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Anarchist Theory FAQ -- Version 4.11 -- Revised 1/21/95

From: (Bryan D. Caplan)
Newsgroups: alt.society.anarchy
Subject: Anarchist Theory FAQ -- Version 4.11 -- Revised 1/21/95
Date: 21 Jan 1996 19:28:50 GMT
Organization: Princeton University
Lines: 2481
Distribution: world
Message-ID: <4du45i$qjd@cnn.Princeton.EDU>

This is a slightly revised version of my FAQ on anarchist 
theory.  As always, comments, criticisms, and corrections 
will be much appreciated.  In particular, if you think that any 
argument or viewpoint has been presented weakly or 
inadequately, please write me to discuss your preferred 
                    --Bryan Caplan   
P.S.  This FAQ, along with my other writings, will henceforth be
available at 
                _Anarchist Theory FAQ_ 
  Instead of a FAQ, by a Man Too Busy to Write One 
                    Bryan Caplan 
                    Version 4.11 
I heartily accept the motto, - "That government is best which 
governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more 
rapidly and systematically.  Carried out, it finally amounts to 
this, which I also believe, - "That government is best which 
governs not at all;" and when men are prepared for it, that 
will be the kind of government which they will have. 
      --Henry David Thoreau 
      "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience"  
Some writers have so confounded society with government, 
as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas 
they are not only different, but have different origins ... 
Society is in every state a blessing, but Government, even in 
its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an 
intolerable one. 
      --Thomas Paine 
      _Common Sense_  
They [the Marxists] maintain that only a dictatorship -- their 
dictatorship, of course -- can create the will of the people, 
while our answer to this is: No dictatorship can have any 
other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only 
slavery in the people tolerating it; freedom can be created 
only by freedom, that is, by a universal rebellion on the part 
of the people and free organization of the toiling masses 
from the bottom up. 
      --Mikhail Bakunin, 
      _Statism and Anarchism_ 
In existing States a fresh law is looked upon as a remedy for 
evil.  Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people 
begin by demanding a _law_ to alter it.  If the road between 
two villages is impassable, the peasant says, "There should 
be a law about parish roads."  If a park-keeper takes 
advantage of the want of spirit in those who follow him with 
servile obedience and insults one of them, the insulted man 
says, "There should be a law to enjoin more politeness upon 
the park-keepers."  If there is stagnation in agriculture or 
commerce, the husbandman, cattle-breeder, or corn-
speculator argues, "It is protective legislation which we 
require."  Down to the old clothesman there is not one who 
does not demand a law to protect his own little trade.  If the 
employer lowers wages or increases the hours of labor, the 
politician in embryo explains, "We must have a law to put all 
that to rights."  In short, a law everywhere and for 
everything!  A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a 
law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all 
the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice. 
      --Peter Kropotkin 
      "Law and Authority" 
[W]hoever desires liberty, should understand these vital 
facts, viz.: 1.  That every man who puts money into the 
hands of a "government" (so called) puts into its hands a 
sword which will be used against himself, to extort more 
money from him, and also to keep him in subjection to its 
arbitrary will.  2.  That those who will take his money, without 
his consent, in the first place, will use it for his further 
robbery and enslavement, if he presumes to resist their 
demands in the future.  3.  That it is a perfect absurdity to 
suppose that any body of men would ever take a man's 
money without his consent, for any such object as they 
profess to take it for, viz., that of protecting him; for why 
should they wish to protect him, if he does not wish them to 
do so?... 4. If a man wants "protection," he is competent to 
make his own bargains for it; and nobody has any occasion 
to rob him, in order to "protect" him against his will.  5.  That 
the only security men can have for their political liberty, 
consists in their keeping their money in their own pockets, 
until they have assurances, perfectly satisfactory to 
themselves, that it will be used as they wish it to be used, for 
their benefit, and not for their injury.  6.  That no 
government, so called, can reasonably be trusted for a 
moment, or reasonably be supposed to have honest 
purposes in view, any longer than it depends wholly upon 
voluntary support. 
      --Lysander Spooner 
      _No Treason: the Constitution of No Authority_ 
If we look at the black record of mass murder, exploitation, 
and tyranny levied on society by governments over the 
ages, we need not be loath to abandon the Leviathan State 
and ... try freedom. 
      --Murray Rothbard, 
      _For a New Liberty_ 
                 _Table of Contents_ 
1.  What is anarchism?  What beliefs do anarchists share?   
2.  Why should one consider anarchism in the first place? 
3.  Don't anarchists favor chaos? 
4.  Don't anarchists favor the abolition of the family, 
property, religion, and other social institutions besides the 
5.  What major subdivisions may be made among 
6.  Is anarchism the same thing as libertarianism? 
7.  Is anarchism the same thing as socialism? 
8.  Who are the major anarchist thinkers?   
9.  How would left-anarchy work?   
10.  How would anarcho-capitalism work?   
11.  What criticisms have been made of anarchism? 
     a.  "An anarchist society, lacking any central coercive 
authority, would quickly degenerate into violent chaos." 
     b.  The Marxist critique of left-anarchism 
     c.  The minarchists' attack on anarcho-capitalism 
     d.  The conservative critique of anarchism 
     e.  "We are already in a state of anarchy." 
12.  What other anarchist viewpoints are there? 
13.  What moral justifications have been offered for 
14.  What are the major debates between anarchists?  What 
are the recurring arguments? 
     a.  "X is not 'true anarchism.'" 
     b.  "Anarchism of variant X is unstable and will lead to 
the re-emergence of the state." 
     c.  "In an anarchist society in which both systems X and 
Y existed, X would inevitably outcompete Y." 
     d.  "Anarchism of type X would be worse than the state." 
     e.  Etc. 
15.  How would anarchists handle the "public goods" 
     a.  The concept and uses of Pareto optimality in 
     b.  The public goods problem 
16.  Are anarchists pacifists? 
     a.  Tolstoyan absolute pacifism 
     b.  Pacifism as opposition to war 
17.  Have there been any historical examples of anarchist 
18.  What are some major anarchist writings? 
19.  What are some addresses for anarchist World Wide 
Web sites? 
20.  Isn't anarchism utopian? 
21.  Don't anarchists assume that all people are innately 
22.  Aren't anarchists terrorists? 
23.  How might an anarchist society be achieved? 
1.  What is anarchism?  What beliefs do anarchists share?   
Anarchism is defined by _The American Heritage College 
Dictionary_  as "The theory or doctrine that all forms of 
government are unnecessary, oppressive, and undesirable 
and should be abolished."  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.  Just as 
atheists might support or oppose any viewpoint consistent 
with the non-existence of God, anarchists might and indeed 
do hold the entire range of viewpoints consistent with the 
non-existence of the state. 
As might be expected, different groups of anarchists are 
constantly trying to define anarchists with different views out 
of existence, just as many Christians say that their sect is 
the only "true" Christianity and many socialists say that their 
socialism is the only "true" socialism.  This FAQ takes what 
seems to me to be the impartial view that such tactics are 
pointless and merely prevent the debate of substantive 
2.  Why should one consider anarchism in the first place?   
Unlike many observers of history, anarchists see a common 
thread behind most of mankind's problems: the state.  In the 
20th-century alone, states have murdered well over 
100,000,000 human beings, whether in war, concentration 
camps, or man-made famine.  And this is merely a 
continuation of a seemingly endless historical pattern: 
almost from the beginning of recorded history, governments 
have existed.  Once they arose, they allowed a ruling class 
to live off the labor of the mass of ordinary people; and 
these ruling classes have generally used their ill-gotten 
gains to build armies and wage war to extend their sphere of 
influence. At the same time, governments have always 
suppressed unpopular minorities, dissent, and the efforts of 
geniuses and innovators to raise humanity to new 
intellectual, moral, cultural, and economic heights.  By 
transferring surplus wealth from producers to the state's 
ruling elite, the state has often strangled any incentive for 
long-run economic growth and thus stifled humanity's ascent 
from poverty; and at the same time the state has always 
used that surplus wealth to cement its power. 
If the state is the proximate cause of so much needless 
misery and cruelty, would it not be desirable to investigate 
the alternatives? Perhaps the state is a necessary evil which 
we cannot eliminate. But perhaps it is rather an 
_unnecessary_ evil which we accept out of inertia when a 
totally different sort of society would be a great 
3.  Don't anarchists favor chaos? 
By definition, anarchists oppose merely _government_, not 
order or society.  "Liberty is the Mother, not the Daughter of 
Order" wrote Proudhon, and most anarchists would be 
inclined to agree.  Normally, anarchists demand abolition of 
the state because they think that they have something better 
to offer, not out of a desire for rebellion as such.  Or as 
Kropotkin put it, "No destruction of the existing order is 
possible, if at the time of the overthrow, or of the struggle 
leading to the overthrow, the idea of what is to take the 
place of what is to be destroyed is not always present in the 
mind.  Even the theoretical criticism of the existing 
conditions is impossible, unless the critic has in mind a more 
or less distinct picture of what he would have in place of the 
existing state.  Consciously or unconsciously, the _ideal_, 
the conception of something better is forming in the mind of 
everyone who criticizes social institutions." 
There is an anti-intellectual strain in anarchism which favors 
chaos and destruction as an end-in-itself.  While possibly a 
majority among people who have called themselves 
anarchists, this is not a prominent strand of thought among 
those who have actually spent time thinking and writing 
about anarchist theory. 
4.  Don't anarchists favor the abolition of the family, 
property, religion, and other social institutions besides the 
Some anarchists have favored the abolition of one or more 
of the above, while others have not.  To some, all of these 
are merely other forms of oppression and domination.  To 
others, they are the vital intermediary institutions which 
protect us from the state.  To still others, some of the above 
are good and others are bad; or perhaps they are bad 
currently, but merit reform. 
5.  What major subdivisions may be made among 
As should become plain to the reader of alt.society.anarchy, 
there are two rather divergent lines of anarchist thought.  
The first is broadly known as "left-anarchism," and 
encompasses anarcho-socialists, anarcho-syndicalists, and 
anarcho-communists.  These anarchists believe that in an 
anarchist society, people either would or should abandon or 
greatly reduce the role of private property rights.  The 
economic system would be organized around cooperatives, 
worker-owned firms, and/or communes.  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.   
The second is broadly known as "anarcho-capitalism."  
These anarchists believe that in an anarchist society, 
people either would or should not only _retain_ private 
property, but expand it to encompass the entire social realm.  
No anarcho-capitalist has ever denied the right of people to 
voluntarily pool their private property and  _form_ a 
cooperative, worker-owned firm, or commune; but they also 
believe that several property, including such organizations 
as corporations, are not only perfectly legitimate but likely to 
be the predominant form of economic organization under 
anarchism.  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.    
6.  Is anarchism the same thing as libertarianism? 
This is actually a complicated question, because the term 
"libertarianism" itself has two very different meanings.  In 
Europe in the 19th-century, libertarianism was a popular 
euphemism for left-anarchism.  However, the term did not 
really catch on in the United States.   
After World War II, many American-based pro-free-market 
intellectuals opposed to traditional conservatism were 
seeking for a label to describe their position, and eventually 
picked "libertarianism."  ("Classical liberalism" and "market 
liberalism" are alternative labels for the same essential 
position.)  The result was that in two different political 
cultures which rarely communicated with one another, the 
term "libertarian" was used in two very different ways.  At the 
current time, the American use has basically taken over 
completely in academic political theory (probably owing to 
Nozick's influence), but the European use is still popular 
among many left-anarchist activists in both Europe and the 
The semantic confusion was complicated further when some 
of the early post-war American libertarians determined that 
the logical implication of their view was, in fact, a variant of 
anarchism.  They adopted the term "anarcho-capitalism" to 
differentiate themselves from more moderate libertarianism, 
but were still generally happy to identify themselves with the 
broader free-market libertarian movement. 
7.  Is anarchism the same thing as socialism? 
If we accept one traditional definition of socialism -- 
"advocacy of government ownership of the means of 
production" -- it seems that anarchists are _not_ socialists 
_by definition_.  But if by socialism we mean something 
more inclusive, such as "advocacy of the strong restriction 
or abolition of private property,"  then the question  becomes 
more complex. 
Under the second proffered definition, some anarchists are 
socialists, but others are not.  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 decentralized, voluntary 
socialism.  The two groups both want to severely limit or 
abolish private property and thus both groups fit the 
_second_ definition of socialism.  However, the anarchists 
certainly do not want the government to own the means of 
production, for they don't want government to exist in the 
first place.   
The anarchists' dispute with the traditional socialists -- a 
dispute best illustrated by the bitter struggle between Karl 
Marx and Mikhail Bakunin for dominance in the 19th-century 
European workers' movement --  has often be described as 
a disagreement over "means."  On this interpretation, the 
socialist anarchists and the state-socialists _agree_ that a 
communal and egalitarian society is desirable, but accuse 
one another of proposing ineffective means of attaining it.  
However, this probably understates the conflict, which is 
also over more fundamental values: socialist anarchists 
emphasize the need for autonomy and the evils of 
authoritarianism, while traditional socialists have frequently 
belittled such concerns as "bourgeois." 
When we turn to the Anglo-American political culture, the 
story is quite different.  Virulent anti-socialist anarchism is 
much more common there, and has been from the early 
19th-century.  Great Britain was the home of many intensely 
anti-socialist quasi-anarchistic thinkers of the 19th-century 
such as Auberon Herbert and the early Herbert Spencer.  
The United States has been an even more fertile ground for 
individualist anarchism: during the 19th-century, such 
figures as Josiah Warren, Lysander Spooner, and Benjamin 
Tucker gained prominence for their vision of an anarchism 
based upon freedom of contract and private property.  And 
in the 20th-century, thinkers residing within the United 
States have been the primary developers and exporters of 
anarcho-capitalist theory. 
Still, this geographic division should not be over-stated.  The 
French anarchist Proudhon and the German Max Stirner 
both embraced modified forms of individualism; a number of 
left-anarchists (often European immigrants) attained 
prominence in the United States; and Noam Chomsky and 
Murray Bookchin, two of the most influential theorists of 
modern left-anarchism, both reside within the United States. 
8.  Who are the major anarchist thinkers?   
The most famous left-anarchists have probably been Mikhail 
Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin.  Pierre Proudhon is also often 
included although his ideas on the desirability of a modified 
form of private property would lead some to exclude him 
from the leftist camp altogether.  More recent left-anarchists 
include Emma Goldman, Murray Bookchin, and Noam 
Anarcho-capitalism has a much more recent origin in the 
latter half of the 20th century.  The two most famous 
advocates of anarcho-capitalism are probably Murray 
Rothbard and David Friedman.  There were however some 
interesting earlier precursors, notably the Belgian economist 
Gustave de Molinari.  Two other 19th-century anarchists 
who have been adopted by modern anarcho-capitalists with 
a few caveats are Benjamin Tucker and Lysander Spooner.  
(Some left-anarchists contest the adoption, but overall 
Tucker and Spooner probably have much more in common 
with anarcho-capitalists than with left-anarchists.)   
More comprehensive listings of anarchist figures may be 
found in a number of broad historical works listed later in the 
9.  How would left-anarchy work?   
There are many different views on this.  Among left-
anarchists, there are some who imagine returning to a much 
simpler, even pre-industrial, mode of social organization.  
Others seem to intend to maintain modern technology and 
civilization (perhaps in a more environmentally sound 
manner) but end private ownership of the means of 
To be replaced with what?  Various suggestions have been 
made.  Existing firms might simply be turned over to worker 
ownership, and then be subject to the democratic control of 
the workers.  This is the anarcho-syndicalist picture: keeping 
an economy based upon a multitude of firms, but with firms 
owned and managed by the workers at each firm. 
Presumably firms would then strike deals with one another 
to secure needed materials; or perhaps firms would continue 
to pay money wages and sell products to consumers.  It is 
unclear how the syndicalist intends to arrange for the 
egalitarian care of the needy, or the provision of necessary 
but unprofitable products.  Perhaps it is supposed that 
syndicates would contribute out of social responsibility; 
others have suggested that firms would elect 
representatives for a larger meta-firm organization which 
would carry out the necessary tasks.   
It should be noted that Tom Wetzel disputes my 
characterization of anarcho-syndicalism; he argues that very 
few anarcho-syndicalists ever imagined that workers would 
simply take over their firms, while maintaining the basic 
features of the market economy.  Rather, the goal has 
usually been the establishment of an overarching 
democratic structure, rather than a multitude of 
uncoordinated firm-centered democracies.  Or at Wetzel 
states, "Anarcho-syndicalism advocates the development of 
a mass workers' movement based on direct democracy as 
the vehicle for reorganization of the society on the basis of 
direct workers' collective power over social production, thus 
eliminating the domination and exploitation of the producing 
class by an exploiting class. Workers cannot have collective 
power over the system of social production as isolated 
groups competing in a market economy; rather, workers self-
management requires structures of democratic control over 
social production and public affairs generally. Workers' self-
management thus refers, not just to self-management of the 
individual workplace, but of the whole system of social 
production. This requires grassroots bodies, such as 
workers' congresses or conventions, through which 
coordinated policies for the society can be developed in a 
democratic manner. This is proposed as a _substitute_ or 
replacement for the historical nation-state."  On this 
interpretation of anarcho-syndicalism, the revolutionary 
trade unions are a _means_ for achieving an anarchist 
society, rather than a proposed basis for social organization 
under anarchy. 
Many would observe that there is nothing _anarchistic_ 
about this proposal; indeed, names aside, it fits easily into 
the orthodox state-socialist tradition.  Bakunin would have 
probably ridiculed such ideas as authoritarian Marxist 
socialism in disguise, and predicted that the leading 
anarchist revolutionaries would swiftly become the new 
despots.  But Wetzel is perhaps right that many or even 
most historical anarcho-syndicalists were championing the 
system outlined in his preceding quotation.  He goes on to 
add that "[I]f you look at the concept of 'state' in the very 
abstract way it often is in the social sciences, as in Weber's 
definition, then what the anarcho-syndicalists were 
proposing is not elimination of the state or government, but 
its radical democratization. That was not how anarchists 
themselves spoke about it, but it can be plausibly argued 
that this is a _logical consequence_ of a certain major 
stream of left-anarchist thought."  Whether this viewpoint is 
a major stream in anarchist _theory_, or merely a confused 
but popular vulgarization remains an open question. 
Overall, the syndicalist is probably the best elaborated of 
the left-anarchist systems.  But others in the broader 
tradition imagine individuals forming communes and 
cooperatives which would be less specialized and more self-
sufficient than the typical one-product-line anarcho-
syndicalist firm.  These notions are often closely linked to 
the idea of creating a more environmentally sound society, 
in which small and decentralized collectives redirect their 
energies towards a Greener way of life.   
Kropotkin's lucid essay "Law and Authority" gives a 
thoughtful presentation of the left-anarchist's view of law.  
Primitive human societies, explains Kropotkin, live by what 
legal thinkers call "customary law": an unwritten but broadly 
understood body of rules and appropriate behavior backed 
up primarily by social pressure.  Kropotkin considers this 
sort of behavioral regulation to be unobjectionable, and 
probably consistent with his envisaged anarchist society.  
But when centralized governments codified customary law, 
they mingled the sensible dictates of tribal conscience with 
governmental sanctions for exploitation and injustice.  As 
Kropotkin writes, "[L]egislators confounded in one code the 
two currents of custom ... the maxims which represent 
principles of morality and social union wrought out as a 
result of life in common, and the mandates which are meant 
to ensure external existence to inequality.  Customs, 
absolutely essential to the very being of society, are, in the 
code, cleverly intermingled with usages imposed by the 
ruling caste, and both claim equal respect from the crowd.  
'Do not kill,' says the code, and hastens to add, 'And pay 
tithes to the priest.'  'Do not steal,' says the code, and 
immediately after, 'He who refuses to pay taxes, shall have 
his hand struck off.'" 
So perhaps Kropotkin's ideal society would live under the 
guidance of a reformed customary law stripped of the class 
legislation with which it is now so closely associated.  But 
Kropotkin continues to give what appear to be arguments 
against even customary law prohibiting e.g. murder.  Almost 
all violent crime is actually caused by poverty and inequality 
_created_ by existing law.  A small residual of violent crime 
might persist, but efforts to handle it by legal channels are 
futile.  Why?  Because punishment has no effect on crime, 
especially such crimes of passion as would survive the 
abolition of private property.  Moreover, criminals should not 
be judged wicked, but rather treated as we now treat the 
sick and disadvantaged. 
Most left-anarchists probably hold to a mix of Kropotkin's 
fairly distinct positions on law and crime.  Existing law 
should be replaced by sensible and communitarian customs; 
and the critic of anarchism underestimates the extent to 
which existing crime is in fact a product of the legal system's 
perpetuation of inequality and poverty.  And since 
punishment is not an effective deterrent, and criminals are 
not ultimately responsible for their misdeeds, a strictly 
enforced legal code may be undesirable anyway. 
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 collectivized, but the limits 
of the right to refuse to adopt an egalitarian way of life are 
rarely specified. 
10.  How would anarcho-capitalism work?   
Most of the prominent anarcho-capitalist writers have been 
academic economists, and as such have felt it necessary to 
spell out the workings of their preferred society in rather 
greater detail than the left-anarchists have.  In order to best 
grasp the anarcho-capitalist position, it is helpful to realize 
that anarcho-capitalists have emerged almost entirely out of 
the modern American libertarian movement, and believe that 
their view is simply a slightly more extreme version of the 
libertarianism propounded by e.g. Robert Nozick. 
FAQs on the broader libertarian movement are widely 
available on the Net, so we will only give the necessary 
background here. 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 favor a government limited to supplying 
police, courts, a legal code, and national defense.  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.  While left-anarchists are often hostile to 
"bourgeois economics," anarcho-capitalists hold classical 
economists such as Adam Smith, David Hume, and Jean-
Baptiste Say in high regard, as well as more modern 
economists such as Joseph Schumpeter, Ludwig von Mises, 
F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, George Stigler, and James 
Buchanan. The problem with free-market economists, say 
the anarcho-capitalists, is not that they defend the free 
market, but merely that their defense is too moderate and 
(Note however that the left-anarchists' low opinion of the 
famous "free-market economists" is not monolithic: Noam 
Chomsky in particular has repeatedly praised some of the 
political insights of Adam Smith.  And Peter Kropotkin also 
had good things to say about Smith as both social scientist 
and moralist; Conal Smith explains that "In particular he 
approved of Smith's attempt to apply the scientific method to 
the study of morals and society, his critique of the state in 
_The Wealth of Nations_, and his theory of human 
sociability in _The Theory of Moral Sentiments_.")  
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.  And in fact, notes 
the anarcho-capitalist, a great deal of modern law (such as 
the Anglo-American common law) originated not in 
legislatures, but from the decentralized rulings of judges.  
(The anarcho-capitalist shares Kropotkin's interest in 
customary law, but normally believes that it requires 
extensive modernization and articulation.)   
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.  In his ideal society, 
these market alternatives to government services would take 
over _all_ 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. 
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).  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.) 
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.  A convicted criminal would owe 
his victim compensation, and would be forced to work until 
he paid off his debt.  Overall, anarcho-capitalists probably 
lean more towards the restitutionalist rather than the pure 
retributivist position. 
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 recognized 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 over-stated. 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 standardize 
the menu of available legal codes. 
Critics of anarcho-capitalism sometimes assume that 
communal or worker-owned firms would be penalized or 
prohibited in an anarcho-capitalist society.  It would be more 
accurate to state that while individuals would be free to 
voluntarily form communitarian organizations, the anarcho-
capitalist simply doubts that they would be widespread or 
prevalent.  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. 
On other issues, the anarcho-capitalist differs little if at all 
from the more moderate libertarian.  Services should be 
privatized and opened to free competition; regulation of 
personal AND economic behavior should be done away 
with.  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.)  
11.  What criticisms have been made of anarchism? 
Anarchism of various breeds has been criticized from an 
extremely wide range of perspectives.  State-socialists, 
classical liberals, and conservatives have each on occasion 
examined anarchist theorists and found them wanting.  After 
considering the unifying argument endorsed by virtually all 
of the critics of anarchism, we shall turn to the more specific 
attacks of Marxist, moderate libertarian, and conservative 
a.  "An anarchist society, lacking any central coercive 
authority, would quickly degenerate into violent chaos." 
