Is it just me, or has there been a sudden resurgence in the popularity of “anarcho-capitalism” lately? Market fundamentalists have a history of parasitically leeching off enlightenment-based ideas (which were originally based on rationality, secularism, liberty, progress and the idea of the social contract) and synthesizing them into their own market-based dogmas. In regards to principles of the enlightenment, the market fundamentalist only take note of two words: “liberty” and “individualism.”
But it’s interesting how these proponents of “liberty” and “individualism” are often silent when it comes to the liberty and individualism of, say, the middle aged factory worker laid off due to his job being outsourced to China or India. Or the full-time waitress with two kids who now must consider getting a third job due to rising inflation of neighborhood grocery prices brought forth by rapid gentrification. Why is it only the liberty and individualism of the “entrepreneur” or business owner that matter?
The notion of “Anarcho-capitalism” is, at best, a laughable hypothetical frivolously pontificated by the dorm-room philosopher, and, at worst, a sociopathic disease that would bring civilization back to the middle ages. The most literal definition of ancap is the complete elimination of the state in favor of individual sovereignty in a “free market.” Similar to the so-called “Libertarians”, the Ancaps claim that “free market” and democracy are mutually inclusive–one necessarily leads to the other. That if we just lessen regulation and let “innovators”, like Mark Cuban and Elon Musk, go about their business unmolested by “big government” then everything would be fine and dandy. That parasitic corporations aren’t a result of capitalism per se, but a result of “corporatism”–after all, the ancaps say, corporations only exist because of government.
I’ll take for granted that ancaps aren’t arguing for the elimination of government completely, that they still understand the necessity of public utilities like roads, bridges, traffic lights, road signs, sewage systems, and so on. If so, then I don’t see what the problem is here with government in general. Aren’t ideal governments supposed to function in such a way as to only intrude on one’s individual freedoms when that freedom threatens the freedom of others? Sorry, but the freedom of a few middle-class individuals to sell and engage in business is not worth the freedom of the majority who are simply looking to survive.
Our current system is one in which those with more capital have more say in the voting process. More than half of America’s population are virtually disenfranchised i.e have zero say on policy decisions. Why? Because of immense lobbying efforts on behalf of big capital. Of course this, according to the ancaps, reinforces their point about “corporatism”–big corporations and monopolies are a result of too much government. The ancaps can’t possibly mean what they imply here, that the way to get rid of big corporate power is to eliminate the very institutions that seek to limit (or at least balance) that power. This line of reasoning isn’t too far off from suggesting that we get rid of drunk driving laws in order to eliminate drunk driving….I mean, what do they expect? That if we got rid of anti-trust laws, that suddenly corporate giants like Microsoft or Apple would stop to ponder and say, “hey, guys, we have way too much power. Let’s stop accumulating so much capital so that the little guy can have a shot.” This is stunningly naive.
More naive is the belief that private healthcare insurance companies would somehow function better without government “intrusion” between you and your doctor. It seems to me that the only thing getting in the way of me and my doctor are, well, private insurance companies….there’s a reason why America has the most expensive inefficient healthcare system in the first place, most of that due to, you guessed it, private insurance companies…
“Government” is mostly a scare word that Ancaps use to associate with totalitarianism, in the vein of Stalin. Big businesses, they say, never sent anyone to the gulags. Perhaps, they should reflect on the abhorrent labor conditions within industrial England in the 19th century that wounded up killing hundreds of men, women, and child laborers. Or the murderous dictatorships, like free-market supporter Augusto Pinochet in Chile, financially backed by American businessmen and Chicago school economists whom so badly wanted to privatize Chilean industries. When talking of totalitarian potentialities, Ancaps seem to have a very narrow understanding of what governments are supposed to do. The all-seeing state apparatuses which they refer to are almost never democratic. If one believes in democracy, one believes in the institution of government.
It’s often said that democracy is linked to the market because one often “votes” with his/her wallet. But what happens when we get rid of the military, a very vital part of the state apparatus as well as the most heavily funded, and replace it with private monopolized military companies? Sure, you and your fellow ancaps can refuse to pay for their services but what happens when those private security companies suggest that perhaps you ought to pay, unless, say, something destructive happens to your home…
I’m willing to grant the market fundamentalists this: markets shouldn’t be banned all together, some markets should exist. But when it comes to institutions that are responsible for the well being of our citizens–healthcare, housing, and education being prime examples–leave that to democratically elected government. And, in the meantime, take the “anarcho” out of “capitalism.” The two utterly contradict one another. As does capitalism and democracy.