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<HTML>
<HEAD>

<TITLE>Replies to Some Errors and Distortions in Bryan Caplan's "Anarchist Theory FAQ" version 4.1.1.</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<BODY>

<h1><li>Replies to Some Errors and Distortions in Bryan Caplan's  "Anarchist Theory FAQ" version 4.1.1.</h1>
<p>
There have been a few "anarchist" FAQ's produced before. Bryan Caplan's 
anarchism FAQ is one of the more recent. While appearing to be a 
"neutral" statement of anarchist ideas, it is actually in large part an 
"anarcho"-capitalist FAQ. This can be seen by the fact that anarchist ideas 
(which he calls "left-anarchist") are given less than half the available 
space while "anarcho"-capitalist dogma makes up the majority of it. 
Considering that anarchism has been around far longer than 
"anarcho"-capitalism and is the bigger and better established movement, 
this is surprising. Even his use of the term "left anarchist" is 
strange as it is never used by anarchists and ignores the fact that 
Individualist Anarchists like Tucker called themselves "socialists" 
and considered themselves part of the wider socialist movement. For 
anarchists, the expression "left anarchist" is meaningless as all 
anarchists are anti-capitalist. Thus the terms used to describe
each "school" in his FAQ are biased (those whom Caplan calls "Left
anarchists" do not use that term, usually preferring "social anarchist"
to distinguish themselves from individualist anarchists like Tucker).
<p>
Caplan also frames the debate only around issues which he is comfortable 
with. For example, when discussing "left anarchist" ideas he states that 
<i>"A key value in this line of anarchist thought is egalitarianism, the view 
that inequalities, especially of wealth and power, are undesirable, immoral, 
and socially contingent."</i> This, however, is <b>not</b> why anarchists are 
egalitarians. Anarchists oppose inequalities because they undermine 
and restrict individual and social freedom. 
<p>
Taking another example, under the question, <i>"How would left-anarchy 
work?"</i>, Caplan fails to spell out some of the really obvious forms of 
anarchist thought. For example, the works of Bookchin, Kropotkin, Bakunin
and Proudhon are not discussed in any detail. His vague and confusing 
prose would seem to reflect the amount of thought that he has put into it.
Being an "anarcho"-capitalist, Caplan concentrates on the economic aspect
of anarchism and ignores its communal side. The economic aspect of anarchism
he discusses is anarcho-syndicalism and tries to contrast the confederated
economic system explained by one anarcho-syndicalist with Bakunin's 
opposition to Marxism. Unfortunately for Caplan, Bakunin is the source of 
anarcho-syndicalism's ideas on a confederation of self-managed workplaces
running the economy. Therefore, to state that <i>"many"</i> anarchists <i>"have been
very sceptical of setting up any overall political structure, even a democratic
one, and focused instead on direct worker control at the factory level"</i> 
is simply <b>false</b>. The idea of direct local control within a confederated
whole is a common thread through anarchist theory and activity, as any
anarchist could tell you. 
<p>
Lastly, we must note that after Caplan posted his FAQ to the "anarchy-list," 
many of the anarchists on that list presented numerous critiques of the 
"anarcho"-capitalist theories and of the ideas (falsely) attributed to 
social anarchists in the FAQ, which he chose to ignore (that he was aware
of these postings is asserted by the fact he e-mailed one of the authors
of this FAQ on the issue that anarchists never used or use the term 
"left-anarchist" to describe social anarchism. He replied by arguing that 
the term "left-anarchist" had been used by Michel Foucault, who never 
claimed to be  an anarchist, in one of his private letters! Strangely, 
he never posted his FAQ to the list again). 
<p>
Therefore, as can be seen from these few examples, Caplan's "FAQ" 
is blatantly biased towards "anarcho-capitalism" and based on the 
mis-characterisations and the dis-emphasis on some of the most 
important issues between "anarcho-capitalists" and anarchists. It 
is clear that his viewpoint is anything but impartial.
<p>
This section will highlight some of the many errors and distortions in
that FAQ. Numbers in square brackets refer to the corresponding sections
Caplan's FAQ.
<p>
<a name="app1"><h2>1 Is anarchism purely negative?</h2>
<p>
[1]. Caplan, consulting his <b>American Heritage Dictionary</b>, claims: 
<i>"Anarchism is a negative; it holds that one thing, namely government, is
bad and should be abolished. Aside from this defining tenet, it would be
difficult to list any belief that all anarchists hold."</i> 
<p>
The last sentence is ridiculous. If we look at the works of Tucker, 
Kropotkin, Proudhon and Bakunin (for example) we discover that we 
can, indeed list one more <i>"belief that all anarchists hold."</i> This 
is opposition to exploitation, to usury (i.e. profits, interest
and rent). For example, Tucker argued that <i>"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."</i> 
[cited in <b>Native American Anarchism - A Study of Left-Wing
American Individualism</b> by Eunice Schuster, p. 140] Such a position
is one that Proudhon, Bakunin and Kropotkin would agree with.
<p>
In other words, anarchists hold two beliefs -- opposition to
government <b>and</b> opposition to exploitation. Any person which
rejects either of these positions cannot be part of the anarchist
movement. In other words, an anarchist must be against capitalism
in order to be a true anarchist.
<p>
Moreover it is not at all difficult to find a more fundamental 
<i>"defining tenet"</i> of anarchism. We can do so merely by analysing 
the term <i>"an-archy,"</i> which is composed of the Greek words <b>an</b>, 
meaning <i>"no"</i> or <i>"without,"</i> and <b>arche</b>, meaning literally <i>"a
ruler,"</i> but more generally referring to the <b>principle</b> of 
rulership, i.e. hierarchical authority. Hence an anarchist 
is someone who advocates abolishing the principle of hierarchical 
authority -- not just in government but in all institutions and 
social relations. 
<p>
Anarchists oppose the principle of hierarchical authority because it  
is the basis of domination, which is not only degrading in itself but
generally leads to exploitation and all the social evils which follow 
from exploitation, from poverty, hunger and homelessness to class 
struggle and armed conflict. 
<p>
Because anarchists oppose hierarchical authority, domination, and
exploitation, they naturally seek to eliminate all hierarchies, as the
very purpose of hierarchy is to facilitate the domination and (usually)
exploitation of subordinates. 
<p>
The reason anarchists oppose government, then, is because government is
<b>one manifestation</b> of the evils of hierarchical authority, domination,
and exploitation. But the capitalist workplace is another. In fact, the
capitalist workplace is where most people have their most frequent and
unpleasant encounters with these evils. Hence workers' control -- 
the elimination of the hierarchical workplace through democratic
self-management -- has been central to the agenda of classical and
contemporary anarchism from the 19th century to the present. Indeed, 
anarchism was born out of the struggle of workers against capitalist
exploitation. 
<p>
To accept Caplan's definition of anarchism, however, would mean that 
anarchists' historical struggle for workers' self-management has never
been a "genuine" anarchist activity. This is clearly a <b>reductio ad
absurdum</b> of that definition. 
<p>
Caplan has confused a necessary condition with a sufficient condition. 
Opposition to government is a necessary condition of anarchism, but not 
a sufficient one. To put it differently, all anarchists oppose government,
but opposition to government does not automatically make one an
anarchist. To be an anarchist one must oppose government for anarchist
reasons and be opposed to all other forms of hierarchical structure.
<p>
To understand why let use look to capitalist property. Murray Rothbard 
argues that <i>"[o]bviously, in a free society, Smith has the ultimate 
decision-making power over his own just property, Jones over his, etc."</i> 
[<b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, p. 173] Defence firms would be employed to
enforce those decisions (i.e. laws and rules). No real disagreement
there. What <b>is</b> illuminating is Rothbard's comments that the state 
<i>"arrogates to itself a monopoly of force, of ultimate decision-making 
power, over a given area  territorial area"</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b> , p. 170] Which,
to state the obvious, means that both the state and property is marked
by an <i>"ultimate decision-making power"</i> over their territory. The only 
"difference" is that Rothbard claims the former is "just" (i.e. "justly"
acquired) and the latter is "unjust" (i.e. acquired by force). In reality
of course, the modern distribution of property is just as much a product
of past force as is the modern state. In other words, the current 
property owners have acquired their property in the same unjust 
fashion as the state has its. If one is valid, so is the other. 
Rothbard (and "anarcho"-capitalists in general) are trying to have 
it both ways.
<p>
Rothbard goes on to show why statism and private property are
essentially the same thing:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"<b>If</b> the State may be said too properly <b>own</b> its territory, 
then it 
is proper for it to make rules for everyone who presumes to live in 
that area. It can legitimately seize or control private property 
because there <b>is</b> no private property in its area, because it really 
owns the entire land surface. <b>So long</b> as the State permits its subjects 
to leave its territory, then, it can be said to act as does any other 
owner who sets down rules for people living on his property."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, 
p. 170] 
</blockquote><p>
Of course Rothbard does not draw the obvious conclusion. He wants to
maintain that the state is bad and property is good while drawing
attention to their obvious similarities! Ultimately Rothbard is
exposing the bankruptcy of his own politics and analysis. According 
to Rothbard, something can look like a state (i.e. have the <i>"ultimate 
decision-making power"</i> over an area) and act like a state (i.e. 
<i>"make rules for everyone"</i> who lives in an area, i.e. govern them)
but not be a state. This not a viable position for obvious reasons.
<p>
In capitalism, property and possession are opposites -- as Proudhon 
argued in <b>What is Property?</b>. Under possession, the "property" owner 
exercises <i>"ultimate decision-making power"</i> over themselves as no-one 
else uses the resource in question. This is non-hierarchical. Under 
capitalism, however, use and ownership are divided. Landlords and 
capitalists give others access to their property while retaining 
power over it and so the people who use it. This is by nature 
hierarchical. Little wonder Noam Chomsky argued that a <i>"consistent 
anarchist must oppose private ownership of the means of production 
and the wage slavery which is a component of this system as incompatible 
with the principle that labour must be freely undertaken and under
the control of the producer."</i> [<i>"Notes on Anarchism"</i>, <b>For Reasons
of State</b>, p. 158]
<p>
Thus a true anarchist must oppose both state and capitalism as 
they generate the same hierarchical social relationships (as 
recognised by Rothbard but apparently subjected to "doublethink"). 
As "anarcho"-capitalists do not oppose capitalist property they 
cannot be anarchists -- they support a very specific form of 
<b>archy,</b> that of the capitalist/landlord over working class 
people. 
