Anarcho-Capitalists Don’t Give a Fuck About Animals?

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*2014 Update

 I have recently made the transition to anarchism. I still believe there would be several issues within such a society and still hold the view that animal rights would be one of them. That being said, government has not exactly addressed this issue (just look at the injustices committed against pets, wildlife and livestock daily), and keeping a government alive due to the imperfections of a better system (or non system) is not a solution. My hope remains that more anarchists talk about this issue and show that they are not apathetic to it.

Original Article

I'm still a Libertarian. I have not fully crossed over to anarcho-capitalism; I admit I am Boromir! This is because there are several things anarcho-capitalism has not provided a solution for. I unrstand that no philosophy is perfect, but with Libertyism there can be accountability when it comes to animal cruelty.

In an anarcho-capitalist society there is no tax funded police force or courts; everything is privatized. So the issue is what happens when someone tortures an animal? Well if the animal is someone's property – like a et cat – they can use the private system to sue the asshole who tortured their cat. The problem is that this is only possible because the cat is considered property, and the non-agression principle only protects the right to human life and property. These rights are not extended to animals. The reasoning is arbitrary: animals cannot argue for their rights or sign contracts (neither can fetuses, young children, the severely mentally disabled, but I'll save these concerns for another post). When it comes to animals, this distinction basically means "haha we're human and you're not." 

There seems to be an overall apathy for the well-being of animals in the anarcho-capitalist community. Stefan Molyneux (one of the prominent figures of modern anarcho-capitalist thought) has complete disregard for the fact that we share earth with millions of species. He recently did a speech on DDT at "Liberty Now" where he stated that wiping out the entire species of bald eagle is completely justifiable because we can save thousands of human lives. And I though freedom lovers aren't suppose to be Utilitarian? Isn't "for the greater good" something the State likes to say? 

The problem with many of anarcho-capitalist convictions is that they are absolute. The reality is, our world is much more complex than that. It is very difficult to draw a line between which living things have rights and which don't. I don't expect to find a solution to such a subjective moral question so I'll keep it simple. Torture is bad. Not being tortured is univesally preferable (thanks UPB). Why does this not extend to animals? They feel complex emotions and pain. If the answer is becausthey are not human, they cannot sign a contract or they cannot argue, I am not convinced. One of the things that does set humans apart is that we have empathy; let's use it. 

What I want is a system that will hold cruel individuals acountable. Our society still does not do this. We allow inhumane slaughterhouse and animal farming practices, cruel trade in exotic pets and animal parts, and people are rarely held accountable for torturing their own pets.

I am not in favor of brining animals to the same level as humans in the eye of law and justice. I'm not a vegetarian. I've killed animals with my own two hands for food in a hane, quick way. I acknowledge that there's a huge moral difference between killing a baby rabbit and murdering a human child. Why? I would argue because humans do function at a higher level than animals in many respects (now you can accuse me or making arbitrary distinctions). But this is besides the point. I am not interested in debating who belongs to the best species and why. I am trying to tackle the specific issue of animal torture and asking what solution would an anarcho-capitaist propose?

I love the idea of a free society and fully agree with its ideals when it comes to economics, but answer me this question in a non-arbitrary way: what happens to a man who cruelly tortures a stray cat, or a wild animal in a free society? Who can hold him responsible and how?  If your view is that this is a non-issue nd it needs not to be solved (a nice way of saying you don't give a fuck) then do not participate in this conversation.

The best answer I've gotten so far was "yes this is a hole in anarcho-capitalism and I have no idea how to approach it at this point." I agree, and look forard to a possible resolution.

Some helpful links for the undcided: 

The Superior Human?

Ghosts In Our Machine: Property or Sentient?

Not exactly the issue I'm addressing but worth a watch- Why Aren't Libertarians More Vegetarian?


15 Responses to “Anarcho-Capitalists Don’t Give a Fuck About Animals?”
  1. Zachary says:

    In an Anarco Capitalist society, animal abuse would be handled differently by different communities. One community might prohibit (non-forcfully of course) animal abuse and if any one is found to have done such a thing, then the community might shun him for it and not offer their services to him (food, road use, employability, etc.) whilst another community might not care. The Non-Aggression principle does not extend to animals in an Anarco Capitalist society due to the fact that they are seen as property (therefore having no moral natural rights, as owning something with moral natural rights would be slavery). I certenly do not like animal abuse, but then again some abuse, such as slaughter, is neccessary for humans to consume certain types of foods. Remember, most domestic animals would not be on this Earth today if Humans had not intended to eat or use them for studies. This all falls into which sub-moral catagory you wish to place yourself in, believing that animals deserve to be treated better or being indifferent to it. In the Anarcho Capitalist Society, you would simply move to a place were animal abuse was looked down apon, and any offenders would be shuned by you and all of the other residences. As for other communities who do not look down upon it, then you would simply have to live with that.

