Anarchism and anarcho-capitalism

Anarchism and anarcho-capitalism

This article discusses similarities and differences between anarcho-capitalism and other types of anarchism.

Integrating Austrian economics into individualist anarchism

Murray Rothbard was "a student and disciple of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, [who] combined the laissez-faire economics of his teacher with the absolutist views of human rights and rejection of the state he had absorbed from studying the individualist American anarchists of the nineteenth century such as Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker." [Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, 1987, ISBN 0-631-17944-5, p. 290] Rothbard said:cquote|Lysander Spooner and Benjamin T. Tucker were unsurpassed as political philosophers and nothing is more needed today than a revival and development of the largely forgotten legacy they left to political philosophy .... There is, in the body of thought known as 'Austrian economics', a scientific explanation of the workings of the free market (and of the consequences of government intervention in that market) which individualist anarchists could easily incorporate into their political and social Weltanschauung."The Spooner-Tucker Doctrine: An Economist's View" [] ] Like the nineteenth century individualists, Rothbard believed that security should be provided by multiple competing businesses rather than by a tax-funded central agency. [ cite book |editor=William Outhwaite |title=The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought |edition=2nd |year=2002 |publisher=Blackwell Publishers |location=Malden, MA |id=ISBN 0-631-22164-6] However, he rejected their labor theory of value in favor of the modern neo-classical marginalist view. Thus, like most modern economists, he did not believe that prices in a free market would, or should be, proportional to labor (nor that "usury" or "exploitation" necessarily occurs where they are disproportionate). Instead, he believed that different prices of goods and services in a market, whether completely free or not, are ultimately the result of goods and services having different marginal utilities rather than of their embodying differing amounts of labor – and that there is nothing unjust about this. Rothbard also disagreed with Tucker that interest would disappear with unregulated banking and money issuance. Rothbard believed that people in general do not wish to lend their money to others without compensation, so there is no reason why this would change where banking is unregulated. Nor, did he agree that unregulated banking would increase the supply of money because he believed the supply of money in a truly free market is self-regulating. And, he believed that it is good that it would not increase the supply or inflation would result. [Rothbard, Murray. The Spooner-Tucker Doctrine: An Economist's View [] ] Few individualist anarchists still agree with the labor theory of value of the nineteenth century individualists or their theories on money, and as a result, according to mutualist Kevin Carson, "most people who call themselves 'individualist anarchists' today are followers of Murray Rothbard's Austrian economics." Carson, Kevin. Mutualist Political Economy, [ Preface] ]

Though Rothbard said "I am ... strongly tempted to call myself an 'individualist anarchist,' except for the fact that Spooner and Tucker have in a sense preempted that name for their doctrine and that from that doctrine I have certain differences," many scholars classify anarcho-capitalism as a capitalist form of individualist anarchism. Such accounts specifying anarcho-capitalism as a form of individualist anarchism include:
*Alan and Trombley, Stephen (Eds.) Bullock, "The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought", W. W. Norton & Company (1999), p. 30
*Outhwaite, William. "The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought", "Anarchism" entry, p. 21, 2002.
*Bottomore, Tom. " Dictionary of Marxist Thought", "Anarchism" entry, 1991.
*Barry, Norman. "Modern Political Theory", 2000, Palgrave, p. 70
*Adams, Ian. "Political Ideology Today", Manchester University Press (2002) ISBN 0-7190-6020-6, p. 135
*Grant, Moyra. "Key Ideas in Politics", Nelson Thomas 2003 ISBN 0-7487-7096-8, p. 91
*Heider, Ulrike. "Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green", City Lights, 1994. p. 3.
*Ostergaard, Geoffrey. [ "Resisting the Nation State - the anarchist and pacifist tradition, Anarchism As A Tradition of Political Thought"] . Peace Pledge Union Publications.
*Sheehan, Sean. "Anarchism", Reaktion Books, 2004, p. 39
*Tormey, Simon. "Anti-Capitalism", One World, 2004. pp. 118-119
*Raico, Ralph. "Authentic German Liberalism of the 19th Century", Ecole Polytechnique, Centre de Recherce en Epistemologie Appliquee, Unité associée au CNRS, 2004.
*Offer, John. "Herbert Spencer: Critical Assessments", Routledge (UK) (2000), p. 243] Anarcho-capitalist Wendy McElroy does describe herself as a "Rothbardian and an individualist anarchist." [McElroy, Wendy. "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens" (2005)] Anti-capitalist anti-communist individualist anarchist Joe Peacott concurs that there are significant economic differences: "The anarchist capitalists...reject a key part of the thought of the [19th century] individualists...that rent, interest, and profit are ways to steal this wealth from its rightful owners." [Peacott, Joe "An Overview of Individualist Anarchist Thought" (Libertarian Alliance (2003) ISBN 1-85637-564-1] However, some anarchists believe that being in support of free market capitalism exempts anarcho-capitalists from being anarchists, individualist or otherwise. Some individualist anarchists have continued to espouse the labor theory of value, finding profit to be unnatural and exploitative. In the mainstream, however, the popularity of the labor theory of value of classical economics was superseded by greater acceptance of the subjective theory of value of neo-classical economics. Eventually, Murray Rothbard coined the term "anarcho-capitalism" to define his anti-statist, laissez-faire capitalist philosophy. Anarcho-capitalism has a theory of legitimacy that supports private property, as long as it is not attained by coercion. [Rothbard, Murray (1969) " [ Confiscation and the Homestead Principle] " The Libertatian Forum Vol. I, No. VI (June 15, 1969) Retrieved 5 August 2006] Its leading proponents are Murray Rothbard and David Friedman and it has been influenced by non-anarchist libertarians such as Frederic Bastiat and Robert Nozick, and also by Ayn Rand (although she rejected libertarianism [ [ The Ayn Rand Institute: Ayn Rand's Q & A on Libertarianism ] ] and anarchism [ [ Anarchismndash Ayn Rand Lexicon ] ] ).

