Anarcho-Capitalism is a theory made famous by academics such as Ludwig Von Mises, Murray Rothbard and Hans Hermann Hoppe. It states that Government is entirely unnecessary. There is no service imaginable that cannot be performed better, more cheaply and more efficiently by the free market. Moreover, even marginal Government is dangerous since, by virtue of the self interest of its members, it will grow exponentially until it is the bloated behemoth we know it as today.
It’s something of a minority position, primarily by virtue of the fact that it’s relatively new. Hopefully, by answering your questions I will be able to make a few converts and better define my own position.
Anarcho-Capitalisms closest political relative is, as you may have guessed, Libertarianism, which I strongly sympathise with but don’t feel goes far enough.
The first thing it is necessary to understand is that America (or any other country for that matter) could not become Anarcho-Capitalist overnight, or even in the space of a year. The country is so addicted to Government that it would go into shock. I picture any shift from Democracy to Anarcho-Capitalism taking several Generations, as disillusionment with Government grows. As we gradually devolve into a more Libertarian society, we would adapt to the freer socio-political climate. Private alternatives to public security would be set up since there would be a great deal of money to be made there. Anarcho-Capitalism doesn’t necessarily entail the abolition of security since Security can (and is) a good which can be supplied privately. The difference would be that people would have the choice as to whether or not they partook of it instead of being forced to pay for everybody else.
People would employ private security forces to protect their property. In the interests of maintaining the peace it is highly probable that Corporations would contribute significantly to the private security needs of the communities in which they’re based since it is in their best interests to protect their workers lives and property.
In a world without Government people would also be more likely to make extra provisions for their own self defence since that way they wouldn’t need to spend as much money on security. Needless to say, Gun regulations of any kind would go out the window. People would be armed and would be able to carry their arms with them at all times. If you’re interested, do some research into the history of the gun. In particular the era of the “pocket pistol” was surprisingly civil. As Heinlein put it “An armed society is a polite society”.
So, in conclusion, you and your heavily armed buddies would be stopped from forming rudimentary despotic Government (which, essentially, is what warlords do) by other heavily armed civilians eager to protect the status quo and also by well financed private security forces.
This presupposes that not a single private army would take advantage of being armed to the teeth in order to secure someone else’s property or goods and start dictating the rules. Or indeed for private armies to form alliances with other private armies to get rid of the private armies that they don’t like. In other words, if a few unscrupulous private armies got together and became threatening, how could there not be warlords?
Sounds to me that there’s some kind of hippy-dippy belief in the goodness of mankind behind this, or a naïveté about the likeliness for armed escalation.
To me, the situation you describe sounds like sheer hell on earth, or Afghanistan.
It looks like this will be a busy thread so I apologise in advance if I miss any questions.
The free market itself doesn’t actually produce anything. Entrepreneurs produce. The free market is something of a grammatical misnomer. The free market is a process. It is a tool, a method, a way for free people to interact with one another to achieve what they desire in the economic realm.
Government is antithetical to the idea of a truly free market so to describe it as something that arose from the free market is a contradiction since by definition Government works to impose upon and oppose a truly lassiez faire market. Government arising as a direct result of unhampered market processes makes about as much sense as matter actively producing antimatter. More likely individuals form Governments to assume a position of dominance over the market through violent coercion. I for one don’t believe that Government could ever arise out of a truly free market.
John is poor. All he owns of any value is his sniper rifle. His son, Lee is ill and hungry. He could sell his rifle and pay for food and short-term medical care for Lee.
But then another thought occurs to him. He could simply kill people and take their property. People in isolated spots, utterly unawares, perhaps even using Lee as his ‘spotter’ to make sure nobody is around to interfere. By doing a little planning, John could even target only those poor people who are not in any kind of ‘mutual defence’ agreement. After stealing an expensive mobile home they are self-sufficient and able to flee great distances after each murder. To stop John would require a massiveinvestigative effort.
In an Anarcho-Capitalist society, who investigates?
It would appear that an entity capable of investigating and stopping John would be indistinguishable from a branch of government.
There are at least two other anarchists on the board: myself and AHunter. The point we often try to make (not that we’re a team or anything) is that anarchy doesn’t indicate any particular lack of order. To us, it indicates a lack of a permanent power structure like government. But this is not necessarily a lack of any power or order.