    • bravetheworld says:

      I think my point was missed. I am talking about torture not slaughter. People can easily practice humane slaughter. I understand the community principle, what I question is "we are a voluntary community and we like torturing animals so we will." Humans are covered under the non-aggression principle, but animals are still under mob rule. There needs to be some kind of extention of non-aggression to other living things without prohibiting humane killing like hunting and meat production. Another note, most industrialized meat production today is basically torture so this extension would ensure our meat is produced humanely.

      • Zachary says:

        If we extended the non-aggression principle to animals, then we would have to all be vegetarians, including the all animals. Also, you could not own pets or farmers could not own live-stock due to the use of slavery in either case. There is no in between for the non-aggression principle. You are either morally held to it, or you are not. So if animals are held the the same stantards, as far as the non-aggression principle goes, they would also have to extend that morality onto other animals and humans our selves. You see the problem with that? I just want you to think about a society that would actually not care or like the abuse of animals. I can only see perhapes local farming communities doing anything close to that, though not even close to being open about it. In an anarcho-capitalist system, things would be almost no different than they are now. I would even argue that there would be less animal abuse, or at least less reports on them, either way making you feel a little better. Although you will always question human behavours, that is something no system of government or anarchy can fix. We just have to find the best possible moral solutions to these problems. I honestly do not think that people will hurt or abuse animals more than they do now. It's either going to be the same or less, either way it will never stop considering we are only humans.

  2. Zachary says:

    Oh and one more thing, animals do not feel complex pains and emotions. They feel emotions and pain in the moment. Torturing an animal cannot, to the animals point of view, ever happen. You cannot threaten animals, they do not know the meaning of the word or what your pointing of sticks mean beyond the fact that they will hurt them. You cannot say if don't do this then I will hurt you to an animal, that would just be absurd. An animal will forget what you did to it, emotionally anyway, within minutes of you doing it to them.

    • Mark Joseph says:

      Dude, not to be insulting, but you seriously are a fucking moron. 

       "animals do not feel complex pains and emotions … An animal will forget what you did to it, emotionally anyway, within minutes of you doing it to them."

      Where the fuck are you getting this shit from? The problem with the Libertarian movement is too many damn bible thumpers. I can't imagine where else you could be getting this crock of shit. Animals can certainly remember abuse; there are countless studies on the long-term memory of animals. Here's on: "Evidence for large long-term memory capacities in baboons and pigeons and its implications for learning and the evolution of cognition."  Also, it's pretty easy to tell if a dog's been abused. 

      " humans will always abuse animals no matter how much technology we have. You are argueing for a lost cause…"

      Using that logic we should never do anything about any violece because it will always exist. I'm not sure what the an-cap solution to animal abuse is yet, but I know it's not animals don't remmeber pain, and people will always abuse animals, so don't worry bout' it.

      • a Texas libertarian says:


        "Dude, not to be insulting, but you seriously are a fucking moron. " – Gee it's a good thing you prefaced your argument with a disclaimer, or else that might have seemed a bit insulting (sarcasm). 

        "The problem with the Libertarian movement is too many damn bible thumpers. " – Yeah let's ostracize a large portion of what little of a following real libertarianism has, because you disagree with them on the premises of their arguments, even though they generally come to the same conclusions on most issues concerning freedom and property rights. Seems like a winning strategy (more sarcasm).

        "I'm not sure what the an-cap solution to animal abuse is yet, but I know it's not animals don't remmeber pain, and people will always abuse animals, so don't worry bout' it." – Most intelligent thing you said above. I am not sure what the solution is exactly either. I think the point Zachary was trying to make, however, was that animal abuse happens now, all the time, so anarcho-capitalism should not be given to the herculean task of finding the perfect solution to every problem, before it is accepted.

