Last modified on 7 November 2014, at 03:18


Anarcho-capitalism is an individualist philosophy based on the idea of individual sovereignty, and a prohibition against initiatory coercion and fraud. It sees the only just basis for law as arising from private property norms and an unlimited right of contract between sovereign individuals.


Presenting anarcho-capitalism as a form of anarchismEdit

  • Laissez-faire capitalism, or anarchocapitalism, is simply the economic form of the libertarian ethic. Laissez-faire capitalism encompasses the notion that men should exchange goods and services, without regulation, solely on the basis of value for value. It recognizes charity and communal enterprises as voluntary versions of this same ethic. Such a system would be straight barter, except for the widely felt need for a division of labor in which men, voluntarily, accept value tokens such as cash and credit. Economically, this system is anarchy, and proudly so.
    • Hess, Karl. The Death of Politics, Interview in Playboy, July 1976. Also available in Hess's autobiography, "Mostly on the Edge."
  • Capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism.
  • Anarchist solutions to social questions have ranged from total communism to an equally zealous individualism. In between are found sundry recipes, from anarcho-syndicalism to anarcho-capitalism.
    • Perlin, Terry M. Contemporary Anarchism. Transaction Books, New Brunswick, NJ 1979, p. 7.
  • Perhaps the best way to see why anarcho-capitalism would be much more peaceful than our present system is by analogy. Consider our world as it would be if the cost of moving from one country to another were zero. Everyone lives in a housetrailer and speaks the same language. One day, the president of France announces that because of troubles with neighboring countries, new military taxes are being levied and conscription will begin shortly. The next morning the president of France finds himself ruling a peaceful but empty landscape, the population having been reduced to himself, three generals, and twenty-seven war correspondents.
    • Friedman, David. "The Machinery of Freedom Guide to a Radical Capitalism" 2nd Edition, Chapter: "The Stability Problem" p. 123
  • There are several recognized varieties of anarchism, among them: individualistic anarchisms, anarcho-capitalisms, anarcho-communisms, mutualisms, anarcho-syndicalisms, libertarian socialisms, social anarchists and now eco-anarchisms.
    • Sylvan, Richard. Anarchism. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, editors Goodin, Robert E. and Pettit, Philip. Blackwell Publishing, 1995, p. 231.
  • Subterranean anarchist currents once agains surfaced in the 1960s...We will sketch its initial impulse in the 1950s, the creation of a broad critical movement in the 1960's, its differentiation into right and left tendencies, and its final shattering into various anarchist splinters. These ranged from Anarcho-Capitalists who desired the organization of society solely on the basis of a "free market" to Anarcho-Communists who sought an individualized society of decentralized communes.
    • DeLeon, David. The American as Anarchist: Reflections of Indigenous Radicalism, Chapter: The Beginning of Another Cycle, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979, p. 117
  • We must ask, not whether an anarcho-capitalist society would be safe from a power grab by the men with the guns (safety is not an available option), but whether it would be safer than our society is from a comparable seizure of power by the men with the guns. I think the answer is yes. In our society, the men who must engineer such a coup are politicians, military officers, and policemen, men selected precisely for the characteristic of desiring power and being good at using it. They are men who already believe that they have a right to push other men around - that is their job. They are particularly well qualified for the job of seizing power. Under anarcho-capitalism the men in control of protection agencies are selected for their ability to run an efficient business and please their customers. It is always possible that some will turn out to be secret power freaks as well, but it is surely less likely than under our system where the corresponding jobs are labeled 'non-power freaks need not apply'.
    • Friedman, David "The Machinery of Freedom Guide to a Radical Capitalism" 2nd Edition, Chapter: "The Stability Problem" p. 123-124
  • There are anarchists of the right such as Murray Rothbard (For a New Liberty [New York: Macmillan, 1973]) who defend private property and free enterprise.
    • DeGeorge, Richard T. Anarchism and Authority, an essay in the book Anarchism by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, NYU Press, p. 108.
  • Anarcho-capitalism is a form of anarchism whose prime tenet is that the free market, unhampered by government intervention, can coordinate all the functions of society currently carried out by the state, including systems of justice and national defense. Anarcho-capitalists believe that a system of private property based on individual rights is the only moral system - a system that implies a free market, or total voluntarism, in all transactions.
    • Brown, Susan Love, The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View, Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 99. (Article is a criticism of anarcho-capitalism. Brown is not an anarcho-capitalist.)

