Anarcho-Capitalism Vs. Liberty: Why Objective Law is Necessary
No matter how an anarchist rationalizes his idea of what anarchism might be like, what anarchism would be like is one set of thugs (what they would call “protection agencies”) versus another set of thugs. Who would determine what is right and wrong? Whoever had the biggest guns.
The Libertarian Party accepts two political ideologies: anarcho-capitalists and capitalists.
The Libertarian Party accepts any person who supports the non-aggression principle which is, “someone may not initiate the use of force,” which is the support for private property rights.
The difference between anarcho-capitalists and capitalists is in how they think private property should be protected. Anarcho-capitalists believe the individual should defend his own property; capitalists believe a government, consisting of a police force, military, and court system, should protect private property. The Libertarian Party, confining itself to the non-aggression principle, accepts both.
A question must then be asked, “Is a government necessary, and why?”
The anarcho-capitalist’s answer to this question, of course, is “no.”
Anarcho-capitalists reject a government-run police, military, or courts. Anarcho-capitalists believe everyone should be able to do everything “voluntarily,” including voluntarily deciding, in essence, what would be their own personal government.
Their argument is that no one should dictate to you what police you should use, what military you fund, or what courts will handle your justice. All of these things should be “your decision.”
Anarcho-capitalists advocate that you be able to hire your own police force. In a neighborhood of 100 people, there could be 100 different police forces protecting individuals. Anarcho-capitalists advocate the military be privatized, if they advocate its existence at all. One anarchist, who envisions an anarcho-capitalist world without a military, told me to stop Hitler or Ousama bin Laden, he would, “hand me a gun.” One anarchist, advocating a larger “defense agency,” imagined the military operating much like a not-for-profit club or organization. She says, “People concerned with armed invasion could encourage the build-up of community defense forces. Military Olympics could stimulate proficiency in defensive skills among those who were inclined both toward athletics and the civic pride associated with being part of a community militia.” (Ruwart http://www.ruwart.com/Healing/ruwart_all.html) Under anarcho-capitalism, the interpretation of law would be in each involved party’s hands. All justice, anarcho-capitalists claim, would be handled by private courts. “Civil disputes” would be handled by two parties “mutually agreeing” to go to a private arbiter.
The name they usually give their philosophy is “voluntaryism.” They have an obsession with doing everything voluntarily, and they claim, a “compulsory” government, even if a freedom-loving one, forces itself, its police, its courts, and its military unto people, hence is wrong.
The fundamental philosophy is this: you are not truly “free” unless you can be your own little government, with your own police force, your own military, and with laws, written by yourself. True freedom, they say, is being able to make your “own decision” over all matters in your life, including being able to choose what would be your own privatized government.
Let’s cut through all the utopian images and ideological rationalizations put forth by anarcho-capitalists of how anarchism might work and examine, fundamentally, how anarchism would work. Keep in mind their fundamental philosophy which is that private individuals can be their own government with their own police, courts, and military.
Imagine living in an anarcho-capitalist society where the protection of your belongings constantly had to be in your hands. Imagine the fear that would run through you, when you had no higher authority to go to settle not just differences of opinion but thugs trying to kill you, not knowing what your neighbor would do next.
To visualize an anarcho-capitalist society, drawn out in full, naked form, imagine houses lined up with nukes, electric fences warding off intruders, and attack dogs, fully ready to take justice into their own hands for their owners.
For an effect of what justice would be like, imagine a specific place where there is no government enforcing justice, on the highway. A person, on the highway, who feels he has been unjustly hurt by another will often take justice into his own hands. If someone “cuts off” another person, the person “cut off” will often do anything to punish the other person up to and including killing the other person (as has been done before).
No matter how an anarchist rationalizes his idea of what anarchism might be like, what anarchism would be like is one set of thugs (what they would call “protection agencies”) versus another set of thugs. Who would determine what is right and wrong? Whoever had the biggest guns. Anarcho-capitalism, boiled down, would operate much in the same way that the black market operates today, where men do hire their own “protection agencies” (their own thugs) and do indeed take justice into their own hands.
