Reuters is reporting on supposed ‘anarchist groups’ planning to interfere with Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony on January 20th. This falls in line with the popularly-accepted (and completely wrong) definition of anarchism as orderless, violent chaos. To the typical westerner, an ‘anarchist’ is the kind of person who incites riots, breaks windows, attacks police, and is an all-around violent troublemaker who doesn’t respect any rules, boundaries, or private property. But such people are not anarchists at all; they are anti-capitalist left-wing radicals who just call themselves anarchists.

Anarcho-capitalism is sometimes labeled as ‘right-wing anarchy,’ but this is a mischaracterization. Someone may have socially-libertine cultural views, or they may have socially-conservative/traditional cultural views, but so long as they don’t seek to use force to make other people behave in their preferred fashion, their political philosophy can’t be labeled either left-wing or right-wing. There is really no such thing as left-wing anarchy or right-wing anarchy. Rioters, violent protesters and other such rabblerousers are phony anarchists.

Anarchy literally means ‘without a ruler,’ as in the absence of the state. It doesn’t mean violence, chaos, disorder, or a lack of standards. A principled anarchist doesn’t use aggression to get what he wants, because if he does so he is setting himself up as the same kind of ruler he opposes. An anarchist respects liberty, order, property, and the rights of free enterprise. The point is precisely that human society and the free market create order without central planning. State intervention is intrinsically a distortion of this order, and is therefore both anti-capitalist and anti-order.

People who go around destroying private property, inflicting violence, and interfering in other peoples’ peaceful activity are the exact oppose of anarchists; they are would-be politicians. Statist politicians (and the voters who contract them) are those who assume for themselves the right to force other people to conform to their will. By definition, anarchy entails the absence of such people in positions of arbitrary power. Anarchy entails a societal structure where individuals, groups, families, churches, businesses, trade organizations, social clubs and others are able to go about their lives in whatever way they see fit, so long as they don’t initiate aggression against anyone else. And for those who do initiate aggression, solutions for dealing with that behavior will be devised by entrepreneurs (as well as by voluntary social groups and associations, like churches).

A libertarian Christian concept of anarchy (and specifically anarcho-capitalism) takes these facts a step further by placing them within the context of the ethical-theological: man actually does have one rightful ruler (God), and the way in which God exercises his rule in the world is through delegated natural social and market institutions: family, church, business, etc. The state, which is neither a natural social institution nor a market creation, is a sinful aberration which distorts God’s blueprint for the world by usurping his role and forcefully manipulating society and market. Anarcho-capitalism is part of God’s blueprint for an orderly and prosperous society absent this sinful aberration.

When violent rioters stir up chaos, they are acting as polyarchists. They want to make up their own rules and push them on others. They want to force other people to bend to their will. As such, they are simply wannabe politicians. They are rebels without applause.

  • No government, limited government, or something else? For a discussion on anarchism and minarchism in Christian thought — among many other topics — tune into LCI’s podcast (launching in February)!

FOR ADDITIONAL READING:

On how the state distorts order and weakens society’s natural institutions such as family, church and businesses, see Robert Nisbet’s The Quest for Community (1953). An alternate name for the same book is Community and Power.

On how the state is the principal engine of de-civilization, and how society naturally orders itself in the state’s absence, see Hans Hoppe’s Democracy: the God that Failed (2001).

On how the free market can provide security better than the state, see Hans Hoppe’s The Private Production of Defense (1998). For a complimentary analysis, see Robert Murphy’s Chaos Theory (2002).

On a sweeping general analysis of how a stateless society is fully-capitalist and embraces order rather than eschews it, see Murray Rothbard’s For a New Liberty (1973).

  • I used to call myself an anarchist, but I realized we cannot take the word from what it was. First, anarchists generally did not believe in private property- and people still don’t understand the Austrian school of economics, nor the expropriation of the term, so you end up having to have this talk about what anarchism really means, and you also have to have a talk about private property.

    But the really bad thing is, if you are for private property, you are for the owner being able to ‘rule’ his property. So if you are for private property, then you are for ‘rulers’. You are not for ‘rules’. We have plenty of ‘rules’ now- various legislatures churn them out by the thousands. The ‘rule-makers’ do not claim to own us, no, they like to pretend they serve us- but obviously they have power due to the fact they make rules. Meanwhile the ‘ruler’- the guy who actually owns the land, often finds his wishes overturned by the ‘rules’.

    I believe the word ‘anarchy’ is ultimately just a stumbling block to communication.

  • Louis Charles

    Well, I feel at home in here…. not that I am willing to submit to the “no gov poli-sci” just yet. I am certainly willing to see how ZGLs (zero government libertarians) would defend liberty and private property (and provide some sort of justice system without the “legal” power to drag a criminal into court, and then detain him in a public jail upon conviction), should they ever organize their resources and create a town or county prototype. This article (as does 60 years of such debate) relies on much abstract speculation as to what would happen if…….. (fill in blank).

    We need to see ZGLism work in the real world… not “sim city”. In any case, it’s good to see Christians beginning to assemble under this banner. It’s been long-overdue. Where did Christ ever authorize initiation of force? (perhaps, beating the poop out of the moneychangers, notwithstanding)

  • Random Classical Liberal Guy

    Completely agree with your views. Call me unimaginative but as a miniarchist I find it hard to understand how ancaps would ensure respect for private property without any sort of central authority to engorce said private property. This is why I believe a minimum night watchmen state needs to exist.

    Furthermore if a group of people or a powerful corporation formed to protect their own property and their interests wouldn’t that be called a gouvernment. I believe in an ancap society governments (without constitutional limits) would form anyway.

  • Louis Charles

    RCLG: “unimaginative” shouldn’t be our limitations. Because if that was the case, LOL… ZGLs cry out: “Imagine a government which doesn’t ever expand it’s size and scope once erected… AHAAHAHAHAHAAAAAH.”. They claim it is completely impossible. Once set in motion, it’s on auto-pilot towards tyranny; the only variable being time. History does bear this out. However, the minarchists still hold on to the ideal just as dearly. Now, we all realize America was an experiment, pretty much based on New Testament connection. We all realize there were a few “holes” in the American cloth once the tapestry was created (perhaps put there on purpose by infiltrators), whereas from experience we now know these holes need to be repaired and some sort of stringent accountability methods need to be included before we give up on our ideal. But like the volutyrists need to do, so it is with the minarchists. GET OUT OF THE DEBATE CLOSET and build prototype counties somewhere. With today’s technology, there might be means to keep the lid on government activity. So i ask: What do you think of the Constitution Party? We Christians have got to figure out a better way to have honorable watchmen watching the “night watchman”…..

  • Louis Charles

    similar to Ayn Rand using “selfish”. She should have coined a new word… Perhaps, “Selfist” (to describe her independent, lone-wolf soul as opposed to the covetous parasite we presently label “selfish”). This is why so many anCaps now call themselves “voluntyrists”. … which inherently includes a better place for Christians to join in the construction effort, anyway. One can NOT be a Christian and an anarchist simultaneously. We do have a Ruler, per se…. who does expect order. 1Cor. 14:40

  • Random Classical Liberal Guy

    I agree these ideas need to be tried out, the reason governments always have gone tyrannical before is a disarmed populace and people that want the government to do everything for them.

    That is why we need a very strict constitution, stricter than the current one. And a Supreme Court that is elected. The constitution party has some good ideas for limiting government such as abolishing the IRS and having the fed negotiating with the states.

  • Louis Charles

    I meant: What do you think of the Constitution Party as a means of capturing a county to erect a Christian version of “minarchist nation”… as opposed to attempting to employ the Libertarian Party apparatus in this context? Please text me at 850.326.5145 Let’s discuss this further.

  • Rand was a covetous parasite. If her idea of selfishness had any merit, then she would have had some respect for the ‘selfishness’ of her lover’s wife, but she did not. Rand was not explaining the idea of enlightened self-interest, as those of us who gave her the benefit of the doubt thought- no, she was simply a narcissist, praising her own selfishness. I think she mainly hated governments (and religions) because she was out to create as many people as possible dependent on her, so she viewed them as competition.

  • Louis Charles

    kind of ironic, I’d say

  • Chase Miller

    They’re leftist collectivists larping as anarchists