Saturday, July 8, 2006

Franc's glossary for Market Anarchist theory

Since I have been defining a lot of things on this blog, and tried to circumscribe Market Anarchist theory as much as possible, I thought I would provide a glossary of terms for fellow MAs. I find that such things are always very useful when discussing or debating, always an easy reference for such things.

I have assembled terms thematically instead of alphabetically. Perhaps this will make it less useful- if so, tell me and I'll put up a version on my web site Simply Anarchy in alphabetical order.



Market: The process of freely trading for a certain commodity (as opposed to state control). The sum total of such trades.

Anarchy: The absence of a state. Any form of social organization which does not include a state.

Market Anarchy: A form of social organization where individuals are free to trade for any commodity, including those usually reserved to the state. In short, a form of social organization where individuals are politically free. The Non-Aggression Principle is a fundamental principle of Market Anarchy.

  • Freedom: Capacity to fulfill one's values. To be free means to be able to fulfill one's values to the best of one's abilities, without interference. There are four areas of freedom: personal freedom, relational freedom, social freedom and political freedom.

  • Trade: The exchange or sharing of resources.

  • The Non-Aggression Principle (NAP): No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation. --L. Neil Smith


Society: The sum total of all voluntary interrelations between individuals.

State and ruling class: A parasitic organization monopolizing order on a given territory using a process of legitimized coercion (mainly through the imposition of a singular value system). Provides some services coercively and in a monopolistic fashion (e.g. police, military, law, courts, roads, currencies, charity). Statists point to these services as proof of legitimacy, even though these services would be provided far more efficiently and morally without monopoly or coercion. The individuals populating the state are globally known as the ruling class.

  • Monopoly: Exclusive control over the production of a commodity by one organization. Monopolies lead to higher prices, lower service, and lowered incentives for progress. The state is the clearest and most widespread example of a monopoly, on many different and vital commodities.
  • Order: The social result of an apparatus by which actions are evaluated and judged. Necessarily implies legitimacy on the part of the apparatus.
  • Legitimacy: General belief that someone's power or authority is justified. Such a belief can be manufactured by propaganda. Legitimacy explains why a serial killer is jailed, while a soldier who kills "the enemy" is rewarded.
  • Coercion: Using force against, or threatening the use of force against, an individual to make him act against his will or agreement.
  • Parasite: An organism that obtains nourishment from a host without benefiting or killing the host.


Statism: Utopian belief system having as fundamental principle that the state is the best (or only acceptable) form of social organization. As for most belief systems, it is mostly transmitted through constant propaganda by the ruling class and the exploitative class, as well as the reinforcement provided by peer pressure and ostracism. Its morality is uniformly of the type "might makes right".

  • Utopian: A form of social organization which goes against basic facts of human nature. Statism is utopian because its imposition of a singular value system on the whole of society goes against the fact that most human beings have different value systems. This creates the endemic social warfare typical of most democracies.

  • Propaganda: A coherent structure of psychological entrapment, having the aim of manipulating people's value systems into serving those who control the structure. In a democratic state, this is achieved by control over money (e.g. through subsidies), education, the media, science and art.
  • "Might makes right": The belief that the need for moral justification can be mitigated or eliminated by the use of force. Statism is a "might makes right" belief system because it claims that the sheer power of the state overrides moral concerns regarding the use of force. The state, in this view, transcends morality in a way that private individuals cannot (e.g. a murderer vs a soldier).


Value system: Hierarchy of values that all moral agents possess, and is demonstrated by their choices. Most people's value systems differ, making the imposition of a singular value system by the state a source of constant social warfare. This is an individualistic concept. One's value system is molded by one's virtues or vices.

  • Value: A class of things that one seeks to gain or keep. In a rational value system, a value is necessary for the expression of all others, forming a self-sustaining system. For example, the value of freedom- freedom is necessary for the expression of all other values.

  • Individualism: The basic moral premise that only individuals can act, benefit and suffer. The opposite of collectivism, which holds that abstract groups or transcendent entities can act, benefit or suffer, necessitating an abstract structure (such as the state) to support these groups or entities.

  • Virtue: A mental habit conductive to moral behaviour. The opposite of vice. Example: the virtue of non-coercion.


Accountability: A feedback system by which we can select the changes we desire and help eliminate the ones we don't. In the market, this is called profit. There is no statist analogue, although voting is sometimes invoked. Accountability is the product of a healthy incentive system.

