Free-market anarchism

Free-market anarchism (sometimes called simply market anarchism,[1] and occasionally libertarian anarchism[2] or propertarian anarchism)[3] refers to an individualist anarchist philosophy in which monopoly of force held by government would be replaced by a competitive market of non-monopolistic organizations providing security, justice, and other defense services. A market would exist where providers of security and law compete for voluntarily paying customers that wish to receive the services rather than individuals being taxed without their consent and assigned a monopoly provider of force.[4] The belief, among free-market anarchists, is that this competition thus will tend to produce cheaper and higher-quality legal and police services including "a high-quality good of impartial, efficient umpiring of conflicting rights claims".[5]

The term describes the type of anarchy proposed by anarcho-capitalism and the philosophies that prefigurated it.[3] In this sense, notable proponents of free-market anarchism include Benjamin Tucker,[6] Lysander Spooner,[7] Murray Rothbard[8] and David D. Friedman.[1] Free-market anarchism has been traced as far back as the 1840s, as conceived by individuals such as Julius Faucher and Gustave de Molinari.[9][10]



Gustave de Molinari was one of the first to discuss competition in security

One of the first individuals to propose the concept of market protection of individual liberty and property, i.e. free-market anarchism, was France's Jakob Mauvillon in the 18th century. Later, in the 1840s, Julius Faucher and Gustave de Molinari advocated the same. Molinari, in his essay The Production of Security, argued, "No government should have the right to prevent another government from going into competition with it, or to require consumers of security to come exclusively to it for this commodity."[9] Molinari argued that the monopoly on security causes high prices and low quality. He says in Les Soirées: "The monopoly of government is no better than any other. One does not govern well and, especially not cheaply, when one has no competition to fear, when the ruled are deprived of the right of freely choosing their rulers...The production of security inevitably becomes costly and bad when it is organized as a monopoly."[11] The brunt of Molinari's argument for free-market anarchism is based in economics rather than on moral opposition to the state.[10]


In the 19th century, Benjamin Tucker in the United States theorized free-market anarchism: "defense is a service like any other service; that it is labor both useful and desired, and therefore an economic commodity subject to the law of supply and demand; that in a free market this commodity would be furnished at the cost of production; that, competition prevailing, patronage would go to those who furnished the best article at the lowest price; that the production and sale of this commodity are now monopolized by the State; and that the State, like almost all monopolists, charges exorbitant prices."[12] He noted that the anarchism he proposed would include prisons and military.[13] Later, in the mid 20th century, free-market anarchism was revived by Murray Rothbard. David D. Friedman proposes a form of free-market anarchism where in addition to security being provided by the market, the law itself is produced by the market.[14]

Ideological variance

Beyond their agreeing that security should be privately provided by market-based entities, proponents of free-market anarchism differ in other details and aspects of their philosophies, particularly justification, tactics and property rights.

Murray Rothbard and other natural rights theorists hold strongly to the central libertarian non-aggression axiom, while other free-market anarchists such as David D. Friedman utilize consequentialist theories such as utilitarianism.[15] Some Agorists, anarcho-capitalists of the Rothbardian tradition, and voluntaryists are propertarian market anarchists who consider property rights to be natural rights deriving from the primary right of self-ownership.

Market anarchists have varying views on how to go about eliminating the state. Rothbard advocates the use of any non-immoral tactic available to bring about liberty.[16] Agorists – followers of the philosophy of Samuel Edward Konkin III[17] – propose to eliminate the state by practising tax resistance and by the use of illegal black market strategies called counter-economics until the security functions of the state can be replaced by free market competitors.

Views on property


Benjamin Tucker, who abandoned the natural rights conception of property rights in free-market anarchism for a Stirnerite egoism.

