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


  • The basic problem I really have is that whenever I meet leftists in the socialist and Marxist movements, I'm called a petit-bourgeois individualist.  [audience laughs]  I'm supposed to shrink after this—  Usually I'm called petit-bourgeois individualist by students, and by academicians, who've never done a days work life [sic] in their entire biography, whereas I have spent years in factories and the trade unions, in foundries and auto plants.  So after I have to swallow the word petit-bourgeois, I don't mind the word individualist at all!

    I believe in individual freedom; that's my primary and complete commitment—individual liberty.  That’s what it's all about.  And that's what socialism was supposed to be about, or anarchism was supposed to be about, and tragically has been betrayed.

    And when I normally encounter my so-called colleagues on the left—socialists, Marxists, communists—they tell me that, after the revolution, they're gonna shoot me.  [audience laughs, Murray nods]  That is said with unusual consistency.  They're gonna stand me and Karl up against the wall and get rid of us real fast; I feel much safer in your company.  [audience laughs and applauds]

    • Bookchin, Murray, speaking to a crowd of anarcho-capitalists and other libertarians at a Libertarian Party Conference, depicted in Anarchism in America, directed by Steven Fischler and Joel Sucher (15 January 1983).
    • Karl Hess is sitting next to Bookchin at the table.
  • Perhaps the best way to see why anarcho-capitalism would be much more peaceful than our present system is by analogy. Consider our world as it would be if the cost of moving from one country to another were zero. Everyone lives in a housetrailer and speaks the same language. One day, the president of France announces that because of troubles with neighboring countries, new military taxes are being levied and conscription will begin shortly. The next morning the president of France finds himself ruling a peaceful but empty landscape, the population having been reduced to himself, three generals, and twenty-seven war correspondents.
    • Friedman, David, Chapter: "The Stability Problem", The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (2nd ed.), p. 123.
  • We must ask, not whether an anarcho-capitalist society would be safe from a power grab by the men with the guns (safety is not an available option), but whether it would be safer than our society is from a comparable seizure of power by the men with the guns. I think the answer is yes. In our society, the men who must engineer such a coup are politicians, military officers, and policemen, men selected precisely for the characteristic of desiring power and being good at using it. They are men who already believe that they have a right to push other men around - that is their job. They are particularly well qualified for the job of seizing power. Under anarcho-capitalism the men in control of protection agencies are selected for their ability to run an efficient business and please their customers. It is always possible that some will turn out to be secret power freaks as well, but it is surely less likely than under our system where the corresponding jobs are labeled 'non-power freaks need not apply'.
    • Friedman, David, Chapter: "The Stability Problem", The Machinery of Freedom: Guide to a Radical Capitalism (2nd ed.), p. 123–124.
  • Government effects the economy in three major ways—1) by taxation and spending, 2) by regulation, and 3) by control of money and banking.  Taxation is economic hemophilia.  It drains the economy of capital which might otherwise be used to increase both consumer satisfaction and the level of production and thus raise the standard of living.  Taxing away this money either prevents the standard of living from rising to the heights it normally would or actually causes it to drop.  Since productive people are the only ones who make money, they are the only ones from whom government can get money.  Taxation must necessarily penalize productivity.

    Some people feel that taxation really isn't so bad, because the money taken from the "private sector" is spent by the "public sector," so it all comes out even.  But though government spends tax money, it never spends this legally plundered wealth the same way as it would have been spent by its rightful owners, the taxpaying victims.  Money which would have been spent on increased consumer satisfaction or invested in production, creating more jobs and more products for consumers, may be used instead to subsidize welfare recipients, controlling their lives and, thus, discouraging them from freeing themselves in the only way possible—through productive labor.  Or it may be used to build a dam which is of so little value to consumers and investors that it would never have been constructed without the force of government intervention.  Government spending replaces the spending which people, if free, would do to maximize their happiness.  In this way, government spending distorts the market and harms the economy as much or more than taxation.

    If taxation bleeds the economy and government spending distorts it, governmental regulation amounts to slow strangulation.  If a regulation requires businessmen to do what consumer desires would have caused them to do anyway, it is unnecessary.  If it forces businessmen to act against consumer desires (which it almost always does), it harms the businessman, frustrates the consumer, and weakens the economy—and the confused consumer can usually be propagandized into blaming the businessman.  By forcing businessmen to act against consumer desires, government regulation increases the cost of the regulated products (which, in our present economy, includes just about everything) and so lowers living standards for everyone and increases poverty.

  • [Government] attracts the worst kind of men to its ranks, shackles progress, forces its citizens to act against their own judgment, and causes recurring internal and external strife by its coercive existence.  In view of all this, the question becomes not, "Who will protect us from aggression?" but "Who will protect us from the governmental 'protectors'?"  The contradiction of hiring an agency of institutionalized violence to protect us from violence is even more foolhardy than buying a cat to protect one's parakeet.
  • A private defense service company, competing in an open market, couldn’t use force to hold onto its customers—if it tried to compel people to deal with it, it would compel them to buy protection from its competitors and drive itself out of business.  The only way a private defense service company can make money is by protecting its customers from aggression, and the profit motive guarantees that this will be its only function and that it will perform this function well.

    Private defense service employees would not have the legal immunity which so often protects governmental policemen.  If they committed an aggressive act, they would have to pay for it, just the same as would any other individual.  A defense service detective who beat a suspect up wouldn't be able to hide behind a government uniform or take refuge in a position of superior political power.  Defense service companies would be no more immune from having to pay for acts of initiated force and fraud than would bakers or shotgun manufacturers.  (For full proof of this statement, see Chapter 11.)  Because of this, managers of defense service companies would quickly fire any employee who showed any tendency to initiate force against anyone, including prisoners.  To keep such an employee would be too dangerously expensive for them.  A job with a defense agency wouldn't be a position of power over others, as a police force job is, so it wouldn't attract the kind of people who enjoy wielding power over others, as a police job does.  In fact, a defense agency would be the worst and most dangerous possible place for sadists!

    Government police can afford to be brutal—they have immunity from prosecution in all but the most flagrant cases, and their "customers" can't desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.  But for a free-market defense service company to be guilty of brutality would be disastrous.  Force—even retaliatory force—would always be used only as a last resort; it would never be used first, as it is by governmental police.

  • Government is an artificial construct which, because of what it is, is in opposition to natural law.  There is nothing in the nature of man which demands that he be governed by other men (if there were, then we would have to find someone to govern the governors, for they, too, would be men with a need to be governed).  In fact, the nature of man is such that, in order to survive and be happy, he must be able to make his own decisions and control his own life…a right which is unavoidably violated by governments.  The ruinous consequences of government's inescapable opposition to natural law are written in blood and human degradation across the pages of all man's history.
  • The belief that society couldn't be defended without a government also assumes that government does, indeed, protect the society over which it rules.  But when it is realized that government really has nothing except what it takes by force from its citizens, it becomes obvious that the government can't possibly protect the people, because it doesn't have the resources to do so.  In fact, government, without the citizens on whom it parasitizes, couldn't even protect itself!  Throughout history, people have been talked into submitting to the tyrannies of their governments because, they were told, their government was vitally necessary to protect them from the even more terrible depredations of other governments.  The governments, having put over this bit of propaganda, then proceeded to cajole and coerce their citizens into protecting them!  Governments never defend their citizens; they can't.  What they do is make the citizens defend them, usually after their stupid and imperialistic policies have aggravated or threatened another government to the point of armed conflict.  Governmental protection against foreign aggression is a myth (but a myth which, sad to say, most people actually believe in).

    Those who doubt that "the private sector" of the economy could sustain the expense of a free enterprise defense system would do well to consider two facts.  First, "the public sector" gets its money from the same source as does "the private sector"—the wealth produced by individuals.  The difference is that "the public sector" takes this wealth by force (which is legal robbery)—but it does not thereby have access to a larger pool of resources.  On the contrary, by draining the economy by taxation and hobbling it with restrictions, the government actually diminishes the total supply of available resources.  Second, government, because of what it is, makes defense far more expensive than it ought to be.  The gross inefficiency and waste common to a coercive monopoly, which gathers its revenues by force and fears no competition, skyrocket costs.  Furthermore, the insatiable desire of politicians and bureaucrats to exercise power in every remote corner of the world multiplies expensive armies, whose main effect is to commit aggressions and provoke wars.  The question is not whether "the private sector" can afford the cost of defending individuals but how much longer individuals can afford the fearsome and dangerous cost of coerced governmental "defense" (which is, in reality, defense of the government, for the government…by the citizens).

Presenting anarcho-capitalism as a form of anarchism[edit]

  • Anarcho-capitalism is a form of anarchism whose prime tenet is that the free market, unhampered by government intervention, can coordinate all the functions of society currently carried out by the state, including systems of justice and national defense. Anarcho-capitalists believe that a system of private property based on individual rights is the only moral system - a system that implies a free market, or total voluntarism, in all transactions.
    • Brown, Susan Love, "The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View", Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 99. (Article is a criticism of anarcho-capitalism. Brown is not an anarcho-capitalist.)
  • There are anarchists of the right such as Murray Rothbard (For a New Liberty [New York: Macmillan, 1973]) who defend private property and free enterprise.
    • DeGeorge, Richard T., "Anarchism and Authority", an essay in the book Anarchism by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, NYU Press, p. 108.
  • Subterranean anarchist currents once again surfaced in the 1960s...We will sketch its initial impulse in the 1950s, the creation of a broad critical movement in the 1960's, its differentiation into right and left tendencies, and its final shattering into various anarchist splinters. These ranged from Anarcho-Capitalists who desired the organization of society solely on the basis of a "free market" to Anarcho-Communists who sought an individualized society of decentralized communes.
    • DeLeon, David. The American as Anarchist: Reflections of Indigenous Radicalism, Chapter: The Beginning of Another Cycle, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979, p. 117.
  • Laissez-faire capitalism, or anarchocapitalism, is simply the economic form of the libertarian ethic. Laissez-faire capitalism encompasses the notion that men should exchange goods and services, without regulation, solely on the basis of value for value. It recognizes charity and communal enterprises as voluntary versions of this same ethic. Such a system would be straight barter, except for the widely felt need for a division of labor in which men, voluntarily, accept value tokens such as cash and credit. Economically, this system is anarchy, and proudly so.
  • Anarchist solutions to social questions have ranged from total communism to an equally zealous individualism. In between are found sundry recipes, from anarcho-syndicalism to anarcho-capitalism.
    • Perlin, Terry M., Contemporary Anarchism (New Brunswick, NJ; Transaction Book, 1979), p. 7.
  • There are several recognized varieties of anarchism, among them: individualistic anarchisms, anarcho-capitalisms, anarcho-communisms, mutualisms, anarcho-syndicalisms, libertarian socialisms, social anarchists and now eco-anarchisms.
    • Sylvan, Richard. Anarchism. A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy, editors Goodin, Robert E. and Pettit, Philip. Blackwell Publishing, 1995, p. 231.

Presenting anarcho-capitalism as being a form of, an evolution of, or related to, individualist anarchism[edit]

  • Although anarchism rests on liberal intellectual foundations, notably the distinction between state and society, the protean character of the doctrine makes it difficult to disinguish clearly different schools of anarchist thought. But one important distinction is between individualist anarchism and social anarchism. The former emphasizes individual liberty, the sovereignty of the individual, the importance of private property or possession, and the iniquity of all monopolies. It may be seen as liberalism taken to an extreme conclusion. 'Anarcho-capitalism' is a contemporary variant of this school.
    • Bottomor, Tom, Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Anarchism entry, p. 21 (1992).
  • Although part of the classical liberal tradition, contemporary anarcho-capitalists are descendants of nineteenth-century individualist anarchists such as Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin Tucker.
    • Brown, Susan Love, "The Free Market as Salvation from Government: The Anarcho-Capitalist View", Meanings of the Market: The Free Market in Western Culture, edited by James G. Carrier, Berg/Oxford, 1997, p. 99. (Article is a criticism of anarcho-capitalism. Brown is not an anarcho-capitalist.)
  • The Anarcho-Capitalists, who had more of a historical sense, did occasionally cite past anarchists like Spooner and Tucker as "the forefathers of modern libertarianism," but only a few individuals like Murray Rothbard, in Power and Market, and some article writers were influenced by these men. Most had not evolved consciously from this tradition; they had been a rather automatic product of the American environment.
    • DeLeon, David, The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), p. 127.
  • Today individualist anarchists in the US call themselves anarcho-capitalists or libertarians...
    • Heider, Ulrike, Anarchism: Left, Right and Green (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1994), p. 3.
  • The American Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) believed that maximum individual liberty would be assured where the free market was not hindered or controlled by the State and monopolies. The affairs of society would be governed by myriad voluntary societies and cooperatives, by, as he aptly put it, “un-terrified” Jeffersonian democrats, who believed in the least government possible. Since World War II this tradition has been reborn and modified in the United States as anarcho-capitalism or libertarianism.
    • Levy, Carl, "Anarchism", under the "Anarcho-individualism" heading, Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2006.
  • Individualist, as distinct from socialist, anarchism has been particularly strong in the USA from the time of Josiah Warren (1798-1874) onwards and is expressed today by Murray Rothbard and the school of 'anarcho-capitalists'.
    • Ostergaard, Geofrey, Resisting the Nation State - the anarchist and pacifist tradition, Anarchism As A Tradition of Political Thought. Peace Pledge Union Publications.[1]
  • In distinguishing sharply between society and state, both individualist and socialist anarchism build on liberal foundations. The former may be seen as liberalism taken to an extreme, or logical, conclusion...nineteenth-century individualists sometimes thought of themselves as socialists. But their successors today, such as Murray Rothbard (1973), having abandonded the labour theory of value, describe themselves as 'anarcho-capitalists'....A generation after the eclipse of anarcho-syndicalism, anarchist ideas reemerged, sometimes spectacularly, in the context of the New Left movements of the 1960s...At the other end of the political spectrum, individualist anarchism, reborn as anarcho-capitalism, is a significant tendency in the libertarian New Right.
    • Outhwaite, Blackwell, Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, Anarchism and Libertarianism entries (2006).
  • Pro-capitalist anarchism is, as one might expect, particularly prevalent in the US where it feeds on the strong individualist and libertarian currents that have always been a part of the American political imaginary. To return to the point, however, there are individualist anarchists who are most certainly not anti-capitalist and there are those who may well be.
    • Tormey, Simon, Anti-Capitalism: A Beginner's Guide, One World, 2004.
  • Individualist anarchism…stands in rigorous opposition to attacking the person or property of individuals.  The philosophy revolves around the "Sovereignty of the Individual"—as an early champion, Josiah Warren, phrased it.  …  Largely due to the path breaking work of Murray Rothbard, 20th century individualist anarchism is no longer inherently suspicious of profit-making practices, such as charging interest.  Indeed, it embraces the free market as the voluntary vehicle of economic exchange.  But as individualist anarchism draws increasingly upon the work of Austrian economists such as Mises and Hayek, it draws increasingly farther away from left anarchism.
  • Workers are propertyless and forced to wage labor because they cannot finance their self-employment: the state monopoly over money is the problem. Let the people issue their own private, fiduciary moneys and the choice between working for an employer or for oneself will become entirely voluntary. This is the individual anarchism (or anarco-capitalism) championed by Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker in America and Gustave de Molinari in France.

Presenting anarcho-capitalism as something that is not a form of capitalism[edit]

  • The same does not go, however, for capitalism.  It does not have a commonly accepted meaning, proponents of it to the contrary notwithstanding.  As matters stand, it cannot be used with precision in discourse.  And it is loaded with connotations which make it value-laden.  Indeed, it is most difficult for those who use it from whatever side not to use it simply as an "angel" or "devil" word, i.e., to signify something approved or disapproved.  Meanwhile, what that something is goes largely unspecified because it is hidden beneath a blunderbuss word.  …  In sum, capitalism gained its currency from Marx and others as a blunderbuss word, misnames what it claims to identify, and carries with it connotations which unfit it for precise use in discourse.  Even so, there has been a considerable effort to reclaim the word for discourse by some of those who are convinced of the superiority of privately owned capital in the production, distribution, and exchange of goods.  It is a dubious undertaking.  For one thing, Marx loaded the word, and when all that he put into it has been removed, only the shell remains.  For another, linguistically, it does not stand for private property, free enterprise, and the free market.  It is false labeling to make it appear to do so.  Capitalism means either a system in which capital holds sway, which is largely what Marx apparently meant, or an ideology to justify such a system.  …  If my analysis is correct, all capitalism is state-imposed capital-ism.  Otherwise, it is most unlikely that there would be an established preference for capital over land and labor.  …  No, capitalism is not an apt word for the use of defenders of private ownership of the means of production.  Linguistically, it does not mean private ownership, nor does the case for private property hinge upon its potential use as capital.  …  We can see clearly that capitalism is a disease of socialism, not the offspring of private property.  It is not a system in which the instruments of production are privately owned, but one in which private property is taken to provide capital for publicly owned industries.
  • Rothbard is surely right in thinking that what we now call free-market libertarianism was originally a left-wing position. The great liberal economist Frédéric Bastiat sat on the left side of the French national assembly, with the anarcho-socialist Proudhon. Many of the causes we now think of as paradigmatically left-wing—feminism, antiracism, antimilitarism, the defense of laborers and consumers against big business—were traditionally embraced and promoted specifically by free-market radicals. ... I like calling the free market a left-wing idea—in fact, I like calling libertarianism the proletarian revolution.
  • Libertarians sometimes debate whether the "real" or "authentic" meaning of a term like "capitalism" is (a) the free market, or (b) government favoritism toward business, or (c) the separation between labor and ownership, an arrangement neutral between the other two; Austrians tend to use the term in the first sense; individualist anarchists in the Tuckerite tradition tend to use it in the second or third.  But in ordinary usage, I fear, it actually stands for an amalgamation of incompatible meanings.

    Suppose I were to invent a new word, "zaxlebax," and define it as "a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument."  That's the definition—"a metallic sphere, like the Washington Monument."  In short, I build my ill-chosen example into the definition.  Now some linguistic subgroup might start using the term "zaxlebax" as though it just meant "metallic sphere," or as though it just meant "something of the same kind as the Washington Monument."  And that's fine.  But my definition incorporates both, and thus conceals the false assumption that the Washington Monument is a metallic sphere; any attempt to use the term "zaxlebax," meaning what I mean by it, involves the user in this false assumption.  That's what Rand means by a package-deal term.

    Now I think the word "capitalism," if used with the meaning most people give it, is a package-deal term.  By "capitalism" most people mean neither the free market simpliciter nor the prevailing neomercantilist system simpliciter.  Rather, what most people mean by "capitalism" is this free-market system that currently prevails in the western world.  In short, the term "capitalism" as generally used conceals an assumption that the prevailing system is a free market.  And since the prevailing system is in fact one of government favoritism toward business, the ordinary use of the term carries with it the assumption that the free market is government favoritism toward business.

    And similar considerations apply to the term "socialism."  Most people don't mean by "socialism" anything so precise as state ownership of the means of production; instead they really mean something more like "the opposite of capitalism."  Then if "capitalism" is a package-deal term, so is "socialism"—it conveys opposition to the free market, and opposition to neomercantilism, as though these were one and the same.

  • But it may come as a surprise to learn that for Rothbard the New Left's most "crucial contribution to both ends and means…is its concept of 'participatory democracy.'"  …  This may seem less surprising once one realizes that for Rothbard the free market is the fullest realization of participatory democracy.  …  The political appeal of participatory democracy for Rothbard was its requirement of decentralization, and its rejection of a layer of political "representatives" above the people.  But Rothbard also found the idea appealing outside the narrowly political sphere.  He wrote: "Participatory democracy is at the same time…a theory of politics and a theory of organization, an approach to political affairs and to the way New Left organizations (or any organizations, for that matter) should function."  And he praised "fascinating experiments in which workers are transformed into independent and equal entrepreneurs."  Traditional "socialist" goals such as workers' control of industry, then, were apparently not anathema to Rothbard.

