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How can there be anarchocapitalists and anarchocapitalism?

+1 vote
Isn't capitalism a part of the state? Arent't anarchists against the state?
asked Mar 27, 2010 by anonymous
edited Apr 7, 2010 by dot
There cannot. My experience is that the term 'ancap' has been used by anarchists to distinguish themselves from those who they consider to have a limited perception of anarchy (one that is still caught up in 'capitalist' thinking). However, the essential quality (for anarchy) of being leaderless (not violently coerced to follow a leader) remains, whatever other's views on how the market functions happen to be. Hence the terms anarchocapitalists and anarchocapitalism are redundant.

3 Answers

+6 votes
Anarchocapitalists and anarchocapitalism can exist because some people confuse capitalism--a system that began when state-funded companies such as Britain's East India company were able, thanks to this funding and to the infamous enclosures of the commons, to accumulate capital and thus come to dominate markets--with free markets--where individuals bring their goods, produce etc. to trade and sell to each other. Though I am and anti-market anarchist, I could see anarchy and this latter form of market as compatible. But capitalism has always required the state and cannot operate without it. Thus, these phenomena exist through a misunderstanding of what capitalism is.
answered Mar 27, 2010 by apio ludd (1,170 points)
Why does capitalism rely on the State?
Laissez-faire capitalism Means free trade. I think when capitalism became corporatism and kept the same name.. is when it all became tainted.
JaysThoughts: Your comment reflects a common misconception about the historical development of capitalism, and market economies generally. Not only is industrial capitalism the result of specific government policy initiatives (as touched on by apio ludd), but anthropological and historical evidence suggests that formal market exchange between individuals that belong to the same community occurs rarely (if ever) in societies that lack the state. Various systems of informal reciprocity facilitate the economic activity of non-state societies, all of which utilize very different logic than a market economy does. Laissez-faire capitalism didn't BECOME corporatism at some historical moment; capitalism developed FROM pre-existing systems of corporatism entirely based upon state intervention.
"Laissez-faire capitalism Means free trade. I think when capitalism became corporatism and kept the same name.. is when it all became tainted." Not only tainted...  it ceased to be free market capitalism/free trade. The state has nothing to do with free market capitalism.
Agreed. This state funded "croney capitalism" is not the free market I'm talking about.

@apio ludd As an "anti-market anarchist" is there anything you would do (as opposed to expressing an opinion etc.) about anyone who decided to trade in a market?

i don't speak for apio ludd, but i suspect they would agree with me on this.

if people want to conduct their lives through value-exchange transactions using markets - in the most basic sense of that word - that is their own business (pun not intended but appreciated). as long as their activity does not impact the lives of those who choose not to do so, i don't see any problems. whether they call themselves anarchist is irrelevant.

the issue i (and others) have is the fact that living by the logic of value exchange is pretty much guaranteed to impact the lives of others who do not choose that way of living. that is at least partly due to value exchange being inextricably tied to concepts like profit and accumulation, which pretty much by definition impact others in ways they do not choose.

also, markets do not necessarily imply value exchange. see "really really free markets".

there have been lots of individualist anarchist writings about "free exchange", which is a much more liberating and anarchic idea than free-market capitalism. Markets always imply some sort of enclosure, whereas with free exchange there is no third party controlling exchanges between individuals.

The bogus separation between "free market capitalism" and "crony capitalism" is just an extremely defensive way to continue advocating capitalism. Capitalism was always crony capitalism, you need cooperation for it to work. The examples posted by apio ludd of the early corporations is a great example of how it doesn't really matter if corporations work with other capitalists or statesmen, all those early companies definetly contributed to statecraft and took away the ability of indigenous tribes to live anarchically through basic theft and destruction of their habitats.
+6 votes
yea, the tag sophistry gets to it.
i agree with apio ludd's explanation and will merely add to it a bit...