Incentive and incentive system: An incentive is a path of preferred behaviour induced by a feature of a system. An incentive system is the sum total of all such paths for a given system. Incentives are an important feature of any form of social organization because they hold true regardless of who is in power or a specific culture, and as such they tell us how desirable this or that form is in general.
For example, statist systems have a strong incentive towards war because states can raise the resources needed by taxation and force people to become killers through draft, while market organizations cannot do the same. Therefore we should expect statist systems in general to be more warlike, and perhaps a correlation between state power and war, a tendancy which we observe in history.

Class: A social stratum whose members share certain political characteristics. In statism, we can differentiate between four general classes: the ruling class, the exploitative class, the working class, and the welfare class.

  • The ruling class is the group of individuals who are part of the state.

  • The exploitative class is the group of individuals who are exploiters but not part of the state.
  • The working class is the group of individuals who receive neither the dubious benefit of welfare, nor the morally corrupt benefits of being an exploiter. This represents the largest segment of the population.
  • The welfare class is the group of individuals who are entrapped by the state in a cycle of poverty, and unwittingly repay the state by giving it legitimacy.


Exploitation: The process of restricting people's value expression without their consent, of one's own power, through the use of the power of another, or indirectly through propaganda. I distinguish between three categories of exploiters : first-hand parasites, second-hand parasites, and free riders.

  • First-hand parasites are the individuals who use force directly, those that have the guns, and the individuals who give orders to them (policemen, soldiers, private criminals, politicians, bureaucrats).

  • Second-hand parasites are the individuals who exploit indirectly by benefitting from state power, and depend on state coercion for the maintenance of their status (activists, interest groups, political organizations and parties, unions, corporate trusts, corporations receiving subsidies, corporations benefitting from protectionism, mafias).
  • Free riders are people who would still have a job in a market anarchy, but who use state power to further their aims, while suffering the perverse effects of said power (CEOs of multinationals, politico-scientists and politico-artists, activists, churches, lawyers, doctors, insurers, public school teachers, amateur and professional athletes, and so on).


Democracy: According to statist propaganda, a collectivist method of self-governance, "by the people, for the people". In practice, democracy is the means by which the state secures its legitimacy without needing to surrender any real power to "the people", representing a step down from monarchy, a form of social organization in which legitimacy is an arduous process. It gives the illusion of decision-making to its captive population through the process of voting, which is yet another form of "might makes right", although ultimately a futile one. The main product of democracy is social warfare. As a decision-making process, should be replaced by Informed Consensus.

  • Voting: A democratic ritual in which individuals, called "voters", cast ballots in favour of a candidate or party. Morally, it represents a sanction of state coercion, as democracy is a mechanism of legitimacy.
  • Social warfare: Process by which individuals affiliate themselves to various activist groups and demand laws, rights or privileges. Social warfare arises because of the Tragedy of the Commons: people must band together and get state power to act in their favour before other people do the same against them. When present in a relatively free society, the end result of this process is called the erosion of freedom.
  • Informed Consensus: Process of decision-making where groups of informed individuals come together and take a decision by consensus, with a set of rules and values used to guide dialogue. This can be scaled to as few as two individuals (a couple) and as many as hundreds of thousands of people or more (Wikipedia).


Right: According to statist propaganda, a whole category of arbitrary laws and privileges united by a common concept (e.g. "the right to health care", "animal rights") that are owed to a group for no specific reason. In reality, a natural principle of social progress, derived from the value of freedom. A right is possessed by all individuals, and stops when the rights of another are infringed.

  • Right of self-ownership: Principle that all individuals should own their own bodies.
  • Right of action: Principle that all individuals should be free to act in any way desired.
  • Right of property: Principle that all individuals should be free to own things other than their own bodies.
  • Progress: The expansion of our capacity to act (that which freedom acts upon).


Equality: A statist code-word used to imbue legitimacy to the democratic process, and push the doctrine of social justice. In reality, political equality means that all individuals should have the same rights. Statist systems are inherently unequal, as they are predicated on the existence of a ruling class which has the right to make an arbitrary code of laws, impose it by force, steal people's resources, and so on.

Social justice: According to statist propaganda, a vast forcible redistribution of resources by the state in order to enforce "equality". In reality, the market is true social justice, where you receive resources and popularity proportionally to the perceived value of your contributions, and give proportionally to how you perceive other people's work. That is the only just social principle.

