This question was proposed on November 29, 2003, and added to the FAQ on December 18, 2003.
There exists a particular dilemma that outlines the possibility for the creation of a de facto, private state in a laissez-faire capitalist society. Rather than dealing with the specific issue of private property, which is a state institution, the following scenario demonstrates that, even if private property were a legitimate institution, states could easily develop in an anti-state capitalist society.
Group A, a relatively small group of people, lives in a society operating under stateless liberalism, Society X. Over the years, or, perhaps, the generations, Group A amasses a great deal of wealth in its endeavours. With this wealth, it employs a well-trained, well-armed, and well-paid militia known as Security Force A. Then, in a bid to increase profits, Group A decides to purchase the majority of land in Society X at a reasonable price from the majority of landowners in Society X, who agree to either stay on the land as tenants or purchase new land elsewhere. Group A coaxes many of the landowners to stay, however, with the promise of the protection of Security Force A, which is sworn to uphold the rights of the citizens of Society X as outlined in an agreement known as Agreement X between Group A and and a delegation of people from Society X. In addition, Group A offers to provide limited health insurance benefits and education to some of the citizens of Society X. With such an enticing bargain - a good price for their land, the promise of security and peace, health insurance, and subsidized education - many of the landowners of Society X who sold their land decide to stay.
Since Group A is the new landowner, and the previous landowners of Society X are now tenants, Group A decides to charge a reasonable rent on their newly-acquired land. In face of their newfound wealth and benefits, the previous landowners of Society X do not mind. After all, rent is rent, and Group A now legitimately owns the land. Those who refuse or are unable to pay the rent are expelled from their land, put in debtor's prison, or forced to restitute the cost with the ceding of other personal possessions to Group A - whatever value fits their society as outlined in Agreement X. Any tenant that resists with force is met with the greater force of Security Force A. This way, Group A is able to make sure that its rights to its own property are maintained and respected.
The following questions must be considered with regard to the scenario:
1. How is Group A not a state?
When these questions were posed to a self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist after considering the scenario, they were answered as follows:
Group A is not a state because Group B (the landowners of Society X who sold their property) consented to transfer ownership of the land to Group A. The previous landowners of Society X (Group B) are not the subjects of Group A because they not only consented to the sale, but are free to leave the land which they do not own. The rent is not a tax because the rent is a consensual exchange of money for the rights to use a plot of land that the tenant no longer owns. The scenario is absolutely justified under the tenets of stateless liberalism.
To which an anarchist might respond:
If consent is the sole aspect that makes the scenario legitimate for these statists-by-any-other-name, then they have a real problem. For example, whatever land the U.S. government stole, it did so a long time ago, before any of us were around to "consent" or not. So for us, being born into this society ruled by Group A is identical to being born into a state.
Of course, maybe the caps don't mind that. But seeing as to how nearly all of them accept a "statute of limitations" on property restitution after a crime (see for example their answers on slavery restitution, or on returning land to the ancestors of the Native Americans who were killed for it) has been committed if all the original claimants are dead, or a great deal of time has passed, or the restitution is overly complicated. Given that, they have no justification to object to most of the states in the world since the crimes of these states are generally even further in the past, all of the claimants and aggressors are dead, and restitution would be far more complicated.
I never consented to the sale of any of the resources which corporations around the world used to build their empires, but caps don't believe it would be legitimate for me to reject them as they reject the state. They didn't consent to the sale of any of the land to various governments in the past, but they still feel themselves legitimated in resisting them. The double standard couldn't be more obvious. The second claim is even more strange, as a large number of states allow their citizens to leave voluntarily. Unless this individual wants to claim that they endorse any state which has reached its limitation in just property restitution and allows people to leave its borders (this would include the majority of states in the world today by the standards of most caps themselves), then their critique is insincere.
"Consent" in this case is about as weak as it is for taxes. I "consent" to pay rent because the alternative is to be (in the short term) left exposed to the elements due to the fact that all the land and resources around me are kept from my use by way of violence and violent threat. Thus, it is the threat I receive from other owners than compels my consent. I "consent" to be taxed due to the fact that the state threatens me if I do not, my reason for consent is the same in both cases, in both cases I am threatened by the social system (i.e. individuals within it acting in what is perceived to be a legitimate fashion by most involved) into providing this "consent."