<p>
Self-styled "anarcho"-capitalists do not oppose government for anarchist
reasons. That is, they oppose it not because it is a manifestation of
hierarchical authority, but because government authority often <b>conflicts</b>
with capitalists' authority over the enterprises they control. By
getting rid of government with its minimum wage laws, health and safety
requirements, union rights laws, environmental standards, child labour
laws, and other inconveniences, capitalists would have even more power 
to exploit workers than they already do. These consequences of
"anarcho"-capitalism are diametrically opposed to the historically
central objective of the anarchist movement, which is to eliminate 
capitalist exploitation. 
<p>
We must conclude, then, that "anarcho"-capitalists are not anarchists at
all. In reality they are capitalists <b>posing</b> as anarchists in order to
attract support for their laissez-faire economic project from those who
are angry at government. This scam is only possible on the basis of the
misunderstanding perpetrated by Caplan: that anarchism means nothing
more than opposition to government. 
<p>
Better definitions of anarchism can be found in other reference works. 
For example, in <b>Grollier's Online Encyclopedia</b> we read: <i>"Anarchism
rejects all forms of hierarchical authority, social and economic as well
as political."</i> According to this more historically and etymologically
accurate definition, "anarcho"-capitalism is not a form of anarchism, 
since it does not reject hierarchical authority in the economic sphere 
(which has been the area of prime concern to anarchists since day one). 
Hence it is <b>bogus</b> anarchism. 
<p>
<a name="app2"><h2>2 Anarchism and Equality</h2>
<p>
[5.] On the question "What major subdivisions may be made among 
anarchists?" Caplan writes: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Unlike the left-anarchists, anarcho-capitalists generally place 
little or no value on equality, believing that inequalities along 
all dimensions -- including income and wealth -- are not only perfectly 
legitimate so long as they 'come about in the right way,' but are the 
natural consequence of human freedom."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
This statement is not inaccurate as a characterisation of
"anarcho"-capitalist ideas, but its implications need to be 
made clear. "Anarcho"-capitalists generally place little or no 
value on equality -- particularly economic equality -- because they 
know that under their system, where capitalists would be completely 
free to exploit workers to the hilt, wealth and income inequalities 
would become even greater than they are now. Thus their references to 
"human freedom" as the way in which such inequalities would allegedly 
come about means "freedom of capitalists to exploit workers;" it 
does not mean "freedom of workers <b>from</b> capitalist exploitation." 
<p>
But "freedom to exploit workers" has historically been the objective 
only of capitalists, not anarchists. Therefore, "anarcho"-capitalism 
again shows itself to be nothing more than capitalism attempting to 
pass itself off as part of the anarchist movement -- a movement that 
has been dedicated since its inception to the destruction of capitalism! 
One would have to look hard to find a more audacious fraud.
<p>
As we argue in <a href="secF2.html#secf21">section F.2.1</a>, the claim that inequalities are irrelevant 
if they <i>"come about the right way"</i> ignores the reality of freedom and
what is required to be free. To see way we have to repeat part of our
argument from that section and look at Murray Rothbard's (a leading
"anarcho"-capitalist icon) analysis of the situation after the abolition 
of serfdom in Russia and slavery in America. He writes:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The <b>bodies</b> of the oppressed were freed, but the property which they
had worked and eminently deserved to own, remained in the hands of their
former oppressors. With economic power thus remaining in their hands, the
former lords soon found themselves virtual masters once more of what
were now free tenants or farm labourers. The serfs and slaves had tasted
freedom, but had been cruelly derived of its fruits."</i> [<b>The Ethics of
Liberty</b>, p. 74]
</blockquote><p>
However, contrast this with Rothbard's (and Caplan's) claims that if market 
forces ("voluntary exchanges") result in the creation of free tenants or 
wage-labourers then these labourers and tenants are free (see, for example, 
<b>The Ethics of Liberty</b>, pp. 221-2 on why "economic power" within capitalism 
does not, in fact, exist). But the labourers dispossessed by market forces 
are in <b>exactly</b> the same situation as the former serfs and slaves. Rothbard 
sees the obvious "economic power" in the later case, but denies it in the 
former. But the <b>conditions</b> of the people in question are identical and it 
is these conditions that horrify us and create social relationships because
on subordination, authority and oppression rather than freedom. It is only 
ideology that stops Rothbard and Caplan drawing the obvious conclusion -- 
identical conditions produce identical social relationships and so if the 
formally "free" ex-serfs are subject to "economic power" and "masters" then 
so are the formally "free" labourers within capitalism! Both sets of workers 
may be formally free, but their circumstances are such that they are "free" 
to "consent" to sell their freedom to others (i.e. economic power produces 
relationships of domination and unfreedom between formally free individuals).
<p>
Thus inequalities that <i>"come about in the right way"</i> restrict freedom just
as much as inequalities that do not. If the latter restricts liberty and
generate oppressive and exploitative social relationships then so do the
former. Thus, if we are serious about individuality liberty (rather than
property) we must look at inequalities and what generate them.
<p>
One last thing. Caplan states that inequalities in capitalism are <i>"the 
natural consequence of human freedom."</i> They are not, unless you subscribe
to the idea that capitalist property rights are the basis of human freedom.
However, the assumption that capitalist property rights are the best 
means to defend individual liberty can be easily seen to be flawed just
from the example of the ex-slaves and ex-serfs we have just described.
Inequalities resulting from "voluntary exchanges" in the capitalist
market can and do result in the denial of freedom, thus suggesting that
"property" and liberty are not natural consequences of each other.
<p>
To state the obvious, private property (rather than possession) means
that the non-property owner can gain access to the resource in question
only when they agree to submit to the property owner's authority (and 
pay tribute for the privilege of being bossed about). This aspect of 
property (rightly called <i>"despotism"</i> by Proudhon) is one which 
right-libertarians continually fail to highlight when they defend
it as the paradigm of liberty.
<p>
<a name="app3"><h2>3 Is anarchism the same thing as socialism?</h2>
<p>
[7.] In this section ("Is anarchism the same thing as socialism?") Caplan
writes: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Outside of the Anglo-American political culture, there has been
a long and close historical relationship between the more orthodox
socialists who advocate a socialist government, and the anarchist
socialists who desire some sort of decentralised, voluntary socialism.
The two groups both want to severely limit or abolish private property..."</i>
</blockquote><p>
For Caplan to claim that anarchism is not the same thing as socialism, 
he has to ignore anarchist history. For example, the Individualist 
anarchists called themselves <i>"socialists,"</i> as did social anarchists. 
Indeed, Individualist Anarchists like Joseph Labadie stated that
<i>"Anarchism is voluntary socialism"</i> [<b>Anarchism: What it is and What
it is Not</b>) and wanted to limit private property in many ways (for 
example, <i>"the resources of nature -- land, mines, and so forth -- 
should not be held as private property and subject to being held 
by the individual for speculative purposes, that use of these things 
shall be the only valid title, and that each person has an equal right 
to the use of all these things."</i> [<b>What is Socialism?</b>]). Therefore, 
<b>within</b> the <i>"Anglo-American political culture,"</i> <b>all</b> types of anarchists 
considered themselves part of the socialist movement. This can be seen 
not only from Kropotkin's or Bakunin's work, but also in Tucker's (see 
<b>Instead of a Book</b>). So to claim that the <i>"Anglo-American"</i> anarchists
did not have <i>"a long and close historical relationship"</i> with the wider 
socialist movement is simply <b>false.</b>
<p>
The statement that anarchists want to severely limit or abolish "private
property" is misleading if it is not further explained. For the way it
stands, it sounds like anarchism is just another form of coercive "state"
(i.e. a political entity that forcibly prevents people from owning private
property), whereas this is far from the case.
<p>
Firstly, anarchists are <b>not</b> against "private property" in the sense
personal belongings. <i>"Anarchists,"</i> points out Nicholas Walter, <i>"are
in favour of the private property which cannot be used by one person
to exploit another -- those personal possessions which we accumulate
from childhood and which become part of ours."</i> [<i>"About Anarchism"</i>,
in <b>Reinventing Anarchy</b>, p. 49] Kropotkin makes the anarchist 
position clear when he wrote that we <i>"do not want to rob any one
of his coat"</i> but expropriation <i>"must apply to everything that
enables any man [or woman] -- by he financier, mill owner, or
landlord -- to appropriate the product of others' toil."</i> [<b>The
Conquest of Bread</b>, p. 61] 
<p>
In effect, Caplan is confusing two very different kinds of "private 
property", of which one rests on usefulness to an individual, the 
other on the employment (and so exploitation) of the labour of others. 
The latter produces social relations of domination between individuals,
while the former is a relationship between people and things. As
Proudhon argued, possession becomes property only when it also serves 
as means of exploitation and subjection of other people. But failing
to distinguish these radically different forms of "private property"
Caplan distorts the anarchist position.
<p>
Secondly, it is not that anarchists want to pass laws making private 
property (in the second, exploitative, sense) illegal. Rather they want 
to restructure society in such a way that the means of production are 
freely available for workers to use. This does not mean "anarchist police" 
standing around with guns to prohibit people from owning private property. 
Rather, it means dismantling the coercive state agencies that make private 
property possible, i.e., the departments of real police who now stand around 
with guns protecting private property.
<p>
Once that occurs, anarchists maintain that capitalism would be impossible,
since capitalism is essentially a monopoly of the means of production,
which can only be maintained by organised coercion. For suppose that in
an anarchist society someone (call him Bob) somehow acquires certain
machinery needed to produce widgets (a doubtful supposition if
widget-making machines are very expensive, as there will be little 
wealth disparity in an anarchist society). And suppose Bob offers to 
let workers with widget-making skills use his machines if they will 
pay him "rent," i.e. allow him to appropriate a certain amount of the 
value embodied in the widgets they produce. The workers will simply 
refuse, choosing instead to join a widget-making collective where 
they have free access to widget-making machinery, thus preventing 
Bob from living parasitically on their labour. Thus Kropotkin:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Everywhere you will find that the wealth of the wealthy springs
from the poverty of the poor. That is why an anarchist society
need not fear the advent of a Rothschild [or any other millionaire]
who would settle in its midst. If every member of the community
knows that after a few hours of productive toil he [or she] will
have a right to all the pleasures that civilisation procures, and
to those deeper sources of enjoyment which art and science offer
to all who seek them, he [or she] will not sell his strength. . .
No one will volunteer to work for the enrichment of your Rothschild."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 61]
</blockquote><p>
In this scenario, private property was "abolished," but not through
coercion. Indeed, it was precisely the abolition of organised coercion
that allowed private property to be abolished.
