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Does Anarcho-Capitalism Allow People To Form Governments?

I'm creating a new thread for this topic that has come up in another thread.

The Merriam-Webster Definition of "government":

: the group of people who control and make decisions for a country, state, etc.

: a particular system used for controlling a country, state, etc.

: the process or manner of controlling a country, state, etc.

Oxford Dictionary definition:

"[TREATED AS SINGULAR OR PLURAL] The governing body of a nation, state, or community:
an agency of the federal government

Are people allowed to form governments in an anarcho-capitalist society?

If so, how can we continue to call a world where such is a possibility "anarchy"?

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Cyril's picture

+10 if I could.

+10 if I could.

Thank you.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

well, ya




Just for clarity...

In that other thread, the question was whether or not those definitions are correct. And my contention there was that while everyone might like the sound of those definitions, nobody really believes those are accurate representations of what "government" actually involves. Since deception is at the very heart of the idea of "government," it is absolutely no surprise that the definition you find in a dictionary is a deceptive one.

Thus, until you can get the definition correct, this discussion can make no sense.

Definition: Government (n) The idea that certain special people (rulers) can execute actions which would be considered wrong for regular people (those who are ruled) but because the rulers are special, these wrong actions become magically good and helpful.

Note: This idea often goes along with the contradictory idea that the ruled people (or slaves) give their permission to be forced to do things which they view as wrong for them to do. This is called the "consent of the governed."

Further note: The distinction between ruler and subject is often suggested in relation to certain rituals and deceptive renaming which are part of the magic making evil into good. For example, if the rulers get together and all sign a piece of paper saying it is OK for the rulers to steal from the regular people, and then they call it "taxation," then theft is magically made OK.


You continue to question beg by inserting your own qualifications for the definition of government to include "force" and "coercion" and "theft". You are right, there is nowhere else to go with this conversation if you continue to do this.

*Advancing the Ideas of Liberty Daily*


They would be non-territorial and withdrawn consent would mean ostracism.


They might be "non-territorial"

in theory.

But in practice I think they would soon become territorial, as a consequence of the nature of physical reality, and the constraints of the martial arts. It is simply easier to defend a contiguous geographic region. Allowing enemies behind your own lines opens you to attack on multiple fronts.


Does "ostracism" actually carry any meaning apart from the geography in which it is enforced?

I think its achievable

To ostracize someone from community and force their voluntary relocation through disassociation.

I am also of a school that believes that when someone removes himself from the predominant voluntary system of a community, they lose access to the legal mechanisms for recourse. Vigilantes justice would then become a bald method of punishment.


This sure sounds like

This sure sounds like government to me, even worse than what we have now:


There can be no tolerance toward democrats and communists in a libertarian social order. They will have to be physically separated and expelled from society. Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. They–the advocates of alternative, non-family and kin-centred lifestyles such as, for instance, individual hedonism, parasitism, nature-environment worship, homosexuality, or communism–will have to be physically removed from society, too, if one is to maintain a libertarian order.

For instance, on p. 218, I wrote “in a covenant concluded among proprietors and community tenants for the purpose of protecting their private property, … no one is permitted to advocate ideas contrary to the very purpose of the covenant … such as democracy and communism.” “Likewise, in a covenant founded for the purpose of protecting family and kin, there can be no tolerance toward those habitually promoting lifestyles incompatible with this goal. … (violators) will have to be physically removed from society.”


In a country, or a world, of totally private property, including streets, and private contractual neighborhoods consisting of property-owners, these owners can make any sort of neighborhood-contracts they wish. In practice, then, the country would be a truly “gorgeous mosaic,” … ranging from rowdy Greenwich Village-type contractual neighborhoods, to socially conservative homogeneous WASP neighborhoods. Remember that all deeds and covenants would once again be totally legal and enforceable, with no meddling government restrictions upon them. So that considering the drug question, if a proprietary neighborhood contracted that no one would use drugs, and Jones violated the contract and used them, he fellow community-contractors could simply enforce the contract and kick him out. Or, since no advance contract can allow for all conceivable circumstances, suppose that Smith became so personally obnoxious that his fellow neighborhood-owners wanted him ejected. They would then have to buy him out—-probably on terms set contractually in advance in accordance with some “obnoxious” clause.

With every locale and neighborhood owned by private firms, corporations, or contractual communities, true diversity would reign, in accordance with the preferences of each community. Some neighborhoods would be ethnically or economically diverse, while others would be ethnically or economically homogeneous. Some localities would permit pornography or prostitution or drugs or abortion, others would prohibit any or all of them. The prohibitions would not be state imposed, but would simply be requirements for residence or use of some person’s or community’s land area.

It is a happy accident of history that a great deal of private law and common law is libertarian – that they elaborate the means of preserving one's person and property against "invasion" – but a good deal of the old law was antilibertarian, and certainly custom can not always be relied on to be consistent with liberty. Ancient custom, after all, can be a frail bulwark indeed; if customs are oppressive of liberty, must they still serve as the legal framework permanently, or at least for centuries? Suppose ancient custom decrees that virgins be sacrificed to the gods by the light of the full moon, or that redheads be slaughtered as demons? What then? May not custom be subject to a higher test – reason?

