Is AnCap a Thing?

I frequently discuss ideas of capitalism, conservatism and even anarcho-capitalism with many of my more intellectual friends.

One friends, who will remain unnamed, claimed that the distinction between anarcho-capitalist and anarchist may be artificial in some sense. At first glance, I found the claim unfounded. His claim, to me, seemed to be like a claim that a distinction between a square (ancap) and a rectangle (anarchist) was an artificial or inflated one.

I agreed that AnCaps want the same end goal as do all other anarchists, but I took the position that the distinction was still useful for a few reasons:

  • Anarcho-Capitalism is a unique worldview.
  • AnCaps have a unique reason for wanting anarchy. That is, they have a unique philosophical justification for anarchy.
  • AnCaps have a unique method for achieving anarchy. While the destination may be the same, the route taken is still important.
  • AnCaps have a unique culture. Anarcho-Capitalism is both a worldview and a community of the individuals with like minds, based on that worldview. Prima facie it is easy to dismiss the importance of culture, but sophisticates realize this is important. Two anarchists can say the same thing and mean different things by it, because a lingo goes with these subcultures. That is just one example of many ways in which cultural identification is useful; it contributes to proper understanding of what is being said.

How are AnCaps different than other anarchists? First of all, AnCaps are anarchists, but I contend that not all anarchists are ancaps. At the risk of stereotyping a diverse culture, I claimed that AnCaps are normatively right-leaning compared to other anarchists. In that vein, there are a number of distinctions between AnCaps and anarchists in general:

  • AnCaps, ironically, have a greater respect for rule of law than other anarchists. In the short run anyway.
  • AnCaps lean toward gradualism in their pursuit of anarchy. Left-anarchists are more sympathetic to “anarchy now” by armed uprising or ignoring formal law. Agorism is one example of a (normatively, not necessarily) further left kind of anarchism.
  • AnCaps favor free markets and capitalism to the extreme that they disfavor government. Left-anarchists often disregard economic arguments, or may even believe in Marxist or leftist economics, yet they may find some moral or other argument against government.
  • AnCaps have a unique culture and a unique heritage. AnCaps are inspired by the works of Rothbard and Friedman, tracing their larger ideological roots toward Austrianism and some elements of Chicago or neoclassical economics. Left-anarchists owe their tradition to a wider tradition, spanning post-communist extreme writings all the way to that large group of uneducated but perpetually extant, logically groundless justified-by-anecdote government-haters.

The other guy said that if anarchy is simply the absence of coercion, then it’s superfluous to say anarcho-capitalism as opposed to simply anarchy.


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