to put up with that, since this is about NPOV, and neutrality includes balancing outrageous and absurd statements about natural law from an anarcho-capitalist with reasonable ones from someone who recognizes nature at the root of so-called natural law. EofT
See for instance the article on Anarchism. It had become unreadable because of the disputes that grew and grew, so you couldn't distinguish the main points among the endless disputes in detail; moreover, the disputes where over the editors' various pet questions, giving the reader a distorted sense of what usually appears as relevant to people concerned.
That problem arose because of poor division into incorrectly named subtypes of anarchism, which forced variant that didn't fit directly onto that page. The actual dispute that defines anarchism is not ideological but economic - how big can a social unit get, and how divorced from ecology, before it gets oppressive and anti-ecological? EofT
Nowadays, the page is concise, and any discussion is moved to different articles. The same should be done here.
No, that has become a bad and useless article, and this one need not be. It can be saved by actually answering to challenges to its own core assumptions. The article on capitalism does this very well. That is a better template. EofT
As for feminism, see Wendy McElroy. As for syndicalism, the usual libertarian stance applies, though I haven't a ready reference here, especially not in English. -- Faré 00:15 7 Jun 2003 (UTC)
Try de Paepe versus von Mises or something. EofT

Indeed, it sounds like 'drivel' to me also. Apparently (edited by Kevin- I have removed this in order to make myself less of an obvious target, feel free to contact me by email at or my ISP if you feel my actions are inappropriate, please refrain from any further attempts to crash my computer) has gone on a one-person expedition to rid Wikipedia of virtually all reference to "anarcho-capitalism" in a single day. The subject matter's really not my area, so I'm not going to fix it myself; I have little doubt that it will be fixed fairly quickly though, so it's probably not worth editing fine points at this stage. - Hephaestos 00:55, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Since the whole concept is so foolish I assumed that the article had always been pure drivel, but it seems I caught it at an unusually drivelly stage. GrahamN 01:44, 25 Aug 2003 (UTC)

I reverted to the last version before his edit. He basically turned it into an "anarcho-capitalists aren't 'real' anarchists" rant, which I'm sure the anarcho-capitalists themselves would dispute. I'll look through the additions in a bit to see if any of it is salvageable though. --Delirium 01:07, Aug 27, 2003 (UTC)

His version should be a whole section, as it's a legitimate criticism that man herding, ganging and coercion clearly precede the concept of money and markets - no market can exist without property rights and that not without a state. A-C is in this sense a fantasy world made out of pure neoclassical economics - see Principles of Economics for what went both wrong and right with the Austrian School, and monetarism for the history of the "capitalism is all" school.

I've rewritten it again, and I will continue to do so, as I see the use of the term "anarcho-capitalist" as a hostile attempt by liberals to co-opt the anarchist movement and turn it against itself. I'm happy to discuss the matter, I'm happy to respect notions of two seperate sections, one that gives the anarchist POV, and one that give the anti-state capitalist POV. What I will NOT do is sit around and watch capitalists bias readers of wikipedia into thinking that capitalism is even remotely capable of being associated with anarchism without even mentioning the arguments to the contrary, as it existed when I came upon it. Until a clear advisory is made concerning the arguments against the use of the term, and the page is pushed away from a clear bias against anarchism, and the distinction between anarcho-individualists and anti-state capitalists is made clear, I will continue to repost my rewrites. If caps and others want to continue reposting old pages until we all get blue in the face, so be it. And I did not attempt to remove the term "anarcho-capitalist" from all of wikipedia, in fact I left a large number of pages completely intact. What I did attempt to remove was referance to anti-state liberalism as "anarcho-capitalism" on pages that dealt with anarchism, given that it is an unrelated subject. - Kevin/Kevehs - 02:31 CST 28 Aug

I guess no one is interested in discussing this, but someone is interested in reposting the old page everytime it is changed. NPOV dispute. Kevin/Kevehs - Nov 5

I'm duns0014 (my AIM id is the same, you can message me).

we can discuss this, but refering to anarchosocialists as the only anarchists has to stop. I can understand it if you don't like the ancaps, but since it rejects the state, it is still anarchist. refering to left-anarchists as anarchists is a serious bias issue.