Ventura 2012

Hoppe is a crank and most certainly does

not speak for all of those who refer to themselves as "anarchists." His popularity is mostly prevalent among his own intellectual sycophants. Very few true libertarian anarchists (and I define "libertarian" as someone who believes in or advocates self restraint with regard to the use of violence) take him seriously. I'm sure I could find self described advocates of "limited government" (Ayn Rand?) who take positions on social theory which are particularly offensive to the majority of libertarians.

Rothbard agreed with him

Did you scroll down? Covenant communities unbound by libertarian rights is the anarcho-capitalist system.

Ventura 2012

I suppose that depends

on what you think is worse.

A dreary, bland, homogeneity imposed on hundreds of millions of people that really satisfies no one, and that is functionally difficult to escape.

Or a highly diverse set of cultures that you can choose from, based on your individual preferences, that are comparatively easy to escape and join.

You know you are no longer a

You know you are no longer a libertarian when you are willing to sacrifice freedom of speech, religion, racial tolerance, and privacy just to abolish government.

News flash, if you view the bill of rights as beneath contract law then you're not a libertarian because you have nothing to do with liberty. You are an anarchists, regardless of how that will actually play out.

Its pretty easy to escape the USA and become an expatriate right now. What makes you think anarchist communities would be easier?

Ventura 2012

wolfe's picture

Just had to comment on this...

Because I believe I am in a better position to address this comment than most.

"Its pretty easy to escape the USA and become an expatriate right now. What makes you think anarchist communities would be easier?"

It is total, around $700K to expatriate (bare minimum). I can go into the details if you like but that is a hard number with a very well defined backing.

If you consider the purchase of your life back at $700K to be easy, then I wish you would share your bank account with me so that I can finish the process.

And at that price, I still must kneel before another government.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Why does it cost you so much?

Why does it cost you so much? My parents did it, cost them very little.

Ventura 2012

wolfe's picture

Not sure when your parents did it which may have an impact.

A few of the biggies:

1) In order to expatriate, if you still want to travel, then you will need a passport, which means citizenship somewhere. Unless you have some personal legal loop hole to obtain this in some country (like Ireland being less than 3 generations removed), you will need to buy your way in. The best deal around is St. Kitts. This is going to run roughly $500K.

Note that you still must kneel before some government. So your suggesting that expatriation is a solution, is not.

2) The IRS can't see their cash cow leave.

Now, I am not going into my financial details, point is, it effects me, but likely did not effect your folks if they were middle class wage earners. (Hint: If you can afford Item #1, you are going to owe Item #2. :) )

There is more, but those are the two biggies.

Lastly, your parents probably did not actually renounce their citizenship which is what I consider expatriation. Though, you could probably argue the meaning with me. But for the purposes of this discussion ("escaping the US"), based on the US exercising rights of ownership on us abroad including taxation and Federal law, renouncing US citizenship must be our working definition.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

Ok, I understand. No, they

Ok, I understand. No, they didnt havd to pay to become dual citizens. The truth is, we don't know whether these would change in an ancap system, it could easily cost 500k to immigrate to an cap community. Libertarians never confuse scarcity with coercion. Except of course the tax issue.

Ventura 2012

wolfe's picture

I agree with your point actually... and here is why.

I actually don't think life would really look a whole lot different in most regards.

There will be communities that would cost millions to relocate to. As there are today. There would be communities that were damn near free. As there are today. There would be communities so dangerous to live in, that you wouldn't even drive through them. As there are today. There would be communities so peaceful that you would want to retire there. As there are today.

Don't like HOA's? Don't live in Florida. Want to contribute to the "greater communist good", live in California. Etc, etc.

My point isn't that governments need to be abolished, so much as it is, that they are irrelevant. Society doesn't function because of governments, it functions despite them. If that were not true, black markets would not exist.

I must purchase my freedom. I recognize this. But being an anarchist is a personal decision, not a global change. All nations operate as an anarchism at the macro level, because they choose to. I am an anarchist because I choose to be and behave accordingly.

My gripe with our government is that it is too well armed and so destroys people and property with impunity. However, I feel sorry for the guy tasked with showing up physically at my door from the IRS, which will no doubt happen one of these days... I only hope I am having one of my good days.

I also have a problem with it stealing to murder in my name. If it stole to enrich itself and maybe feed a few poor people, I wouldn't care much at all. I care because it steals from me to murder brown people all over the world.

More importantly, the greatest threat to freedom and liberty is not the federal government. It's a sad joke. 99% of all "tyranny" comes from your local government but for some reason, people constantly spin their wheels fighting against the feds? Weird.

The Philosophy Of Liberty -

It is self evidently

a matter of scale.

As a practical matter, the vast majority of the population are functionally unable to escape, even if they wanted to. It is difficult, expensive, and challenging on a number of levels to move to a different sub-continent.

It is relatively trivial for virtually anyone to move to a different apartment complex.

zero evidence that anarchist

zero evidence that anarchist communities will ever be as small as an apartment building.