The most common criticism, shared by the entire range of 
critics, is basically that anarchism would swiftly degenerate 
into a chaotic Hobbesian war of all-against-all.  Thus the 
communist Friedrich Engels wonders "[H]ow these people 
propose to run a factory, operate a railway or steer a ship 
without having in the last resort one deciding will, without 
single management, they of course do not tell us."  He 
continues: "The authority of the majority over the minority 
also ceases.  Every individual and every community is 
autonomous; but as to how society, even of only two people, 
is possible unless each gives up some of his autonomy, 
Bakunin again maintains silence."  And similarly, the 
classical liberal Ludwig von Mises states that "An 
anarchistic society would be exposed to the mercy of every 
individual.  Society cannot exist if the majority is not ready to 
hinder, by the application or threat of violent action, 
minorities from destroying the social order.  This power is 
vested in the state or government."   
Or to consider a perhaps less ideological writer, Thomas 
Hobbes implicitly criticizes anarchist theory when he 
explains that "Hereby it is manifest, that during the time men 
live without a common Power to keep them all in awe, they 
are in that condition which is called Warre; and such a 
warre, as is of every man, against every man."  Hobbes 
goes on to add that "It may peradventure be thought, there 
was never such a time, nor condition of warre as this; and I 
believe it was never generally so, over all the world: but 
there are many places, where they live so now.  For the 
savage people in many places of America, except the 
government of small Families, the concord whereof 
dependeth on naturall lust, have no government at all; and 
live at this day in that brutish manner, as I said before."  
Since it is in the interest of the strong to take what they want 
from the weak, the absence of government lead inexorably 
to widespread violence and the prevention or destruction of 
civilization itself. 
Anarchists of all varieties would reject this argument; 
sometimes claiming that the critic misunderstands their 
position, other times that the critic's assumptions are too 
pessimistic.  Kropotkin, for example, would seriously dispute 
the claim that war is the natural state of ungoverned human 
beings; like many other species of animals, cooperation is 
more common, natural, and likely.  Left- anarchists generally 
would normally object that these criticisms rest upon 
contingent cultural assumptions arising from a competitive 
scarcity economy.  Replace these institutions with humane 
and egalitarian ones; then poverty, the cause of crime and 
aggression, would greatly decrease.  Finally, many left-
anarchists envisage cooperatives and communes adopting 
and enforcing rules of appropriate conduct for those who 
wish to join. 
The anarcho-capitalist would likely protest that the critic 
misunderstands his view: he _does_ believe that police and 
laws are necessary and desirable, and merely holds that 
they could be supplied by the free market rather than 
government.  More fundamentally, he doubts the game-
theoretic underpinnings of Hobbes' argument, for it ignores 
the likelihood that aggressive individuals or firms will 
provoke retaliation.  Just as territorial animals fight when 
defending their territory, but yield when confronted on the 
territory of another animal, rational self-interested 
individuals and firms would usually find aggression a 
dangerous and unprofitable practice.  In terms of game 
theory, the anarcho- capitalist thinks that Hobbes' situation 
is a Hawk-Dove game rather than a Prisoners' Dilemma.  (In 
the Prisoners' Dilemma, war/non-cooperation would be a 
strictly dominant strategy; in a Hawk-Dove game there is 
normally a mixed-strategy equilibrium in which 
cooperation/peace is the norm but a small percentage of 
players continue to play war/non-cooperation.)  Self-
interested police firms would gladly make long-term 
arbitration contracts with each other to avoid mutually 
destructive bloodshed. 
b.  The Marxist critique of left-anarchism 
One of the most famous attacks on anarchism was launched 
by Karl Marx during his battles with Proudhon and Bakunin.  
The ultimate result of this protracted battle of words was to 
split the 19th-century workers' movement into two distinct 
factions.  In the 20th century, the war of words ended in 
blows: while Marxist-Leninists sometimes cooperated with 
anarchists during the early stages of the Russian and 
Spanish revolutions, violent struggle between them was the 
rule rather than the exception. 
There were at least three distinct arguments that Marx 
aimed at his anarchist opponents. 
First: the development of socialism had to follow a particular 
historical course, whereas the anarchists mistakenly 
believed that it could be created by force of will alone.  "A 
radical social revolution is connected with certain historical 
conditions of economic development; the latter are its 
presupposition.  Therefore it is possible only where the 
industrial proletariat, together with capitalist production, 
occupies at least a substantial place in the mass of the 
people."  Marx continues: "He [Bakunin] understands 
absolutely nothing about social revolution ... For him 
economic requisites do not exist...He wants a European 
social revolution, resting on the economic foundation of 
capitalist production, to take place on the level of the 
Russian or Slavic agricultural and pastoral peoples ... _Will 
power_ and not economic conditions is the basis for his 
social revolution."  Proudhon, according to Marx, suffered 
from the same ignorance of history and its laws:  "M. 
Proudhon, incapable of following the real movement of 
history, produces a phantasmagoria which presumptuously 
claims to be dialectical ... From his point of view man is only 
the instrument of which the idea or the eternal reason makes 
use in order to unfold itself."  This particular argument is 
probably of historical interest only, in light of the gross 
inaccuracy of Marx's prediction of the path of future 
civilization; although perhaps the general claim that social 
progression has material presuppositions retains some 
Second, Marx ridiculed Bakunin's claim that a socialist 
government would become a new despotism by socialist 
intellectuals.  In light of the prophetic accuracy of Bakunin's 
prediction in this area, Marx's reply is almost ironic: "Under 
collective ownership the so-called people's will disappears 
to make way for the real will of the cooperative."  It is on this 
point that most left-anarchists reasonably claim complete 
vindication; just as Bakunin predicted, the Marxist 
"dictatorship of the proletariat" swiftly became a ruthless 
"dictatorship _over_ the proletariat." 
Finally, Marx stated that the anarchists erroneously believed 
that the government supported the capitalist system rather 
than the other way around.  In consequence, they were 
attacking the wrong target and diverting the workers' 
movement from its proper course.  Engels delineated the 
Marxist and left-anarchist positions quite well: "Bakunin 
maintains that it is the _state_ which has created capital, 
that the capitalist has his capital _only by the grace of the 
state_.  As, therefore, the state is the chief evil, it is above 
all the state which must be done away with and then 
capitalism will go to blazes of itself.  We, on the contrary, 
say: Do away with capital, the concentration of the means of 
production in the hands of the few, and the state will fall of 
itself."  The left-anarchist would probably accept this as a 
fair assessment of their disagreement with the Marxists, but 
point out how in many historical cases since (and before) 
Marx's time governments have steered their countries 
towards very different aims and policies, whereas capitalists 
are often fairly adaptive and passive. 
c.  The minarchists' attack on anarcho-capitalism 
Probably the earliest minarchist attack on anarcho-
capitalism may be found in Ayn Rand's essay "The Nature of 
Government."  ("Minarchism" designates the advocacy of a 
"minimal" or nightwatchman state, supplying only police, 
courts, a legal system, and national defense.)  Her critique 
contained four essential arguments.  The first essentially 
repeated Hobbes' view that society without government 
would collapse into violent chaos.  The second was that 
anarcho-capitalist police firms would turn to war as soon as 
a dispute broke out between individuals employing different 
protection agencies: "[S]uppose Mr. Smith, a customer of 
Government A, suspects that his next-door neighbor, Mr. 
Jones, a customer of Government B, has robbed him; a 
squad of Police A proceeds to Mr. Jones' house and is met 
at the door by a squad of Police B, who declare that they do 
not recognize the authority of Government A.  What 
happens then?  You take it from there."  Her third argument 
was that anarcho-capitalism was an expression of an 
irrational subjectivist epistemology which would allow each 
person to decide for himself or herself whether the use of 
physical force was justified.  Finally, her fourth argument 
was that anarcho-capitalism would lack an objective legal 
code (meaning, presumably, both publicly known and 
morally valid).   
Rand's arguments were answered at length in Roy Childs' 
"Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand," 
which tried to convince her that only the anarcho-capitalist 
position was consistent with her view that the initiation of 
force was immoral.  In brief, Childs argued that like other 
free-market institutions, private police would have economic 
incentives to perform their tasks peacefully and efficiently:  
police would negotiate arbitration agreements in advance 
precisely to avoid the kind of stand-off that Rand feared, and 
an objective legal code could be developed by free-market 
judges.  Childs strongly contested Rand's claim that 
anarcho-capitalism had any relation to irrationalism; an 
individual could be rational or irrational in his judgment to 
use defensive violence, just as a government could be 
rational or irrational in its judgment to do so.  As Childs 
queried, "By what epistemological criterion is an individual's 
action classified as 'arbitrary,' while that of a _group_ of 
individuals is somehow 'objective'?" 
Robert Nozick launched the other famous attempt to refute 
the anarcho-capitalist on libertarian grounds.  Basically, 
Nozick argued that the supply of police and legal services 
was a geographic natural monopoly, and that therefore a 
state would emerge by the "invisible hand" processes of the 
market itself.  The details of his argument are rather 
complex: Nozick postulated a right, strongly contested by 
other libertarians, to prohibit activities which were 
exceptionally risky to others; he then added that the persons 
whose actions were so prohibited were entitled to 
compensation.  Using these two principles, Nozick claimed 
that the dominant protection agency in a region could 
justifiably prohibit competition on the grounds that it was 
"too risky," and therefore become an "ultra-minimal state."  
But at this point, it would be obligated to compensate 
consumers who were prohibited from purchasing 
competitors' services, so it would do so _in kind_ by giving 
them access to its own police and legal services -- thereby 
becoming a minimal state.  And none of these steps, 
according to Nozick, violates libertarian rights. 
There have been literally dozens of anarchist attacks on 
Nozick's derivation of the minimal state.  To begin with, no 
state arose in the manner Nozick describes, so all 
_existing_ states are illegitimate and still merit abolition.  
Secondly, anarcho-capitalists dispute Nozick's assumption 
that defense is a natural monopoly, noting that the modern 
security guard and arbitration industries are extremely 
decentralized and competitive.  Finally, they reject Nozick's 
principles of risk and compensation, charging that they lead 
directly to the despotism of preventive law. 
d.  The conservative critique of anarchism 
The conservative critique of anarchism is much less 
developed, but can be teased out of the writings of such 
authors as Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk, and Ernest van den 
Haag.  (Interestingly, Burke scholars are still debating 
whether the early Burke's quasi-anarchistic _A Vindication 
of Natural Society_ was a serious work or a subtle satire.)   
Burke would probably say that, like other radical ideologues, 
the anarchists place far too much reliance on their imperfect 
reason and not enough on the accumulated wisdom of 
tradition.  Society functions because we have gradually 
evolved a system of workable rules.  It seems certain that 
Burke would apply his critique of the French revolutionaries 
with equal force to the anarchists: "They have no respect for 
the wisdom of others; but they pay it off by a very full 
measure of confidence in their own.  With them it is a 
sufficient motive to destroy an old scheme of things, 
because it is an old one.  As to the new, they are in no sort 
of fear with regard to the duration of a building run up in 
haste; because duration is no object to those who think little 
or nothing has been done before their time, and who place 
all their hopes in discovery." To attempt to replace the 
wisdom of the ages with a priori theories of justice is sure to 
lead to disaster, because functional policies must be 
judicious compromises between important competing ends.  
Or in Burke's words, "The science of constructing a 
commonwealth, or renovating it, or reforming it, is, like every 
other experimental science, not to be taught a priori.  Nor is 
it a short experience that can instruct us in that practical 
science; because the real effects of moral causes are not 
always immediate."  The probable result of any attempt to 
realize anarchist principles would be a brief period of 
revolutionary zeal, followed by chaos and social breakdown 
resulting from the impracticality of the revolutionary policies, 
and finally ending in a brutal dictator winning widespread 
support by simply restoring order and rebuilding the 
people's sense of social stability.   
Many anarchists would in fact accept Burke's critique of 
violent revolution, which is why they favor advancing their 
views gradually through education and nonviolent protest.  
In fact, Bakunin's analysis of Marxism as the ideology (i.e., 
rationalization for the class interests of) middle-class 
intellectuals in fact differs little from Burke's analysis: 
Bakunin, like Burke, perceived that no matter how 
oppressive the current system may be, there are always 
power-hungry individuals who favor violent revolution as 
their most practical route to absolute power.  Their protests 
against actual injustices must be seen in light of their 
ultimate aim of imposing even more ruthless despotism upon 
the people. 
On other issues, anarchists would disagree strongly with 
several of Burke's claims.  Many forms of misery stem from 
the blind adherence to tradition; and rational thinking has 
sparked countless improvements in human society ever 
since the decline of traditional despotism.  Moreover, 
anarchists do not propose to do away with valuable 
traditions, but simply request evidence that particular 
traditions _are_ valuable before they lend them their 
support. And what is to be done when -- as is usually the 
case -- a society harbors a wide range of mutually 
incompatible traditions? 
Anarchists might also object that the Burkean analysis relies 
too heavily upon tradition as a _result_ rather than a 
_process_.  Cultural evolution may constantly weed out 
foolish ideas and practices, but it hardly follows that such 
follies have _already_ perished; for the state to defend 
tradition is to strangle the competitive process which tends 
to make tradition sensible.  As Vincent Cook explains: "[I]t is 
precisely because wisdom has to be accumulated in 
incremental steps that it cannot be centrally planned by any 
single political or religious authority, contrary to the 
aspirations of conservatives and collectivists alike.  While 
the collectivists are indeed guilty of trying to rationalistically 
reconstruct society in defiance of tradition (a valid criticism 
of left-anarchists), conservatives on the other hand are 
guilty of trying to freeze old traditions in place.  
Conservatives have forgotten that the process of wisdom 
accumulation is an on-going one, and instead have opted 
for the notion that some existing body of traditions (usually 
Judeo-Christian) already represent social perfection." 
Russell Kirk, noted Burke scholar, has written a brief critique 
of the modern libertarian movement.  (Another conservative, 
Ernest van den Haag, wrote a lengthier essay with a similar 
theme and perspective.)  In all likelihood, Kirk would apply 
many (but not all) of the same arguments to left-anarchists.   
Kirk faults the libertarians (and when he discusses 
"libertarians" he usually seems to have the anarcho-
capitalists in mind) on at least six counts.  First, they deny 
the existence of a "transcendent moral order."  Second, 
order is prior to liberty, and liberty is possible only after 
government establishes a constitutional order.  Third, 
libertarians assume that self-interest is the only possible 
social bond, ignoring the broader communitarian vision of 
human nature found in both the Aristotelian and Judeo-
Christian traditions.  Fourth, libertarians erroneously 
assume that human beings are naturally good or at least 
perfectible.  Fifth, the libertarian foolishly attacks the state 
as such, rather than merely its abuses.  Sixth and last, the 
libertarian is an arrogant egoist who disregards valuable 
ancient beliefs and customs. 
Left-anarchists would perhaps agree with Kirk on points 
three and six.  So if Kirk were to expand his attack on 
anarchism to encompass the left-anarchists as well, he 
might acquit them of these two charges.  The remaining 
four, however, Kirk would probably apply equally to 
anarchists of both varieties. 
How would anarchists reply to Kirk's criticisms?  On the 
"moral transcendence" issue, they would point out there 
have been religious as well as non-religious anarchists; and 
moreover, many non-religious anarchists still embrace moral 
objectivism (notably anarchists in the broader natural law 
tradition).  Most anarchists would deny that they make self-
interest the only possible social bond; and even those who 
would affirm this (such as anarcho-capitalists influenced by 
Ayn Rand) have a broad conception of self-interest 
consistent with the Aristotelian tradition. 
As to the priority of order over liberty, many anarchists 
influenced by e.g. Kropotkin would reply that as with other 
animal species, order and cooperation emerge as a 
_result_, not a consequence of freedom; while anarcho-
capitalists would probably refer Kirk to the theorists of 
"spontaneous order" such as Hayek, Hume, Smith, and even 
Edmund Burke himself.   
The FAQ addresses the questions of human perfectibility 
and utopianism in sections 20 and 21.  As for Kirk's final 
point, most anarchists would reply that they happily accept 
_valuable_ customs and traditions, but believe that they 
have shown that some ancient practices and institutions -- 
above all, the state --have no value whatever. 
e.  "We are already in a state of anarchy." 
Under anarchy, it is conceivable that e.g. a brutal gang 
might use its superior might to coerce everyone else to do 
as they wish.  With nothing more powerful than the gang, 
there would (definitionally) be nothing to stop them.  But how 
does this differ from what we have now?  Governments rule 
because they have the might to maintain their power; in 
short, because there is no superior agency to restrain them.  
Hence, reason some critics of anarchism, the goal of 
anarchists is futile because we are already in a state of 
This argument is confused on several levels. 
First, it covertly defines anarchy as unrestrained rule of the 
strongest, which is hardly what most anarchists have in 
mind.  (Moreover, it overlooks the definitional differences 
between government and other forms of organized 
aggression;  Weber in particular noted that governments 
claim a _monopoly_ over the _legitimate_ use of force in a 
given geographical region.)  In fact, while anarchism is 
logically compatible with any viewpoint which rejects the 
existence of the state, there have been extremely few 
(perhaps no) anarchists who combined their advocacy of 
anarchism with support for domination by those most skilled 
in violence.   
Second, it seems to assume that _all_ that particular 
anarchists advocate is the abolition of the state; but as we 
have seen, anarchism is normally combined with additional 
normative views about what ought to replace the state.  
Thus, most anarchist theorists believe more than merely that 
the state should not exist; they also believe that e.g. society 
should be based upon voluntary communes, or upon strict 
private property rights, etc.   
Third, the argument sometimes confuses a definitional with 
a causal claim.  It is one thing to argue that anarchy would 
_lead to_ the rule by the strongest; this is a causal claim 
about the likely results of the attempt to create an anarchist 
society.  It is another thing entirely to argue that anarchy 
_means_ rule by the strongest.  This is simply a linguistic 
confusion, best illustrated by noting that under this definition 
anarchy and the state are logically compatible. 
A related but more sophisticated argument, generally 
leveled against anarcho- capitalists, runs as follows.  If 
competing protection agencies could prevent the 
establishment of an abusive, dominant firm, while don't they 
do so _now_?  In short, if market checks against the abuse 
of power actually worked, we wouldn't have a state in the 
first place. 
There are two basic replies to this argument.  First of all, it 
completely ignores the ideological factor.  Anarcho-
capitalists are thinking of how competing firms would 
prevent the rise of abusive protection monopolists in a 
society where most people don't support the existence of 
such a monopolist.  It is one thing to suppress a "criminal 
firm" when it stands condemned by public opinion and the 
values internalized by that firm's employees; it is another 
thing entirely to suppress our current "criminal firms" (i.e., 
governments) when qua institution enjoy the overwhelming 
support of the populace and the state's enforcers believe in 
their own cause.  When a governing class loses confidence 
in its own legitimacy -- from the Ancien Regime in France to 
the Communist Party in the USSR -- it becomes vulnerable 
and weak.  Market checks on government could indeed 
establish an anarchist society if the self-confidence of the 
governing class were severely eroded by anarchist ideas. 
Secondly, the critique ignores the possibility of _multiple 
social equilibria_.  If everyone drives on the right side of the 
road, isolated attempts to switch to the left side will be 
dangerous and probably unsuccessful.  But if everyone 
drives on the left side of the road, the same danger exists 
for those who believe that the right side is superior and plan 
to act on their believe.  Similarly, it is quite possible that 
_given_ that a government exists, the existence of 
government is a stable equilibrium; but if a system of 
competitive protection firms existed, that too would be a 
stable equilibrium.  In short, just because one equilibrium 
exists and is stable doesn't mean that it is the only possible 
equilibrium.  Why then is the state so pervasive if it is just 
one possible equilibrium?  The superiority of this equilibrium 
is one possible explanation; but it could also be due to 
ideology, or an inheritance from our barbarous ancestors. 
12.  What other anarchist viewpoints are there?   
There is definitely another strand of anarchist thought, 
although it is far vaguer and less propositional than the 
views thus far explicated.  For some, "anarchist" is just a 
declaration of rebellion against rules and authority of any 
kind.  There is little attempt made here to explain how 
society would work without government; and perhaps there 
is little conviction that it could do so.  This sort of anarchism 
is more of an attitude or emotion -- a feeling that the corrupt 
world of today should go down in flames, without any 
definite view about what if anything would be preferable and 
possible.  For want of a better term, I would call this 
"emotivist anarchism," whose most prominent exponent is 
almost certainly Max Stirner (although to be fair to Stirner he 
did briefly outline his vision for the replacement of existing 
society by a "Union of Egoists"). 
For the emotivist anarchist, opposition to the state is just a 
special case of his or her opposition to almost everything: 
the family, traditional art, bourgeois culture, comfortable 
middle-aged people, the British monarchy, etc.  This 
position, when articulated, is often difficult to understand, for 
it seems to seek destruction without any suggestion or 
argument that anything else would be preferable.  Closely 
linked to emotivist anarchism, though sometimes a little 
more theoretical, is nihilist anarchism.  The anarcho-nihilists 
combine the emotivist's opposition to virtually all forms of 
order with radical subjectivist moral and epistemological 
Related to emotivist anarchism is a second strand of less 
intellectual, more emotional anarchist thought.  It has been 
called by some "moral anarchism."  This view again feels 
that existing statist society is bad; but rather than lay out any 
comprehensive plans for its abolition, this sort of anarchist 
sticks to more immediate reforms.  Anarchism of this sort is 
a kind of ideal dream, which is beautiful and inspiring to 
contemplate while we pursue more concrete aims. 
The emotivist anarchist often focuses on action and disdains 
theorizing.  In contrast, another breed of anarchists, known 
as "philosophical anarchists," see few practical implications 
of their intellectual position.  Best represented by Robert 
Paul Wolff, philosophical anarchism simply denies that the 
state's orders _as such_ can confer any legitimacy 
whatever.  Each individual must exercise his moral 
autonomy to judge right and wrong for himself, irrespective 
of the state's decrees.  However, insofar as the state's 
decrees accord with one's private conscience, there is no 
need to change one's behavior.  A position like Wolff's says, 
in essence, that the rational person cannot and must not 
offer the blind obedience to authority that governments often 
seem to demand; but this insight need not spark any political 
action if one's government's decrees are not unusually 
Yet another faction, strongly influenced by Leo Tolstoy, refer 
to themselves as "Christian anarchists."  (Tolstoy avoided 
the term "anarchist," probably because of its association 
with violence and terrorism in the minds of contemporary 
Russians.)  Drawing on the Gospels' themes of nonviolence 
and the equality of all human beings, these anarchists 
condemn government as contrary to Christian teaching.  
Tolstoy particularly emphasized the immorality of war, 
military service, and patriotism, challenging Christians to live 
up to the radical implications of their faith by withdrawing 
their support from all three of these evils.  Tolstoy's essay 
"Patriotism, or Peace?" is particularly notable for its early 
attack upon nationalism and the bloodshed that usually 
accompanies it.  
Finally, many leftist and progressive movements have an 
anarchist interpretation and anarchist advocates.  For 
example, a faction of feminists, calling themselves "anarcha-
feminists" exists.  The Green and environmentalist 
movement also have strong anarchist wings which blend 
opposition to the state and defense of the environment.  
Their primary theoretician is probably Murray Bookchin, who 
(lately) advocates a society of small and fairly autarchic 
localities.  As Bookchin explains, "the anarchist concepts of 
a balanced community, a face-to-face democracy, a 
humanistic technology and a decentralized society -- these 
rich libertarian concepts -- are not only desirable, they are 
also necessary."  Institutions such as the town meeting of 
classical democratic theory point the way to a radical 
reorganization of society, in which small environmentally 
concerned townships regularly meet to discuss and vote 
upon their communities' production and broader aims. 
Doubtlessly there are many other fusions between 
anarchism and progressive causes, and more spring up as 
new concerns develop.   
13.  What moral justifications have been offered for 
Again, there are a great many answers which have been 
offered.  Some anarchists, such as the emotivist and 
(paradoxically) the moral anarchists have little interest in 
high-level moral theory. But this has been of great interest to 
the more intellectual sorts of anarchists.   
One popular argument for anarchism is that it is the only 
way for true socialism to exist.  State-socialism is unable to 
actually establish human equality; instead it simply creating 
a new ruling class.  Bakunin prophetically predicted the 
results of socialists seizing control of the state when he 
wrote that the socialist elite would form a "new class" which 
would be "the most aristocratic, despotic, arrogant, and 
contemptuous of all regimes."  Elsewhere Bakunin wrote 
that  "[F]reedom without Socialism is privilege and injustice, 
... Socialism without freedom is slavery and brutality."  Of 
course, socialism itself has been defended on both 
deontological and utilitarian grounds, and there is no need 
to repeat these here. 
On the other hand, anarcho-capitalists have argued that 
only under anarchism can the Lockean rights to person and 
property so loudly championed by more moderate 
libertarians be fully respected.  Any attempt to impose a 
monopolistic government necessarily prevents competing 
police and judicial services from providing a legitimate 
service; moreover, so long as government exists taxation 
will persist.  The government's claim to defend private 
property is thus quite ironic, for the state, in Rothbard's 
words, is "an institution that presumes to 'defend' person 
and property by itself subsisting on the unilateral coercion 
against private property known as taxation."  Other anarcho-
capitalists such as David Friedman find these arguments 
from natural Lockean rights unconvincing, and instead take 
up the task of trying to show that Adam Smith's utilitarian 
case for free-market capitalism applies just as well to free 
markets in defense services, making the state useless as 
well as dangerous. 
Still other anarchists, such as Lysander Spooner and 
Benjamin Tucker as well as Proudhon, have argued that 
anarchism would abolish the exploitation inherent in interest 
and rent simply by means of free competition.  In their view, 
only labor income is legitimate, and an important piece of 
the case for anarchism is that without government-imposed 
monopolies, non-labor income would be driven to zero by 
market forces.  It is unclear, however, if they regard this as 
merely a desirable side effect, or if they would reject 
anarchism if they learned that the predicted economic effect 
thereof would not actually occur. (Other individualist 
anarchists have argued that contrary to Spooner and 
Tucker, free banking would lead to a much lower rate of 
inflation than we experience today; that rent and interest are 
not due to "monopoly" but to scarcity of land and loanable 
funds; and that there is no moral distinction between labor 
and rental or interest income, all of which depend upon a 
mixture of scarcity, demand, luck, and effort.) 
A basic moral intuition that probably anarchists of all 
varieties share is simply that no one has the right to rule 
another person.  The interpretation of "rulership," however, 
varies: left anarchists tend to see the employer-employee 
relationship as one of rulership, and anarcho-capitalists are 
often dubious of the claim that envisaged anarchists 
communes would be democratic and hence voluntary.  A 
closely related moral intuition, again widely shared by all 
sorts of anarchists, is that each person should exercise 
personal autonomy, or self-rule.  One should question 
authority, and make up one's mind for oneself rather than 
simply following the herd.  Again, the interpretation of 
"personal autonomy" varies: the left-anarchist sees the 
employer-employee relationship as inherently violating 
personal autonomy, whereas the anarcho-capitalist is more 
likely to see personal autonomy disappearing in the 
commune or collective, regardless of how democratically 
they run themselves. 
14.  What are the major debates between anarchists?  What 
are the recurring arguments?   
Without a doubt, the most repeated debate among modern 
anarchists is fought between the left-anarchists on one side 
and the anarcho-capitalists on the other.  Of course, there 
are occasional debates between different left-anarchist 
factions, but probably most of them would be content with an 
anarchist society populated by some mixture of communes, 
worker-controlled firms, and cooperatives.  And similarly 
there are a few internal debates between anarcho-
capitalists, notably the tension between Rothbard's natural 
law anarcho-capitalism and David Friedman's more 
economistic anarcho-capitalism.  But it is the debate 
between the left-anarchists and the anarcho-capitalists 
which is the most fundamental and the most acrimonious.  
There are many sub-debates within this wider genre, which 
we will now consider. 
a.  "X is not 'true anarchism.'"   
One of the least fruitful of these sub-debates is the frequent 
attempt of one side to define the other out of  existence 
("You are not truly an anarchist, for anarchists must favor  
[abolition of private property, atheism, Christianity, etc.]")  In 
addition to being a trivial issue, the factual supporting 
arguments are often incorrect.  For example, despite a 
popular claim that socialism and anarchism have been 
inextricably linked since the inception of the anarchist 
movement, many 19th-century anarchists, not only 
Americans such as Tucker and Spooner, but even 
Europeans like Proudhon, were ardently in favor of private 
property (merely believing that _some_ existing sorts of 
property were illegitimate, without opposing private property 
as such).   
As Benjamin Tucker wrote in 1887, "It will probably surprise 
many who know nothing of Proudhon save his declaration 
that 'property is robbery' to learn that he was perhaps the 
most vigorous hater of Communism that ever lived on this 
planet. But the apparent inconsistency vanishes when you 
read his book and find that by property he means simply 
legally privileged wealth or the power of usury, and not at all 
the possession by the laborer of his products." 
Nor did an ardent anarcho-communist like Kropotkin deny 
Proudhon or even Tucker the title of "anarchist."  In his 
_Modern Science and Anarchism_, Kropotkin discusses not 
only Proudhon but "the American anarchist individualists 
who were represented in the fifties by S.P. Andrews and W. 
Greene, later on by Lysander Spooner, and now are 
represented by Benjamin Tucker, the well-known editor of 
the New York _Liberty_."  Similarly in his article on 
anarchism for the 1910 edition of the _Encyclopedia 
Britannica_, Kropotkin again freely mentions the American 
individualist anarchists, including "Benjamin Tucker, whose 
journal _Liberty_ was started in 1881 and whose 
conceptions are a combination of those of Proudhon with 
those of Herbert Spencer." 
b.  "Anarchism of variant X is unstable and will lead to the 
re-emergence of the state."   
A more substantive variation is to argue that the opposing 
anarchism would be unstable and lead to the swift re-
emergence of government.  Thus, the left-anarchists often 
argue that the defense corporations envisaged by anarcho-
capitalists would war with one another until one came out as 
the new government; or else they would collude to establish 
themselves as the new capitalist oligarchs.  As Noam 
Chomsky says in an interview with Ulrike Heider, "The 
predatory forces of the market would destroy society, would 
destroy community, and destroy the workforce.  Nothing 
would be left except people hating each other and fighting 
each other."  Anarcho-capitalists reply that this grossly 
underestimates the degree of competition likely to prevail in 
the defense industry; that war is likely to be very 
unprofitable and dangerous, and is more likely to be 
provoked by ideology than sober profit-maximization; and 
that economic theory and economic history show that 
collusion is quite difficult to maintain.   
Anarcho-capitalists for their part accuse the left-anarchists 
of intending to impose their communal vision upon 
everyone; since everyone will not go along voluntarily, a 
government will be needed to impose it.  Lest we think that 
this argument is a recent invention, it is interesting to find 
that essentially this argument raged in the 19th- century 
anarchist movement as well.  In John MacKay's _The 
Anarchists_,  we see the essential dialogue between 
individualist and collectivist  anarchism has a longer history 
than one might think:   
"Would you, in the system of society which you call 'free 
Communism'  prevent individuals from exchanging their 
labor among themselves by means of their own medium of 
exchange? And further: Would you prevent them from 
occupying land for the purpose of personal use?"... [The] 
question was not to be escaped.  If he answered "Yes!" he 
admitted that society had the right of control over the 
individual and threw overboard the autonomy of the 
individual which he had always zealously defended; if on the 
other hand he answered "No!" he admitted the right of 
private property which he had just denied so emphatically ...  
Then he answered "In Anarchy any number of men must 
have the right of forming a voluntary association, and so 
realizing their ideas in practice.  Nor can I understand how 
any one could justly be driven from the land and house 
which he uses and occupies ... [E]very serious man must 
declare himself: for Socialism, and thereby for force and 
against liberty, or for Anarchism, and thereby for liberty and 
against force."  
There have been several left-anarchist replies.  One is to 
readily agree that dissenters would have the right to not join 
a commune, with the proviso that they must not employ 
others or otherwise exploit them.  Another is to claim that 
anarchism will change (or cease to warp) human attitudes 
so that they will be more communitarian and less 
individualistic.  Finally, some argue that this is simply 
another sophistical argument for giving the rich and powerful 
the liberty to take away the liberty of everyone else.   
c.  "In an anarchist society in which both systems X and Y 
existed, X would inevitably outcompete Y."   
Again, this argument has been made from several 
perspectives.  Left-anarchists have argued that if workers 
had the genuine option to work for a capitalist employer, or 
else work for themselves in a worker cooperative, virtually 
all workers would choose the latter.  Moreover, workers in a 
worker-managed firm would have higher morale and greater 
incentive to work hard compared with workers who just 
worked for the benefit of their employer.  Hence, capitalists 
would be unable to pay their workers wages competitive with 
the wages of the labor-managed firm, and by force of 
competition would gradually vanish.   
Anarcho-capitalists find that the argument works in precisely 
the opposite direction.  For what is a worker-owned firm if 
not a firm in which the workers jointly hold all of the stock?  
Now this is a peculiarly irrational portfolio to hold, because it 
means that workers would, in effect, put all their eggs in one 
basket; if their firm does well, they grow rich, but if their firm 
goes bankrupt, they lose everything.  It would make much 
more sense for workers to exchange their shares in their 
own firm to buy shares in other firms in order to insure 
themselves against risk.  Thus, the probable result of 
worker-owned firms with negotiable shares would be that 
workers would readily and advantageously sell off most of 
their shares in their own firm in order to diversify their 
portfolios.  The end result is likely to be the standard form of 
capitalist organization, in which workers receive a fixed 
payment for their services and the owners of the firms' 
shares earn the variable profits.  Of course, alienation of 
shares could be banned, but this appears to do nothing 
except force workers to live with enormous financial risk.  
None of this shows that worker-owned firms could not 
persist if the workers were so ideologically committed to 
worker control that their greater productivity outweighed the 
riskiness of the workers' situation; but anarcho-capitalists 
doubt very much that such intense ideology would prevail in 
more than a small portion of the population.  Indeed, they 
expect that the egalitarian norms and security from dismissal 
that left-anarchists typically favor would grossly undermine 
everyone's incentive to work hard and kill abler workers' 
desire for advancement. 
Some anarcho-capitalists go further and argue that 
inequality would swiftly re-emerge in an anarcho-syndicalist 
economy.  Workers would treat their jobs as a sort of 
property right, and would refuse to hire new workers on 
equal terms because doing so would dilute the current 
workers' shares in the firm's profits.  The probable result 
would be that an elite class of workers in capital-intensive 
firms would exploit new entrants into the work force much as 
capitalists allegedly do today.  As evidence, they point to 
existing "worker-controlled" firms such as law firms -- 
normally they consist of two tiers of workers, one of which 
both works and owns the firm ("the partners"), while the 
remainder are simply employees ("the associates" as well as 
the secretaries, clerks, etc.) 
d.  "Anarchism of type X would be worse than the state." 
To the left-anarchist, the society envisaged by the anarcho-
capitalists often seems far worse than what we have now.  
For it is precisely to the inequality, exploitation, and tyranny 
of modern capitalism that they object, and rather than 
abolishing it the anarcho-capitalist proposes to unleash its 
worst features and destroy its safety net.  Noam Chomsky, 
for instance, has suggested that anarcho-capitalists focus 
incorrectly on _state_ domination, failing to recognize the 
underlying principle of opposition to _all_ domination, 
including the employer-employee relationship.  Overall, 
since anarcho-capitalism relies heavily on laissez-faire 
economic theory, and since left-anarchists see no validity to 
laissez-faire economic theory, it seems to the latter that 
anarcho-capitalism would be a practical disaster.  Left-
anarchists often equate anarcho-capitalism with social 
Darwinism and even fascism, arguing that the cruel idea of 
"survival of the fittest" underlies them all.   
The anarcho-capitalist, in turn, often suspects that the left-
anarchist's world would be worse than the world of today.  