Personally, I think that anarcho-capitalism is the end-run of human social organization. I believe it is practical without requiring everyone to think the same on all topics. I am not clear how to get there, but I am not particularly concerned about it, either. I believe society will eventually structure itself that way, even though as a personal matter I’d like a cooperative anarchic structure rather than a competitive one, but there is no reason the two cannot exist symbiotically.
This argument scales perfectly well. And we do kill people and take their property. There’s no need to reduce it to the level of individual agents. Government’s haven’t addressed this “problem”… in fact they are one of the worst perpetrators of it. John can’t commit genocide, after all, or conduct inquisitions, or crusades. Concetrating power in the hands of a few is hardly a solution to people exercising force, but for some reason that’s the method people find appropriate. I do not want to try to understand that kind of paradoxical thought.
The point is that there is no such entity in a “legal fiction” sense, that is, no permanent agency dedicated to such a task as governance.
Everybody is asking the same question: what would prevent the guy who can hire the most powerful “protection service” to just take your property, and have you working as a slave in his factories, while he’s banging your underaged daughters? (at least until he’s overthrown by one of the members of his private army).
You say that you could own and carry weapons, but if I can afford a couple AVF and 50 or so goons armed with AK 47 and ask you to surrender your property and bow to all my demands, there won’t be anything you’ll be able to do with your concealed pistol (apart commiting suicide). Of course, you could organize with your neighbors to resist, form a militia, etc…in which case you end up with a local government. Engaged in a local war with mine.
And by the way your statement that “There is no service imaginable that cannot be performed better, more cheaply and more efficiently by the free market” isn’t an article of faith. I read just before the Pit thread about hospital billings, and this whole private insurance stuff appears to me as vastly more time consuming and inefficient (not to mention more costly) than our public healthcare system, for instance.
By the way, in your system, would I be prevented from forming a government with people who thinks it’s better this way? Or do you think that I would suddenly see the light and change my mind?
I think that Anarcho-Capitalism is a *more humane social system than what we currently have. However, it’s not a miraculous panacea for all life’s ills. Children would still die of starvation, exposure and treatable medical conditions just as they do now. I firmly believe, however, that less children would die in such ways than are dying now.
Take private charity, for instance. I think you are sorely underestimating it. There is no reason why private charitable donations should decrease under Anarcho-Capitalism and a great many reasons why they would increase. For starters, since no-one would pay tax, they would have a lot more disposable income. With higher standards of living, people would also be more able to afford to spend some of their free time undertaking charitable pursuits. For example, if I were earning $100,000.00 per year (if only) then instead of the Government taking $45,000.00 of it before I even got to see it, I’d be able to keep it all and greatly improve my standard of living. Consequently I would be far more likely to give to charity and instead of half my donation being swallowed up by the bureaucratic machinery of Government nearly all of it would go to the source. Put another way, if you were the beneficiary of some sort of windfall tomorrow and wanted to help the poor, how many checks would you write to the Government to bolster the Welfare system?
Government mechanisms ensure that tax money taken for the poor gets eaten in an ever increasing degree before it even reaches the source. If you took all the money people are forced to donate to a Welfare system they don’t use and let them donate just a fraction of it to private charity then, due to the money being used so much more efficiently, it would have a far greater effect.
Private charities take an entirely holistic approach to helping the less fortunate. Unlike the Government which demands virtually no accountability, thereby discouraging people from striving to improve their lot, private charities treat the whole person and demand accountability. If the charities don’t produce then they wither. There’s no such thing as a ‘money sink’ charity.
Also, it’s a smaller point but the poor themselves would be better off since they wouldn’t have to pay any tax on goods and services. Goods would be cheaper so even beggars would be able to afford more food to avoid starvation and death from the cold and rain.
In answer to the question “What if private charity proved vastly ineffective” I can only reply that I simply cannot envision it happening. The main impediment to it becoming more effective than the welfare system today is the welfare system today.
Some days I dally with neo-Randian Libertarian or A-C or C’tian Reconstructionist scenarios when I’m in the mood for political wet dreams. Then I wake up & realize that I’m just a bleeding-heart conservative C’tian Repug*, err Repub.