Some of those who call themselves Anarcho-capitalists say that their views have no relation to what they call social anarchism, other than opposition to the State. Nevertheless many anarchists who oppose capitalism also like to see themselves as individualist and argue that the social classes created by capitalism limit liberty by forcing some individuals to work and receive orders from others above them, and also limiting individual's use of their time and subjectivity. [ [ Bob Black, "The libertarian as conservative"] ] This is in many respects, in their views, as much destruction or more destruction of liberty as the existence of states. Some anarchists have even argued that individualism and communism are not only compatible but even necessary complements in order to protect individual liberty. [ [ INDIVIDUALISM AND COMMUNISM THE AIMS OF ANARCHIST REVOLUTION -willful disobedience] ]

Capitalist structures

Social hierarchy, class distinction, and employment

Many anarchists argue that capitalism runs contrary to an egalitarian power structure, which is necessary to anarchism. They also argue that the system of wage labour, and hence capitalism, is authoritarian and coercive in nature, and oppose class distinction between labourers and employers. [David Weick, "Anarchist Justice", pp. 223-224; Peter Sabatini, "Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy"; Kropotkin, "Anarchism";] A major line of reasoning is that employees are subject to the authority of their employer with respect to the latter's property and, because such an hierarchy could not be tolerated within an egalitarian power structure, it is essential to anarchism for such practices to be abolished. The writers of An Anarchist FAQcite book |editor=Iain Mckay |title=An Anarchist FAQ |publisher=AK Press |location=Stirling |year=2008 |isbn=1902593901 |oclc=182529204] argue that "social relations between capitalists and employees can never be equal, because private ownership of the means of production gives rise to social hierarchy and relations of coercive authority and subordination".

Individualist anarchists, of which anarcho-capitalists are included, do not object to private ownership of the means of production. Even the "anti-capitalist" individualist anarchists of the nineteenth century did not reject employment as illegitimate "hierarchy." For example, the nineteenth century individualist anarchist Stephen Pearl Andrews said, "The 'Wages System' is essentially proper and right. It is a right to that one man employ another, it is right that he pay him wages, and it is right that he direct him absolutely, arbitrarily, if you will, in the performance of his labor...It is not in any, nor in all of these features combined, that the wrong of our present system is to be sought and found. It is in the simply failure to do Equity. It is not that men are employed and paid, but that they are not paid justly..." [Andrews, Stephen Pearl. The Science of Society. Nichols, 1854. p. 210-211] Any that had opposition to employment by others, opposed it for monetary reasons rather than condemning it as "hierarchical." For example, Spooner argued that "each man should be his own employer, or work directly for himself, and not for another for wages; because, in the latter case, a part of the fruits of his labor go to his employer, instead of coming to himself." They did not object to wages being paid, but rather they believed that wages were not adequately compensating labor due to state interference in the economy. Benjamin Tucker thought that the elimination of state intervention would increase competition in capital, which he thought would eliminate the possibility of an employer receiving an income without himself laboring so that "every man will be a labourer exchanging with fellow-labourers."Tucker, Benjamin. " [ Labor and Its Pay] " Individual Liberty: Selections From the Writings of Benjamin R. Tucker, Vanguard Press, New York, 1926, Kraus Reprint Co., Millwood, NY, 1973.]

With that said, anarcho-capitalist David D. Friedman says he prefers a society not based in wage labor but where "almost everyone is self employed. Instead of corporations there are large groups of entrepreneurs related by trade, not authority. Each sells, not his time, but what his time produces." [Friedman, David. The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism. Harper & Row. pp. 144-145] Like all individualist anarchists, anarcho-capitalists support the liberty of individuals to be self-employed or to contract to be employed by others, whichever they prefer. Anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard, however, explicitly stated that "wage-wage" was one of "a whole slew of institutions necessary to the triumph of liberty" (including "organization, hierarchy, wage-work, granting of funds by libertarian millionaires, and a libertarian political party"). In fact, "rejection of wage-labor" was "unlibertarian."Rothbard, Murray. " [ Konkin on Libertarian Strategy] "]

The writers of An Anarchist FAQ argue that wage labour is not inconsistent with anarchist principles, including the stated principles of individualist anarchists like Tucker. Unlike anarcho-capitalism, though, it "can easily be made consistent anarchism by applying its own principles consistently."

Anarcho-communists do not, however, ban wage labor, but say that ""agreements" in which workers sign away their liberty would not be enforced." [cite web|url=|title=How a Libertarian Capitalist Became a Libertarian Socialist|last=Wilson|first=Chris|accessdate=2008-06-30]


Many anarchists argue that anarcho-capitalism is contradictory, and say that the anarcho-capitalist definition of private property is uncomfortably similar to its definition of the state. For example, leading anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard argued that the state "arrogates to itself a monopoly of force… over a given area territorial area.", yet he also argued that " [o] bviously, in a free society, Smith has the ultimate decision-making power over his own just property, Jones over his, etc." [Rothbard, Murray. 'The Ethics of Liberty', Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, N.J., 1982, p. 170 and p. 173]

Anarcho-capitalists acknowledge this similarity, but do not believe it to be contradictory, arguing that state territories are not acquired legitimately, but that private property is. This idea stems from the principle that an individual is a self-owner, therefore has a property right over his own body. Opponents emphasize that both the state, and private property (upon which capitalism is based), lead to the same authoritarian structures, and consequently neither should be considered anarchist. Moreover, both social and individualist anarchists note that current distributions of property have not been created by legitimate means and that the current system of property rights is the result of state intervention.McKay, Iain; Elkin, Gary; Neal, Dave "et al" [ F.1 F.1 Are "anarcho"-capitalists really anarchists?] "An Anarchist FAQ Version 11.6". Accessed June, 2006.]

