User:Vision Thing/Anarcho-capitalism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

"Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’, because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual." "No man has a natural right to commit aggression on the equal rights of another, and this is all from which the laws ought to restrain him." -Thomas Jefferson, philosophical anarchist and third President of the United States of America

"All Communism, under whatever guise, is the natural enemy of Anarchism, and a Communist sailing under the flag of Anarchism is as false a figure as could be invented." -Henry Appleton, 1884
"One of the tests of any reform movement with regard to personal liberty is this: Will the movement prohibit or abolish private property? If it does, it is an enemy of liberty. For one of the most important criteria of freedom is the right to private property in the products of one's labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property." Clarence Lee Swartz, mutualist, in What is Mutualism?
"Mutualism is an enemy of individual liberty and a free market, though not to degree that "anarcho"-communism is their enemy. This is because when it concerns land, houses, and buildings, it does not recognize a right of an individual to own the product of his labor and trade. If a person transforms fresh land through labor, and therefore justly appropriates it as his own, mutualists believe that if he does not continue to use it then he is acting criminally if he protects it from being taken by someone else to use. The same policy holds for houses and buildings. Thus, mutualism condones a person being deprived of the product of his labor. And, if that original appropriator sells the land or buildings instead and the purchaser chooses not to use them, he is seen as a criminal if he prevents others from using them. Mutualists believe it is fine for a person to come along, and take over that property by using it and therefore deprive the purchaser of what he purchased. Perversely, mutualists see these things that someone labored to produce or spent their hard-earned money on to purchase as being by fair game for anyone who wishes to take them for use, and he who defends his purchases from being expropriated as the criminal. Though mutualism recognizes a right to own product of labor and trade in other things, it denies private property in these and is therefore an enemy of liberty and not thoroughly anarchist." - Anarcho-capitalism
"Anarcho-capitalism is a philosophy that truly recognizes a right of each individual to truly own the product of his labor, whatever that product may be, and is therefore a true friend of liberty and truly anarchist. - Anarcho-capitalism

"The case for free enterprise, for competition, is that it's the only system that will keep the capitalists from having too much power....The virtue of free enterprise capitalism is that it sets one businessman against another." -Milton Friedman, laissez-faire minarchist capitalist and father of anarcho-capitalist David D. Friedman

ANARCHO-CAPITALISM FOR DUMMIES (a work in progress)[edit]


"We are anarcho-capitalists. In other words, we believe that capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism. Not only are they compatible, but you can't really have one without the other. True anarchism will be capitalism, and true capitalism will be anarchism." -Murray Rothbard, 1970
"Laissez-faire capitalism, or anarchocapitalism, is simply the economic form of the libertarian ethic. Laissez-faire capitalism encompasses the notion that men should exchange goods and services, without regulation, solely on the basis of value for value. It recognizes charity and communal enterprises as voluntary versions of this same ethic. Such a system would be straight barter, except for the widely felt need for a division of labor in which men, voluntarily, accept value tokens such as cash and credit. Economically, this system is anarchy, and proudly so." Karl Hess in The Death of Politics, 1969

What is anarcho-capitalism?[edit]

Anarcho-capitalism in a nutshell for those too lazy or busy to read the whole thing: In conclusion...

Anarcho-capitalism (or individualist anarchism or free market anarchism) is any form of individualist anarchism that does not accept, or ignores, a labor theory of value and seeks to eliminate or drastically reduce involuntary relations between persons, groups, and institutions, supports a right of both individuals and collectives to own non-coercively and non-fraudulently acquired property including productive property, and proposes that the most ethical, or most effective, voluntary system is one where goods and services are exchanged, with defense of liberty and property against aggressors being included in those services rather than being provided by a state. Anarcho-capitalists support a right to individual ownership of things but they do not seek to prevent people from owning things collectively, and they do not seek to force individuals to engage in trade of their property. Rather, they believe that individuals choose to own the fruits of their labor and choose to engage in trade of their property and their labor in the absence of force forbidding them from doing so. And, they believe that it is beneficial to themselves and society if they do. Though there are other forms of individualist anarchism, it is often known simply as "individualist anarchism" since it is overwhelmingly the most popular type. It is quite possible that most anarcho-capitalists today do not even refer to themselves as anarcho-capitalists. A reason that many of these call themselves "individualist anarchists" and "market anarchists" instead of "anarcho-capitalists" is to avoid misunderstandings caused by differing definitions of "capitalism." Other anarchists are especially prone to being misled by their own idiosyncratic understanding of "capitalism" when they encounter the term "anarcho-capitalism." Being opposed to what they call "capitalism," they are reflexively hostile, and are often surprised when they see that capitalist anarchists are not defining capitalism in the way that they would expect; though, some continue to be hostile when they do find out. In fact, even anarcho-capitalists are opposed to "capitalism" according to some obscure definitions of capitalism embraced by some anarchists. For example, the nineteenth century individualist market anarchists defined capitalism as state protection of owners of capital from competition (such as the requirement to obtain a charter from the State to enter the banking business or the legal prohibition of private competition with the state-operated postal monopoly). If that is the definition of capitalism one wishes to use, then anarcho-capitalists are opposed to "capitalism" as well. But, it is not.

The Merriam - Webster Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, defines capitalism as "an economic system characterized by private or corporation ownership of capital goods, by investments that are determined by private decision rather than by state control, and by prices, production, and the distribution of goods that are determined mainly in a free market." That definition, which emphasizes private, as opposed to state ownership, of productive goods, the ability to make decisions free of state control, and a market of voluntary exchange (a "free market") is the general modern popular definition of "capitalism" that individualist anarchists have in mind when they decide call themselves anarcho-"capitalists." They do, however, advocate it in a "pure" form. They are not defining capitalism as it was defined, for example, in the 1909 Century Dictionary: "The concentration or massing of capital in the hands of a few." Thus, if an early twentieth century anarchist said he opposed "capitalism," merely from that it cannot at all be inferred that he opposed capitalism as defined by anarcho-capitalists - though if he was an anarcho-communist he certainly would be opposed. Other synonyms for anarcho-capitalism include "free market anarchism," "private property anarchism," "right anarchism" (though anarcho-capitalists tend not to see themselves as being on the "right"), "right libertarianism," or simply "libertarianism."

Though not immediately visible because its adherents do not engage in noisy mass demonstrations or terrorist bombings, individualist anarchism, in the form of anarcho-capitalism, is probably the most popular form of anarchism in the United States. The U.S. has an entrenched native tradition of anti-statism and anti-tax individualism which was enunciated in the anti-authoritarian Declaration of Independence, and as a result, collectivist notions have not managed to maintain as significant of a foothold as they have in some other countries. The socialist George Bernard Shaw went so far as to lament that "The American Constitution ... was not really a constitution, but a Charter of Anarchism. It was not an instrument of government. It was a guarantee to the whole American nation that it should never be governed at all. And that is exactly what the Americans wanted." And, "a charter of Anarchism in its worst form of industrial Laissez Faire, or Let It Rip," he complained. Many other nations have not had as strong institutional protections, whether philosophical or legal, from the imposition of comprehensive statism. However, anarcho-capitalism is becoming increasingly popular in those locales as central economic planning and the welfare state fail to live up to expectations, and private ownership of the means of production and the anarchy of the market are discovered to produce a greater abundance of goods and services. There is actually not one "anarcho-capitalism," but actually a variety of anarcho-capitalisms. Anarcho-capitalist disagree on various things, so beyond the proposition that defense of liberty and property should be performed by the private sector, each theorist has his own version. Murray Rothbard and David Friedman are the most famous anarcho-capitalists. What follows is an explanation of the fundamentals of a version of anarcho-capitalism that is along the lines of the Rothbardian school, which is justified by moral or natural rights as opposed to being based in pragmatism. However, not all the finer points, explanations, and justifications are from Rothbard himself. Some of them may be this writer's own. The philosophy is contrasted with anarcho-communism as well as with older forms of individualist anarchism in order to help clarify what makes this type of anarchism unique.

Sovereignty of the individual[edit]

To begin with, in advocating a society of individuals that interacts on a voluntary basis, anarcho-capitalists oppose what they call "aggression" or "invasion." Aggression is the use of physical force, the threat of physical force, or fraud in order to take, use, damage, or otherwise manipulate what belongs to a person (some say "aggression and fraud" is prohibited instead of including fraud under aggression, but this is unnecessarily tedious, so in this discussion fraud will be included as aggression). One may wonder what ties in fraud with physical force and threats of physical force. The answer is all three of those actions violate the principle of voluntarism, which is essential to anarcho-capitalism. Certainly in a technical sense one "volunteers" to give his money to someone that is going to defraud him since no one is physically forcing him, but he volunteers his money on the condition that he would receive what was promised in return. If a person is lied to in order to obtain his money then the transaction is not voluntary in a moral sense. In anarcho-capitalism, all transactions must be voluntary, meaning that no person extracts labor or justly acquired wealth from another through the use of physical force, threat of physical force, or dishonesty. Some mistakenly believe that libertarians oppose all initiation of physical force, but that is not the case. They say they oppose "initiation of force and fraud," but what they mean by that is that is they oppose aggression. They are defining "force and fraud" as "aggression" is defined above. Physical force may be initiated in response to an aggression. For example, fraud is not stealing through physical force but through dishonesty, so physical force may be initiated to return what was stolen to its legitimate owner. And, threat of initiation of physical force is not actual physical force either. But, physical force may be initiated in response to a threat of aggression in order to prevent the threat from being carried out. Physical force may, and may only, be used in response to aggression. What makes one act aggressive (or an "initiation of force or fraud") and another defensive, is the purpose of the act. If an action is taken to harm, take, or use what belongs to someone else against that person's consent then it is an act of aggression.

Of course, what "belongs" to a person must be determined before any act can be rightly called aggressive or invasive. Anarcho-capitalists consider the most fundamental property to be a person's own body. In other words, they say that each person has, or should have, the exclusive right to determine how his own body is to be used. The individual is his own authority, and there is no legitimate authority over the individual to which he himself does not consent. He is sovereign - self owned. Because of this, anarcho-capitalism is anti-authoritarian at its foundation. And, since each person is considered to be a "self-owner," force may always be used in defense of one's own body, or in defense of another peaceful person, against aggression. And, if a person has a right to defend what belongs to him, he has a right to ask someone else to do it for him. He may offer a something in trade for this service. This is the origin of privately funded defense, which anarcho-capitalists support over tax-funded defense. Note that this is far different from the assumption that individuals have a right to be protected, which would entail a corollary right to force others to protect them or to force others to fund their protection by taxing them


Ownership of the full product of labor as fundamental to individual sovereignty[edit]

Rothbard held that each person "has the right to own the product that he has made," whether this a a sculptor taking clay from the earth to fashion a work of art or an ingenious individual building a machine from the resources of the Earth. Rothbard observes that it is a simple matter of fact than in order for a person to exist he has to own something other than his body. At the very least a person must own the food he puts in his mouth. By eating a banana, one is asserting ownership of it by depriving others from eating this banana. But, how can we determine whether he is morally justified in asserting exclusive use of this banana? The Rothbardian answer is that what allows someone to legitimately own a thing is that he has "mixed his labor" with it. He has climbed the banana tree and taken the banana. Therefore, if a person mixes his labor with something before someone else does, he becomes the owner - it becomes his private property. This is basic Lockean property ethics. Locke said, "every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has any right to but himself. The labour of his body and the work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined it to something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property. It being by him removed from the common state nature placed it in, it hath by this labour something annexed to it that excludes the common right of other men. For this labour being the unquestionable property of the labourer, no man but he can have a right to what that is once joined to." However, there is another way of looking at this. If an individual has the exclusive right to the use of his own body, then if the product of one's labor is taken against his will then, in effect, that labor is being stolen. This is because if such confiscation occurs, the individual is actually working to benefit whoever is taking his product instead of he himself being allowed to benefit from his work. Unless he has volunteered to work for someone else, then when the product of his labor is taken, he is veritably working for someone else against his will. In other words, he is being used as a slave.

