Anarcho-Capitalism: Not so Lightly Dismissed
Does anarcho-capitalism offer a reasonable alternative to State-dominated forms of social, political and economic organization? Guest columnist Brian White makes the case that it does.
When a person criticizes an idea in a public format such the American Daily Herald it is imperative that they demonstrate some essential expertise on the subject. In Donald Hank’s article “Anarcho-Capitalism: The Road Less Traveled to Serfdom” this is not the case. This article is a very typical and inaccurate recitation of the presumed failures of anarcho-capitalism or AC. Sometimes understanding AC is best achieved by explaining what it is not and Donald has given me that opportunity at least.
In one paragraph he believes he has sunk the whole AC argument based upon his indictment of those he refers to as rich criminals and leaps to the conclusions that the whole stateless society would become slaves like the falling of dominoes. What he fails to do is explicate how wealthy do these imagined rich criminals need to be to wield such power and by what means do they achieve the wealth empowering them to enslave all those in their accumulated demesnes.
We certainly know how the corporatists accumulate their wealth and power in the present state system but can we simply assume that they would exist and be the same threat without the artificial support of the state financial system and endowment of anti-competition legislation? Are all things equal in the state versus the state free models? No, they simply are not. Being conversational in AC begins with the tacit understanding that the existence of the state completely skews the economic model.
Consider how currency competition would change the status quo. Without the ability to accumulate inflated fiat paper currency in electronic bank accounts as some corporatist rich receiving government subsidies can today, how would they in turn accumulate the wealth and power in the diverse currencies that replace it and other world currencies to hire armies to enslave the rest? Without the US and other world governments prohibiting the use of other currencies, people are unlikely to choose a currency that loses value with each arbitrary, inflationary printing. The concept of super rich is likely to change entirely and anyone conversational in AC would understand the fallacy of these assumptions. There is also the question of motivation; will the rich profit more from market leadership or attempting to enslave the masses or even a particular demographic?
The brief article refers to victimless crimes but it doesn’t bother to explore what has come to constitute crime and what is legally criminal in contrast to what is explicitly harmful to one’s neighbors. The implication is that the incidence of victimless crimes barely deserves consideration it is so rare instead of the understanding that legal criminality far exceeds crimes due to explicit harm. Moreover and worse it fails to recognize the expansive economic incentive that state policy creates to harm others. Rather, AnCaps as we might call anarcho-capitalistic adherents and Libertarians generally are much more informed of the cumulative consequences of countless policies of prohibition and regulation.
And let’s dovetail Mr. Hank’s reference to scientific method here because the big difference between State policy enactment and enforcement is that there are few effective feedback mechanisms in which policies signed into laws can be reversed if they simply are not working as expected. Are the prison system and the concurrent systems of adjudication and law enforcement really effective or are they rather covering up the consequences of failed state policy and law? The answers given by politics and science are very different and any belief that the political class has any motivation to use science in any honest way that risks their work being reversed is simply naïve. Furthermore, the democratic system demonstrates no ability to reform the political class through some proposed expression of mass will. As a former Conservative I used to support systemic reforms like Constitutional amendments that would cause all laws to expire after say ten years to refresh the laws being enforced but where is there any will between these two intransigent political parties to reverse the hard work of past political accomplishments? When one loses faith in the constitutional processes, where else can one seek solutions?
No, anarcho-capitalism should not be dismissed so lightly in the typical two party argument of choose a team and work within the system to make it incrementally better in complete denial that such a system has failed to be accessible to the grass roots. The AC community is not simply a bunch of malcontents whining about how unfair the world is. These are not the infamous bomb wielding anarchists of myth and legend. The conversations explore non-aggression policies, economic and political sciences, most specifically benefiting from the scholarship of the Austrian economists and Libertarian philosophers. Even if a person investigating AC does not commit to the idea of a state-free society, they will learn to be much more conversational in peace, liberty and economics. When I refer to economics I am not referring to the memorization of micro and macro formulae and when I refer to peace I am not referring to pacifism but rather to effective solutions that are available in a market based in contrast to a political system.
The AC community discussions I have been involved in have always included polite and spirited participants who in contrast to political wingers rarely in my experience descend into ad hominem insults. One can find such discussions on linkedin.com and one can find an almost unlimited treasure trove of free and inexpensive documents, audio and video files at mises.org and freedomainradio.com to name only two though these are only the beginning of the expanding community.
While I disagree with the conclusions Mr. Hank makes in his article, I do appreciate the opportunity to respond to him. His reference to employing the tried and true are ironic in that this is essentially what AC is proposing; that the market is the best indicator of what is tried and true in the present and will much more earnestly employ the scientific method than any political system will permit. AC does not arbitrarily prohibit, but in contrast it replaces inferior products and services with superior ones.
If you allow yourself to be critical of the state model in more than complaining that your elected representatives are not in truth representing you, you may discover that all the consensus wisdom about the benefits of the state do not hold up to honest scrutiny. Our communities will only benefit from the inclusion of ideas that do not require a central authority to implement and manage, especially as regional populations increasingly make central management ponderous and intrusive.