<p>
<a name="app4"><h2>4 Anarchism and dissidents</h2>
<p>
[9.] On the question "How would left-anarchy work?" Caplan writes: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Some other crucial features of the left-anarchist society are quite 
unclear. Whether dissidents who despised all forms of communal living 
would be permitted to set up their own inegalitarian separatist societies 
is rarely touched upon. Occasionally left-anarchists have insisted that 
small farmers and the like would not be forcibly collectivised, but the 
limits of the right to refuse to adopt an egalitarian way of life are 
rarely specified."</i>
</blockquote><p>
This is a straw man. "Left" (i.e. real) anarchist theory clearly implies 
and <b>explicitly states</b> the answer to these questions.
<p>
Firstly, on the issue of "separatist" societies. Anarchist thinkers
have always acknowledged that there would be multitude of different
communities after a revolution (and not just Caplan's "inegalitarian"
ones). Marx, for example, mocked Bakunin for arguing that only 
revolutionary communes would federate together and that this would 
not claim any right to govern others (see Bakunin's <i>"Letter to Albert 
Richards"</i>, <b>Michael Bakunin: Selected Writings</b>, p. 179] Kropotkin 
stated that <i>"the point attained  in the socialisation of wealth will 
not be everywhere the same"</i> and <i>"[s]ide by side with the revolutionised 
communes . . . places would remain in an expectant attitude, and 
would go on living on the Individualist system."</i> [<b>The Conquest 
of Bread</b>, p. 81] While he was hopeful that <i>"everywhere [would be] 
more or less Socialism"</i> he recognised that the revolution
would not conform to <i>"any particular rule"</i> and would differ in 
different areas -- <i>"in one country State Socialist, in another
Federation"</i> and so on. [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 82] Malatesta made the same
point, arguing that <i>"after the revolution"</i> there would be <i>"relations
between anarchist groupings and those living under some kind of
authority, between communist collectives and those living in
an individualistic way."</i> This is because anarchism <i>"cannot be
imposed"</i>. [<b>Life and Ideas</b>, p. 173, p. 21]
<p>
Needless to say, these "separatist societies" (which may or may 
not be "inegalitarian") would not be anarchist societies. If a 
group of people wanted to set up a capitalist, Marxist, Georgist 
or whatever kind of community then their right would be respected
(although, of course, anarchists would seek to convince those
who live in such a regime of the benefits of anarchism!). As 
Malatesta pointed out, <i>"free and voluntary communism is
ironical if one has not the right and the possibility to live
in a different regime, collectivist, mutualist, individualist
-- as one wishes, always on condition thaat there is no
oppression or exploitation of other"</i> as <i>"it is clear that 
all, and only, those ways of life which respect freedom, and
recognise that each individual has an equal right to the means
of production and to the full enjoyment of the product of
his own labour, have anything in common with anarchism."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 103 and p. 33]
<p>
Ultimately, <i>"it is not a question of right and wrong; it is
a question of freedom for everybody. . . None can judge 
with certainty who is right and who is wrong, who is nearest
to the truth, or which is the best way to achieve the 
greatest good for each and everyone. Freedom coupled with
experience, is the only way of discovering the truth and
what is best; and there can be no freedom if there is the
denial of the freedom to err."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 49]
<p>
Secondly, regarding <i>"dissidents"</i> who wanted to set up their own 
<i>"inegalitarian separatist societies,"</i> if the term "inegalitarian" 
implies economic inequalities due to private property, the answer 
is that private property requires some kind of state, if not a 
public state then private security forces ("private-state capitalism"), 
as advocated by "anarcho"-capitalists, in order to protect private 
property. Therefore, "anarcho"-capitalists are asking if an anarchist 
society will allow the existence of states. Of course, in the territory
that used to be claimed by a nation state a whole host of communities
and societies will spring up -- but that does not make the non-anarchist 
ones anarchist!
<p>
Thus suppose that in a hypothetical libertarian socialist society, Bob
tries to set up private security forces to protect certain means of
production, e.g. farmland. By the hypothesis, if Bob merely wanted to
work the land himself, there would be no reason for him go to the trouble
of creating a private state to guard it, because use-rights guarantee that
he has free access to the productive assets he needs to make a living.
Thus, the only plausible reason Bob could have for claiming and guarding
more farmland than he could use himself would be a desire to create a
monopoly of land in order to exact tribute from others for the privilege
of using it. But this would be an attempt to set up a system of feudal
exploitation in the midst of a free community. Thus the community is
justified in disarming this would-be parasite and ignoring his claims to
"own" more land than he can use himself.
<p>
In other words, there is no "right" to adopt an "inegalitarian way of
life" within a libertarian community, since such a right would have to 
be enforced by the creation of a coercive system of enslavement, which 
would mean the end of the "libertarian" community. To the contrary, the
members of such a community have a right, guaranteed by "the people 
in arms," to resist such attempts to enslave them.
<p>
The statement that "left" anarchists have <i>"occasionally"</i> insisted that
small farmers and the like would not be forcibly collectivised is a
distortion of the facts. No responsible left libertarian advocates 
forced collectivisation, i.e. compelling others to join collectives. 
Self-employment is always an option. This can be seen from Bakunin's 
works [<b>Bakunin on Anarchism</b>, p. 200], Kropotkin's [<b>The Conquest of 
Bread</b>, p. 61 and <b>Act for Yourselves</b>, pp. 104-5] and Malatesta's [<b>Life 
and Ideas</b>, p. 99, p. 103]. So the anarchist opposition to forced 
collectivisation has always existed and, for anyone familiar with the 
ideas of social anarchism, very well know. Thus during the Spanish 
Revolution, small farmers who did not wish to join collective farms 
were allowed to keep as much land as they could work themselves. After 
perceiving the advantages of collectives, however, many joined them 
voluntarily (see Sam Dolgoff, ed., <b>The Anarchist Collectives</b>). 
<p>
To claim that social anarchists <i>"occasionally"</i> oppose forced 
collectivisation is a smear, pure and simple, with little basis 
in anarchist activity and even less in anarchist theory. Anyone 
remotely familiar with the literature could not make such a mistake.
<p>
Finally, we should point out that under "anarcho"-capitalism there would
be, according to Murray Rothbard, a <i>"basic libertarian law code."</i> Which
means that under "anarcho"-capitalism, "egalitarian" communities could
only come about within a "inegalitarian" legal framework! Thus, given 
that everything would be privatised, dissenters could only experiment
if they could afford it <b>and</b> accepted the legal system based on 
capitalist property rights (and, of course, survive the competition 
of capitalist companies within the capitalist framework). As we have
argued in sections <a href="secB4.html">B.4</a>, <a href="secF3.html">F.3</a> and <a href="secF10.html">F.10</a>, the capitalist market is not
a level playing field -- which hinders experimentation. In other 
words, "anarcho"-capitalists has the abstract right to experiment
(within the capitalist laws) but hinders the possibility to live
under other regimes. And, we must point out, <b>why</b> should we have 
to <b>pay</b> the stealers of the earth for the privilege to life our 
own lives? Caplan, in effect, ignores the barriers to experimentation 
in his system while distorting the anarchist position.
<p>
<a name="app5"><h2>5 How would anarcho-capitalism work?</h2> 
<p>
[10.] This section (How would anarcho-capitalism work?) contains Caplan's
summary of arguments for "anarcho"-capitalism, which he describes as an
offshoot of Libertarianism. Thus: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"So-called 'minarchist' libertarians such as Nozick have argued that the
largest justified government was one which was limited to the protection
of individuals and their private property against physical invasion; 
accordingly, they favour a government limited to supplying police, courts,
a legal code, and national defence."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
The first thing to note about this argument is that it is stated in such a
way as to prejudice the reader against the left-libertarian critique of
private property. The minarchist right-"libertarian," it is said, only 
wants to protect individuals and their private property against "physical
invasion." But, because of the loose way in which the term "property" is
generally used, the "private property" of most "individuals" is commonly
thought of as <b>personal possessions,</b> i.e. cars, houses, clothing,
etc. (For the left-libertarian distinction between private property and
possessions, see <a href="secB3.html#secb31">section B.3.1.</a>) 
Therefore the argument makes it appear that
right libertarians are in favour of protecting personal possessions
whereas left-libertarians are not, thus conjuring up a world where, 
for example, there would be no protection against one's house being
"physically invaded" by an intruder or a stranger stealing the shirt 
off one's back! 
<p>
By lumping the protection of "individuals" together with the protection 
of their "private property," the argument implies that right libertarians
are concerned with the welfare of the vast majority of the population,
whereas in reality, the vast majority of "individuals" <b>do not own</b> 
any private property (i.e. means of production) -- only a handful of
capitalists do. Moreover, these capitalists use their private property to
exploit the working class, leading to impoverishment, alienation, etc., 
and thus <b>damaging</b> most individuals rather than "protecting" them.
<p>
Caplan goes on: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"This normative theory is closely linked to laissez-faire economic theory,
according to which private property and unregulated competition generally
lead to both an efficient allocation of resources and (more importantly) a
high rate of economic progress."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Caplan does not mention the obvious problems with this "theory," e.g. that
during the heyday of laissez-faire capitalism in the US there was vast
wealth disparity, with an enormous mass of impoverished people living in
slums in the major cities -- hardly an "efficient" allocation of resources
or an example of "progress." Of course, if one defines "efficiency" as
"the most effective means of exploiting the working class" and "progress"
as "a high rate of profit for investors," then the conclusion of the 
"theory" does indeed follow. 
<p>
And let us not forget that it is general equilibrium theory which 
predicts that unregulated competition will produce an efficient 
allocation of resources. However, as we noted in <a href="secC1.html">section C.1</a>, such
a model has little to do with any real economy. This means that 
there is no real reason to assume an efficient outcome of capitalist 
economies. Concentrations of economic power and wealth can easily
skew outcomes to favour the haves over the have-nots (as history
again and again shows). 
<p>
Moreover, the capitalism can easily lead to resources being 
allocated to the most profitable uses rather than those which 
are most needed by individuals. A classic example is in the 
case of famines. Amartya Sen (who won the 1998 Nobel Prize 
for economics) developed an <i><b>"entitlement"</i></b> approach to the study 
of famine. This approach starts with the insight that having 
food available in a country or region does not mean everyone 
living there is "entitled" to it. In market economies, people 
are entitled to food according to their ability to produce it 
for themselves or to pay or swap for it. In capitalist economies, 
most people are entitled to food only if they can sell their 
labour/liberty to those who own the means of life (which 
increases the economic insecurity of wage workers).
