“AnCap Has Never Been Tried!” and Other Myths

 

One of the great myths I hear from people who believe in a utopia is that things like Communist, Socialist, and, yes, Anarcho-Capitalist (AnCap) societies “Have never been tried”. This is, of course, nonsense. The USSR, China, Venezuela, Romania, Cambodia, and countless other nations give lie to the idea that a Communist Socialist society has not been tried. Dr. Jordan Peterson says it well here:

I really like his point, that this is an arrogant position: If I were in charge, I am so good and so competent I could usher in the utopia. I apply it to anyone making any utopian claims.

That brings us to the anarcho-capitalists, and the claim that their version of utopia has never been tried, either. This is also nonsense. We have seen, time and again in history, that when there is no state, there is not anarchy for long.

“Anarchy is the least stable of social structures. It falls apart at a touch.” — Larry Niven

What made me think about all this is this article today, on the death of an AnCap promoter: John Galton Wanted Libertarian Paradise in ‘Anarchapulco.’ He Got Bullets Instead

Galton and Forester were anarcho-capitalists who slipped U.S. drug charges worth 25 years in prison, they said in a YouTube video that night. They’d hopped the border and resettled in what Galton called one of the world’s “pockets of freedom,” a community billed as a libertarian paradise.

Almost two years later, Galton was murdered.

Last week, gunmen burst into the couple’s mountaintop home, killing Galton on the spot, and seriously wounding one of the couple’s friends. (Forester survived, badly shaken.) The killers are presumed to be a drug cartel; Mexican authorities say Galton grew marijuana at the home

Wow. In the absence of a strong government, a gang burst into his home and killed him.

Galton was part of a small community of fellow anarcho-capitalists formed by Jeff Berwick, who promised a drug-friendly haven and hosts the annual “Anarchapulco” festival. Berwick says Galton and Forester should’ve known what they were getting into.

“They started up a competing conference to Anarchapulco, called Anarchaforko and John continued to be involved in one way or another with the production or sale of plants,” Berwick told The Daily Beast in an email. “Unfortunately, that is the one thing that is very dangerous to do in Mexico as the drug cartels will attack anyone they see as competition and that appears to have happened to John.”

So, even in the AnCap utopia, you cannot grow weed in your own home and you cannot sell it because some other group, one with more guns, will come kill you. And there is no government to even punish them for it. I guess this really does mean might makes right in the AnCap world.

This whole story demonstrates, once again, that any real moves towards a libertarian AnCap utopia will always collapse into what I call “Warlordism”: He who has the biggest guns, wins.

Anarcho-capitalists who complained of robberies or street corner assaults faced ridicule, Mike claimed.

“Because this is a very ideological group, everything Jeff says is dogma,” he said. “If you said anything contra to the dogma, you’d be ostracized and in some cases doxxed. I know people who moved there and got robbed… However, when they publicly state this, the whole community turns against them and treats them as some kind of informant or spy.”

Heh. Cultish following of a leader. Not like communism or socialism at all, right? I love the way it closes:

“Anarchists understand that the government’s prohibition of plants and substances cause these problems and if anything it just makes events like Anarchapulco even more important in order to change the world and get rid of the violence and chaos caused by government,” Berwick said.

Blaming the government for everything is just like the socialists blaming racism for every ill under the sun. With no government, do we really think organized crime gangs would stop doing what they are doing? The price would drop? Somehow, I think the would just go into “legit” business, and their anti-competition behavior would go right on. No government to stop them. Heck, the one in Mexico right now is so weak it cannot.

Utopia is not coming to this world, not for communists, not for socialists, and not for AnCaps. Any attempt to create a utopia will always result in tyranny. Always.

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There are 167 comments.

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  1. Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… Inactive

    Hi, Bryan!

    Thanks for the Dr. Peterson clip! Wanted to check my translation skills, though: “AnCap = Anarcho-Capitalism”, yes? Correct me if I’m wrong, please and thank you.

    • #1
    • February 8, 2019, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    Nanda "Chaps" Panjan… (View Comment):

    Hi, Bryan!

    Thanks for the Dr. Peterson clip! Wanted to check my translation skills, though: “AnCap = Anarcho-Capitalism”, yes? Correct me if I’m wrong, please and thank you.

    Yes. Tweaked to be clear. Thanks. 

    • #2
    • February 8, 2019, at 2:32 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    I prefer religions “faith communities” that relegate hell to the next life…

    • #3
    • February 8, 2019, at 2:41 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. DonG Coolidge

    AnCap is silly. You can look at prisons. They start as AnCap, but order eventually emerges. The type of order is predictable based on the size of the prison. Nature abhors a vacuum and humans need order. Where it does not exist, it will be imposed from the outside or emerge from within.

    • #4
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:20 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler (View Comment):

    I prefer religions “faith communities” that relegate hell to the next life…

    LOL Good point.

    you cannot make Heaven on Earth, but you sure can make hell!

    • #5
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  6. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher

    Paging Fred Cole, Fred Cole pick up the red curtsey phone.

    • #6
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    DonG (View Comment):

    AnCap is silly. You can look at prisons. They start as AnCap, but order eventually emerges. The type of order is predictable based on the size of the prison. Nature abhors a vacuum and humans need order. Where it does not exist, it will be imposed from the outside or emerge from within.

    Had not thought of prisons, but a great example.

    • #7
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:22 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. RightAngles Member

    Libertarianism shares at least one flaw with Leftism: the ignoring of human nature. Libertarianism depends on all people being of good will. Leftism assumes all people are incompetent and need the government to be involved in every situation of daily life. Both are wrong and both will fail every time.

    • #8
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:32 PM PDT
    • 20 likes
  9. RufusRJones Member

    There are a million improvements you can try before doing that.

    Geo political force like a cartel or some other things is going to be a problem.

    • #9
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:32 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Brian Wolf Coolidge

    An-Cap solutions holds together well, makes perfect sense and would probably be better for all of us then the systems we have. There is just one flaw they make no account for human nature. Sure the gun men attacking these places and killing these people are only gaining something in the short term. In the long term the chaos and lawlessness they inflect on others will kill them too. In the long term it would have been better to trade with their peaceful neighbors.

    Unfortunately people are often happy to live in the short term and their numbers and their guns gave them all the power they needed in their situation and so murder and chaos ensued. I have not seen an An-cap solution to the problem of human nature. 

    In fact I think all Utopian thinking of all varieties falls apart in the end for lack of understanding human nature.

    • #10
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:33 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  11. RufusRJones Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Libertarianism shares at least one flaw with Leftism: the ignoring of human nature. Libertarianism depends on all people being of good will. Leftism assumes all people are incompetent and need the government to be involved in every situation of daily life. Both are wrong and both will fail every time.

    I think the way to think about it is, government and the financial system set up a ton of bad incentives that basically amount to reducing productivity, fairness, and making everything regressive. People use government to steal from each other, or it just makes honest productivity not pay off like it should.

    You have to have government stop force and fraud. It doesn’t need to do much central planning beyond the military and border control, really. Having said that we have screwed up some things so bad we would be better off socializing them more.

    The constitution prior to Woodrow Wilson was very libertarian and it did depend on a moral and religious people. Today, being moral is frequently a sucker’s move.

    • #11
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:40 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  12. RufusRJones Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):

    An-Cap solutions holds together well, makes perfect sense and would probably be better for all of us then the systems we have. There is just one flaw they make no account for human nature. Sure the gun men attacking these places and killing these people are only gaining something in the short term. In the long term the chaos and lawlessness they inflect on others will kill them too. In the long term it would have been better to trade with their peaceful neighbors.

    Unfortunately people are often happy to live in the short term and their numbers and their guns gave them all the power they needed in their situation and so murder and chaos ensued. I have not seen an An-cap solution to the problem of human nature.

    In fact I think all Utopian thinking of all varieties falls apart in the end for lack of understanding human nature.

    This is why I think fear of God, or religion is necessary over supposedly everyone can figure out that libertarianism is good just based on observation and thinking it through. 

    Keynesianism is a perfect example. It’s just theft, and you better play the game one way or another or you will get hosed.

    • #12
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:44 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Ed G. Member

    Brian Wolf (View Comment):
    Sure the gun men attacking these places and killing these people are only gaining something in the short term. In the long term the chaos and lawlessness they inflect on others will kill them too. In the long term it would have been better to trade with their peaceful neighbors.

    That’s not always true either, which is another thing ancaps don’t account for. Stalin, Castro, Mao, the cartels, the mob – not exactly case studies in the short term theory of better to burn out than to fade away. 

    • #13
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. RightAngles Member

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Libertarianism shares at least one flaw with Leftism: the ignoring of human nature. Libertarianism depends on all people being of good will. Leftism assumes all people are incompetent and need the government to be involved in every situation of daily life. Both are wrong and both will fail every time.

    I think the way to think about it is, government and the financial system set up a ton of bad incentives that basically amount to reducing productivity, fairness, and making everything regressive. People use government to steal from each other, or it just makes honest productivity not pay off like it should.

    You have to have government stop force and fraud. It doesn’t need to do much central planning beyond the military and border control, really. Having said that we have screwed up some things so bad we would be better off socializing them more.