The reason to reject this philosophy is this: this is not how man should live.
The case for why a government is necessary is simple. It is so man can live as a man.
The way man lives is by means of his mind. His survival is not done by using claws to kill things or fast legs to chase things. The objective (i.e. the only) way in which man survives is by using his mind to build tools, make houses, design cars, discover cures etc. Man qua man lives solely by means of production. It is morally imperative that a proper political-economic system is in line with man’s method of survival. It is thus that a government should exist, whose sole purpose is to protect the private property of men. It is imperative that a government exist, ensuring man that he can live in freedom: free to produce, build, and achieve, without any fear of what his neighbors might to do those things that he has produced, built, and achieved. An individual should not have to worry about defending his property.
The problem with an anarchist society is it shifts man’s primary goal away from production and forces his primary goal to become protection. Instead of being free to produce to the fullest extent of his ability, under anarchy, man must now factor in how he will protect his belongings. Indeed, this may be the most important thing for his survival, now, just as the most successful thug on the street is not the one with the most marketable goods, but with the biggest guns. Under both systems, the “strong” survive, but the “strong” under anarcho-capitalism are the likes of Jimmy Hoffa and John Gotti, under capitalism they are the likes of Bill Gates and Jack Welch. Capitalism, i.e. the honest free-market, not the black market, must be adhered to so the men of the mind (i.e. the ones who improve life) can flourish and prosper.
One only has to visit an inner city gang to understand how anarcho-capitalism would work. Urban streets, in which police officials are too timid to go in and police effectively, are without the protection of a government. The law of the land is determined by whichever thug is best able to brutalize and bully his enemies. This is what would happen under anarcho-capitalism despite anarcho-capitalists tenacious attempts to rationalize that it wouldn’t. Who would determine the law when there are 275 million people allowed to decide 275 million different sets of laws? Indeed, the answer is obvious.
The reason why anarchists believe what they do rests on their metaphysical premises. Like all political ideologies, anarcho-capitalists and capitalists have a system of metaphysics and ethics upholding their beliefs.
The anchoring root upholding the anarcho-capitalist belief is subjectivism.
Subjectivism, which is a branch of metaphysics, upholds the belief that the standard of truth is human consciousness. The subjectivist holds that human consciousness is the ultimate arbiter of truth. The subjectivist believes that truth, ultimately, is whatever a human declares it to be.
Based upon the subjectivist metaphysics, the anarcho-capitalist ethics is ethical subjectivism.
The ethical subjectivist claims that whatever a person decides to do for himself is morally right. It doesn’t matter what – the person could decide to be a drunken bum, slut, or suicidal maniac – so as long as that person made the decision for themselves: it is correct. The standard of moral judgment is individual conscience. Men are considered omnipotent, thus whatever decision they make is unequivocally correct.
The logical conclusion of these premises is anarcho-capitalism. Individual consciousness is supreme, thus man must always be allowed to make his “own decisions” in life. This thus includes voluntarily choosing one’s own government. An ethical subjectivist must necessarily support free-market anarchism, in which an individual can choose their own government in the same way that one chooses their own clothes or their own car.
Anarcho-capitalists, i.e. “voluntaryists,” are all products of the ethical subjectivist philosophy. Indeed, the ethical subjectivist philosophy has, as its logical conclusion, anarcho-capitalism. An ethical subjectivist, who is able to see his philosophy in full naked form, will envision a place where every single person can be their own government. Instead of having “Sovereign Nations,” sovereignty would be taken straight down to the individual level with Person A being his own government as opposed to America or Canada being their own government (they call this “Sovereignty of the Individual”). No other person would be allowed to “dictate” to Person A what government he can live under, as his individual choice is supreme.
