What is anarcho-capitalism and may it ever work?

What is anarcho-capitalism and may it ever work?

You might have heard about the term anarcho-capitalism but have a vague representation of it? Don’t worry, in this article we tell all you need to know about this philosophical movement.

Anarcho-capitalism or ancap meaning

Anarcho-capitalism or libertarian capitalism is a current of political thought. It separates itself from classical liberalism, which believes in the necessity of a State. It is also opposed to all currents (socialist, federalist, individualist, etc.) by its unlimited acceptance of private property.

Traditional anarchists consider anarcho-capitalism not anarchism, despite its rejection of the state because it does not share with historical anarchism its “concern for economic equality and social justice.

Anarcho-capitalism and liberalism

The anarcho-capitalism strictly applies the theses of liberalism to draw from them a political philosophy which they consider to be the only coherent way to organize society. An anarcho-capitalist is also called an “anarcap” (or “ancap”). A human society organized according to the principles of anarcho-capitalism is called an “anarcapy”.

Like classical liberalism, anarcho-capitalism claims a system where each human being is full owner of himself, of the fruits of his labor and of what he has obtained through voluntary cooperation with others, by exchange or by gift. . Every human being is also accountable for his actions; bound by the commitments he makes, responsible for the loss of his work and debtor for the wrongs he has caused to non-consenting third parties.

Anarcho-capitalists consider only interactions between consenting adults to be legitimate. Any attack on person and property perpetrated without consent therefore constitutes aggression. And any form of coercive organization is illegitimate, including the state and its many substitutes.

For anarcho-capitalists, a state, like any other organization, can only have legitimacy with those who have individually and voluntarily accepted it. In particular, compulsory contributions (direct and indirect taxes, etc.). Imposed regulations (legislation, decrees, administrative measures, etc.) are considered illegitimate.

Support for private property


For anarcho-capitalists as for classical liberals, private property is an essential component of freedom. Individualist anarchists admit private property but without the possibility of capitalizing it.

The pooling of capital, the distribution of tasks and responsibilities, the specialization of skills and the exchange of services are complementary means of producing greater satisfaction. To ensure that these means benefit the greater number of people, everyone can freely decide whether or not to participate in the terms of the agreement, and whether or not to use its fruits. It is the voluntary nature of an agreement that guarantees both its legitimacy and its beneficial nature.

This in no way precludes the existence of communities practicing voluntary socialism with common property, as long as it is not coercive, but is a system of exchanges between consenting individuals or between voluntary organizations (a company being seen as a “set of contracts”).

Anarcho-capitalists reject the need for the state to guarantee private property. They see the state as the first and greatest “criminal” against private property. On the other hand, they point out that an institution is necessary to exercise property rights. If everything is collective property, the authority of this institution extends by definition to everything and to everyone.

And it therefore has all the attributes of a totalitarian state, whatever its mode of operation. Moreover, they equate any violation of freedom with a violation of a right of ownership (ownership of oneself during arbitrary arrests, ownership of one’s means of communication during censorship, etc.). For these two reasons, they accuse socialist anarchism – which claims to fight collectively any other property than the ownership of use over goods – of inconsistency.

Anarcho-capitalism: Tendencies

We can distinguish at least two anarcho-capitalist tendencies:

Tendency based on natural law: Murray Rothbard;
the utilitarian trendency: David Friedman.

They show profound disparities in the practical application of their principles, even within each of these tendencies.

The natural law approach calls into question the legitimacy of the property rights. Currently in use by limiting them only to rights acquired in accordance with the “homesteading” originally developed by John Locke. He proposes methods for revising these rights on a case-by-case basis. Also, he establishes its definition of freedom and property as universal (natural law takes precedence over positive law).

The utilitarian approach generally starts from the current state of property rights. The is no seeking to establish an absolute and universal basis as the origin of these rights, retaining the possibility of justifying in a utilitarian manner certain violations of these same rights (the utilitarian approach is then priority over freedom and property).

Anarcho-capitalism – Program


Murray Rothbard (1926-1985) states that “capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism.

Here are some ideas from two emblematic figures of anarcho-capitalism.