    Indeed, he would later argue that any nominally private institution that gets more than 50% of its revenue from the government, or is heavily complicit in government crimes, or both, should be considered a government entity; since government ownership is illegitimate, the proper owners of such institutions are "the 'homesteaders', those who have already been using and therefore 'mixing their labor' with the facilities."  This entails inter alia "student and/or faculty ownership of the universities."  As for the "myriad of corporations which are integral parts of the military-industrial complex," one solution, Rothbard says, is to "turn over ownership to the homesteading workers in the particular plants."  He also supported third-world land reforms considered socialistic by many conservatives, on the grounds that existing land tenure represented "continuing aggression by titleholders of land against peasants engaged in transforming the soil."

  • The word capitalist was indeed first used disparagingly by opponents of "capitalism."  But it is important to realize that among those opponents were advocates of property rights and free markets, such as Thomas Hodgskin and later Benjamin Tucker.  Why?

    The reason is this:  In the periods regarded as classic "capitalist" eras, government intervention on behalf of capital was commonplace.  …  Thus capitalism did not mean the free market, or laissez faire, back then.  It's not that the system fell short of an ideal.  To the people on the ground, and to historians looking back, this was the system that was intended.  Thus pro-business interventionism has a far better claim to the term capitalism than any unrealized free-market system.  …  At the semantic level, capitalism is an unfortunate word when applied to the free market.  It suggests a privileged status for capital over other factors of production, which is not the case in a free market.

  • My main beef with Phelps and Ammous's essay is their use of capitalism to name the economic system that corporatism corrupted.  Like many others, they believe that word "used to mean" the free market.  To be sure, it was used that way beginning in the mid-twentieth century.  But there was an older usage (of capitalist specifically), coined by free-market liberals like Thomas Hodgskin who predated Marx, associating it with government privileges for the capital-owning class.  That undertone has never left.
  • I believe anarcho-capitalism is, in some ways, incorrectly named.  …  Socialism…has never been a mere intellectual discourse upon why the labor theory of value was supposedly a superior line of academic thought.  Socialism is not and never has been a "club".  Socialists have always been motivated by a passion for social justice as best they understand it—which naturally implies that understanding is capable of being raised to a greater degree of accuracy and sophistication.  …  It is my contention that Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism is misnamed because it is actually a variety of socialism, in that it offers an alternative understanding of existing capitalism (or any other variety of statism) as systematic theft from the lower classes and envisions a more just society without that oppression.  Rather than depending upon the the labor theory of value to understand this systematic theft, Rothbardian market anarchism utilizes natural law theory and Lockean principles of property and self-ownership taken to their logical extreme as an alternative framework for understanding and combating oppression.  …  Murray Rothbard was a visionary socialist.  …  Because the market anarchist society would be one in which the matter of systematic theft has been addressed and rectified, market anarchism…is best understood a new variety of socialism—a stigmergic socialism.  Stigmergy is a fancy word for systems in which a natural order emerges from the individual choices made by the autonomous components of a collective within the sphere of their own self-sovereignty.  To the extent coercion skews markets by distorting the decisions of those autonomous components (individual people), it ought to be seen that a truly free market (a completely stigmergic economic system) necessarily implies anarchy, and that any authentic collectivism is necessarily delineated in its bounds by the the natural rights of the individuals composing the collective.

Criticisms of anarcho-capitalism[edit]

  • Anarcho-capitalism, in my opinion, is a doctrinal system which, if ever implemented, would lead to forms of tyranny and oppression that have few counterparts in human history. There isn't the slightest possibility that its (in my view, horrendous) ideas would be implemented, because they would quickly destroy any society that made this colossal error. … I should add, however, that I find myself in substantial agreement with people who consider themselves anarcho-capitalists on a whole range of issues; and for some years, was able to write only in their journals. And I also admire their commitment to rationality — which is rare — though I do not think they see the consequences of the doctrines they espouse, or their profound moral failings.
    • Chomsky, Noam in Z Net, Answers from Chomsky to eight questions on anarchism, 1996.
  • The philosophy of 'anarcho-capitalism' dreamed up by the 'libertarian' New Right, has nothing to do with Anarchism as known by the Anarchist movement proper. It is a lie . . . Patently unbridled capitalism . . . needs some force at its disposal to maintain class privileges, either from the State itself or from private armies. What they believe in is in fact a limited State -- that is, one in which the State has one function, to protect the ruling class, does not interfere with exploitation, and comes as cheap as possible for the ruling class. The idea also serves another purpose . . . a moral justification for bourgeois consciences in avoiding taxes without feeling guilty about it.
  • Though admittedly the circumstances are not identical, telling disgruntled employees that they are always free to leave their jobs seems no different in principle from telling political dissidents that they are free to emigrate. In either case freedom affords little or no protection against the demand for conformity. The problem with the libertarian argument is that negative liberty, defined as the absence of coercion, cannot guarantee individual autonomy, or positive liberty, the freedom to choose one's actions independently. Though autonomy may be jeopardized by the use of force, its opposite is not coercion but dependency.
  • Individuality is not to be confused with the various ideas and concepts of Individualism; much less with that “rugged individualism” which is only a masked attempt to repress and defeat the individual and his individuality. … “Rugged individualism” has meant all the “individualism” for the masters, while the people are regimented into a slave caste to serve a handful of self-seeking “supermen.” America is perhaps the best representative of this kind of individualism, in whose name political tyranny and social oppression are defended and held up as virtues; while every aspiration and attempt of man to gain freedom and social opportunity to live is denounced as “unAmerican” and evil in the name of that same individualism.
    • Goldman, Emma, "The Individual, Society and the State," contained in Red Emma Speaks, p. 112.
  • The first man who, having fenced off a plot of land, thought of saying, ‘This is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him was the real founder of civil society. How many crimes, wars, murders, how many miseries and horrors might the human race had been spared by the one who, upon pulling up the stakes or filling in the ditch, had shouted to his fellow men: ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are lost if you forget the fruits of the earth belong to all and that the earth belongs to no one.’
  • Competition has been curtailed by larger corporations; it has been sabotaged by groups of smaller entrepreneurs acting collectively. Both groups have made clear the locus of liberalism's rhetoric of small business and family farm.

    The character and ideology of the small entrepreneur and the facts of the market are selling the idea of competition short. These liberal heroes, the small businessmen and the farmer, do not want to develop their characters by free and open competition; they do not believe in competition, and they have been doing their best to get away from it.

    When the small businessmen are asked whether they think free competition is…a good thing, they answer…, 'Yes, of course—what do you mean?' … Finally: 'How about here in this town in furniture?'—or groceries, or whatever the man's line is. Their answers are of two sorts: 'Yes, if it's fair competition,' which turns out to mean: 'if it doesn't make me compete.' … The small businessman, as well as the farmer, wants to become big, not directly by eating up others like himself in competition, but by the indirect ways means practiced by his own particular heroes—those already big. In the dream life of the small entrepreneur, the sure fix is replacing the open market.

    But if small men wish to close their ranks, why do they continue to talk…about free competition? The answer is that the political function of free competition is what really matters now…[f]or, if there is free competition and a constant coming and going of enterprises, the one who remains established is 'the better man' and 'deserves to be where he is.' But if instead of such competition, there is a rigid line between successful entrepreneurs and the employee community, the man on top may be 'coasting on what his father did,' and not really be worthy of his hard-won position. Nobody talks more of free enterprise and competition and of the best man winning than the man who inherited his father's store or farm. …

    … In Congress small-business committees clamored for legislation to save the weak backbone of the national economy. Their legislative efforts have been directed against their more efficient competitors. First they tried to kill off the low-priced chain stores by taxation; then they tried to eliminate the alleged buying advantages of mass distributor; finally they tried to freeze the profits of all distributors in order to protect their own profits from those who could and were selling goods cheaper to the consumer.

    The independent retailer…has been pushing to maintain a given margin under the guise of 'fair competition' and 'fair-trade' laws. He now regularly demands that the number of outlets controlled by chain stores be drastically limited and that production be divorced from distribution. This would, of course, kill the low prices charged consumers by the A&P, which makes very small retail profits, selling almost at cost, and whose real profits come from the manufacturing and packaging.

    Under the threat of 'ruinous competition,' laws are on the books of many states and cities legalizing the ruin of competition.

    • Mills, C. Wright, White Collar: The American Middle Classes (1951), Part One, Chapter Three: "Old Middle Classes," Section One: The Competitive Way of Life.

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