Under anarcho-capitalism, individuals would still have every 
right to _voluntarily_ pool their property to form communes, 
worker-controlled firms, and cooperatives; they would simply 
be unable to force dissenters to join them.  Since this fact 
rarely impresses the left-anarchist, the anarcho-capitalist 
often concludes that the left-anarchist will not be satisfied 
with freedom for his preferred lifestyle; he wants to force his 
communal lifestyle on everyone.  Not only would this be a 
gross denial of human freedom, but it would (according to 
the anarcho-capitalist) be likely to have disastrous effects 
on economic incentives, and swiftly lead humanity into 
miserable poverty.  The anarcho-capitalist is also frequently 
disturbed by the opposition to _all_ order sometimes voiced 
by left-anarchists; for he feels that only coerced order is bad 
and welcomes the promotion of an orderly society by 
voluntary means.  Similarly, the left-anarchists' occasional 
short time horizon, emphasis on immediate satisfaction, and 
low regard for work (which can be seen in a number of 
authors strongly influenced by emotivist anarchism) frighten 
the anarcho-capitalist considerably. 
e.  Etc. 
A large number of arguments that go back and forth 
basically duplicate the standard socialist vs. capitalist 
debate.  The need or lack thereof for incentives, security, 
equality, regulation, protection of the environment, and so 
on are debated extensively on other sources on the Net, and 
there are several FAQs which discuss these issues from a 
variety of viewpoints.  FAQs on the broader libertarian 
movement are frequently posted on alt.individualism, 
alt.politics.libertarian, and talk.politics.libertarian.  FAQs on 
socialism and left-anarchism similarly appear from time to 
time on alt.politics.radical-left and  
Related FAQs sometimes appear on talk.politics.theory.  
Hence, we will spend no further space on these broader 
issues which are amply addressed elsewhere.   
15.  How would anarchists handle the "public goods" 
Modern neoclassical (or "mainstream") economists -- 
especially those associated with theoretical welfare 
economics -- have several important arguments for the 
necessity or desirability of government.  Out of all of these, 
the so-called "public goods" problem is surely the most 
frequently voiced.  In fact, many academics consider it a 
rigorous justification for the existence and limits of the state.  
Anarcho-capitalists are often very familiar with this line of 
thought and spend considerable time trying to refute it; left-
anarchists are generally less interested, but it is still useful 
to see how the left-anarchist might respond. 
We will begin by explaining the concept of Pareto optimality, 
show how the Pareto criterion is used to justify state action, 
and then examine how anarchists might object to the 
underlying assumptions of these economic justifications for 
the state.  After exploring the general critique, we will turn to 
the problem of public goods (and the closely related 
externalities issue).  After showing how many economists 
believe that these problems necessitate government action, 
we will consider how left-anarchists and anarcho-capitalists 
might reply. 
a.  The concept and uses of Pareto optimality in economics 
The most widely-used concept in theoretical welfare 
economics is "Pareto optimality"  (also known as "Pareto 
efficiency").  An allocation is _Pareto-optimal_ iff it is 
impossible to make at least one person better off without 
making anyone else worse off; a _Pareto improvement_ is a 
change in an allocation which makes someone better off 
without making anyone else worse off. As Hal Varian's 
_Microeconomic Analysis_ explains, "[A] Pareto efficient 
allocation is one for which each agent is as well off as 
possible, given the utilities of the other agents."  "Better" 
and "worse" are based purely upon subjective preferences 
which can be summarized in a "utility function," or ordinal 
numerical index of preference satisfaction.  
While initially it might seem that every situation is 
necessarily Pareto optimal, this is not the case.  True, if the 
only good is food, and each agent wants as much food as 
possible, then every distribution is Pareto optimal.  But if 
half of the agents own food and the other half own clothes, 
the distribution will not necessarily be Pareto optimal, since 
each agent might prefer either more food and fewer clothes 
or vice versa.   
Normally, economists would expect agents to voluntarily 
trade in any situation which is not Pareto optimal; but 
neoclassical theorists have considered a number of 
situations in which trade would be a difficult route to Pareto 
optimality.  For example, suppose that each agent is so 
afraid of the other that they avoid each other, even though 
they could both benefit from interaction.  What they need is 
an independent and powerful organization to e.g. protect 
both agents from each other so that they can reach a 
Pareto-optimal allocation.  What they need, in short, is the 
state.  While economists' examples are usually more 
elaborate, the basic intuition is that government is 
necessary to satisfy the seemingly uncontroversial principle 
of Pareto optimality. 
Anarchists of all sorts would immediately object that the very 
existence of deontological anarchists shows that Pareto 
optimality can _never_ justify state action.  If even the 
slightest increase in the level of state activity incompensably 
harms the deontological anarchist, then obviously it is never 
true that state action can make some people better off 
without making any others worse off.  Moreover, virtually all 
government action makes some people better off and other 
people worse off, so plainly the pursuit of Pareto 
improvements has little to do with what real governments do. 
Due to these difficulties, in practice economists must base 
their judgments upon the far more controversial  judgments 
of cost-benefit analysis.  (In the works of Richard Posner, 
this economistic cost-benefit approach to policy decisions is 
called "wealth-maximization"; a common synonym is 
"Kaldor-Hicks efficiency.")  With cost-benefit analysis, there 
is no pretense made that government policy enjoys 
unanimous approval.  Thus, it is open to the many 
objections frequently made to e.g. utilitarianism; moreover, 
since cost-benefit analysis is based upon agents' 
willingness to pay, rather than on agents' utility, it runs into 
even more moral paradoxes than utilitarianism typically 
In the final analysis, welfare economists' attempt to provide 
a value-free or at least value-minimal justification of the 
state fails quite badly.  Nevertheless, economic analysis 
may still inform more substantive moral theories: Pareto 
optimality, for example, is a necessary but not sufficient 
condition for a utilitarian justification of the state. 
b.  The public goods problem 
The "public goods" argument is certainly the most popular 
economic argument for the state.  It allegedly shows that the 
existence of government can be Pareto optimal, and that the 
non-existence of the state cannot be Pareto optimal; or at 
least, it shows that the existence of government is justifiable 
on cost-benefit grounds.  Supposedly, there exist important 
services, such as national defense, which benefit people 
whether they pay for them or not.  The result is that selfish 
agents refuse to contribute, leading to disaster.  The only 
way to solve this problem is to coerce the beneficiaries to 
raise the funds to supply the needed good.  In order for this 
coercion to work, it needs to be monopolized by a single 
agency, the state.   
Public goods arguments have been made not only for 
national defense, but for police, roads, education, R&D, 
scientific research, and many other goods and services.  
The essential definitional feature of public goods is "non-
excludability"; because the benefits cannot be limited to 
contributors, there is no incentive to contribute.  (A second 
definitional characteristic often attributed to public goods is 
"non-rivalrousness"; my own view is that this second 
attribute just confuses the issue, since without the non-
excludability problem, non-rivalrousness would merely be 
another instance of the ubiquitous practice of pricing above 
marginal cost.) 
The concept of externalities is very closely connected to the 
concept of public goods; the main difference is that 
economists usually think of externalities as being both 
"positive" (e.g. R&D spill-overs) and "negative" (e.g. 
pollution), whereas they usually don't discuss "public bads."  
In any case, again we have the problem that agents perform 
actions which harm or benefit other people, and the 
harm/benefit is "non-excludable."  Victims of negative 
externalities can't feasibly charge polluters a fee for 
suffering, and beneficiaries of positive externalities can't 
feasibly be charged for their enjoyment. Government is 
supposed to be necessary to correct this inefficiency.  (As 
usual, it is the inefficiency rather than the injustice that 
economists focus upon.) 
Left-anarchists and anarcho-capitalists would probably have 
remarkably similar replies to this argument, although 
doubtlessly the tone and emphasis would vary. 
Objection #1:  The behavorial assumptions of public goods 
theory are false. 
It is simply not true that people always act in their narrow 
self-interest.  Charity exists, and there is no reason to think 
that the charitable impulse might not be cultivated to handle 
public goods problems voluntarily on an adequate basis.  
Nor need charity as such be the only motive: in _Social 
Contract, Free Ride_, Anthony de Jasay lays out an "ethics 
turnpike" of possible voluntary solutions to serious public 
goods problems, moving from motivation from high moral 
principles, to "tribal" motivations, to economic motivations.  
As de Jasay writes, "On the map of the Ethics Turnpike ... 
three main segments are marked off according to the basic 
type of person most likely to find his congenial exit along it.  
The first segment is primarily for the type who fears God or 
acts as if he did.  The second segment has exits to suit 
those who are not indifferent to how some or all their fellow 
men are faring, and who value only that (but not _all_ that) 
which people want for themselves or for others.  The third is 
for _homo oeconomicus_, maximizing a narrowly defined 
utility that varies only with the money's worth of his own 
In short, much of the public goods problem is an artificial 
creation of economists' unrealistic assumptions about 
human nature.  Anarchists would surely disagree among 
themselves about human nature, but almost all would agree 
that there is more to the human character than Hobbesian 
self-interest.  Some people may be amoral, but most are not.  
Moreover, charitable impulses can even give incentives to 
uncharitable people to behave fairly.  If the public boycotts 
products of polluters, the polluters may find that it is cheaper 
to clean up their act than lose the public's business. 
Interestingly, many economists have _experimentally_ 
tested the predictions of public goods theory.  (Typically, 
these experiments involve groups of human subjects playing 
for real money.)  The almost universal result is that the 
central prediction of public goods theory (i.e., that no one 
will voluntarily contribute to the production of a public good) 
is totally false.  While the level of contributions rarely equals 
the Pareto-optimal level, it never even approaches the zero-
provision level that public goods theory predicts.  
Summarizing the experimental literature, Douglas Davis and 
Charles Holt write "[S]ubjects rather persistently contributed 
40 to 60 percent of their token endowments to the group 
exchange, far in excess of the 0 percent contributions 
rate..."  Subsequent experiments examined the conditions 
under which voluntary provision is most successful; see 
Davis and Holt's _Experimental Economics_ for details.   
Objection #2: Government is not the only possible way to 
provide public goods. 
Even if individuals act in their narrow self-interest, it is not 
true that government is the _only_ way to manage public 
goods and externalities problems.  Why couldn't a left-
anarchist commune or an anarcho-capitalist police firm do 
the job that the neoclassical economist assumes must be 
delegated to the government?  The left-anarchist would 
probably be particularly insistent on this point, since most 
economists usually assume that government and the market 
are the only ways to do things.  But thriving, voluntary 
communities might build roads, regulate pollution, and take 
over other important tasks now handled by government.   
Anarcho-capitalists, for their part, would happily agree: while 
they usually look to the market as a first solution, they 
appreciate other kinds of voluntary organizations too: 
fraternal societies, clubs, family, etc.  But anarcho-capitalists 
would probably note that left-anarchists overlook the ways 
that the market might take over government services -- 
indeed, malls and gated communities show how roads, 
security, and externalities can be handled by contract rather 
than coercion. 
Objection #3:  Public goods are rarer than you might think. 
Anarcho-capitalists would emphasize that a large number of 
alleged "public goods" and "externalities" could easily be 
handled privately by for-profit business if only the 
government would allow the definition of private property 
rights.  If ranchers over-graze the commons, why not 
privatize the commons?  If fishermen over-fish the oceans, 
why not parcel out large strips of the ocean by longitude and 
latitude to for profit-making aquaculture?  And why is 
education supposed to create externalities any more than 
any other sort of investment?  Similarly, many sorts of 
externalities are now handled with private property rights.  
Tort law, for example, can give people an incentive to take 
the lives and property of others into account when they take 
Objection #4:  Externalities are a result of the profit-oriented 
mentality which would be tamed in an anarchist society. 
Left-anarchists would emphasize that many externalities are 
caused by the profit-seeking system which the state 
supports.  Firms pollute because it is cheaper than 
producing cleanly; but anarcho-syndicalist firms could 
pursue many aims besides profit.  In a way, the state-
capitalist system creates the problem of externalities by 
basing all decisions upon profit, and then claims that we 
need the state to protect us from the very results of this 
profit-oriented decision-making process.   
While few left-anarchists are familiar with the experimental 
economics literature, it offers some support for this general 
approach.  In particular, many experiments have shown that 
subjects' concern for fairness weakens many of the harsh 
predictions of standard economic analysis of externalities 
and bargaining. 
