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What Libertarianism Is

“What Libertarianism Is” (PDF) in Hülsmann & Kinsella, eds., Property, Freedom, and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe (Mises Institute, 2009); adapted as “What Libertarianism Is,” Mises Daily (August 21, 2009), and also as “What Libertarianism Is,” LewRockwell.com (Aug. 24, 2009) (audio). Also translated into several other languages.

 

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Comments (133)

  • Silas Barta
  • Does libertarianism support intellectual property rights, such as the right to emit the color red, or other electromagnetic frequencies?
  • Published: August 21, 2009 10:07 AM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Silas! What an unexpected surprise! Re your question, let me just say for now, that libertarianism does support the right to be a gadfly.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 10:20 AM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Silas,The big argument of libertarians regarding intellectual property is that intellectual property rights infringes upon the usage of private property.

    You own a computer, an ipod. Intellectual property could infringe on your rights to use your private computer and ipod as you see fit.

    And also, the usage of intellectual creation by others does not rob the creator from his already owned private property. So libertarians don’t see how downloading music is in any way an act of “theft” against the original creator. Since there is no capital taken away from the creator.

    The fact that it takes a central authority, a government, to enforce intellectual property rights is also a factor that is seen as non natural and a distorsion of what property should be.

    Intellectual property is in fact behavior control and I don’t see where the “property” is in all of that. How can you claim to “own” information when that information is freely flowing and duplicating without your control ?

  • Published: August 21, 2009 10:38 AM

  • Magnus
  • Hey, you cited Professor Yiannopoulos! He, along with others like Shael Herman, was one of the reasons I actually enjoyed law school some of the time, despite hating the actual practice of law with a purple passion.Geaux Green Wave!
  • Published: August 21, 2009 10:49 AM

  • Silas Barta
  • 2nd_Amendment: So that would be a yes or no on EM spectrum rights?
  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:11 AM

  • Brad
  • In an anarchic reality, at what time does the process of a centralized system of titling occur? I would assume that any contracting from some point onward would only be as firm as the original titlee’s rights were. So when is the magic starting point in a future anarchic situation? Has it already occured? Or is it yet to occur because we’ve never had a true free market or anarchic reality so what is possessed by people now is as a result of massive misallocations, largely through force. Since the assumption, as I see it, is that we are supposed to move away from some lesser form to a higher form of human existence, and that we recognize that the past is imperfect, we start from where we are at and move forward with perfect property rights, inward and outward. So what of the people who have been consistently abused and exploited by thugs so that they possess nothing at this “starting line”? Is there such a population?I’m, by and large, being a devil’s advocate because I agree largely with the article and am a right libertarian (property right recognizer). But I also recognize that most people who are right libertarian tend to be from the mid-middle class on up (with the exception of “old money” which tend to have more than a tad of the noblese oblige about them combined with the arrogance to control others and so have little or no libertarian inclinations). Those of lower economic rungs, if they put any thought to it at all, would tend to be left (non-property rights) libertarian because they are left much shorter on property to begin with.

    If we are to make a relatively sudden switch to a property right based, anarchic reality, how do we perceive and balance the inherent inequties in place from prior enforcements of non-property right based Statism? Is there to be a recognition that there should be some sizeable desire to make voluntary redistributions to others that we individually deem to have been short changed (clearly keeping in mind that it is not a blind handout – finding method to make transfers with valuable quid pro quo – giving to solid people to do solid things with)? I don’t seem to think that if the musical chairs that we have had, as far as economic policy, has the music cut off and where ever you are at is where you are at is going to go over well.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:23 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • I’m confused: how does the physical emission of electromagnetic frequencies constitute intellectual property? That’s like saying a vinyl record is IP. Wouldn’t IP have to be related to the information transmitted, not the transmission itself? Just as what’s important for IP isn’t the vinyl record, but what’s recorded on the vinyl record?
  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:28 AM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Silas,”2nd_Amendment: So that would be a yes or no on EM spectrum rights?”

    Answer: NO

    I was referring to content. You are referring to the carrier of those contents.

    In general, libertarians would acknowledge ownership of the transmitter but would not be in favor of any claims in ownership of EM spectrum.

    Some would argue a homestead, first use first right approach, others would disagree.

    But what if one would want to transmitt in red like you said or worse in gamma or x-rays, then this transmission would infringe on the physical integrity and private properties of others because those EM can be detrimental to ones enjoyment of his property (red) or his health (gamma, x-ray).

    You own the transmitter, you own the receiver but you don’t own the frequency.

    Therefore, you cannot deprive others from using the frequency because you don’t own it. However you can use multiplexing and encoding-decoding technologies to discern your communication from other’s in the same frequency.

    Digital technologies enable us to share multiple communications over the same carrier up to a certain point.

    But eventually communications would not be possible because the EM would be saturated and unusable, then it would be up to different property owners to use different technologies to communicate and circumvent this chaos.

    But I would argue that red, x-ray an gamma could only be allowed on the private property of someone and he should be forbidden to transmit such detrimental EM spectrum outside of his property.

    So anything under visible spectrum can be broad cast, anything visible or over visible can only be cast inside the primises of the private property owner.

    As long as you cast your red inside your own property or have the agreement of other property owners to cast it on theirs, you cannot broad cast red.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:29 AM

  • SweetLiberty
  • The article drops the “all libertarians are anarchists” bomb at the end, which I believe requires further evaluation. In the case that anarchists believe the government should be abolished as unnecessary, then I beg to differ. For whatever you call the collective will of all people within a society that has the power to judge and enforce the laws of that society, and let us agree here to call this enforcing agent government, there will be a necessary role of this entity to infringe on the rights of those who, as first aggressor, infringe on the rights of others. This is law and order, without which we will devolve into feudal might-makes-right fiefdoms.This brings up the second, more dangerous definition of anarchist, which is someone who seeks to violently overthrow the government and behaves criminally. Timothy McVeigh comes to mind. When you equate libertarians to anarchists, you bring up these lawless connotations and place yourself on a fringe which will never be granted respect by the average citizen.

    An anarchistic society where there is no need for law enforcement because everyone recognizes and respects everyone else’s property rights is just as naïve as the socialists’ utopia where everyone works equally hard for their neighbor as they do for themselves. Would the consistent libertarian relinquish his home and property to the original Native American claimants? Do animals have rights to property within a territory they’ve so claimed, or just humans? For what ultimately is a property right, but a conscience entity’s claim on a collection of molecules? Does the level of intelligence truly factor in? If so, does a comatose individual have less claim to his person and property than a does a coyote to his territory? And who is to say what these definitions of property rights are except the collective consensus of men? Given this, is it so egregious that that same consensus award property rights to ideas made tangible through invention, which is merely consciousness exercising its will over matter, the same as all other property rights.

    Let us not be so quick to ally ourselves with anarchy and dismiss intellectual property rights out of hand. For whenever two or more individuals overlap in space and time and those individuals are in conflict, common laws will necessarily arise which must, however tactfully, infringe upon the root desires of at least one party. For this a collective government will intervene as arbiter, imposing the laws of the land. And even though we may not all agree as to which of the laws is just or unjust, failure to abide and change these laws through peaceful persuasion will result in a constant state revolution. I am a libertarian, but I am NOT an anarchist!

  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:43 AM

  • Silas Barta
  • @Michael_A._Clem: I guess you missed the several discussions where I demonstrated (and Stephan_Kinsella basically accepted) the equivalence of IP and EM spectrum rights, and no, the IP rights don’t map to the transmission *content* but the right to emit those waves. Start here.When you claim ownership of a “frequency band”, you are asserting the exclusive right to mold property according to a certain design — specifically, the design that emits that frequency of the EM spectrum. Therefore, just like IP, you are telling people what they can do with THEIR transmitters, which is THEIR property. Because EM spectrum rights are monopolies on patterns, they are just like IP. Case close. Pick both or neither.

    @2nd_Amendment: Yes, there are ways to get more information through a given frequency band, but it doesn’t have infinite capacity. At some point, you have to have agreement about who gets to use what part. You know, property rights.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 12:02 PM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • “At some point, you have to have agreement about who gets to use what part. You know, property rights.”NO, at some point, when there is too much background noise, you simply change EM spectrum or change technology, there is always a way.

    The real property rights apply to the land and machinery you are using, not the frequency you use.

    You can always emit the color red using fiber optics on your private property.

    But in reality, such EM spectrum saturation is exactly what happened in early radio telegraph. Their spark radio simply overlapped other’s spark radio and the government simply outlawed spark radios.

    But the libertarian argument is that you own the radio, not the communcation and therefore you should accept EM interference.

    Some libertarians would be against the outlawing of spark radios. But the fact is those radios jammed the entire EM spectrum and fogged all other communications, some of which were necessary for emergencies and necessities.

    From a philosophical libertarian point of view, radio owners should have the right to broadcast in all the frequencies they want and interfere with other’s radio. But from a practical utilitarian viewpoint, there has got to be some sort of management for EM spectrum. Especially in the early analog days where only one communication per carrier was possible.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 12:19 PM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • “Silas! What an unexpected surprise! Re your question, let me just say for now, that libertarianism does support the right to be a gadfly.”A great example of a serious non-amateurish reply from a great superior snob mind.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 12:20 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Yeah, I read that a long time ago (and commented, I’m “macsnafu”), and I still think you’re overthinking this. If you go back to the early days of radio, radio stations didn’t need the FCC to sort things out–it was forced on them. Radio, television, cell phones, etc. require both transmitters and receivers. No one has the right to receive a clear signal, just because he has a receiver, but the transmitter usually has a compelling interest in making sure his signal is clear to the receiver, otherwise, he has no audience. Unlike a piece of land, which can more or less be accurately marked out, the extent of a transmission depends largely on the amount of power used for transmission, thus there’s the question of range as well as the amount of EM frequency being used. While these are not unresolvable issues, they do create difficulties in resolving them. Technology may resolve the problems, as it has already shown us that more transmissions can be packed into a smaller frequency range–perhaps a better solution is more control on the receiving end for picking out the desired transmission.But none of this indicates IP to me–the EM frequency is still just the medium of transmission, not the content–shape the frequency however you like, people cannot perceive the frequency like they can perceive a painting or the sound of music. Without the receiver, the contents of the transmission would just be lost.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 12:27 PM

  • Bилям
  • Достаточно спорно, но как вариант имеет право на существование
  • Published: August 21, 2009 12:59 PM

  • Larry N. Martin
  • The above post as translated by Google Translator:
    BilyamQuite controversial, but as an option has the right to exist
  • Published: August 21, 2009 1:06 PM

  • JamesD
  • Thank you Stephan for this great article.I agree with the differences sited between libertarians and non-libertarians. You do an excellent job of explaining this.
    You have well defined why I am not a libertarian.

    While it is true that a person has a superior claim to their body; this claim is not absolute in reality and in practicality.
    I have a claim to my children’s bodies. …Wait! Oops, that didn’t sound right!….I have a responsibility to my children that gives me authority (a partial claim) over them. My claim over them is to protect them among other things from themselves lest they fail into real slavery. I might also need to protect one child from the ill effects of self imposed harm of another of my children.
    Society has a claim as well. This claim is much less than the claim of the individual to himself, or the parent to child or spouse to spouse; but there is a claim. Society is harmed by individuals who enslave themselves. (Narcotics for example).