To anarcho-capitalists, any geographical holding as large as most current incarnations of the state would be impossible to achieve by any one proprietor without the tools of the state. Standard private holdings tend to be not only much smaller, but antithetical to coercive relationships - as any visitor, lessee, or employee, would be free to move elsewhere at will. Further, the state, being an artificial entity without a head of its own, has an entirely different set of motives regarding care of a property, resulting in proportionate carelessness for that property (i.e. pollution).

Anarchists also note that once land and capital are monopolised by a minority, attempts by those subject to this economic and social power to end it automatically become "aggression." As Kropotkin noted, "modern Individualism… [is] a powerful indictment against the dangers and wrongs of government, but its practical solution of the social problem… lead [s] us to inquire if the talk of 'No force' be merely an excuse for supporting landlord and capitalist domination." [Kropotkin, Peter. "Act for Yourselves", Freedom Press London (1988), p98.]

Individualist anarchists, including Benjamin Tucker, tend to reject the anarcho-capitalist Lockean position in favour of the anarchist position of "occupancy and use" (or "possession", to use Proudhon's term), particularly in land. One notable exception is Lysander Spooner, who does not require that land use be "continual" to retain ownership. [Watner, Carl. [ "Spooner Vs. Liberty"] in The Libertarian Forum. March 1975. Volume VII, No 3. ISSN 0047-4517. pp. 5-6.] Similarly, anarcho-capitalist Rothbard argued that one must "use the land, to "cultivate" it in some way, before he could be asserted to own it." and did not require continual use to retain ownership. However, most individualist anarchists accepted Proudhon's position on land: "What I cannot accept, regarding land, is that the work put in gives a right to ownership of what has been worked on." If there was a shortage of land, he "accept [ed] equal division. Anything else… is an abuse." ["Selected Writings of P.-J. Proudhon", p. 129] Anarchists critics of "anarcho-capitalism" also note that Proudhon's "What is Property?" explicitly attacks the position on land ownership supported by Spooner and anarcho-capitalists. [McKay, Iain; Elkin, Gary; Neal, Dave "et al" [ F.1 Are "Anarcho"-capitalists really anarchists?] "An Anarchist FAQ Version 11.6". Accessed June, 2006.]

Because of his belief in the labor theory of value, when the nineteenth century individualist Benjamin Tucker said that an employee should receive his "full produce," he took it to mean that the full produce was an amount of money fully commensurate with the amount of a labor performed. He believed individuals were receiving less than their "full produce" because of state intervention interfering with competitive market forces and thereby artificially lowering the price of labor—a viewed shared by anarcho-capitalists today, particularly left-libertarians. [cite web |last=Spangler |first=Brad |title=Austrian Economics and Wage Slavery |url= |accessdate=2007-12-11] Tucker did not advocate interfering with individuals contracting as employee and employer if they desire, but believed that the price of labor would increase in a true laissez-faire economy. He thought that legal restrictions on banking caused the price of capital to be unnaturally expensive and that if these restrictions were removed that capital would become available "at cost." This, he believed, would cause new businesses to proliferate and raise the demand for labor and therefore the price as well. Individualist Lysander Spooner advocated that workers maximize their incomes through universal self-employment.


Many individualist anarchists argue that a truly free market would result in a non-capitalist anarchism, without social or economic hierarchy. The contemporary individualist Kevin A. Carson holds that capitalism is founded on "an act of robbery as massive as feudalism," and argues that capitalism could not exist in the absence of a state. Carson argues that if a truly free market were to have been put in effect it would have resulted in a system where the ability to extract a profit from labor and capital would be negligible as "a system of power in which ownership and control are divorced from laborndash could not survive in a free market.".Carson, Kevin A. (2002) [ "The Iron Fist Behind The Invisible Hand"] Red Lion Press, Retrieved 8 August 2005] Anarcho-capitalists disagree, with most stating that this economic system would be marked by hierarchyFact|date=March 2007, inequalityFact|date=March 2007as well as interest, rent and profit.

Right-libertarians, Carson argues, "take existing property relations and class power as a given." Carson, like previous individualist anarchists, thinks that the "modern worker, like the slave or the serf, is the victim of ongoing robbery; he works in an enterprise built from past stolen labor" and so they are "justified in taking direct control of production, and keeping the entire product of his [or her] labor." At first glance, anarcho-capitalists may consider such expropriation as coercion, but at second glance, most anarcho-capitalists "agree" with Carson conception of appropriation. As Carson writes,

The only cases in which I have advocated seizure of the means of production by workers are those in which that notorious "socialist" Murray Rothbard advocated it (in " [ Confiscation and the Homestead Principle] "): that is, in the case of enterprises which get the majority of their profits from state intervention, and can therefore justly be treated as branches of the state. And even in those cases I advocated, not nationalization, but the direct homesteading of plants by the labor force, and their conversion to producer cooperatives competing in an unregulated market.cite web |last=Carson |first=Kevin A |title=Rideau's Second-Hand Critique of Contract Feudalism |url= |accessdate=2007-12-05 ]

Since anarchists by definition favour voluntary interaction, anarcho-capitalists have argued from a different definition of "voluntary" than has been historically used by anarchists. This has led to disputes over whether anarcho-capitalists support a genuinely "free market." Anarcho-capitalists (and capitalists in general) understand a trade to be voluntary if there is no physical coercion or threat thereof.cite book |last=Linda & Morris Tannehill |title=The Market for Liberty |origyear=1970 |edition=Second |year=1993 |month=October |publisher=Fox & Wilkes |location=San Francisco |language=English |isbn=0-930073-08-8 |pages=10 |chapter=Man and Society |quote=Many pressures may be brought to bear on a man, but unless he is compelled by physical force (or the threat of force, or a substitute for force) to act against his will, he still has the freedom to make his own choices.] Opponents take into account other forms of coercion, such as economic coercion, arguing that an environment of property domination coerces individuals into accepting trades that are not optimal to them because their choices are being actively restricted by others. Anarcho-capitalists demonstrate that such restrictions tend not to be intrusive, but rather maintenance of order between visitors.