Friedman and Rothbard defend the right to perform certain acts that most countries consider illegal or immoral. Namely: the right of an individual to freely possess, use, produce and sell drugs to participate in gambling. And the right to produce or consume pornography; the right to produce, equip and sell firearms, etc.

Friedman and Rothbard advocate the privatization of all the services that are currently the responsibility of the States. These are road management, education, justice. According to Friedman, the rules of law would be produced on a free market. On the other hand, according to Rothbard, they derive from the theory of Natural Law.

To fight against the State, Rothbard is a secessionist, Friedman is a reformist.

Friedman, like Rothbard, considers that children have the right to work. They have the right to leave their parents’ home and even to find other parents if they wish. Majority is not a question of age, but of personal autonomy.

Rothbard advocates the revision of all existing property rights to restore legitimate property according to its Lockean definition, in particular land ownership. On the other hand, Friedman evades the question of land ownership because of its low economic importance. in the USA.

Anarcho-capitalism – Implementation


Many projects of anarcho-capitalist utopias have been formulated. The most famous and advanced is that of Seasteading. It was developed by the Seasteading Institute, which aims to build islands in international waters to free them from the control of any state. The institute was founded by Patri Friedman (son of David Friedman) and is financed in particular by Peter Thiel.


Agorism is an anarcho-capitalist political philosophy. It advocates the practice of the underground economy as a peaceful means of reducing the influence of the state.

The term was coined in the 1970s by Samuel Edward Konkin III, a Canadian living in the United States who was then in his thirties. A great reader and a lover of freedom, he sought to radicalize the vision developed by the Austrian school of economics. He had notably been influenced by Ludwig von Mises, Robert LeFevre and Murray Rothbard.

The central idea of ​​agorism is  the reasoned practice of counter-economy. It should reduce the power of the state. By organizing outside the law and depriving the tax administration of income derived from their work, an individual effectively reduces the ability of the state to intervene in the market and to perpetuate itself

Anarcho-capitalism and anarchism


Anarchists consider the anarcho-capitalist position to be inconsistent and contravene the historical definition of anarchism.  Anarcho-capitalists defend equality in law and not social equality. However, this real equality, according to the anarchists, people cannot respect in a society which accepts and values ​​private property.

Moreover, for the anarchists, partially taking up the theory of the social contract, private property would not be a natural right, but a social construction which requires the action of a State to maintain itself.

The anarchist Bob Black thus believes that free trade cannot exist without a State.

For these reasons, some anarchists refuse the use of the word “anarchism” by anarcho-capitalists. They think that they would distort it by reducing it to anti-statism and the defense of absolute freedom.

Some like Noam Chomsky even go so far as to say that anarcho-capitalism tends more towards anomie than towards anarchy. For the agorist Samuel Edward Konkin III, the participation of anarcho-capitalists in a political party is in contradiction with anarchism. However, this does not apply to anarcho-capitalists. They don’t identify with the Libertarian Party, and to agorists, who reject state means to achieve anarchy.

Bitcoin: the realization of an anarcho-capitalist utopia?

A money market without state monopoly is possible. This was stated by the Austrian Friedrich Hayek in the 1970s. Today, the “Austrian” school rejoices in the enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies insofar as they would materialize, according to them, this theory.

“Monopoly is always bad”

The creation of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is indeed a concrete experience of things that were desired by Hayek at a time when we did not think they were possible in the near future.

Hayek’s idea seems fundamental to me: competition is always good, because competition, as Hayek says, is “a process of discovery”. I define competition as the freedom to enter the market. Monopoly is always bad.

And according to this school of thought, the main obstacles to competition come from the State and its regulations. This is all the more true on the money market, where the State is in a monopoly position. It is the only one to create and manage the mass money in circulation. From Hayek’s point of view this approach is an economic heresy.

There is an obsession among liberals that there should be no inflation. And according to them and according to Hayek, inflation is linked to the excessive monetary issue by the state. Today, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin , Ethereum, Ripple, would solve these problems, because they are issued by computers, there is no public regulation and the volume of currency is limited.

The post What is anarcho-capitalism and may it ever work? appeared first on FinanceBrokerage.

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