Anarcho-capitalists say that each individual should be allowed to own the product of his labor. By definition, ownership entails complete control over a thing. And if he owns the product of his labor, then included in the right of ownership is a right to transfer ownership of that product to someone else. Therefore, in addition to believing that each individual has the right to own the product of his labor, each individual also has the right to own what others transfers to him through trade or gift as long as what what transferred to him is itself the product of labor or what was received in trade or gift, and so on, ad infinitum. Stolen property is not the legitimate property of the possessor. As Rothbard said in Justice and Property Rights, "Any identifiable owner (the original victim of theft or his heir) must be accorded his property." However, it is granted that much property being held today has been stolen at one time or another in the long history of human civilization from the legitimate owners. But unfortunately, if the original appropriator or anyone subsequent to him that received that property without employing aggression is long dead, and so are his children, then it is impossible to return the property to its rightful owner or his heirs so it must be assumed that the current holder is legitimate if he did not acquire the property through aggression. Rothbard says: "All existing property titles may be considered just under the homestead principle, provided (a) that there may never be any property in people; (b) that the existing property owner did not himself steal the property; and particularly (c) that any identifiable owner (the original victim of theft or his heir) must be accorded his property"

Now, though it may seem obvious to some, and at the risk of insulting the intelligence of the reader, when individualists say that a person has right to the product of his labor this is assuming he is producing things from his own, or unowned, materials; he cannot take someone else's product or what they have received in trade and transform it into something else and legitimately claim he owns it. For a person to own the product of one's labor, barring any prior agreement to the contrary, it is necessary that the material one is laboring upon be owned by that person who applies his labor to it or it must be material that he took from unowned resources of nature. For example, if someone plants and harvests some cotton and then offers someone money in exchange to someone to transform it into twine then the person who applies his labor to the cotton does not then own the twine. If he takes the twine against the will of the farmer, then he has stolen the product of labor from the farmer - the cotton itself - and has also stolen what the farmer has recieved in trade, which are the improvements to the cotton. So, to say that each individual has a right to the product of his labor and to include in that the assumption that each has a right to the take that product as their own when they apply their labor to the product of someone else's labor, would be to assume that the other person does not have a right to the product of his own labor. In other words, such a position would be incoherent. And, with ownership comes the right to transfer ownership. Therefore, to say that each individual has the right to own the product of his labor when he applies it to property that someone else has purchased is equally incoherent. Such a claim would implicitly deny that the purchaser owns what he purchased, because purchase by definition is transfer of ownership to the purchaser and ownership is the right of control over what the one possesses. To alter someone's purchased property without his consent is to vandalize it. And, to alter it with the consent of the owner is to give or sell one's labor and the resulting product to the owner. As the old individualist anarchist Lysander Spooner put it, "if [the individual] be not the owner of the articles, on which he bestows his labor, he is not the owner of the additional value he has given to them; but gives or sells his labor to the owner of the articles on which he labors."[1]

Anarcho-communist Joseph Dejacque said "It is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature." Anarcho-capitalists disagree with both of these assertions.

According to Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists, labor is the only legitimate origin of property. There could never be property in the world, until someone applied his labor to the natural resources of the Earth. The State cannot create legitimate property simply by claiming it or putting it in private hands and protecting it from being taken; only labor can produce property from what is unowned. By supporting property, anarcho-capitalists are not advocating hoarding. Rather, by agreeing with the concept of ownership and supporting the right of it they are simply saying that if an individual does part with a thing, it must be according to his own decision. He cannot be forced. The ultimate authority is the individual himself. Thus, it is easy to see why anarcho-capitalism is an individualist anarchism. In contrast, according to anarcho-communism which is a collectivist anarchism, each person is considered to have an ethical obligation to give any excess over what he "needs" to others who are perceived to need it more until everyone has an equal share of all the wealth. The individual is not considered to have a right to the product of his labor. As anarcho-communist Joseph Déjacque said, "[I]t is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature." Dejacque was correct to recognize that a right to own the product of one's labor is incompatible with a right of another person to have his needs satisfied. This is because if one produces more than he needs and another person has less than he needs, then the person with more than he needs is obligated to give the other person the product of his labor. Both notions - that some individuals are morally obligated to satisfy the needs of others and the opinion that individuals do not have a right to own the product of their labor - individualist anarchists oppose as assertions of authority over other individuals. Naturally, this supposed right to be provided with one's "needs" is usually seen by anarcho-communists as entailing a corollary right to take from others against their will - to "expropriate" - or what is commonly known as stealing. Thus, it is not unusual to come across anarcho-communists who, as a result of this entitlement philosophy, sanction a welfare state where the state carries out the confiscation of the product of labor, and what it has exchanged for in trade, of others for them. This is supported at least for the time being until an expected change in human nature occurs (or its true nature is revealed) where individuals are willing to work without being paid for it, stop engaging in trade, burn their money, and relegate the products of their labor into a community of goods for all to share "according to need." Granted, this could be a very long time, if ever, so some of these anarcho-communists are left with the paradoxical position of supporting the state indefinitely. By contrast, the anarcho-capitalist position is that any welfare system must be private (voluntary). In fact, given what we know of human nature, it is safe to assume that private welfare systems would exist in an anarcho-capitalist society. There would be nothing to stop individuals from giving some of the product of their labor and trade to those with less if they desire.

Ownership of productive property (means of production)[edit]

Anarcho-capitalists allow private ownership of means of production, such as land and machines, while anarcho-communists would like to abolish it.

Anarcho-capitalists include in their support of private property, property in means of production such as machines and land. In fact, unlike socialists, they make no moral distinction between property that is a means of production any or other types of property. Whether the property is productive or not makes no difference as long as it was obtained without aggression. However, though anarcho-capitalists support private ownership of means of production this does not mean they would prohibit communist ownership of productive things if a community desires such a thing. In fact, some anarcho-capitalists explicitly note that community ownership of resources can exist by right under Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist ethics and support that right. What they bring to the table is a method of determining whether resources were justly acquired. As a matter of commonly-accepted definition, "ownership" of a thing entails a exclusive right to use that thing, and the right to dispose of it as one wishes, whether it to be to give it away, to sell it, loan it, rent it, or to prohibit others from using or taking that thing or taking parts of it as their own. Anarcho-capitalists assert as a moral premise, or offer as an effective principle conducive to establishing peaceful and productive societies, that no one can come to properly own land (or any other part of the universe for that matter) that is in its original nature-provided condition simply by claiming they own it, fencing it in, or guarding it with guns. According to the property ethics of anarcho-capitalists, in order to legitimize an ownership claim, an individual, or group of individuals in the case of collective ownership, must "mix their labor" with an unowned resource. This means they must transform it into a more useful thing or condition, or they must be using the resource (such as using land for homesteading, or in the case with a primitive person, using part of the uncultivated forest regularly for picking nuts and berries, for example). Any individual's claim that he owns a parcel of land in its original condition that he's not using, is just as invalid as a community's claim that it owns such land. Or, as Rothbard put it, "If there is more land than can be used by a limited labor sup­ply, then the unused land must simply remain unowned until a first user arrives on the scene. Any attempt to claim a new resource that someone does not use would have to be considered invasive of the property right of whoever the first user will turn out to be." Any individual is ethically free to turn such unowned and unused land into his own private property by application of labor, but not by any other means.

Therefore, force does not create private property; rather, force is used to protect from theft that which has already become private property through the application of labor. This is completely different from the opinion of anarcho-communists that the State creates private property. Anarcho-capitalists say private property comes into existence whether the State exists or not. And, that private property continues to exist whether it is subsequently protected or not. Private property is a matter of right - not of might. It is a right to own the product of one's labor. And since one has a right to own the product of his labor he has a right to protect that product from being taken or used by others against his consent, either protecting it himself or asking, or paying, someone else to protect it (note that this is private rather than state defense, because it voluntarily funded rather than tax funded). If a group of "anarcho-communists" were to expropriate land from someone who transformed it into a large farm, anarcho-capitalists would be consider them criminals for depriving the individual of the product of his labor. In contrast, anarcho-capitalists would not expropriate land from a group of "anarcho-communists" that acquired ownership of land through labor, nor would they take land away from a primitive people that was using a portion of the land regularly for "hunting and gathering."[2] Unlike anarcho-communists who say they want to "abolish private property," anarcho-capitalists never say they want to "abolish collective property" or "abolish community property." Anarcho-capitalists point out that the community can indeed come to own unowned resources collectively by regular use. But when a group of anarcho-communists claim that the earth's resources belong to all humanity in collective (which they do claim), without ever having applied their labor to those resources, and declare that a person should not be allowed to take land as his own private property by laboring upon it, the anarcho-capitalist believes them to be making an illegitimate and authoritarian pronouncement that is not fundamentally different than a state or king claiming it owns the land. To be fair to anarcho-communists, though Peter Kropotkin said "houses, fields, and factories will no longer be private property, and that they will belong to the commune or the nation and money, wages, and trade would be abolished," he says that if anyone does not want to join the communist system that they would expropriate all except what is deemed a "necessary" amount of material things from these resisters. Specifically, Kropotkin said that he would not interfere with "a peasant who is in possession of just the amount of land he can cultivate" and "a family inhabiting a house which affords them just as much space as under present average conditions of life, are considered necessary for that number of people." However, even with this condition and also because of it, anarcho-capitalists find anarcho-communists tyrannical. If everything except what anarcho-communists believe is "necessary" for others is expropriated, as Kropotkin and many other anarcho-communists advocate, then anarcho-communists are in fact forcing others to live under the authority of their communist regime. Anarcho-capitalists believe people should be allowed to live in a large as home as they wish, and to cultivate as much land as they wish, or to hold as much of any other kind of non-coercively-acquired wealth as they wish, and the communist should not be permitted to forcefully impose his judgement on others as to whether they have more than they "need" or more than is "necessary" (nor do anarcho-capitalists generally aspire to be "peasants"). In an anarcho-capitalist system, what is a "necessary" amount of material things for an individual is left to the free decision of that individual, instead of to the authority of anarcho-communists or any sort of democratic rule. If an individual has more than he thinks is he needs or is necessary, the authority resides within the individual himself as to how he will dispose of it, whether it be through charity, sale, or loan or whether he will keep it to make his life more comfortable. Anarcho-capitalists do not believe that individuals, groups, or institutions have a legitimate moral claim over the product of someone else's labor, or over what that product has brought them from voluntary trade, or over what they have received as a gift.