Some anarchists reject institutions such as interest, rent, and profit as being intrusive and exploitative, and thus they believe that they should be abolished. They maintain that such institutions were made possible, in part, by state restrictions on banking and currency issuance as well as titles to land, and by vast accumulations of wealth which arise in capitalism and interfere with the free economy. Anarcho-capitalists do not believe that interest, rent, or profit are exploitative, arguing they are compatible with free markets, and claiming these institutions would prevail without government interference. However, like individualist anarchists, some anarcho-capitalists believe that in a free market, or "natural order," interest rates would substantially fall, but more due to falling time preference.cite web |last=Hoppe |first=Hans-Herman |title=Time Preference, Government, and the Process of De-civilization - From Monarchy to Democracy |url= |accessdate=2007-08-22|format=PDF] .



Social anarchists are opposed to concentrations of wealth as this, they argue, results in economic power and limits the individual freedom of others. They argue that inequalities in wealth results in a situation where the many have little choice but to sell their liberty.

Anarcho-capitalists and individualist anarchists both explicitly support the liberty of some individuals to be wealthier than others, in contrast to some collectivist philosophies that are based in economic egalitarianism. However, while individualists believe that the vast concentrations of wealth created by government interference in the market cannot be remedied through abolition of government alone, they do believe it would be much more dispersed so that there would not be a significant chasm between the rich and the poor —and this they tend to see as beneficial. Some make a point of this while others explicitly object to any goal of equalizing wealthFact|date=February 2007. In contrast, anarcho-capitalist philosophy does not evince general concern for wealth egalitarianism. In speculating about a possible anarchist society Benjamin Tucker held that defense associations could decide for themselves how much land they would protect; in an example, he postuled possession of no more than ten acres. (Property Under Anarchism)

Use of force

All anarchists subscribe to the general rule that physical force should not be initiated, but reserved for defense. Some of the 19th century individualist anarchists, such Josiah Warren and Lysander Spooner based their individualism on natural law, but many were "egoists," believing that no rights exist without contract that results out of individual self-interest. Benjamin Tucker says: "I see no reason, as far as moral obligation is concerned, why one [man] should not sub-ordinate or destroy the other. But if each of these men can be made to see that the other's free life is helpful to him, then they will agree not to invade each other; in other words, they will equalize their existences, or rights to existence by contract. ... Before contract is the right of might. Contract is the voluntary suspension of the right to might. The power secured by such suspension we may call the right of contract. These two rights -the right of might and the right of contract -are the only rights that ever have been or ever can be. So-called moral rights have no existence." anarcho-capitalist David Friedman also subscribes to a contractual view of rights, as opposed to anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard's natural law basis.


Anarcho-capitalists advocate private competition in defense, and in a sense require it due to their emphasis on private property, interest, rent and profit. Rothbard defines "anarchism as a system which provides no legal sanction for such aggression ['against person and property'] " and said that "what anarchism proposes to do, then, is to abolish the State, i.e. to abolish the regularized institution of aggressive coercion." [Rothbard, Murray N. (1975) [ "Society Without A State (pdf)"] "Libertarian Forum" newsletter (January 1975)] However, anarchists are unimpressed by this claim. They simply reply that this is privatising, not abolishing, the state; David Weick, for instance, argues that it would be better called "feudalism". Similarly, anarchists ask who defines what is and is not a "legal sanction" and what is and is not "aggressive coercion." [Pennock and Chapman, "Anarchist Justice", Nomos XIX, eds.] Rothbard would assert that the violator of the property right of the victim would be the aggressor. This claim is justified using natural law theory.

While individualist anarchists expect that one would defend their own property through possession, some, such as Tucker and Spooner, support private defense to protect property [] . Tucker differentiates protection from rent or tax, because the primary form of protection would be possessive, saying that "defense is a service like any other service; that it is labor both useful and desired, and therefore an economic commodity subject to the law of supply and demand;" ("Instead of a Book").

Profit and theory of value

Historically, most anarchists have argued that profit, rent and interest are exploitative. Some anarchists, like Proudhon, Bakunin and Tucker, base this in the labour theory of value while others, like Kropotkin and Malatesta, did not. While classical economists such as Adam Smith also accepted the labor theory of value, most modern economists, including most anarcho-capitalists and some other anarchists, espouse a subjective theory of value and marginalism - that value of commodities and labor is variable and based on factors outside the means of production, such as scarcity, and the subjective value to potential buyers.

In the eyes of anarchists who embrace a labor theory of value, profit is derived by paying labor less than what it is worth, with the employer retaining the difference, and is considered exploitative. For anarcho-capitalists, worth is subjective. And they believe that both employer and employee profit by giving what they value less (equipment and labor, respectively) for what they value more (labour and wages, respectively) or else they would not agree to trade, and therefore the agreement is not considered exploitative by anarcho-capitalists.

