Re: Capitalists and coercion

From: Bryan Moss (
Date: Thu Oct 05 2000 - 09:23:14 MDT

Dan Fabulich wrote:

> Lately I've been enamored by an interesting argument: that
> anarcho-capitalism is the current state of affairs, and
> that the reason we have government is because we're
> suffering from a rather extravagant market failure.

Alternatively government is a consequence of certain groups
gaining power before we had a fully developed market.

> It's analogous to Nozick's argument for the minimalist
> state: that anarcho-capitalism would result in a network
> of private judiciaries and law enforcement agencies, but
> that the network of rules which resulted would be laws,
> and that all the arbitration + law enforcement agencies
> put together would, in fact, be a state.
> You might object: "But you can opt out of a private
> protection agency, and legally start your own; you can't
> do that under a government!" This is true, but you still
> must consent to arbitration or else you'll have to fight
> for your own laws. That's just a different way to say
> that you must choose to either consent to the law of the
> land or stage a revolution. The outcome is exactly
> equivalent in every way.

While it's true that not everyone can have their own laws, I
do think it would encourage greater diversity, if only in
places less connected to the 'network' (small towns for
example). Personally I'm not a libertarian; anarcho-
capitalism appeals to me more because of its diversity than
its freedom. If the climate changes, that diversity
translates to adaptability.

> In light of this, I'm not convinced that anarcho-
> capitalism would, by itself, be better for anyone, since
> this market failure could and would just as easily happen
> again. The only way it could fail to happen would be if
> people got much much more upset about being governed, and
> decided they wanted freedom a lot more than they do today.

The notable difference between this and the example you gave
of an argument for anarcho-socialism is that not everyone
has to want freedom more than they do today. A powerful
minority would be enough. You don't need a certain value
set to function in an anarcho-capitalist society (obviously
if you oppose anarcho-capitalism you might not like it, but
even then you could probably make a good living extolling
the virtues of socialism, the same would not be true of a
capitalist in a socialist or anarcho-socialist society).

> Friedman's argument that AC wouldn't break down into
> government requires me to want freedom more than you want
> to take it away from me;

No, it requires the market to value freedom.

> while this is true with some freedoms, as far as I can
> tell, a few people want to take away some freedoms a lot
> more than many people want to keep them. This doesn't
> logically imply government, since, in principle, they
> could sign away their rights while I kept mine pristine,
> but de facto government results.

I doubt many people will be willing to pay to enforce 'laws'
that aren't directly applicable to them.

> This means that the project of bringing about a
> libertarian society is not per se a political agenda, a
> list of political changes to make, so much as it is a
> social agenda, a list of priorities which, if everyone
> shared them, a freer, better and more moral society would
> result.

This is true. However, anarcho-capitalism does not require
a libertarian society.


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