PM5602: Anarcho-capitalism

Anarcho-capitalism is a foolish political ideology, which Maratreanism teaches must be utterly rejected.

Anarcho-capitalism believes in abolishing the government and replacing it completely with private companies. It is an extreme form of capitalist libertarianism. They call themselves anarchists, but the greater tradition of anti-capitalist anarchism rejects this claim.

Other capitalist libertarians, although they believe in as small a government as possible, still believe that some government is necessary - to provide for national defence, to prosecute crime, and to provide a court system to settle legal disputes peacefully. Anarcho-capitalists believe that all these government functions can be performed by competing private companies. Thus, private national defence companies would provide protection against foreign invasion; private police forces would catch criminals; private courts would decide legal cases. However, it is unclear how any of this could actually work in practice.

Suppose the libertarians have all their dreams come true. Surely that means bye-bye antitrust laws, competition laws, restrictions on merger & acquisitions activity. What then is to stop endless mergers & acquisitions activity producing ever bigger super-megacorps. If companies A, B, C, and D control 20% each of the market, what is to stop them merging to control 80%? Government regulation won't. Good idea for management -- I'm sure they'll profit handsomely from the merger deal. Good idea for the owners -- surely 80% market share gives you better ROI than 20% market share. With no laws to prevent collusive contracts, etc., shouldn't be hard to convert your 80% into 98%. Just insist your suppliers & big customers sign exclusivity arrangements -- with 80% market share, surely you can find a way to convince them. And offer the operators in the remaining 20% of the market offers they can't refuse. The 2% left over are probably harmless. If any of them show signs of growth, buy them out or force them out of business.

Anarcho-capitalism, well that's even sillier. Suppose SuperMegaCorp decides to go on an expansion drive, and they buy absolutely everything. They build (or buy) whole cities in which they own all the real estate, and have total control over who lives and works there. Competitotrs aren't allowed to open shop. The independent 'court' or 'police' companies -- well, we'll buy all of those. And as your new landlord, we don't allow any other 'court' or 'police' companies to operate on our property (which is the whole city). Now we own the courts, we'll make sure they rule favourably to us. So eventually SuperMegaCorp owns everything in a given land area, except those entities which they permit to exist by their sufferance. How is SuperMegaCorp any different from a government -- except that, rather than being a democracy, its maybe a timocracy of shareholders? Actually, I'm sure they'll abolish the rule against perpetuities and any rules against the dead hand of the testator as an interference with private property. So some eternal family trust will end up owning a controlling stake in SuperMegaCorp, more an aristocracy or monarchy than timocracy.

But how is that different from what we've already got? How is having governments different from "anarcho-capitalism" with a megacorp calling the shots. I'm from Australia, a federation of corporations all called "the crown in right of something or other", all owned by Elizabeth Windsor. We already have anarcho-capitalism here! Thankfully for me, our anarcho-capitalist corporate masters are oh so kind, they let us mere tenants/contractors elect 'advisers' to 'advise' the representatives of the owner on what to do with these corporations she owns. I kinda doubt, if the "anarcho-capitalists" had their way, things would be as they are...