Anarcho-Capitalism Will NOT Work

Here is a very good analysis and criticism of anarcho-capitalism. I’ve made pretty much the exact same arguments, but this video offers precise real world examples to back up these arguments.

Info from below the video on YouTube:

I read this article in the original magazine but I see that you have to pay online. Fucking capitalist!!! Sorry.

Somali Business Council
See how this meeting took place in 2003 before the reEMERGENCE of the state.

– – –

Since posting the above, someone linked here in an anarcho-capitalist forum:

The opening comment asked about the issue of what if corporations want a state government. The whole argument of anarcho-capitalism rests on the belief that state governments corrupt capitalism and that corporations as we know them wouldn’t exist without state governments.

I think this is a moot point in that corporations and state governments develop together. Both are simply related forms of centralized power and hierarchical organization. The only type of capitalism that is even close to anarchism is bartering which is only found (as an economic system) in pre-industrial tribal societies. However, what made those pre-industrial tribal societies work was two factors:

1) They didn’t have to compete with industrialized nation states.
2) They were traditional communities probably with traditional theocratic political systems.

These societies wouldn’t fit the utopian vision of a modern anarcho-capitalist who wants to implement the Enlightenment ideals of classical liberalism. These tribal societies are egalitarian to some extent for the simple fact they were small close-knit communities and so they could operate according to direct democracy or community councils.

My point is that we moderns wouldn’t recognize these societies as being capitalist in any aspect. And, for damn sure, a modern corporation or anarcho-capitalist DRO couldn’t be run according to the traditional theocracy of a pre-industrial tribal society. Modern capitalism goes hand in hand with modern statism. It’s just a fact. I realize that an-caps would prefer it not to be so, but it doesn’t change the facts.

In the forum thread, the first response was of course a Stefan Molyneux devotee telling the person to read Molyneux’s holy books and all would be revealed. The person who started the thread said the following:

I’ve listened to it in audiobook when I first started getting into stateless capitalism. i should check it out again. But i don’t remember him covering the subject of business actually WANTING a governement.

I’m not talking about DRO’s becoming governments. That is highly improbable for many reasons that have been explained countless times.

I remember stef saying that once violence is out of the equations, life will work “however the hell people want them to work”.

Now if big business “wants it to work” with a government that they set up. What’s preventing them? DROs?

I really don’t see why it’s improbable that a DRO might become a government other than the fact that a society based on DROs is itself highly improbable (that is assuming the DROs lived up to anarcho-capitalist ideals of non-aggression). But, ignoring that, this commenter brings up the same point again which no one in the thread has yet answered. What if states don’t force themselves on corporations and instead corporations choose to create states?

This is sort of like the conundrum of a democratic country like Germany leading to an un-democratic leader like Hitler. What if people freely want to give up their freedom? Similarly, what if corporations freely want to givt up some of their freedom for the stability and security of a state? What if a free market doesn’t actually benefit big businesses? Why would big businesses support anarcho-capitalism if it decreased their profit? Also, in landlord anarcho-capitalism, what if the landless peasants decided to end their contracts and take the land for themselves or create a new government? Most governments that exist were once created or supported by the masses. If the masses rose up, how would the anarcho-capitalist feudal landlord non-aggressively maintain his power and property?

One other commenter countered such criticisms with the following:

the examples and theory have to do with societies that have simply rejected the previous form of government, not by accepting anarchy for the NAP.  This is why the business leaders that remain are still reaching for the gun.

Morality is the reason for Anarcho-Capitalism, not utility.  As Stef and the Mises and Libertarians try to point out; the moral solution is also the most efficient solution as well.

Violence is not a reason for having a government, it is the reason to not have one.

His first point is that it doesn’t count because the corporations didn’t accept anarchy despite no government keeping them from accepting anarchy. Isn’t that the point of the criticism? Why would a wealthy and powerful corporation ever choose anarchy? He tried to avoid the criticism by somehow arguing real world examples don’t count.

His second point that the moral values are noble even if they contradict reality. That is the same kind of argument a Christians make. Religious fundamentalists argue that teaching abstinence is worthy even though it fails in the preventing of teen sex, teen pregnancy, and teen STDS. Religious fundamentalists argue that making abortions illegal is the morally correct action even though countries with illegalized abortions have higher rates of abortions. The sentiment is that if somehow we could change all of society and culture to fit some specific set of beliefs then the world would be a better place. Sure. Every true believer says that. Every utopian dreamer thinks his vision is worthy. So what? Reality is still reality.

Basically, people like this would prefer to live in a dream without violence than a reality with violence. It sounds nice. The only problem is that dreams don’t feed your belly. Nor do dreams protect your family from threats.

10 thoughts on “Anarcho-Capitalism Will NOT Work

    • Fortunately, the logic of the criticisms of the video are true and anarcho-capitalism remains devastated. It’s sad that people like you refuse to think logically. Maybe you should actually try to understand an argument before dismissing it with lazy opinions.

