Upon immediate reflection of the term anarcho-capitalism, a explanation of some imagined or idealized system of governance, I find myself recoiling at the obvious oxymoron that is the opposed terms: anarchy and capitalism. At first glance, this statement seems to be a joke, a non-sequitur, something which conveys nothing but empty speech acts or textual utterances.

With further reflection, and after my discovery that this is an ideology that some people do, in fact, follow, I am forced to break the statement down. By using Derrida’s deconstruction and Saussure’s semiotics/linguistics I will explore both terms and attempt to reconcile their conflicting imperatives.

To begin with the first term, “anarchy” usually defined as “Absence of government; a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder,[1]” and focusing on the overreaching (reductive, not negative) principal of lack of power in both state and political matters. Following this line of reasoning, I can deduce that this term is used to describe a state of dis-order, not necessarily chaos, but something one does not control, or something one cannot control. To be in a state of anarchy is to be outside the realm of control.

Moving onto the second term “capitalism” we find the source of my initial denial of the oxymoronic statement “anarcho-capitalism.” To illustrate, the term capitalism is defined as “The possession of capital or wealth; an economic system in which private capital or wealth is used in the production or distribution of goods and prices are determined mainly in a free market; the dominance of private owners of capital and of production for profit.[2]” Which doesn’t seem, upon first read, to be incompatible with the concept of anarchy, but further examination is demanded.

Firstly, we must focus on the word “system” as it relates to capitalism, or more specifically the capital system one uses to drive trade. Furthermore, if the system of governance is anarchy, who is to protect and control the money – the system of currency, not necessarily dollars, and control the distribution of wealth in the anarcho-capitalist system? If there is no system at all in place – regarding anything, not only currency – how is a capital establishment to work?

In summary, while the terms anarchy and capitalism are not directly contradictory, they are ideologically opposed, a binary opposition of states of being within a system of governance, or non-governance in the state of anarchy. This contradiction of terms cannot be reduced or determined into any singular method of expression, there is no possible way for a system of anarcho-capitalism to exist. Finally, due to the need for some capital on which capitalism to exist as an ideology, anarchy – the lack of any system – makes capitalism incompatible with its base premise.  Anarcho-capitalism is a silly ideological oxymoron, or a metaphor of incompatable terms.

Note: I cut this short because, frankly, I have more important things to do.

[1] Source: http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/view/Entry/7118?redirectedFrom=anarchy#eid

[2] Source: http://www.oed.com.ezproxy.lib.ucalgary.ca/view/Entry/27454?rskey=tCqe5n&result=2&isAdvanced=false#eid