The nineteenth century individualists depart from anarcho-capitalists in arguing that all wages should be equal insofar as labor is commensurate, in accordance with the principle of "cost the limit of price." Anarcho-capitalists, believing that the value of any particular labor is subjective, and should be ultimately decided by mutual agreement, have no opposition whatsoever to employers profiting from the labor of their employees. This has been a major point of contention between anarcho-capitalists and other anarchists, most of whom see this as a form of hierarchy, exploitation and privatized statism. Post-left anarchist Bob Black adds "To my mind a right-wing anarchist is just a minarchist who'd abolish the state to his own satisfaction by calling it something else…They don't denounce what the state does, they just object to who's doing it." [Bob Black. "The Libertarian As Conservative"]

Benjamin Tucker believed that more employment opportunities would be available if government did not enforce a credit monopoly and land monopoly, as he believed that low-interest or no-interest loans would be readily available to the general public due to competing lenders, and that profiting in wage labor would be nearly impossible due to increased competition on the part of businesses to attract labor.

imilar philosophies

Anarcho-capitalism as a form of individualist anarchism

Anarcho-capitalism is seen as a form of individualist anarchism by several scholars.Tormey, Simon. "Anti-Capitalism", One World, 2004.] Perlin, Terry M. "Contemporary Anarchism", Transaction Books, NJ 1979.] Raico, Ralph. "Authentic German Liberalism of the 19th Century", Ecole Polytechnique, Centre de Recherce en Epistemologie Appliquee, Unité associée au CNRS, 2004.] Heider, Ulrike. "Anarchism:Left, Right, and Green", City Lights, 1994. p. 3.] Outhwaite, William. "The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought", "Anarchism" entry, p. 21, 2002.] Bottomore, Tom. " Dictionary of Marxist Thought", "Anarchism" entry, 1991.] Ostergaard, Geofrey. Resisting the Nation State - the anarchist and pacifist tradition, Anarchism As A Tradition of Political Thought. Peace Pledge Union Publications [] ] All of the classical individualist anarchists opposed profit-making and, hence, capitalism as it is commonly defined today. Nevertheless, anarcho-capitalism, which has no opposition to profit, is sometimes regarded as a form of individualist anarchism in recent times. For example, contemporary individualist anarchist Daniel Burton, who believes that most modern day individualist anarchists are class war anti-capitalists, nonetheless says that anarcho-capitalism is a type of individualist anarchism [ "Individualist anarchism vs. Anarcho-capitalism"] . Individualist Anarchist Laurance Labadie argued that Rothbard "upholds presumably in his courts the very economic evils which are at bottom the very reason for human contention and conflict."quoted by Mildred J. Loomis and Mark A. Sullivan, "Laurance Labadie: Keeper Of The Flame", pp. 116-30, Benjamin R. Tucker and the Champions of Liberty, Coughlin, Hamilton and Sullivan (eds.), p. 124] Wendy McElroy calls herself both an individualist anarchist and an anarcho-capitalist, and Italian anarcho-capitalist Guglielmo Piombini regards anarcho-capitalism as a form of individualist anarchism ( [ "Per l'Anarco-Capitalismo"] ). Historian Ralph Raico regards it as "a form of individualist anarchism" ( [ "Authentic German Liberalism..."] ). Simon Tormey, in his book "Anti-Capitalism: A Beginner's Guide" places no anti-capitalist restriction on being an individualist anarchist: "Pro-capitalist anarchism is, as one might expect, particularly prevalent in the US where it feeds on the strong individualist and libertarian currents that have always been a part of the American political imaginary. To return to the point, however, there are individualist anarchists who are most certainly not anti-capitalist and there are those who may well be."

Some anarcho-capitalists argue that their philosophy is related to individualist anarchism. They believe a major difficulty in resolving the debate is due to the conflicting definitions of the words "anarchism" and "capitalism" as used by the two sides. The traditions that object to the term anarcho-capitalism tend to use the term "anarchism" to refer to political movements that are both anti-statist and anti-capitalist.Fact|date=February 2007 Conversely, libertarians and anarcho-capitalists most commonly apply the term "anarchism" to any philosophy that opposes all forms of initiatory coercion (without specifications regarding economic systems). [Rothbard, Murray N. (1975) [ "Society Without A State (pdf)"] "Libertarian Forum" newsletter (January 1975)] However, even this is disputed, as many anarchists argue that capitalism is inherently coercive.

Lysander Spooner's articles, such as [ "No Treason"] and the [ "Letter to Thomas Bayard"] , were widely reprinted in early anarcho-capitalist journals, and his ideasndash especially his individualist critique of the state and his defense of the right to ignore or withdraw from itndash were often cited by anarcho-capitalists. Spooner was staunchly opposed to government interference in economic matters, and supported a "right to acquire property [...] as one of the natural, inherent, inalienable rights of men [...] one which government has no power to infringe [...] ". [Spooner, Lysander (1843) [ "Constitutional law, Relative to Credit, Currency, and Banking"] Retrieved 19 May 2005] Like all anarchists, he opposed government regulation: "All legislative restraints upon the rate of interest are arbitrary and tyrannical restraints upon a man's natural capacity amid natural right to hire capital, upon which to bestow his labor." [Spooner, Lysander (1846) [ "Poverty: Its Illegal Causes and Cure"] Retrieved 19 May 2005] He was particularly vocal, however, in opposing any collusion between banks and government, and argued that the monopolistic privileges that the government granted to a few bankers were the source of many social and economic ills.

Benjamin Tucker supported private ownership of the product of labor, which he believed entailed a rejection of both collective and capitalist ownership. He was a staunch advocate of the mutualist form of recompensing labor, which holds to "Cost the limit of price". He also advocated a free market economy, which he believed was prohibited by capitalist monopoly of credit and land backed by the state. He believed that anyone who wishes should be allowed to engage in the banking business and issue their private currency without needing special permission from government, and that unused land should not be restricted to those who wished to use it. He believed that if these and other coercive actions were eliminated that profit in economic transactions would be rendered nearly impossible because of increased availability of capital to all individuals and resulting increased competition in business. Accepting the labor theory of value and the resulting "cost principle" as a premise marks one of mutualism's main conflicts with anarcho-capitalism. Although his self-identification as a socialist and sympathy for the labor movement led to hostility from some early anarcho-capitalists such as Robert LeFevre, others, such as Murray Rothbard, embraced his critique of the state and claimed that he defined his "socialism" not in terms of opposition to a free market or private property, but in opposition to government privileges for business. However, individualists argue that capitalism cannot be maintained in the absence of the state. For example, Kevin Carson argues, "As a mutualist anarchist, I believe that expropriation of surplus valuendash i.e., capitalismndash cannot occur without state coercion to maintain the privilege of usurer, landlord, and capitalist. It was for this reason that the free market mutualist Benjamin Tuckerndash from whom right-libertarians selectively borrowndash regarded himself as a libertarian socialist." Tucker characterized the economic demands of Proudhon and Warren by saying, "though opposed to socializing the ownership of capital, they aimed nevertheless to socialize its effects by making its use beneficial to all instead of a means of impoverishing the many to enrich the few [...] Absolute Free Trade; free trade at home, as well as with foreign countries; the logical carrying out of the Manchester doctrine; "laissez-faire" the universal rule." [Tucker, Benjamin (1888) [ "State Socialism and Anarchism: How Far They Agree, and Wherein They Differ"] Liberty 5.16, no. 120 (10 March 1888), pp. 2-3.Retrieved 20 May 2005]