Capitalism, State Capitalism: Can variably designate an economic system based on markets, or an economic system where the most economically powerful take advantage of the state's power in order to extract advantages over everyone else.

Communism: An economic system where both political and economic power are vested in the ruling class. Nothing more than State Capitalism taken to its logical extent.

War: Murder on a large scale committed in the name of the state or against it. The murderers who participate in it are called "soldiers".

Perpetual war: A (mostly metaphorical) war whose victory conditions are unattainable, usually because the goal is a nebulous concept or for whose opposite there will always be a demand (e.g. "poverty", "terrorism", "drugs").

Law: A monopolistic construct of the ruling class, designed to further its interests and enforced by its monopolistic courts. In order for the state to maintain its monopoly on coercion, anyone who breaks these rules is declared a criminal, and thus deligitimized in the eyes of the people.

Immigration: The action of crossing an arbitrary line which delimitates the territories that each state can exploit. As as problem, it is entirely manufactured by the states themselves. There is no reason to think that people separated by an arbitrary line cannot be part of the same society, and in our modern world, such an idea is grossly outmoded and absurd.

"Agencies", "Protection Agencies": The terms I use to designate companies which offer a code (replacing the monopolistic law), and protection services following that code, to their customers.

DROs: Dispute Resolution Organizations. Term used by Stefan Molyneux to designate private courts, which also preside over arbitration.

Arbitration: In general, a form of justice where both parties designate a person whose ruling they will accept formally. More specifically in Market Anarchist theory, arbitration designates the process by which two agencies pre-negociate a set of common rules in anticipation of cases where a customer from each agency is involved in a dispute.


Arguments for Market Anarchy

Burden of proof: Logic dictates that the burden of proof be put on the positive claim. In this case, while common belief dictates that the anarchist has the burden of proof, it actually belongs to both parties. Both are making a positive claim about social organization. Furthermore, most statists make the same claim as the anarchist (i.e. that markets should exist) but adds an extra claim (i.e. that the state should exist), therefore the statist has an extra burden of proof. Statists are incapable of shedding this extra burden, which makes this a powerful argument, if you can get an honest statist to admit that he's making a positive claim.

Moral Razor: A moral principle or system, or a political principle or system, is invalid if it is asymmetrical in application (to locations, times or persons). Can also be called "universality". Argument made by Stefan Molyneux.
Examples: Gun control is invalid because it sets one principle for one group (state exploiters)- you can have guns- and another principle for the rest of us- you can't have guns. Taxation is invalid because theft remains criminal in all other instances. If it is just for some people to steal in the name of the "common good", then it should be good for everyone. And so on.

Geometric Argument: Consists of setting up a fictional scenario involving three people on a desert island, pointing out that statist behaviour in such a scenario is immoral (such as taxation- two people deciding to steal a third's resources because they think he has too much) without noting that it is statist behaviour, and expanding the situation in numbers until you reach the "millions of people" stage, at which point you reveal the statist analogy.

Argument from the State of Nature: Consists of examining every possible alternative about the nature of man and showing how the state is undesirable in all these alternatives. For example: if everyone is born good, then we don't need a state, if everyone is born evil, then the state would be evil as well, and if everyone is a mixture of good and evil, then a state only gives an opportunity for the most evil to wield power over the rest of us.

Semantic Argument: Consists of pointing out the conceptual absurdity of concepts such as "state", "country" and "citizenship", and showing that statism is literally meaningless. A favourite argument of Marc Stevens'.

Argument from Freedom: Consists of explaining the value of freedom, and demonstrating how Market Anarchy is the system most conductive to freedom.

2 comments:

ryan e said...

Francois, I couldn't find a direct email adress for The Radical Libertarian, so I will just leave a message here.

Today, I was doing some research and stumbled onto www.capitalism.org .I went to the "capitalism FAQ" and found some scary myths about market anarchy. I think you might be very interested in this :

"Anarchism is not a form of capitalism; anarchism is a form of collectivism, where individual rights are subject to the rule of competing gangs."

That is only of the extremely ridiculous comments made about market anarchy in the FAQ.

I think a response to the FAQ would be very important.

Thanks, Ryan e.

Francois Tremblay said...

Good suggestion. I'll add it to my work list.