Benjamin Tucker originally subscribed to the idea of land ownership associated with Mutualism, which does not grant that this creates property in land, but holds that when people customarily use given land (and in some versions goods), other people should respect that use or possession. But, when that use stops, ownership is no longer recognized, unlike with property.[18] The mutualist theory holds that the stopping of use or occupying land reverts it to the commons or to an unowned condition, and makes it available for anyone that wishes to use it.[19] Therefore, there would be no market in land that is not in use. However, Tucker later abandoned natural rights theory and said that land ownership is legitimately transferred through force unless specified otherwise by contracts: "Man's only right to land is his might over it. If his neighbor is mightier than he and takes the land from him, then the land is his neighbor's, until the latter is dispossessed by one mightier still."[20] He expected, however, that individuals would come to the realization that the "occupancy and use" was a "generally trustworthy guiding principle of action," and that individuals would likely contract to an occupancy and use policy.[21]


Murray Rothbard (1926–95), who asserted that "capitalism is the fullest expression of anarchism, and anarchism is the fullest expression of capitalism."[22]

Classical liberal John Locke argues that, as people mix their own labor with unowned resources, they make those resources their property. People can acquire new property by labor on unowned resources or trade for created goods. In accordance with Lockean philosophy, Rothbardian free-market anarchists believe that property may only originate by being the product of labor, and may then only legitimately change hands by trade or gift. They derive this homestead principle from the principle of self-ownership.[23][24] However, Locke had a "Proviso" which says that the appropriator of resources must leave "enough and as good in others." Rothbardian market anarchists do not agree with this proviso, holding that the individual may originally appropriate as much as he wishes through mixing his labor, and it remains his property until he chooses otherwise.[23][24] They term this as "neo-Lockean".[24][25] Libertarians see this as consistent with their opposition to initiatory coercion, since only land that is unowned can be taken. If something is unowned, there is no one the original appropriator is initiating coercion against. They do not think mere claim creates ownership, but rather the mixing of one's labor with the unowned, as for example setting up a farm. Anarcho-capitalists accept voluntary forms of common ownership, which means property open to all individuals to access.[26] Samuel Edward Konkin III, the founder of agorism is also a Rothbardian.[27]


A well-known critique of free market anarchism is by Robert Nozick, who argued that a competitive legal system would evolve toward a monopoly government - even without violating individuals rights in the process.[28] Many market anarchists, including Roy A. Childs and Murray N. Rothbard, have rejected Nozick's conclusion (though Childs himself subsequently rejected anarchism).[29]

