In Ancapistan, will one be subject to authorities not of one's own choosing?

There is a very tedious commentator who I want to discourage, so I haven't posted his most recent comment. But he claims something that I have seen claimed a number of times, so it may be worth addressing. What he said was (I paraphrase), "Callahan, you are missing the crucial distinction: under anarchy, no one will ever be subject to an authority not of his own choosing."

Now, it is true that in ancapistan, no one will have to acknowledge an authority not of their own choosing. But that is true in the current state system as well: anarchists, for instance, do not acknowledge the authority of any current state.

"Ah," the anarchist may respond, "but we are forced to submit to the state's decisions even though we do not acknowledge its authority. That is what would never happen under anarchy."

Nonsense! Perhaps it would happen less often, but it would happen very regularly. I will offer just a few examples, but I could literally generate these all day and night. And so could you, once you start to really think about the situation.

1) Larry and George believe strongly in fractional reserve banking. On the dawn of ancapistan, they set up an FRB bank. But it turns out that the ideas of Rothbard, Hoppe, and Hulsmann have carried the day, and no ancap defense agencies are willing to defend the practice. In fact, on the day that Larry and George open their bank, the local agencies show up with guns and order them to shut down, since in the eyes of the agencies Larry and George are engaged in fraud. Larry and George are being subjected to an authority not of their own choosing.

2) Karl is an ardent anarcho-communist. He does not believe in land ownership, and decides to start goat farming on "Walter's" land. (Of course, Karl does not recognize it as Walter's land at all.) But Walter is a believer in strong property rights in land, and he immediately summons his defense agency to kick Karl off of "his" land. Karl is being subjected to an authority not of his own choosing.

3) Stephan hates the notion of intellectual property. Now that the state has disappeared, he sets up a printing press and begins printing copies of many popular books. But in this scenario, the ideas of Rothbard (who supported copyright) have won the day, and all of the area defense agencies view Stephan as being engaged in theft. They show up with guns and shut down his new press. Stephan is being subjected to an authority not of his own choosing.

4) Steve believes that the right to an abortion is a fundamental aspect of a woman's freedom, and he sets up an abortion clinic. However, he happens to live in an area dominated by Christian anarchists. They believe his clinic is engaged in murder, and when he opens, they show up with guns and order him to shut down. Steve is being subjected to an authority not of his own choosing.

As I said, I really could keep generating these scenarios all day and all night. And note well: in all of the above scenarios, every party in the dispute is a self-proclaimed anarchist of one sort or another.

Some anarchist may be tempted to respond, "But Gene, at least in ancapistan, there would be a greater possibility of people getting to choose legal regimes of their own liking!"

And I would respond, "Excellent! Now you have dropped the sloganeering, and we might actually begin to consider your ideas as serious political alternatives to our current arrangements."


  1. But how will the defense agencies ever get to the FRB bank if all roads to it are privately owned?

  2. I suppose that this could be used to show that law and rights are in no way "a priori", right? I think the problem for libertarians is that they must somehow view laws as self-executing.


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