Aristotle believed that private property made more sense than community property because the latter leads to disharmony and misuse. Though Rothbard uses a moral justification rather than a practical one, anarcho-capitalists agree with Aristotle that it can be very problematic in practice. However, though anarcho-capitalists support a right to individualized property, they do not seek to abolish collective property but support the right to collective property as well as long as it acquired without aggression or fraud. In contrast, anarcho-communists wish to abolish private property.

Some may claim that if a resource is turned into private property, then it was stolen or coerced from the rest of "humanity." However, in order to claim that private appropriation is theft or coercion, that resource that was procured must first have had to belong to someone since, of course, that which is unowned cannot be stolen. In order to claim theft or coercion, one must first have a theory of ownership. There must be a way of determining a moral or legal claim on a thing. Anarcho-capitalists say that use, homesteading, and transformation creates ownership. No one (no individual, no group, no group, no community, no "humanity") can own things simply by saying they own them or by simply by standing guard to prevent individuals from turning them into their own through labor. To forcefully prevent an individual from creating private property out of unowned materials is the aggressive coercion, and therefore contrary to what anarcho-capitalists to believe to be true anarchist principles. Though anarcho-capitalist do not seek to "abolish" collective ownership if it is justly acquired, and may even think it is prudent in some cases, they do think that community ownership is generally not a good idea without clear obligations for the individuals spelled out in contract because of what is called "the tragedy of the commons." The ancient philosopher Aristotle explains: "That all persons call the same thing mine in the sense in which each does so may be a fine thing, but it is impracticable; or if the words are taken in the other sense, such a unity in no way conduces to harmony. And there is another objection to the proposal. That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfill."

Whether it's for land, or anything else, the principle is the same for anarcho-capitalists: The individual has a right to own the product of applying his productive labor to the natural resources of the earth. Once private property has been justly created, it may not be expropriated (stolen) but may only legitimately change hands by voluntary trade or gift, or it may be intentionally abandoned. Thus, as described, it is a system without coercion. Of course, given what we know about human nature, theft does and will occur, so force may be used to return a thing to its legitimate owner. Anarcho-capitalists is not a utopian ideal where human nature is expected to change and no one will ever aggress against another, as in some forms of anarchism. Rather, as Rothbard said, "anarchism [is] a system which provides no legal sanction for such aggression."

Is all "private property" today legitimate?[edit]

To reiterate, beyond the idea that the individual owns his own body, anarcho-capitalists support private property in objects external to his body such as food, artwork, cars, homes, computers, money, machines, and land - anything that is the product of labor or recieved from trade or gift. Some may assume this means they support all holdings that are today called "private property," but that is not the case. In anarcho-capitalist ethics, possessions are not supported unless it they were received in voluntary trade, gift, or by transforming unowned things through labor. Any property in individual or business hands as a result of aggression, such as through the assistance of state coercion, is considered stolen. As Murray Rothbard's associate Karl Hess put it "Much of [today's] property is stolen. Much is of dubious title. All if it is deeply intertwined in an immoral, coercive state system...Libertarians in short, do not believe that theft is proper whether committed in the name of a state, a class, a credo, or a cliche...This is a far cry from sharing common ground with those who want to create a society in which super capitalists are free to amass vast holdings and who say that that is ultimately the most important purpose of freedom." Though anarcho-capitalism is generally considered a philosophical movement rather than a revolutionary one, some anarcho-capitalists do support forceful expropriation of nominally "private property" (stolen property in private hands protected by the state) in order to return it to the voluntary sector. For example, business that are existing primarily because of state contracts and tax subsidization may be seized by the workers to bring them into the truly private sector to be sustained by voluntary trade rather than coercion. Or, state-funded universities may be seized by the students and faculty and turned into private institutions, as recommended by Rothbard. Anarcho-capitalists are not pacifists. Force may be used in response to an aggression. Reclaiming stolen property is not aggression but a forceful response to an aggression. The aggression was the theft.


Some communist opponents of anarcho-capitalism lodge a criticism that individuals do not have equal bargaining power, so that inevitably someone is "exploited" when exchange takes place. For example, it is sometimes said by anarcho-communists that the owner of a large stock of food will charge hungry individuals as much he wishes, resting confident that those hungry people will pay any price, no matter how exhorbitant, due to their desire to survive or to relieve the pain of hunger - even to the point of selling themselves into slavery. However, aside from anarcho-capitalists disputing the implicit assumption that there is something immoral about individuals not having equal wealth, and thus unequal bargaining power, in the first place, this is not an actual objection to anarcho-capitalism at all, but an objection to coercive monopoly. This complaint overlooks the fact that anarcho-capitalists are avid supporters of competition (which anarcho-communists oppose). Other than supporting a right to compete for moral reasons, anarcho-capitalists support competition for the very purpose of bringing about low prices of goods and services. The more competition in providing food, the less that producers can expect to recieve in exchange for that food. Food vendors in a competitive capitalist society must price their goods in such a way as to persuade customers not to purchase from others. If they do not, then they cannot continue as merchants for they will have no customers. And, if prices are decreasing then that is the same thing as an increase in income, since the same nominal income purchases a greater amount of goods and service. Thus, while it may not be unreasonable to claim consumers are being "exploited" by a single supplier of a vital commodity engaging in "price-gouging," it is much harder to argue that customers are being "exploited" if there is fierce free-market competition which is driving prices down. Also the claim from anarcho-communists that producers have more bargaining power than the mass of consumers in a competitive free market seems difficult to defend.

Some supporters of state intervention claim that the lack of intervention, a free market, actually causes monopoly, however the position of anarcho-capitalists is that state intervention is the cause of monopoly. As long as aggression is kept out of the marketplace, anarcho-capitalists believe that active competition will exist. Any single provider of a good or service would be a very short term phenomenon, as the possibility of very large profits seduces others to enter the field to compete thereby lowering prices. Barring coercive barriers to entry, such as protection from competition by state, the only way a monopoly could sustain itself would be the theoretical case of a firm becoming so efficient that it was able to keep prices so low that no one else could find a way to compete. And, of course, this would not be a problem for consumers. But, it would be a problem for would-be competitors who may then enlist the state to engage in aggressive coercion to "break up" the monopoly. Anarcho-capitalists see collusion between business and state a criminal and an unjustified use of force.

Division of labor and the trade of its products[edit]

Another food-related challenge from some anarcho-communists is that if a hungry person purchases food, then the transaction was "involuntary" because a person has to eat. This argument is an attempt to show anarcho-capitalism to be inconsistent in its support for voluntary interaction. However, the fact that people have a biological need to eat does mean that they are coerced into purchasing food. If there were no one selling food, a hungry person would still have to work to obtain food. For example, he may have to venture into the jungle and climb trees to procure coconuts. Another person obtaining coconuts, bringing them into town, and then selling those that he does not himself need is not coercing anyone, according to anarcho-capitalists, but is actually relieving others of the necessity of troubling themselves with climbing trees. Individuals pay for this service by exchanging a product of their own preferred type of labor, or labor itself, for it. Or, an individual may cultivate a farm and sell his surplus to others. This relieves others of the necessity of engaging in farming. Not everyone wishes to engage in these endeavors, so the division of labor and property serves a want. And, anarcho-capitalists see no reason that individuals should be considered obligated to give to others for free what they worked to obtain, as anarcho-communists would have it. "Expropriation" of the farmer's surplus or the tree-climbers coconuts, the products of their labor, is simply "theft." Even if a "benign" anarcho-communist did not advocate expropriation but merely asserted that others ought to give their surplus product to others who "need" it more instead of selling it, which is certainly a fundamental position held by all anarcho-communists whether expropriators or not, it is still a moral claim on the product of labor of others. It is a claim that the individual ought to give away the product of his labor for free if he wills otherwise - that he is doing something unethical by selling instead of giving. Thus, anarcho-capitalists see anarcho-communism as nothing less than a philosophy to justify thievery, whether the moral prescription of the anarcho-communist is enforced or not. In contrast, the moral prescription from anarcho-capitalists is simply that each individual should be allowed to do as he wills with that which belongs to him as long as he does not use aggression to prevent another from doing the same. It is not a moral judgement on what others should do, but what they should not do. And, what they should not do is aggress. The moral pronouncement from anarcho-capitalists is that no individual should force his morality on anyone else. The individual is supreme.[3]

Buying and selling labor (employment); the value of money and trade[edit]

Anarcho-communists do not think that people should buy and sell labor. It does not matter what is being received in payment, whether money or goods. They simply oppose individuals selling their labor to others and those others buying that labor. Besides the fact that they advocate an economy without money or trade, they think that if someone sells his labor to an owner of a means of production then he has been exploitated or coerced. Anarcho-capitalists disagree. Employment is a result of the division of labor. To explain this, let us assume that someone wishes to obtain corn. Not everyone wishes to grow his own food. So it is necessary for a person who wishes to do something else with his life, other than farming, to receive corn from someone who produces it. Let us imagine that the person who wants corn builds bicycles. Now, in a trading economy without money, in order for him to obtain corn he will have to find someone that grows corn that also wants a bicycle. In other words, he will have to barter. If he cannot find a farmer that wants a bicycle then he is out of luck, unless the farmer wants to give him charity. However, if the farmer does not wish to have a bicycle, but could use some help on the farm then the bicycle builder can sell his labor to obtain corn. Hence, the invention of employment. However, it might so happen that the bicycle builder may not have the skills that the farmer desires. In that case, the the bicycle maker will be off in search of someone who values his skills. Suppose he finds a newspaper publisher who needs someone to assist him in delivering newspapers. In that case he is in luck, because he can use his own bicycle to deliver newspapers. Or, he can assist in operating a printing press. However, remember that he is trying to obtain corn, so he does not wish to be paid for his labor with newspapers. Thus, the invention of money. The newspaper publisher pays him for his labor with money. He can then trade that money to the farmer in exchange for food. The famer will happily accept this for his corn because it so happens that he would also like to obtain shingles for his home, but the shingler does not wish to recieve corn in exchange. Thus, the shingler also happily accepts money so he can trade it for what he wants.

An 8-foot "coin" from the village of Gachpar, on Yap. Anarcho-communists seek to abolish buying and selling, and therefore money as well. But, anarcho-capitalists choose to trade, and like the villagers on the island of Yap they have discovered that money eliminates the need to barter. However, most prefer smaller coins.

Money may be any item, such as the cowrie shells used by the ancient Chinese, tobacco used by early Americans, pieces of gold, denominated paper, or as is most recently available, electronic private money which many anarcho-capitalists are fond of (such as e-gold). The purpose of money is to eliminate the need to barter. So, just as any other good has value in satisfying human wants, money does as well, with its value being its ability to eliminate the labor of having to find a bartering partner. No one that wishes to obtain goods and services from others through trade can righly deny that money is useful. The fact that so few people are willing to engage in bartering necessitates that people obtain money or they will not be able to purchase things that they want from those who would rather not barter. If one doubts this, then they should try going to purchase food at the local farmers' market with something other than money. People want money because it is useful. And, like anything else, money must be bought. It may sound odd because it is not ordinarily looked at from this perspective, but money is actually purchased. Just as a person who trades money for a good purchases that good, the person on the other side of the trade is purchasing money with his goods. If one wants to buy money, he trades his goods for money. If one who has no goods to trade wishes to purchase money, then he trades his labor for money. And, the reason he seeks to purchase money is because it is useful in satisfying his wants. Thus, the natural evolution from the division of labor, to employment for goods, to employment for money.

Anarcho-communists object to all of this. They do not think that a person should sell his labor to obtain money (or anything else). But not only that. They seek to abolishing buying and selling of anything (whether money is used to facilitate it or not). "[M]oney, wages, and trade would be abolished," according to Kropotkin. Again, besides the fact that they advocate an economy without money or trade, they think that if someone sells his labor to someone who needs assistance in producing and distributing something then he has been exploitated or coerced. However, if a bicycle maker trades a bicycle for some food or if he trades labor for food or money, anarcho-capitalists see this as simply people cooperating through trade for mutual benefit. Unlike anarcho-communists, anarcho-capitalists do not consider the newspaper publisher, or anyone else that is willing to accept labor in exchange for what he owns, whether commodities or money, to be a cruel and dominating enemy but a friend and partner. The anarcho-capitalists who sells his labor to others does not consider himself a "wage slave" as some anarcho-communists call it, because he knows that one way or the other, whether he is selling his labor or keeping his labor all to himself, humanity must work to survive. If he is a slave to anything, it is to his own body's need for food and shelter. He does not blame an employer for that. Like anyone else, and like he himself may choose to do, an employer is a fellow man who saved his money, or obtained a loan or investment from someone, and opened a business to produce things that others value. And, of course, to receive money in exchange for these products. No harm in that; rather, it is something praiseworthy according to the anarcho-capitalist. And because he may need help in producing and distributing goods, and therefore offers money for assistance in doing so, it does not make him the enemy. He does not force anyone to work for him. He is creating a means for others to sustain themselves, so it leaves the anarcho-capitalists to wonder why anarcho-communists condemn him for creating jobs. If one did not know better, he may think that the reason anarcho-communists oppose job creation is so that they can protest a high unemployment rate. However, it is more peculiar than that. They do not oppose job creation, per se, but oppose creation of jobs that pay a wage. They think people should not get paid for working. So, they would be happy if someone created jobs which paid no wage at all but where those who labor put the produce into a community of goods to be distributed "to each according to his needs." Knowing this, one can only conjecture that the reason that few jobs such jobs of this nature are created is that there are few anarcho-communists around, or at least few anarcho-communists who are actually willing to "put their money where their mouth is," so to speak, and actually work without being paid for it. But, since communist jobs are not being created in any noticeable quantity, the objection to jobs being created which offer pay for labor seems difficult to understand. It is especially odd due to the fact that the more employers there are relative to potential employees, the higher wages are bidded up due to competition to attract employees. In other words, the less jobs created the lower the wages. The anarcho-communist will claim that he cannot create communist jobs because he does not have access to means of production. But, he cannot object to his communist friends and him not having access to financial capital in order to purchase their own means of production because he opposes money. Means of production can be purchased by anyone who is willing to compensate those who lend them money. Likewise, machines are available on loan for anyone that is willing to compensate others for loan of the machines. So he is left to assert that others ought to give a group of anarcho-communist machines for free, and if they will not then stealing ("expropriation") is in order. (And, if they are not able to be successful at stealing or encouraging others to charity, then they have almost certainly relegated themselves to being lifelong wage laborers because entepreneurship is out of the question).

Rather than stealing the product of labor and the receipts of voluntary exchange from others, or urging others to altruism, anarcho-capitalists choose to sell their labor to others or to borrow from those who are willing to lend and to compensate them for being deprived of what they own. Barring some dire emergency where starvation is actually faced, and maybe not even then depending on the moral code of the particular anarcho-capitalist, stealing honestly acquired property from others is out of the question. But then, anarcho-capitalists believe that any hypothetical necessity to steal to survive is eliminated by the free market's ability to produce an abundance of goods which become cheaper over time. This happens due to competition as well as inventions and innovations that increase productivity (increased productivity means more is produced with the same amount or less labor). Also, they expect a free market to produce ample employment opportunities by eliminating taxes on profits which impede business expansion, thus leaving capital available for investments and loans to those who want to own their own means of production to produce valuable things for society and to generate renewed profits - further increasing the stock of wealth in a society and lowering the cost of living, ad infinitum. Profit, selling a good at a higher monetary price than it costs to produce, is simply the income one recieves by increasing the satisfaction of human wants. It serves as one's incentive to try to serve the wants of others and as one's reward for succeeding at doing so. And, profit is not necessarily proportional to how much labor one exerts, but on how much others value what one produces. Therefore, in a capitalist society, it pays to "work smart." Labor itself is worthless if it does not produce, or do, something useful. And the more useful a product or service is in satisfying human wants, the more people are willing to pay for it. And the more people are willing to pay for something, the more competitors are attracted to that market which results in falling prices.

Supporters of trade say people do not trade unless they see a benefit in doing so. A person does not purchase a good unless he values what he is purchasing more than he values what he is exchanging, whether he giving money or another good in trade. If this were not the case, he would hold on to what he has. Likewise, if a person trades his labor for money, it is because he values the money more than he values the labor he is trading. And, the person who is purchasing his labor values the labor more than he values the money he is giving. If this were not the case, then neither party would trade. Thus, when a trade takes place an increase of satisfaction of wants in the world takes place with both parties in a trade sharing in the increase. If both sides of a trade increase the satisfaction of their wants, then where is the alleged exploitation? The anarcho-communist is known to argue that since the employer will sell the product that the laborer helped produce for more money than it costs him that the employee is being exploited. However, if the employer had a change of heart and decided to sell the product at cost, the laborer would still have the same income he had before. So, why would the employee be exploited if his pay remained the same either way? One might expect that anarcho-communist would then demand that the employer give the profits to the employees in payment for their labor instead of keeping them for himself or reinvesting them to create more jobs. But, of course that is not what the anarcho-communist demands, because he opposes payment for labor altogether. Remember, in anarcho-communism people are distributed things "according to their needs" - not according to their labor, nor according to what they receive in voluntary trade. In any case, if someone were to demand that the profits be given to all the employees, the anarcho-capitalists asks why would anyone go through the trouble of starting and operating a business in the first place. People who start and manage a business wish to be compensated for their labor, and they do this by selling their goods in the market at a higher monetary price than it costs to produce those goods. If there were no opportunity to profit, then they would not start the business. They would not purchase labor from people, and those people would be left to procure all the material goods to sustain and enrich their lives without having the technology of money, and as anarcho-communists would have it, not through trade at all but by taking from a community of goods available for free. The classic question posed to anarcho-communists is why people would be willing to work without being paid for it. It seems fundamental to human nature that people prefer to be compensated for their labor. Another question is what is wrong with trade? Anarcho-communist opposition to trade is an ethical one. They do not like the idea of individuals pursuing their self-interest and would prefer to see individuals behaving altruistically to serve the "needs" of others. Anarcho-capitalists simply prescribe allowing individuals to do as they wish with their justly-earned property and to let people behave as it is their nature to behave as long as they do not aggress against others. Whether individuals seek to maximum of their own wants or seek to maximize the gain of others is up them. However, anarcho-capitalists do believe that people do indeed generally seek to maximize the satisfaction of their wants. When they trade, they trade for the purpose of benefiting themselves. They do not enter into a trade in order to increase the satisfaction of the wants of the other party at the expense of becoming less satisfied themselves - to be altruistic. This is something we see about human nature already, so anarcho-capitalists do not call for a reversal of that nature. Morever, besides supporting a right to trade in one's interests, they tend to believe that individuals trading to increase the satisfaction of their wants is actually efficacious at enriching society as a whole. They do not deny that a trader must serve the desires of his customers if he is to enrich himself because it is on their willingness to part with their own things on which his well-being depends. Thus, this mutual inclination among buyers and sellers to maximize their self-interest urges traders of goods and services to offer things of good quality and good service.

Anarcho-capitalists see nothing at all wrong with a person obtaining things through trade. And, if a person has nothing, then in order to get something, he must be able to trade his labor for something (or hope for charity, or steal). A person sells his labor, obtains employment, because he values money. Even when an anarcho-communist goes to work today, he does so because he values money. In other words, he finds it useful so he willing to work to obtain it. But, an anarcho-communist feels that he is "forced to work" because he must either "work or starve." He enters the workplace begrudgingly and often becomes embittered, depressed, and resentful of his employer. However, as discussed earlier, whether someone offers a person a job or not, a person still has to work or starve (unless he is living under the care of his parents or stealing the product of labor and trade from others). Humanity can not exist without work. Someone has to work in order for the human race to sustain itself. Obtaining food and building a home requires work. Simply because someone goes to work for someone else to obtain money to purchase things it does not mean he forced to work anymore than he would be forced to work if there were no jobs or businesses in existence at all. In fact, it is easy to argue that it makes it easier to live, because a person does not have to perform a diverse range of labors to provide himself with all the, to borrow Adam Smith's phrase, "necessaries and conveniencies" of life. He can simply focus his labor on a narrow range of things and become very good at them and trade that labor for money, which serves as a store of value, with which he can then purchase various things to sustain his life and make it more enjoyable. The reason he needs money is because others choose to accept money in exchange for what they have. He is not coerced into using money; he is simply refraining from coercing others by not taking their property against their will. There is a natural evolution, from the discovery of the benefits of trade, to the invention of money to facilitate it, to the trade of labor for money. Anarcho-capitalists find the requests of anarcho-communists to revert to a primordial state before the technologies of trade and money were invented as misguided. Trade, money, and employment were invented because they were useful in satisfying human wants. Anarcho-capitalists believe the world is better off, poverty is much reduced, and people are living more comfortably, for these things having been invented. They believe the elimination of money and trade, to rely solely on a "gift economy" as anarcho-communists want, would increase human misery. Anarcho-capitalists would like aggression to be eliminated, or more protected against, in order for voluntary trade to fully realize its potential to eliminate poverty from the world and to allow individuals to reap the full rewards of their labor and trade without having these things expropriated by the state or by anarcho-communists.

Now, though anarcho-capitalists support a right for individuals to contract with others as employee and employer if they desire, they do not necessarily prefer such arrangements. Rather, they believe it is a natural occurence in liberty since not everyone wishes to take the challenge of running his own business. Many, or maybe most, people in the world actually prefer to work for someone else because it less challenging. Or they may be risk averse, so do not wish to risk an investment in a means of production that may not pay off. So, for anarcho-communists to morally condemn individuals for contracting as employee and employer seems out of line (and they place the brunt of their vitriol on the employer). With that said, anarcho-capitalist David Friedman, while not condemning employment as immoral, has expressed a preference for a society comprised of nearly all self-employed entrepreneurs. However, as wonderful a scenario as that may be, it could be simply wishful thinking for the reasons just mentioned. But, anything is possible in a free market. Rothbard does not express a preference either way, but simply notes the naturalness of contracting to be employed by others in any environment of liberty. Whatever happens in a free society is fine. Contracts of all sorts are morally permissible. If freedom results in more people becoming self-employed, all the better for them because it can certainly be much more rewarding.