Anarcho-capitalism is sometimes viewed by those sympathetic to it as a form of individualist anarchism, despite the fact that the original individualist anarchists universally rejected capitalism (i.e., they opposed profit, which is seen as a fundamental characteristic of capitalism). Organizations such as remain dedicated to "free market anticapitalism," while individualists like Larry Gambone explicitly state that all capitalism is state capitalism. Nonetheless, anarcho-capitalist Wendy McElroy considers herself to be an individualist, while admitting that the original individualists were universally anticapitalist. In addition, historian [ Guglielmo Piombini] considers anarcho-capitalism a form of individualist anarchism, though he offers no support for this statement. Collectivist anarchist author Iain McKay and historian Peter Sabatini both argue that anarcho-capitalism is fundamentally opposed to individualist anarchism.

The similarity to anarcho-capitalism in regard to private defense of liberty and property is probably best seen in a quote by 19th-century individualist anarchist Victor Yarros:

Anarchism means no government, but it does not mean no laws and no coercion. This may seem paradoxical, but the paradox vanishes when the Anarchist definition of government is kept in view. Anarchists oppose government, not because they disbelieve in punishment of crime and resistance to aggression, but because they disbelieve in compulsory protection. Protection and taxation without consent is itself invasion; hence Anarchism favors a system of voluntary taxation and protection. [Yarros, Victor "Our Revolution; Essays and Interpretations" p.80]

While the claim is controversial, some scholars regard anarcho-capitalism as being a form of individualism anarchism. However, other scholars, and many individualist anarchists themselves, do not accept anarcho-capitalism as a form of individualist anarchism, individualist or not, as they assert that anarchism is fundamentally opposed to capitalism. ["Anarchism," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2006] As individualist anarchist Joe Peacott says:cquote|there is, however, another group within the anarchist movement that rejects both communal and capitalist economic arrangements. These are the individualists, who originated in the United States in the 1800s. [Peacott, Joe "An Overview of Individualist Anarchist Thought" (Libertarian Alliance (2003) ISBN 1-85637-564-1]

Individualist anarchists have continued to espouse the labor theory of value, finding profit to be unnatural and exploitative. In the mainstream, however, the popularity of the labor theory of value of classical economics was superseded by greater acceptance of the subjective theory of value of neo-classical economics. Eventually, in the 1950s, Murray Rothbard coined the term "anarcho-capitalism" to define his anti-statist, laissez-faire capitalist philosophy.

Rothbard noted that while "strongly tempted," he could not call his ideology "individualist anarchism" because "Spooner and Tucker have in a sense preempted that name for their doctrine and that from that doctrine I have certain differences." Rothbard also supported unregulated banking, as Tucker and other individualists did, but believed that Tucker and Spooner had a flawed understanding of economics to believe that unregulated banking would eliminate profit from interest. Tucker says interest rates are ultimately determined by the time value of money, rather than the supply of money and that interest/profit would still exist in a free banking environment. He says: "it has been particularly distressing to me as an ardent admirer of Spooner and Tucker to find that their followers have emphasized and concentrated on their totally fallacious monetary views almost to the [exclusion of all else and even bring them forth as a panacea for all economic and social ills." [] Rothbard suggested that individualist anarchists drop the labor theory of value which he believed to be erroneous and leading to a false conclusion that profit was exploitative or unnatural in laissez-faire. Rothbard sought to introduce Lockean property rights and marginalism into individualist anarchism:cquote|There is, in the body of thought known as 'Austrian economics', a scientific explanation of the workings of the free market (and of the consequences of government intervention in that market) which individualist anarchists could easily incorporate into their political and social Weltanschauung."The Spooner-Tucker Doctrine: An Economist's View" [] ]

Rothbard also rejected Tucker and Spooner's support of a system where there is no written law. He says, cquote|"There would be no rational or objective body of law which the juries would in any sense—even morally—be bound to consult, nor even any judicial precedents, since each jury would have the power to decide both the facts and the law of every case strictly ad hoc. With no guides or standards to follow, even juries with the best of will could not be expected to arrive at just or even libertarian decisions." Instead, he argues, cquote|"It would not be a very difficult task for Libertarian lawyers and jurists to arrive at a rational and objective code of libertarian legal principles and procedures."

Individualist anarchist Laurance Labadie argued however:

Mere common sense would suggest that any court would be influenced by experience; and any free-market court or judge would in the very nature of things have some precedents guiding them in their instructions to a jury. But since no case is exactly the same, a jury would have considerable say about the heinousness of the offence in each case, realising that circumstances alter cases, and prescribing penalty accordingly. This appeared to Spooner and Tucker to be a more flexible and equitable administration of justice possible or feasible, human beings being what they are...But when Mr. Rothbard quibbles about the jurisprudential ideas of Spooner and Tucker, and at the same time upholds presumably in his courts the very economic evils which are at bottom the very reason for human contention and conflict, he would seem to be a man who chokes at a gnat while swallowing a camel.

However, this criticism is specific to Rothbard's suggested version of anarcho-capitalism rather than to anarcho-capitalism in general. There are anarcho-capitalists who oppose the existence of all statutory law, such as Morris and Linda Tannehill. [Brown, Susan Love, "The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View", Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 113.] Individualist anarchism is a broad philosophy with various theorists having their own suggested versions.

Anarcho-capitalism as a form of social anarchism

Left-libertarian Brad Spangler also finds fault in the understanding of Rothbard's political philosophy held by self-described left-anarchists. Spangler makes the argument that what we typically call "anarcho-capitalism" is in fact a stigmergic socialism.cite web |last=Spangler |first=Brad |title=Market anarchism as stigmergic socialism |url= |accessdate=2007-12-14] . "It is my contention," writes Spangler, "that Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism is misnamed because it is actually a variety of socialism, in that it offers an alternative understanding of existing capitalism (or any other variety of statism) as systematic theft from the lower classes and envisions a more just society without that oppression. Rather than depending upon the labor theory of value to understand this systematic theft, Rothbardian market anarchism utilizes natural law theory and Lockean principles of property and self-ownership taken to their logical extreme as an alternative framework for understanding and combating oppression." He goes on to call Murray Rothbard "a visionary socialist"," admitting that it would likely cause Rothbard fits to be characterized as such.

Related philosophies

Though the modern form of anarcho-capitalism did not exist in Tucker's day, there was a similar philosophy called voluntaryism popularized by Auberon Herbert. Tucker criticized Herbert's support of profit, but believed that Herbert's anti-statism would nevertheless result in a profitless economy. [Tucker, Benjamin. [ "Auberon Herbert And His Work"] "Liberty", Vol. 3, No. 10, Saturday, May 23 1885, Whole No. 62] Herbert refused to call himself an anarchist, arguing that "we are governmentalists". He strongly opposed the idea that initiation of force may somehow become legitimate merely by constituting a majority, reasoning that "If we are self-owners (and it is absurd, it is doing violence to reason, to suppose that we are not), neither an individual, nor a majority, nor a government can have rights of ownership in other men." He did, however, support government "formally constituted by the nation, employing in this matter of force the majority method." Moreover, he argued that the state would remain in his system, for while "the state should compel no services and exact no payments by force," it "should be free to conduct many useful undertakings... in competition with all voluntary agencies... in dependence on voluntary payments." [Herbert, Auberon. [ ""] ]

The 19th century French economist Gustave de Molinari, although he proposed the replacement of the state in a fashion quite similar to anarcho-capitalism, refused to call himself an anarchist, even though France had a significant anarchist movement and had produced the first self-proclaimed anarchist in Proudhon.

Dispute over whether anarcho-capitalism is a legitimate form of anarchism

Though some scholars say that anarcho-capitalism is a form of anarchism, most anarchists dispute that anarcho-capitalism is a true form of anarchism. Some writers on anarchism point out that anarcho-capitalism and most other forms of anarchism are very different, calling it "right-libertarianism" rather than left-libertarianism, but maintaining that it is still anarchism. [Jennings, Jeremy. "Contemporary Political Ideologies", Roger Eatwell and Anthony Wright (eds.), p. 142. Goodwin, Barbara. "Using Political Ideas", p. 148] Peter Marshall, avoiding the dictionary definition, simply concludes that "few anarchists would accept 'anarcho-capitalists' into the anarchist camp." [Marshall, Peter. Chapter 36, "Demanding the Impossible"]

Some anarchists maintain strongly that anarcho-capitalism is not a form of anarchism due to their belief that anarchism is necessarily anti-capitalist as well as anti-statist.
*Peter Marshall, "Demanding the Impossible"
*John Clark, "The Anarchist Moment"
* Albert Meltzer, "Anarchism: Arguments for and Against"
* Noam Chomsky, "Understanding Power"
* David Weick, "Anarchist Justice"
* Brian Morris, "Anthropology and Anarchism"
* "Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed" (no. 45); Peter Sabatini, "Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy"
* Donald Rooum, "What is Anarchism?"
* Bob Black, "The Libertarian as Conservative'
* Colin Ward, "Anarchism: A Very Short Introduction"
* Iain Mckay, "The legacy of Voltairine De Cleyre", Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, no. 44] They note that, historically, those who called themselves "anarchist" have been opposed to what they called "capitalism," and that anarchists like Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin and Tucker all called themselves socialists, and they argue that anarcho-capitalism "is judged to be anarchism largely because anarcho-capitalists say they are 'anarchists' and because they criticise the State." [Peter Sabatini, "Social Anarchism", no. 23, p. 100] However, virtually all dictionary definitions define "anarchism" as opposition to the state. Significantly, few anarchists who called themselves "socialist" defined "anarchism" as purely opposition to the state. For example, Errico Malatesta argued that the oppressed "sought to overthrow both State and propertyndash then it was that anarchism was born." [Errico Malatesta: His Life and Ideas, 3rd Edition, Vernon Richards (Ed.), Freedom Press, London, 1993, p. 19] ] More recent anarchist thinkers have also noted that anarchism has not been solely concerned with the state:

"Critics have sometimes contended that anarchist thought, and classical anarchist theory in particular, has emphasised opposition to the state to the point of neglecting the real hegemony of economic power. This interpretation arises, perhaps, from a simplistic and overdrawn distinction between the anarchist focus on political domination and the Marxist focus on economic exploitation . . . there is abundant evidence against such a thesis throughout the history of anarchist thought." [John P. Clark and Camille Martin, "Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: The Radical Social Thought of Elisée Reclus, Lexington Books, Lanham, 2004, p. 95] ]

Both social anarchists and anarcho-capitalists note that "anarchy" etymologically means "without rulers". [ [ Online Etymology Dictionary entry for "anarchy"] ] Conventionally, anarchists interpret this to mean anything fitting the definition of "ruler".McKay, Iain; Elkin, Gary; Neal, Dave "et al" [ B.4 How does capitalism affect liberty?] "An Anarchist FAQ Version 11.4". Accessed March, 2006.] Anarcho-capitalists specifically interpret this to apply to "any" form of institutionalized coercion, arguing that in a society free from coercion, no institution can exist to prevent a person from following another. Anarcho-capitalists further argue that the forced prevention of any voluntary action (save for those actions which infringe upon the equal rights of others) creates a coercive hierarchy, a "ruler" class and a "ruled" class. They argue that this class structure exists everywhere and only where coercion prevails. Classical American individualist anarchists in the Josiah Warren or Benjamin Tucker tradition favoured small local market, also opposing the existence of social class structure since it, they argue, cuts individual liberty by making some people work and receive orders from others above; however the classical American individualist anarchists opposed what they called capitalism, believing that profit would decrease approaching zero under free market anarchy.

