Thursday, May 26, 2005

Anarcho-Capitalism vs. the State

Anarcho-capitalism is a branch of libertarian political philosophy which calls for a free market, private property, and a society without a state. Anarcho-capitalists favor a completely private system of law and order based on common law and explicit contract. [Source: Wikipedia]

But who adjudicates the common law and enforces the contracts? The toughest anarcho-capitalist on the block? What if he doesn't like free markets or private property (except for himself)?

Or has human nature evolved to the point where the toughest guy on the block can be counted on to prefer free markets and universal private property, and to refrain from imposing his will on others -- unlike the state?

Anarcho-capitalism rests on invalid conceptions of human nature and the state. Contrary to the evidence of history, it presumes that no one would or could accrue and exercise enough power to flout the common law and treat other persons coercively. Contrary to the evidence of history -- especially American history -- it presumes that a properly constituted and governed state cannot increase the quotient of liberty.

There is no choice between anarchy and the state. Anarchy leads inexorably to coercion -- except in a dreamworld. The real choice -- for American anarcho-capitalists -- is between the toughest guy on the block or a state whose actions are capable of redirection through our representative democracy.

The proper task at hand for American libertarians isn't to do away with the state but to work toward a state that defends free markets, property rights, the common law, and freedom of contract.


Defense, Anarcho-Capitalist Style
Fundamentalist Libertarians, Anarcho-Capitalists, and Self-Defense
The Legitimacy of the Constitution
Another Thought about Anarchy