    Is it Libertarian to allow the personal ingestion of Narcotics and the sale of Narcotics?
    The sale of Narcotics is an invasion of the buyers right to freedom. I know that you know that but does the buyer/user know that?

    I also agree with Stephan that a firm, precise and complete acceptance of the libertarian philosophy leads to anarchy.
    The problem SweetLiberty has is that he does not buy the libertarian philosophy without limits. He is both practical and prudent.
    Libertarian principles, just like communist principles, lead to disaster when all other considerations are rejected.
    Libertarian principles are good but they are not absolute and must be subordinate at times to other claims.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 1:07 PM

  • JamesD
  • Also,As implied above but not explicitly stated. The idea that any regulation restraint or prohibition by the state is not partial slavery. It can be the protection of freedom.

    Although, my children might disagree when I make them do homework before watching TV or vegetables before ice cream.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 1:14 PM

  • Magnus
  • Libertarian principles, just like communist principles, lead to disaster when all other considerations are rejected.I absolutely despise this platitude.

    No, libertarian principles do not lead to disaster.

    Communist principles, however, do lead to disaster, because by eliminating private property, prices and markets, people are deprived of all economic information, which they need in order to make economic decisions and (more importantly) to coordinate the production and consumption activities of millions of people.

    Libertarian principles are simply the idea that everyone has to interact with everyone else on a voluntary basis, without the coercion that is the statist forms of relationship.

    Freedom works. It works very well.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 1:20 PM

  • 2A
  • “Society is harmed by individuals who enslave themselves. (Narcotics for example). “No, only the individuals consuming the narcotics is harmed IF and ONLY IF he consumes too much. But that’s up to his own choice.

    What if he consumes only a small amount of narcotics everyday and this does not interfere with his activities ? How could you then say it’s harmful ?

    “The sale of Narcotics is an invasion of the buyers right to freedom.”

    The prohibition on the sale of narcotics is an invasion of the buyers right to freedom.

    The sale of narcotics is a simple business transaction between two consenting adults, the buyer and the seller.

    Did you know that JFK consumed amphetamines on a regular basis ?

    “Libertarian principles, just like communist principles, lead to disaster when all other considerations are rejected.
    Libertarian principles are good but they are not absolute and must be subordinate at times to other claims.”

    You are claiming that both poles are “extremes” out of wich nothing good can outcome.

    So if freedom is bad and totalitarianism is bad, how can there be a “just” middle between two wrongs ?

    If getting closer to libertarianism or closer to totalitarianism is wrong, how can moving in the “middle” be any “better” ?

    By moving away from libertarianism, you are moving towards totalitarianism, by moving away from totalitarianism you are moving towards libertarianism.

    By your own criteria, disaster will happen no matter what we do.

    It is my understanding that the best path to avoid disaster is to move as close to libertarianism as possible and as far from totalitarianism as possible.

    And my view is that the “centrist” and those looking for a “just” “middle” are in fact the worse kind, because they favor some level of government intervention in everything.

    If rightists want government intervention in social and moral affairs, they want none in economics affairs (in theory), if leftists want government intervention in economics affairs, they want none in social and moral affairs (in theory).

    But centrists want some interventions in social, moral and economic affairs. It turns out that centrists are the ones who drive government growth the most.

    Those “moderates” are the ones who inflate government the most.

    I think that the libertarian stand, no government intervention whatsoever, is the best.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 1:23 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • An anarchistic society where there is no need for law enforcement because everyone recognizes and respects everyone else’s property rights is just as naïve as the socialists’ utopia where everyone works equally hard for their neighbor as they do for themselves.Of course it is, and that’s why most anarchists don’t advocate such a naive vision. To delve deeper into a realistic vision of anarchism requires a better understanding of law and the legal system, economics and the market, and civil society. There are just ways of enforcing law without violating rights–this calls for peer pressure and ostracism. There’s the recognition of having the proper incentives in place for people to be good instead of evil–this too depends upon peer pressure and economics. Getting rid of a state that implicitly endorses aggression and evil would in itself go a long way towards establishing a civil society with “good” incentives instead of bad incentives. A legal system that has restitution and justice as its primary goal instead of punishment and incarceration would encourage greater participation in it as well as provide greater incentives for being good.

    I don’t believe the establishment of anarchism would result in zero aggression in society, but I do believe that it would be more effective at discouraging and limiting aggression.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 1:24 PM

  • Larry N. Martin
  • Libertarian principles are simply the idea that everyone has to interact with everyone else on a voluntary basis, without the coercion that is the statist forms of relationship.No, no, JamesD is right–it would be disastrous if everyone was in voluntary agreement with everyone else! 😉
  • Published: August 21, 2009 2:02 PM

  • Russ
  • “And as I have argued elsewhere, because the state necessarily commits aggression, the consistent libertarian, in opposing aggression, is also an anarchist.”This is only true if the stateless society results in less agression than a minimal state. If this is not the case, then the so-called “consistent” libertarian is merely being a *dogmatic* libertarian who values doctrinal purity over real freedom. Sorry, but Stephan Kinsella alone does not get to define “what libertarianism is”.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 2:27 PM

  • JamesD
  • 2AThe problem we are having is an equating of libertarianism with freedom and it would seem non-libertarianism with totalitarianism. This is where you are in error.
    Freedom is supported by some prohibitions/ restrictions.
    I did say that libertarian ideas are good and I did not say:
    “freedom is bad”
    What is bad is using Libertarian ideals without any consideration of community.

    Community and solidarity are good.
    Liberty and subsidierity are good.

    Chuck out either one and you have bad. And, I have not thought it thru, but I would bet libertarianism taken to the extreme would lead to totalitarianism.

    I speculate that western Europe have focused much to much on community to the exclusion of the property rights of individuals.

    In the USA often it boils down to how can I get the most right to property being Democrat or Republican and the debate we have is not even much considered.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 2:31 PM

  • 2A
  • JamesD,You cannot have solidarity among individuals if it is forced upon them. True solidarity arises spontaneously among free men and those who partake into solidarity are free to withdraw their participation anytime, or else it would not be solidarity.

    You cannot claim a right to someone else’s “solidarity”.
    You cannot force solidarity.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 2:37 PM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Freedom is supported by some prohibitions/ restrictions.That is right-prohibitions against the initation of force and fraud. A prohibition on the sale of narcotics is not such a protection of freedom, however, and the example of requiring your children to do their homework is irrelevant.

    Furthermore, the more fundamental question of law enforcement comes into place: who creates laws and how are they enforced? Requiring an authoritarian, monopolistic agency to enforce these rules is also counter to freedom, even though it may not seem like it. To borrow from 2A in this regard, solidarity in civil society includes a voluntary participation and acceptance of those rules and the legal system. Otherwise you are sowing the seeds for tyranny, however unintentional, not freedom.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:04 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • 2nd Amendment:”A great example of a serious non-amateurish reply from a great superior snob mind.”

    Fair point, 2nd. I apologize for that snipe at you on the other thread. I frankly was not sure what you were getting at and get a bit fed up at might makes right or victim-blaming views. So I overreacted. Yoru commetns on this thread have been great. Silas is a perpetual pest that everyone has grown tired of.

    JamesD:

    “Thank you Stephan for this great article.”

    You’re welcome, I think–but not sure why you liked it, if you are unlibertarian, and have confused views such as Society having cliams on us and “The sale of Narcotics is an invasion of the buyers right to freedom.”

    As for children: if you will click thru to the link I provided to How We Come To Own Ourselves, you’ll see I readily acknowledged a parental obligation to children. This is not hard.

    “Libertarian principles are good but they are not absolute”

    Is this anti-abolutism of yours an absolute principle?

    Russ:

    “”And as I have argued elsewhere, because the state necessarily commits aggression, the consistent libertarian, in opposing aggression, is also an anarchist.”

    “This is only true if the stateless society results in less agression than a minimal state.”

    Less… when compared by weight, or volume?

    “Sorry, but Stephan Kinsella alone does not get to define “what libertarianism is”.”

    Wrong. I homesteaded it. 🙂

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:05 PM

  • JamesD
  • 2ASolidarity is as you say arises spontaneously among free men.
    And, you are right that solidarity cannot be imposed on another. At least the virtue of solidarity.
    However, it is solidarity that drives the community to outlaw murder, slavery, breaking of contract or fraud. It is solidarity that drives the community to establish a civil justice system for the redress of wrongs.
    Justice requires that laws are applied equally to all without prejudice.
    Put these two things together and you have coercive laws that are applied to all to protect each others freedom.
    Note: I have not said a word about transfer payments. I am refuting the concept of Libertarian ideal being good proposed by Stephan Kinsella and am not defending the welfare state.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:17 PM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Stephan,”Fair point, 2nd. I apologize for that snipe at you on the other thread.”

    The snipe was deserved and I do accept your criticism about my amateurish, flippant and groping side and will strive to live up to this blog’s intellectual level. I’d rather be criticised when I deserve it than praised when I don’t.

    One grows when confronted in a challenging environment and being criticized on the level of my language and argumentation forces me to train my skills to higher levels.

    So the snipe was welcomed. Keep up your marksmanship skills. I’m made with tough libertarian body armor anyways. 😀

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:33 PM

  • Samuel
  • Except that being born in the U.S. and agreeing to live here we are accepting the contract between individuals and the government, the Constitution. In that contract we have signed over some of our property rights for our common defense and other enumerated powers. This wasn’t an effort to lose rights, but to pass some rights to the collection or to a collection bank where they can be better protected, thus are more valuable collected, than individually protected. This separates us from anarchist.Now I hate to say, some, me included, feel the government has, long ago, broken the contract. The consequences of which we see every day, resolution yet to be determined.

    Samuel

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:38 PM

  • JamesD
  • “Is this anti-abolutism of yours an absolute principle?”Absolutely!

    Good one!

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:43 PM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Samuel,”we are accepting the contract between individuals and the government, the Constitution.”

    The problem is that the government constantly breaks his part of the contract and constantly violates the constition. The government would want us to follow this “contract” unilaterally and unilaterally change the rules as we go. A contract involves the participation of more one party and binds more than one party.

    It’s not a contract to “do as I say or else”, it’s bullyism.

    And why does the contract keep getting more and more complicated and heavy and binding as we go ? And why is there more and more “fine prints” to bold prints as we go ?

    The laws require more and more pages and almost nobody in congress reads those laws. The people is getting bond to more and more laws without it’s consent.

    I find it dishonest intellectually to use the concept of contract.

    What would you say about a phone contract that unilaterally changes it’s fee schedule without notice and without priorly mentioning this possibility in the contract and then penalizes you for resiliating the contract ?

    This is what the government does all the time.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:53 PM

  • Joshua Park
  • RUSS: Sorry, but Stephan Kinsella alone does not get to define “what libertarianism is”.KINSELLA: Wrong. I homesteaded it. 🙂

    ME: Fantastic. We can now homestead ideas! Open those IP floodgates–where’s Mr. Tucker, I have some news for him! 😉

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:57 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:””This is only true if the stateless society results in less agression than a minimal state.”

