≡ Menu

Question about the feasibility of anarcho/libertarianism

Email exchange:

Hey Stephan,

(Preface: I think I agree with you “in principle” on things anarchy/libertarian)

Quick question that I’d appreciate an answer to:
Setup: I’ve heard it said that the problem with minarchism is that any State will always turn into a big corrupt State.
The libertarian (read: anarchist) criticism of the state is not that it is big or corrupt. All states are too big and all states are “corrupt.” It’s not as if a small state is okay but a big one is bad. Even minarchists admit this: http://www.stephankinsella.com/2009/05/ayn-rand-endorses-big-government/
The explanation is that minarchism requires a certain percentage of the population to maintain a belief and conviction about minarchism (“you now have a Republic… if you can keep it”), and that this is just not possible in reality – at least not for very long – given human nature, which generally leans Leftist/Statist for various reasons.
That’s not my explanation. I think the state does rest on public consent, but this includes all types of states, even the mini-states favored by mini-statists. See http://www.stephankinsella.com/2010/02/swinkels-and-hoppe-on-the-tacit-support-of-the-state/
I don’t think Minarchy is stable at all. Any state that is “small” is going to grow. This is part of its nature. On this see Hoppe. The minarchists may hope and pray that such a dangerous beast that they establish, a minimal state, can be constrained from becoming larger, by a written constitution or by public opinion, but this is foolish. Paper constitutions don’t prevent tyranny, when the state itself can interpret its own limits. And public opinion doens’t matter–the logic of a state is to seize power. The populace, if it thinks a mini-state is justified, has no sound ideological basis to oppose its expansion. They are already confused. The idea that we can finally reach libertopia in the form of a mini-state, if the people finally undersatnd that a state is necessary but only a mini-state, is ridiculous.

[click to continue…]


David Kelley on the Necessity of Government

From a Facebook post:


In a classic article in 1974, Objectivist David Kelley set forth a concise argument for the minarchist view of the necessity of government (https://fee.org/articles/the-necessity-of-government/).

In this interview by minarchist Jan Helfeld, Kelley briefly discusses his views on the state — stating basically that we need a state because with multiple defense agencies, there might be war, because there might be disagreement. So, a state is justified, because it is necessary, and it is necessary, because the possibility of disagreement and conflict and war means it is necessary to have one single agency that has the ultimate, final say-so.

Of course, as I pointed out in an anarchy-vs-minarchy debate with Kelley’s colleague at PorcFest last year, which Kelley moderated (http://www.stephankinsella.com/…/kol183-stephan-kinsella-v…/), this would imply we need a one-world government — I’m sure Kelley recognizes this difficulty, which is probably why he asked Thomas to respond to this objection during our debate (of course, Thomas couldn’t answer this objection).

Another problem with this view is that there is no guarantee this minimal state would be *right* in case of a dispute with the smaller agencies it is able to suppress–mere “finality” is not a goal of libertarian justice; there would also need to be a guarantee that the “final” decisions of this one-world state are just, or, at least, more just than what its competitors might have decided. And of course such a guarantee is impossible–especially when this state has monopoly power and no competition….

In any case, at the very end of this video linked below, Kelley also points out that funding for a minimal state is a difficult issue. He notes that Ayn Rand also believed a minimal state was justified and necessary, but since she opposed aggression (what she called “the initiation of force”), and since taxation is obviously aggression–her view was that the state has to be funded voluntarily–i.e., taxation by the minimal state is impermissible.

Kelley says he disagrees with Rand on this — i.e., he seems to be in favor not only of the the minimal state, not only in favor of the state’s right to use violence to outlaw competing defense agencies, and apparently the state’s right to become the sole state in the world (so that it can have the “final say” and prevent war) — but it can also tax its … customers and force them to fund it. (And Helfeld says he agrees with Kelley.)


h/t Jack Criss

Upate: My previous “debate” with Helfeld on anarchy is here:http://www.stephankinsella.com/…/kol123-debate-with-jan-he…/


What Sparked Your Interest in Liberty? (FEE.org)

My short reminiscence, “What Sparked Your Interest in Liberty?,” was published last month at FEE.org (April 21, 2016). It augments an earlier piece, “How I Became A Libertarian,” LewRockwell.com (Dec. 18, 2002).1 Some related pieces:

  1. Re-published as “Being a Libertarian” in I Chose Liberty: Autobiographies of Contemporary Libertarianscompiled by Walter Block; Mises Institute 2010.  []

KOL211 | Corporations and the Corporate Form

Kinsella on Liberty Podcast, Episode 211.

My interview on the Wake Up Call podcast, Episode 44: Corporations and the Corporate Form.

From the shownotes page:

Episode Summary

Stephan Kinsella joins Adam Camac and Daniel Laguros to discuss corporations and the corporate form, common objections, and state interventions in the area.


