Capitalism or market anarchy?

I often hear that “capitalism is bad” for various reasons and I often hear that it is not the same as “market anarchy”. I suppose that words mean various things to different people, but I fail to see the distinction between laissez-fair capitalism and market anarchy.

Market anarchism and laissez-faire capitalism are radically individualist in their nature even as both describe the ways that society deals with shortages or scarcity of things that we want and need. Advocates of laissez-faire capitalism or “free markets” or “market anarchism” are radical advocates of individual liberty and mutual consent in every aspect of social life. We reject all forms domination by government as a violation of the non-aggression principle.

The possibilities inherent in free market relationships freed from government and crony-capitalist privilege demand that one see any intervention of any sort into the market as a violent intrusion. So what do advocates of a free market, regardless of what name they use as a label, see as the basis for voluntary cooperation? One list I have seen says:

  1. ownership of property; not only of personal possessions but also of land, homes, natural resources, tools, and capital goods;
  2. contract and voluntary exchange of goods and services, by individuals or groups, on the expectation of mutual benefit;
  3. free competition among all buyers and sellers — in price, quality, and all other aspects of exchange — without ex ante restraints or burdensome barriers to entry;
  4. entrepreneurial discovery, undertaken not only to compete in existing markets but also in order to discover and develop new opportunities for economic or social benefit; and
  5. spontaneous order, recognized as a significant and positive coordinating force — in which decentralized negotiations, exchanges, and entrepreneurship converge to produce large-scale coordination without, or beyond the capacity of, any deliberate plans or explicit common blueprints for social or economic development.

The above is essentially the Classical Liberal vision of laissez-fair capitalism except that the Classic Liberals thought that government could be made to stay out of the market — and it clearly can not be so controlled. I can not see any difference at all in the program of those who call themselves “market anarchists” and those who are anarcho-capitalists. Without government to disrupt the market, both visions are the same thing: people voluntarily interact with each other and society is formed by those billions or trillions of interactions.

The 19th century Liberal program had to be renamed Classic Liberalism after the socialists stole the name for their own welfare-state program, and then later it became “libertarianism”.  Now some want to rename “capitalism” as “market anarchy”. Perhaps they have a point that the brand “capitalism” is ruined beyond hope by the crony-capitalism (fascism) that America has practiced for generations and fraudulently called it “capitalism”. Market anarchy as a term does have the benefit of having the word “anarchy” included which makes plain that no governmental favoritism is part of the system. Capitalism is bent out of shape via the governmental interventions and people often don’t see that it is those interventions and not the system itself that is the cause of the failures.

Collectivist government worshipers keep stealing our labels and ruining them! That should tell us something. I will try to use “market anarchy” more, but the term “free markets” means the same thing as does the term “capitalism” properly understood.

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