State, Government, Governance, and Anarchy

Today let us look at the difference between violent political rule under a centralized state and governance in civil society. The Anarcho-capitalist or Voluntaryism movement has been growing significantly over the last few years. There are many reasons for that growth, but I think mainly it is that the idea of liberty sells well; but we could be more clear on a few things. For example, many people have trouble grasping anarchy because they are conflating ‘the State’, ‘government’ and ‘governance’. These things are not all exactly the same thing. If we don’t all use the words properly then we risk ‘talking past each other’. Obviously, if you talk to someone and they think that the absence of The State is the absence of any social order, or governance, then they can only envision a “Mad Max” type situation.

We must drive home the reality that all “States” are governments, but not all government requires the State. Some of my voluntaryist friends go so far as to insist that we use the word ‘governance’ rather than ‘government’ for the social organization in an anarchy situation and they have good reasons for that. The primary reason is that the word “government” comes with tons of bad baggage. I still tend to call the entity that governs, no matter if it is a state or not, by the name “government”.

In an anarcho-capitalist society, there would still be governance. Let me type that out one more time: in an anarcho-capitalist society there would be governance. What makes anarcho-capitalism “anarchy” is the absence of the monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given territorial area by “the State” but, never the less, even without the State there will still be governance.  We envision governance by your peers through social and commercial means. There will be ostracism and acceptance, traditions, and all the other aspects of civil society that one sees throughout history.

Anacho-capitalists foresee governance of social behavior, disputes, and justice by competing courts along with defense and security agencies. These private agencies will help ensure protection though the recognition and respect of the individual’s property rights. Businesses and commerce will be regulated or governed through the totally free market which involves supply and demand, the price signal, profit and loss, competition, and customer satisfaction. There will, no doubt, be commercial ostracism via credit ratings, boycotting, reputation, and so forth. There will be risk management and socialization of that risk through insurance agencies unencumbered by State mandates. We see self-government through the individuals’ pursuit of their rational, subjective self-interest. Yes, we see them having to bear the responsibility of their own actions through the decentralized accountability systems arising out of the market.

Anarchism does not mean no governance but rather it means no State. In a purely capitalist, free market society you would have no coercive authority over you as there is no State to impose its violence and brutality upon you. Instead all social and commercial relationships would be private, peaceful, and voluntary. If you seek employment, your employer would not be your ruler since you can leave at any time and look elsewhere. You grocery store would not rule you as you could go down the street to a competitor. No group can lobby for a law against smoking pot as there would be no coersive state for enforcement, but there could be areas of private property where no smoking of any kind would be allowed. (my house for example) In short, all commercial and social relationships would be voluntary.

Anarcho-capitalism (also called market anarchy) or Voluntaryism is the only moral, practical and workable way to abolish the State and maximize human prosperity, liberty and justice. Humanity would live in far greater abundance and with far superior technology than it would under any form of State rule.

For many anarchists the conflation of ‘government’ and ‘the State’ is probably more stylistic than anything, but to those who don’t understand anarchy we do them a disservice by continually saying that we want to eliminate all government when we mean we want to eliminate the Monopoly State. We have to remember that for many non-anarchists different perceptions of what we mean are leading to problems in understanding and we end up talking past each other.


If a non-anarchist understands the concept of ‘no government’ as no rules, no governance, and no society then we can see why they would be horrified at our political philosophy. I would be too! There would be chaos and misery — a Mad Max world. But anarcho-capitalists do not advocate rejection of governance and society, nor do we think an ordered society would be absent if the State did not exist; rather we see justice, moral behavior, and prosperity would be maximized in the absence of the State by the governance arising via mutual voluntary cooperation.

I think anarcho-capitalists, voluntaryists, market anarchists, and especially myself could do a  better job of communicating our ideas of what a market anarchy would look like to those we are trying to inform. Then, maybe, many more people would be open to discussing our ideas.


One thought on “State, Government, Governance, and Anarchy

  1. Reblogged this on epiphanysvoice and commented:
    People will still believe what they truly believe. A system is just a system. Learning to find the truth about something is another way of governing. Good job. Credit ratings are still a voluntary system. They decide if they will hire or pay for those ratings. Bank regulations are the worst. Look into that for just a second, plz.

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