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.


stacking12321 skbull44 Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:26 Permalink

it's unfortunate that there's a lot of people who haven't really thought about AnCap very deeply, or misunderstand what it is

for example:

"Why should I surrender my ability to use force when I deem it necessary?"

YOU SHOULDN'T! anarchism doesn't require you to give up your ability to use force in self-defense, in fact, it ENCOURAGES it! if someone attacks you, you absolutely should defend yourself.

what is not acceptable is the initiation of force, in other words, aggression, against other people, as that is a violation of natural law.

and yes, not only is anarcho capitalism possible, it's a reality for many people, myself included - i govern myself, i absolutely reject the notion of government "authority" over me, and i prefer to deal with other people who have similar views.

the question is not whether it works - as it works beautifully - the real question is how it scales, and how to scale it up while resisting aggression from state actors who want to keep you enslaved, and who can't stand the thought of free persons who refuse to be obedient cogs in their machine.

samuel konkin a few decades back wrote an excellent work on this topic - agorism, the voluntary society free from aggression, and the pathway to acheive it.

An Agorist Primer: Samuel Edward Konkin:

full text of the book is here:…


james corbett of the corbett report discusses konkin's work here:

James Corbett: What Is Agorism?


james corbett and derek broze of the conscious resistance movement discuss agorism here:

The Most Dangerous Philosophy: What The Oligarchs Don't Want You To Know


both videos are worth the time, imho, if you haven't seen them


In reply to by skbull44

NidStyles stacking12321 Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:54 Permalink

Not in a multicultural country. The first requirement is trust, and you don’t even have that between cultures in the US. Even the left is a cesspool of entrapment and back stabbing. 


Want to to know what a community is actually like, go meet with the local Masonic Lodges. That will tell you everything. These are people that actively use criminals and assault to craft society into what the want.


I don’t care what you want, I don’t belong to you.

In reply to by stacking12321

Voluntary Exchange Stuck on Zero Mon, 03/26/2018 - 00:30 Permalink

NidStyles: "I don't belong to you".

Where it matters most, I am thinking that yes you do! I think you want to live. You want to keep what is yours. you want to be able to defend against aggression. You deceive yourself if you think you can have this while not granting it to other humans.

Your statement is related to the question of Cain in the esoteric wisdom book: "Am I my brother's keeper"? Yes you are because you are your brother! You may not be aware of this however. It is a matter of perception. Some know it as a fact because they have awareness that it is so. Even the animal kingdom qualifies as our "lessor brothers" - which is why I am vegetarian.

When you perceive the nature of physical reality, and the nature of "consciousness" you will see clearly that all consciousness is interrelated. In a sense, all that "is" is a part of what we can call "God". Or put it another way: the sum total of all the minds in the universe is ONE!

When you have attained "King sized consciousness" you will be able to say:

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." (Mat 25:40).

But you are free to lie, steal, and initiate force against others as long as you choose. You will just remain as a small "you", separated from oneness with your "KING", until you learn your lessons, how ever many lives that will take! As you do to others you do to yourself.  Or as the Beatles said: "I am you, and you are me, and we are all together"...

In reply to by Stuck on Zero

Hugh_Jorgan stacking12321 Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:56 Permalink

Anarcho-Capitalism is a wonderful flight of fancy. But like so many political philosophies the proponents fail to accept and/or realize that the vast majority of their fellow man is utterly unburdened by the same thirst for knowledge, justice, morality, restraint and independence as they are. (Ignoring the sometimes murderous differences between men of mostly common mind and morality!)

The ugly side of it would be warlords & fiefdoms, roving bands of marauders, blood feuds, and a tendency to prey upon the widow, the orphan and anyone unable to protect themselves. Imagine a modern version of the continent of Europe in 500-600CE.

If the Founders knew that "men were not angels" and thus worried whether our society possessed sufficient virtue to handle the freedom we were granted by the Republic we now live under? How much shorter would we fall, how much sooner, under Agorism (Anarcho-Capitalism) given our current mental state?!

I see it as the hard Communism of the Conservative; impossible to attain as we are today. Another flavor of candy-coated insanity.

In reply to by stacking12321

stacking12321 Hugh_Jorgan Mon, 03/26/2018 - 01:28 Permalink


"But like so many political philosophies the proponents fail to accept and/or realize that the vast majority of their fellow man is utterly unburdened by the same thirst for knowledge, justice, morality, restraint and independence as they are"

nope - i have no illusions about the condition of my fellow human beings and their thinking.

my principles are not based on what others are "ready" for. anarchy is the path i've chosen, i've chosen it for myself only.

anarchy doesn't need to be adopted on a widespread basis for it to be a useful or moral path for someone to choose, i don't know why people keep suggesting that.

if someone enjoys their serfdom to the state, well, let them sleep, then.

what others do is up to them. if they act honestly and responsibly, they'll gain my trust and i'll increase my relationship with them over time. if they are aggressive, i'll defend myself from them.

pretty straightforward, really.


In reply to by Hugh_Jorgan

Ayreos Hugh_Jorgan Mon, 03/26/2018 - 07:15 Permalink

That's the truth. The mistake is thinking the system regulates the mind, while the mind regulates the system. Monarchy, capitalism, communsm and even ancap, they can all work provided the underlying beliefs, the CULTURE of the participants is set correctly. Responsibility has to be taken and that can only be achieved if it's obsessively taught.

The ancap people understand self-responsibility is natural. But what about others? Things never "work out" unless everyone involved takes full responsibility for everything around them, but social pressures always move towards hierarchy. People who have no need to speak out do so and people who should speak out do not. You can't have a private anarchy when one person says "i am king" and everyone around them won't say "no". Privatization and stability can't prevent ambition.



In reply to by Hugh_Jorgan

swmnguy SethPoor Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:19 Permalink

"Anarcho-Capitalism" is at best a contradiction in terms.  At worst a naked scam.  In Capitalism there are winners and losers.  The winners leverage their winnings to tilt the balance even further toward themselves and make their advantage permanent.  In the modern age of the nation-state, they do this by suborning government.  In different times, they've used different means.  Same result.  It doesn't work.  Like everything else human, moderation needs to be exercised in Capitalism, too.

The Mises people are like bright adolescents.  Some of them are pretty bright.  If they'd have some life experiences and grow up just a little bit about human nature get over themselves a little and stop thinking their pet theory is so brilliant and explains everything; they might turn out OK.

In reply to by SethPoor

swif_siqol swmnguy Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:57 Permalink

dude, why you say ancap is a contradiction, while pointing at a coercive state? This doesn't even makes sense.

Also, you started poorly. "In capitalism there are winners and losers", and yet, you didn't provide any example of this happening in capitalism. But you still assumed you had proven the point.


Let me remind you: you have not. (not that I or you really care about, but anyway..)

In reply to by swmnguy

GeoffreyT D503 Mon, 03/26/2018 - 03:48 Permalink

Don't throw around terms like 'dominant strategy' unless you know what they mean.

Dominant strategies are characteristics of individuals and coalitions, not systems. The system itself is a set of constraints that helps define payoffs (and hence strategies).

The dominant strategy for almost all non-aligned individuals, is to operate within the confines of the status quo until the probability that their action matters approaches 1.

This is true even if the payoff obtained under voluntaryism is higher than it is under the current system.

To see why, all you need to understand is that for a given advocated 'break' change from the current system, the following things are true for an arbitrarily selected individual:

  • the material payoff is likely to be small, and will accumulate over time;
  • the individual will be unable to form an unbiased estimate of the magnitude of the payoff;
  • the costs of being associated with an unsuccessful change-movement are high, and will occur the moment the upheaval fails (usually some form of reprisal undertaken by the beneficiaries of the existing system).

While there is likely to be a very large aggregate net benefit from a move to voluntaryism, its distribution is not discernible by the median individual (and even highly-numerate, well-trained experts would struggle to forecast the magnitude and distribution of the net benefit).

So each individual, when deciding whether or not to participate in an attempt to upheave the current system faces

  • known, focused, immediate large costs if it fails;
  • unknown, small, diffuse, delayed benefits if it succeeds. ("Delayed" because it's a future path of additional utility: the future gets discounted)

Let the probability of success be P, say.

It's not hard to establish that P must be close to 1 for the probability-weighted net payoff to be positive.

The maximum defensible guess at the likely net benefit to the median individual, is (roughly) a 6% improvement in their aggregate utility; that is simply the excess burden of taxation (30%) times the aggregate tax rate (federal, state and local, including all direct and indirect taxes, fees, rates, excises and charges). Given sensible discount rates and risk premia, this evaluates to a capital value equal to roughly 30% of current income.

There will be some additional small benefits that accrue from the abolition of  pointless constraints on behaviour (e.g., "probability"-based laws like drunk driving; ordinances that prohibit people from doing what they want on their own property)... but on net the aggregate benefit from eliminating those constraints will be small.

Let's put the absolute upper bound on welfare gains at the median equal to 8% of current income, with a capital value of 40% of current income.

The upper bound on the costs of failure: loss of employment; imprisonment; expropriation (due to fines plus the exorbitant costs of defending oneself in court). It will be equal to several multiples of current income - I would argue that 10x current income is not an overestimate.

Now: the expected payoff for the strategy "participate in the revolution" is

Y(P × 0.4 + (1-P) × -10)

= Y(10.4P-10)

For the individual to be indifferent - to be, like Burridan's Ass, caught in a position of absolute knife-edge balance, that expression must evaluate to zero or more. P must therefore be 10/10.4 (96%) or higher - so "participate" becomes a dominant strategy only once the probability of success is in the interval [0.96,1].

With the costs and benefits as outlined, the individual faces a negative expected net payoff even if the probability of success is close to 100%.

It's trivial to construct a 'surface' for values of success payoff, failure cost, and probability of success; for sensible real-world values, nobody should expect the median individual to join any revolution until its probability of success is close to 100%.

This is why all revolutions - every single one in human history - has been led by a very small group of malcontents who faced certain doom if they failed, but who were of sufficient means to keep themselves afloat while the task was at hand. Think about these, and ask yourself if they had widespread, grass-roots support at any time up until they were a fait accompli...

  • Slavery abolition
  • the American Revolutionary Movement
  • the Soviet (October) Revolution
  • the Chinese Communist Revolution
  • the Viet Nam anti-war movement
  • the reunification of Germany
  • the dissolution of the Soviet Union
  • Gay rights
  • Women's rights
  • Animal rights

You will never, ever find a revolutionary movement that had widespread social support "from the off"... because the dominant strategy at the median is to continue to cooperate with the system, right up until the last day.

It's analogous to local vs global maximands: in order to get to a higher, unconstrained social maximum, there must necessarily be a period of reversal (a 'transition cost')... but as anyone familiar with dynamic optimisation will immediately understand, the gain from removal of constraints is strictly positive semi-definite.

In reply to by D503

D503 GeoffreyT Mon, 03/26/2018 - 08:31 Permalink

Hmm, it's almost as though you thought I said "strictly dominant strategy."

It's a shame you went on such a tangent, I skipped most of it. You aren't the only autist to study game theory, but I suppose it's useful for dear reader.

That being said, I've explained in other posts explicitly, point by point, the massive oversights in ancap theory. Perhaps you'd care to attempt those?

I haven't even found the need to argue the hierarchy position, but I wonder if it is worth the effort as a counter to your post, considering the success of the corporate model and the patriarchal standard across multitudes of generations and governments. 

In reply to by GeoffreyT

Hail Spode swmnguy Mon, 03/26/2018 - 00:37 Permalink

Right now we are at one extreme- the central state. ANCAP is the other extreme, and both extremes are bad- at least this side of heaven or hell. That's the only place ANCAP will work. In this life the middle road (the road less travelled) is federalism on steroids- localism. As this book points out, ANCAP is unworkable because an ANCAP society could not protect itself from the printing presses of central states, never mind their military.

In reply to by swmnguy

heresy101 SethPoor Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:46 Permalink

Actually, he drank several glasses of the Kool-Aid!! It gives him the neoliberal fantasy of the "market" solving everything in the world.

Throw another virgin into the volcano to appease the God of the Market; that is the only logical thing to do in his mind!! Someone should check what is in the water (probably Kool-Aid) that the Mises groups are drinking.

In reply to by SethPoor

simulkra techpriest Sun, 03/25/2018 - 23:34 Permalink

10% would be good. Karl Popper argued for 'small sale social engineering',  that is the scientific method applied to society. Do a little practical experimenting, see what works. If you get some positive results, tinker with it to make it better. We don't do this as we are either unconscious, partaking of the pre-packaged (variation on unconscious) or at best tribal (herd consciousness).

Going back to yr 90/10, most will argue over the 10 rather than agree on the 90. Illogical. I have puzzled ovr this for decades. My best is that we don't have the courage to really challenge the status quo, although we like to pretend.  So we make up reasons not to act. Little baby steps are as good as we can hope for.

