Anarcho-Capitalists Need A New Name
by: R. Stempien
Most Libertarians have been through this, when explaining to outsiders what libertarianism is the person inevitably says, “But, aren't you an anarchist then?” A lot of us have often responded with, “Well yes but, I'm a Libertarian anarchist, or, I'm an anarcho-capitalist, thats different.” But it does not matter, the damage is done, the person gets all emotional and starts bringing out all the anarchist straw men in the book and they no longer will take you seriously.
Anarcho-capitalism is a very horrible name for a political philosophy, it is a bullseye painted prominently on the front of any Libertarian text or rally or philosopher. Anarcho-capitalism combines the two most mistaken emotional words in political philosophy. When individuals hear the word anarchist they think about chaos and lawlessness and bomb throwing. When they hear the word capitalist they think of either big robber barons and sweat shops or big Wall Street bankers taking all their money.(sometimes both). So imagine what people most think of when they hear the term anarcho-capitalist.
Capitalism can easily be avoided by using terms like laze-faire and free market which most libertarians use anyways, anarchy is really the word libertarians have the most trouble with, so it is what this essay will focus on. First it is important to keep in mind what other, non libertarian anarchists define themselves as, the best source for this would probably be the anarchist FAQ(A.1):
“anarchism is a political theory which aims to create a society within which individuals freely co-operate together as equals. As such anarchism opposes all forms of hierarchical control - be that control by the state or a capitalist - as harmful to the individual and their individuality as well as unnecessary.”
From a casual look this might sound similar to libertarianism but in reality it is not. While the reader is no doubt well versed in the definition of Libertarianism it is important to restate for contrasting effect what it is, namely, an anti-political philosophy that supports private property rights through Lockean homesteading and supports the Nonaggression Principle as a right arising from these property rights, the NAP being that force can only be use in defense or to gain restitution for violations of property rights(Including of coarse the property rights that people hold in their own bodies, so murder is a violation of the NAP). Contrast that with the definition of Anarchism and one will find that it does not even mention force, let alone its proper role in society. In fact, it completely ignores the property rights of all the bosses and entrepreneurs that it derisively calls “Capitalist”. And with that one gets to the root of what all regular anarchists hate, which is not the state as much as it is private property. Again from this page of the Anarchist FAQ(B.3):
“Private property is one of the three things all anarchists oppose, along side hierarchical authority and the state. Today, the dominant system of private property is capitalist in nature and, as such, anarchists tend to concentrate on this system and its property rights regime.”
It should also be mentioned that most Anarchists are outright hostile to Anarcho-capitalism, another Anarchist FAQ (F.1) post provides the incriminating evidence:
“In a word, no. While "anarcho"-capitalists obviously try to associate themselves with the anarchist tradition by using the word "anarcho" or by calling themselves "anarchists" their ideas are distinctly at odds with those associated with anarchism. As a result, any claims that their ideas are anarchist or that they are part of the anarchist tradition or movement are false.
"Anarcho"-capitalists claim to be anarchists because they say that they oppose government. As noted in the last section, they use a dictionary definition of anarchism. However, this fails to appreciate that anarchism is a political theory. As dictionaries are rarely politically sophisticated things, this means that they fail to recognise that anarchism is more than just opposition to government, it is also marked a opposition to capitalism (i.e. exploitation and private property). Thus, opposition to government is a necessary but not sufficient condition for being an anarchist -- you also need to be opposed to exploitation and capitalist private property. As "anarcho"-capitalists do not consider interest, rent and profits (i.e. capitalism) to be exploitative nor oppose capitalist property rights, they are not anarchists.”
It cannot be made any clearer than that. The Anarchists clearly don't want Libertarians as part of their camp, and the mainstream clearly does not like or want to hear anything from Anarchists, so it is about as pointless as Libertarians trying to call the philosophy a variant of Nazism. The solution is for Libertarians to disavow the term Anarchism and Anarcho-capitalism, to strike away any kinship with the words and any kinship with socialist Anarchists.
The next question of coarse is what should radical, privatize everything down to the law courts and military should call themselves. Libertarianism is the broad term, encompassing Minarchists as well so there needs to be a subheading term to distinguish it from the minarchists. Voluntaryism and Voluntarism are of coarse good terms, and in fact have been used by a lot of radical libertarians. Rothbardianism is also useful except that it leaves out the radical libertarians like David Friedman and Bryan Caplan that deviate a lot from Rothbard. Agorist was SEKIII's term but it seems to narrowly mean someone who refuses to vote and who uses counter-economics which not all radical libertarians use. The best word in the view of the author of this essay is a term invented and then forgotten by Rothbard a long time ago, Nonarchy. As Rothbard put it: "Sir, I am neither an anarchist nor an archist, but am squarely down the nonarchic middle of the road."
Nonarchism seems like a great term, its as easy to say as anarchism and seems to apply a similar meaning only without all the negative baggage. It also fits well with its contrasting term of Minarchism. So now the radical libertarians can call themselves Nonarchist Libertarians in contrast to Minarchist Libertarians and tell people that they wish to bring about a consistent state of Nonarchy, where the Initiation of force is wrong and all living arrangements are voluntary. It should be added that no part of this essay has been an attempt to change libertarian theory and to make compromises for mainstream exceptence, it is simply proposing a change in the word that radical libertarians use to call themselves.
"A.1 What Is Anarchism?" Anarchist Writers. Anarchist Writers, 10 Nov. 2008. Web.
01 Aug. 2013. <http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/secA1.html>.
"B.3 Why Are Anarchists against Private Property?" Anarchist Writers. Anarchist
Writers, 10 Nov. 2008. Web. 01 Aug. 2013.<http://anarchism.pageabode.com
"F.1 Are "anarcho"-capitalists Really Anarchists?" Anarchist Writers. Anarchist
Writers, 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 01 Aug. 2013.<http://anarchism.pageabode.com
Rothbard, Murray N. "Are Libertarians "Anarchists"?" Mises.org. The Ludwig Von
Mises Institute, 4 Jan. 2008. Web. 01 Aug. 2013. <http://mises.org/daily/2801>.