Criticisms of anarchism

Criticisms of anarchism

Criticisms of anarchism include moral criticisms, consequentialist criticisms, and the criticism that anarchism could not be maintained.


Moral criticisms

Some critics argue that anarchism is immoral because it turns justice into a commodity, thereby conflating justice with economic power. Some critics who support the non-aggression principle argue that anarchism is immoral. They argue that it implies that the non-aggression principle is optional because the enforcement of laws is open to competition.[citation needed] . Many anarchists argue that government violates the non-aggression principle by its nature because governments use force against those who have not stolen private property, vandalized private property, assaulted anyone, or committed fraud.[1][2]

Consequentialist criticisms

Some critics argue that private defense and court firms would tend to represent the interests of those who pay them enough.[3] Some anarchists agree with this argument, but argue that it is futile to eliminate the potential concentration of power by concentrating power in the hands of the state.[4] Many also argue that monopolies tend to be corrupt and inefficient.

Murray Rothbard argued that all government services, including defense, are inefficient because they lack a market-based pricing mechanism regulated by the voluntary decisions of consumers purchasing services that fulfill their highest-priority needs and by investors seeking the most profitable enterprises to invest in. Therefore, the state's monopoly on the use of force is a violation of natural rights. He wrote, "The defense function is the one reserved most jealously by the State. It is vital to the State's existence, for on its monopoly of force depends its ability to exact taxes from the citizens. If citizens were permitted privately owned courts and armies, then they would possess the means to defend themselves against invasive acts by the government as well as by private individuals."[5] In his book Power and Market, he argued that geographically large minarchist states are indifferent from a unified minarchist world monopoly government.[6] Rothbard wrote governments were not inevitable, noting that it often took hundreds of years for aristocrats to set up a state out of anarchy.[7] He also argued that if a minimal state allows individuals to freely secede from the current jurisdiction to join a competing jurisdiction, then it does not by definition constitute a state.[8]

Many anarchists argue that private defense and court agencies would have to have a good reputation in order to stay in business. Furthermore, Linda & Morris Tannehill argue that no coercive monopoly of force can arise on a truly free market and that a government's citizenry can’t desert them in favor of a competent protection and defense agency.[9] In response, Randall G. Holcombe argues that defense agencies could form cartels and oppress people without fear of competition.[10] Some anarchists concede this point and respond that one cannot justify a concentration of power out of a fear of a concentration of power, and that a market system is the best checks and balances system.[11]

Criticism of the concept

Robert Nozick argued in Anarchy, State and Utopia that anarchism would inevitably transform into a minarchist state, even without violating any of its own nonaggression principles, through the eventual emergence of a single locally dominant private defense and judicial agency that it is in everyone's interests to align with, because other agencies are unable to effectively compete against the advantages of the agency with majority coverage. Therefore, he thought that, even to the extent that the anarchist theory is correct, it results in an unstable system that would not endure in the real world. Paul Birch argues that as in the world today, legal disputes involving several jurisdictions and different legal system will be many times more complex and costly to resolve than disputes involving only one legal system. Thus, the largest private protection business in a territory will have lower costs since it will have more internal disputes and will out-compete those private protection business with more external disputes in the territory. In effect, according to Birch, protection business in territory is a natural monopoly.[12]

See also


  1. ^ Long, Roderick, Market Anarchism as Constitutionalism, Molinari Institute.
  2. ^ Plauché, Geoffrey Allan (2006). On the Social Contract and the Persistence of Anarchy, American Political Science Association, (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University).
  3. ^ Holcombe, Randall G. Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable. 
  4. ^ For a New Liberty, Murray N. Rothbard
  5. ^ y (March 18, 2004). "The Myth of Efficient Government Service". 
  6. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1051. "It is all the more curious, incidentally, that while laissez-faireists should by the logic of their position, be ardent believers in a single, unified world government, so that no one will live in a state of “anarchy” in relation to anyone else, they almost never are." 
  7. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1054. "In the purely free-market society, a would-be criminal police or judiciary would find it very difficult to take power, since there would be no organized State apparatus to seize and use as the instrumentality of command. To create such an instrumentality de novo is very difficult, and, indeed, almost impossible; historically, it took State rulers centuries to establish a functioning State apparatus. Furthermore, the purely free-market, stateless society would contain within itself a system of built-in “checks and balances” that would make it almost impossible for such organized crime to succeed." 
  8. ^ Murray Rothbard. Power and Market: Defense services on the Free Market. p. 1051. "But, of course, if each person may secede from government, we have virtually arrived at the purely free society, where defense is supplied along with all other services by the free market and where the invasive State has ceased to exist." 
  9. ^ Linda & Morris Tannehill. The Market for Liberty, p. 81.
  10. ^ Holcombe, Randall G.. Government: Unnecessary but Inevitable. 
  11. ^ For a New Liberty, Murray N. Rothbard
  12. ^ Birch, Paul (1998). "Anarcho-capitalism Dissolves Into City States". Libertarian Alliance. Legal Notes no. 28: 4. ISSN 0267-7083. Retrieved 5 July 2010. 

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