Jesus’ Command to be Anarcho-Capitalists

Our word “anarchism” comes from two Greek words meaning “no rule,” where “rule” is usually defined as “the State” or a political rather than market system of social organization.[1] In Mark 10:42-45 Jesus commands His disciples to be “an-archists”:

  1. But Jesus called them to Him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.
  2. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
  3. And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
  4. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

The English phrase “to rule” in verse 42 is the Greek archein, from which our word “anarchism” is derived. For Jesus to say we are not to become archists is the functional equivalent of a command to be “anarchists,” or as we would put it, “anarcho-capitalists.”

Pure anarchism is an impossibility. “Thou shalt not be an archist” is the law of an archist, even if it is only self-imposed law. There is always law and a source of law. Some who call themselves “anarchists” say they believe in no law at all. From a Christian perspective, this is an impossibility. In a group of 50 such “anarchists” there will be 50 law-makers and (at least) 50 codes of law. Every such “anarchist” is really just a nascent archist.

When everyone is his own god, his own law, you have multi-archy, or poly-archy.
     You may have chaos.
     You may have terror.
But you do not have the absence of archism, which is what “anarchy” literally means.

A terrorist seeks to impose his law on those around him. He is not a true “anarchist.”

Anarchy” is best defined not as the absence of law, much less as chaos and terrorism, but simply as the absence of a “State,” a “political” system, or a “civil government” (leaving as an open question whether this would lead to chaos or to greater efficiency and order). 

From a Christian perspective, “anarchy”—when defined as violence or as the absence of legal sovereignty—is not even a moral option. Obviously, Jesus Christ is the Christian’s “Archist,” (Colossians 1:18; cf. Acts 3:15; 5:31; Hebrews 2:10; 12:2; Revelation 1:5) and His Word is our “Archy” (He is the Word; John 1:1; I John 1:1; Revelation 19:13; cf. also Hebrews 3:14; 5:12).

When most people hear the word “anarchist” they think of a lawless bomb-throwing bearded assassin. According to Jesus, the opposite of an “archist” is a “servant,” not this caricature of an “anarchist.” Assassination and lawlessness are the antithesis of a Theonomic servant, and therefore the antithesis of an anarcho-capitalist as defined in our thesis.

In fact, opposition to violence is at the heart of “anarcho-capitalism.” Socialism depends on the coercive and violent imposition of political policy upon the free market. The anarcho-capitalist opposes all infringements of man’s unalienable rights to life, liberty and property, and is unwilling to excuse any initiation of force, even by “the powers that be.”

If Christians followed Jesus’ command to be servants, and Paul’s command (Romans 12) to eschew vengeance, the State would not come into being.


[1] The State chooses to define itself as the preserver of order, therefore anyone who opposes the State must be a source of disorder and chaos. “Anarcho-Theocracy” is a vision of profound order, lawfulness and harmony. It is a functionally organized society, not a politically organized one. A well-governed society does not require “the government.” (See Wendy McElroy, Defining State and Society, The Freeman, Vol. 48, No. 4, pp.223-227 (April, 1998).