The State as aggressor, thief, and monopolizer of protection from aggression[edit]

Anarcho-capitalists support the elimination of the State because it is an instrument of aggressive coercion. Besides obtaining its funding through taxation, it uses those funds to subsidizes inefficient businesses, it uses its coercive power to create de jure monopolies, it takes wealth from laboring individuals and gives it to idle ones or to organizations that are providing a good or services that people do not value enough to willingly pay for, it erects barriers to trade such as tariffs and protectionist regulations, and in a variety of other ways it initiates coercion into human economic and social affairs. Though the liberal State performs some legitimate functions such as protecting a significant portion of justly acquired property, it finances this function (as well as its criminal functions) through taxation which individualist anarchists regard as theft. Anarcho-capitalists advocate a system of voluntarily-funded protection in order to have a system of consistent private property protection. They would like to see this provided by competing suppliers in order to keep prices low and quality high. The problem is, states do not allow this (by definition). The market anarchists' complaint is not just that the state's defensive services are funded by taxation but that the state assumes it is the only legitimate practitioner of physical force. That is, it forcibly prevents the private sector from providing comprehensive security, such as a police, judicial, and prison systems to protect individuals from aggressors. For example, if someone subscribed to private police agency, and someone had broken into that person's home, then that individual could call the private police to come to the home and arrest the intruder and take him to a private jail and private court. A state claims a monopoly over such force on property that anarcho-capitalists do not believe that the state owns (the person's home); it does not permit this kind of competition.[4] Anarcho-capitalists believe that there is nothing morally superior about the state which it would grant it but not private individuals a right to use physical force to restrain aggressors on their own property or contract with others to interact with aggressors as their agents. Anarcho-capitalists see the state's forcible prevention of such competition as transgression against private property rights. Competition should be allowed in these services just as there is in the provision others goods and services in a liberal society. Coercive monopoly is anathema to anarcho-capitalism; free competition in all areas of economic life is the solution to making the necessities and luxuries of life easily affordable. Anarcho-capitalists do not think that a free society would bring wealth equality, nor do they see anything admirable about equalized wealth, or as Murray Rothbard called it "a communal ant-heap." But they do think a truly free market is the solution to eliminating poverty. They would agree with the old individualist Benjamin Tucker, who said: "If I go through life free and rich, I shall not cry because my neighbor, equally free, is richer. Liberty will ultimately make all men rich; it will not make all men equally rich. Authority may (and may not) make all men equally rich in purse; it certainly will make them equally poor in all that makes life best worth living." Anarcho-capitalists see wealth inequality as the consequence of living in a free society due to differences in productivity levels or talents between individuals. They regard the right of the individual to become richer than others, so that he may achieve the level of luxury that he desires for his life, as being essential to a truly free society that recognizes the "sovereignty of the individual."

Differences with the nineteenth century, labor theory of value, forms of individualist anarchism[edit]

Finally, a discussion on the difference between 19th century individualist anarchists and most contemporary ones. But first it should be noted that Max Stirner had a version of individualist anarchism in the 19th century called Egoism that was completely amoral. That is not the type that will be referred to here as "the 19th century individualists," but to the native American version that explicitly supported the acquisition of private property as a moral right, markets, and market provided defense of liberty and property. The 19th century individualist Benjamin Tucker said: "[D]efense is a service like any other service; that it is labor both useful and desired, and therefore an economic commodity subject to the law of supply and demand; that in a free market this commodity would be furnished at the cost of production; that, competition prevailing, patronage would go to those who furnished the best article at the lowest price; that the production and sale of this commodity are now monopolized by the State; and that the State, like almost all monopolists, charges exorbitant prices." Anarcho-capitalists agree with all of this except the claim that defense would be provided at the "cost of production." This is because, unlike most American individualist anarchists of the 19th century, anarcho-capitalists firstly do not agree with the labor theory of value of classical economics which says that prices are of goods and services in a market economy are proportional to the amount of labor embodied in those things. But, more importantly they don't agree with the normative interpretation of the theory by the 19th century individualists which says that prices ought to be proportional to labor and that there is some kind of injustice taking place if this is not occuring.

They based this conclusion on some premises offered by Adam Smith, the classical economist. Smith said that when a person produces a commodity, the true price, or true cost, that he pays for that commodity is the labor that he expended to produce it. This makes sense, and no one would dispute it. But, based upon this Josiah Warren concluded that in an exchange of goods or services that embodied different amounts of labor meant that someone was being ripped off. In other words, someone was not receiving a fair price because he was trading a good that required more labor to produce than the one he was receiving in return.[5] By extension, if all individuals receive an income in proportion to their labor then in the ideal world of the nineteenth century individualists, those who labor equal amounts would recieve equal incomes. Those who do not labor at all would, of course, would receive no income (unless from gift or charity). Benjamin Tucker described the fact of an individual receiving less income for his labor than others as that individual not recieving his "full produce." If someone was not receiving his "full produce," then someone else was receiving more than his "full produce" in order for that to occur. Again, this is just another way of saying that an exchange of unequal labor amounts took place. An example of this would be an employer receiving a greater income than an employee without working the same amount. And, this is what Tucker and the other individualists of his time were particularly concerned about. Their position was that employers were working less but receiving a greater income than employees who were working more. Therefore, employees were not receiving their "full produce." Adam Smith, as well as Ricardo, also theorized that prices of goods in a market economy are proportional to the amount of labor required to produce those things (the basic labor theory of value - note that "value" here refers to price rather than "worth"). Based upon this idea, the nineteenth century individualists concluded that the reason unequal amounts of labor were being traded was because the state was preventing operation of a truly free market by restricting competition. They thought that if the state stopped regulating the economy that prices would naturally converge with labor amounts. This is why Tucker said that when the state stops regulating against competition, "it will make no difference whether men work for themselves, or are employed, or employ others. In any case they can get nothing but that wages for their labor which free competition determines."

Anarcho-capitalists appreciate the contribution from early individualist anarchists like Benjamin Tucker but they believe they had a faulty understanding of economics to think that free market competition would causes prices paid for goods and services to be proportional to the amount of labor embodied in those things. More importantly, they disagree with their ethical stance, based on that theory, that holds that if prices are not proportional to labor that some sort of exploitation or "usury" is occuring. However, it must be recognized that they were a product of their time as they were influenced by the labor theory of value of the classical economists - a theory now dismissed by virtually all economists today. Today, relative prices of goods and services in free markets are believed to be determined subjective valuations of marginal utility rather than by amounts of labor.

Almost all modern day individualist anarchists (that is, all anarcho-capitalists) disagree with the premise that an exchange is not fair unless an equal amount of labor is exchanged. There is simply the right to pay whatever price anyone volunteers to pay as long as the other party volunteers to sell at that price, or vice versa. This "stolen" or "exploited" labor is simply an illusion based on a faulty premise. Therefore, there is nothing amiss about a more useful good that required the same amount of labor to produce as a less useful good being exchanged for a higher price. Likewise, there is nothing exploitative about a person working for one hour receiving a higher pay than a person who worked for two hours. There is no known valid moral justification for asserting that income should be proportional to labor. If a laborer or producer wants more in exchange for his goods or services, it is up to him to increase the desirability of his output in order to pursuade others to pay him more. Or, he may choose to apply his labor to the manufacture of a different product that is more valued by others. Likewise, if a purchaser of labor wants more effort or higher quality then it is up to him to offer more in return in order to pursuade the laborer to comply. Or, he can offer what he has in trade to someone who values it more and is therefore willing to offer more labor in return. If both parties can't agree on a price on a potential transaction, they may agree to part as friends with no contract being made. All transactions must be voluntary. No labor or property may be coerced. Though economics-inclined anarcho-capitalists have their own theory of value (i.e., an explanation of what determines price in a market economy), one need not have a theory of value at all to be an anarcho-capitalist. According to anarcho-capitalism, there is simply the right for each individual to decide for himself at what price he is willing to part with what he has. Therefore, as long as trades are not coerced, whatever price at which a good or labor is traded is fine regardless of how much labor was exerted. Even if two identical goods that required the same amount of labor to produce are traded at drastically different prices, both prices are proper prices. That is, "proper price" cannot be objectively determined, because what is proper is simply what occurs in freedom. And, different individuals make different value judgements. Karl Hess described anarcho-capitalism as "value for value" trade. This is in contrast to 19th century individualists who advocated what they called "labor for labor" trade.

But what is important to note is that though the 19th century individualists held the above Marxist-like exploitation theory, they still believed that what they saw as "exploitative" transactions should not be interfered with because they are nevertheless the result of a voluntary contract. This is unlike anarcho-communists who want to abolish contract and trade altogether, some justifying it on a Marxist labor theory of value, some on grounds of unequal bargaining power, some on grounds that trade is immoral because it is self-interested, or for a variety of other reasons. Benjamin Tucker said, "In defending the right to take usury, we do not defend the right of usury," meaning he defends the legal right even though he thought it not morally right. However, rather than those engaging in the transactions being at fault for the "exploitation," it was believed that the state was causing this mismatch between prices and labor amounts by limiting competition. Due to their particular version of the labor theory of value, they thought that it was somehow a natural law that if the state stopped using its coercion in the economy to stifle competition that prices of goods and services would naturally correspond with the amount of labor entailed in those things, which would of course entail that equal amounts of labor would always receive the same income. Economically-inclined anarcho-capitalists considers this to be a faulty economic theory, as do virtually all economists today. They, as members of the neoclassical revolution, believe that prices are not determined by labor amounts in a market, whether a completely laissez-faire or not, but by "marginal utility." (A discussion of marginal utility is too complex for this discussion, but the theory holds that relative prices are determined by traders' subjective value judgements on what the "least valuable use" of the good in question in satisfying a person's wants).

In addition, because of the labor theory of value, combined with the fact that they thought receiving income from lending was being paid without laboring, many of the nineteenth century individualists thought that if banking were deregulated, so that anyone could start a bank that wanted to, that interest rates would drop to zero due to increased competition in lending money. All would be well, because lenders, who they thought were not laboring, would not be recieving an income - the labor theory of value would be vindicated. (Though anarcho-capitalists ultimately justify the right to ask for and recieve interest on property rights, rather than labor, it is interesting to note it apparently did not cross the mind of many of the nineteenth century individualists that the stress, worry, or risk that an individual takes on when he lends his money could be considered a form of labor for which one is justified in being compensated). Anarcho-capitalists also support unregulated banking but believe that individuals in general are not willing to lend money without being compensated for it, so they see no reason why interest would disappear simply because banking and currency issuance were unregulated. Nor do they see anything wrong with a lender requiring others to compensate him for the time he is deprived of what he owns in order to receive a loan. Again, as above, while economics-inclined anarcho-capitalists have theories of the reasons for interest, it is not necessary to have any theories on the matter to be an anarcho-capitalist. There is simply the right for the individual to choose for himself at what price he is willing to part with what he owns.

