Anarcho-Capitalism: A Whim-Worship Political Ideology
“If a society provided no organized protection against force, it would compel every citizen to go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door—or to join a protective gang of citizens who would fight other gangs, formed for the same purpose, and thus bring about the degeneration of that society into the chaos of gang-rule, i.e., rule by brute force, into perpetual tribal warfare of prehistorical savages.” — Ayn Rand
One of the fatally flawed analyses by the anarchists to justify their argument that anarcho-capitalism is a moral and practical political system
is their naive claim that the government has the monopoly on force. They argue that since the government is all about force, then it must be eliminated in order to guarantee individual rights. They see government as a necessary evil whose existence poses a threat to the interest of every freeman. They see police or force whenever they talk about or disparage the government.
In order to justify their puerile claim that the government is the avatar of evil and force thus it must be abolished, the naive defenders and credulous supporters of anarcho-capitalism resorted to Orwellian tactic. For example, they concocted the term “minarchism” to justify the legitimacy of anarchism, a political philosophy that regards the state as harmful, unnecessary, and undesirable, and instead advocate for a stateless society. The term “minarchism” was coined by agorist Samuel Edward Konkin III in 1971 to classify libertarians who support limited government. The reason why Konkin invented the term is to distinguish the two clashing political factions of Libertarianism, a political ideology that defends the maximization of individual liberty in though and action and the minimization or even eradication of the state. These two factions are the Libertarians for limited government or the “minarchists” and the Libertarians for the abolition of the state or the anarcho-capitalists.
On the other hand, anarcho-capitalism, which was supported by Murray Rothbard, once a member of Ayn Rand’s inner circle, and his fellow anarchists, regards free-market capitalism as the foundation for a free and industrialized society. They reject the existence of government and objective laws and legal system. They see the market as the main integrator- or protector- of a society. They believe that free trade and voluntary exchange of goods and services can only exist in an anarchic society. Their rejection of the state is founded on the premise that it is the only entity that can use force against citizens for the enforcement of taxation, restriction of trade and personal freedom, and creation of monopolies and unfair competition.
However, some of the pathetic ammunitions being used by the Libertarian anarchists to justify their uber-weak defense of anarchism came from Ayn Rand, a controversial and influential philosopher of the 20th century. It is true that the government has the monopoly of force, but reality and man’s nature dictate that we need a government to protect us against any kinds of physical aggression. Ayn Rand once said that “a government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.” (“The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 112.) She argued that the only proper purpose of a government is to protect individual rights against the use of force and violence. This means that the only proper role of a government is that of a policeman- “to act as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force.”
“The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law. But a government that initiates the employment of force against men who had forced no one, the employment of armed compulsion against disarmed victims, is a nightmare infernal machine designed to annihilate morality: such a government reverses its only moral purpose and switches from the role of protector to the role of man’s deadliest enemy, from the role of policeman to the role of a criminal vested with the right to the wielding of violence against victims deprived of the right of self-defense. Such a government substitutes for morality the following rule of social conduct: you may do whatever you please to your neighbor, provided your gang is bigger than his.” (Galt’s Speech, For the New Intellectual, 183).
Even Rothbard’s non-aggression axiom is based on Ayn Rand’s non-initiation of force principle. It means that no one may transgress against the rights of others. Rothbard said in his book Society and State: “I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of any individual. Anarchists oppose the State because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.”
In her essay Objectivist Ethics published in her book The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand states:
“The basic political principle of the Objectivist ethics is: no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. No man—or group or society or government—has the right to assume the role of a criminal and initiate the use of physical compulsion against any man. Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use. The ethical principle involved is simple and clear-cut: it is the difference between murder and self-defense. A holdup man seeks to gain a value, wealth, by killing his victim; the victim does not grow richer by killing a holdup man. The principle is: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force.” (“The Objectivist Ethics,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 32.)
The best argument against anarcho-capitalism must be grounded in metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Anarchism is a contradiction in terms; it is a floating abstraction. It is the result of the Libertarian anarchists’ failure to identify the difference between anarchy and capitalism. Anarchism is all about the abolition of government, while capitalism is a political system that recognizes individual rights- man’s rights to life, liberty, property, and his pursuit of happiness. How can we guarantee man’s rights in a society that rejects order, objective laws, and basic rational principles?
It is no secret that the so-called market anarchists acknowledge Ayn Rand’s “competing government” scenario as a legitimate argument. In a stateless society, the market anarchists claim that businesses, corporations, groups, and entities are free to compete with each other for consumers and profits. This is what they view as the true meaning or concept of “free market”, a system wherein a government or a single agency no longer plays a role in the market or in people’s lives.
However, what the anarchists fail to grasp is that in order for a society to be free, it needs objective laws and an objective legal system. In order for a society to be organized and free from social chaos and disorder, it must have objective, non-contradicting, and easy-to-understand legal procedure and rules of evidence. It needs both rational and objective substantive and procedural laws. The anarchists believe in private courts and private appellate courts where corporations, groups, and individuals file legal cases for the violation of their rights, breach of contract, or any kind of civil and criminal cases. In an anarchist society, courts are motivated by profits and the forces of the market. But that’s another problem.
The existence of conflicting, clashing, contradictory laws is one big problem that the anarchists have not yet fully addressed. Just imagine a state, or a city, with different kinds of laws. For instance, whose law shall prevail in a breach of contract case or in a fraud case? What sort of standards or principles shall be applied for the determination of the applicable law that should govern a particular case? Who will decide? The market?
It is also very possible that various religious, ethnic, social and political groups would establish their own laws and legal systems. For instance, in a criminal or civil case between a Muslim party and a Christian party, whose law or legal system would govern the case? The anarchists might say: “the parties can amicably choose the law that shall be applied to their case.” Suppose the petitioner here is the Muslim party, what if he/he chose to file his complaint in a Muslim court where Shariah law and legal system were applied and where he/she could get a favorable verdict and a harsher penalty? Can the Christian party petition for ‘change of jurisdiction’ on the ground that he/she is a Christian? And where can he/she file such a petition? Where can parties appeal their cases? Who may establish a court of last resort?- by what right? – by what standard?
Anarchism, which rejects order and objectivity, is a form of collectivism for the fact that it is an invitation to organized gangs and collectivist groups to take advantage of the sheer weakness of the stateless social system in order to impose their own will, whims, and caprices, establish a monopoly, or worse create a dictatorship. In an anarchist society every group, gang, entity, or organization can have its own understanding of man’s rights, laws, and principles. It is very possible that in some cases some groups and gangs do not believe in individual rights, freedom of speech, or even the right to one’s life.
In the real-world, we have radical Islamic groups who make no secret of their god-ordained duty to rule the world, to kill the infidels, and to treat the non-believers as sub-human species. Is there any guarantee that these groups would not impose their religious will on the stupid anarchic masses? Yet reality tells us that the so-called omnipotence of the market can never work in a society of men with evil intent, a society that rejects order and objectivity. Such a society is a threat to man’s rights and existence. And yes, such a society must be denounced and rejected.
Every nation or state has its own supreme court or a “court of last resort”, which has the duty to finally put an end to any kinds of legal dispute. For a society to be peaceful and organized it needs a court of last resort authorized to decide on the finality of any legal case that went through a rigorous, painful, ladderized process of legal determination. But who would decide on the implementation of a co-called Libertarian supreme court? What if the non-Libertarian groups, corporations, and gangs would like to establish their own supreme courts? Another problem is the possibility of conflicting jurisprudence. Who would decide on the legal principles or jurisprudential parameter to be applied to a particular case? The private court involved of course. But can the aggrieved party make a petition for certiorari or any kind of “Libertarian petition” designed to protect his rights and interest? If no, why? If yes, where and based on what legal standard?
Since the Libertarian anarchists believe in private courts, it is also very possible that these private tribunals have to protect their market interests by issuing favorable decisions to moneyed parties or corporations. But the anarchist might argue: “If that’s the case- if their decision is based on who pays more- then the market would go against them, and as a result they would lose clients.” In the real-world, parties would usually go to a court where they can obtain a favorable judgment.This shows that the Libertarian anarchists are whim-worshipers. They are living in a world of Libertarian fantasy.
Ayn Rand, who passionately argued against anarchism, once wrote:
“If a society provided no organized protection against force, it would compel every citizen to go about armed, to turn his home into a fortress, to shoot any strangers approaching his door—or to join a protective gang of citizens who would fight other gangs, formed for the same purpose, and thus bring about the degeneration of that society into the chaos of gang-rule, i.e., rule by brute force, into perpetual tribal warfare of prehistorical savages.
“The use of physical force—even its retaliatory use—cannot be left at the discretion of individual citizens. Peaceful coexistence is impossible if a man has to live under the constant threat of force to be unleashed against him by any of his neighbors at any moment. Whether his neighbors’ intentions are good or bad, whether their judgment is rational or irrational, whether they are motivated by a sense of justice or by ignorance or by prejudice or by malice—the use of force against one man cannot be left to the arbitrary decision of another.” (“The Nature of Government,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 108.)