I’ve referred several times to my own version of Anarchism, calling it Vigilantist Anarchism or Anarcho-Vigilantism. So here I’m going to elaborate on just what it is and how it differs from Anarcho-Capitalism.

Although the actions of an Anarcho-Vigilantist may at times closely resemble those of an Anarcho-Capitalist, the reasons behind them are very different. Vigilantist Anarchism says that people should be treated according to how they act, not how they treat others. In other words, there are victimless immoral acts (I don’t like the word crime because of its associated with the state) that should be punished – that’s the only real difference in terms of outcome, but the theory behind it goes deeper than that. Whereas Anarcho-Capitalism is all about respecting other people’s rights and goes hand-in-hand with deontologism, Anarcho-Vigilantism is all about following your own conscience and goes hand-in-hand with the virtue ethics of Protagonism. Rights are a misleading concept and the wrong way to think about morality; there are times when it is right to enforce your beliefs on someone else (I will be more specific below). At such times the actions of an Anarcho-Vigilantist might very closely resemble those of a government police officer, but always with one crucial difference, which is in how the two respond to conscientous resistance. If a government is trying to impose a law on someone and that person fights back due to disagreeing with the law, the government will respond with anger and likely try to punish the person more the longer they resist. The Anarcho-Vigilantist, however, will actually respond with admiration because they realize that the person resisting them is also following their conscience. Thus, while an Anarcho-Vigilantist will sometimes use aggressive force, they will never do so in an authoritarian way, and that is what sets me apart from a state.

So when would it be right to enforce your beliefs on someone else by using aggressive force? Well, consider this: your neighbor has found a magical artifact that will bring one dead person of the user’s choice back to life, and then will self-destruct. Your neighbor plans to bring back a family member with it. You have a better person in mind, however, one that is clearly worth more to the cause of liberty than your neighbor’s family member. As an Anarcho-Vigilantist you will try to take the artifact and use it to resurrect the more important person, but your neighbor did not know that person and doesn’t believe you about them, so you aren’t mad at them for resisting you – you actually encourage them to.

To give another scenario, I’m going to quote something from another post I made, The Numbers Argument For Anarchism, where I pointed out how two good people can disagree about what is right:
“For example, John thinks that abortion is wrong because he thinks fetuses are people and Sally thinks that abortion is okay because she doesn’t think fetuses are people (and she hasn’t realized the other reason why abortion is wrong). Both of these people are following their conscience by practicing their differing beliefs…”
Obviously ‘practicing their differing beliefs’ entails some conflict here: Sally might try to get an abortion and John, believing that’s murder, would try to stop her if he’s an Anarcho-Vigilantist, but of course without being mad at her for it.

So that’s how Vigilantist Anarchism works. Before I end this post I just want to give a couple of reasons to favor it over Anarcho-Capitalism:

  1. It’s harder. In rights-based Anarcho-Capitalism, you have basically no positive duties. All you have to do is not aggress and you’re fine. In Anarcho-Vigilantism you have positive duties left and right to interfere with other people’s affairs if you think they’re being handled immorally.
  2. The basic pitch of Vigilantist Anarchism seems to be “always follow your beliefs, no matter what” whereas the pitch of Anarcho-Capitalism seems to be “follow your beliefs, except when other people’s rights are concerned”. So Vigilantist Anarchism is more parsimonious philosophically.