Anarcho-capitalist arguments are intriguing. They have many flaws but at the same time offer genuinely valuable insights, especially into the use of force. Here I will offer my comment on five popular Anarcho-capitalist arguments. While reading please keep in mind this is not a refutation but my thoughts on them.
1. Government hurts the economy.
This claim is more of a half-truth. The relationship between government spending and economic growth is nonlinear. Up to a certain point, government spending helps the economy by providing the rule of law, defense, infrastructure, etc. Beyond this point government spending crowds out private spending, hurting the economy.
“The paper uses threshold panel model to examine nonlinear relationship between the government consumption expenditure share and economic growth in 21 low-income countries and 11 low-middle income countries during 1981–2007. The results confirm nonlinear relationship, in which the threshold share of government consumption expenditure for the low and low-middle income countries is 16.2 and 16.9% with the confidence intervals of [13.7–17.3%] and [16.5–16.9%], respectively. The results indicate that, after passing the threshold, the effect of government consumption expenditure share on economic growth changes from insignificantly positive to significantly negative.”
“Using a large panel dataset we uncover a statistically significant non-linear relationship via identifying the optimal threshold of government spending that maximizes
growth. Furthermore, we show that the relationship between the two variables above and below that optimal level is statistically significant, even if we split our sample to developed and developing countries. Finally, we and an asymmetric impact of government size on economic growth in developed and developing countries around the estimated threshold.”
2. Government is all about control and violence.
This seems less of an argument against government than an obvious observation that no one seems to make. When government makes a law it does not enforce it by asking nicely. Murder, rape and theft laws are enforced through forcibly detaining you. It is because of the force used to enforce these laws that they are binding and that is what makes them law; otherwise they would be only suggestions. As said in a quote falsely attributed to George Washington, “”Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
3. Government encourages violence.
The opposite is true. Government discourages violence. Government is a disincentive against violence for the population. Violence is punishable by a variety of means from fines to jail time to the death penalty.
4. How can government use force when we cannot?
Actually, in a state of nature, we can. When we create a government we give up the legitimacy to use force in aggression to government who, in return, uses this ability to use force that we gave up to stop the aggressive use of force in society. That is the entire purpose of government.
5. “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case it is unfit to exist.” -Lysander Spooner
While on the surface this is a legitimate critique by anarcho-capitalists, and to an extent it is, it does not understand what constrains government. The Constitution is only a piece of paper. When it is violated, and I hate to point out the obvious but, it will not get up and beat up the executive. What contains government is us, the people. We elected the House of Representatives, Senate and (indirectly) the President. We also elect out state, county and city governments. We can throw them out of office or make it clear we oppose their authoritarian tendencies. We hold their feet’s to the fires and, if necessary, take up arms to overthrow corruption and tyranny. The tyrannical inclinations of our government have not been stopped because the constitution is inadequate but because we are inadequate.