Anna Karenina Meets Anarcho-Capitalism

Column by Lawrence M. Ludlow.

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The first line of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina reads as follows:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

How about this adaptation?

“In their unwavering respect for humanity, voluntaryists are all alike;
every advocate of coercive governance is irrational in his or her own way.”


We libertarians, voluntaryists, and anarcho-capitalists are consistent in adhering to the “scientific method” in approaching both ethics and our relationships to our fellow human beings as ends-in-themselves, not means to the ends of others. Our ethical system holds water in all places, times, and under all circumstances—like any other scientific law worthy of that designation. Consequently, we abide by the Non-Aggression Axiom and Self-Ownership Principle. They hold true in all places, at all times, and under all circumstances. As Murray Rothbard demonstrated in For a New Liberty and again in The Ethics of Liberty and as Hans-Hermann-Hoppe also showed in Democracy: The God that Failed, the same cannot be said of the competing ethical systems.

In contrast, every statist and advocate of coercion by government makes exceptions to the principle of honoring human beings – always to obtain something that “justifies the means”—whether it is roads, today’s dinner, school, medical care, a house, a sense of validation, national pride, a phone, a laptop, or pre-emptive war and taxes based on fears conjured up by projecting their own aggressive and greedy impulses into the minds and hearts of others. Their desire is always some object that trumps individual inviolability and contradicts the scientific laws of ethics. The “end” sought changes with the person, but that is what they value more than the inviolability of others. They always fail to reach their ends, but humankind always suffers their bloody-minded “means,” which is all they have ever bestowed on the world—all they can bestow on the world. Each employs fascism on behalf of a different goal, and the world groans under a multitude of fascisms.

NOTE: I use the term “fascism” not in a historical sense but in the etymological sense, referring to the Latin term, fascis, the bundle of sticks that hides an axe as a symbol of naked brute coercive force.

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Lawrence M. Ludlow's picture
Columns on STR: 37

Lawrence Ludlow is a freelance writer living in San Diego.