Anarcho-capitalism and Anarcho-socialism:
How Far They Agree & Wherein They Differ

by Hogeye Bill   (Aug 29, 2018)

Much of the online debate about anarchism is not between statists and anarchists, but between proponents of different “flavors” of anarchism. Perhaps the most ardent debates are between anarcho-socialists and anarcho-capitalists. Both schools have both sectarians and panarchists, “anarchists without adjectives,” but sectarians are generally louder and more prolific in their posts. The majority of both schools believe that a “live and let live” attitude would be the norm in a stateless society. Communists would have their collectivist enclaves; mutualists their possession enclaves, and capitalists their sticky property enclaves. Everyone gets to live their own vision under anarchy! Property panarchy prevails.

Nevertheless, the sectarian minorities of both ansoc and ancap schools fill our forums with “One way, Jesus” claims to be the one true anarchism. Most of the debates are over the same issues, repeated - beating a dead horse. Perhaps a list of basic assumptions and claims, showing how anarcho-socialists and anarcho-capitalists agree or disagree, is appropriate.

There are many different though often complementary ways of looking at anarchism, but in a nutshell, it can be defined as the striving toward a "free society of free individuals." - Cindy Milstein, Anarchism and Its Aspirations
  1. Anarchists want a free society of free individuals.
    Both ancaps and ansocs agree.
    1. Ancaps see freedom as freedom from aggression by other people. (Negative rights.)
    2. Ansocs see freedom as freedom to actualize one’s desires. (Positive rights.)
  2. Anarchism opposes authority/rulership.
    Both ancaps and ansocs agree.
    1. Ancaps see authority as aggression perpetrated by others. (See 1a.)
    2. Ansocs see authority as any obstacle to one’s aspirations. (See 1b.)
  3. Private property is okay, so long as the community agrees to it.
    Ancaps agree, but ansocs either disagree or say that is impossible. This attitude puts into question their anarchism, however. If one opposes sticky property more than one opposes the State, is one really an anarchist?
  4. Abolition of domination in social relationships.
    Both ancaps and ansocs agree.
  5. Abolition of hierarchy in social relationships.
    Ancaps disagree (since hierarchies can be voluntary) but ansocs agree.
  6. Anarchists want democracy at a grass roots level.
    Most ancaps disagree but ansocs agree.
  7. Anarchists want voluntary emergent order, such as free markets.
    Ancaps agree but most ansocs disagree.
  8. Anarchists want to build the new society within the shell of the old.
    Both ancaps and ansocs agree.
  9. Anarchists support self-organization and mutual aid.
    Both ancaps and ansocs agree, though they differ in their favored forms of mutual aid. Ancaps prefer the market, while ansocs prefer community meetings.
  10. Anarchism is an open philosophy, always changing in theory & practice.
    Ancaps and some ansocs agree. Some sectarian ansocs claim the past permanently defines anarchism. (E.g. Denying that ancap is a type of anarchism.)

These points are have a lot of overlap, but they seem to cover 95% of the sectarian “debates” one encounters online. As is usually the case, the points of disagreement are overhyped in these forums, while the points of agreement are rarely acknowledged. That’s the nature of free and open debate, I suppose. The cleavage between anarcho-capitalism and anarcho-socialism is greatly exaggerated. We anarchists are more alike than different. We should always remember that the enemy is the State, and all statists everywhere, especially the rulers and armed goons.

Once a predominantly stateless society is reached, the conflict between capitalism and collectivism evaporates, except in the voluntary sense of “which type of community would I prefer?” The question becomes a matter of personal taste rather than ruler’s command.