Anarcho-capitalists also differ with many of the old individualists on land ownership. Most of the nineteenth century individualists subsequent to Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner excepted, thought that if an individuals stops using his land that he no longer owns it, though they thought other products of labor were private property in the conventional sense. Anarcho-capitalists consider all products of labor to continue to be the property of the laborer whether he is using his product or not. According to anarcho-capitalists, there is not a good reason to except labor-transformed land from this rule. Labor-transformed land is not any less the product of labor than anything else fashioned from the natural resources of the earth. In fact, Benjamin Tucker even recognized this when he said, "But anything is a product upon which human labor has been expended, whether it be a piece of iron or a piece of land," but still he made an exception for land. And, if an individual has a right to the product of his labor (as all individualists anarchists, old and new, assert), then it is obviously still the product of his labor whether he keeps it in continuous use or not. According to anarcho-capitalists, to be a consistent individualist anarchist, one must support a right of an individual to decide for himself how all of his product, or what he received in trade, will be used (or unused), whether it be to charge others for using it or to keep it in storage, or to transfer his ownership to someone else through sale or gift. To deprive him of this liberty is aggressive coercion. Tucker's reason for objecting to labor-transformed land being property in the full sense of the term, though he recognized it to be the product of labor, is that land is in limited supply. However, every raw material on Earth is in limited supply. Natural resources are simply made more useful by applying labor to them in order to transform them into a more useful state or by applying those resources to a more productive use. Land is no exception to this. Over time, due to technological advancement, smaller amounts of land area can be applied to more productive uses. In fact, today, only a small proportion of the world's wealth is produced from land itself. So, the issue does seem anachronistic. The stance requiring continual use to retain ownership of land to continue to have legal control over it was a result of the influence of the French Pierre-Joseph Proudhon on Benjamin Tucker. It has long since been abandoned by individualists anarchists, as being inconsistent with a right to own the product of labor and the receipts of trade, except by a small minority of individualists.

One holdout still adhering the some of the old theories, including land ownership restrictions and a version of the labor theory of value, is Kevin Carson, though he acknowledges that "most people who call themselves "individualist anarchists" today are followers of Murray Rothbard's Austrian economics, and have abandoned the labor theory of value." Whether he can bring about a significant revival of the old theories, which is his stated intent, remains to be seen. But, it appears doubtful given advances in economics.

In conclusion - The simplicity of anarcho-capitalism[edit]

Anarcho-capitalism, market anarchism, individualist anarchism, right anarchism, or whatever one wants to call it, is really very simple. No knowledge of economics or abstruse theory is necessary to understand anarcho-capitalism nor to become an anarcho-capitalist. The philosophy may be summed up very simply by the following: Each individual has, or should have, the right to own his body, the right to own the full product of his labor when applied to that which he owns and that which is unowned, and the right to own what he receives in voluntary trade or gift. And, it goes without saying that with true ownership of a thing comes the right to use it in any non-aggressive manner desired, which includes the right to choose the price, if any, at which one parts with it, the right to loan it, the right to contract with others to charge rent for use of it, and the right to not use it at all - to put in storage for future use. Since the State takes the product of labor and trade and often deprives the individual of full ownership rights of his own body, it is concluded that the protection of liberty and property should be replaced with voluntarily-funded protection of body and property. And, no agency that protects individuals and their property from aggressors should use aggression to exclude others from providing the same type of protection. In a well-functioning anarcho-capitalist defense system, liberty and property would be protected from states, anarcho-communists, mutualists, fascists, Republicans, Democrats, and anyone else who would expropriate the product of labor and trade from others. It is simple enough for even a dummie to understand.

A note on Friedmanite anarcho-capitalism[edit]

Note: There is another form of anarcho-capitalism put forth by David Friedman. Rather than having strict moral concerns for absolute individual liberty, it seeks to maximize liberty for the greatest number. He advocates that law itself be produced by the market. He admits that it may lead to laws that are counter to libertarian principles, but he thinks there may be a tendency for such laws (and their enforcement) to have little consumer support and that therefore those restrictions will not be able to survive. He acknowledges that this is entirely theoretical, and whether it would lead to a libertarian society remains to be seen.


  1. ^ Spooner advocated that individuals sell their labor to others as a self-employed people rather than as employees of others because a self-employed person can make more money. The technical distinction between self-employment and employment by others has to do with ownership of a means of production. For example, consider a person who hires himself out to hammer nails. If he owns his own hammer, he's self-employed. But, if he uses the hammer of the person he hires himself out to, he's an employee of that person. Granted, the distinction is trivial unless the means of production are expensive. Spooner's solution to increase self-employment was laissez-faire - to stop state regulation of the economy. Note that this preference to self-employment was for monetary reasons, rather than the complaint sometimes heard from anarcho-communists that an employer is ruling over the employee by telling him what to do. Individualists recognize that an employer, qua employer, does not force anyone to obey him.
  2. ^ However, if those primitives stopped using that part of the land, because they were nomads and moved on, it would again be open for labor-based appropriation because they did not transform and improve the land to make it their own but merely used it and abandoned it. They are the legitimate owners while they are using it (this use does not have to be constant but simply regular use). To deprive them of this part of the land while they were relying upon it for their survival would be aggressive expropriation in violation of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist ethics.
  3. ^ Though William Godwin is almost always considered to be an individualist anarchist, he had some communist-like characteristics in his ethics. He claimed that individuals were ethically obliged to give away, not sell, their property to others if they could benefit from it more. But, at the same time, he supported private property as "the empire to which every man is entitled over the produce of his own industry." Obviously there is a conflict. Ultimately, he insisted that it should be up to the "private judgement" of the individual as to whether he gives away, keeps, or sells his property. Because of this, one could almost call Godwin voluntary anarcho-communist, if there ever was one. But, this goes to show that for a form of anarchism to be truly voluntary, it must grant a right of an individual absolute control over product of his labor unless he voluntarily transfers ownership. And, to grant this is to be an individualist anarchist.
  4. ^ A person may exercise a monopoly of force in own property, such as in his own home, if he so desires, but anarcho-capitalists do not oppose this because it is his own property. It is something he acquired without coercion. On the other hand a state claims and enforces a monopoly, or near-monopoly, over the property that it does not own when when it forbids private businesses from going onto property and arresting and trying aggressors in a private court with the property owner's consent. If a private defense provider suddenly started forcibly prevented other defense providers from providing the same service to that property owner, then that defense provider would be enforcing a monopoly on force over that person's property. If this were to happen, then that defense provider would have become a "state." It would be forcibly restraining two private entities from exercising a voluntary contract between themselves. And, it is almost certain that it would begin taxing the customer under threat of taking them to jail, instead of selling its services.
  5. ^ One possible troubling implication of this is that if Michaelangelo and Jackson Pollock each paint two different paintings and, by coincidence, happened to exert the same amount of labor, then the theory leads to the conclusion that they should both be paid the same dollar amount for their respective paintings - even if others receive more pleasure from viewing one than the other.
                                                    - Finis -

Sources for Wikipedia editors fighting against "POV pushing" claims that anarcho-capitalism is not anarchism[edit]

There seems to be a lot of dispute on Wikipedia's Anarchism article as to whether anarcho-capitalism is a type of anarchism. I am dedicating my Userpage to compiling a list of sources that say it is, complete with quoted text.

What prompted me to do this was, in looking at a document circulating around the internet that is called "An Anarchist FAQ." I saw that it presented a source which the claimed to be saying that anarcho-capitalism is not anarchism. It just so happened to have the book they were citing. I looked it up, and I found that "An Anarchist FAQ" was lying. It says this about Barbara Goodwin's book "Using Political Ideas": "Barbara Goodwin agrees that the "anarcho"-capitalists' "true place is in the group of right-wing libertarians" not in anarchism." Well, that is not what the books says. It says they are right-wing libertarians but it does not say they are not anarchists. To the contrary, it explicitly says they are anarchists. She is simply distinguishing them from what she calls "left libertarian" forms of anarchism. I quote Goodwin in "Using Political Ideas": "Although many anarchists today still subscribe to the values of Bakunin and Kropotkin, there are two new, divergent currents of anarchist thinking. One is anarcho-capitalism, a form of libertarian anarchism which demands that the state should be abolished and that private individuals and firms should control social and economic affairs....Their true place is in the group of right-wing libertarians...Many who call themselves anarchists today preserve some of the older doctrines...This preference was evident in the student uprisings of 1968 in France and the USA, which were largely anarchist in spirit and with which many of the libertarian left associate themselves." (Barbara Goodwin, "Using Political Ideas", fourth edition, John Wiley & Sons (1987), p. 137-138)

So, the "An Anarchist FAQ" that has been floating around the internet has been deceiving people into thinking anarcho-capitalism is not a form of anarchism. Whoever wrote the "FAQ" is a flat-out liar. Consequently, people whose sole source of knowledge about anarchism is "Am Anarchist FAQ" come to edit Wikipedia after having been duped by the "FAQ," and cause unnecessarily conflict. You can surely find some communist anarchist who say that anarcho-capitalism is not bona fide anarchism. But, that's because they're communists anarchists and detest capitalism, or at least what they define as capitalism. Professionals in the field of political philosophy and history, who must hold themselves to a more objective standard by at least trying to put their biases aside, do indeed point out that it as one of the numerous types of anarchism. The sources below are from writers of various ideologies including collectivist anarchists. I put sources from anarcho-capitalists themselves in their own sections, since those are obviously too biased to be relied upon. So, I hope that this list of sources will at least reduce some conflict on Wikipedia.

If anyone else wants to contribute, please do. I will not be posting anything that I have not inspected myself. I must see the book or scanned pages from the book. So, please send me citations and I'll go to the library and look in the book, or scan a copy of the pages and email them to me or show me where I can find the scans on the net. Thanks to those who are contributing.