See also


  1. ^ a b Gerald F. Gaus, Chandran Kukathas. 2004. Handbook of Political Theory. Sage Publications. pp. 118-119. Source refers to David D. Friedman's philosophy as "market anarchism."
  2. ^ Morris, Christopher. 1992. An Essay on the Modern State. Cambridge University Press. p. 61.
  3. ^ a b Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice, by Edward Stringham. Transaction Publishers, 2007
  4. ^ Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand Roy Childs attempts to convert Ayn Rand to "free-market anarchism." Published in The Rational Individualist, October 1969
  5. ^ Gaus, Gerald F. & Kukathas, Chandran (eds.). Handbook of Political Theory. 2004. Sage Publications. p. 119
  6. ^ "This volume honors the foremost contemporary exponent of free-market anarchism. One contributor aptly describes Murray Rothbard as 'the most ideologically committed zero-State academic economists on earth'." Review by Lawrence H. White of Man, Economy, and liberty: Essays in honor of Murray N. Rothbard, published in Journal of Economic Literature, Vol XXVIII, June 1990, page 664; "[Rothbard's book, For a New Liberty,] synthesizes an advocacy of Lockean rights to life, liberty, property, and defense, an appeal to the free market as the most efficient and decentralized "social" device for the allocation of resources, and a sociological and historical analysis of the State as being inherently aggressive and exploitive. The product of this synthesis is Rothbard's free-market anarchism." Review by Eric Mack of For a New Liberty by Murray Rothbard, American Political Science Review, Vol 71, p. 332
  7. ^ Paul, Ellen Frankel et al. 1993. Liberalism and the Economic Order. Cambridge University Press. p. 115
  8. ^ Editor's note in "Taxation: Voluntary or Compulsory". Formulations. Free Nation Foundation. Summer 1995 [1]
  9. ^ a b Raico, Ralph (2004) Authentic German Liberalism of the 19th Century Ecole Polytechnique, Centre de Recherce en Epistemologie Appliquee, Unité associée au CNRS
  10. ^ a b Rothbard, Murray. Preface. The Production of Security. By Gustave Molinari. 1849, 1977. [2]
  11. ^ Molinari, Gustave de. 1849. Les Soirées de la Rue Saint-Lazare
  12. ^ Tucker, Benjamin. "Instead of a Book" (1893)
  13. ^ Tucker, Benjamin. Liberty October 19, 1891
  14. ^ Friedman, David. The Machinery of Freedom. Second edition. La Salle, Ill, Open Court, pp. 116–117.
  15. ^ Danley, John R. (November 1991). "Polestar refined: Business ethics and political economy". Journal of Business Ethics (Springer Netherlands) 10 (12): 915–933. doi:10.1007/BF00383797. 
  16. ^ Lora, Ronald & Longton, Henry. 1999. The Conservative Press in Twentieth-Century America. Greenwood Press. p. 369
  17. ^ Black, Bob. Beneath the Underground. Feral House, 1994. p. 4
  18. ^ Swartz, Clarence Lee. What is Mutualism? VI. Land and Rent
  19. ^ Carson, Kevin, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, chapter 5.
    Long, Roderick, "Land-Locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights," in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, vol. 20, no. 1.
  20. ^ Benjamin R. Tucker, "Response to 'Rights,' by William Hansen," Liberty, December 31, 1892; 9, 18; pg. 1
  21. ^ Benjamin R. Tucker, "The Two Conceptions of Equal Freedom," Liberty, April 6, 1895; 10, 24; pg. 4
  22. ^ "Exclusive Interview With Murray Rothbard" The New Banner: A Fortnightly Libertarian Journal. 25 February 1972.
  23. ^ a b Long, Roderick T. (2006). "Land-locked: A Critique of Carson on Property Rights". Journal of Libertarian Studies 20 (1): 87–95. 
  24. ^ a b c Bylund, Per. Man and Matter: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Justification of Ownership in Land from the Basis of Self-Ownership. 
  25. ^ Verhaegh, Marcus (2006). "Rothbard as a Political Philosopher". Journal of Libertarian Studies 20 (4): 3. 
  26. ^ Holcombe, Randall G. (2005). "Common Property in Anarcho-Capitalism". Journal of Libertarian Studies 19 (2): 3–29. 
  27. ^ Smashing the State for Fun and Profit Since 1969: An Interview With the Libertarian Icon Samuel Edward Konkin III (a.k.a. SEK3)
  28. ^ Jeffrey Paul, Fred Dycus Miller. Liberalism and the economic order. Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 115
  29. ^ See Childs's incomplete essay, "Anarchist Illusions," Liberty against Power: Essays by Roy A. Childs, Jr., ed. Joan Kennedy Taylor (San Francisco: Fox 1994) 179-83.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Free market — A free market is a market in which property rights are voluntarily exchanged at a price arranged completely by the mutual consent of sellers and buyers. In a free market, individuals, rather than government, make the majority of decisions… …   Wikipedia

  • Really Really Free Market — The Really, Really Free Market (RRFM) movement is a non hierarchical collective of individuals who form a temporary market based on an alternative gift economy.cite web |url=… …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism — is a political philosophy encompassing theories and attitudes which support the elimination of all compulsory government,*Errico Malatesta, [ Towards Anarchism] , MAN! . Los Angeles …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism in the United States — Part of the Politics series on Anarchism …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism and nationalism — both emerged in Europe following the French Revolution, and have a long relationship going back at least to Mikhail Bakunin and his involvement with the Pan Slavic movement prior to his conversion to anarchism. There has been a long history of… …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism without adjectives — (from the Spanish anarquismo sin adjetivos ), in the words of historian George Richard Esenwein, referred to an unhyphenated form of anarchism, that is, a doctrine without any qualifying labels such as communist, collectivist, mutualist, or… …   Wikipedia

  • Free State Project — Logo of the Free State Project Motto Liberty in Our Lifetime Formation September 1, 2001 Headquart …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism and anarcho-capitalism — This article discusses similarities and differences between anarcho capitalism and other types of anarchism. Integrating Austrian economics into individualist anarchism Murray Rothbard was a student and disciple of the Austrian economist Ludwig… …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism and capitalism — Articleissues citations missing = October 2007 OR = October 2007 rewrite = October 2007 weasel = October 2007Though some anarchists advocate free market, laissez faire capitalism, [Sheldon, Garret Ward (2001). Anarchism. Encyclopedia of Political …   Wikipedia

  • Anarchism in Ireland — Part of the Politics series on Anarchism …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.