@capitalists refuse to release the term capitalism. just as marxists have spent their time working the word communist, and anarchists have a million different prefixes for anarchist, @caps are attempting to reclaim (or hold onto) capitalism as a term that can have a place in a liberated society. they do this by using a definition that is very constrained (compared to how most political people talk about capitalism - which is as not just a market or economic system, but a model of how to see the world) and use other words (see corporatism) to describe what most people call capitalism.
i would argue that @caps are closer to marxists than to anarchists, because of their focus on how the market and economics relates to free societies, and because from what i can tell they fundamentally accept the current definitions of market and economics.
answered Jul 28, 2011 by dot (50,990 points)
@dot: From what I have seen on this forum anarchists appear to be quite focused on how the market and economics relates to free societies as well. Marxism was a critique of the (then) current definitions of market and economics which suggested an alternative. If what distinguishes anarchy from Marxists and 'ancaps' is non-acceptance of the current definitions of market and economics, what alternative is it proposing?
different anarchists propose different things: barter, gift economy, gifting, and communism, for example.
0 votes
I think these "anarcho-capitalists" adhere to a convenient vulgar simplistic definition of anarchism. Mainly I think their definition of anarchism is "opposition to the state" when anarchism has meant opposition to authority and hierarchy in general and not just bureaucracy, politicians and other components of the state. Wage work and having bosses are obvious forms of hierarchy and authority and they are main features of capitalism and it is a main reason why most anarchists donĀ“t include "anarcho-capitalism" within anarchism alongside the obvious fact that anarchism has been historically alongside marxism a furious anti-capitalist position.

But also I think "anarcho-capitalists" are conscious entrists (see wikipedia article on the political phenomenon called "Entryism") inside anarchism who want to parasite its history and in the meantime also get a certain rebel edge which comes with the word anarchism. And so for example they have spent time on ridiculous maneuvers in places like wikipedia where they have tried to appear as an important part of anarchism mainly through obscuring anarchism history and through trick conceptualizations.

Since "anarcho-capitalism" adheres to a kind of neo-liberal economics called "austrian economics" it is clear that they are just a more radical form of neoliberalism, and the mainstream form of neoliberal ideology being mainly what is known as "minarchism". In real activism and debate they spend their time alongside conservatives and so called minarchists but nevertheless somehow decide to call themselves "anarchists". It seems that this "anarcho-capitalism" phenomenon anyway is mostly a USA thing and so anarchists outside the US like me became aware of this thing through the Internet but it looks like in the USA they exist within the neoliberal "Libertarian Party" which is a party which has people who also act in the right wing conservative Republican Party. This shows "anarcho-capitalism" is clearly a radical section of the neo-liberal right wing which means it has almost no relationship with anarchism and anarchists and so even a famous US anarchist like Bob Black has said that these "anarcho" capitalists "seem to have no noticeable presence except in the United States, and even there they have little dialog with, and less influence over the rest of us."http://www.theanarchistlibrary.org/HTML/Bob_Black__Theses_on_Anarchism_After_Post-Modernism.html

From what I know "anarcho-capitalism" is not the only contemporary case of strange mixing of strongly contradictory ideologies. In a somewhat similar case in Russia there are some guys who came up with a thing they call "National Bolshevism" apparently trying to mix marxist-leninism and fascism. It seems to me this phenomenon just as the USA "anarcho-capitalism" thing obey to specific historical and local political situations.
answered Sep 7, 2011 by iconoclast (3,250 points)
edited Sep 7, 2011 by iconoclast
One of my biggest issues with trying to discuss things with @caps is their apparent insistence on discussing things only on a person-to-person level.
This may have quite valid reasons, but limits the conversation to a kind of presumption of the status quo.
My issue with capitalism isn't just that many people have insanely too much for their needs, it is the way that capitalism makes people think about the world. the quantification of everything, the atomization, the abstractions, the reductionism. that is not something that gets discussed when the only examples that can be used have to do with how one person treats another person.
@iconoclast: You are using  a redundant term ("anarcho-capitalists") and then deriding it as a 'convenient vulgar simplistic definition of anarchism'. In other words a straw man argument.
if the term "anarcho-capitalist" is redundant, aren't you saying that anarchy == capitalism?