Objection #5:  The public goods problem is unavoidable. 
Perhaps most fundamentally: government is not a solution to 
the public goods problem, but rather _the primary instance 
of the problem_.  If you create a government to solve your 
public goods problems, you merely create a new public 
goods problem: the public good of restraining and checking 
the government from abusing its power.  "[I]t is wholly owing 
to the constitution of the people, and not to the constitution 
of the government, that the crown is not as oppressive in 
England as in Turkey," wrote Thomas Paine; but what 
material incentive is there for individuals to help develop a 
vigilant national character?  After all, surely it is a rare 
individual who appreciably affects the national culture during 
his or her lifetime. 
To rely upon democracy as a counter-balance simply 
assumes away the public goods problem.  After all, 
intelligent, informed voting is a public good; everyone 
benefits if the electorate reaches wise political judgments, 
but there is no personal, material incentive to "invest" in 
political information, since the same result will (almost 
certainly) happen whether you inform yourself or not.  It 
should be no surprise that people know vastly more about 
their jobs than about their government.  Many economists 
seem to be aware of this difficulty; in particular, public 
choice theory in economics emphasizes the externalities 
inherent in government action.  But a double standard 
persists: while non-governmental externalities must be 
corrected by the state, we simply have to quietly endure the 
externalities inherent in political process. 
Since there is no incentive to monitor the government, 
democracies must rely upon _voluntary donations_ of 
intelligence and virtue.  Because good government depends 
upon these _voluntary donations_, the public goods 
argument for government falls apart.  Either unpaid virtue 
can make government work, in which case government isn't 
_necessary_ to solve the public goods problem; or unpaid 
virtue is insufficient to make government work, in which case 
the government cannot be _trusted_ to solve the public 
goods problem. 
16.  Are anarchists pacifists? 
Again, this is a complicated question because "pacifism" has 
at least two distinct meanings.  It may mean "opposition to 
all violence," or it may mean "opposition to all _war_ (i.e., 
organized violent conflict between _governments_)."  Some 
anarchists are pacifists in the first sense; a very large 
majority of anarchists are pacifists in the weaker, second 
a.  Tolstoyan absolute pacifism 
The primary anarchistic inspiration for pacifism in the first 
sense is probably Leo Tolstoy.  Drawing his themes from the 
Gospels, Tolstoy argued that violence is always wrong, 
including defensive violence.  This naturally leads Tolstoy to 
bitterly denounce warfare as well, but what is distinctive 
here is opposition to violence as such, whether offensive or 
defensive.  Moreover, the stricture against defensive 
violence would appear to rule out not only retribution against 
criminals, but self-defense against an imminent attack. 
This Tolstoyan theme appears most strongly in the writings 
of Christian anarchists and pacifist anarchists, but it pops up 
quite frequently within the broader left-anarchist tradition.  
For example, Kropotkin looked upon criminals with pity 
rather than contempt, and argued that love and forgiveness 
rather than punishment was the only moral reaction to 
criminal behavior.  With the self-described Christian and 
pacifist anarchists, the Tolstoyan position is a firm 
conviction; within the broader left-anarchist tradition, it 
would be better described as a tendency or general attitude. 
Some left-anarchists and virtually all anarcho-capitalists 
would strongly disagree with Tolstoy's absolute opposition 
to violence.  (The only anarcho-capitalist to ever indicate 
agreement with the Tolstoyan position was probably Robert 
LeFevre.)  Left-anarchist critics include the advocates of 
revolutionary terrorism or "propaganda by the deed" 
(discussed in section 22), as well as more moderate anti-
Tolstoyans who merely uphold the right to use violence for 
self- defense.  Of course, their definition of "self-defense" 
might very well include using violence to hinder immoral 
state actions or the functioning of the capitalist system. 
The anarcho-capitalist critique of Tolstoyan pacifism is 
somewhat different.  The anarcho-capitalist generally 
distinguishes between _initiatory_ force 
against person or property (which he views as wrong), and 
_retaliatory_ force (which he views as acceptable and 
possibly meritorious).  The anarcho-capitalist condemns the 
state precisely because it institutionalizes the initiation of 
force within society.  Criminals do the same, differing only in 
their lack of perceived legitimacy.  In principle, both "private" 
criminals and the "public" criminals who run the government 
may be both resisted and punished.  While it may be 
imprudent or counter-productive to openly resist state 
authority (just as it might be foolish to resist a gang of well-
armed mobsters), there is a right to do so. 
b.  Pacifism as opposition to war 
Almost all anarchists, in contrast, would agree in their 
condemnation of warfare, i.e., violent conflict between 
governments.  Left-anarchists and anarcho-capitalists both 
look upon wars as grotesque struggles between ruling elites 
who treat the lives of "their own" people as expendable and 
the lives of the "other side's" people as worthless.  It is here 
that anarchism's strong distinction between society and the 
state becomes clearest: whereas most people see war as a 
struggle between societies, anarchists think that war is 
actually a battle between _governments_ which greatly 
harms even the society whose government is victorious.  
What is most pernicious about nationalist ideology is that is 
makes the members of society identify their interests with 
those of their government, when in fact their interests are 
not merely different but in conflict.  In short, anarchists of 
both sorts would readily accede to Randolph Bourne's 
remark that "War is the health of the state." 
Left-anarchists' opposition to war is quite similar to the 
general condemnation of war expressed by more 
mainstream international socialists.  On this view, war is 
created by capitalism, in particular the struggle for access to 
markets in the Third World.  "Workingmen have no country" 
and should refuse to support these intra-capitalist struggles; 
why should they pay the dire cost of war when victory will 
merely leave them more oppressed and exploited than 
before?  Moreover, while Western democracies often 
advocate war in the name of justice and humanitarianism, 
the aim and/or end result is to defend traditional 
authoritarianism and destroy the lives of millions of innocent 
people.  Within the Western democracies, the left-
anarchist's hatred for war is often intensified by some sense 
of sympathy for indigenous revolutionary movements.  While 
these movements are often state-socialist in intent, the left-
anarchist often believes that these movements are less bad 
than the traditional authoritarianism against which they 
struggle.  Moreover, the West's policy of propping up local 
dictators leads relatively non-authoritarian socialist 
movements to increasing degrees of totalitarianism.  Noam 
Chomsky is almost certainly the most influential 
representative of the left-anarchist approach to foreign 
policy:  He sees a consistent pattern of the United States 
proclaiming devotion to human rights while supporting 
dictatorships by any means necessary. 
The anarcho-capitalist critique of war is similar in many 
ways to e.g. Chomsky's analysis, but has a different lineage 
and emphasis.  As can be seen particularly in Murray 
Rothbard's writings, the anarcho-capitalist view of war draws 
heavily upon both the anti-war classical liberals on the 18th 
and 19th centuries, and the long-standing American 
isolationist tradition.  Early classical liberal theorists such as 
Adam Smith, Richard Cobden, and James Bright argued that 
warfare was caused by _mercantilism_, by the prevailing 
alliance between governments and their favored business 
elites.  The solution, in their view, was to end the incestuous 
connection between business and government.  The 
American isolationists were probably influenced by this 
broader classical liberal tradition, but placed more emphasis 
on the idea that foreign wars were at best a silly distraction, 
and at worst a rationalization for tyranny.  Both views argued 
that "balance of power" politics lead inevitably to endless 
warfare and unrestrained military spending. 
Building upon these two interrelated traditions, anarcho-
capitalists have built a multi-layered attack upon warfare.  
Firstly, modern war particularly deserves moral 
condemnation (according to libertarian rights theory) for the 
widespread murderous attacks upon innocent civilians -- 
whether by bomb or starvation blockade.  Secondly, the 
wars waged by the Western democracies in the 20th-
century had disastrous, unforeseen consequences: World 
War I paved the way for Communist, fascist, and Nazi 
totalitarianism; and World War II, by creating power 
vacuums in Europe and Asia, turned over a billion human 
beings to Stalinist despotism.  The anarcho-capitalist sees 
these results as predictable rather than merely accidental: 
just as rulers' hubris leads them to try to improve the free-
market economy, only to find that in their ignorance they 
have wrecked terrible harm, so too does the "fatal conceit" 
of the national security advisor lead Western democracies 
to spend billions of dollars and millions of lives before he 
finds that he has inadvertently paved the way for 
totalitarianism.  The anarcho-capitalist's third point against 
war is that its only sure result is to aid the domestic 
expansion of state power; and predictably, when wars end, 
the state's power never contracts to its original limits. 
17.  Have there been any historical examples of anarchist 
There have probably been no societies which _fully_ satisfy 
any anarchists' ethical ideals, but there have been a number 
of suggestive examples. 
Left-anarchists most often cite the anarchist communes of 
the Spanish Civil War as examples of viable anarchist 
societies.  Israeli kibbutzim have also been admired as 
working examples of voluntary socialism.  Kropotkin and 
Bakunin held up the _mir_, the traditional communal farming 
system in rural Russia, as suggestive of the organization 
and values which would be expressed in an anarchist 
society.  Various experimental communities have also laid 
claim to socialist anarchist credentials. 
Anarcho-capitalists' favorite example, in contrast, is 
medieval Iceland.  David Friedman has written extensively 
on the competitive supply of defense services and 
anarchistic character of a much-neglected period of 
Iceland's history.  A long stretch of medieval Irish history has 
also been claimed to have pronounced anarcho-capitalist 
features.  Other anarcho-capitalists have argued that the 
American "Wild West" offers an excellent illustration of 
anarcho-capitalist institutions springing up only to be later 
suppressed and crowded out by government.  Anarcho-
capitalists also often note that while the United States has 
never been an anarchist society by any stretch of the 
imagination, that before the 20th-century the United States 
came closer to their pure laissez-faire ideals than any other 
society in history.  America's colonial and revolutionary 
period especially interests them.  Murray Rothbard in 
particular published a four-volume history of the colonial and 
revolutionary eras, finding delight in a brief period of 
Pennsylvania's history when the state government virtually 
dissolved itself due to lack of interest.  (An unpublished fifth 
volume in the series defended the "weak" Articles of the 
Confederation against the strong, centralized state 
established by the U.S. Constitution.) 
One case that has inspired both sorts of anarchists is that of 
the free cities of medieval Europe.  The first weak link in the 
chain of feudalism, these free cities became Europe's 
centers of economic development, trade, art, and culture.  
They provided a haven for runaway serfs, who could often 
legally gain their freedom if they avoided re-capture for a 
year and a day.  And they offer many examples of how 
people can form mutual-aid associations for protection, 
insurance, and community.  Of course, left-anarchists and 
anarcho-capitalists take a somewhat different perspective 
on the free cities: the former emphasize the communitarian 
and egalitarian concerns of the free cities, while the latter 
point to the relatively unregulated nature of their markets 
and the wide range of services (often including defense, 
security, and legal services) which were provided privately 
or semi-privately.  Kropotkin's _Mutual Aid_ contains an 
extensive discussion of the free cities of medieval Europe; 
anarcho-capitalists have written less on the subject, but 
strongly praise the historical treatments in Henri Pirenne's 
_Medieval Cities_ and Harold Berman's _Law and 
18.  What are some major anarchist writings?   
This list is by no means intended to be exhaustive; nor does 
inclusion here necessarily indicate that the work is of 
particularly high quality.  (In particular, both Heider's and 
Marshall's works contain a number of embarrassing factual 
Particularly well-written and canonical expressions of 
different anarchist theories are noted with an asterisk (*).  
