Anarcho-capitalism (anarcho referring to the lack of a state and capitalism referring to the corresponding liberation of capital, also referred to as free-market anarchism,market anarchism,private-property anarchism,libertarian anarchism, among others (see below) and the short term “ancap”) is a political philosophy that advocates the elimination of the state – which distorts market signals, breeds corruption, and institutionalizes monopoly – in favor of individual sovereignty, absence of invasive private property policies and open markets (laissez-faire capitalism). Anarcho-capitalists believe that in the absence of statute (law by decree or legislation), society would improve itself through the discipline of the free market (or what its proponents describe as a “voluntary society”). In an anarcho-capitalist society, law enforcement, courts, and all other security services would be operated by privately funded competitors rather than centrally through compulsory taxation. Money, along with all other goods and services, would be privately and competitively provided in an open market. Therefore, personal and economic activities under anarcho-capitalism would be regulated by victim-based dispute resolution organizations under tort and contract law, rather than by statute through centrally determined punishment under political monopolies.
Various theorists have espoused legal philosophies similar to anarcho-capitalism. The first person to use the term, however, was Murray Rothbard, who in the mid-20th century synthesized elements from the Austrian School of economics, classical liberalism, and 19th-century American individualist anarchists Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker (while rejecting their labor theory of value and the norms they derived from it). A Rothbardian anarcho-capitalist society would operate under a mutually agreed-upon libertarian “legal code which would be generally accepted, and which the courts would pledge themselves to follow.” This pact would recognize self-ownership and the non-aggression principle (NAP), although methods of enforcement vary.
Anarcho-capitalists are to be distinguished from minarchists, who advocate a small government (often referred to as a ‘night-watchman state’) limited to the function of individual protection, and from social anarchists who seek to prohibit or regulate the accumulation of property and the flow of capital.
Anarcho-capitalists argue for a society based on the voluntary trade of private property and services (in sum, all relationships not caused by threats or violence, including exchanges of money, consumer goods, land, and capital goods) in order to minimize conflict while maximizing individual liberty and prosperity. However, they also recognize charity and communal arrangements as part of the same voluntary ethic. Though anarcho-capitalists are known for asserting a right to private (individualized or joint non-public) property, some propose that non-state public or community property can also exist in an anarcho-capitalist society. For them, what is important is that it is acquired and transferred without help or hindrance from the compulsory state. Anarcho-capitalist libertarians believe that the only just, and/or most economically beneficial, way to acquire property is through voluntary trade, gift, or labor-based original appropriation, rather than through aggression or fraud.
Anarcho-capitalists see free-market capitalism as the basis for a free and prosperous society. Murray Rothbard said that the difference between free-market capitalism and “state capitalism” is the difference between “peaceful, voluntary exchange” and a collusive partnership between business and government that uses coercion to subvert the free market. (Rothbard is credited with coining the term “Anarcho-capitalism”). “Capitalism,” as anarcho-capitalists employ the term, is not to be confused with state monopoly capitalism, crony capitalism, corporatism, or contemporary mixed economies, wherein market incentives and disincentives may be altered by state action. They therefore reject the state, seeing it as an entity which steals property (through taxation and expropriation), initiates aggression, has a compulsory monopoly on the use of force, uses its coercive powers to benefit some businesses and individuals at the expense of others, creates artificial monopolies, restricts trade, and restricts personal freedoms via drug laws, compulsory education, conscription, laws on food and morality, and the like.
Many anarchists view capitalism as an inherently authoritarian and hierarchical system, and seek the expropriation of private property. There is disagreement between these left anarchists and laissez-faire anarcho-capitalists, as the former generally rejects anarcho-capitalism as a form of anarchism and considers anarcho-capitalism an oxymoron, while the latter holds that such expropriation is counterproductive to order, and would require a state. On the Nolan chart, anarcho-capitalists are located at the northernmost apex of the libertarian quadrant – since they reject state involvement in both economic and personal affairs.
Laissez-faire anarchists argue that the state is an initiation of force because force can be used against those who have not stolen private property, vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud. Many also argue that subsidized monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient. Anarchist theorist Rothbard argued that all government services, including defense, are inefficient because they lack a market-based pricing mechanism regulated by the voluntary decisions of consumers purchasing services that fulfill their highest-priority needs and by investors seeking the most profitable enterprises to invest in. Many anarchists also argue that private defense and court agencies would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Furthermore, Linda and Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a truly free market and that a government’s citizenry can’t desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.
Rothbard bases his philosophy on natural law grounds and also provides economic explanations of why he thinks anarcho-capitalism is preferable on pragmatic grounds as well. David D. Friedman says he is not an absolutist rights theorist but is also “not a utilitarian”, however, he does believe that “utilitarian arguments are usually the best way to defend libertarian views”.Peter Leeson argues that “the case for anarchy derives its strength from empirical evidence, not theory.”Hans-Hermann Hoppe, meanwhile, uses “argumentation ethics” for his foundation of “private property anarchism”, which is closer to Rothbard’s natural law approach.
I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of any individual. Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.
Rothbard in Society and State
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Anarcho-capitalism – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia