Is Anarcho-Capitalism Possible?

Authored by Antony Mueller via Mises Canada,

Even if one agrees that anarcho-capitalism has become a necessity, the question arises whether such a governance is possible. After all, at first sight, insurmountable problems seem to prevent the flourishing of a stateless society. Libertarianism means a private law society. Private businesses in the marketplace provide the traditional functions of the state. The voluntary contract-order of anarcho-capitalism substitutes the hierarchical commando-coordination of activities of the state. The basic meaning of anarcho-capitalism is an order where horizontal cooperation based on voluntary exchange dominates the coordination of human activities.

Although a libertarian order amounts to a revolution as to its consequences, the path to its creation must be non-revolutionary. The spontaneous order of an anarcho-capitalist society requires that it comes about as a gradual process of privatizations. Beginning with the sale of semi-public enterprises and public utilities, privatization should extend step by step to education and health and finally encompass security and the judicial system. Supervised by an Assembly whose members are selected by lot from the constituency of the citizens, the function of government would be handed out to a private government management company.

Under anarcho-capitalism, most of what the state supplies in services could fall to a fraction of the present volume. On a world-wide scale, military spending alone comprises around 1.7 trillion US-dollars annually. The so-called ‘public services’ would not only become better and cheaper, but it would also turn out that under a free market, the demand for education, healthcare, defense, and domestic security would be much different from how it is now. Therefore, to privatize many of the activities, which now are under the authority of state would not only lead to a decrease of the costs per unit of the services but also reduce the volume of supply because a large part of the current supply of so-called ‘public goods’ is a useless waste. Losing none of the genuine benefits of education, healthcare, and defense, the budgets for these provisions could fall to a fraction of their present size.

If one includes the overblown judicial and public administration apparatus into the reduction of state activity, government spending, which nowadays is close to fifty percent of the gross domestic product in most industrialized countries, could come down to the single digits. Taxes and contributions could fall by ninety percent.

Different from what is presently the dominant belief, to privatize the police functions, and the judiciary is not such a big problem. It would mean to extend what is already going on. In the United States of today, for example, private policing, such as by security guards, happens already at a grand scale and comprises more than one million persons. In some countries, including the United States, the number of private police and security already exceeds the number of official policemen. The private provision of judicial services is on the rise. Arbitration courts experience a strong and increasing demand including services for cross-border disputes.

These trends will go on because private protection and arbitration is cheaper and better than the public provision. In Brazil, for example, which entertains one of the most expensive judicial systems of the world, currently about eighty million cases are pending without decision, and legal uncertainty has become monstrous. In the United States, many parts of the judicial system have gone berserk.