The dominant philosophy in the Libertarian Party is indeed ethical subjectivism. Although not all ethical subjectivists take their philosophy to its logical conclusion, the logical conclusion is anarcho-capitalism. It is of no surprise that the leadership of the LP today consists primarily of anarcho-capitalists.
The anchoring philosophical root for capitalists, on the other hand, is objectivism.
Objectivism (small “o”) upholds the belief that the standard of truth is reality. The objectivist holds that human consciousness is the means to decide truth, but the ultimate arbiter is reality. The objectivist holds that truth is a principle in reality, like the laws of physics, math or chemistry.
The Objectivist (notice the ‘O’, this one is the philosophy of Ayn Rand), which obviously is rooted in objectivism declares to find an objective code of justice, one must start by studying the nature of man, in the same way that one studies the nature of chemicals or motion.
Based upon this metaphysical premise, in which one studies the nature of man, the Objectivist ethics is rational self-interest. [For further explanation see “The Objectivist Ethics” in The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand]. Rational self-interest upholds that the proper standard of moral judgment is man’s life. Rational self-interest upholds that man has full moral right to be concerned only with enhancing his own life, and that there is only one way in which man can further his life: production.
Based on this moral basis, Objectivists advocate that given man qua man must survive in a specific way, by producing, it becomes imperative that he be allowed to live a certain way: in complete and absolute freedom. Man must be left free from his neighbors so he can be left to build, produce, and make decisions on his own, without the fear of his neighbors looting him or suppressing his own individual judgment. The unified government governing the 5 men would be capitalism, the only system in which men are given full rights to their mind and to their production.
This is what Ayn Rand meant when she said Libertarian hippies steal Objectivist politics but ignore the metaphysics and ethics that hold it up.
The difference in anarcho-capitalism vs. capitalism can seem subtle to the naked eye, but the difference between the two is extreme. First, the logical conclusion of ethical subjectivism is anarchism. And the anarchist stance is hardly a “minor difference” between Libertarians and Objectivists. However, most Libertarians have learned appropriately, to hide their anarchist streak. But one can still see their ideologies seeping through on some of their political stances. One issue in which you can see the anarcho-capitalist ideology play out is in regards to foreign policy. Anarcho-capitalists, and indeed most in the Libertarian party, are extreme non-interventionists. “I don’t hit you you don’t hit me.” Be assured that no history, examination, analysis or military expertise went into deciding this philosophy: they believe this as a fundamental a priori rule that this is the right foreign policy. The Objectivist stand on the other hand is to design a foreign policy with American self-interest in mind. Take for instance an issue where a terrorist regime is building nukes to destroy America. The Libertarian stand would be to wait until the nuke is dropped, and already killed thousands of people, then one is allowed to take action. The Objectivist believes it is morally mandatory to take out the nuke before it kills millions—with proper intelligence.
I dismissed the Libertarian Party after 9/11. Their true colors came shining through. After the terrorists killed 3000 of our own, the stock Libertarian response was that “were it not for our involvement in Saudi Arabia, we wouldn’t have been attacked,” i.e. the blamed they victim.
A proper political party which advocates a capitalistic system cannot stand without a proper philosophical base. The ethical subjectivist streak in the Libertarian Party (which is rampant) is not just a minor philosophical difference between traditional Libertarians and Objectivists. It is a major philosophical difference and it is because it affects the political conclusions that one will have. An ethical subjectivist, viewing “individual choice” as supreme will necessarily become an anarcho-capitalist.
Anarcho-capitalism is heavily embraced by the Libertarian Party’s leadership. All visible outspoken leaders of the Libertarian Party are self-avowed anarchists. Anarcho-capitalism and ethical subjectivism are not just a “wing” in the Libertarian Party; they are integral to it. Given the Libertarian Party’s embracing of anarcho-capitalism and the philosophies that make anarcho-capitalism possible, all rational capitalists and Objectivists should unequivocally reject the Libertarian Party.
- This article was written Amber Pawlik with an original title: Libertarians vs. Objectivists: Why Objective Law is Necessary.