During the protests that accompanied the swearing in of Donald J. Trump, a great deal of violence and destruction was done in the name of anarchy. While the term anarchy has its roots in Greek and medieval Latin (“lack of a leader, the state of people without a government“), its use has evolved since it first appeared in English during the 16th century. By the end of the 19th century, the term became synonymous with the violent overthrow of capitalist institutions and governments.
Within the ranks of those who still consider themselves anarchists remains some faction that clings to an anti-capitalist sentiment. In short, they seek a world with neither capitalism nor rulers. These can generally be referred to as anarcho-communists. In the tradition of Marxism, anarcho-communists believe that all property is owned in common.
Property rights exist for a reason: humans inhabit a world of scarcity. Without property rights, there are no clear lines of ownership for scarce resources. Lacking clear ownership, conflicts over scarce resources will become more likely. In the world sought by anarcho-communists, where no private property exists, there are no guiding principles through which use of scarce resources can be known in advance. If everyone owns everything, all people possess an equal claim for the same property at the same time.
For example, if a person harvests fruit from a tree, that person can’t claim ownership of the fruit in an anarcho-communist society. Therefore, individuals have no incentive to harvest fruit since the results of their labor can never be claimed as their own. In such an environment, shortages and conflict over scarce resources will more readily result. Since anarcho-communists oppose the existence of rulers, there would remain no method for resolving such conflicts. Such a society could not long survive.
On the opposite side of the anarchy spectrum are those opposed to government but respectful of private property and individual rights. These can be referred to as anarcho-capitalists. In a world of anarcho-capitalism, there are clear rules of ownership regarding private property. While such rules would not eliminate conflict over scarce resources, they would ensure that all parties understood moral claims to property. Under such a system, there would remain no need for rulers. Additionally, the existence of private property creates an incentive to work: the results of a person’s labor would always be claimed as their own.
When we consider the protests held during the inauguration, it should be clear that anyone who claimed to be an anarchist while engaging in violence and the destruction of property would certainly fall into the anarcho-communist category. Anarcho-capitalists recognize the Non-Aggression Principle as well as the sanctity of property rights.