Related Articles
1. In Defense of the Corporation by Stephan Kinsella (October 27, 2005)
2. Corporate Personhood, Limited Liability, and Double Taxation by Stephan Kinsella (October 18, 2011)

Books Mentioned
1. Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella
2. In Defense of the Corporation by Robert Hessen

Related Interview
1. KOL170: Tom Woods Show: Are Corporations Unlibertarian? (January 24, 2015)

Previous Appearance
24. The Nature of Property and Problems with Intellectual Property Laws with Stephan Kinsella (Wednesday, March 30, 2016)


Kevin Carson on Confiscating Property from the Rich

A few years back, I had a disagreement with left-libertarian Kevin Carson who implied, I thought, that anyone who is “rich”—say, who earns more than $250k a year—earns his money illegitimately, by being part of the state’s exploiting class, and it would be just to confiscate his wealth. See, for example, our interchange in the comments thread to his C4SS post “I’ve Never Seen a Poor Person Give Anyone a Job”.

In some of his arguments (such as in this interview) he appeals to Rothbard for support. As far as I can tell, he is referring to Rothbard’s “Confiscation and the Homestead Principle,” from Libertarian Forum, vol. 1.6, June 15, 1969. But of course Rothbard later implicitly repudiated these views, as can be seen in his 1974 article “Justice and Property Rights,” as I’ve explained in Justice and Property Rights: Rothbard on Scarcity, Property, Contracts.

Anyway, if there was any doubt about Carson’s views, which I inferred from his previous writing as made clear in our discussion of the $250k issue, there can be little doubt now: in a recent Facebook post, leftish libertarian Nick Manley posted this from an email interchange with Carson:

“A not 100 percent converted but sympathetic radcial leftist I know who respects your work and C4SS wants to know if you favor the kind of direct confiscation of state capitalist or capitalist property say Rothbard advocated in Confiscation and the Homestead principle. He seems to think you have a more Tuckerite :freed markets will solve it” attitude.”

Kevin Carson responded with:

“Oh, I’m totally in favor of confiscating it, at least if the actual occupation is carried out from below (e.g. by tenants, landless people or radical unions). No reason to wait for the market to take care of
it. Given the near 100% of Fortune 500 corporations that are only in the black because of economic rents or environmental cost externalization, I’d be happy to treat all those companies as proxies for the state capitalist sector just for starters.”

For more, see:


The “Out of Pocket” Idiom

Interesting facebook discussion about the meaning of the expression “out of pocket.”

The audio of the aforementioned wife’s response is here and embedded below:


You learn something every day. For years, maybe decades, I have been around people who use the phrase “out of pocket” to mean “I’m not available right now”.

I was unaware that this was a regional usage, or that there were other usages even. Urban dictionary says it means “paid from personal funds.” I had never heard this.

My yankee friends and I had a heated debate. They said it usually means something other than “unavailable” — like “I spent money” or something. Never heard it used like that.

So I asked my wife, who is usually a reliable indicator of how normal people talk and think, out of the blue: Hey, babe, have you heard people say “I’m out of pocket”? She pauses, suspecting a setup, but says, “yes.” I say “And what do you think that means, when they say ‘I am out of pocket’?”

She instantly says, “That they’re unavailable.”

Me: “Thank you.”




{ 1 comment }

Dr. Petr Beckmann: “Defending Nuclear Power”

Illuminating lecture by the late, great Petr Beckmann. For more on Beckmann, see my posts:


My memoriam for Tibor Machan, R.I.P., was published today at FEE.org: Remembering Tibor Machan, Libertarian Mentor and Friend: Reflections on a Giant.

A local copy is repixeled below.

Update: Jack Criss’s touching tribute is available here. And here is one by Pater Tenebraram.


One of my long-time friends, libertarian philosopher Tibor Machan, passed away last month, on Thursday, March 24, 2016. He was 77. Many other libertarians have already posted their memories of Tibor,1 Which is not surprising, given his significant, longtime, and tireless work for liberty and libertarian theory.

I became familiar with Tibor’s work while I was in college, especially Human Rights and Human Liberties (1975) and Individuals and Their Rights (1989), my two favorite of his works. I was also reading Reason at the time, the magazine Tibor co-founded. My friend Jack Criss, who also knew Tibor, commended him to me as well. I began to correspond with Tibor; he kindly responded to a great number of letters, later emails, over the years, often giving me useful reading suggestions and responding thoughtfully and gently to my philosophical and political questions and arguments. He published my first scholarly paper, “Estoppel: A New Justification for Individual Rights,” in the Fall 1992 issue of his journal Reason Papers. We remained and became closer friends over the next 24 years.   [click to continue…]

  1. E.g., these memories and obituaries by my friends Jeff TuckerChris SciabarraSheldon RichmanAeon Skoble; and David Kelley; see also those by Nick Gillespie at ReasonDavid Gordon, IES-EuropeDavid Henderson, Timothy Sandefur, Irfan Khawaja, and Nicolas Capaldi (from Tibor’s festschrift, more about which later). []
{ 1 comment }

Bad Behavior has blocked 1845 access attempts in the last 7 days.

© 2012-2016 StephanKinsella.com CC0 To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to material on this Site, unless indicated otherwise. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.

-- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright