In my last post, I wrote about intellectual property rights, and why one position that has preoccupied many libertarians—that is, that intellectual property rights don’t exist—is balderdash and something we need to ditch. In my next post, I’m going to comment on libertarian foreign policy positions that I find completely untenable, but in this one, I’m going to focus on my pet peeve of many libertarians: anarcho-capitalism.
Seriously. It’s starting to really grind my gourd.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at an event or just talking with someone, trying to explain libertarianism, when the other person says, “Oh, you just want to privatize the entire government and just let the big businesses run amok and have nothing!” While the second point might be unfair to anarcho-capitalists—I suspect a lot of them have no real love for big business—the rest of it is more or less dead-on for this small yet highly vocal minority of libertarians. Unfortunately, their antics and rhetoric have begun to become associated with the liberty movement in general, which discredits us, prevents us from gaining any more traction with the public, and ultimately is just detrimental to the goal of maximizing individual liberty, which is what the movement is about.
Personally, I don’t really think anarcho-capitalism does that, and let me show you why.
To piggyback off of some of the thoughts going around about anarchism, I think that anarcho-capitalism is completely unworkable in modern society. I have three main reasons why this is so, and then two ways that society and humans would have to change in order to make anarchism and anarcho-capitalism in particular actually viable.
I think this is an extremely important topic for the libertarian movement to consider, because now, more than ever, we’re in a position where fatigue and frustration with the current political system can give us a major opening. People are sick of the left, and they’re sick of the right. They recognize that socialism is not a workable solution, but neither is the current miasma that is crony capitalism. They’re afraid more of big government than big business, but like neither, and just want honesty, integrity, and equality before the law to actually prevail.
All of these are libertarian themes, and we can have tremendous success, but not if we put forward a face that looks completely radical and unreasonable. People aren’t looking for that, aren’t going to buy that, and are likely going to be turned off by it. It’s all about the Overton Window. I may not want to be as vehement or vicious as others do towards anarchists, but I do think we need to challenge their assumptions (and have our assumptions challenged) and point out where they fall on their face
So, why do I think anarcho-capitalism is, in any case, not workable for the modern world, and does not increase liberty?
1. Anarcho-capitalism relies on everyone being perfectly rational