        Though I agree with your criticism of Zachary's particular argument that animals can't remember trauma, I don't think Zachary qualifies as a "fucking moron" simply because he is unaware of the latest research in animal sentience or perhaps has never had a pet. He seems like a reasonable and intelligent person to me, and I am very greatful people like him exist.

        By the way, using expletives every few words, doesn't help you make your point, especially when you direct them at others; it just makes you seem less intelligent and less capable of delivering a coherent argument.

        • Mark Joseph says:

          You're absolutley right. I saw red and went at Zach, and for that I apologize. I sounded like a "fucking moron" in that post. 




  3. Zachary says:

    Oops, forgot to add that with that in mind. I still think that torturing animals is comletly wrong. I would physically hurt someone, allthough knowing to be outside the n/a principle. I could not simply stand there and watch someone do that.

    • bravetheworld says:

      1. "animals do not feel complex pains and emotions" 100% wrong and disproven. Look it up. More and more countries are declaring certain species to be "non human people." India recently did this with dolphins. 

      A society that accepts animal cruelty and has no laws against it will have more crimes against animals. I know this is against most anarcho-capitalist thoughts but it's plainly true. Laws against animal abuse are not pointless like drugs laws. Look at countries that have 0 laws for animal rights: China, Japan etc. These countries are systematically wiping out entire species (tigers, whales, rhinos, etc.) They have high animal trafficking as well. You look at Canada…a Chinese guy killed a racoon with a shovel. Guess what? He went to jail because it was cruel. Canada has no issue with animal trafficking or severe abuse. Animal abuse is considered "petty crime" and petty crime actually significantly goes down when laws are in place. 


      2. I understand the EXTREME black and white nature of non-aggression and that is why it bothers me. I'd like a society where we can still hunt and eat meat as long as it's done humanely. Can we not have a principle of non-torture extended to animals? Why is this so difficult to do? It's a made up concept based on our bias preferences. 

      • Zachary says:

        Anyone can see that, as a by-product of human evolution, animals and plants are going to die or get hurt. It is a part of our evolutionary process, both for ritualistic means, eating habits, and technological advances. There will eventually be a time when humans no longer require animals to eat, for medicine, and can safely obtain resources without hurting any animals or possibly destroying any plants as well. We are quit a ways from that, however, humans will always abuse animals no matter how much technology we have. You are argueing for a lost cause, and what confuses me the most is this society that you invision that likes the use of animal abuse/cruelty. I cannot imagine any community or society that would do so, or at least ignore such open acts. Animal abuse/cruelty would be virtually the same as it is today, no one in their right mind would be open about such acts (unless you are a government who can silence any opposition), as they are today.Please tell me how you see a society that accepts animal cruelty? I stated before that there might be communities that do not look down upon it, but that is far from accepting it, which I hold firmly to be impossible. My main problem with animal abuse laws is the point where someone is accused and fined/jailed but was innocent all along. The possibility always exists, and I am never willing to trade security for liberty, or anyone else's liberty for that matter. If there is even a possibility that one innocent man can be hurt because of a group of men's judgment, then I am out.

        • bravetheworld says:

          "If there is even a possibility that one innocent man can be hurt because of a group of men's judgment, then I am out."

          This is still a possibility in anarcho-capitalist societies, although greatly reduced.
          Also, an animal can't falsely accuse someone of torturing it. This would have to be witnessed or be quite obvious so I don't really see innocent people being victimized over animal abuse laws as a big problem…

          I like your faith in humanity. But I'd like to point something out. How did child rapists find each other before the internet? Bad people find other bad people and group together. So yes, it is not farfetched that people who wish to exploit living things that have no birth given laws to protect them will group together. Slaughterhouses should have laws that prohibit inhume killing. Any anarcho-capitalist society that loves cheap meat will never implement such laws because it makes meat more expensive. But yeah I guess that's more important than the suffering of millions of livestock like we have now. If we're going boards a better system, I'd like it to be better in ways that don't benefit humans.

          The only convincing argument I've heard so far was that private protection systems in anarcho-capitalist societies would have clauses that protect animals against cruelty…or something of the sort. 

          Anyways, this is an argument with way too many assumptions from both of us, but I enjoyed it, thanks 🙂 

  4. chaser says:

    I'm a vegetarian an-cap and can't really offer a full answer, but not extending the non-aggression principle to every entity would be stupidity and ignorance on our side.

