Who are the preeminent Anarcho-Capitalism (Ancap) thinkers of our time? How many individuals in the entire world hold a Ph.D. in Austrian economics with a focus on Ancap? And where can we turn to when we want to learn more?
Sadly, when it comes to questions about liberty and freedom there are only a few places that we can turn to, still we must keep the discussion going! The idea for this week is:
How do we get to Ancapistan?
Looking in the Webster’s dictionary revealed that “Ancapistan” isn’t even a word, however Urban Dictionary says otherwise and defines it as:
A hypothetical area of land and/or water where the society is under a Libertarian system of Anarchy known as Anarcho-Capitalism, which is used as a short-hand to ask theoretical questions of how society might function under Anarcho-Capitalism.[ii]
The theory of Ancapistan is good when we are discussing on social media and it is important should any economist publish literature on the idea; however, this is only useful if at some point a spontaneous or concerted effort is made to find a place that we can call Ancapistan. There may be various ways that this can be achieved but I see only two likely possibilities: violent vs. non-violent revolution.
A violent revolution seems understandable considering human history and countless upheavals that eventually brought about a societal change. The “problem” is that life in the USA and Canada still works for many people compared to the rest of the world. Even though North American poverty exits, including millions with no healthcare, compared to the rest of the world the western lifestyle is practically a paradise. Access to clean water, toilets, technology, due process, the Law, civil rights, a constitution, plus the opportunity for social mobility is still relatively high compared to most other countries in the world. Even though mainstream economics, mainstream news and central banking all support socialism, when you look at it from a global perspective you must agree that life for your average American/Canadian citizen is a lot easier and relatively comfortable than the majority of other places in the world.
It’s important that we can acknowledge this because a violent revolution can only be possible when the system stops working for a lot of people. We’d have to see something like a Venezuelan type hyperinflation, food shortages, government gun confiscation, revelation of Fort Knox having no gold, or a similar shock that would create a tipping point in society causing people to take to the streets in social upheaval.
As the narrative goes, like a Phoenix from the ashes this catastrophic civil war will usher in a new era of piece with liberty and freedom to emerge as the victor. At last the great nation of Ancapistan will be founded.
The trajectory that Western society is on is one where a societal breakdown seems inevitable, however how that will resolve itself is anyone’s guess. Ludwig von Mises notes in Socialism, that “any violent revolution costs blood and money. Lives are sacrificed, and destruction impedes economic activity.”[iii] If it comes to a violent revolution then we must act, but wherever possible we should advocate for non-violent means to bringing about change.
Why pick up a gun when a pen will do? If a social change can be done without resorting to bloodshed, then should we not strive for that? A non-violent revolution can only be possible if an intellectual leadership emerges that can inspire enough people to invoke a social change and at the same time influence public policy into the direction free market principles.
For an intellectual revolution to happen it will have to begin social media and sharing ideas with like minded people and then reach out to others and help them to understand concepts like freedom and liberty. Eventually more formal channels or institutions like the Mises Institute will have to be created across the country. Each organization would help the cause ever so slightly but eventually it will add up. Econ Circus for example has many goals, one of which is to bringing Austrian economics to Canada. If this were to happen then it would help to spread free market ideas throughout the post-secondary system and inspire a new generation that will eventually be in a position to influence policy.
There may also be a mass exodus or migration to a pro-capitalist state, similar to what the Free State Project is doing by signing up thousands of libertarians to move to the state of New Hampshire. This will allow them to take civic action such as voting and influencing state laws in order to create a truly libertarian state in America. I have no formal association with this organization but it is a great idea and you can visit the website here.
At some point in time there will likely have to be a large organization or a backer who can fund ideas on individualism over collectivism. Imagine if a billionaire bought a major newspaper, built a successful website or funded a major university under the banner of liberty? Not to spread “left” or “right” propaganda or ideas, but someone who wanted to champion the free market and was against all forms of interventionism? As of the time of writing this idea may seem far fetched but in a decade from now who knows?
Ancapistan may not happen overnight and it may be a slow process. It may have to be done in steps, such as starting with the removal of government owning the means of production and with the ending of the Federal Reserve (or starting a gold standard). It may then move to the end of all interventionist ideas such as tariffs, bailouts, subsidies quotes and all other anti-capitalist ideas. To reach the full extend of a stateless society, it will require that the entire notion becomes championed by academics, influencers in society and that the idea becomes well known to the common man. At such a point in time the idea would be welcomed into reality.
This may not be as romantic as an armed rebellion, but in time the spread of good ideas, facts and the truth should win out over bad ideas, propaganda and fake mainstream economics. A violent revolution should never be off the table as probably Thomas Jefferson would say, so until then Econ Circus will work to educate the masses about Austrian economics, liberty and freedom. Per Mises:
The intellectual guidance of humanity belongs to the very few who think for themselves. At first, they influence the circle of those capable of grasping and understanding what others have thought; through these intermediaries their ideas reach the masses and there condense themselves into the public opinion of the time.[iv]
The caveat is that this quote is close to being 100 years; still, we must try.
[iii] Ludwig Von Mises, Socialism: An economic and Sociological Analysis, (Auburn, The Ludwig von Mises Institute, 2015), 73.
[iv] Ibid., 508.