Anarcho-capitalism is an extreme form of libertarianism. Its proponents favor personal freedom in everything, from commerce to speech, and even in such areas as government and the police. It's closely related to Objectivism, though supports of the two philosophies often start perpetual floating flame wars on Usenet.

I was doing some research on the singularity, when I came across The Ungoverned by Vernor Vinge, in the same volumn Across Realtime that includes Marooned in Realtime, that David Brin in Earth credits as his source for the notion. (After Earth was published there was, of course, A Fire Upon the Deep.)

Vinge credits David Friedman specifically. The interesting about this vision of anarcho-capitalism is that there is no outside force, no all-encompassing authority to enforce the contracts. As referred to above, even justice is contracted to various companies, as is policing. Rational individuals freely enter into contracts with other rational individuals.

This system is contrasted (in the collection Across Realtime) with an almost democratic Republic of New Mexico, and a scientific dictatorship that grew out of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. But both these systems eventually disgovern, until the Congress of the republic of New Mexico becomes, absurdly, a tourist attraction that anyone can participate in, by paying "taxes."

The Ungoverned also contains the briefest apologia for the use of nuclear weapons in literature. This is to me an absurdity, but seems a natural consequence of this economic system.

I am uncertain of the ultimate rationality of a truly free market, should such actually exist. Given the free reign corporations have over our imperfect market, as some bemoan it, what would the world be like without any government.

It seems to me history demonstrates that the corporation, with all its attendant distortions is the natural consequence of market economics.

But the more interesting aspect of all this, IMHO, is the association of anarcho-capitalism with the notion of the singularity. Maybe in the realm of the transcend, which we can't talk about because it is so far from what we know now, but which everyone does, even writing stories and essays about it, maybe in this world of ultimate rationality we will all be honorable--if there will be an all; I think the talk is of One.

Who knows? Who can know? But writing about the unknowable is as easy for me as it is for the next.

An Anarcho-capitalist is one who supports the theoretical form of government in which all things are privatized, including government functionality. It is the type of libertarianism that Ayn Rand herself found ridiculous, so despite their similarities, they and the Objectivists are mortal enemies.

In an Anarcho-capitalist system, rather than pay taxes to a government for police protection, taxes which are forced from you, you may voluntarily purchase such protection from competing protection agencies. Services we normally associate with governments, such as highways, would also be privatized, and people who own the land could build roads and allow or deny anyone they please use of them, based upon whatever criteria they wished. Privately owned toll roads would likely be common in such a society. Proponents point to the efficient nature of markets, and the likelihood that the services offered by private companies with a profit motive would be far superior to a government without one. They also point to much lower taxes due to these efficiencies. The primary and overriding argument is fairness, though. No one has the right to take my life, liberty or property without my consent, so founding a society and government on free association and voluntary trade solves this problem.

Critics attack them from several fronts. Some say competition between protection agencies would lead to violence when a crime is alleged by someone utilizing one agency with a victim utilizing another. The anarcho-capitalists counter that it would be in the best interest of the agencies to have extradition and arbitration agreements, and agencies which abused their customers or attempted to defraud other agencies would be ostracized by not getting future agreements, making them less attractive in the marketplace than competitors and eventually leading to bankruptcy.

Others say those who cannot afford to pay for protection would be exploited. I don't know of the arguments against that. Particularly, one argument I have never seen refuted is the assertion that children, who have no income, would be completely at the mercy of their guardians. If someone wanted to have babies and kill them one after the other, there would be no recourse. I don't know of the argument against that, either, but I am by no means an expert on the matter. Probably the most accomplished theorists among the anarcho-capitalists are the late Murray Rothbard, Walter Block, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe. All three can be read extensively at Lew

It is worth noting that anarcho-capitalism does not imply anarchy, in the sense of an uncontrolled society without rules or without the enforcement of rules, nor does it imply the lack of governmental forces. Additionally, it is distinct from plain anarchism in that it is perfectly capable of supporting, and indeed may encourage, hierarchical social organizations. Whether or not there's a government is partly a matter of opinion over what counts as a government; what there definitely is not is a single governing organization with legal power over a large state. There may not even be a recognizable unified state under an anarcho-capitalist system (although it, too, is not entirely ruled out).

Protection agencies or enforcement agencies are typically cited as the source of legal authority in anarcho-capitalist systems, but they are not the only options. For a simple extention of that system, legal systems and courts may be provided by other specialized organizations (such as arbitration agencies) for sale to enforcement agencies, or enforcement agencies may be hired to enforce the legal codes of other organizations rather than private individuals. An example of such an organization might be a neighborhood council or homeowners' association. In that case, when purchasing or renting a residence, part of the contract would be membership in the homeowners association and compliance with its rules- one is thus buying a legal system along with a place of residence, and voting in favor of that system with your dollars (or other currency of choice).

When 'voting with your dollars' in that sort of scenario, a 'no' vote doesn't mean that you have to go along with the majority anyway- it means that those laws simply don't apply to you, and you choose a different legal system provider. In this case, you buy a house somewhere else. This provides, first, a profit incentive for any particular legal system provider, be it a housing developer and associated homeowners' association, arbitration agency, or something else altogether, to provide laws that appeal to the broadest range of citizens, and second, a means by which a large number of legal systems can develop to suit any citizen's wants or needs.

Homeowners' associations already perform many of the functions ascribed to traditional governments, and there are private arbitration agencies already in existence that handle out-of-court settlements. Why don't we consider them to be governments? Possibly because they are not sovereign, nor or they empowered by the sovereign state goverment that has power over them. Eliminate the overlying state, however, and the question becomes more blurred. Perhaps under an anarcho-capitalist system homeowners' associations would be considered sovereign microstates, and arbitration agencies the governments of nations without borders.

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