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Learn Anarcho-Capitalism Online

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Tags EducationFree Markets

07/24/2012Robert P. Murphy

Just about everyone is drawn to the libertarian respect for property rights. Yet most people draw back from fully embracing property rights and taking libertarianism to its fulfillment in "anarcho-capitalism" or free-market anarchy. "Sure," the cynics say, "it would be great to live in a society without the government and taxes, but who would write the laws? Who would protect it from foreign invasion?"

We will provide detailed answers to these and other questions in my online class, Anarcho-Capitalism. It is a six-week course, starting on August 1, with summer pricing of only $59. After taking this class, you will realize that the Founders who called government a "necessary evil" were only half right.

The Scope of the Class

The weekly topics are

  1. Private Law I,
  2. Private Law II,
  3. Private Defense,
  4. Common Objections,
  5. Historical Applications, and
  6. How We Get There.

In the first three weeks, we'll sketch an outline of how a truly free society — with no agency holding the power to tax or monopolize any type of service — could codify and defend property rights, and how it could defend itself from foreign conquest. (Click on the image to the right for the course syllabus.) Naturally we can't say exactly what a free society would look like — libertarians don't have the hubris of central planners. Even so, we can explain how market forces would lead to a much more peaceful and prosperous society than one plagued by a parasitical and violent state.

In the fourth week, we will deal with common objections to the mechanisms we had earlier described, including "Wouldn't the mafia take over?" "The biggest defense agency would turn into a de facto state!" "Why couldn't a convict appeal his case indefinitely?" and so on.

In the fifth week, we will discuss several historical episodes that illustrate the power of voluntary communities to solve conflicts in a relatively peaceful manner. We will see that not just in theory, but in practice, you don't help a group of people by anointing a small fraction of them "the authorities" who get all the guns and make all the rules.

Finally, in the sixth week we tackle what may be the toughest challenge of all: after seeing the elegance and feasibility of a society with no institutionalized coercion, people want to know, "How can we make this a reality?" Relying on insights from Étienne de la Boétie, Murray Rothbard, and even Gandhi, we will explore various possibilities.

The Structure of the Class

The live video lecture will be on Wednesday nights. (All video events will be recorded in case you have a scheduling conflict.) On a typical night I will provide a prepared lecture from 6:30 PM ET until 7:45. The remaining 15 minutes will be devoted to live Q&A (with any leftover questions answered in written form in the online forum).

In addition to the main lecture on Wednesday, on Saturday I will hold "office hours" at various times of day, to cater to different students. This is an optional block of time where I will be on call to provide live video answers to the questions posed by students who want to tune in. To repeat, this is optional, meaning it is not necessary to attend the "office-hours" Saturday sessions in order to do well on the quizzes or final exam.

Each week I will assign 1–2 hours of readings to accompany the lecture. I will also provide optional readings for advanced students who want to push the analysis deeper than the introductory level that we will provide for newcomers.

For those who want to receive an official grade, there will be a multiple-choice quiz every week, as well as a final exam. Of course, students who merely want to watch the lectures can audit the course without having to take any tests.


The vision of a truly free society, in which no one could legally violate the property rights of anyone, is one of the most exciting topics in libertarian analysis. (Read my essay "But Wouldn't Warlords Take Over?" for a quick taste of the issues involved.) If you want to explore anarcho-capitalism further, I encourage you to join us for the first class on August 1.

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