Broad surveys of anarchism are noted with a number sign 
*  Mikhail Bakunin.  _The Political Philosophy of Bakunin_ 
Mikhail Bakunin. _Statism and Anarchy_   
Bruce Benson.  _ The Enterprise of Law: Justice without the 
Alexander Berkman.  _The ABC of Anarchism_ 
Etienne de la Boetie.  _The Discourse of Voluntary 
Servitude_  (also published as _The Politics of Obedience: 
the Discourse of Voluntary Servitude_) 
Murray Bookchin.  _Post-Scarcity Anarchism_ 
Roy Childs.  _Liberty Against Power_ 
Frank Chodorov.  _Fugitive Essays_ 
Noam Chomsky.  _American Power and the New 
Noam Chomsky.  _The Chomsky Reader_ 
Tyler Cowen, ed.  _The Theory of Market Failure_  (also 
published as _Public Goods and Market Failures_) 
Douglas Davis and Charles Holt, _Experimental Economics_ 
* David Friedman.  _The Machinery of Freedom_   
William Godwin.  _The Anarchist Writings of William 
Emma Goldman.  _Anarchism and Other Essays_ 
*#  Daniel Guerin.  _ Anarchism: From Theory to Practice_ 
#  Ulrike Heider.  _Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green_ 
Anthony de Jasay.  _Social Contract, Free Ride_ 
Leonard Krimerman and Lewis Perry, eds.  _Patterns of 
*  Peter Kropotkin.  _The Essential Kropotkin_ 
Peter Kropotkin.  _Mutual Aid: A Factor in Evolution_ 
Bruno Leoni.  _Freedom and the Law_ 
Wendy McElroy.  _Freedom, Feminism, and the State_ 
#  Peter Marshall.  _Demanding the Impossible: A History of 
James Martin.  _Men Against the State: The Expositors of 
Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827-1908_ 
Gustave de Molinari.  "The Production of Security" 
Albert Jay Nock.  _Our Enemy the State_ 
Albert Jay Nock.  _The State of the Union_ 
Robert Nozick.  _Anarchy, State, and Utopia_ 
Franz Oppenheimer.  _The State_ 
David Osterfeld.  _ Freedom, Society, and the State : An 
Investigation into the Possibility of Society without 
*# J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman, eds.  
_Anarchism_, Nomos vol.19 
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.  _What is Property?_ 
Murray Rothbard.  _Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against 
Murray Rothbard.  _The Ethics of Liberty_ 
*  Murray Rothbard.  _For a New Liberty_   
Murray Rothbard.  _Power and Market_   
David Schmidtz.  _The Limits of Government: An Essay on 
the Public Goods Argument_ 
Lysander Spooner.  _The Lysander Spooner Reader_ 
*  Lysander Spooner. _No Treason: The Constitution of No 
Max Stirner.  _The Ego and Its Own_ 
Morris and Linda Tannehill.  _The Market for Liberty_ 
Henry David Thoreau.  _The Portable Thoreau_ 
Leo Tolstoy.  _Tolstoy on Civil Disobedience and Non-
Benjamin Tucker.  _Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy 
to Write One_   
Robert Paul Wolff.  _In Defence of Anarchism_ 
#  George Woodcock.  _Anarchism: A History of Libertarian 
Ideas and Movements_ 
#  E.V. Zenker.  _Anarchism: A Criticism and History of the 
Anarchist Theory_ 
19.  What are some addresses for anarchist World Wide 
Web sites? 
I keep the list of addresses short because the sites provided 
allow easy access to a large number of related sites. 
Three starting points for discussion of left-anarchism are: 
The Portland Anarchist Web Page 
An Anarchy Page 
Anarchist Yearbook -- Phoenix Press 
Two starting points for discussion of anarcho-capitalism are: 
James Donald's Liberty Page 
Libertarian Web Page 
To my knowledge there is no page which contains a broad 
survey along the lines of this FAQ.  However, these sources 
in combination should give a good picture of the wide range 
of anarchist opinion, along with more information on history 
and current events which I chose not to discuss in detail 
herein.  Examination of these sites can also give a 
reasonable picture of how left-anarchism and anarcho-
capitalism intellectually relate to the broader progressive 
and libertarian movements, respectively. 
20.  Isn't anarchism utopian?   
If the advocacy of radical change in itself is deemed to be 
"utopian," then it is obvious that anarchism is quite utopian 
(except perhaps what was described as "moral anarchism").  
If on the other hand one simply means that anarchism could 
work if and only if all people were virtuous, and thus in 
practice would lead to the imposition of new forms of 
oppression, then the question is more interesting.  
Interesting, because this is more or less the charge that 
different types of anarchists frequently bring against each 
To the left-anarchist, for example, anarcho-capitalism is 
based upon a truly fantastic picture of economics, in which 
free competition somehow leads to prosperity and freedom 
for all.  To them, the anarcho-capitalists' vision of "economic 
harmonies" and the workings of the "invisible hand" are at 
best unlikely, and probably impossible.  Hence, in a sense 
they accuse the anarcho-capitalists of utopianism.   
The anarcho-capitalists charge the left-anarchists similarly.  
For the latter imagine that somehow a communitarian 
society could exist without forcible repression of dissenting 
individualists; think that incentives for production would not 
be impaired by enforced equality; and confusedly equate 
local democracy with freedom.  Moreover, they generally 
have no explanation for how crime would be prevented or 
what safeguards would prevent the rise of a new ruling elite.  
For the anarcho-capitalist, the left-anarchist is again 
hopelessly utopian.   
But in any case, probably most anarchists would offer a 
similar reply to the charge that they are utopians.  Namely: 
what is truly utopian is to imagine that somehow the 
government can hold massive power without turning it to 
monstrous ends.  As Rothbard succinctly puts it: "the man 
who puts all the guns and all the decision-making power into 
the hands of the central government and _then_ says, 'Limit 
yourself'; it is _he_ who is truly the impractical utopian."  Is 
not the whole history of the 20th century an endless list of 
examples of governments easily breaking the weak bonds 
placed upon their ability to oppress and even murder as 
they see fit?   
21.  Don't anarchists assume that all people are innately 
This is a perfectly reasonable question, for it is indeed the 
case that some anarchists expect a remarkable change in 
human nature to follow (or precede?) the establishment of 
an anarchist society.  This assumption partially explains the 
frequent lack of explanation of how an anarchist society 
would handle crime, dissenting individualists, and so on.   
The belief in innate human virtue is normally found only 
among left-anarchist thinkers, but of course it does not 
follow, nor is it true, that all left-anarchist thinkers believe in 
humanity's innate human virtue. 
Anarcho-capitalists have a very different picture of human 
nature.  While they normally believe that people have a 
strong capacity for virtuous action (and it is to people's 
moral sense that they frequently appeal when they favor the 
abolition of the state), they believe that it is wise and 
necessary to cement moral virtue with material incentives. 
Capitalism's system of unequal wages, profits and losses, 
rent and interest, is not only morally justified but vitally 
necessary for the preservation and expansion of the 
economy.  In short, anarcho-capitalists believe in and 
indeed must depend on some reasonable level of human 
morality, but prefer to rely on material incentives when 
feasible.  (Similarly, they morally condemn crime and 
believe that most people have no desire to commit crimes, 
but strongly favor some sort of criminal justice system to 
deter the truly amoral.) 
22.  Aren't anarchists terrorists?   
Aren't statists terrorists?  Well, some of the them are; in fact, 
the overwhelming majority of non-governmental groups who 
murder and destroy property for political aims believe that 
government ought to exist (and that they ought to run it).  
And just as the existence of such statist terrorists is a poor 
argument _for_ anarchism, the existence of anarchist 
terrorists is a poor argument _against_ anarchism.  For any 
idea whatever, there will always be those who advocate 
advancing it by violence. 
It is however true that around the turn of the century, a 
certain segment of anarchists advocated what they called 
"propaganda by the deed."  Several heads of state were 
assassinated by anarchists, along with businessmen, 
industrialists, stock-brokers, and so on.  One of the most 
famous instances was when the young Alexander Berkman 
tried to murder the steel industrialist Henry Frick.  During 
this era, the left-anarchists were divided as to the 
permissibility of terrorism; but of course many strongly 
opposed it.  And individualist anarchists such as Benjamin 
Tucker almost always saw terrorist activities as both 
counter- productive and immoral when innocents were 
injured (as they often were). 
The basic argument of the advocates of "propaganda by the 
deed" was that anarchist terrorism would provoke 
governments -- even avowedly liberal and democratic 
governments -- to resort to increasingly harsh measures to 
restore order.  As governments' ruthlessness increased, 
their "true colors" would appear for all to see, leading to 
more immediate results than mere education and theorizing.  
As E.V. Zenker notes in his _Anarchism: A Criticism and 
History of the Anarchist Theory_, a number of Western 
governments were driven to adopt anti-terrorist laws as a 
result of anarchist terrorism.  (Zenker goes on to note that 
Great Britain remained true to its liberal heritage by refusing 
to punish individuals merely for espousing anarchist ideas.)  
But as one might expect, contrary to the terrorists' hopes, it 
was the reputation of anarchism -- peaceful and violent alike 
-- which suffered rather than the reputation of the state. 
The large majority of anarchists -- especially in modern 
times -- fervently oppose the killing of innocents on purely 
moral grounds (just as most non-anarchists presumably do, 
though anarchists would classify those killed in war as 
murder victims of the state).  Nonviolence and pacifism now 
inspire far more anarchist thinkers than visions of random 
terror.  Anarchists from many different perspectives have 
been inspired by the writings of the 16th-century Frenchman 
Etienne de la Boetie, whose quasi-anarchistic _The 
Discourse of Voluntary Servitude_ spelled out a detailed 
theory of nonviolent revolution.  La Boetie explained that 
since governments depend upon the widespread belief in 
their legitimacy in order to rule, despotism could be 
peacefully overthrown by refusing to cooperate with the 
state.  The success of the nonviolent anti-communist 
revolutions lends new support to la Boetie's perspective. 
But anarchists have a more instrumental reason to oppose 
the use of violence.  Terrorism has been very effective in 
establishing new and more oppressive regimes; but it is 
nearly impossible to find any instance where terrorism led to 
greater freedom.  For the natural instinct of the populace is 
to rally to support its government when terrorism is on the 
rise; so terrorism normally leads to greater brutality and 
tighter regulation by the existing state.  And when terrorism 
succeeds in destroying an existing government, it merely 
creates a power vacuum without fundamentally changing 
anyone's mind about the nature of power.  The predictable 
result is that a new state, worse than its predecessor, will 
swiftly appear to fill the void.  Thus, the importance of using 
nonviolent tactics to advance anarchist ideas is hard to 
23.  How might an anarchist society be achieved? 
On one level, most modern anarchists agree fully that 
education and persuasion are the most effective way to 
move society towards their ultimate destination.  There is 
the conviction that "ideas matter"; that the state exists 
because most people honestly and firmly believe that the 
state is just, necessary, and beneficial, despite a few 
drawbacks.  Churchill became famous for saying, 
approximately, "Democracy is the worst possible system of 
government, except for all of the others."  The anarchist's 
goal is to disprove Churchill's claim: to show that contrary to 
popular belief, Western democracy is not only bad but 
inferior to a very different but realistic alternative. 
Aside from this, the similarity between anarchist approaches 
breaks down.  In particular, what should the "transitional" 
phase look like?  Anarcho-capitalists generally see every 
reduction in government power and activity as a step in the 
right direction.  In consequence, they usually support any 
measure to deregulate, repeal laws, and cut taxation and 
spending (naturally with the caveat that the cuts do not go 
nearly far enough).  Similarly, they can only hail the spread 
of the underground economy or "black market," tax evasion, 
and other acts of defiance against unjust laws. 
The desirable transitional path for the left-anarchist is more 
problematic.  It is hard to support expansion of the state 
when it is the state that one opposes so fervently.  And yet, 
it is difficult to advocate the abolition of e.g. welfare 
programs when they are an important means of subsistence 
for the oppressed lower classes of capitalist society.  
Perhaps the most viable intermediate step would be to 
expand the voluntary alternatives to capitalist society: 
voluntary communes, cooperatives, worker-owned firms, or 
whatever else free people might establish to fulfill their own 
needs while they enlighten others. 

For comments, suggestions, corrections, etc., write  Thanks to Fabio Rojas, James 
Donald, David Friedman, Robert Vienneau, Ken Steube, 
Ben Haller, Vincent Cook, Bill Woolsey, Conal Smith, Jim 
Kalb, Chris Faatz, J. Shamlin, Keith Lynch, Rose Lucas, 
Jason Wehling, Bruce Baechler, Jim Cook, Jack Jansen, 
Tom Wetzel, Steve Koval, and Brent Jass for helpful advice 
or other assistance. 

"We ascribe to reason two offices, or two degrees. The first is to judge
of things self-evident; the second to draw conclusions that are not
self-evident from those that are." -- Thomas Reid 

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