    The constitution prior to Woodrow Wilson was very libertarian and it did depend on a moral and religious people. Today, being moral is frequently a sucker’s move.

    I think that the founders still recognized that there have to be laws. The laws of most societies are based on things we don’t want to have happen to us; in our case, they’re based on the Ten Commandments. So we have laws against murder and stealing first and foremost. With things like adultery, we think “Well now wait a second, I myself might do that one, so let’s just make that one frowned upon. No need for prison.”

    In pure Libertarianism, as Nietszsche wrote, the highest society is one where there are no laws because none is needed. That assumes and depends on every man being of good will, and it is ridiculous. 

    • #14
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:59 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  15. RufusRJones Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    RufusRJones (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Libertarianism shares at least one flaw with Leftism: the ignoring of human nature. Libertarianism depends on all people being of good will. Leftism assumes all people are incompetent and need the government to be involved in every situation of daily life. Both are wrong and both will fail every time.

    I think the way to think about it is, government and the financial system set up a ton of bad incentives that basically amount to reducing productivity, fairness, and making everything regressive. People use government to steal from each other, or it just makes honest productivity not pay off like it should.

    You have to have government stop force and fraud. It doesn’t need to do much central planning beyond the military and border control, really. Having said that we have screwed up some things so bad we would be better off socializing them more.

    The constitution prior to Woodrow Wilson was very libertarian and it did depend on a moral and religious people. Today, being moral is frequently a sucker’s move.

    I think that the founders still recognized that there have to be laws. The laws of most societies are based on things we don’t want to have happen to us; in our case, they’re based on the Ten Commandments. So we have laws against murder and stealing first and foremost. With things like adultery, we think “Well now wait a second, I myself might do that one, so let’s just make that one frowned upon. No need for prison.”

    In pure Libertarianism, as Nietszsche wrote, the highest society is one where there are no laws because none is needed. That assumes and depends on every man being of good will, and it is ridiculous.

    We aren’t disagreeing, at all. The big problem is so much power has gotten centralized since Woodrow Wilson. It’s a disaster because it makes it very hard for libertarianism and conservatism to actually work or sell. 

    • #15
    • February 8, 2019, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. RufusRJones Member

    I don’t want to get into a big argument right now, but this conversation sort of points to the difference between Austrian theory and libertarian theory. Austrian theory makes way more sense to me. 

    • #16
    • February 8, 2019, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Boss Mongo Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I think that the founders still recognized that there have to be laws. The laws of most societies are based on things we don’t want to have happen to us; in our case, they’re based on the Ten Commandments. So we have laws against murder and stealing first and foremost. With things like adultery, we think “Well now wait a second, I myself might do that one, so let’s just make that one frowned upon. No need for prison.”

    In pure Libertarianism, as Nietszsche wrote, the highest society is one where there are no laws because none is needed. That assumes and depends on every man being of good will, and it is ridiculous. 

    @rightangles, you pretty smart for “just a pretty face.”

    • #17
    • February 8, 2019, at 4:35 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  18. Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler Member

    Hayek Road to Serfdom

    “Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers of abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”

    • #18
    • February 8, 2019, at 4:35 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  19. Ed G. Member

    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler (View Comment):

    Hayek Road to Serfdom

    “Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers of abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”

    If conservatives are anything it’s scrupulous and inhibited. And yet we’re supposedly the authoritarian ones!

    • #19
    • February 8, 2019, at 4:40 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    I’ve always thought that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for every single high school senior. Anyone who thinks government is the answer doesn’t think through the importance of the individual’s contribution to this world and how a totalitarian government stifles the desire to innovate. Barry Goldwater, a conservative with a libertarian streak, emphasized the importance of state’s rights and how the competition between states would result in a better and smaller federal government. 

    • #20
    • February 8, 2019, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  21. RightAngles Member

    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler (View Comment):

    Hayek Road to Serfdom

    “Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers of abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”

    This really reminds us of how remarkable George Washington was in turning down his opportunity to be King. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    • #21
    • February 8, 2019, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  22. RufusRJones Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for every single high school senior. Anyone who thinks government is the answer doesn’t think through the importance of the individual’s contribution to this world and how a totalitarian government stifles the desire to innovate. Barry Goldwater, a conservative with a libertarian streak, emphasized the importance of state’s rights and how the competition between states would result in a better and smaller federal government.

    I’m not a huge Ron Paul fan, but any kid that goes through his homeschooling system is going to be much better off in this sense. I wish there were tons of colleges oriented that way.

