There are many things that advocates of laissez-fair capitalism have in common with advocates of market anarchy. Usually the Classical Liberals or “minarchists” advocate laissez-faire markets within a structure of the “night watchman state” while market anarchists advocate the elimination of the state entirely. The difference between the two concepts mainly depends on whether you believe the market could supply legal and protection services or not. The minarchists believe that some state is needed to administer the law.
As we fight the present massive, oppressive, and invasive state, all of us who support liberty will need to seek out allies and support others who are working to eliminate the present tyranny. This is a “big tent” approach as it is called in some political circles. After all, most Rothbardian anarcho-capitalists that I know started out believing in a “normal sized government” and then saw that the State must be kept small as possible: and only then did they make the transition to the belief that there is no role for the State at all in human affairs. They were Classical Liberals at some point in other words. So we need to recognize that many we talk to about liberty and freedom might not be ready move all the way to anarchy.
“It is the invariable habit of bureaucracies, at all times and everywhere, to assume…that every citizen is a criminal. Their one apparent purpose, pursued with a relentless and furious diligence, is to convert the assumption into a fact. They hunt endlessly for proofs, and, when proofs are lacking, for mere suspicions.” ~H.L. Mencken
Market anarchism and minarchist laissez-faire capitalism are both radically individualist in their nature. The Welfare/Warfare State is the opposite of the views of both anarchists and minarchists, and both camps can agree that the US Empire needs to be tossed on the trash heap of history. Both camps describe the way that society should deal with shortages or scarcity of goods that we want and need mostly in terms of Austrian economics. Both advocates of laissez-faire capitalism and advocates of “market anarchism” are advocates of individual liberty and mutual consent and cooperation in every aspect of social life. Both camps reject almost all forms of domination by government as a violation of the non-aggression principle, with market anarchists rejecting all domination by the state. 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.
The advocates of a really free market, regardless if they see a role for a small government or not, have several common beliefs and the following is a list I once saw posted on the the policies advocated by all those believing in a really free market. Some even call it a freed-market to distinguish our concept of laissez-faire from the situation in the country today that is crony-capitalism or corporatism.
What beliefs are a basis for voluntary cooperation? One list I have seen says:
- Private ownership of property; not only of personal possessions but also of land, homes, natural resources, tools, and capital goods;
- Contracts and voluntary exchange of goods and services, by individuals or groups, on the expectation of mutual benefit;
- Totally 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;
- 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
- 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 list is essentially the Classical Liberal vision of laissez-fair capitalism. As Dugald Steward explained; “Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and the tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.”
I disagree with the Classical Liberals in that I believe that there must be no state at all since even the smallest one will grow in power and scope until it dominates the people. I also find that I am an enemy of the state who “hates the state” as Murray Rothbard once put it. Even so, I would much rather see a minimal state like the one at the beginning of the USA over the brutal, controlling monster that we see today. I have differences with the Classical Liberals, but we have a lot in common. Let us fight the present state together.