On Facebook, a left-anarchist friend wrote:
To the archists out there. What is your philosophical justification for hierarchy such as the hierarchy of a state, corporation, church, or any social organization based upon a chain of command?
This engendered much discussion. My own reply was:
“To the archists out there. What is your philosophical justification for hierarchy such as the hierarchy of a state, corporation, church, or any social organization based upon a chain of command”
This use of “hierarchy” and “command” to cover both coercive (the state) and voluntary, non-coercive institutions (church, family, corporation) is equivocation. We libertarians do not oppose hierarchy or command or authority in general, but only in the context of aggression. That is why we are libertarians, that is what it means to be a libertarian: to consistently and systematically oppose aggression of all types, both private (crime) and institutionalized (the state), on principled grounds.
In short, libertarians are just those people who seek justification for interpersonal violence, and who realize that only force in response to aggression can be justified, but that the initiation of force (aggression) cannot be justified. In fact I would define civilized man as he-who-justifies–and the libertarian as he who is most consistent and economically literate about it. All you need is a desire for justice, empathy for others, and a bit of economic literacy–and a desire for truth and honesty and consistency. Then you will have to conclude the anarcho-libertarian ethic is the only one that is possibly justifiable.
The problem with left-libertarians is that they are weak on the economic literacy part, due to flirtations with hoary marxoid ideas of labor theory of value, alienation, all this nonsense. This distorts their analysis and makes them willing to condemn actions that are strictly speaking not aggressive, and to conflate unalike things such as hierarchy-in-a-firm with hierarchy-with-a-state. It makes you focus on non-essential aspects of the state: what is wrong with the state is not that it wields authority or even that it is hierarchical (though its hierarchical nature combined with its aggression makes it worse than a private criminal–it makes it systematic and institutionalized, so a bigger criminal threat).
The reason “hierarchy” in private institutions is “justified” is simply that it does not need to be justified. Only the use of interpersonal violence needs to be justified. If I decide to eat a brownie at midnight, on my own home, my own brownie, I don’t need to justify this action, since by this action I am not infringing on others’ property rights. Likewise with voluntary/private/contractual hierarchies.
?”Hierarchy is hierarchy my friend.”
yes, and libertarians are not against hiearchy.
YOu might as well say “institutions are institutions”–yes we oppose one institution, the state, but not others.
” A state is just a capitalist corporation and a feudalistic landlord that consists of the military, police, courts, prisons, and the board of directors (i.e. the political class).”
Nonsense. Left-libertarianism is too allied with hoary confusions.
“Rothbardians are just individuals who want justified states according to Lockean standards. Rothbardians at best are radical minarchists (which is fine if you value it).”
you don’t know what you are talking about.
“Stephan, your entire argument is based on the implication that hierarchy doesn’t need to be justified. You may assert this all you want, but it doesn’t transfer the burden of proof back into our court, especially with the analogy you made to try to justify that claim. How is eating a brownie in your own home — an act that does not involve any form of interpersonal relationship (and therefore no contract) in which an individual asserts his/her dominance over their own PERSONAL property — in any way comparable to the employer-employee relationship which is interpersonal and deals with PRIVATE property which, by definition, makes it coercive?…”
“dominance”? Another equivocation. If it’s voluntary, it’s not bad-domination, bad-authority.
“Authoritarianism is any system that values authority and hierarchy. It can be positive like you said.” Any system values hiearchy and authority; it’s not a system otherwise.