Anarcho-capitalism is an individualist anarchism:[edit]

Sources from a variety of scholars[edit]
  • "In contrast, there is individualist or atomistic anarchism. Its adherents like to confuse people by also calling it anarcho-capitalism." Foldvary, Fred E. Why Aren't You an Anarchist?, Progress Report, reprinted in The Free Liberal, Feb. 14, 2006
  • "Of much greater intellectual interest has been the continuing revival of individualist American anarchism associated with writers such as Murray Rothbard and Robert Nozick." Alan and Trombley, Stephen (Eds.) Bullock, The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, W. W. Norton & Company (1999), p. 30
  • "At the other end of the political spectrum, individualist anarchism, reborn as anarcho-capitalism, is a significant tendency in the libertarian New Right." Outhwaite, William. The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, Anarchism entry, p. 21 & pp. 13-14, 2002
  • "But one important distinction is between individualist anarchism and socialist anarchism. The former emphasizes individual liberty, the sovereignty of the individual, the importance of private property or possession, and the iniquity of all monopolies. It may be seen as liberalism taken to an extreme conclusion. 'Anarcho-capitalism' is a contemporary variant of this school. " Bottomore, Tom. Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Anarchism entry, p.21 1991
  • "Modern individualist anarchism, now most forcefully represented by anarcho-capitalism, has its own problems." Adams, Ian. Political Ideology Today, Manchester University Press (2002) ISBN 0-7190-6020-6, p. 135
  • "They also generated individualist varieties of anarchism most notable for strong hostility to the state, such as anarcho-capitalism and egoism." Grant, Moyra. Key Ideas in Politics, Nelson Thomas 2003 ISBN 0-7487-7096-8, p. 91
  • "Today individualist anarchists in the US call themselves anarcho-capitalists or libertarians." Heider, Ulrike. Anarchism:Left, Right, and Green, City Lights, 1994. p. 3
  • "Followers of Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995), American economist, historian, and individualist anarchist." Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, Abridged Paperback Edition (1996), p. 282
  • "The individualist anarchist (Rothbard, 1970) rejects the state on grounds of efficiency ( the private market, it is claimed, can deliver public services effectively according to price) and morality (the state claims by its authority to do things that are not permitted to ordinary individuals)." Barry, Norman. Modern Political Theory, 2000, Palgrave, p. 70
  • "The principle division in anarchism, also known as libertarianism or antiauthoritarianism, is between social anarchists, who believe in a nonstate form of socialism, and the individualist anarchists, who oppose socialism and favor capitalism or are opposed to any form of social organization whatsoever." Busky, Donald. Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey, Praeger/Greenwood (2000), p. 4
  • "However, for anarcho-individualists the needs of the individual superseded the commune. This school of though is associated with the German, Max Stirner...Another branch of individualism was found in the United States and was far less radical. The American Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) believed that maximum individual liberty would be assured where the free market was not hindered or controlled by the State and monopolies. The affairs of society would be governed by myriad voluntary societies and cooperatives, by, as he aptly put it, "un-terrified" Jeffersonian democrats, who believed in the least government possible. Since World War II this tradition has been reborn and modified in the United States as anarcho-capitalism or libertarianism." Levy, Carl. Anarchism, Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006 [4] MS Encarta (UK).
  • "Individualist anarchism is based upon the idea of the sovereign individual, the belief that individual conscience and the pursuit of self-interest should not be constrained by any collective body or authority. Individualist anarchism overlaps with libertarianism and is usually linked to a strong belief in the market as a self-regulating mechanism, most obviously manifest in the form of anarcho-capitalism." Heywood, Andrew. Politics: Second Edition, Palgrave (2002), p. 61
  • "One view, which ought to be taken more seriously than it usually is and which is most ably defended by Murray Rothbard's writings, is that recognition that each and every man possesses the same right to maximum freedom at once disqualifies any institution resembling the state from moral legitimacy and entails individualist anarchism." Offer, John. Herbert Spencer: Critical Assessments, Routledge (UK) (2000), p. 243
  • "Individualist anarchism has recently been revived, and now forms part of the broader movement known as libertarianism. But while the earlier individualists thought that a society of equal freedom would radically modify capitalism (Tucker, for instance, regarded himself as a socialist), their modern descendants celebrate that system, and often describe themselves as 'anarcho-capitalists', a phrase that attracts vitriolic condemnation from anarchists of other persuasions. Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, 1987, ISBN 0-631-17944-5, p. 11
  • "the 'libertarian anarchist' could on the face of it either be in favour of capitalism or against it...Pro-capitalist anarchism, is as one might expect, particularly prevalent in the U.S. where it feeds on the strong individualist and libertarian currents that have always been part of the American political imaginary. To return to the point, however, there are individualist anarchists who are most certainly not anti-capitalist and there are those who may well be." Tormey, Simon, Anti-Capitalism, A Beginner's Guide, Oneworld Publications, 2004, p. 118-119
  • "American anarcho-individualism, the libertarian tradition, is represented by the thought of Josiah Warren, Benjamin Tucker, and Murray Rothbard." Gabardi, Wayne of University of California, Santa Barbara. Review of Anarchism by David Miller (London: J. J. Dent and Sons, 1984. pp 216). American Political Science Review Vol. 80. p. 300
  • "[David Osterfeld's Freedom, Society and the State, University Press of America, 1983] [e]xamines the doctrine of individualist anarchism or "anarcho-capitalism," a branch of libertarianism, which desires to universalize the market as the primary mechanism for coordination of social activity. Reviews the range of economic positions encompassed in anarchism, from anarcho-communism at one end to individualist anarchism at the other, pointing out that anarchism, in this view, is compatible with capitalism." Review in Journal of Economic Literature (JEL 83-1167, p. 1620) of David Osterfeld's Freedom, Society, and the State, University Press of America, 1983
  • "Based on the ideal of noncoercion, anarchism divided into multiple subgroups. Two in particular influenced the era:anarcho-capitalism, or anarcho-individualism, which held the individual as the building block of the world before any society or government, and revolved around a theory of individual, or natural, rights; and anarcho-communism, which held to a collectivism instead of individualism, and sought a redistribution of wealth and resources." Sturgis, Amy. Presidents from Hayes Through McKinley: Debating the Issues in Pro and Con Primay Documents. Westport, Conn Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003, p.2
  • "Whatever one concludes, it is important to remember that anarchism survives. Today, individualist strains appear among libertarians or anarcho-capitalists. They would create free markets by eliminating states. This, they claim, better protects property. According to Murray Rothbard, "The state provides a legal, orderly, systematic channel for the predation of private property." Love, Nancy Sue. Dogmas and Dreams: A Reader in Modern Political Ideologies Chatham House Studies in Political Thinking. Chatham, N.J. Chatham House, an imprint of Seven Bridges, 1998 p. 357
  • "Individualist anarchists like Murray Rothbard..." Logan, Charles H. Private Prisons: Cons and Pros. Oxford University Press, 1990, p. 239
  • "We can differentiate between two main schools: the individualist and the socialist (also called libertarian socialism). We might even speak of a modern variant where individual liberalism is taken to its extreme in anarcho-capitalism." The Development of the Ideas and Practice of Participation, Workers' Control and Self-Management. Current Sociology, vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 4-46, "Individualistic Utopians and Anarchism," section on page 15. December 1988, ISSN 0011-3921
  • "Usually considred to be an extreme left-wing ideology, anarchism has always included a significant strain of radical individualism, from the hyperrationalism of Godwin, to the egoism of Stirner, to the libertarians and anarcho-capitalists of today." Brooks, Frank H. The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881-1908). Transaction Publishers, 1994, p. 8
  • "l'anarchismo individualista, che si affida, in un quadro di libera associazione tra le comunità, al principio del libero mercato, depurato dall'appoggio statale, dal monopolio e dalla coercizione (vedi Anarco-capitalismo)." "Anarchismo" Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia Online 2006 (Italian), "Anarco-capitalismo: Nota soprattutto negli Stati Uniti come libertarianism, la dottrina anarco-capitalista affonda le sue matrici nell'anarchismo individualista americano, negli avversari del dirigismo statalistico dell'epoca rooseveltiana e nell'esperienza della controcultura degli anni Sessanta." "Anarco-capitalismo," Microsoft® Encarta® Enciclopedia Online 2006 (Italian),
Sources from anarcho-capitalists[edit]
  • "Largely due to the path breaking work of Murray Rothbard, 20th century individualist anarchism is no longer inherently suspicious of profit-making practices, such as charging interest. Indeed, it embraces the free market as the voluntary vehicle of economic exchange. But as individualist anarchism draws increasingly upon the work of Austrian economists such as Mises and Hayek, it draws increasingly farther away from left anarchism." McElroy, Wendy. Anarchism: Two Kinds, The Independent Institute - Note: McElroy calls herself an individualist anarchist rather than an anarcho-capitalist
Sources from anachronistic individualist anarchists[edit]
  • "Although there are many honorable exceptions who still embrace the "socialist" label, most people who call themselves "individualist anarchists" today are followers of Murray Rothbard's Austrian economics, and have abandoned the labor theory of value." Carson, Kevin. Mutualist Political Economy, Preface. Note: Kevin Carson is an individualist anarchist trying to hold on, for dear life, to the labor theory of value and the "honor" of calling himself a "socialist." He also goes out of his way to invert the definition of capitalism in order to avoid ruining his street cred of being an "anti-capitalist." He says "It is state intervention that distinguishes capitalism from the free market." His definition of capitalism is completely opposite the definition held by anarcho-capitalists, and most everyone else today for that matter. For anarcho-capitalists, capitalism is the lack of state intervention (laissez-faire, the free market). This is not to say he's an anarcho-capitalist though, because he thinks that protecting land and houses that are not being used (even if they were acquired without coercion) is unethical. Anarcho-capitalists consider the product of labor to be the property of the laborer whether he decides to stop using his product or not. The individual has a right to decide for himself how his product will be used (or unused), whether it be to charge others for using that product or to keep it in storage. To deprive him of this liberty is aggressive coercion. Carson has some very fundamental concepts of liberty completely inverted. He's putting too much faith in the positions of some of the old individualist anarchists, probably for nostalgic reasons, instead of correcting their errors.

Anarcho-capitalism is an anarchism:[edit]