    I personally would integrate the notion of "ahimsa" (do no harm, into the NAP, but I know that would be too much for a lot of libertarians/anarchists. I believe this understanding will emerge and spread by itself as we evolve further in the future (it will become self-evident), just like at the moment more people are waking up to the obsoletness of statism.

    • a Texas libertarian says:

      The difficulty with the "do no harm" philosophy is that the definition of harm is subjective. Who's to say plants have no feelings? Perhaps they feel in a completely different way that we will discover in the future. We already know they communicate with each other and have a rudimentary sensory system (light, touch). Does the concept of "harm" have anything to do with pain at all?

      Is it any less immoral to kill something which cannot feel? For instance, if a man was in an accident and as a result, his nervous system no longer allowed him to feel pain, would this give those around him the freedom to murder him without reprisal? We know this situation would be wrong, but why if he wouldn't feel it? I believe it is wrong because the man has a natural right, at least among humans, to self ownership.


  5. thunder says:

    I tend to view the nap in the following terms. all creatures behave in a manner consistent with avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure. this is evident from the pain which accompanies biological needs not being met. at the same time all creatures consume, usually other creatures, in order to sustain and reproduce their form. from a moral standpoint, the nap is an effort to minimize suffering, and in my mind that extends to all creatures, not just human beings. btw, I'm also not 100% ancap. I generally identify as "without adjectives". I believe there's room for everyone in a free society, so long as they respect individual rights and apply them in a universal and uniform manner. $0.02

  6. a Texas libertarian says:

    The anarcho-capitalist society could handle animal abuse by the power of individual and collective property rights and voluntary association (or dissociation). 

    1.) Individual property rights over owned livestock would protect against non-owner abuse.

    2.) Collective property rights over dynamic wildlife resources, say red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico, can be protected from non-owner and owner abuse alike (for instance the collective owners might vote on rules of conduct while fishing, humane killing, etc.).

    3.) Voluntary association is a powerful tool, especially in a society where we have no excuses like "I have no choice because the government…" If a person is outed as animal abuser, even against his or her own animals, he or she may find it hard to make a living. They may get fired (since all companies sink or swim on public opinion in a free world), and potential employers may think twice about hiring this person unless they treat their animals better etc.

    I understand the apprehension in leaving this situation up to the whims of a voluntary society as outlined above, because I am an extreme lover of nature and animals. I think the wonderous diversity of animal and plant life on this planet is one of the most important things we as a species should endeavor to protect. This is exactly why I cannot advocate leaving this important task up to the government.

    The problems with assigning animals rights and applying the non-aggression principle to them are the following that I can think of:

    1.) The non-aggression principle excludes ANY use of coercion or violence unless in self defense. This means humane killing violates the NAP. If this were not true, then I could humanely kill my neighbor (human), and I would not be violating the NAP. Obviously humane murder would not be tolerated in a free society.

    2.) Which animals have rights and which don't? Should bugs have rights? If I squash a cockroach in my kitchen, should I turn myself in for murder? This is an admittedly over the top use of reductio ad absurdum, but the problem should be evident. Where do you draw the line between animals with rights and those without?

    3.) In a libertarian society, the law would have to be careful at all times to make sure the punishment for a crime does not exceed the crime itself, otherwise, the punishers may be held to account as well. This would be the case against aggressing upon a person for the crime of hurting an animal, for surely we can agree that humans are more important than animals.

    4.) If we are allowed to kill and eat animals or keep them against their will, whether wild or domesticated, then they do not have any rights whatsoever, for what right is worth anything unless it means protection against these offenses? So unless society decides every human should be vegetarian, then animals cannot have rights of their own. And if that were to happen, what happens then when someone brings up the arbitrary distinction between plants and animals? Should we concede that humans are unfit to exist at all, since we necessarily have to enslave or consume other living things in order to survive ourselves? 

    Anarcho capitalism is the best form of societal organization I have found, because by leaving the law to the voluntary interactions of market exchange, society can handle new circumstances in lightning fast realignments with consumer sentiments, and I believe this is the most effective and ethical way for us humans to govern ourselves and each other.

    Anarcho-capitalism is also the only form of anarchy that allows the other forms of anarchy to exist. It allows communism, socialism, syndicalism, racism, sexism, and all other 'isms, provided they are voluntary and not violating the rights of others.

    I hope this was helpful to someone.


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