    • #22
    • February 8, 2019, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  23. RightAngles Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for every single high school senior. Anyone who thinks government is the answer doesn’t think through the importance of the individual’s contribution to this world and how a totalitarian government stifles the desire to innovate. Barry Goldwater, a conservative with a libertarian streak, emphasized the importance of state’s rights and how the competition between states would result in a better and smaller federal government.

    I read it when I was about 24 and at the beginnings of being disenchanted with the Left. It was a huge turning point for me. I still don’t see how anyone can read it and remain a liberal.

    • #23
    • February 8, 2019, at 5:14 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  24. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for every single high school senior. Anyone who thinks government is the answer doesn’t think through the importance of the individual’s contribution to this world and how a totalitarian government stifles the desire to innovate. Barry Goldwater, a conservative with a libertarian streak, emphasized the importance of state’s rights and how the competition between states would result in a better and smaller federal government.

    I find Rand to be unrealistic. 

    • #24
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens Post author

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Muleskinner, Weasel Wrangler (View Comment):

    Hayek Road to Serfdom

    “Just as the democratic statesman who sets out to plan economic life will soon be confronted with the alternative of either assuming dictatorial powers of abandoning his plans, so the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure. It is for this reason that the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful in a society tending toward totalitarianism.”

    This really reminds us of how remarkable George Washington was in turning down his opportunity to be King. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

    That is why he is a hero to me.

    • #25
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:04 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Judge Mental Member

    Good post, Bryan. (I didn’t watch the Peterson clip, because I suspect I know which argument it is. “It’ll work, if I’m in charge!”

    • #26
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:22 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. Franco Member

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for every single high school senior. Anyone who thinks government is the answer doesn’t think through the importance of the individual’s contribution to this world and how a totalitarian government stifles the desire to innovate. Barry Goldwater, a conservative with a libertarian streak, emphasized the importance of state’s rights and how the competition between states would result in a better and smaller federal government.

    I read it when I was about 24 and at the beginnings of being disenchanted with the Left. It was a huge turning point for me. I still don’t see how anyone can read it and remain a liberal.

    I was already pretty much a convert, but Ayn Rand gave me a kind of crystallization. I really had been a victim of feeling guilty. She awakened me about the sick people who are promoting and exploiting those emotions. Something broke through that immunized me from feeling guilt. I read her essays before her novels…

    Then, reading the Black Book of Communism sealed the deal.

    Truly communism is like a river, it inevitably flows to the sea of totalitarianism and mass murder. 

    This is because it is anti-human. It presumes to trivialize 200,000 ( at least) years of deeply embedded human instincts and traditions.

    A society that tries to stamp out humans trying to get and take perceived advantage of others on behalf of themselves, their families,their tribes, is insane. It’s probably easier to repress sexual activity than the survival instinct.

    And we see the results. In order for communism to work, millions have to be killed. Then it looks like it’s working, but that’s because everyone’s afraid to say otherwise, and then it collapses.

    • #27
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:23 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  28. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    Libertarian utopias work only until someone turns up their stereo too loud.

    • #28
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:27 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  29. RightAngles Member

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    Libertarian utopias work only until someone turns up their stereo too loud.

    Ha!

    • #29
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:53 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  30. RightAngles Member

    Franco (View Comment):

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    I’ve always thought that Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for every single high school senior. Anyone who thinks government is the answer doesn’t think through the importance of the individual’s contribution to this world and how a totalitarian government stifles the desire to innovate. Barry Goldwater, a conservative with a libertarian streak, emphasized the importance of state’s rights and how the competition between states would result in a better and smaller federal government.

    I read it when I was about 24 and at the beginnings of being disenchanted with the Left. It was a huge turning point for me. I still don’t see how anyone can read it and remain a liberal.

    I was already pretty much a convert, but Ayn Rand gave me a kind of crystallization. I really had been a victim of feeling guilty. She awakened me about the sick people who are promoting and exploiting those emotions. Something broke through that immunized me from feeling guilt. I read her essays before her novels…

    Then, reading the Black Book of Communism sealed the deal.

    Truly communism is like a river, it inevitably flows to the sea of totalitarianism and mass murder.

    This is because it is anti-human. It presumes to trivialize 200,000 ( at least) years of deeply embedded human instincts and traditions.

    A society that tries to stamp out humans trying to get and take perceived advantage of others on behalf of themselves, their families,their tribes, is insane. It’s probably easier to repress sexual activity than the survival instinct.

    And we see the results. In order for communism to work, millions have to be killed. Then it looks like it’s working, but that’s because everyone’s afraid to say otherwise, and then it collapses.

    True. This is what happens when you subordinate and erase the Individual in favor of the Group. Individual people no longer matter.

    • #30
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:54 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
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