What's it like to be an anarcho-capitalist?

published Aug 30, 2016

How does it feel, and why does it feel that way? (Not much has changed since 2011!)

I wrote the following post on Quora in the year 2011.  Five years later, its content remains exactly as valid as back then.  Fascinatingly timeless.

(I know I'm answering it myself.  I'll give my perspective and then let others give theirs.)

It's a mixed bag.

First, most everyone already lives according to the principles of anarcho-capitalism 99% of the time (to wit: voluntary association, voluntary cooperation, rejection of aggression).  Almost nobody gets a job by kidnapping the CEO's daughter, or gets booze by assaulting a convenience store, or gets his wife by kidnapping her and threatening her with death to get her to marry him, or makes friends by threatening people to agree with him.  People, by and large, peacefully interact with each other in their daily lives, and those who step out of that obviously moral code of conduct (whether they raise a fist, or call the police on a nonviolent person), are rightfully identified as assholes or dangerous people everywhere.

So, in this sense, being an anarcho-capitalist is pretty much like being anybody who is peaceful, sane and happy.  The only distinction in this sense, is that anarcho-capitalists strive to take the 99% to 100%.  That is, rejecting any action that would support or morally justify the coercive system of government.  Rejecting relationships with people who are not principled (in the sense described above).

That 1% is difficult, of course.  Most people find the ideas of anarcho-capitalism emotionally threatening, so talking to people about them is tough.  Most people also don't like the idea that one can't really have a deep relationship with a person who doesn't share one's principles.  This is not difficult in the business sphere, as you don't need your barber to agree with you on politics, but it is especially tough in the personal sphere -- especially when it becomes obvious that a person you are fond of, is really against you, would use (organized government) violence to impose his will on you, resorts to manipulation, or agrees with physical violence against peaceful people (whether it be political minorities or children).  That's always a tough and disheartening pill to swallow.

Being an anarcho-capitalist can be quite rewarding and edifying too too.  Once you have gained the ability to identify violent relationships for what they are, and deconstruct them, you gain this uncanny ability to cut through all the propaganda and false moral justifications for violent proposals, and "see" what really is being proposed.  It's not "social security" -- it's a Ponzi scheme.  It's not "Medicare" -- it's organized theft to benefit an interest group.  It's not "taxation" -- it's organized theft.  It's not "the Federal reserve" -- it's a ring of legalized counterfeiters.  It's not a "War on Drugs" -- it's a war on people.  It's not "the rule of law" -- it is really the rule of men who write orders in magical pieces of paper, which then are carried out by men in costumes who erroneously but firmly believe that what they are doing is moral.  It's not "the President" -- it's just a guy who thinks he has the power to order people murdered, and a buncha million people who agree with him.  It's like looking at the Matrix source code scrolling across the screen -- in an instant, you know whether an idea is correct or incorrect, or a proposed principle is good or evil, or an interaction is honest or corrupt.

But it can also be very frustrating at times.

  • Knowing that, for that 1% of interactions with people doing business as "government", you really are not free, and that they would kill you and (on top of that) blame you if you resisted them.  It's really distressing, but being aware of the truth is in general much more satisfying than being oblivious to it (which can cost you your life, as many families of people who were murdered in war, or by cops, can attest to).
  • Being "right" all the time -- that is, being able to predict the exact effect of a political policy or action, telling people about it, being called "stupid" or other names for telling them, then seeing the inevitable disaster unfold right before your eyes... and never getting any acknowledgement from people that what you predicted did indeed happen.  It gets old pretty fast....
  • Dealing with propagandized people; having the same conversation over and over again, whether it be politics or economics, with each person who echoes back the standard nationalistic propaganda they are taught in those indoctrination camps called "public schools".  The amount of false priors people carry around is astoundingly enormous, but it's only really evident once you've actually gone through each one of them and proven them false or observing them to be flat out lies.

However, living your life as an anarcho-capitalist has a massive benefit.  The core source of happiness and peace of mind for an anarcho-capitalist, is the fact that conscious acceptance of anarcho-capitalist ideas makes it easier to screen bad influences out of one's life.  As a result, you end up surrounding yourself with people who "have their shit together", are principled, peaceful, loving, understanding and truly wish the best for you.

And that's my take on it.