Life of Brian -greatest analysis ever


In reply to by techpriest

techpriest simulkra Mon, 03/26/2018 - 00:27 Permalink

IMO Ancap is the ideal, even if we never reach it in an asymptotic fashion. This is something I see lacking among the critics - if ancap is not a viable direction to go, then what is? Usually, once you boil it down, what you are going to get is "I'm in favor of dictatorship, with me as the dictator."

In this way everyone is either trying to sell out to be granted some petty title of nobility (or some petty office in the Deep State), or people are working toward natural authority, which is given voluntarily and only when one contributes to the lives of others. Anarchocapitalism is the word that describes this type of natural, voluntary, and moral authority. Either we are working to get closer to this, or closer to everyone killing each other or selling out to be a king or lesser lord.

So I will ask everyone again, which direction do you want to go? and if it is authoritarianism, how high up the hierarchy do you expect to be?

In reply to by simulkra

GeoffreyT techpriest Mon, 03/26/2018 - 01:26 Permalink

I am slightly anti-Hoppe (he's an innumerate "babies with the bathwater" anti-quant windbag, typical of the European arm of the Austrian school), but I quite liked D:TGTF.

For me, though, the book that presents a lay-down misère to counter any anti-voluntaryist arguments is

"The Problem of Political Authority: An Examination of the Right to Coerce and the Duty to Obey" by Michael Huemer

(this is an outstanding book)

I can't remember if I bought it or picked it up off PirateBay (I have an electronic version).

The only things that would make Huemer's book better is if he went into

  • some technical arguments against democracy and bureaucracy (e.g., Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem, Holmström's Theorem, discussions of capture theory, mission creep, x-inefficiency and the excess burden of taxation); and
  • some data-driven arguments against the 'Wisdom of the Crowd' model (where some people pretend that aggregating the opinions of 100 million dumbfucks neveretheless gives a decent approximation of the social-welfare-maximising outcome) - for example, laying out the cognitive shortcomings of the median voter, using the OECD's PIAAC study as the evidentiary basis.

I have, for some years, been bashing away at my own 'magnum opus' - which covers those things in excruciating detail, including technical Appendices... I doubt I will ever be vain enough to actually (self-)publish it, but you'll recognise the title if I do -



TWINS is a reference to Bastiat (That Which Is Not Seen); the second bit is the English translation of the 'hook' of my favourite quotation:

"The most obvious feature of a just man is that he has no desire whatsoever to rule over others, but governs himself only. That's all there is to it. You might as well say, the worst will rule."

In reply to by techpriest

Sid Davis D503 Sun, 03/25/2018 - 22:52 Permalink

You are not required to surrender your ability to use force in self defence.

There have been, are, and always will be people willing to initiate force to achieve what they want.  Anarcho-Capitalism does not prohibit the use of force in self defence.  It only prohibits the initiation of it against another when not done in self defence.  

Come in my house to kill me and I have a natural right to use all necessary force to stop you, even if that means killing you first.

In reply to by D503

D503 Sid Davis Sun, 03/25/2018 - 23:21 Permalink

Why do you set the threshold for determining the use of force at the physical level? 

Aren't I using force when I intentionally deceive you into an arrangement that benefits me and not you?

How would you deal with Bernie Madoff? Ostracism after he bilked all that wealth? Or physical violence?

Ancap is insufficient for handling deceptive practices.

It fails the easiest first principle.

It fails to address that physical violence is most often the solution when compromise cannot benefit both parties.

It wishes to benefit the few intellectuals, among the many average or below iq people, which is a fallacious proposition not only statistically, but that is demonstrably not equality of opportunity when the distribution of the now single attribute that determines income is limited to those lucky enough to be born smarter without fear of physical repercussion. 

It wants to benefit those gifted with one genetic trait to apply force through deception while insisting those gifted instead with the ability to use physical force to correct an abuse are bound by an imaginary rule. 

It wishes away physical constraints such as the fixed volumes and locations of fuel or food.

It is an ideology as flawed as Keynesian economics or communism. 

It violates Natural Law.

Lastly, it won't work...because people like me won't fucking do it.

So you can sit there all day pissing and moaning about how fucked up it is that on any given day someone might decide they are sick of your fucking face and kick your teeth down an alley. 

And you can rant and rave about "self defense" violence being okalee dokalee after taking two to the chest because someone said your dumb ass rules are in your dumb ass head. 

But you can't change reality. No matter how much you want to transgender into NAP.

In reply to by Sid Davis