What’s the difference between “market anarchism” and “anarcho-capitalism”?
The difference between market anarchism and anarcho-capitalism is contentious, and somewhat semantic. Anarcho-capitalists choose to use the word “capitalism” because they believe it denotes a laissez-faire system of economics, free from government control. Market anarchists are far more critical of capitalism, as they believe the term “capitalism” does not denote a truly freed economic system. Market anarchists avoid using the word “capitalism” because it often refers to our current, unfree economic system, dominated by corporations and vast income inequality. Market anarchists say that “capitalism” places too much emphasis on capital, implying rule by the owners of the means of production, a form of oppression which market anarchists oppose. Many market anarchists believe that in a freed society, the world would look very different from how it looks now under state capitalism. They believe that freed markets would not result in corporate domination and hierarchical firm structure. If such firms did exist, they would be few and far between. As Gary Chartier and Charles Johnson write in Markets Not Capitalism, “Market anarchists believe in market exchange, not in economic privilege. They believe in free markets, not in capitalism.”
Adherents of anarcho-capitalism believe a capitalist, laissez-faire economic system is desirable for maximum freedom and human flourishing. Market anarchism does not seek to prescribe a desirable economic system. Instead, market anarchists recognize that not everyone in a free society will desire to engage in a profit-oriented market, and alternative voluntary economic systems, such as cooperatives, gift economies, and communes, may flourish. While market anarchists may often advocate market exchange, pluralism and decentralization are also of great significance. As long as these different voluntary economic systems can peacefully coexist, market anarchists take no issue with such alternatives.