Ventura 2012

Actually, "anarchism"

would be much smaller than that. It would be the ultimate limit of "smallness," politically speaking. Each individual would effectively be their own state.

Personally, I find it implausible that such a state of affairs would last very long.

However, in contrast to the super-states that developed in the era of Bismarck, Lincoln, and Stalin, political power can be much more decentralized and diverse - at least on the scale of city states.

I've never heard of any

I've never heard of any conception of anarchism that naive before. I understand you don't actually adopt that though. Even Rotjbard understood that there would be exclusive communities bound by legal agreements.

Minarchists and anarchists support decentralization, no question.

Ventura 2012

Functionally, it is not naive

but completely true. It just shocks the senses due to the differences in scale.

States exist in a state of anarchy one relative to another. This means that there is no "more sovereign" power that can (conceptually) impose their will on any particular state.

But certainly, this does not prevent States from entering into various cooperative agreements. However, implicitly, each state reserves the right to be their own judge of whether or not the agreement is being kept, or to unilaterally withdraw from the agreement. Of course, when they do so, they must weigh in the balance the possibility that violence will ensue, and that other states will attempt to impose their will on the dissenting state by force.

The same would be true for individuals in a "real" anarchist society.

It is even true in any society, if any particular person believes that it is true.

Me, Bobby, and Johnny

Me, Bobby, and Johnny are completely free individuals living in a small community. There is no government. It is bliss.

One day, some bad guys come and steal some of Bobby's stuff in the middle of the night. The next night, they steal some of Johnny's stuff and the next night they steal some of my stuff.

We don't know much about them except that there are several of them and they are heavily armed. Each of us knows that individually we could probably not resist them very well.

As free individuals that believe in the natural, God-given rights to life, liberty, and property, we collectively decide to resist them together. Knowing that it's better to have a leader in any size army, whether it's 3 men, or 10,000 men, we vote to make Johnny our leader and freely submit to his authority. Boom. Government created. This newly-formed government does use force, and for good reason. Just as an individual can use force to protect the natural rights of life, liberty, and property, so too can a collective of people use force. Me, Bobby, and Johnny are rightfully using force against the thieves.

In my belief, this is a valid form of government - a group of people using their collective efforts for the same purpose that an individual would legitimately be able to use his individual efforts.

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people... They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. -Thomas Jefferson


As I have pointed out elsewhere, an HOA (homeowners association) in a condominum complex is a de facto private government, and is fully permissible under ancap theory.

The essential feature of a "government" in this respect is that, after its inception, certain decisions about the use of common property, and (to a lesser degree) use of individual property, is made by a subset of the total population, and unanimity is not required.

Presumably, at inception, the founders of the HOA unanimously consented to the charter & bylaws (analogous to a Constitution) which sets out the powers granted to the HOA, methods of decision making, penalties that can be imposed, etc.

However, after inception, someone who becomes dissatisfied with the way the HOA is conducting its affairs, or someone who inherits a condo in the building, cannot be said to consent to the arrangement in the present.

In fact, only someone who just purchased a condo in the building (like someone who just moved to a new state) can be said to have demonstrated "manifest consent" to the governing arrangements.

Now, an ancap can plausibly argue that it would be stupid to enter into such an arrangement. However, there are many practical reasons why many people will continue to want to hold property in common (such as efficiency, shared expenses, etc.), and whenever they do that, they will have to erect governing structures to control the use of the property.

The essential question is a question of scale, and not a question of "public" vs. "private," or "anarch" vs. "minarch" etc.

It is always easier to move to a different condo complex than to a different subcontinent.

Wow, geez...

But now you have government! It is no longer anarchy.

"Anarchists"... please realize...

'The world is naturally, already a state of anarchy. Anarchy immediately breaks down into hierarchies, based on which creatures tend to most effectivly use force to their advantage.' - lawmanjed

Example: Anything can happen in the natural animal kingdom. There are no set laws. The lion tends to be the most effective user of force, and thus is the "king of the Jungle". But sometimes the gazelle gores the lion with it's horns. Anything can happen. It is anarchy. But that anarchy breaks down into hierarchies, like the lion usually kills the gazelle, not the other way around.

So if the question is... "Does anarchy allow for hierarchies?"
The answer is... "Yes, it is an inevitability."

The conundrum is that it is then no longer "anarchy", as in "w/out hierarchy".

The good news is, and the anarchists can take solace in this, is that all hierarchies are meant to fail eventually, in this natural state of anarchy.

Are you a POT or a PET - Person Embracing Tyranny?

Anarcho capitalism allows

Anarcho capitalism allows people to sell themselves into slavery.

Ventura 2012

Not according to Rothbard

Presumably, the will is "inalienable" (inseparable from the self) so people always possess the right to "change their mind" about such an arrangement if the will changes. Of course, if one sold onself into slavery voluntarily, and stayed in it voluntarily, then it wouldn't be slavery.

I know, but Rothbard's theory

I know, but Rothbard's theory is an unenforceable ipse dixit.

Ventura 2012