This is ridiculous. This is nothing more than a dispute over terminology, whether anarcho-capitalists are "real" anarchists. The answer is clearly yes as (a) they want to get rid of government, (b) they consider themselves anarchists, (c) there is ample historical precedent for this usage. It is like the No true Scotsman argument; what if someone claimed Lutherans are not real Christians? This quibble over who "owns" the word anarchist does not justify an NPOV notice. I'm just going to pull it in a couple of days unless someone can give a reason not to. In the mean time, I'm going to adjust the article's language some more. -- VV 06:38, 6 Nov 2003 (UTC)

This is not ridiculous. Of course it is an dispute over terminology, but terminology is the basis of our understanding of these concepts. Anarchism, since its very first use, has always meant more than mere anti-statism. To limit it to the rejection of the state is like claiming that Christians believe in nothing more than a monotheistic deity. Even modern dictionaries give far more of a definition to anarchism than mere anti-statism.

Furthermore, capitalism easily pertains to the word government, as most anti-state capitalists still support governance institutions such as courts, police, and even at times prisons or indentured servitude. To say that this is no longer government simply because you call the institutions which fund it "private" or "corporate" instead of "state" is to remove all meaning from the words themselves. This is not a matter of "not liking" anti-state capitalists, it is a matter of not watching the word and its use become erroded under our feet simply because some people don't know enough about history, or the etymology of the word, or simple logic, to know better than to use it to describe things it clearly stands against.

Why should it matter whether or not capitalists consider themselves anarchists? If fascists consider themselves anarchists should we then stand aside and admit that anarcho-fascism is not a contradiction in terms? To call capitalists anarchists, when most of them whole-heartedly support the legitimate violent enforcement of their property mandates upon even peaceful resistors, is about as meaningful as refering to people as anarcho-statists.

This claim of "ample" historical precedent itself flies in the face of history. Anarchism has meant more than anti-statism for more than 150 years by the people who first used the word as a self-description. Just because Rothbard decided to start calling himself an anarchist by denying that entire past does not in itself lend historical precedence to its current misuse. In fact, it simply denies history.

I could care less who is a "real" anarchist and who is not. What I do care about is that this article -still- includes arguments against anarchism itself in the guise of "anarcho-capitalism." It -still- includes straw-men arguments against anarchists themselves, and it -still- claims that capitalism is compatible with the anarchist conception of freedom even when it flies in the face of everything anarchism has always stood for. This is either dishonesty, or ignorance, and either way it needs to be challenged. NPOV dispute is the very least this page requires, but if you want to hold a vote over it go right ahead. - Kevin Nov 6

anarchism means no state, that's all it means from the definition of the word. "Even modern dictionaries give far more of a definition to anarchism than mere anti-statism."

the same dictionaries that define it as chaos and violence?

"Furthermore, capitalism easily pertains to the word government, as most anti-state capitalists still support governance institutions such as courts, police, and even at times prisons or indentured servitude."

if you get a dozen people together, you'll get a dozen definitions of "capitalism". it might be better if we just replaced capitalism with "free market" throughout the entire essay. courts, police, etc are not necessarily govt functions. a group of people could come together to start a community voluntarily and they could agree beforehand that they should have some legal system. since this is entirely voluntary, it's not a state. I believe many ansocs would advocate some sort of legal system as well.

"It -still- includes straw-men arguments against anarchists themselves"

examples please.

how's the voting system work anyway?

"anarchism means no state, that's all it means from the definition of the word."

Plainly not true. Anarchism 1. a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups

Courts, police, laws, prisons, and indentured servitude all count as governance and authority in my book. Furthermore, restriction from private property claims which is upheld by legitimated enforcement is not my idea of voluntary cooperation.

the same dictionaries that define it as chaos and violence?

Is it really your place to deny one definition of anarchism while dismissing any possible arguments that deny yours?

it might be better if we just replaced capitalism with "free market" throughout the entire essay.

Sure, except that the market advocated by most capitalists is not considered to be "free" by most individualist anarchists, who themselves have always advocated a free market.

courts, police, etc are not necessarily govt functions.

They govern a populace, by definition. How is it then, that they are not governmental institutions?

a group of people could come together to start a community voluntarily and they could agree beforehand that they should have some legal system. since this is entirely voluntary, it's not a state.

First, this is your own personal definition of state, lots of statists would argue that a state can be entered into voluntarily. Second, the moment a single person dissented from such a system it would cease to be voluntary, thus become a state by your own standards. Are you suggesting people would always accept the rulings (that is right, rulings as in rulership) of this legal system?

Because there would be rulings, made by rulers, and according to the greek root of the word anarchism means literally "without rulers."

I believe many ansocs would advocate some sort of legal system as well.