  1. People who call themselves anarcho-capitalism are really advocating an ethical system to end aggression. And if such a society would not work, then the really question is how can we limit aggression as much as possible?
    Part of the problem is that the she seems to be discussing anarcho-capitalism as if it is a political system. This just isn’t the case.
    The real question is, if she supports aggression, what type of aggression does she support? There’s not a lot of substance here.

    • An-caps advocate ethical ideals, but there are no modern examples of anyone attempting to put such ideals into practice. Most societies that are labelled as anarcho-capitalist are small tribal societies that used bartering and existed prior to industrialization.

      The video makes criticism of anarcho-capitalism in terms of modern, industrialized society. Any social system that relates to how power is implemented is by definition a political system. The contracts and legal system may be privatized, but a privatized govt is still a govt. When mining companies ran mining towns they were acting as anarcho-capitalist govts. It’s just a fact no matter what you’d rather call it.

      It doesn’t matter what the person in the video supports. Her criticisms weren’t dependent on proposing a better system. There isn’t a lot of substance beyond her on target criticisms of anarcho-capitalism because the only purpose of her video was to criticize anarcho-capitalism. She accomplished this perfectly and you still have offered not even a slight logical refutation of the examples she brings up.

      Keep trying.

  2. Ben

    The video talks about a society run by landlords. But this just isn’t the only way for a non-aggressive group of people to run society. Here are some other ways an anarcho-capitalist society could be run:

    1. It could be run by communes
    2. by worker councils
    3. by non-profit organizations
    4. by some kind of recreation of the current system, with judges, branches of power, a constitution etc.

    THe only only rule of an anarcho-capitalist society is that aggression is prohibited.

    So if this ethical system allows such a flexibility array of political systems, then it can’t really be called a political system.

    • You seem to have a very broad definition of anarcho-capitalism and capitalism in general. But, going by all the an-caps I’ve seen, I doubt most an-caps would accept your broad definition. Ideas like communes and worker councils tend to be favored by left-leaning anarchists such as Noam Chomsky. If you’re definition is so broad, you should more appropriately just call it anarchism.

      Since I brought up Chomsky, he argues that anarchism in reality will always lead to forms of socialism such as communes and worker councils. This relates to my criticism. Anarcho-capitalism by itself isn’t likely to work without elements of socialism, but most an-caps see capitalism as opposed to socialism. The key to whether anarchism will work is egalitarianism, cooperation, and non-hierarchical organization… all of which are contradicted by idealizing property rights and a landlord model.

      About aggression, I’d say anarchists in general criticize state violence. It’s the anarcho part and not the capitalist part that has anything to do with being against aggression. However, I’d clarify that there isn’t anything about anarchism that makes it contrary to aggression per se. Anarchists simply don’t like hierarchical power and so don’t like hierarchical aggression, but there are few anarchists who wouldn’t defend themselves using violence. That is the problem. It’s easy to rationalize violence. It’s easy to perceive oneself as being attacked. Plus, as the video points out, an-caps ignore the entire issue of propaganda as if it doesn’t exist… which makes them seem like naive idealists.

      A further problem is that anarchism and capitalism contradict each other… or at least all modern forms of capitalism. Bartering would be the only type of ‘capitalism’ that wouldn’t undermine anarchism, but few people think of bartering when they think of capitalism and bartering (as an economic model for an entire society) is only possible in small communities and with egalitarian relationships of nearly complete trust.

      Anarchism is by definition egalitarian in terms of being non-hierarchical where no one holds power over anyone else. An anarcho-capitalist contract with a powerful landlord immediately creates a power imbalance no different than if you move to a new country and sign a contract of citizenship. Anarchist egalitarianism will always tend toward socialism. Every step away from socialist processes (such as direct democracy and community councils) is a step away from anarchism.

      • The fundamental principles of anarcho-capitalism are the non-aggression principle (volunteerism) and property rights. The previous commenter is perfectly right in saying socialist communes are a valid form of society within an anarcho-capitalist framework. So long as the systems are voluntary, there is no problem. For these groups to have their rights infringed upon would go against the non-aggression principle.

        • Of course, if you want to define anything broadly enough, then anything is possible.

          You are proposing a very confused vision by mixing anarchism, capitalism, and socialism. A socialist anarcho-capitalism (or a capitalist anarcho-socialism) is practically meaningless. Such a proposal would make neither the capitalists nor the socialists happy. I doubt a socialist would be satisfied if you made socialism a mere component of an overarching capitalist system. And I doubt a capitalist would be satisfied if you made capitalism a mere component of an overarching socialist system.

          The other problem is that all that you propose is utopian. It never has existed and there is no evidence it will ever exist. Where humans exist so does aggression. Even the simplest of tribes use aggression to enforce rules and social conformity. No system is ever entirely voluntary since we are all born into systems that we didn’t create.

          What if a person born into an anarchist society wants to live in a society with a strong government? Will you refuse to let this person create a strong government? Will you kill or imprison him if he tries to create a government in the society he was born into? Who gets to define non-aggression? Those with power? How will anarchism be defended without aggression? Who gets to choose when to use aggression and against who?

          The problem with anarchism is that it’s logically impossible. Anarchism is self-defeating. I like the ideals of anarchism, but I also am practically realistic enough to know that idealism often leads to even worse societies.

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