Anarcho-Capitalism is a wonderful political philosophy. It calls for abolishing the morally bankrupt institution called the State, and it understands that man’s ultimate freedom comes from an uncompromising recognition of property rights found in the economic system of the free market. This makes it the ultimate moral, political, and economic system.
Despite all of its merits there is one fatal flaw in the Anarcho-Capitalist (AnCap) group, and that is their strategy for changing society. There are two ways to change a society 1) through peaceful means by engaging in the political system, or 2) through violent revolution. Both of these methods require education to gain the acceptance of a sizable portion of the population in order to create a stable society.
First of all, the anarcho-capitalists are not succeeding in laying a foundation to bring people to their cause. This is not to say there are no great ancap intellectuals. There are many such intellectuals, for example Tom Woods, Robert Murphy, Hans Hoppe, and others, but these men are excluded from academia and mainstream media. This reality means that laymen are the main spokes people for the ancap movement.
Sadly this has not gone well. Many amateur ancaps either stick to their own little group, and they give off an arrogant vibe. On the other hand many anarchist come on strong with their ideology frightening away many potential listeners. Of course many ancaps are struck down before they can begin simply by the name anarcho-capitalist, but I have written about this elsewhere. A quick note on the name though, it would be good to change the name to end the silly debate of whether anarcho-capitalist are really anarchist or not. Its really not that important, and the debate is just always something that is a distraction and an annoyance.
Another problem within the anarchist’s camp is how divided the movement is. There are several key issues that have split the movement e.g. boarders, identity politics, cultural issues, etc. This division has made it very difficult for ancaps to unite and actually get anything done. Also a movement which is constantly divided and bickering with each other is very unattractive to outsiders. I believe, they fall into many of the problems that mainstream libertarianism falls into.
I know much of this is very unattractive to other ancaps, but these are things which need to be discussed. A name change is important to make the movement more attractive, and ancaps need to be willing to treat other groups more diplomatically instead of calling them a bunch of brainwashed statist pigs. This is the kind of pragmatism required to actually make an impact on the world, and it is a kind of pragmatism that does not ask us to abandon our principles.
But lets say the problem of transmitting the message was solved, how would an ancap change the political system. It is my opinion that most ancaps would not be able to change the system. As said above once a sizable part of the population agrees with an ideology there are two ways to change the political structure 1) through the political process or 2) revolution.
Of course no ancap has ever advocated revolution. It is not desirable, and it would not be winnable, but what of a peaceful political process?
In modern America this means obtaining power through winning elections. While I will write more on this later in this article I am focusing on the problem that most ancaps have with changing the system this way.
Most people in the anarcho-capitalist camp refuse to take part in the political system. They believe, if they were to vote they would violate the Nonaggression Principle by forcing their will on others through their vote, and they believe that voting and participating in the political system gives legitimacy to the government.
I disagree with these sentiments. Most voting is done defensively. It is done to keep the worse of two candidates out of office, and it is done so people can better protect their property. I realize this is by far not ideal means of defense, but at the moment it is all that is realistically available. Also just because one participates in the political system does not mean he is giving it legitimacy. Man only gives his consent to a system when he expressly gives his consent.
Sadly, it is only through the political process that positive change can occur. Since the current ancap movement is unwilling to take part in the political process on a large scale and revolution is out of the question, anarcho-capitalism is doomed to be some radical fringe ideology that will fade away while its ideological enemies, who have no problem using the State to force others to comply, gain ever more power. Luckily, the Propertarian Party has found a way that is consistent with the ideals of ultimate freedom to rectify these problems.
Beginning with the division problem, Propertarianism solves the problem by being a “thicker” form of libertarianism. Instead of only advocating an abstract legal code, the propertarians realize that politically free societies are best realized in traditional Western culture. A right leaning thick libertarianism also has the positive affect of attracting a larger base of average Americans, and it makes the Party more uniform by giving it a culture and a more encompassing philosophy taking away everybody’s ability to make libertarianism whatever they want it to be.
When dealing with outside groups the propertarian is pragmatic and delivers his message with a nuance. This is not a watering down of his principles because the goal of abolishing government does not change and is always at the forefront. This is always the ultimate end goal, but the way that goal is reached and how the message is put across needs to be thought through carefully. For example, propertarians never refer to themselves as anarchists because of all the negative connotations this word has.
What about how propertarians want to change the current system? Can they change the system and be coherent with their stated philosophy? The answer, or course, is yes. Again like normal ancaps, propertarians do not advocate for a revolution because it is not desirable nor would it be winnable without unimaginable costs. It is through the political process the propertarians will change things.
I have written elsewhere on a propertarian strategy. Here I would simply like to say that voting and participating in politics is not a violation of NAP. It is a defensive justifiable violence if it is done for propertarian purposes especially trying to gain independence from a corrupt and evil government. This is best achieved at the local level through independence movements.
As we have seen current anarcho-capitalist’s theory does not allow for an effective way to change an existing society into an anarcho-capitalist one. Mostly there strategy is just to complain and argue with each other on some obscure online chat rooms. If the movement is to have any hope many things will have to change. Outreach will have to be improved, and ancaps will have to unite in order to take control of politics. Otherwise the anarcho-capitalists will simply fade away as a viable option while their opponents gain evermore control.