Many scholarsweasel-inline view anarcho-capitalism as a 20th-century modification of the type of individualist anarchism that was popular in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which was less radical than Stirnerite individualist anarchism. Scholar of political philosophy, Ian Adam, says "it is not in fact the case (as is sometimes thought) that anarcho-capitalism came out of the blue, without past or pedigree. It has a good deal in common with the earlier American tradition of individualist anarchism." [(Adams, Ian. Political Ideology Today. Manchester University Press. 2002. page 132)] Anti-capitalist anarchists tend to reject such claims, noting that many of the individualist anarchists "called" themselves socialists, and that all had a vision of a free society at odds with what they called capitalism. [Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible; John Clark, The Anarchist Moment; David Weick, "Anarchist Justice"; Peter Sabatini, "Libertarianism: Bogus Anarchy"] However, the scholars making the assertion that anarcho-capitalism is a more recent form of individualist anarchism are aware that 19th century individualist anarchists were opposed to capitalism (and communism); the assertion is that anarcho-capitalism is a subjectivist form of individualist anarchism. In other words, opposition to profit is not a necessary condition of being an individualist anarchist.

Nevertheless, one anti-capitalist individualist anarchist laments, "is time that anarchists recognise the valuable contributions of... individualist anarchist theory and take advantage of its ideas. It would be both futile and criminal to leave it to the capitalist libertarians…" [J. W. Baker, "Native American Anarchism," The Raven, pp. 43-62, vol. 10, no. 1, pp. 61-2] Anarchist author Iain McKay argues that individualism is essentially anti-capitalist and that anarcho-capitalism's claim to the tradition require reading individualist anarchists out of context ( [] ). Individualist anarchist Joe Peacott argues that individualism rejects capitalist economic arrangements. []

One set of approaches concludes that capitalism, by necessity, requires a state, and therefore capitalism cannot exist without a state. For example, Larry Gambone states, "for anarchists, capitalism is the result of the development of the state and therefore, all capitalism is in one sense, state capitalism." [] He adds that when the anarchists use the term "capitalism," they are referring to those who have "gained wealth from the use of governmental power or from privileges granted by government." [Gambone, Larry (1998) [ "ANY TIME NOW"] ] Anarcho-capitalist Wendy McElroy says that when 19th century individualist anarchists referred to "capitalism" they meant state capitalism, the alliance of government and business. [McElroy, Wendy (1999) [ Anarchism: Two Kinds] ] Using this understanding of the manifestation of capitalism, some have argued that anarcho-"capitalism" is not truly a form of capitalism to begin with, and that therefore anarcho-"capitalism" is just as anti-capitalist as Tucker and Spooner. Left-libertarian Brad Spangler, for example, has argued that anarcho-capitalism, properly understood, is a stigmergic form of socialism.

For those that maintain that anarcho-capitalism "is", in fact, a form of capitalism, the issue of contention then becomes whether or not capitalism can be created, or maintained, in the absence of a state that intervenes in private property claims. Anarcho-capitalist Murray Rothbard noted a difference between two contradictory concepts of capitalism, "free-market capitalism" characterized by voluntary exchange and "state capitalism" characterized by violent expropriation. [" [ A Future of Peace and Capitalism] by Murray N. Rothbard] He believed that only free-market capitalism is true capitalism and as such "the fullest expression of anarchism". [ [ "Exclusive Interview With Murray Rothbard"] The New Banner: A Fortnightly Libertarian Journal (25 February 1972)] However, most anarchists would agree with scholar Jeremy Jennings statement that it is "hard not to conclude that these ideas [anarcho-capitalism] ndash with roots deep in classical liberalismndash are described as anarchist only on the basis of a misunderstanding of what anarchism is." ["Anarchism", Contemporary Political Ideologies, Roger Eatwell and Anthony Wright (eds.), p. 142]


ee also

*Anarchism and capitalism


* [ Is "anarcho"-capitalism a type of anarchism?] - Section F of An Anarchist FAQ
* [ "American Anarchism"] 19th Century Individualist Anarchist influence on Libertarianism by Wendy McElroy
* [ American Liberal-Anarchism] from "The Conquest of Power", by Albert Weisbord
* [ Anarcho-Capitalism vs. Individualist Anarchism]
* [ "Capitalism Versus Free Enterprise"] discusses capitalism and individualist anarchism
* [ Chapter 36 from "Demanding_the_Impossible:_A_History_of_Anarchism" by Peter Marshall] includes comparisons and contrasts of individualist anarchism with anarcho-capitalism
* [ "Anarcho-Hucksters"] at Anarchy for Anybody
* [ "Individualism Reconsidered"] by Joe Peacott
* [ "Per l'Anarco-Capitalismo"] by Guglielmo Piombini [ English translation here]
* [ "Economic Rent"] - words from Benjamin Tucker
* [ "Individualist Anarchism =/= Libertarianism"] by Wendy McElroy
* [ "Are individualist anarchists anti-capitalist?"] by Iain McKay
* [ Individualist Anarchist Society at UC Berkeley] includes information on labor-value individualism and anarcho-capitalism

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