Presenting as being a form of, or related to, individualist anarchismEdit

  • In distinguishing sharply between society and state, both individualist and socialist anarchism build on liberal foundations. The former may be seen as liberalism taken to an extreme, or logical, conclusion...nineteenth-century individualists sometimes thought of themselves as socialists. But their successors today, such as Murray Rothbard (1973), having abandonded the labour theory of value, describe themselves as 'anarcho-capitalists'....A generation after the eclipse of anarcho-syndicalism, anarchist ideas reemerged, sometimes spectacularly, in the context of the New Left movements of the 1960s...At the other end of the political spectrum, individualist anarchism, reborn as anarcho-capitalism, is a significant tendency in the libertarian New Right.
    • Outhwaite, Blackwell. Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, Anarchism and Libertarianism entries (2006)
  • Although anarchism rests on liberal intellectual foundations, notably the distinction between state and society, the protean character of the doctrine makes it difficult to disinguish clearly different schools of anarchist thought. But one important distinction is between individualist anarchism and social anarchism. The former emphasizes individual liberty, the sovereignty of the individual, the importance of private property or possession, and the iniquity of all monopolies. It may be seen as liberalism taken to an extreme conclusion. 'Anarcho-capitalism' is a contemporary variant of this school.
    • Bottomor, Tom. Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Anarchism entry, p. 21 (1992)
  • Today individualist anarchists in the US call themselves anarcho-capitalists or libertarians...
    • Heider, Ulrike. Anarchism: Left, Right and Green, San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1994. p. 3
  • Pro-capitalist anarchism is, as one might expect, particularly prevalent in the US where it feeds on the strong individualist and libertarian currents that have always been a part of the American political imaginary. To return to the point, however, there are individualist anarchists who are most certainly not anti-capitalist and there are those who may well be.
    • Tormey, Simon. Anti-Capitalism: A Beginner's Guide, One World, 2004.
  • Individualist, as distinct from socialist, anarchism has been particularly strong in the USA from the time of Josiah Warren (1798-1874) onwards and is expressed today by Murray Rothbard and the school of 'anarcho-capitalists'.
    • Ostergaard, Geofrey. Resisting the Nation State - the anarchist and pacifist tradition, Anarchism As A Tradition of Political Thought. Peace Pledge Union Publications [1]
  • The American Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) believed that maximum individual liberty would be assured where the free market was not hindered or controlled by the State and monopolies. The affairs of society would be governed by myriad voluntary societies and cooperatives, by, as he aptly put it, “un-terrified” Jeffersonian democrats, who believed in the least government possible. Since World War II this tradition has been reborn and modified in the United States as anarcho-capitalism or libertarianism.
    • Levy, Carl. "Anarchism", under the "Anarcho-individualism" heading, Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006
  • In fact, what Faucher and the others had come up with was a form of individualist anarchism, or, as it would be called today, anarcho-capitalism or market anarchism. This was in the 1840s.
  • Although part of the classical liberal tradition, contemporary anarcho-capitalists are descendants of nineteenth-century individualist anarchists such as Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin Tucker."
    • Brown, Susan Love, The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View, Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 103. (Article is a criticism of anarcho-capitalism. Brown is not an anarcho-capitalist.)
  • The Anarcho-Capitalists, who had more of a historical sense, did occasionally cite past anarchists like Spooner and Tucker as "the forefathers of modern libertarianism," but only a few individuals like Murray Rothbard, in Power and Market, and some article writers were influenced by these men. Most had not evolved consciously from this tradition; they had been a rather automatic product of the American environment.
    • DeLeon, David. The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978, p. 127
  • Largely due to the path breaking work of Murray Rothbard, 20th century individualist anarchism is no longer inherently suspicious of profit-making practices, such as charging interest. Indeed, it embraces the free market as the voluntary vehicle of economic exchange. But as individualist anarchism draws increasingly upon the work of Austrian economists such as Mises and Hayek, it draws increasingly farther away from left anarchism.
    • McElroy, Wendy. Anarchism: Two Kinds
  • Workers are propertyless and forced to wage labor because they cannot finance their self-employment: the state monopoly over money is the problem. Let the people issue their own private, fiduciary moneys and the choice between working for an employer or for oneself will become entirely voluntary. This is the individual anarchism (or anarco-capitalism) championed by Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker in America and Gustave de Molinari in France.
    • Ferrero, Manuel. A Rational Theory of Socialist Public [2]


  • Anarcho-capitalism, in my opinion, is a doctrinal system which, if ever implemented, would lead to forms of tyranny and oppression that have few counterparts in human history. … I should add, however, that I find myself in substantial agreement with people who consider themselves anarcho-capitalists on a whole range of issues; and for some years, was able to write only in their journals. And I also admire their commitment to rationality — which is rare — though I do not think they see the consequences of the doctrines they espouse, or their profound moral failings.
    • Noam Chomsky in Z Net, Answers from Chomsky to eight questions on anarchism, 1996
  • "Nobody talks more of free enterprise and competition and of the best man winning than the man who inherited his father's store or farm".
    • C. Wright Mills White Collar: The American Middle Classes (1951), Part One, Chapter Three: "Old Middle Classes," Section One: The Competitive Way of Life
  • We must therefore turn to history for enlightenment; here we find that none of the proclaimed anarchist groups correspond to the libertarian position, that even the best of them have unrealistic and socialistic elements in their doctrines. Furthermore, we find that all of the current anarchists are irrational collectivists, and therefore at opposite poles from our position. We must therefore conclude that we are not anarchists, and that those who call us anarchists are not on firm etymological ground, and are being completely unhistorical.

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up anarcho-capitalism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary