Anarchists often put themselves into one of two categories: “anarcho-capitalist” or “anarcho-communist.” Without going into a long discussion on capitalism vs. communism, I would like to explain why anarchism is compatible with only one of these concepts.

Let’s start with the most basic definitions. Capitalism requires private ownership of the means of production (capital), communism requires public ownership thereof, while anarchism (“anarcho”) means that no central authority holds a monopoly on enforcing the law, nor requires people to follow legislation under threat of force.

Violence may exist in an anarchic society because some people will always have sociopathic behaviors, but in general people do not resort to violence because of its costs, risks and repercussions, if not for the immorality of it. They prefer peaceful interactions. They do not want to commit acts of violence and aggression, but mainly people don’t want others to commit violence against them. They would seek mechanisms, tools and solutions to protect themselves and to prevent others from committing acts of violence.

Providers of such protection services would emerge on the unhampered market and seek profit from providing them. They would pool their resources and their customers, and find ways how to lower their costs to attract more customers and make their services affordable for virtually everyone. For those who would like to object that this is unfair because literally everyone already has such protection for free (i.e. paid by taxes) — no we don’t. We pay for real protection by paying a premium on our housing because cops don’t go to shitty neighborhoods. Goodwill and competition on a free market would provide affordable, reliable and just protection.

Protection doesn’t only include one’s body, however. People want their property to be protected as well, and this includes entrepreneurs and their capital — their land, machinery, material, etc. In a free market, there would be no difference in services provided to individuals and to companies. A free market would provide protection of the means of production, and there is no freer market than an anarchist society. The only way to prevent businesses from protecting their capital is for a central authority to monopolize violence, and “protect” people and property selectively against their expressed wishes.

So-called anarcho-communists sometimes also require the abolition of money. This notion ignores the emergent nature of money. People have sought universally accepted media of exchange (money) for millennia because it lowers transaction costs. Butcher no longer need to exchange meat for bread with baker, but can accept something he knows he can exchange with a knife maker. Money is a naturally emergent phenomenon, and thus again, the only way to abolish it is to call for violent central authority to enforce its ban.

It is a cognitive dissonance to call for a society without central authority and at the same time without protection of private property including means of production and without money. Anarcho-communism is a contradiction in terms.

image source: NinjaMonkeyMedia @ Deviant Art: