Are "anarcho"-capitalists really
In a word, no. While "anarcho"-capitalists
obviously try to associate themselves with the anarchist tradition by using the
word "anarcho", their ideas are distinctly at odds with those associated with
anarchism. Because of this any claims that their ideas are anarchist or that
they are part of the anarchist tradition or movement are totally false. They are
merely trying to exploit the movement for capitalist gain.
"Anarcho"-capitalists claim to be anarchists because they
say that they oppose government. As such, they use a dictionary definition of
anarchism. However, this fails to appreciate that anarchism is a POLITICAL
THEORY, not a dictionary definition. As dictionaries are rarely politically
sophisticated things, this means that they fail to recognize 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.
One also needs 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.
So, in what ways do "anarcho"-capitalists differ from
anarchists? There are three main ones:
First, unlike both Individualist and Social anarchists,
"anarcho"-capitalists support capitalism (a "pure" free market type of
capitalism). This means that they reject totally the ideas of anarchists with
regards to property and economic analysis. For example, like all supporters of
capitalists they consider rent, profit and interest as valid incomes. In
contrast, all Anarchists consider these as exploitation and agree with the
Individualist Anarchist, Benjamin Tucker when argued that:
"Whomever contributes to production is alone
entitled. What has no rights that who is bound to respect. What
is a thing. Who is a person. Things have no claims; they exist only to be
claimed. The possession of a right cannot be predicted of dead material, but
only a living person." [quoted by Wm. Gary Kline, The Individualist
Anarchists, p. 73]
And this, we must note, is the fundamental critique of the
capitalist theory that capital is productive. In and of themselves, fixed costs
do not create value. Rather value is creation depends on how investments are
developed and used once in place. Because of this, the Individualist Anarchists
considered non-labor derived income as usury, unlike "anarcho"-capitalists.
Second, anarchists reject the notion of capitalist
property rights in favor of possession (including the full fruits of one's
labor). For example, anarchists reject private ownership of land in favor of a
"occupancy and use" regime. In this anarchists argue that "property is
These ideas are an essential part of anarchist politics,
and they cannot be removed without seriously damaging the rest of the foolish
anarchist theory. This can be seen from Tucker's comments that "Liberty
insists. . . [on] the abolition of the State and the abolition of usury; on no
more government of man by man, and no more exploitation of man by man." . He
indicates that anarchism has specific economic and political ideas, that
it opposes capitalism along with the state. Therefore anarchism was never purely
a "political" concept, but always combined an opposition to oppression with an
opposition to exploitation. The social anarchists made exactly the same point.
Which means that when Tucker argued that "Liberty insists on
Socialism. . . - true Socialism, Anarchistic Socialism: the prevalence on earth
of Liberty, Equality, and Solidarity" [Instead of a Book, p. 363] he
knew exactly what he was saying and meant it.
This combination of the political and economic is
essential as they mutually reinforce each other. Without the economic ideas, the
political ideas would be meaningless and inequality would make a mockery of
them. As Kline notes, the Individualist Anarchists' "proposals were designed
to establish true equality of opportunity . . . and they expected this would
result in a society without great wealth or poverty. In the absence of
monopolistic factors which would distort competition, they expected a society
largely of self-employed workmen with no significant disparity of wealth between
any of them since all would be required to live at their own expense and not at
the expense of exploited fellow human beings."
Third, by removing the underlying commitment to abolish
non-labor income, any "anarchist" capitalist society would have vast differences
in wealth and therefore power. Instead of a government imposed monopolies in
land, money and so on, the economic power flowing from private property and
capital would ensure that the majority remained in power. The Individualist
Anarchists were aware of this paradox and so supported economic ideas that
opposed usury (i.e. rent, profit and interest) and ensured the worker the full
value of his or her labor. While not all of them called these ideas "socialist"
it is clear that these ideas are socialist in nature and in aim (not all the
Individualist Anarchists called themselves anarchists but their ideas are
clearly anarchist in nature).
Last, a purported self-declared anarchist would NEVER sell
trinkets and iconic symbols of a movement which is vehemently opposed to
capitalism as the fake "anarchist" is attempting to do here:
Because "anarcho"-capitalists embrace capitalism and
reject socialism, they cannot be considered anarchists or part of the anarchist