Are market anarchists for or against capitalism?

That depends on what one means by the word “capitalism.” Some market anarchists label their views as “anarcho-capitalism,” while others prefer to identify with “anti-capitalism” or “libertarian socialism.” Still others reject both the labels “capitalism” and “socialism” as too hopelessly distorted in the public consciousness to be used meaningfully in reference to what they advocate.

While there is some ideological diversity that goes along with those three different approaches to labeling market anarchism, they tend to agree on some broad essential prescriptions.

The reason for this disagreement within market anarchism about labels is a flaw in the way capitalism and socialism are conventionally defined by the general public. Non-anarchists who identify as socialists tend to define the economic status quo as “capitalism.” Non-anarchists who identify as free market advocates tend to agree with the socialists that the status quo is “capitalism.” Both typically agree that the status quo is a result of the alleged “free market economy.”

Market anarchists, however, typically disagree that the economic status quo is a result of a free market economy and instead tend to attribute systematic economic injustice to market intervention by the state — that is, to divergence from the free market ideal of absolutely zero state intervention in the economy.

Market anarchists have adopted different labels and bodies of rhetoric to explain their views to a general public that can have passionate views associated with the words “capitalism” and “socialism.”  No matter whether one calls oneself a “socialist” or a “capitalist,” there will be a segment of the public that assumes the market anarchist supports an unjust status quo they oppose — or perversely wants to make it worse.

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