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One of the biggest problems when advocating for a stateless capitalist society is the radical aspect. Many people take comfort in routine, playing things safe, normalcy. This is despite the possibility of a better future, it’s akin to the individual that is too afraid to ask their boss for a raise or advance in life so they remain in an entry level position living a life that isn’t as great as they could achieve. They exchange a chance of improvement for comfort. While we may critique this mentality, it never the less exists and is very powerful when discussing political philosophy. Radicals on both the left and right must deal with this, and while an Anarcho-Capitalist society demands major change for the better, there are elements of similarities that exist in today’s society that would carry over.
Our Daily Lives
Consider one’s daily routine. Awake in bed, get ready for the day, eat breakfast, then head out the door for work. All of these actions are filled with capitalism with little to no state involvement. Your bed is made from capitalism including the blanket, pillows, frame, etc. The alarm that you turn off is a result of capitalism, as well as the first step you take every morning on the floor which capitalism has probably produced. Your breakfast, shower, toothbrush, car, job; these are all a product of capitalism. For an average American, capitalism takes up a large portion of their lives if we were to really examine everything we interact with. Many people understand and realize the importance of privatization in certain areas such as food or clothing, is it so radical to suggest privatization take part in other sectors such as roads, police, or defense?
When discussing Anarcho-Capitalism, it’s not so much about the absence of the state but rather the increased utilization of capitalism, the voluntary system of social cooperation that best allocates scarce resources to meet the most demand which can be known both a priori and empirically. Capitalism isn’t ‘imposed’ upon anyone, those who claim that starvation or famine in less developed countries is a result of capitalism have a misunderstanding about the concept. I am free to withdraw myself from the division of labor and live in the woods eating berries to exclude myself from capitalism altogether. I don’t, however, and take part in capitalism and the division of labor because it betters my living standards. No one points a gun to my head and forces me to take part in capitalism, I voluntarily decide to take part in the international division of labor because it betters my living standards. Thus Anarcho-Capitalism isn’t so radical in that it allows us to act in ways that benefit us, self interest, without any imposition or force. It’s not radical or crazy in that nothing is imposed, we simply get loose of a system that is forced upon us despite whether it benefits us or not.
Many of our daily activities are a result of our voluntary decisions, from the time we wake up to when we go to sleep. We all act throughout our days in ways that we see fit, and through these actions we benefit others. No exchange occurs in pure capitalism unless it is mutually beneficial. If one were to buy a soda, for instance, the owner of the soda values the money more than the soda, and vise versa for the buyer. Thus both parties are better off and increase their living standards. This takes place in the lives of many individuals on a daily basis and Anarcho-Capitalism seeks to simply expand this system of mutually beneficial exchanges.
Capitalism already exist within our daily lives and is quite prominent. This is not the doing of any authority but rather by the voluntary decision of everyone who participates in the international division of labor. Thus Anarcho-Capitalism is not as radical as it seems when one fully considers the spontaneous emergence of an order that we utilize by our own choosing. This is in contrast to the state, a monopoly on certain services which funds its practices through violent and coercive means, tossing aside whether or not it is in the best interest of people. This compulsory organization disrupts the harmony and order that capitalism provides, instead introducing calamity and chaos.
What must first be understood is that the absence of the state does not equate to the absence of services the state provides. The average citizen would be quick to equate anarchism with a complete eradication of police, defense, courts, etc. and they would be right in regards to left wing branches of anarchism. Anarcho-Capitalism on the other hand will not only supply such services but provide them more efficiently. We could enter a discussion on how a system of police, courts, law, or military might arise in an Anarcho-Capitalist society, but such a discussion would be redundant. The beautiful thing about capitalism is that any problem within society becomes a profit opportunity for many entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to the table, and the entrepreneur to deliver the highest quality services or goods for the lowest cost gains profit while those who fail face losses. Thus, while I could make predictions for how such services would be delivered, I probably would not have the objectively correct answer. There will be a multitude of solutions trying to best satisfy as many people as possible, there will be trial and error and improvement overall. To deny this would be to deny the nature of capitalism that has brought us increased living standards. This is in contrast to a government supplied service in which there is only one choice, a monopoly, which is funded through coercive means, disrupting the vital function of a profit or loss system that helps best allocate scarce resources to meet the most demand. Thus such services won’t only be available within Anarcho-Capitalism but would be better supplied under Anarcho-Capitalism, making such a society not that radical.
If we were to consider a state of nature as our starting point in a Nozickian sense, the state is quite radical in itself. Imagine an Anarcho-Capitalist society in which an order emerges on voluntary grounds due to its ability to increase standards of living for all involved. Along comes a group of individuals who claim they know what’s ‘best’ for ‘the people’ and would like to seize control over certain industries to ‘better’ provide such goods and services. It’s irrelevant whether or not people like this idea or will continue to like the idea, the idea will be funded through taxation, a coercive mean that gives life to the system. Besides, if one is against taxation that must mean that one is against the service altogether. Instead of competition and a price system in certain sectors like police in which different agencies compete to best deliver quality services to meet as much demand as possible, the state would eliminate all competition and provide the policing instead. Will the quality be high? Will it best allocate scarce resources? These questions are irrelevant because the funding is compulsory and the competition is invisible. The state itself is quite a radical proposition, a proposition that is not so much a proposition but rather a decree that is forced upon you regardless of whether or not you agree.
Anarcho-Capitalism is quite radical in regards to how difficult it would be to eliminate the state, however, if one is to really consider their daily lives, we see Anarcho-Capitalism everywhere. It’s in the food we eat, the cars we drive, the homes we live in. When nationalization of these areas is attempted in socialist countries it is only met with either scarcity or overproduction. Is it really so radical to suggest that we eliminate the institution that is forced upon us that makes up only a fraction of our daily lives as opposed to a voluntary system of exchanges that makes up a larger part of our daily lives? Anarcho-Capitalism is not quite radical, the state is.