Sources from a variety of scholars[edit]
  • "There are several recognized varieties of anarchism, among them: individualistic anarchisms, anarcho-capitalisms, anarcho-communisms, mutualisms, anarcho-syndicalisms, libertarian socialisms, social anarchisms and now eco-anarchisms. These varieties are not particularly well characterized. They are by no means mutually exclusive. So far even a satisfactory classification is lacking. Usually something of a ragbag is offered. Textbooks single out a few varieties for scrutiny, invariably leaving out others that are as important." Sylvan, Richard. Anarchism. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, editors Goodwin, Robert E. and Pettit, Philip. Blackwell Publishing, 1995, p.231
  • "Anarchism covers a wide range of beliefs, from extreme individualist to extreme collectivism and from extreme capitalism to extreme communism, that it could be argued that there cannot be much, if anything, that unites all the strands." Adams, Ian, Political Ideology Today, Manchester University Press (2002), p. 133
  • "Anarchist solutions to social questions have ranged from total communism to an equally zealous individualism. In between are found sundry recipes, from anarcho-syndicalism to anarcho-capitalism." Perlin, Terry M. Contemporary Anarchism. Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ 1979, p. 7
  • "While some anarchists have advocated complete individualism, and a few have proposed a kind of anarcho-capitalism, many have advanced a comprehensive communism." Dahl, Robert Alan. Democracy and Its Critics, Yale University Press (1991), p. 38
  • "Anarcho-capitalism is a form of anarchism whose prime tenet is that the free market, unhampered by government intervention, can coordinate all the functions of society currently carried out by the state, including systems of justice and national defense. Anarcho-capitalists believe that a system of private property based on individual rights is the only moral system - a system that implies a free market, or total voluntarism, in all transactions." Brown, Susan Love, The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View, Meanings of the Market: The * Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 99
  • "In opposition to anarchism in both its leftist and rightist versions (the latter sometimes referred to as 'anarcho-capitalism'), hermeneutics insists that for freedom and solidarity to prevail in practice liberal institutions are required (or what Gadamer refers to as 'moral and human arrangements built on common norms'.)" Kearney, Richard. Continental Philosophy in the 20th Century, Routledge (UK) (2003), p. 336
  • "Despite this diversity, we can categorize all anarchists as essentially left-wing libertarians who champion the growth of the individual within a community (Anarcho-Communists, Christian Anarchists, and most Anarcho-Pacifists) and right-wing libertarians (Anarcho-Capitalists, and ultraindividualists) who are most egoistical and stress the individualism of the unregulated marketplace. Since the social ethic of American is not communal but is based on a private world of personal fulfillment and satisfaction (the self-made man, not social man) it is not surprising that what I call right-wing libertarianism was the predominant element of the new, explicit anarchism." DeLeon, David. The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978, p. 123
  • "The most extreme response to the question of the locus of power was taken by the anarchists, who argued that power should reside either in the individual or in the small face-to-face community. The former is a fairly rare position in a anarchism in general but is common in the United States in the form known as anarcho-capitalism." Sargent, Lyman Tower. Extremism in American: A Reader, NYU Press, 1995, p. 11
  • "These authors furthermore emphasize "property rights" and their free exchange. This antigovernment stance makes this position an anarchism. It is, indeed, the age-old "anarcho-capitalism," very different from other brands of anarchism which take a richer and deeper view of human relations, motivations, and institutions and whose basic question is the extent of the possibilities of the nonegoistic motivations they consider (for a recent work and analysis on this latter trend see Kolm 1984b)." Kolm, Serge-Christophe. Modern Theories of Justice, MIT Press, 2002, p. 352
  • "Although many anarchists today still subscribe to the values of Bakunin and Kropotkin, there are two new, divergent currents of anarchist thinking. One is anarcho-capitalism, a form of libertarian anarchism which demands that the state should be abolished and that private individuals and firms should control social and economic affairs." Barbara Goodwin, "Using Political Ideas", fourth edition, John Wiley & Sons (1987), p. 137
  • "The difference between left-wing and right-wing anarchism is this: left-wing anarchists, such as those of the nineteenth century - Prince Kropotkin is an example - believe that the future ideal (stateless) human society will be held together by voluntary democratic organization. There will be little or not private property, except for personal goods like clothing, because land and the major means of production will be communally owned. Right-wing anarchism, is a branch of a modern political theory sometimes called libertarian capitalism. Capitalist libertarians usually want a minimal state, but a few are anarchists and want no state at all." Teichman. Philosophy: A Beginner's Guide, 1999, p. 108
  • "But the dream of the abolition of state power no longer functions exclusively as part of the socialist vision of the future. On the other hand, on the right side of the political spectrum, there appeared a radical conceptualization of capitalism which supports similar concepts. This union of anarchism and capitalism...can be made plausible by the privatization of now state functions." Hans Albert quoted in Franz Hinkelammert, "Utopia y proyecto politico: La cultura de la postmodernidad." Revista Nueva Sociedad 91, 1985, p. 114-28.
  • "In recent years, a small but growing radical intellectual movement has gained a degree of prominence...the movement uses labels like radical libertarianism, anarchism, and anarchocapitalism...One of the key intellectual leaders of the movement is Murray N. Rothbard, who is one of the few U.S.-trained anarchist economists." Frech, H. E., The Public Choice Theory of Murray N. Rothbard, a Modern Anarchist". Public Choice, Volume 14, Number 1 / March, 1973, ISSN: 0048-5829 (Print) 1573-7101 (Online), DOI: 10.1007/BF01718450
  • "[Benjamin] Tucker, himself, recognized the law of equal liberty as being the essence of Anarchism; but his own defense of this social convention seems circular, for it amounts to the statement that we are Anarchists because we are Anarchists. (123-5) Or else we might adopt an alternative defense of Anarchism, such as one which has been outlined by Murray Rothbard in his writings and which hinges on the twin axioms of self-ownership (the absolute right of each person to own his or her own mind and body) and homesteading (the absolute right of each person to own previously unused natural re-sources which they have in some way occupied or transformed)." Watner Carl. Benjamin Tucker and his Periodical, Liberty. Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp 307-308
  • "For example, while most Chicagoans accept a limited state, Milton Friedman's son, David, is a genuine anarchist and believes in the abolition of the state from all areas including defence (even the content of law should be supplied by the market)." Barry, Norman P. Review Article:The New Liberalism. B.J. Pol. S. 13, p. 97
  • "And, although Emma Goldman's brand of anarchism may not be fashionable, anarcho-capitalism and libertarian individualism are very much a fashion of the 'post-modern' era." Dean, H. Social rights and social resistance: opportunism, anarchism and the welfare state. International Journal of Social Welfare 9 (3), 151–157, p. 151
Sources from anarcho-capitalists[edit]
  • "[W]e are anarcho-capitalists. In other words, we believe that capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism. Not only are they compatible, but you can't really have one without the other. True anarchism will be capitalism, and true capitalism will be anarchism." Exclusive Interview With Murray Rothbard, The New Banner: A Fortnightly Libertarian Journal (25 February 1972) - Note: Murray Rothbard is the most famous anarcho-capitalist
  • "Laissez-faire capitalism, or anarchocapitalism, is simply the economic form of the libertarian ethic. Laissez-faire capitalism encompasses the notion that men should exchange goods and services, without regulation, solely on the basis of value for value. It recognizes charity and communal enterprises as voluntary versions of this same ethic. Such a system would be straight barter, except for the widely felt need for a division of labor in which men, voluntarily, accept value tokens such as cash and credit. Economically, this system is anarchy, and proudly so." Hess, Karl. The Death of Politics, Interview in Playboy, March 1969. Also available in Hess's autobiography.
  • "I think Carson is trying to liken so-called left wing Rothbardianism with libertarianism or laissez-faire capitalism, and, by extension, right wing Rothbardianism with state monopoly corporate capitalism, or fascism. Rothbard was a libertarian of neither wing; he was an Austro-libertarian anarchist." Block, Walter, Kevin Carson As Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 20, No. 1 (Winter 2006), p. 42

Influenced/descended from nineteenth-century LTV form of individualist anarchistm[edit]

  • "It is not in fact the case (as is sometimes thought) that anarcho-capitalism came out of the blue, without past or pedigree. It has a good deal in common with the earlier American tradition of individualist anarchism." Adams, Ian. Political Ideology Today. Manchester University Press, 2002, p. 132
  • "[Benjamin Tucker] described his particular brand of anarchism as 'the logical carrying out of the Manchester doctrine, laissez-faire the universal rule,' and it is not without some justification that he is seen today as a precursor of right-wing libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism." Graham, Robert. Introduction to The General Idea of Proudon's Revolution, Pluto Press, 1989
  • "The Anarcho-Capitalists, who had more of a historical sense, did occasionally cite past anarchists like Spooner and Tucker as "the forefathers of modern libertarianism," but only a few individuals like Murray Rothbard, in Power and Market, and some article writers were influenced by these men. Most had not evolved consciously from this tradition; they had been a rather automatic product of the American environment." DeLeon, David. The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978, p. 127
  • "[C]ontemporary anarcho-capitalists are descendants of nineteenth-century individualist anarchists such as Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin Tucker." Brown, Susan Love, The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View, Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 103
  • "A student and disciple of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, Rothbard combined the laissez-faire economics of his teacher with the absolutist views of human rights and rejection of the state he had absorbed from studying the individualist American anarchists of the nineteenth century such as Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker. (Rothbard himself is on the anarchist wing of the movement.) Both by his writings and by personal influence, Rothbard is the principle founder of modern libertarianism." Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, 1987, ISBN 0-631-17944-5, p. 290
  • "A number of the nineteenth-century anarchists' ideas quite clearly have been incorporated into modern libertarianism by authors such as Rothbard." Review by Edward P. Stringham of The Debates if Liberty: An Overview of Individualist Anrachism, 1881-1908. The Independent Review. VOLUME IX, NUMBER 1, SUMMER 2004, p. 144 [1]
  • (More sources are included in the above sections, but they would have had to have been repeated here)


  • "That's a peculiarly Anglo-Saxon phenomenon, in the English speaking world and the United States. One dream of anarchism - and the only kind that survived - was ultra-right anarchism, which you see in the libertarian party, which is just loved by the big corporations and the investment firms and so on. Not that they believe in it. They know perfectly well that they'll never get rid of the state because they need it for their own purposes...So the libertarian party is very warmly accepted within mainstream business circles who ridicule it privately because they know perfectly well that they're not going to survive without a massive state subsidy, so they want a powerful state...If you actually pursued the ideals of the libertarian party you would create the worst totalitarian monster that the world has ever seen. For years, the only journals I could write in were ultra-right libertarian journals because we agree on a lot of things." Noam Chomsky, in Chomsky on Anarchism, page 215

Anti "anarcho"-communism[edit]

  • "There is no logical justification, no rational explanation, and no scientific reasoning has been, is, will be, or can be advanced in defence of that unimaginable impossibility, Communistic Anarchism." Yarros, Victor S. A Princely Paradox, Liberty, Vol 4. No. 19, Saturday, April 9, 1887, Whole Number 97
  • "Yes, genuine Anarchism is consistent Manchesterism, and Communistic or pseudo-Anarchism is inconsistent Manchesterism." Tucker, Benjamin. Labor and Its Pay, from Individual Liberty: Selections from the Writings of Benjamin T. Tucker
  • ""All Communism, under whatever guise, is the natural enemy of Anarchism, and a Communist sailing under the flag of Anarchism is as false a figure as could be invented." Appleton, Henry. Anarchism, True and False, Liberty 2.24, no. 50, 6 September 1884, p. 4.
  • "One of the tests of any reform movement with regard to personal liberty is this: Will the movement prohibit or abolish private property? If it does, it is an enemy of liberty. For one of the most important criteria of freedom is the right to private property in the products of ones labor. State Socialists, Communists, Syndicalists and Communist-Anarchists deny private property." Swartz, Clarence Lee. What is Mutualism?
  • "At the root of all forms of communism, compulsory or voluntary, lies a profound hatred of individual excellence, a denial of the natural or intellectual superiority of some men over others, and a desire to tear down every individual to the level of a communal ant-heap. In the name of a phony "humanism," an irrational and profoundly anti-human egalitarianism is to rob every individual of his specific and precious humanity." Rothbard, Murray. The Death Wish of the Anarcho-Communists

Problems with Wikipedia sourcing causing unreliability of information[edit]

  • When a sourced statement is placed, unless it is watched closely by the person who placed the statement or by those who examine the source, other individuals who have not looked at the source will come along and edit the statement and change its meaning while leaving the footnote attached. The meaning of the statement is changed, but since the footnote is still attached, it looks like the statement is sourced when it is actually not. Worse yet, it becomes a misrepresentation of what the source source says. This is a pretty major problem preventing Wikipedia from being trustworthy.
  • When several sentences are sourced by one footnote at the end of a paragraph, there is no way for other editors to know that the footnote applies to the whole paragraph. Individuals come along and make edits, not knowing that the source applies not to the last sentence but also several before it. One solution is to note in the reference list that it applies to the entire paragraph. But, few are going to look at that. Perhaps a special "paragraph footnote" could be developed. But, still the previous issue I mentioned is a problem.