In the preceding chapters I have described a particular kind of anarcho-capitalist society, complete with private rights enforcement agencies, private arbitration agencies, and perhaps private defense against Russia. That is certainly not the only kind of anarchist, or even anarcho-capitalist, society that could exist. In the first section of this book I discussed the history of existing capitalist societies. But those are by no means the only kinds of societies that could exist under institutions of private property; indeed, many of their institutions would have been impossible without the active support of government.
Libertarian anarchy is only a very sketchy framework, a framework based on the idea of individual property rights, the right to one’s own body, to what one produces oneself, and to what others voluntarily give one. Within that framework there are many possible ways for people to associate. Goods might be produced by giant, hierarchical corporations, like those that now exist. I hope not; it does not strike me as either an attractive way for people to live or an efficient way of producing goods. But other people might disagree; if so, in a free society they would be free to organize themselves into such corporations.
Goods might be produced by communes, group families, inside which property was held in common. That also does not seem to me to be a very attractive form of life. I would not join one, but I would have no right to prevent others from doing so.
My own preference is for the sort of economic institutions which have been named, I think by Robert LeFevre, agoric. Under agoric institutions almost everyone is self-employed. Instead of corporations there are large groups of entrepreneurs related by trade rather than authority. Each sells not his time but what his time produces. As a freelance writer (one of my professions), I am part of an agoric economic order.
I have described one particular set of anarcho-capitalist institutions not because I am certain that they are the ones that will evolve if our government is slowly reduced to nothing but in order to show that it is at least possible for voluntary institutions to replace government in its most essential functions. The actual arrangements by which the market provides an economic good, be it food or police protection, are the product of the ingenuity of all the entrepreneurs producing that good. It would be foolish for me to predict with any confidence what will turn out to be the cheapest and most satisfactory ways of producing the services now produced by government.
Even so, I am at least one step ahead of the Marxists, who predict the eventual withering away of the state but offer no real description, tentative or otherwise, of what a stateless society might be like.