<p>
If some group loses its entitlement to food, whether there is a
decline in the available supply or not, a famine can occur. This
may seem obvious, yet before - and after - Sen, famine studies
have remained fixated on the drop in food available instead of
whether specific social groups are entitled to it. Thus even a
relatively success economy can price workers out of the food 
market (a depressed economy brings the contradiction between
need and profit -- use value and exchange value -- even more
to the forefront). This <i>"pricing out"</i> can occur especially if 
food can get higher prices (and so profits) elsewhere -- for 
example the Irish famine of 1848 and sub-Saharan famines of 
the 1980s saw food being exported from famine areas to areas 
where it could fetch a higher price. In other words, market
forces can skew resource allocation away from where it is most
needed to where it can generate a profit. As anarchist George
Barret noted decades before Sen:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Today the scramble is to compete for the greatest profits.
If there is more profit to be made in satisfying my lady's
passing whim than there is in feeding hungry children, then
competition brings us in feverish haste to supply the former,
whilst cold charity or the poor law can supply the latter,
or leave it unsupplied, just as it feels disposed. That is
how it works out."</i> [<b>Objectives to Anarchism</b>]
</blockquote><p>
In other words, inequality skews resource allocation towards
the wealthy. While such a situation may be <i>"efficient allocation 
of resources"</i> from the perspective of the capitalist, it is hardly 
so from a social perspective (i.e. one that considers <b>all</b> individual
needs rather than "effective demand").
<p>
Furthermore, if we look at the stock market (a key aspect of any
capitalist system) we discover a strong tendencies <b>against</b> the
efficient allocation of resources. The stock market often experiences
"bubbles" and becomes significantly over-valued. An inflated stock
market badly distorts investment decisions. For example, if Internet 
companies are wildly over-valued then the sale of shares of new 
Internet companies or the providing of start-up capital will drain
away savings that could be more productively used elsewhere. The real
economy will pay a heavy price from such misdirected investment and,
more importantly, resources are <b>not</b> efficiency allocated as the
stock market skews resources into the apparently more profitable
areas and away from where they could be used to satisfy other needs.
<p>
The stock market is also a source of other inefficiencies. Supporters
of "free-market" capitalism always argued that the Stalinist system
of central planning created a perverse set of incentives to managers.
In effect, the system penalised honest managers and encouraged
the flow of <b>dis</b>-information. This lead to information being 
distorted and resources inefficiently allocated and wasted. 
Unfortunately the stock market also creates its own set of perverse  
responses and mis-information. Doug Henwood argues that <i>"something
like a prisoners' dilemma prevails in relations between managers
and the stock market. Even if participants are aware of an upward
bias to earnings estimates, and even if they correct for it,
managers still have an incentive to try and fool the market. If
you tell the truth, your accurate estimates will be marked 
down by a sceptical market. So its entirely rational for
managers to boost profits in the short term, either through
accounting gimmickry or by making only investments with
quick paybacks."</i> He goes on to note that <i>"[i]f the markets
see high costs as bad, and low costs as good, then firms may
shun expensive investments because they will be taken as 
signs of managerial incompetence. Throughout the late 1980s
and early 1990s, the stock market rewarded firms announcing
write-offs and mass firings -- a bulimic strategy of 
management -- since the cost cutting was seen as contributing
rather quickly to profits. Firms and economies can't get richer
by starving themselves, but stock market investors can get
richer when the companies they own go hungry. As for the long
term, well, that's someone else's problem."</i> [<b>Wall Street</b>,
p. 171]
<p>
This means that resources are allocated to short term projects,
those that enrich the investors now rather than produce long
term growth and benefits later. This results in slower and
more unstable investment than less market centred economies,
as well as greater instability over the business cycle [<b>Op.
Cit.</b>, pp. 174-5] Thus the claim that capitalism results in
the "efficient" allocation of resources is only true if we
assume "efficient" equals highest profits for capitalists.
As Henwood summarises, <i>"the US financial system performs
dismally at its advertised task, that of efficiently directing
society's savings towards their optimal investment pursuits.
The system is stupefyingly expensive, gives terrible signals,
and has surprisingly little to do with real investment."</i> 
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 3]
<p>
Moreover, the claim that laissez-faire economies produce a high rate
of economic progress can be questioned on the empirical evidence available.
For example, from the 1970s onwards there has been a strong tendency
towards economic deregulation. However, this tendency has been associated
with a <b>slow down</b> of economic growth. For example, <i>"[g]rowth rates,
investment rates and productivity rates are all lower now than in
the [Keynesian post-war] Golden Age, and there is evidence that the
trend rate of growth -- the underlying growth rate -- has also
decreased."</i> Before the Thatcher pro-market reforms, the British
economy grew by 2.4% in the 1970s. After Thatcher's election in 
1979, growth decreased to 2% in the 1980s and to 1.2% in the 1990s.
In the USA, we find a similar pattern. Growth was 4.4% in the 1960s,
3.2% in the 1970s, 2.8% in the 1980s and 1.9% in the first half
of the 1990s [Larry Elliot and Dan Atkinson, <b>The Age of Insecurity</b>, 
p. 236]. Moreover, in terms of inflation-adjusted GDP per capita
and productivity, the US had the worse performance out of the US,
UK, Japan, Italy, France, Canada and Australia between 1970 and 
1995 [Marc-Anfre Pigeon and L. Randall Wray, <b>Demand Constraints
and Economic Growth</b>]. Given that the US is usually considered the 
most laissez-faire out of these 7 countries, Caplan's claim of 
high progress for deregulated systems seems at odds with this 
evidence.
<p>
As far as technological innovation goes, it is also not clear that
deregulation has aided that process. Much of our modern technology
owns its origins to the US Pentagon system, in which public money
is provided to companies for military R&D purposes. Once the 
technology has been proven viable, the companies involved can
sell their public subsidised products for private profit. The
computer industry (as we point out in <a href="secJ4.html#secj47">section J.4.7</a>) is a classic
example of this -- indeed it is unlikely whether we would have
computers or the internet if we had waited for capitalists to
development them. So whether a totally deregulated capitalism would
have as high a rate of technological progress is a moot point.
<p>
So, it seems likely that it is only the <b>assumption</b> that the
free capitalist market will generate <i>"an efficient allocation of 
resources and (more importantly) a high rate of economic progress."</i>
Empirical evidence points the other way -- namely, that state aided
capitalism provides an approximation of these claims. Indeed, if
we look at the example of the British Empire (which pursued a
strong free trade and laissez-faire policy over the areas it had
invaded) we can suggest that the opposite may be true. After 25 prosperous
years of fast growth (3.5 per cent), after 1873 Britain had 40
years of slow growth (1.5 per cent), the last 14 years of which
were the worse -- with productivity declining, GDP stagnant
and home investment halved. [Nicholas Kaldor, <b>Further Essays
on Applied Economics</b>, p. 239] In comparison, those countries
which embraced protectionism (such as Germany and the USA)
industrialised successfully and become competitors with the 
UK. Indeed, these new competitors grew in time to be efficient
competitors of Britain not only in foreign markets but also
in Britain's home market. The result was that <i>"for fifty years
Britain's GDP grew very slowly relative to the more successful
of the newer industrialised countries, who overtook her, one
after another, in the volume of manufacturing production
and in exports and finally in real income per head."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>,
p. xxvi] Indeed, <i>"America's growth and productivity rates
were higher when tariffs were steep than when they came
down."</i> [Larry Elliot and Dan Atkinson, <b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 277]
<p>
It is possible to explain almost everything that has ever 
happened in the world economy as evidence not of the failure 
of markets but rather of what happens when markets are not 
able to operate freely. Indeed, this is the right-libertarian 
position in a nut shell. However, it does seem strange that 
movements towards increased freedom for markets produce worse 
results than the old, more regulated, way. Similarly it seems 
strange that the country that embraced laissez-faire and free 
trade (Britain) did <b>worse</b> than those which embraced protectionism 
(USA, Germany, etc.).
<p>
It could always be argued that the protectionist countries had
embraced free trade their economies would have done even better.
This is, of course, a possibility -- if somewhat unlikely. After 
all, the argument for laissez-faire and free trade is that it 
benefits all parties, even if it is embraced unilaterally. That 
Britain obviously did not benefit suggests a flaw in the theory 
(and that no country <b>has</b> industrialised without protectionism 
suggests likewise). Unfortunately, free-market capitalist economics
lends itself to a mind frame that ensures that nothing could 
happen in the real world that would could ever change its 
supporters minds about anything.
<p>
Free trade, it could be argued, benefits only those who have
established themselves in the market -- that is, have market
power. Thus Britain could initially benefit from free trade
as it was the only industrialised nation (and even <b>its</b>
early industrialisation cannot be divorced from its initial
mercantilist policies). This position of strength allowed them
to dominate and destroy possible competitors (as Kaldor points 
out, <i>"[w]here the British succeeded in gaining free entry for 
its goods. . . it had disastrous effects on local manufactures 
and employment."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. xxvi]). This would revert the
other country back towards agriculture, an industry with
diminishing returns to scale (manufacturing, in contrast, 
has increasing returns) and ensure Britain's position of
power. 
<p>
The use of protection, however, sheltered the home industries 
of other countries and gave them the foothold required to
compete with Britain. In addition, Britains continual adherence
to free trade meant that a lot of <b>new</b> industries (such as
chemical and electrical ones) could not be properly established.
This combination contributed to free trade leading to stunted
growth, in stark contrast to the arguments of neo-classical
economics. 
<p>
Of course, we will be accused of supporting protectionism by 
recounting these facts. That is not the case, as protectionism 
is used as a means of "proletarianising" a nation (as we
discuss in <a href="secF8.html">section F.8</a>). Rather we are presenting evidence
to refute a claim that deregulated capitalism will lead to
higher growth. Thus, we suggest, the history of "actually 
existing" capitalism indicates that Caplan's claim that 
deregulated capitalism will result <i>"a high rate of economic 
progress"</i> may be little more than an assumption. True, it is 
an assumption of neo-classical economics, but empirical evidence 
suggests that assumption is as unfounded as the rest of that 
theory.
<p>
Next we get to the meat of the defence of "anarcho"-capitalism: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Now the anarcho-capitalist essentially turns the minarchist's own logic
against him, and asks why the remaining functions of the state could 
not be turned over to the free market. And so, the anarcho-capitalist
imagines that police services could be sold by freely competitive firms;
that a court system would emerge to peacefully arbitrate disputes between 
firms; and that a sensible legal code could be developed through custom,
precedent, and contract."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Indeed, the functions in question could certainly be turned over to the
"free" market, as was done in certain areas of the US during the 19th
century, e.g. the coal towns that were virtually owned by private coal
companies. We have already discussed the negative impact of that
experiment on the working class in <a href="secF6.html#secf62">section F.6.2</a>. Our objection is not
that such privatisation cannot be done, but that it is an error to call 
it a form of anarchism. In reality it is an extreme form of laissez-faire 
capitalism, which is the exact opposite of anarchism. The defence of
private power by private police is hardly a move towards the end of
authority, nor are collections of private states an example of anarchism.
<p>
Indeed, that "anarcho"-capitalism does not desire the end of the state,
just a change in its form, can be seen from Caplan's own arguments. He
states that <i>"the remaining functions of the state"</i> should be <i>"turned
over to the free market."</i> Thus the state (and its functions, primarily
the defence of capitalist property rights) is <b>privatised</b> and not, in
fact, abolished. In effect, the "anarcho"-capitalist seeks to abolish 
the state by calling it something else.
<p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The anarcho-capitalist typically hails modern society's increasing
reliance on private security guards, gated communities, arbitration and
mediation, and other demonstrations of the free market's ability to
supply the defensive and legal services normally assumed to be of
necessity a government monopoly."</i>
</blockquote><p>
It is questionable that <i>"modern society"</i> <b>as such</b> has increased
its reliance on <i>"private security guards, gated communities"</i> and so on.
Rather, it is the <b>wealthy</b> who have increased their reliance on these
forms of private defence. Indeed it is strange to hear a right-libertarian 
even use the term "society" as, according to that ideology, society does 
not exist! Perhaps the term "society" is used to hide the class nature 
of these developments? As for "gated communities" it is clear that
their inhabitants would object if the rest of society gated themselves
from them! But such is the logic of such developments -- but the 
gated communities want it both ways. They seek to exclude the rest of
society from their communities while expected to be given access to
that society. Needless to say, Caplan fails to see that liberty for
the rich can mean oppression for the working class -- <i>"we who belong
to the proletaire class, property excommunicates us!"</i> [Proudhon,
<b>What is Property?</b>, p. 105]
<p>
That the law code of the state is being defended by private companies is
hardly a step towards anarchy. This indicates exactly why an "anarcho"-
capitalist system will be a collection of private states united around a
common, capitalistic, and hierarchical law code. In addition, this system
does not abolish the monopoly of government over society represented by
the <i>"general libertarian law code,"</i> nor the monopoly of power that owners
have over their property and those who use it. The difference between
public and private statism is that the boss can select which law
enforcement agents will enforce his or her power.
<p>
The threat to freedom and justice for the working class is clear. The 
thug-like nature of many private security guards enforcing private power
is well documented. For example, the beating of protesters by "private
cops" is a common sight in anti-motorway campaigns or when animal right
activists attempt to disrupt fox hunts. The shooting of strikers during
strikes occurred during the peak period of American laissez-faire
capitalism. However, as most forms of protest involve the violation of
"absolute" property rights, the "justice" system under "anarcho"-capitalism 
would undoubtedly fine the victims of such attacks by private cops.
<p>
It is also interesting that the "anarcho"-capitalist "hails" what are 
actually symptoms of social breakdown under capitalism. With increasing 
wealth disparity, poverty, and chronic high unemployment, society is becoming
polarised into those who can afford to live in secure, gated communities
and those who cannot. The latter are increasingly marginalised in ghettos
and poor neighbourhoods where drug-dealing, prostitution, and theft become
main forms of livelihood, with gangs offering a feudalistic type of
"protection" to those who join or pay tribute to them. Under
"anarcho"-capitalism, the only change would be that drug-dealing and
prostitution would be legalised and gangs could start calling themselves
"defence companies." 
<p>
Caplan:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In his ideal society, these market alternatives to government services
would take over <b>all</b> legitimate security services. One plausible market
structure would involve individuals subscribing to one of a large number
of competing police services; these police services would then set up
contracts or networks for peacefully handling disputes between members of
each others' agencies. Alternately, police services might be 'bundled'
with housing services, just as landlords often bundle water and power
with rental housing, and gardening and security are today provided to
residents in gated communities and apartment complexes."</i>
</blockquote><p>
This is a scenario designed with the upper classes in mind and a few
working class people, i.e. those with <b>some</b> property (for example, a 
house) -- sometimes labelled the "middle class". But under capitalism, 
the tendency toward capital concentration leads to increasing wealth 
polarisation, which means a shrinking "middle class" (i.e. working 
class with decent jobs and their own homes) and a growing "underclass" 
(i.e. working class people without a decent job). Ironically enough, 
America (with one of the most laissez-faire capitalist systems) is 
also the Western nation with the <b>smallest</b> "middle class" and
wealth concentration has steadily increased since the 1970s. 
Thus the number of people who could afford to buy protection and 
"justice" from the best companies would continually decrease. For 
this reason there would be a growing number of people at the mercy 
of the rich and powerful, particularly when it comes to matters 
concerning employment, which is the main way in which the poor 
would be victimised by the rich and powerful (as is indeed the 
case now). 
<p>
Of course, if landlords <b>do</b> "bundle" police services in their
contracts this means that they are determining the monopoly of
force over the property in question. Tenants would "consent"
to the police force and the laws of the landlord in exactly
the same way emigrants "consent" to the laws and government of,
say, the USA when they move there. Rather than show the difference
between statism and capitalism, Caplan has indicated their
essential commonality. For the proletarian, property is but
another form of state. For this reason anarchists would agree
with Rousseau when he wrote that:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"That a rich and powerful man, having acquired immense 
possessions in lands, should impose laws on those who
want to establish themselves there, and that he should
only allow them to do so on condition that they accept
his supreme authority and obey all his wishes; that, I
can still conceive. But how can I conceive such a treaty,
which presupposes anterior rights, could be the first
foundation of law? Would not this tyrannical act contain
a double usurpation: that on the ownership of the land
and that on the liberty of the inhabitants?"</i> [<b>The Social
Contract and Discourses</b>, p. 316]
</blockquote><p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The underlying idea is that contrary to popular belief, private police
would have strong incentives to be peaceful and respect individual
rights. For first of all, failure to peacefully arbitrate will yield 
to jointly destructive warfare, which will be bad for profits. Second,
firms will want to develop long-term business relationships, and hence 
be willing to negotiate in good faith to insure their long-term
profitability. And third, aggressive firms would be likely to attract
only high-risk clients and thus suffer from extraordinarily high costs 
(a problem parallel to the well-known 'adverse selection problem' in 
e.g. medical insurance -- the problem being that high-risk people are
especially likely to seek insurance, which drives up the price when
riskiness is hard for the insurer to discern or if regulation requires a
uniform price regardless of risk)."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
The theory that <i>"failure to peacefully arbitrate will yield to jointly 
destructive warfare, which will be bad for profits"</i> can be faulted in two
ways. Firstly, if warfare would be bad for profits, what is to stop a
large "defence association" from ignoring a smaller one's claim? If 
warfare were "bad for business," it would be even worse for a small
company without the capital to survive a conflict, which could give big
"defence associations" the leverage to force compliance with their business
interests. Price wars are often bad for business, but companies sometimes
start them if they think they can win. Needless to say, demand would exist 
for such a service (unless you assume a transformation in the "human 
nature" generated by capitalism -- an unlikely situation and one 
"anarcho"-capitalists usually deny is required for their system to 
work). Secondly -- and this is equally, if not more, likely -- a 
"balance of power" method to stop warfare has little to recommend it 
from history. This can be seen from the First World War and feudal 
society. 
<p>
What the "anarcho"-capitalist is describing is essentially a system of
"industrial feudalism" wherein people contract for "protection" with armed
gangs of their choice. Feudal societies have never been known to be
peaceful, even though war is always "unprofitable" for one side or the
other or both. The argument fails to consider that "defence companies,"
whether they be called police forces, paramilitaries or full-blown armies, 
tend to attract the "martial" type of authoritarian personality, and that this
type of "macho" personality thrives on and finds its reason for existence in 
armed conflict and other forms of interpersonal violence and intimidation. 
Hence feudal society is continually wracked by battles between the forces
of opposing warlords, because such conflicts allow the combatants a chance to
"prove their manhood," vent their aggression, obtain honours and titles,
advance in the ranks, obtain spoils, etc. The "anarcho" capitalist has
given no reason why warfare among legalised gangs would not continue under
industrial feudalism, except the extremely lame reason that it would not
be profitable -- a reason that has never prevented war in any known feudal
society. 
<p>
It should be noted that the above is not an argument from "original 
sin." Feudal societies are characterised by conflict between opposing
"protection agencies" not because of the innate depravity of human beings
but because of a social structure based on private property and hierarchy,
which brings out the latent capacities for violence, domination, greed,
etc. that humans have by creating a financial incentive to be so. But this
 is not to say that a different social structure would not bring out latent
capacities for much different qualities like sharing, peaceableness, and 
co-operation, which human beings also have. In fact, as Kropotkin argued 
in <b>Mutual Aid</b> and as recent anthropologists have confirmed in greater 
detail, ancient societies based on communal ownership of productive assets 
and little social hierarchy were basically peaceful, with no signs of 
warfare for thousands of years. 
<p>
However, let us assume that such a competitive system does actually
work as described. Caplan, in effect, argues that competition will
generate co-operation. This is due to the nature of the market in
question -- defence (and so peace) is dependent on firms working
together as the commodity "peace" cannot be supplied by one firm.
However, this co-operation does not, for some reason, become <b>collusion</b>
between the firms in question. According to "anarcho"-capitalists
this competitive system not only produces co-operation, it excludes
"defence" firms making agreements to fix monopoly profits (i.e.
co-operation that benefits the firms in question). Why does the
market produce beneficial co-operation to everyone but not 
collusion for the firms in question? Collusion is when firms 
have "business relationships" and "negotiate in good faith" to 
insure their profitability by agreeing not to compete aggressively 
against each other in order to exploit the market. Obviously in
"anarcho"-capitalism the firms in question only use their powers 
for good!
<p>
Needless to say, the "anarcho"-capitalist will object and argue
that competition will ensure that collusion will not occur. 
However, given that co-operation is required between all firms
in order to provide the commodity "peace" this places the 
"anarcho"-capitalist in a bind. As Caplan notes, "aggressive" 
firms are <i>"likely to attract only high-risk clients and thus 
suffer from extraordinarily high costs."</I> From the perspective
of the colluding firms, a new entry into their market is, by
definition, aggressive. If the colluding firms do not co-operate
with the new competitor, then it will suffer from <i>"extraordinarily
high costs"</i> and either go out of business or join the co-operators.
If the new entry could survive in the face of the colluding firms
hostility then so could "bad" defence firms, ones that ignored
the market standards.
<p>
So the "anarcho"-capitalist faces two options. Either an "aggressive"
firm cannot survive or it can. If it cannot then the very reason
why it cannot ensures that collusion is built into the market and 
while the system is peaceful it is based on an effective monopoly
of colluding firms who charge monopoly profits. This, in effect, 
is a state under the "anarcho"-capitalist's definition as a property
owner cannot freely select their own "protection" -- they are limited
to the firms (and laws) provided by the co-operating firms. Or an 
"aggressive" firm can survive, violence is commonplace and chaos
ensures.
<p>
Caplan's passing reference to the <i>"adverse selection problem"</i> in medical 
insurance suggests another problem with "anarcho"-capitalism. The problem 
is that high-risk people are especially likely to seek protection, which 
drives up the price for, as "anarcho"-capitalists themselves note, areas
with high crime levels "will be bad for profits," as hardware and personnel 
costs will be correspondingly higher. This means that the price for "protection" 
in areas which need it most will be far higher than for areas which do not
need it. As poor areas are generally more crime afflicted than rich areas,
"anarcho"-capitalism may see vast sections of the population not able to
afford "protection" (just as they may not be about to afford health care 
and other essential services). Indeed, "protection services" which try to
provide cheap services to "high-risk" areas will be at an competitive
disadvantage in relation to those who do not, as the "high-risk" areas
will hurt profits and companies without "high-risk" "customers" could
undercut those that have.
<p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Anarcho-capitalists generally give little credence to the view that their
'private police agencies' would be equivalent to today's Mafia -- the cost
advantages of open, legitimate business would make 'criminal police' 
uncompetitive. (Moreover, they argue, the Mafia can only thrive in the
artificial market niche created by the prohibition of alcohol, drugs,
prostitution, gambling, and other victimless crimes. Mafia gangs might
kill each other over turf, but liquor-store owners generally do not.)"</i>
</blockquote><p>
As we have pointed out in <a href="secF6.html">section F.6</a>, the "Mafia" objection to
"anarcho"-capitalist defence companies is a red herring. The 
biggest problem would not be "criminal police" but the fact that 
working people and tenants would subject to the rules, power and
laws of the property owners, the rich would be able to buy better 
police protection and "justice" than the poor and that the "general" 
law code these companies would defend would be slanted towards the 
interests and power of the capitalist class (defending capitalist
property rights and the proprietors power). And as we also noted, 
such a system has already been tried in 19th-century and early 20th 
America, with the result that the rich reduced the working class to 
a serf-like existence, capitalist production undermined independent 
producers (to the annoyance of individualist anarchists at the time), 
and the result was the emergence of the corporate America that 
"anarcho"-capitalists say they oppose. 
<p>
Caplan argues that "liquor-store owners" do not generally kill each
other over turf. This is true (but then again they do not have 
access to their own private cops currently so perhaps this could
change). But the company owners who created their own private
police forces and armies in America's past <b>did</b> allow their
goons to attack and murder union organisers and strikers. Let
us look at Henry Ford's Service Department (private police 
force) in action:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"In 1932 a hunger march of the unemployed was planned to march
up to the gates of the Ford plant at Dearborn. . . The machine
guns of the Dearborn police and the Ford Motor Company's
Service Department killed [four] and wounded over a score
of others. . . Ford was fundamentally and entirely opposed
to trade unions. The idea of working men questioning his
prerogatives as an owner was outrageous. . . [T]he River
Rouge plant. . . was dominated by the autocratic regime of
Bennett's service men. Bennett . . organise[d] and train[ed]
the three and a half thousand private policemen employed by
Ford. His task was to maintain discipline amongst the work 
force, protect Ford's property [and power], and prevent
unionisation. . . Frank Murphy, the mayor of Detroit,
claimed that 'Henry Ford employs some of the worst 
gangsters in our city.' The claim was well based. Ford's
Service Department policed the gates of his plants, 
infiltrated emergent groups of union activists, posed
as workers to spy on men on the line. . . Under this
tyranny the Ford worker had no security, no rights. So
much so that any information about the state of things
within the plant could only be freely obtained from
ex-Ford workers."</i> [Huw Beynon, <b>Working for Ford</b>, 
pp. 29-30]
</blockquote><p>
The private police attacked women workers handing out
pro-union handbills and gave them <i>"a serve beating."</i>
At Kansas and Dallas <i>"similar beatings were handed out
to the union men."</i> [<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 34] This use of private
police to control the work force was not unique. General
Motors <i>"spent one million dollars on espionage, employing
fourteen detective agencies and two hundred spies at one
time [between 1933 and 1936]. The Pinkerton Detective
Agency found anti-unionism its most lucrative activity."</i>
[<b>Op. Cit.</b>, p. 32] We must also note that the Pinkerton's
had been selling their private police services for decades
before the 1930s. In the 1870s, they had infiltrated and
destroyed the Molly Maguires (a secret organisation 
Irish miners had developed to fight the coal bosses). 
For over 60 years the Pinkerton Detective Agency had
<i>"specialised in providing spies, agent provocateurs, and
private armed forces for employers combating labour
organisations."</i> By 1892 it <i>"had provided its services
for management in seventy major labour disputes, and its
2 000 active agents and 30 000 reserves totalled more
than the standing army of the nation."</i> [Jeremy Brecher, 
<b>Strike!</b>, p. 9 and p. 55] With this force available,
little wonder unions found it so hard to survive in the
USA. Given that unions could be considered as "defence"
agencies for workers, this suggests a picture of how 
"anarcho"-capitalism may work in practice.
<p>
It could be argued that, in the end, the union was recognised
by the Ford company. However, this occurred after the New
Deal was in place (which helped the process), after years
of illegal activity (by definition union activism on Ford
property was an illegal act) and extremely militant strikes.
Given that the union agreement occurred nearly 40 years
after Ford was formed <b>and</b> in a legal situation violently
at odds with "anarcho"-capitalism (or even minimal statist
capitalism), we would be justified in wondering if unionisation
would ever have occurred at Ford and if Ford's private 
police state would ever have been reformed. 
<p>
Of course, from an "anarcho"-capitalist perspective the
only limitation in the Ford workers' liberty was the fact 
they had to pay taxes to the US government. The regime at
Ford could <b>not</b> restrict their liberty as no one forced
them to work for the company. Needless to say, an 
"anarcho"-capitalist would reject out of hand the argument
that no-one forced the citizen to entry or remain in the
USA and so they consented to taxation, the government's
laws and so on.
<p>
This is more than a history lesson. Such private police
forces are on the rise again (see <i>"Armed and Dangerous: 
Private Police on the March"</i> by Mike Zielinski, <b>Covert Action 
Quarterly</b>, no. 54, Fall, 1995 for example). This system of 
private police (as demonstrated by Ford) is just one of the
hidden aspects of Caplan's comment that the "anarcho"-capitalist 
<i>"typically hails modern society's increasing reliance on 
private security guards. . . and other demonstrations of 
the free market's ability to supply the defensive and legal 
services normally assumed to be of necessity a government 
monopoly."</i> 
<p>
Needless to say, private police states are not a step forward 
in anarchist eyes.
<p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Unlike some left-anarchists, the anarcho-capitalist has no objection
to punishing criminals; and he finds the former's claim that punishment
does not deter crime to be the height of naivete. Traditional punishment
might be meted out after a conviction by a neutral arbitrator; or a system
of monetary restitution (probably in conjunction with a prison factory 
system) might exist instead."</i>
</blockquote><p>
Let us note first that in disputes between the capitalist class and the 
working class, there would be no <i>"neutral arbitrator,"</i> because the rich 
would either own the arbitration company or influence/control it through 
the power of the purse (see <a href="secF6.html">section F.6</a>). In addition, "successful"
arbitrators would also be wealthy, therefore making neutrality even 
more unlikely. Moreover, given that the laws the "neutral arbitrator"
would be using are based on capitalist property rights, the powers and
privileges of the owner are built into the system from the start.
 <p>
Second, the left-libertarian critique of punishment does not rest, as
"anarcho"-capitalists claim, on the naive view that intimidation and
coercion aren't effective in controlling behaviour. Rather, it rests on
the premise that capitalist societies produce large numbers of criminals,
whereas societies based on equality and community ownership of productive
assets do not. 
<p>
The argument for this is that societies based on private property and
hierarchy inevitably lead to a huge gap between the haves and the
have-nots, with the latter sunk in poverty, alienation, resentment, 
anger, and hopelessness, while at the same time such societies promote 
greed, ambition, ruthlessness, deceit, and other aspects of competitive
individualism that destroy communal values like sharing, co-operation, and
mutual aid. Thus in capitalist societies, the vast majority of "crime"
turns out to be so-called "crimes against property," which can be traced
to poverty and the grossly unfair distribution of wealth. Where the top
one percent of the population controls more wealth than the bottom 90
percent combined, it is no wonder that a considerable number of those on
the bottom should try to recoup illegally some of the mal-distributed
wealth they cannot obtain legally. (In this they are encouraged by the
bad example of the ruling class, whose parasitic ways of making a living
would be classified as criminal if the mechanisms for defining "criminal
behaviour" were not controlled by the ruling class itself.) And most of 
the remaining "crimes against persons" can be traced to the alienation,
dehumanisation, frustration, rage, and other negative emotions produced 
by the inhumane and unjust economic system. 
<p>
Thus it is only in our societies like ours, with their wholesale
manufacture of many different kinds of criminals, that punishment 
appears to be the only possible way to discourage "crime." From the
left-libertarian perspective, however, the punitive approach is a 
band-aid measure that does not get to the real root of the problem -- 
a problem that lies in the structure of the system itself. The real 
solution is the creation of a non-hierarchical society based on communal 
ownership of productive assets, which, by eliminating poverty and the 
other negative effects of capitalism, would greatly reduce the incidence 
of criminal behaviour and so the need for punitive countermeasures. 
<p>
Finally, two more points on private prisons. Firstly, as to the 
desirability of a "prison factory system," we will merely note 
that, given the capitalist principle of "grow-or-die," if punishing 
crime becomes a business, one can be sure that those who profit 
from it will find ways to ensure that the "criminal" population 
keeps expanding at a rate sufficient to maintain a high rate of profit 
and growth. After all, the logic of a "prison factory system" is 
self-defeating. If the aim of prison is to deter crime (as some 
claim) and if a private prison system will meet that aim, then a 
successful private prison system will stop crime, which, in turn,
will put them out of business! Thus a "prison factory system" cannot
aim to be efficient (i.e. stop crime). 
<p>
Secondly, Caplan does not mention the effect of prison labour on the 
wages, job conditions and market position of workers. Having a sizeable 
proportion of the working population labouring in prison would have a 
serious impact on the bargaining power of workers. How could workers 
outside of prison compete with such a regime of labour discipline 
without submitting to prison-like conditions themselves? Unsurprisingly,
US history again presents some insight into this. As Noam Chomsky
notes, the <i>"rapid industrial development in the southeastern region
[of America] a century ago was based on (Black) convict labour,
leased to the highest bidder."</i> Chomsky quotes expert Alex Lichtenstein
comments that Southern Industrialists pointed out that convict
labour was <i>"more reliable and productive than free labour"</i> and
that it overcomes the problem of labour turnover and instability.
It also <i>"remove[d] all danger and cost of strikes"</i> and that it
lowers wages for <i>"free labour"</i> (i.e. wage labour). The US Bureau
of Labor reported that <i>"mine owners [in Alabama] say they could 
not work at a profit without the lowering effect in wages of
convict-labour competition."</i> [<b>The Umbrella of US Power</b>, p. 32]
<p>
Needless to say, Caplan fails to mention this aspect of 
"anarcho"-capitalism (just as he fails to mention the example
of Ford's private police state). Perhaps an "anarcho"-capitalist 
will say that prison labour will be less productive than wage 
labour and so workers have little to fear, but this makes little 
sense. If wage labour is more productive then prison labour will 
not find a market (and then what for the prisoners? Will profit-maximising
companies <b>really</b> invest in an industry with such high over-heads
as maintaining prisoners for free?). Thus it seems more than likely
that any "prison-factory system" will be as productive as the
surrounding wage-labour ones, thus forcing down their wages and
the conditions of labour. For capitalists this would be ideal,
however for the vast majority a different conclusion must be
drawn.
<p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Probably the main division between the anarcho-capitalists stems from the
apparent differences between Rothbard's natural-law anarchism, and David
Friedman's more economistic approach. Rothbard puts more emphasis on the
need for a generally recognised libertarian legal code (which he thinks
could be developed fairly easily by purification of the Anglo-American
common law), whereas Friedman focuses more intently on the possibility of
plural legal systems co-existing and responding to the consumer demands
of different elements of the population. The difference, however, is
probably overstated. Rothbard believes that it is legitimate for
consumer demand to determine the philosophically neutral content of the
law, such as legal procedure, as well as technical issues of property
right definition such as water law, mining law, etc. And Friedman admits
that 'focal points' including prevalent norms are likely to circumscribe
and somewhat standardise the menu of available legal codes."</i>
<p></blockquote>
The argument that "consumer demand" would determine a "philosophically
neutral" content of the law cannot be sustained. Any law code will 
reflect the philosophy of those who create it. Under "anarcho"-capitalism, 
as we have noted (see <a href="secF6.html">section F.6</a>), the values of the capitalist rich
will be dominant and will shape the law code and justice system, as they
do now, only more so. The law code will therefore continue to give priority
to the protection of private property over human values; those who have the 
most money will continue being able to hire the best lawyers; and the best 
(i.e. most highly paid) judges will be inclined to side with the wealthy and 
to rule in their interests, out of class loyalty (and personal interests). 
<p>
Moreover, given that the law code exists to protect capitalist property
rights, how can it be "philosophically neutral" with that basis? How
would "competing" property frameworks co-exist? If a defence agency
allowed squatting and another (hired by the property owner) did not,
there is no way (bar force) a conflict could be resolved. Then the
firm with the most resources would win. "Anarcho"-capitalism, in effect,
smuggles into the foundation of their system a distinctly <b>non</b>-neutral
philosophy, namely capitalism. Those who reject such a basis may
end up sharing the fate of tribal peoples who rejected that system of
property rights, for example, the Native Americans.
<p>
In other words, in terms of outcome the whole system would favour 
<b>capitalist</b> values and so not be "philosophically neutral." The law
would be favourable to employers rather than workers, manufacturers 
rather than consumers, and landlords rather than tenants. Indeed,
from the "anarcho"-capitalist perspective the rules that benefit 
employers, landlords and manufacturers (as passed by progressive
legislatures or enforced by direct action) simply define liberty 
and property rights whereas the rules that benefit workers, tenants 
and consumers are simply an interference with liberty. The rules one 
likes, in other words, are the foundations of sacred property rights
(and so "liberty," as least for the capitalist and landlord), those 
one does not like are meddlesome regulation. This is a very handy 
trick and would not be worth mentioning if it was not so commonplace 
in right-libertarian theory.
<p>
We should leave aside the fantasy that the law under "anarcho"-capitalism
is a politically neutral set of universal rules deduced from particular     
cases and free from a particular instrumental or class agenda.
<p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Critics of anarcho-capitalism sometimes assume that communal or worker-owned 
firms would be penalised or prohibited in an anarcho-capitalist society. It
would be more accurate to state that while individuals would be free to 
voluntarily form communitarian organisations, the anarcho-capitalist 
simply doubts that they would be widespread or prevalent."</i> 
</blockquote><p>
There is good reason for this doubt. Worker co-operatives would not be
widespread or prevalent in an "anarcho"-capitalist society for the same
reason that they are not widespread or prevalent now: namely, that the
socio-economic, legal, and political systems would be structured in such 
as way as to automatically discourage their growth (in addition, 
capitalist firms and the rich would also have an advantage in that 
they would still own and control the wealth they currently have which 
are a result of previous "initiations of force". This
would give them an obvious advantage on the "free-market" -- an 
advantage which would be insurmountable).
<p>
As we explain in more detail in <a href="secJ5.html#secj511">
section J.5.11</a>, the reason why there are not
more producer co-operatives is partly structural, based on the fact that
co-operatives have a tendency to grow at a slower rate than capitalist
firms. This is a good thing if one's primary concern is, say, protecting
the environment, but fatal if one is trying to survive in a competitive
capitalist environment.
<p>
Under capitalism, successful competition for profits is the fundamental
fact of economic survival. This means that banks and private investors
seeking the highest returns on their investments will favour those
companies that grow the fastest. Moreover, in co-operatives returns 
to capital are less than in capitalist firms. Under such conditions, 
capitalist firms will attract more investment capital, allowing them to 
buy more productivity-enhancing technology and thus to sell their products 
more cheaply than co-operatives. Even though co-operatives are at least as
efficient (usually more so) than their equivalent capitalist firms, the
effect of market forces (particularly those associated with capital
markets) will select against them. This bias against co-operatives under
capitalism is enough to ensure that, despite their often higher efficiency,
they cannot prosper under capitalism (i.e. capitalism selects the <b>least
efficient</b> way of producing). Hence Caplan's comments hide how the
effect of inequalities in wealth and power under capitalism determine 
which alternatives are "widespread" in the "free market"
<p>
Moreover, co-operatives within capitalism have a tendency to adapt to
the dominant market conditions rather than undermining them. There 
will be pressure on the co-operatives to compete more effectively by 
adopting the same cost-cutting and profit-enhancing measures as capitalist 
firms. Such measures will include the deskilling of workers; squeezing as 
much "productivity" as is humanly possible from them; and a system of pay 
differentials in which the majority of workers receive low wages while the 
bulk of profits are reinvested in technology upgrades and other capital 
expansion that keeps pace with capitalist firms. But this means that in 
a capitalist environment, there tend to be few practical advantages for 
workers in collective ownership of the firms in which they work. 
<p>
This problem can only be solved by eliminating private property and 
the coercive statist mechanisms required to protect it (including 
private states masquerading as "protection companies"), because this 
is the only way to eliminate competition for profits as the driving 
force of economic activity. In a libertarian socialist environment, 
federated associations of workers in co-operative enterprises would 
co-ordinate production for <b>use</b> rather than profit, thus eliminating 
the competitive basis of the economy and so also the "grow-or-die" 
principle which now puts co-operatives at a fatal economic disadvantage. 
(For more on how such an economy would be organised and operated, as 
well as answers to objections, see <a href="secIcon.html">section I</a>.)
<p>
And let us not forget what is implied by Caplan's statement that
the "anarcho"-capitalist does not think that co-operative holding
of "property" "would be widespread or prevalent." It means that
the vast majority would be subject to the power, authority and
laws of the property owner and so would not govern themselves.
In other words, it would a system of private statism rather
than anarchy.
<p>
Caplan:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"However, in theory an 'anarcho-capitalist' society might be filled with
nothing but communes or worker-owned firms, so long as these associations
were formed voluntarily (i.e., individuals joined voluntarily and capital
was obtained with the consent of the owners) and individuals retained 
the right to exit and set up corporations or other profit-making,
individualistic firms."</i>
</blockquote><p>
It's interesting that the "anarcho"-capitalists are willing to allow
workers to set up "voluntary" co-operatives so long as the conditions 
are retained which ensure that such co-operatives will have difficulty
surviving (i.e. private property and private states), but they are
unwilling to allow workers to set up co-operatives under conditions that
would ensure their success (i.e. the absence of private property and
private states). This reflects the usual vacuousness of the
right-libertarian concepts of  "freedom" and "voluntarism." 
<p>
In other words, these worker-owned firms would exist in and be subject
to the same capitalist <i>"general libertarian law code"</i> and work in the 
same capitalist market as the rest of society.  So, not only are these 
co-operatives subject to capitalist market forces, they exist and operate 
in a society defined by capitalist laws. As discussed in <a href="secF2.html">section F.2</a>, 
such disregard for the social context of human action shows up the 
"anarcho" capitalist's disregard for meaningful liberty. 
<p>
All Caplan is arguing here is that as long as people remain within the
(capitalist) "law code," they can do whatever they like. However, what
determines the amount of coercion required in a society is the extent to
which people are willing to accept the rules imposed on them. This is as
true of an "anarcho"-capitalist society as it is of any other. In other 
words, if more and more people reject the basic assumptions of capitalism, 
the more coercion against anarchistic tendencies will be required. Saying that
people would be free to experiment under "anarcho"-capitalist law (if they
can afford it, of course) does not address the issue of changes in social
awareness (caused, by example, by class struggle) which can make such "laws"
redundant. So, when all is said and done, "anarcho"-capitalism just states
that as long as you accept their rules, you are free to do what you like.
<p>
How generous of them!
<p>
Thus, while we would be allowed to be collective capitalists or property
owners under "anarcho"-capitalists we would have no choice about living
under laws based on the most rigid and extreme interpretation of property
rights available. In other words, "anarcho"-capitalists recognise (at
least implicitly) that there exists one collective need that needs
collective support -- a law system to define and protects people's rights.
Ultimately, as C.B. Macpherson argues, "Individualism" implies "collectivism"
for the <i>"notion that individualism and 'collectivism' are the opposite
ends of a scale along which states and theories of the state can be
arranged . . . is superficial and misleading. . . . [I]ndividualism . . .
does not exclude but on the contrary demands the supremacy of the state
[or law] over the individual. It is not a question of the more individualism,
the less collectivism; rather, the more through-going the individualism,
the more complete the collectivism. Of this the supreme illustration
is Hobbes's theory."</i> [<b>The Political Theory of Possessive 
Individualism</b>, p.256] Under "anarcho"-capitalism the individual 
is subject to the laws regarding private property, laws decided in 
advance by a small group of ideological leaders. Then real individuals
are expected to live with the consequences as best they can, with the
law being placed ahead of these consequences for flesh and blood people.
The abstraction of the law dominates and devours real 
individuals, who are considered
below it and incapable of changing it (except for the worse). This, from
one angle, shares a lot with theocracy and very little with liberty.
<p>
Needless to say, Caplan like most (if not all) "anarcho"-capitalists
assume that the current property owners are entitled to their property.
However, as John Stuart Mill pointed out over 100 years ago, the <i>"social
arrangements"</i> existing today <i>"commenced from a distribution of property
which was the result, not of a just partition, or acquisition by
industry, but of conquest and violence . . . [and] the system still
retains many and large traces of its origin."</i> [<b>Principles of
Political Economy</b>,  p. 15] Given that (as we point out in 
<a href="secF2.html#secf23">section
F.2.3</a>) Murray Rothbard argues that the state cannot be claimed to
own its territory simply because it did not acquire its property in a 
"just" manner, this suggests that "anarcho"-capitalism cannot actually
argue against the state. After all, property owners today cannot be
said to have received their property "justly" and <b>if</b> they are 
entitled to it so is the state to <b>its</b> "property"!
<p>
But as is so often the case, property owners are exempt from the
analysis the state is subjected to by "anarcho"-capitalists. The
state and property owners may do the same thing (such as ban
freedom of speech and association or regulate individual behaviour) 
but only the state is condemned by "anarcho"-capitalism.
<p>
Caplan:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"On other issues, the anarcho-capitalist differs little if at all from
the more moderate libertarian. Services should be privatised and opened
to free competition; regulation of personal AND economic behaviour should
be done away with."</i> 
<p></blockquote>
The "anarcho"-capitalist's professed desire to "do away" with the
"regulation" of economic behaviour is entirely disingenuous. For, by
giving capitalists the ability to protect their exploitative monopolies 
of social capital by the use of coercive private states, one is thereby
"regulating" the economy in the strongest possible way, i.e. ensuring 
that it will be channelled in certain directions rather than others. For
example, one is guaranteeing that production will be for profit rather
than use; that there will consequently be runaway growth and an endless
devouring of nature based on the principle of "grow or die;" and that 
the alienation and deskilling of the workforce will continue. What the
"anarcho"-capitalist really means by "doing away with the regulation 
of economic behaviour" is that ordinary people will have even less
opportunity than now to democratically control the rapacious behaviour of
capitalists. Needless to say, the "regulation of personal" behaviour would
<b>not</b> be done away with in the workplace, where the authority of the
bosses would still exist and you would have follow their petty rules and
regulations.
<p>
Moreover, regardless of "anarcho"-capitalist claims, they do not, 
in fact, support civil liberties or oppose "regulation" of personal
behaviour as such. Rather, they <b>support</b> property owners suppressing 
civil liberties on their property and the regulation of personal 
behaviour by employers and landlords. This they argue is a valid
expression of property rights. Indeed, any attempts to allow workers
civil liberties or restrict employers demands on workers by state
or union action is denounced as a violation of "liberty" (i.e. the
power of the property owner). Those subject to the denial of civil
liberties or the regulation of their personal behaviour by landlords
or employees can "love it or leave it." Of course, the same can be
said to any objector to state oppression -- and frequently is. This
is an artificial double standard, which labels a restraint by one 
group or person in a completely different way than the same 
restraint by others simply because one is called "the government"
and the other is not. 
<p>
This
denial of civil liberties can be seen from these words by Murray
Rothbard:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"[I]n the profoundest sense there are no rights but property 
rights . . . Freedom of speech is supposed to mean the right of
everyone to say whatever he likes. But the neglected question is:
Where? Where does a man have this right? He certainly does not
have it on property on which he is trespassing. In short, he has
this right only either on his own property or on the property of
someone who has agreed, as a gift or in a rental contract, to
allow him in the premises. In fact, then, there is no such thing
as a separate 'right to free speech'; there is only a man's
property right: the right to do as he wills with his own or 
to make voluntary agreements with other property owners."</i>
[Murray Rothbard, <b>Power and Market</b>, p. 176]
</blockquote><p>
Of course, Rothbard fails to see that for the property-less such
a regime implies <b>no</b> rights whatsoever. It also means the effective
end of free speech and free association as the property owner can 
censor those on their property (such as workers or tenants) and
ban their organisations (such as unions). Of course, in his example
Rothbard looks at the "trespasser," <b>not</b> the wage worker or the 
tenant (two far more common examples in any modern society). Rothbard 
is proposing the dictatorship of the property owner and the end
of civil liberties and equal rights (as property is unequally 
distributed). He gives this utter denial of liberty an Orwellian 
twist by proclaiming the end of civil liberties by property rights 
as "a new liberty." Perhaps for the property-owner, but not the 
wage worker -- <i>"We who belong to the proletaire class, property 
excommunicates us!"</i> [Proudhon, <b>What is Property?</b>, p. 137]
<p>
In effect, right-Libertarians do not care how many restrictions are 
placed on you as long as it is not the government doing it. Of
course it will be claimed that workers and tenants "consent" to
these controls (although they reject the notion that citizens
"consent" to government controls by not leaving their state). 
Here the libertarian case is so disingenuous as to be offensive. 
There is no symmetry in the situations facing workers and
firms. To the worker, the loss of a job is often far more of 
a threat than the loss of one worker is to the firm. The reality 
of economic power leads people to contract into situations that, 
although they are indeed the "best" arrangements of those 
available, are nonetheless miserable. In any real economy -- and, 
remember, the right-libertarian economy lacks any social safety 
net, making workers' positions more insecure than now -- the
right-libertarian denial of economic power is a delusion.
<p>
Unlike anarchist theory, right-libertarian theory provides <b>no</b>
rationale to protest private power (or even state power if we
accept the notion that the state owns its territory). Relations
of domination and subjection are valid expressions of liberty
in their system and, perversely, attempts to resist authority
(by strikes, unions, resistance) are deemed "initiations of
force" upon the oppressor! In contrast, anarchist theory 
provides a strong rationale for resisting private and public
domination. Such domination violates freedom and any free 
association which dominates any within it violates the 
basis of that association in self-assumed obligation (see
<a href="secA2.html#seca211">section A.2.11</a>). Thus Proudhon:
<p><blockquote>
<i>"The social contract should increase the well-being and liberty
of every citizen. -- If any one-sided conditions should
slip in; if one part of the citizens should find themselves,
by the contract, subordinated and exploited by others, it 
would no longer be a contract; it would be a fraud, against
which annulment might at any time by invoked justly."</i> [<b>The
General Idea of the Revolution</b>, p. 114]
</blockquote><p>
Caplan's claim that right libertarians oppose regulation 
of individual behaviour is simply not true. They just 
oppose state regulation while supporting private regulation 
wholeheartedly. Anarchists, in contrast, reject both public
and private domination.
<p>
Caplan: 
<p><blockquote>
<i>"Poverty would be handled by work and responsibility for those able 
to care for themselves, and voluntary charity for those who cannot. 
(Libertarians hasten to add that a deregulated economy would greatly
increase the economic opportunities of the poor, and elimination of
taxation would lead to a large increase in charitable giving.)"</i>
<p></blockquote>
Notice the implication that poverty is now caused by laziness and
irresponsibility rather than by the inevitable workings of an economic
system that <b>requires</b> a large <i>"reserve army of the unemployed"</i> as 
a condition of profitability. The continuous "boom" economy of
"anarcho"-capitalist fantasies is simply incompatible with the 
fundamental principles of capitalism. To re-quote Michael Kalecki
(from <a href="secB4.html#secb44">section B.4.4</a>), <i>"[l]asting full employment is not at all to 
[the] liking [of business leaders]. The workers would 'get out of 
hand' and the 'captains of industry' would be anxious 'to teach them 
a lesson'"</i> as <i>"'discipline in the factories' and `political stability' 
are more appreciated by business leaders than profits. Their class 
interest tells them that lasting full employment is unsound from 
their point of view and that unemployment is an integral part of 
the 'normal' capitalist system."</i>. See section C.7 (<a href="secC7.html">"What causes 
the capitalist business cycle?"</a>) for a fuller discussion of this 
point.

<p>
In addition, the claims that a "deregulated economy" would benefit
the poor do not have much empirical evidence to back them up. If we
look at the last quarter of the twentieth century we discover that
a more deregulated economy has lead to massive increases in inequality
and poverty. If a movement towards a deregulated economy has had the
opposite effect than that predicted by Caplan, why should a totally
deregulated economy have the opposite effect. It is a bit like claiming
that while adding black paint to grey makes it more black, adding the 
whole tin will make it white!
<p>
The reason for increased inequality and poverty as a result of
increased deregulation is simple. A "free exchange" between two
people will benefit the stronger party. This is obvious as the 
economy is marked by power, regardless of "anarcho"-capitalist 
claims, and any "free exchange" will reflect difference in power.
Moreover, a series of such exchanges will have an accumulative effect, 
with the results of previous exchanges bolstering the position of
the stronger party in the current exchange.
<p>
Moreover, the claim that removing taxation will <b>increase</b> donations
to charity is someone strange. We doubt that the rich who object to
money being taken from them to pay for welfare will <b>increase</b> the
amount of money they give to others if taxation <b>was</b> abolished. As
Peter Sabatini points out, "anarcho"-capitalists <i>"constantly rant
and shriek about how the government, or the rabble, hinders their
Lockean right to amass capital."</i> [<b>Social Anarchism</b>, no. 23, p.101]
Caplan seems to expect them to turn over a new leaf and give <b>more</b>
to that same rabble! 
<p>
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