Market anarchism is an argument for a more free society, one in which power is divided to the greatest possible extent and the provision of important services such as defense is not monopolized, but left to the peaceful push and pull of voluntary trade and cooperation. Monopolies, insofar as they are exempt from competitive pressures, lend themselves to abuses of power like the contemptible crime that took Michael Brown’s young life. Brown’s murder is not an aberration susceptible to remedy through better police training. It is rather a predictable symptom of the underlying disease that is the United States’ authoritarian police state, the treatment of which is to eliminate professional policing as a coercive monopoly and thus to end the impunity that officers currently enjoy.
Lobby groups in Washington get special-interest legislation passed that transfers wealth away from disorganized voters, taxpayers, and future generations. These transfers dwarf criminal activity in the economy. The problem is that the public purse is a commons that invites a feeding frenzy by organized lobbies. The result is collective irresponsibility manifested by federal budget deficits for 53 out of the past 60 years.
Is there really someone who, searching for a group of wise and sensitive persons to regulate him for his own good, would choose that group of people that constitute the membership of both houses of Congress?
The most famous expression of this third solution may be found in Mutual Aid, published in 1902 by the Russian revolutionary anarchist Petr Kropotkin. (We must shed the old stereotype of anarchists as bearded bomb throwers furtively stalking about city streets at night. Kropotkin was a genial man, almost saintly according to some, who promoted a vision of small communities setting their own standards by consensus for the benefit of all, thereby eliminating the need for most functions of a central government.) Kropotkin, a Russian nobleman, lived in English exile for political reasons. He wrote Mutual Aid (in English) as a direct response to the essay of Huxley quoted above, “The Struggle for Existence in Human Society,” published in The Nineteenth Century, in February 1888. Kropotkin responded to Huxley with a series of articles, also printed in The Nineteenth Century and eventually collected together as the book Mutual Aid.