    Less… when compared by weight, or volume?”

    By common sense.

    “”Sorry, but Stephan Kinsella alone does not get to define “what libertarianism is”.”

    Wrong. I homesteaded it. :)”

    Hah! You better be careful here. According to Wikipedia:

    “The French communist-anarchist Joseph Déjacque was the first to employ the term libertarian in a political sense in May 1857…”

    So the pinkos homesteaded it first. Don’t lose us the right to the word “libertarian”. We already lost the word “liberal”. What would we have to contrive next? “Libertytarian”? Yuck!

  • Published: August 21, 2009 3:59 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • JamesD:

    “Is this anti-abolutism of yours an absolute principle?”

    “Absolutely!

    Good one!”

    It’s nothing. Mere child’s play. Just a level 2 boomerang principle (see n. 32 of my Punishment and Proportionality).
    Joshua Park:

    Russ:

    “”Sorry, but Stephan Kinsella alone does not get to define “what libertarianism is”.”

    Wrong. I homesteaded it. :)”

    Hah! You better be careful here. According to Wikipedia:

    “The French communist-anarchist Joseph Déjacque was the first to employ the term libertarian in a political sense in May 1857…”

    So the pinkos homesteaded it first. Don’t lose us the right to the word “libertarian”. We already lost the word “liberal”. What would we have to contrive next? “Libertytarian”? Yuck!

    Well, I meant I was homesteading the *right to define* it. But in any event, we can say the French abandoned the term, leaving it up for grabs. 🙂

  • Published: August 21, 2009 4:09 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”Well, I meant I was homesteading the *right to define* it. But in any event, we can say the French abandoned the term, leaving it up for grabs. :)”

    Alrighty then…

    Anyway, to all you kids out there in the peanut gallery, I would just like to point out that not *all* of us who call ourselves libertarian believe that anarchism is either practical or a moral imperative. There is more room in the libertarian tent than Mr. Kinsella and his fellow “true” libertarians would like to admit.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 4:19 PM

  • Samuel
  • Hi 2nd Amendment,I thought my second paragraph addressed the same concerns.

    Yes, the government isn’t living up to its end of the contract, while enforcing the other end. However, if either side considers the contract null and void, we go down a road too horrible to imagine.

    What we’ve seen as an incremental loss of rights, appears to be cascading. It will hit the wall and we’ll hopefully pick up the pieces, relearning the lesson of our founders and going to a strict, corresponding enforcement of the original limited contract between the individual and government.

    Samuel

  • Published: August 21, 2009 4:28 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ: “Anyway, to all you kids out there in the peanut gallery, I would just like to point out that not *all* of us who call ourselves libertarian believe that anarchism is either practical or a moral imperative. There is more room in the libertarian tent than Mr. Kinsella and his fellow “true” libertarians would like to admit.”Libertarians oppose aggression. If you do not oppose aggression, you are to that extent not libertarian; but are siding with criminality. Of course there are areas where we disagree on what is aggression, but that is a different matter. In the other thread, I explained already, and you explicitly admitted, “I favor some aggression to stop worse aggression.”

    Anyway, you repeat the same old tired disingenous trick by saying that anarchists believe “anarchism is either practical or a moral imperative”. We don’t. We believe that your claims for aggression are unjustified. That is all.

    You apparently think the justification for your explicit advocacy of state aggression is the fact that it prevents even worse private aggression. Fine. That is a respectable argument, thought it’s naive as all get out.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 4:46 PM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Stephan Kinsella,Isn’t it instead that libertarians oppose initiation of aggression ? It’s not the aggression but the initiation of it that libertarians oppose.

    Libertarians welcome aggression if it’s done in opposition to a first aggression and done in a proportional manner against said first aggression.

    Would that read as correct libertarian view point ?

    Libertarians won’t attack but they will defend, is that correct doctrine ?

    For example, libertarians would approve the use of firearms in response to threat of life. A libertarian would first brandish his weapon against an armed intruder and shoot said intruder he fail to heed the warning and do so in a manner to incapacitate him, if possible, rather than terminate him BUT a libertarian would not use said weapon to threated others in order to loot or dominate them.

    Would that read as correct libertarian doctrine ?

    So a libertarian would not initiate aggression and would defend against aggression while trying as much as possible to preserve the life of the aggressor and terminate him only in last resort and only if no other outcome is possible.

    Would you agree with that ?

  • Published: August 21, 2009 5:04 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • 2A:
    “Isn’t it instead that libertarians oppose initiation of aggression ? It’s not the aggression but the initiation of it that libertarians oppose.”No. Aggression means initiated force. To say initiated aggression is redundant, like saying unjustified taxation or bad murder.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 5:15 PM

  • Timothy
  • Contract, n.: an agreement between two or more parties for the doing or not doing of something specified.Who among us executed the Constitution? If you didn’t sign it, how in the world is it a “contract”? Even if an infant could endorse the Constitution, perhaps with an inked footprint coming out of the womb, it would clearly be unenforceable by all the principles of western law. Even more misnamed is Rousseau’s absurd “social contract”.

    Let’s not abuse the word “contract”; it has an actual meaning. I think the word most people are looking for is “diktat”.

    In strict legal terms, the Constitution is, as the great philosopher put it, merely a “***-****** piece of paper.”

  • Published: August 21, 2009 5:17 PM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Stephan Kinsella,”No. Aggression means initiated force. To say initiated aggression is redundant, like saying unjustified taxation or bad murder.”

    Please forgive my amateurishness and thanks for the correction. 😀

    Would it read correctly to say that libertarians are against initiation of force but approve the use of proportional force to fight back against initiation of force ?

  • Published: August 21, 2009 5:34 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”Libertarians oppose aggression.”

    Incorrect!!!

    That may be *your* definition of libertarianism. It is not mine, nor is it the definition of all libertarians. My definition is simpler:

    Libertarians value individual liberty.

    In particular, I value more individual liberty over less individual liberty. I’m not interested in the ideological purity of the NAP, or the abstract intellectual or moral beauty of anarcho-libertarianism. I’m only interested in the “cash value” of my philosophy in terms of the individual liberty it will result in. And I believe that a minimal state will result in the maximal possible individual liberty, so I favor minarchism, even though it does involve some aggression. It’s pretty simple, really.

    You, on the other hand, seem to believe that since liberty is the lack of aggression, it logically follows that if you favor liberty then you must oppose aggression — all aggression — as a sort of Kantian categorical imperative.

    In a nutshell… your philosophy is deontological (as far as I can tell). My philosophy is consequentialist. They are both libertarian.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 5:38 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ:

    “Libertarians oppose aggression.”

    Incorrect!!!

    That may be *your* definition of libertarianism. It is not mine, nor is it the definition of all libertarians. My definition is simpler:

    Libertarians value individual liberty.

    Liberty, or freedom… from what? From the initiation of force–from aggression. Not, say, freedom from want, right? So “liberty” is meaningless without reference to aggression.

    If you believe aggression–the initiation of force, the invasion of the bodies of, innocent people–you are not libertarian, to that extent. Sorry.

    In a nutshell… your philosophy is deontological (as far as I can tell). My philosophy is consequentialist. They are both libertarian.

    It is perfectly fine with me if you oppose aggression for consequentialist reasons. Your reasons are not what is at issue: it is whether or not you oppose aggression, not the reason you have for your views.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 6:27 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”If you believe aggression–the initiation of force, the invasion of the bodies of, innocent people–you are not libertarian, to that extent. Sorry.”

    Again, that is just your opinion, and you are not the World Arbitor of Libertarian Purity.

    I believe that aggression, in general, is bad, yes. It causes real pain, hardship, suffering, even death, to real people. I take those things seriously, and I care about minimizing those things. So I make sure that my philosophy revolves around results, the minimizing of real suffering, not just rules blindly followed. In my mind, since you favor anarchism, which I believe would result in more aggression (i.e. pain, hardship, suffering, death), it follows that you favor more pain, hardship, suffering, and death. To that extent, I don’t consider you a libertarian. Sorry.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 6:57 PM

  • Nick
  • Russ, you make perfect sense. I would love to know when the arbitrary(surely not “natural: see nature) right to not be coerced is applied to the human being. Surely a 2 year old can be punished for disobedience, can he not?
  • Published: August 21, 2009 7:30 PM

  • Samuel
  • Timothy,>Contract, n.: an agreement between two or more >parties for the doing or not doing of something >specified.

    Yes, exactly. You and your government.

    >Who among us executed the Constitution?

    Everyone that agrees to live under it.

    If you didn’t sign it, how in the world is it a “contract”?

    Where in your own definition did it mention that it needed to be signed? It doesn’t, we live under more unsigned contracts than signed. They are enforced, try buying a 5 dollar item with a 1 dollar bill. Every time you… “by continuing you agree…”, you enter a contract, competely unsigned.

    >In strict legal terms, the Constitution is, as the >great philosopher put it, merely a “***-****** piece >of paper.”

    lol, guess he wasn’t as great as everyone thought.

    If, like you, the majority (all corners of the political spectrum), feel that the Constitution is NOT an agreement between the people and the government, than we have a very bloody future.

    Samuel

  • Published: August 21, 2009 7:30 PM

  • Russ
  • Nick wrote:”Russ, you make perfect sense.”

    Thank you.

    “I would love to know when the arbitrary(surely not “natural: see nature) right to not be coerced is applied to the human being. Surely a 2 year old can be punished for disobedience, can he not?”

    That is a completely other topic, but one where I also completely disagree with Rothbardians. Rothbard, in my opinion, made the mistake of formulating a natural law philosophy based on the nature of normal adults, then applied that philosophy to children who have a very different nature from normal adults.

    Samuel wrote:

    “If, like you, the majority (all corners of the political spectrum), feel that the Constitution is NOT an agreement between the people and the government, than we have a very bloody future.”

    Agreed. If one doesn’t want to think of the Constitution as a contract, he could think of it as a promise from the government not to use its power for reasons other than those strictly limited reasons listed. This promise could be enforced by voters, if they decided to wake up and take the Constitution seriously. Unfortunately, it seems most people are more interested in voting themselves other peoples’ money.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 8:21 PM

  • Peter
  • Anyway, to all you kids out there in the peanut gallery, I would just like to point out that not *all* of us who call ourselves libertarian believe that anarchism is either practical or a moral imperative.Well, sure; Adolf Hitler could call himself libertarian if he wanted. But him calling himself libertarian doesn’t mean he is libertarian. If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a horse have?
  • Published: August 21, 2009 9:16 PM

  • Peter
  • Yes, the government isn’t living up to its end of the contractEven if it did, the contract isn’t valid. Read your Spooner 🙂
  • Published: August 21, 2009 9:18 PM

  • Magnus
  • If one doesn’t want to think of the Constitution as a contract, he could think of it as a promise from the government not to use its power for reasons other than those strictly limited reasons listed. This promise could be enforced by voters, if they decided to wake up and take the Constitution seriously. Unfortunately, it seems most people are more interested in voting themselves other peoples’ money.Since when did I consent to having my liberty and property put to a vote?

    People’s whose last names start with A through W could vote on whether X through Z get to keep their stuff, but voting wouldn’t make the theft legitimate.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 9:37 PM

  • Gil
  • *yawn!* It’s the general view that a constitution is a document to limit the powers of a government rather than anything to with the people per se (hence they have nothing to sign). I also looked up the term ‘aggression’ and nowhere does it specifically mean ‘initiating force’. After all, a homeowner could be describe correctly as aggressively retaliating against an intruder.
  • Published: August 21, 2009 9:59 PM

  • Othyem
  • @RussYou’re confusing libertarianism with some other consequentialist/utilitarian moral philosophy. The fact that you think Stephan Kinsella’s (and many, many other’s) conception of libertarianism–i.e, a form of (philosophical) anarchism–will lead to “more pain, hardship, suffering, and death” has ultimately nothing to do with property rights in oneself and the extension of that.

    So, more people will suffer in an anarchist society? Well, let them *each* voluntarily enter into an explicit agreement and re-enter life under government. Those “rugged individualists” as they’re so called can try to hash out a nasty, brutish, and short life for themselves on the outside. What’s wrong with that?

    @Nick

    “I would love to know when the arbitrary(surely not “natural: see nature) right to not be coerced is applied to the human being. Surely a 2 year old can be punished for disobedience, can he not?”

    I’m always surprised when I see people dispute such fundamental axioms as self-ownership. Anyways, you’re presumably comparing a government’s power to coerce and discipline its citizenry as equivilant to a parent’s power to discipline his or her child. Although libertarianians have differing viewpoints on this, the philosopher A. John Simmons has pointed out, it’s an assumption to assume that parents, in fact, have ANY “right” to discipline their children for disobedience. Children, strictly speaking, have no “natural duty” to obey their parents. Now, whether or not they have a MORAL duty to obey their parents, I think, is largely dependent upon their circumstances and is another issue altogether. Moreover, even if children DID in fact have some natural duty to obey their parents, it still doesn’t follow that this analogy applies equally to the child/parent citizen/government framework.

  • Published: August 21, 2009 10:27 PM

  • Russ
  • Peter wrote:”Well, sure; Adolf Hitler could call himself libertarian if he wanted. But him calling himself libertarian doesn’t mean he is libertarian.”

    No, Hitler wouldn’t be a libertarian even if he called himself one. But I am a libertarian, just not the kind Stephan would prefer that I be. Stephan is like a Peikoffian Objectivist saying that a Kellyite isn’t really an Objectivist, or a Leninist saying a Trotskyite isn’t a real Marxist. Or, for you Monty Python fans, a member of the Judean People’s Front saying a member of the People’s Front of Judea isn’t a real Jew. 😉

    Magnus wrote:

    “Since when did I consent to having my liberty and property put to a vote?”

    I never said you did. A valid, minimal state doesn’t put your rights up for a vote. It only protects your rights.

    Othyem wrote:

    “You’re confusing libertarianism with some other consequentialist/utilitarian moral philosophy. ”

    No, you and Stephan are confusing libertarianism as a whole with your particular formulation of libertarianism. Stephan is just another person who thinks that his is the only “true” version of X-ism, whatever X might happen to be.

    “So, more people will suffer in an anarchist society? Well, let them *each* voluntarily enter into an explicit agreement and re-enter life under government. Those “rugged individualists” as they’re so called can try to hash out a nasty, brutish, and short life for themselves on the outside. What’s wrong with that?”

    What’s wrong is that the “rugged individualists” might happen to interact with those of us who believe in a minimal government in a way such that somebody thinks their rights got violated. Then what happens? Hatfield-McCoy blood feuds? If all the anarchists were “on the outside”, that would be different. I wouldn’t mind if all the anarchists ran off to Somalia to live. (I think they would be supremely stupid to do so, but that’s another matter.)

  • Published: August 21, 2009 11:58 PM

  • Gil
  • “Since when did I consent to having my liberty and property put to a vote?” – Magnus.Are you descendant of a Libertarian family who lived in America before the Founding Fathers who in turn forced a new style of government onto your family? If a government was set up voluntarily before your family arrived do you as an immigrant have the right to trash the society because they are ‘using force & fraud against’ you (“i signed nothing”)? How annoying would it be for minarchist societies facing repeated sorties from anarchists trying to seize public land and property from the minarchists on the contention the public property is effectively the ‘commons’ and therefore they have to right to homestead it and minarchists are ‘iniating force’ when they’re trying to stop the anarchists.
  • Published: August 22, 2009 12:53 AM

  • Peter
  • But I am a libertarian, just not the kind Stephan would prefer that I be.You’re a mostly-libertarian, perhaps, but you’re not all the way there since you advocate the anti-libertarian initiation of force to accomplish certain ends.

    If a government was set up voluntarily before your family arrived do you as an immigrant have the right to trash the society because they are ‘using force & fraud against’ you (“i signed nothing”)?

    Absolutely. Of course.

    How annoying would it be for minarchist societies facing repeated sorties from anarchists trying to seize public land and property from the minarchists on the contention the public property is effectively the ‘commons’ and therefore they have to right to homestead it and minarchists are ‘iniating force’ when they’re trying to stop the anarchists.

    I’m sure it would be very annoying. That’s the minarchists’ problem. What’s it got to do with right and wrong?

  • Published: August 22, 2009 1:54 AM

  • Magnus
  • I never said you did. A valid, minimal state doesn’t put your rights up for a vote. It only protects your rights.Why don’t you tell me exactly what you think this supposedly-valid “minimal state” actually does? Then I’ll tell you if it violates my rights.

    In your answer, please pay special attention to the manner in which this supposedly-valid “minimal state” obtains funds for its minimal activities.

    Please also address the extent to which people would be permitted, without threat of retaliation or coercion, to opt out of the “services” that this “minimal state” claims to provide.

    Are you descendant of a Libertarian family who lived in America before the Founding Fathers who in turn forced a new style of government onto your family? If a government was set up voluntarily before your family arrived do you as an immigrant have the right to trash the society because they are ‘using force & fraud against’ you (“i signed nothing”)? How annoying would it be for minarchist societies facing repeated sorties from anarchists trying to seize public land and property from the minarchists on the contention the public property is effectively the ‘commons’ and therefore they have to right to homestead it and minarchists are ‘iniating force’ when they’re trying to stop the anarchists.

    1. There are no “Founding Fathers.” Their proclamations about having “founded” anything are meaningless and not binding on me or anyone else.

    2. The purported definition of a certain patch of dirt as “America,” as a territory in which their proclamations were to supposedly be perpetually binding as to all who tread upon it, is utterly void and ineffective.

    3. Any “government” that was voluntarily set up before I arrived is only binding on the actual people who consented to it, not me or anyone else. Consent cannot be imputed, by force, on someone, even upon a late-comer.

    4. There is no such thing as “public land” because there is no such thing as a “public.” It’s a completely imaginary concept. The claim of ownership, by anyone, over unused land is totally invalid. It’s just noise and hot air, and can be properly disregarded.

  • Published: August 22, 2009 2:41 AM

  • Gil
  • “There is no such thing as ‘public land’ because there is no such thing as a ‘public’. It’s a completely imaginary concept. The claim of ownership, by anyone, over unused land is totally invalid. It’s just noise and hot air, and can be properly disregarded. “What a coinkidink! The imperial Old World nations thought the same way towards the natives of the New World.
  • Published: August 22, 2009 5:08 AM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Nick,One should not be punished for disobedience but only for wrongdoing.

    Parents should teach children to use their heads, make up their own minds, take responsibilities, take calculated risks, critical thinking.

    But parents should not teach children to obey, this is really destructive.

    Hitler had an army of obedient drones. Obedience at all costs is apocalyptic.

  • Published: August 22, 2009 8:46 AM

  • Russ
  • Damn, it’s like listening to a skipping record here (did that date me?)Peter wrote:

    “You’re a mostly-libertarian, perhaps, but you’re not all the way there since you advocate the anti-libertarian initiation of force to accomplish certain ends.”

    No, I’m a libertarian. You, Stephan or even Murray Rothbard don’t get the sole right to decide what the word means, especially if you are against IP. “Libertarianism” is just a general term. Wikipedia has a good definition:

    “Libertarianism is a term used to describe a broad spectrum of political philosophies which seek to maximize individual liberty and minimize or even abolish the state.”

    The Rothbardian version of libertarianism, which defines libertarianism as the position of being against all initiation of force, is only one definition among many. It implies either that anarchism would result in the maximal individual liberty, or that maximizing liberty is not important, neither of which I can agree with. And I hate to tell you, but Rothbard’s definition is on the fringe of a fringe movement. Of course, to you guys, that’s good, because that makes you more pure and radical.

    I can’t understand why you guys can’t be civil with others who want to go in the same general political direction as you. Heck, once we achieve a minimal government, and you want to go further, then you can go your own way. But we’re a long way from that day, and until then, why can’t we work together without all this “You’re not a *pure* libertarian!” crap? Must you divide the libertarian movement into little, tiny, ineffectual splinter groups just for the sake of doctrinal purity, when the libertarian movement is ineffectual enough already? What is it with you guys? Do you all have Asperger’s Syndrome or something? It’s no wonder people like Michael Medved call us “Losertarians”.

  • Published: August 22, 2009 12:06 PM

  • Adam Knott
  • Hi Stephen.Regarding these assertions in your article:

    “Libertarianism recognizes that only the self-ownership rule is universalizable and compatible with the goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance.”

    and

    “Libertarian property rights principles emerge as the only candidate that satisfies these criteria.”

    I am unaware of any proof that the principle of voluntarism or voluntary consent is not universalizable as a principle of libertarianism that can serve to achieve the goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance. So I have to disagree with these assertions.

    Lockean property rights theory is how the Rothbard/Hoppe school of libertarian thought grounds its defense of libertarianism. Certainly the theories of Rothbard and Hoppe are not identical with libertarianism.

    In your article, I couldn’t find a single use of the words “voluntary” or “voluntary consent,” though I found one reference to “consent.” Because of this, many non-Rothbardian libertarians will interpret your particular conception of libertarianism as an argument for a single libertarian legal order, to be instituted as the single legal order for all libertarians, without regard to individual voluntary consent.

    I’m not necessarily proposing you change your conception of libertarianism to include voluntary consent, because I think doing so may undercut the natural law theoretical position. But I do claim that the conscious avoidance of a theory of libertarianism based on voluntary consent cannot go unnoticed by non-Rothbardian libertarians, and to the extent a theory of libertarianism is advanced which seeks to bypass or override the voluntary consent of individuals, it will be strenuously disavowed by other schools of libertarian though.

  • Published: August 22, 2009 2:21 PM

  • Adam Knott
  • Sorry. Last word should be “thought.”
  • Published: August 22, 2009 2:24 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Adam:

    “Libertarian property rights principles emerge as the only candidate that satisfies these criteria.”

    I am unaware of any proof that the principle of voluntarism or voluntary consent is not universalizable as a principle of libertarianism that can serve to achieve the goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance. So I have to disagree with these assertions.

    I am not sure what you mean by “voluntarism” or “voluntary consent.” It only makes sense to me if it implies property rights. After all, consent, or permission, implies the right to withold consent, or permission–and this consent is necessarily pertaining to a user of a particular scarce resource that some other person wants to use, and that you apparently have the right to withhold or grant consent for. I.e., that you have ownership of–property rights in.

    So you seem to be talking about property rights but insisting on using idiosyncratic language to describe it and eschewing perfectly good terms like property rights.

    If “voluntarism” means something other than property rights, then it is not libertarian.

    In short, my argument is that only X satisfies the “goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance.” And X means assigning exclusive rights to control in a universalizable control. The word to describe this right to conttrol is “property right”.

  • Published: August 22, 2009 3:56 PM

  • Mark
  • So if a buddy of mine puts a gun to head, am I violating his rights if I take it away from him? What if he’s in my house when he does it?
  • Published: August 22, 2009 9:09 PM

  • Bala
  • Russ,You are dead right on a lot of things, especially Stephan’s pompous attitude and his uncivil style of writing and responding. The other part is of course the rather dogmatic “axiom” of opposing all aggression. I specifically find the translation “absence of agression” funny because it is metaphysically impossible, at least as long a we are talking of a world of human beings (warts and all). I fully agree with your idea of “being for liberty” rather than “opposing aggression”.

    Stephan’s notion that liberty means the absence of aggression is nothing short of peurile because Liberty means “being able to act as per the dictates of ones own mind”. While that requires the absence of the initiation of force, it cannot be defined as the absence of the initiation of force.

    Keep writing in. You make sense.

  • Published: August 22, 2009 9:10 PM

  • Bala
  • Mark,” So if a buddy of mine puts a gun to head, am I violating his rights if I take it away from him? What if he’s in my house when he does it? ”

    If you are using this to puncture a huge hole in the notion that property rights are the basis of all rights, then I think this is a good beginning. Frankly, as Ayn Rand said, the basis of all rights, including the right to property, is the Right to Life. The situation you have put forward is best addressed starting from that axiom.

    Great example 🙂

  • Published: August 22, 2009 9:14 PM

  • Russ
  • Bala wrote:”You are dead right on a lot of things, especially Stephan’s pompous attitude and his uncivil style of writing and responding.”

    I actually think that Stephan is a decent person, else he wouldn’t care so much about libertarianism. And since he cares so much, occasionally he gets a bit over-zealous. But so do I, and my zeal can make me very sarcastic, and thus uncivil, myself. That’s rather inconsistent with my Rodney King “can’t we all just get along” rant earlier. So I apologize for my excesses to Stephan. I think we’re both on the same side, when it comes right down to it. We just disagree on details.

    “Keep writing in. You make sense.”

    Thank you.

    I would like to ask Stephan a few questions. He has been hammering on my position for a while now, so I would like him to clarify his position.

    1) Are you for or against the lowest level of aggression possible in society? If against, why?

    2) Do you think that if we lived in an anarcho-libertarian “polity” (for lack of a better word), that would result in the lowest level of aggression possible in society?

  • Published: August 22, 2009 9:44 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ: 

    So I apologize for my excesses to Stephan. I think we’re both on the same side, when it comes right down to it. We just disagree on details.

    Of course.

    I would like to ask Stephan a few questions. He has been hammering on my position for a while now, so I would like him to clarify his position.

    1) Are you for or against the lowest level of aggression possible in society? If against, why?

    Well, I am against aggression just as you are (presumably) against rape. All aggression is wrong as all rape is wrong. Preferably there would be no aggression, and no rape. But just as 1 rape is not as bad as 100, a small amount of aggression is less undesirable than a large amount.

    2) Do you think that if we lived in an anarcho-libertarian “polity” (for lack of a better word), that would result in the lowest level of aggression possible in society?

    Well I believe the most worrisome aggression is institutionalized aggression. If you achieve anarchy that means you have abolished the source of public aggression. All that is left is a relatively small degree of private crime (relatively small for a number of reasons: first, to achieve anarchy, the ideas of liberty would have to be widespread; second, society b/c of the greater free market would be immensely wealthier, thus reducing the need for crime, and increasing the means at the disposal of civilized people to spend on security to stave off whatever crime is left).

  • Published: August 22, 2009 10:48 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:””1) Are you for or against the lowest level of aggression possible in society? If against, why?”

    Well, I am against aggression just as you are (presumably) against rape. All aggression is wrong as all rape is wrong. Preferably there would be no aggression, and no rape. But just as 1 rape is not as bad as 100, a small amount of aggression is less undesirable than a large amount.”

    I will take your answer as an agreement that you would prefer the “lowest level of aggression possible in society”. (And yes, of course I am against rape.)

    “”2) Do you think that if we lived in an anarcho-libertarian “polity” (for lack of a better word), that would result in the lowest level of aggression possible in society?

    Well I believe the most worrisome aggression is institutionalized aggression. If you achieve anarchy that means you have abolished the source of public aggression. All that is left is a relatively small degree of private crime …”

    Hmmm… I think this assumes that the “relatively small degree of private crime” will stay small without a State to keep it that way. Of course, some of the reasons you give below could keep the private crime small:

    “(relatively small for a number of reasons: first, to achieve anarchy, the ideas of liberty would have to be widespread; second, society b/c of the greater free market would be immensely wealthier, thus reducing the need for crime, and increasing the means at the disposal of civilized people to spend on security to stave off whatever crime is left).”

    But, I’m just not convinced. I could be wrong, but I think that PDAs could quite possibly cause a high level of private crime as they compete against one another. And competing PDAs might not be so good at controlling other private crime.

    At any rate, I’ll interpret your answer to my second question as saying that you believe that aggression will be minimized under anarcho-libertarianism.

    Let me ask one more question, if I may. Let’s say that Ruritania becomes a minimal libertarian State, is renamed Libertaria, and we all move there. Then let’s say that western Libertaria has an anarcho-libertarian revolution, breaks off from Libertaria proper, and renames itself Ancapistan. So you move to Ancapistan to enjoy the pleasures of unfettered freedom. Let’s say it turns out that I am right, and there is less actual freedom in Ancapistan than in Libertaria. Would you then change your mind and become a minarchist? In other words, are you for maximum freedom, or for abolishing the State, assuming that these two options are not completely equivalent?

  • Published: August 23, 2009 2:06 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • See discussion at BrainPolice’s Critique of “What Libertarianism Is”
    and The Definition and Scope of Libertarianism.
  • Published: August 23, 2009 2:39 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ:

    Hmmm… I think this assumes that the “relatively small degree of private crime” will stay small without a State to keep it that way.

    Do states keep crime down now? No; they make it worse (think of the fallout of drug prohibition alone); and add to it with their own (think: war, jails, taxes).

    But, I’m just not convinced.

    So?

    I could be wrong, but I think that PDAs could quite possibly cause a high level of private crime as they compete against one another.

    Aaaand, then we are left with another state. How is that worse?

    And competing PDAs might not be so good at controlling other private crime.

    Are states?

    At any rate, I’ll interpret your answer to my second question as saying that you believe that aggression will be minimized under anarcho-libertarianism.

    I believe it probably would be but this is not why I’m an anarchist nor is this view essential to my being an anarchist. I’m an anarchist for exactly the reasons I said, and I apologize for being precise and clear and not maundering or using fuzzy, loosey-goosey language. I would not endorse aggression even if it was to stop other aggression. I have, you know, principles. I’m against aggression because it’s wrong. I would not rape or condone a rape, even if I thought it would stop other rapes. Sometimes you have to take a stand, y’know?

    Would you then change your mind and become a minarchist? In other words, are you for maximum freedom, or for abolishing the State, assuming that these two options are not completely equivalent?

    Not sure. I don’t think the hypo is specified in enough detail (nor could it be), nor that it avoids all problematic assumptions, to allow an answer. It’s easier to be guided by principle than to pick everything apart in an attempt to justify compromise and ad hocery.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 2:45 PM

  • Russ
  • Moved from the “The Irrelevance of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism” thread.mpolzkill wrote:

    “I wonder if Russ will have a Buckleyesque response to that post! (but can one be simultaneously “crypto” AND honest?)”

    Well… ah… it behooves me to say that … ah… I find your attempt to … ah… denigrate me as a … ah … crypto-statist to be quite… ah… nugatory.

    Was that Buckleyesque enough for ya? 😛 If not, how about this:

    Now listen, you queer, you stop calling me a crypto-statist or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered!

    (Disclaimer: That was intended as humor. I have no desire to reach through my computer screen and sock mpolzkill.)

    “But Russ here has defined “statist”: one who wants to use the State to get what he wants (simple, I know).”

    No, I have defined “statist” in no such way because I have never identified myself as a statist; you did that. If I were to define statism, it would be something along the lines of this: “The doctrine or policy of subordinating the individual unconditionally to a state or government with unlimited powers. Statism includes both socialism and interventionism”. (This definition gives the meaning of the word as Mises used it, and is from “Mises Made Easy”, which is available on this site.) The word “statism” has never meant simply “the belief that a government is necessary”, or else that would make Mises himself a statist. It is only used in this sense by illiterates, or by anarchists who are trying an ad hominem argument.

    “I will never understand what makes most of the billions of statists with their perhaps millions of different pet systems think that they and their fellow travelers will ever take the reins.”

    I really have no desire to “take the reins”. I am a computer geek. I have neither the patience, the administrative skills, nor the people skills, necessary to become an effective statesman. And I have no idea whether my “fellow travelers” will ever take the reins.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 2:47 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote (moved from the “The Irrelevance of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism” thread):”Thank you. Finally. Finally. An honest faux-libertarian crypto-statist.”

    See my last post to mpolzkill about your misuse of the term “statism”. This kind of obvious ad hominem argument is beneath you, Stephan.

    “And you do realize the key libertarian insight is that human freedom–human rights–can only be infringed by the use of initiated force. You are aware of this view, are you not?”

    Yeah. So?

    “What makes you think a “small State”, one that only violates a “minimal amount of rights,” is possible?”

    I don’t know that a minimal state is possible. I do know that we have had much smaller states in the past, and did just fine. I think that, in politics, the goal should be, at least in principle, reachable. I believe a minimal government is reachable, at least in principle. I’m not so sure about anarcho-capitalism. It seems utopian to me, and I’ve never thought that anything comes of utopianism.

    “What makes you think this State won’t tend to be manned by people a la “the worst rise to the top” and then the inexorable logic of their position will lead them to gradually expand their power?”

    I don’t know that this won’t happen. Limiting government does seem to be a constant Sisyphean struggle. And if I became convinced that ancap would work better than a minimal state, I would become an anarcho-capitalist again. I am not unalterably wedded to the idea of a state. I just think, right now, that a very small state is the best way to maximize freedom.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 3:05 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ:

    “Thank you. Finally. Finally. An honest faux-libertarian crypto-statist.”

    See my last post to mpolzkill about your misuse of the term “statism”. This kind of obvious ad hominem argument is beneath you, Stephan.

    It’s not ad hominem at all. I’m an anarcho-libertarian. I criticize your pro-aggression views.

    I don’t know that a minimal state is possible. I do know that we have had much smaller states in the past, and did just fine.

    “Did just fine”?! Who did? What about the people whose rights were infringed by said criminal states? did they “do just fine”?

    I think that, in politics, the goal should be, at least in principle, reachable. I believe a minimal government is reachable, at least in principle.

    Why in the world would you believe this?

  • Published: August 23, 2009 3:22 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”Do states keep crime down now? No; they make it worse (think of the fallout of drug prohibition alone)”

    But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state. So you’re comparing apples and oranges.

    “I believe it probably would be but this is not why I’m an anarchist nor is this view essential to my being an anarchist. I’m an anarchist for exactly the reasons I said, and I apologize for being precise and clear and not maundering or using fuzzy, loosey-goosey language.”

    I fail to see how saying that I am for the minimal possible amount of rights violations is “fuzzy, loosey-goosey language”. Seems clear enough to me. Other than that, when I use my “judgment” instead of “principle”, well, that may be fuzzier, but sometimes reality is not as precise and clear-cut as we would like it to be.

    “I would not endorse aggression even if it was to stop other aggression. I have, you know, principles.”

    One man’s principles are another man’s dogma.

    “I’m against aggression because it’s wrong. I would not rape or condone a rape, even if I thought it would stop other rapes.”

    I didn’t realize I was saying that a minimal state would have to rape people to protect rights. As a matter of fact, I know I didn’t say that, because that’s a just plain ludicrous thing to say. A minimal state would tax people, true (at a much lower rate than today), and it would monopolize certain functions, true (many less functions than today). But to say that a minarchist libertarian is in favor of raping people to lower the total number of rapes is just ridiculous. It’s apparently a reductio ad absurdem argument, but in reality it’s just another ad hominem attack in disguise. You don’t seem to know how not to make them.

    “It’s easier to be guided by principle than to pick everything apart in an attempt to justify compromise and ad hocery.”

    Yes, a pragmatic political philosophy is much more difficult to follow than a dogmatic political philosophy that does all the thinking for you with one easy-to-follow “principle”. After all, in a pragmatic philosophy, you have to exercise your own judgment, think about strategy and tactics, think about what is possible, what is likely, and what is not, think about what is right and wrong, think about when it is acceptable to commit a lesser evil to prevent a greater one, etc. How convenient it must be to slice through all that tedious judging and thinking with one simple, easy-to-follow rule! (It slices! It dices! It makes Julienne fries!) Heck, it shouldn’t be called the Zero Aggression Principle, it should be called the Zero Effort Principle!

    If only it were that simple. But I believe in a sort of secular version of Original Sin. We aren’t perfect, never will be, and government is the price we must pay. We will never be allowed back in the Garden.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 4:04 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”It’s not ad hominem at all. I’m an anarcho-libertarian. I criticize your pro-aggression views.”

    First, I’m not “pro-aggression” (another ad hominem; I was right, you don’t know how to stop yourself). As I’ve repeated ad nauseum, I am for the *minimal* amount of rights violations possible. Apparently, you don’t understand what the word “minimal” means, or that someone who wants to minimize something is not in favor of it.

    At any rate, calling me a “statist”, when according to any sane definition of the word (like Percy Greaves’ definition) I am not even close to one, *is* an ad hominem attack.

    “What about the people whose rights were infringed by said criminal states? did they “do just fine”?”

    For the most part, yes. When the US government was small, not being able to choose their own PDA had not been among peoples’ most pressing problems.

    Russ wrote:
    “I think that, in politics, the goal should be, at least in principle, reachable. I believe a minimal government is reachable, at least in principle.”

    Stephan replied:
    “Why in the world would you believe this?”

    Well, first, we now live under a government that monopolizes certain functions, so we know this model “works” for a sufficiently small definition of “works”. We haven’t fallen into a complete Hobbesian war of man against man, or even a case of small warlords fighting each other for power and killing off all the little people in the process. The center still holds; not all has fallen apart; at least not yet.

    Second, we used to live under an even smaller government than at present, which arguably “worked” better than the one we have now, so I see no reason why the government couldn’t be made smaller and better again. It’s possible in the future because it was possible in the past.

    Last, there’s no a priori reason why government officials couldn’t restrain themselves from violating rights where it’s not absolutely necessary. Granted, it would take a serious cultural shift, where voters and politicians would take freedom seriously, and probably a reorganization of government, such as returning to some serious sort of federalism instead of nationalism that’s called federalism. That may indeed be unrealistic, but it still seems less unrealistic than visions of Ancapistan. (This may be why you favor a “principled” anarcho-libertarianism, where impossibility doesn’t matter; because you know in your heart of hearts that any vision of Ancapistan is completely unrealistic.)

  • Published: August 23, 2009 4:46 PM

  • mpolzkill
  • Russ,Ha ha, glad you caught my W.F.B. allusion.

    I misspoke: you personified MY definition of “statist”. I know my definition isn’t the accepted one, but I think it’s an honest (no ad hom, an attempt to define your position) and literal reading using the word “state” (Websters: “a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory”) Your definition of “statism” seems better suited to “totalitarian”.

    It is possible that I’m illiterate, I don’t know. Help me correct this, kind sir:

    state = state
    -ist = advocate
    state advocate = you.

    You may not be up for it, but don’t you want your flavour of minarchists to seize control of state power? You don’t prefer the gang holding it now, to be sure. You think it’s possible for your gang to take the reins or else you wouldn’t advocate the State, right? Or you just like being “realistic”?

    Couple other questions on what you just said: weren’t the abolitionists of the 19th century considered to be at least as nutty as “Utopianists”?

    You also said: “But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state.”

    This minimal state you envision; it (with Mises) would observe the right to seceed, down to the level of the individual? If so, THAT sounds downright “Utopian”.

    (Thanks for the dialogue, jests & civility, very fun.)

  • Published: August 23, 2009 5:06 PM

  • Russ
  • mpolzkill wrote:”…I know my definition isn’t the accepted one, but I think it’s an honest (no ad hom, an attempt to define your position) and literal reading…”

    Fair enough. But your use of a non-standard definition for the word may lead one to mistakenly conclude that you are trying to implicitly conflate their position and totalitarianism. It seems it would be easier to just use the accepted definition, even if you think it’s not as intuitively obvious, to avoid this kind of confusion.

    Russ wrote:

    “But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state.”

    mpolzkill replied:

    “This minimal state you envision; it (with Mises) would observe the right to seceed, down to the level of the individual? If so, THAT sounds downright “Utopian”.”

    I do not think that individuals have the right to secede or else such a minimal state would be the functional equivalent of anarcho-libertarianism, wouldn’t it? I should have said “But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts *such as drug use*, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state.” If it allowed all voluntary acts, such as allowing a PDA to replace it for certain individuals, it wouldn’t be even a minimal state, would it? It would be, at best, an “ultra-minimal” state, as in Nozick.

    The comprising “states” (in the sense of Ohio or Texas) of a minimalist “state” (in the sense of nation) would still have the right to secede, though.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 5:41 PM

  • Russ
  • mpolzkill,I skipped some of your earlier post.

    “You may not be up for it, but don’t you want your flavour of minarchists to seize control of state power? You don’t prefer the gang holding it now, to be sure. You think it’s possible for your gang to take the reins or else you wouldn’t advocate the State, right? Or you just like being “realistic”?”

    Yes, I think it’s possible for my “gang” to take the reins. Whether this is realistic or not, I think it’s more realistic than ancap. At the very least, I think it’s possible for a gang that is more libertarian than the current gang to take the reins.

    “Couple other questions on what you just said: weren’t the abolitionists of the 19th century considered to be at least as nutty as “Utopianists”?”

    They were considered to be Utopians by some, yes. But I don’t see any real equivalency here. We know now that we can live quite well without slavery; in fact it was known well before 1860, since the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in what was then the Northwest in 1785 (I believe), and those colonies (later, states) did fine. We don’t know that Ancapistan is possible; there has never been such a place. Maybe, just maybe, that is because there cannot be such a place? That is what I believe, although I must add that I would be delighted were events to reveal that I am wrong.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 7:14 PM

  • Othyem
  • @Russ: “You’re not a *pure* libertarian!” crap? Must you divide the libertarian movement into little, tiny, ineffectual splinter groups just for the sake of doctrinal purity, when the libertarian movement is ineffectual enough already?”This isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pissing contest about who’s the purest, most fringe libertarian strictly for the hell of it. It’s about being logically consistent and recognizing the logical extensions of your beliefs. In this, a Rothbardian approach is the most coherent, in my opinion. Stephan’s right: liberty and freedom have such a vague, insignificant meaning outside of any reference to aggression, or force, or violence.

    Russ, you seem to be caught up in an entirely unnecessary point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your whole reasoning turns on whether or not anarcho-capitalism–or some variation thereof–is more detrimental to society than a minimal state, which you seem to think it is. A minimal state, according to you, is the best–or better–alternative in order to reduce the amount of suffering that would or could result in an anarchist world. Well, so what? What does that have to do with whether or not the state has a legitimate right to use force against its citizens? Your example of Ancapistan and Libertaria misses the point. What if life in an anarcho-capitalist is less free and less enjoyable than life under a minimal state? Well, first of all, it depends–less free to whom, and less enjoyable to whom? And secondly, what does it matter? Considering the fact that an anarcho-capitalist society has never really existed in full, it may or may not be what everyone thinks it’ll be. Perhaps its theoretical problems cannot be ironed out and living in anarchy is doomed to more violence, pain, and an eventual reconstruction of the state. And if that were so, then I’m sure myself and many others who elected to live in anarchy would re-enter a life under statehood. But that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the state. And that’s the whole issue here. If I decided that living in anarchy sucked, and that living under a limited government were better, even though I would have to cede some of my rights–such as the right to exact retribution–I would be making a conscious, rational, voluntary *CHOICE* to live under it. There’s no contradiction. They’re not mutually exclusive philosophies. One can believe that government has *NO* legitimate right to force citizens to obey its laws, fund its programs, and fight its wars in principle AND STILL want to be a citizen under it, recognizing that sometimes–or many times–there are MORAL reasons to endorse it. Your moral reason is that living in anarchy would cause more pain and suffering than a minimal state, which I think is a legitimate concern and I have no problem with it. We’re all concerned with limiting the suffering of people and if it turned out that anarcho-capitalism was such a political system that did nothing but aggravate that then we would probably see its endorsement wither and die. That, however, has no bearing on whether or not it’s ethical to allow individuals to make that choice for themselves.

    @Russ: “What’s wrong is that the “rugged individualists” might happen to interact with those of us who believe in a minimal government in a way such that somebody thinks their rights got violated. Then what happens? Hatfield-McCoy blood feuds? If all the anarchists were “on the outside”, that would be different.” [emphasis mine]

    Okay, so if we could find a way to resolve the free-rider paradox with those anarchists who don’t want to become citizens then we’ve solved the problem, right? Well, if so, then your criticisms are misdirected. Instead of focusing on anarchism vs. minarchism, we should be channeling our mental energy into how we can find a resolution for that. Then it’ll be a win/win. I won’t go into it–this is already getting long–but how about having people in the state’s territory accept the laws either through an explicit or tacit agreement, much in the same way it’s done when traveling abroad.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 7:22 PM

  • Russ
  • Othyem wrote:”This isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pissing contest about who’s the purest, most fringe libertarian…”

    It seems that way to me, at least with Stephan. Otherwise, why the focus on “principles” rather than results? Why write an article called “The Irrelevancy of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism”, as if results matter not a whit, as long as one’s heart is pure? Why say I am a statist when I obviously am not, any more than Mises was? Why say I am not even a libertarian when I obviously am?

    “Stephan’s right: liberty and freedom have such a vague, insignificant meaning outside of any reference to aggression, or force, or violence.”

    I don’t disagree with this. That is why I focus on the maximization of liberty *as* the minimization of rights violations (or aggression, as Stephan puts it), which I agree are essentially the same thing. Otherwise, it is too easy to define freedom as the freedom from want, or some other socialistic definition.

    “Correct me if I’m wrong, but your whole reasoning turns on whether or not anarcho-capitalism–or some variation thereof–is more detrimental to society than a minimal state, which you seem to think it is. A minimal state, according to you, is the best–or better–alternative in order to reduce the amount of suffering that would or could result in an anarchist world. Well, so what?”

    I do think that anarcho-capitalism would be more detrimental to society than a minimal gov’t, but not for a fuzzy reason (at least it’s not fuzzy to me), but because I believe ancap would result in more rights violations. It has nothing to do with suffering in general, but with suffering caused by rights violations. There will always be suffering, and if I cared about minimizing suffering in general I would probably be a socialist. In fact, I think a hell of a lot of suffering is self-inflicted, and that’s a problem for the sufferer to deal with himself. Other suffering is not inflicted by anyone in particular, but simply due to bad luck or inability to compete. Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.

    “What does that have to do with whether or not the state has a legitimate right to use force against its citizens?”

    I don’t really care about whether everything a state does is “legitimate” or not according to some abstract, rationalistic philosophy. My political philosophy cares about minimizing rights violations, period. If a state does that, it legitimizes itself, so to speak. I am completely “results-oriented”. I care nothing for all this talk of “principles” and “legitmacy”; I care about minimizing rights violations.

    “Okay, so if we could find a way to resolve the free-rider paradox with those anarchists who don’t want to become citizens then we’ve solved the problem, right? Well, if so, then your criticisms are misdirected. Instead of focusing on anarchism vs. minarchism, we should be channeling our mental energy into how we can find a resolution for that. Then it’ll be a win/win.”

    But there is a way to resolve the free-rider paradox, and make sure that everybody pays their fair share. It’s called “government”! True, that won’t make a hard-core anarcho-capitalist happy, but that’s tough. Nothing will make a hard-core anarcho-capitalist happy except the impossible (if I’m right about ancap, that is), and why should I care about that?

  • Published: August 23, 2009 8:30 PM

  • mpolzkill
  • Russ!”if I cared about minimizing suffering in general I would probably be a socialist”

    !

    You mean as a person who appears to eschew principles and generally has rather naive ideas about intentions and results?

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    “But there is a way to resolve the free-rider paradox, and make sure that everybody pays their fair share. It’s called “government”!”

    !!

    Goldman Sachs & the Pentagon agree with you 100%.

    Wow, Russ…as the old joke goes: “you can’t get there from here.”

  • Published: August 23, 2009 9:04 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ:

    “This isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pissing contest about who’s the purest, most fringe libertarian…”

    It seems that way to me, at least with Stephan. Otherwise, why the focus on “principles” rather than results? Why write an article called “The Irrelevancy of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism”, as if results matter not a whit, as long as one’s heart is pure?

    Because people like you, who focus on “results” and strategy and activism respond to our arguments against the immorality of state aggression by bringing up such irrelevancies as “but you haven’t shown how anarchy will ‘work'”. If your kind didn’t bring up such disingenous charges, there would be no need to reject them.

    Why say I am a statist when I obviously am not, any more than Mises was? Why say I am not even a libertarian when I obviously am?

    Libertarians include both anarcho- and minarchist libertarians. Sure. But we anarcho-libertarians believe our libertarian principles imply that all crime, all aggression, is wrong–including state aggression. Thus we think you minarchists have it 98% right, but you are not quite there.

    Likewise, you think we are incorrect–but the burden is obviously on you to demonstrate that state aggression is libertarian and justifiable.

     

    I do think that anarcho-capitalism would be more detrimental to society than a minimal gov’t, but not for a fuzzy reason (at least it’s not fuzzy to me), but because I believe ancap would result in more rights violations. It has nothing to do with suffering in general, but with suffering caused by rights violations. There will always be suffering, and if I cared about minimizing suffering in general I would probably be a socialist. In fact, I think a hell of a lot of suffering is self-inflicted, and that’s a problem for the sufferer to deal with himself. Other suffering is not inflicted by anyone in particular, but simply due to bad luck or inability to compete. Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.

    One way to minimize aggression is to refuse to commit or endorse it. Period.

    I don’t really care about whether everything a state does is “legitimate” or not according to some abstract, rationalistic philosophy. My political philosophy cares about minimizing rights violations, period. If a state does that, it legitimizes itself, so to speak.

    Even if you believe that in some hypothetical dreamworld, a minimal state could exist that would do this, you have to admit that our state, and every state that exists, and every state that has ever existed, comes nowhere near this goal — all states that exist, or have existed, or that we can expect to exist, are criminal, were criminal, and will be criminal–and unlibertarian. As such, we libertarians are against the state.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 9:16 PM

  • Othyem
  • @Russ: “But there is a way to resolve the free-rider paradox, and make sure that everybody pays their fair share. It’s called “government”! True, that won’t make a hard-core anarcho-capitalist happy, but that’s tough.”Then that doesn’t really solve anything. You’re for limiting rights violations. Then let’s limit them all the way, i.e., insert a clause into your minarchist government requiring a form of explicit consent, and work out a formal system for punishing those who haven’t consented. Retribution wouldn’t disappear for those who’re in a state of nature.

    “My political philosophy cares about minimizing rights violations, period. If a state does that, it legitimizes itself”

    To you, yes. But obviously let’s not forget about those rights violations that occur through forcing others under your form of government. Also, most people consider the US as a legitimate state–in the theoretical sense–although its number of rights violations is too numerous to count. Who decides when the number of rights violations is in equilibrium? How do you quantify that, and what weight do you give each right? And further, how do you know that there will be more rights violations in an anarcho-capitalist world? I could just as easily say I favor socialism because there would be less rights violations. If I could get a large majority of people to agree with me then, according to you, it wouldn’t be wrong to establish this form of government on everyone else. All that is necessary would be to believe that less rights violations were occuring under my system–not dissimilar to what’s happening now.

    “Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.”

    Again, how do you know? Many people say that relying on charity to guarantee basic needs, such as medical care, food, shelter, and so forth is too risky to leave to (capricious?) altruistic human beings, and therefore forced welfare redistribution is needed to assure this doesn’t happen–a rights violation, of course. I disagree, but it’s not unlike your argument that anarcho-capitalism is too risky a system and will lead to more rights violations, therefore we need a system (i.e., government) in place to assure this doesn’t happen.

    “I am completely “results-oriented”. I care nothing for all this talk of “principles” and “legitmacy”; I care about minimizing rights violations.”

    Or so you think. Your minimization of rights violations is itself a principle.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 9:22 PM

  • Othyem
  • Many libertarians, including Stephan Kinsella, differ from me on this. It’s assumed that government is a priori illegitimate. Now, while I agree that government everywhere UP TO THIS POINT is illegitimate, i.e., no government YET has relied on the explicit consent of its citizenry to rule and make rules (except in those extremely rare, perhaps ceremonial, individual situations). This however doesn’t preclude the possibility that some government somewhere in the future (at least hypothetically) does so. Based just on history, though, and not even considering psychology, I don’t think this’ll ever happen; but it’s at least IMAGINABLE. We can conceive of a government that asks consent from each and every member. It’s not a logical contradiction
  • Published: August 23, 2009 9:41 PM

  • Othyem
  • I don’t know about you, but I get sick and tired hearing about how the (unjust) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “protecting our freedoms.” It’s obvious to anyone who cares that those wars have nothing to do with our freedom, or our liberty, or our safety, except to endanger it. But what’s to keep those in your minimal state from defining what is good for you? They can always raise the specter of further “rights violations” if we don’t do X, whatever X is. You say “there’s no a priori why government officials can’t restrain themselves.” Yeah, I agree, it’s not a logical necessity that exists in all possible worlds; but that’s beside the point. You don’t get to pick the attributes of the members of your world and the say “Wallah! See, with a few minor adjustments, the minimal state DOES work. It IS better than anarchism.” If that were so, then all anyone would have to do is shift the cultural and philosophical attitudes to where they wanted them and ipso facto there ya have it, a perfect society. I agree however than any drastic change in government will be preceded by a shift in beliefs and attitudes, and there’s nothing wrong with specifying those beliefs best suited to whatever political configuration suits your fancy. But it certainly doesn’t win any arguments.
  • Published: August 23, 2009 10:04 PM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”Because people like you, who focus on “results” and strategy and activism respond to our arguments against the immorality of state aggression by bringing up such irrelevancies as “but you haven’t shown how anarchy will ‘work'”. ”

    Irrelevant? Not at all. If your version of libertarianism results in more of the aggression you are supposedly against, I fail to see how that can be irrelevant.

    “Likewise, you think we are incorrect–but the burden is obviously on you to demonstrate that state aggression is libertarian and justifiable.”

    Again, hardly. Since nothing like ancap has ever existed, the burden is “obviously” on you to prove that it could deliver something better than minarchism, at least if you want to convince those of us who are concerned about results.

    “One way to minimize aggression is to refuse to commit or endorse it. Period.”

    That’s really quite simplistic. If you were a pacifist you could just as well say that the fundamental political problem is not the initiation of force, but force, period. Then you would by that standard refuse to commit or endorse any force. Of course, if all decent people did so, it would only result in the slaughter or enslavement of all decent people by those who are not decent. That would result in more force, not less. It’s a self-defeating philosophy, at least if you are concerned about outcome in this world, instead of the state of your immortal soul in the next. In my opinion, you are basically doing the same thing, except not quite so obviously.

    “Even if you believe that in some hypothetical dreamworld, a minimal state could exist…”

    An anarcho-capitalist calling minarchism a hypothetical dreamworld?! That’s rich! We’ve certainly been closer to minarchism than we have ancap.

    “…you have to admit that our state, and every state that exists, and every state that has ever existed, comes nowhere near this goal…”

    But compared to what we have now, some states that have existed (earlier versions of the USA, for instance) were certainly a lot closer.

    “…all states that exist, or have existed, or that we can expect to exist, are criminal, were criminal, and will be criminal-and unlibertarian.”

    No, I don’t have to admit that all states that we can expect to exist will be criminal.

    “As such, we libertarians are against the state.”

    *sigh* As Reagan would have said, “There he goes again!” Saying that “we libertarians are against the state” implies that since I am for a (minimal) state, I am not a libertarian.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 10:09 PM

  • Magnus
  • I do think that anarcho-capitalism would be more detrimental to society than a minimal gov’t, but not for a fuzzy reason (at least it’s not fuzzy to me), but because I believe ancap would result in more rights violations. It has nothing to do with suffering in general, but with suffering caused by rights violations.You have stated this position a couple of dozen times now, in various ways. You simply believe, hands down, that anarchism leads to more aggression in a society than people would experience under the rule of some (unspecified) state.

    You have staked out this position, but not once have you told us where this belief comes from, what it rests on.

    What is your reasoning that leads you to this conclusion?

    What evidence do you have for this belief?

    It strikes me as a belief that is impervious to reason and evidence. It appears that its origin is fear. It seems like anarchism is a situation that you have a hard time envisioning, in concrete detail, so you have filled in those missing details with a kind of Mad Max cartoonish scenario.

    Why do you think that you can solve complex, long-term, dynamic, economic social problems through aggressive violence, like taking their money by force to fund state officials’ income, or requiring them to submit to their final “authority”?

    Do you at least understand that the state is merely the term that is given to legitimized, regularized, institutionalized violence?

  • Published: August 23, 2009 10:23 PM

  • Russ
  • Othyem wrote:”You’re for limiting rights violations. Then let’s limit them all the way, i.e., insert a clause into your minarchist government requiring a form of explicit consent, and work out a formal system for punishing those who haven’t consented.”

    Then we have the free rider problem again. If the state can’t fund itself, it probably could not ensure the minimal level of rights violations.

    “But obviously let’s not forget about those rights violations that occur through forcing others under your form of government.”

    I don’t forget that. I think the total level of rights violations would still be higher in ancap. Of course, I can’t prove that; it’s just a judgment call or intuition, whatever you want to call it.

    Russ wrote:
    “Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.”

    Otheym replied:
    “Again, how do you know?”

    I don’t. And what’s more, I don’t really care. Suffering caused by rights violations is my only concern, as far as my political philosophy goes.

    “Your minimization of rights violations is itself a principle.”

    Whatever. What I mean is that I don’t care about legitimacy or justifying rights violations or a philosophy that consists of never condoning rights violations, when those things are separated from outcome.

    “It’s obvious to anyone who cares that those wars have nothing to do with our freedom, or our liberty, or our safety, except to endanger it.”

    This is debatable. A lot of people who do care do not agree at all. The idea is to prevent state-sponsored terrorism (the really dangerous kind with WMDs involved) by providing a “negative example” to those states that could do so. Assuming for sake of argument that a terrorist could set off a nuke in NYC, that would involve a huge level of rights violations, that would make years of war seem relatively paltry in comparison.

    “But what’s to keep those in your minimal state from defining what is good for you?”

    Not a whole lot. Humans are imperfect, and “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made”.

    “I agree however than any drastic change in government will be preceded by a shift in beliefs and attitudes, and there’s nothing wrong with specifying those beliefs best suited to whatever political configuration suits your fancy. But it certainly doesn’t win any arguments.”

    I think it’s better than Stephan’s strategy of completely ignoring outcomes, stubbornly saying that we must never condone aggression no matter what, and then saying that if this results in more aggression then so be it because at least this way we will be principled and have clear consciences while Rome burns. Most people do, as a matter of fact, care about outcomes. Defining a goal, and then exploring how it can be achieved, seems a lot more practical, especially when so many people have more or less the same goal.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 10:38 PM

  • Russ
  • Magnus wrote:”Why do you think that you can solve complex, long-term, dynamic, economic social problems through aggressive violence, like taking their money by force to fund state officials’ income, or requiring them to submit to their final “authority”?”

    Because that’s the way that we have solved such problems for quite some time (all of recorded history, as far as I can tell), and despite the glaring imperfections of the system, it more or less works. It would obviously (to me) work better if we eliminated the more obvious imperfections, while keeping the basic idea.

    “Do you at least understand that the state is merely the term that is given to legitimized, regularized, institutionalized violence?”

    In a word, yes. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

    “It strikes me as a belief that is impervious to reason and evidence. It appears that its origin is fear. It seems like anarchism is a situation that you have a hard time envisioning, in concrete detail, so you have filled in those missing details with a kind of Mad Max cartoonish scenario.”

    Well, considering how the planet Earth has never seen anything even remotely like ancap, it is a bit hard for me to envision in concrete detail, yes. I wouldn’t say my resistance is an imperviousness to evidence, since as far as I can tell, there is no evidence regarding ancap. None whatsoever. As for an imperviousness to reason, I like to flatter myself that that is not the case, but I confess I would prefer if the arguments were more convincing, involved actual evidence, and focused on outcome. I also confess that fear has something to do with it. Truth be told, my life under our current system is not all bad. Trying ancap would be the equivalent of risking all on one roll of the dice, when you don’t know what the odds are, and don’t really even know if the number you’re betting on is one of the possible rolls.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 11:02 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Russ:

    I don’t forget that. I think the total level of rights violations would still be higher in ancap. Of course, I can’t prove that; it’s just a judgment call or intuition, whatever you want to call it.

    I used to think this too, when I was a newb quasi-Randroid. Then I read some more and wised up.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 11:04 PM

  • Othyem
  • @Russ: “Then we have the free rider problem again. If the state can’t fund itself, it probably could not ensure the minimal level of rights violations.”Actually, no. I’m assuming you’re talking about a truly limited government in which it inherits its powers through the willful relinguishment of some of each individual member’s rights, and whose power does not exceed the rights of the aggregate. If the state of nature is as horrible as you imagine then there will be no shortage of people who desire to be under the state’s protection, and therefore there won’t be a shortage of funds for the state to function. I’m not against government, per se, because I believe–as do most libertarians–in the “right” to freely associate and enter into contracts with whomever one chooses, whether that be a labor union, or in this case a government. To solve this, just have, as part of becoming a citizen, a clearly defined set of laws, regulations, legal rights, tax rates, etc., and have people sign these contracts. If they should have a change of heart, they should be able to opt out. It seems to be, then, that the only problem, is finding out what to do with free-riders. Here we have a perfectly limited, minimal state defined however you want to define it, with the simple caveat that members entering must explicitly consent to give up a few of their rights for the enjoyment of the state’s services (e.g., law enforcement, etc.). Those who do not wish to enter into a contract with the government are free not to do so.

    Let’s pause. If you recognize this scenario as one step slightly better than the clumsy approach of forcing everyone to follow your prescription of an ideal society by being force-fed government, then we’re making progress. In fact, that’s the whole point. You should always give people a choice, or else it’s slavery under another name. The only problem, and it’s a minor one at that, is the free-rider dilemma. What do you do with those individuals who don’t consent to be a part of the government? Surely, this can be solved, and if it can’t be entirely eradicated, then its prominence as a problem can be reduced. And in going this route, you’d have the added benefit of not violating the rights of those individuals who wouldn’t want to live under your minimal state.

    Ya know, it’s not necessary to endorse anarcho-capitalism, or think that it’ll “work” for you to recognize the legitimacy in it. You say you don’t care about such things, but why the hell not? Voluntary consent is one of the most fundamental attributes of self-ownership. Sure, you have moral reasons for endorsing the state, but that has no bearing on legitimacy. If you recognize that it doesn’t, then you’re (somewhat of) an anarchist.

  • Published: August 23, 2009 11:56 PM

  • Gil
  • Why, oh why, Othyem, should an immigrant arrive on U.S. shores and start telling the U.S. Federal Government they should disband because the immigrant doesn’t like this rule or that tax? Can I come onto your personal residence and tell you what I don’t like about this or that and raid your fridge while I’m at it? I haven’t signed any contracts with you.Then again what if the common organisation in Anarchtopia are HOAs because large gated communities with full-time security guards roaming the private streets within the HOAs are the most secure form of private existence in Anarchtopia? That is to say, well you could start your own private sovereign farm and try to be self-sufficient but are quickly overrun by land pirates and because you’re in the middle of nowhere in particular, you have no one to cry to. What if the safest and most properous HOAs got to where they are through the Protestant Ethic and not marijuana-feuled hippie values? You could find yourself choosing between the lawless, crime-laden badlands or wealthy-gated HOAs city-states with prohibitive moral laws. Oops? Would things go full-circle?
  • Published: August 24, 2009 2:05 AM

  • Luke
  • (I’m joining in this discussion late, so sorry if someone has already addressed this point..)Gil,

    You ask why “should an immigrant arrive on U.S. shores and start telling the U.S. Federal Government they should disband because the immigrant doesn’t like this rule or that tax? Can I come onto your personal residence and tell you what I don’t like about this or that and raid your fridge while I’m at it? I haven’t signed any contracts with you.”

    But that is an invalid analogy because you ‘own’ your personal residence and the contents of your fridge and you can set the rules for visitors who wish to come into your home because you have (presumably) acquired these in a manner consistent with libertarian principles. In contrast, the U.S. government does *not* ‘own’ the entire geographical area that is currently under its jurisdiction because, as a state, it is in the institutional embodiment of the negation of libertarian principles.

    That does not mean that an ‘immigrant’ who comes onto U.S. shores (as you can see the language itself is misleading as it implies the U.S. government has a legitimate claim to the territory) can start *acting* in contravention of any government rule they don’t like because many government laws are consistent with libertarian principles.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 3:13 AM

  • Russ
  • Othyem wrote:”Here we have a perfectly limited, minimal state defined however you want to define it, with the simple caveat that members entering must explicitly consent to give up a few of their rights for the enjoyment of the state’s services (e.g., law enforcement, etc.). Those who do not wish to enter into a contract with the government are free not to do so.”

    I wouldn’t have a problem with that, so long as the free riders moved on along to some other country. For one, they *are* free riders, and are benefitting from the government’s protective services (even if they *say* they don’t want that) without paying their fair share. Second, the big problem I have with ancap is the idea of having multiple arbiters of last resort in a given geographical area. If those arbiters don’t play nice with each other, then you could have a big, bloody mess. And each free rider is essentially setting himself up as his own arbiter of last resort, unless he joins a PDA, in which case you still have the same problem.

    “Ya know, it’s not necessary to endorse anarcho-capitalism, or think that it’ll “work” for you to recognize the legitimacy in it. You say you don’t care about such things, but why the hell not?”

    In theory, ancap does sound good, I’ll admit. The only problem is, since there has never been a real ancap nation before, ancap is nothing *but* theory. Socialism sounded good in theory, too, to a lot of people, until they realized that it kills the golden goose. (Unfortunately, some people still haven’t realized this.) Anyway, if I’m right, and ancap does turn into a Mad Max nightmare, then what am I supposed to think? “Well, life sure does suck here in Ancapistan, but at least we don’t have an illegimate government, like the one we used to have that made life less sucky”? That seems a bit Panglossian to me.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 7:14 AM

  • Russ
  • Stephan Kinsella wrote:”I used to think this too, when I was a newb quasi-Randroid. Then I read some more and wised up.”

    I looked at your link briefly, and as you might guess, I subscribe to the “Common view on freedom and government” in Figure 4, except in my preferred version the maximum of the curve would be closer to the origin.

    I don’t think that reading more is the solution. I could read all day, and it would all be nothing but theory, since there is zero ancap experience. And you know what they say about theory and practice; in theory, theory works, but it practice it doesn’t. Besides, I have read all the major evangelism for ancap, as far as I am aware. In fact, I used to consider myself ancap. But in recent years I did some re-evaluation, and came to the conclusion that my previous belief that ancap would ‘work’ was simply due to a fervent desire that it would work. In other words, I succumbed to wishful thinking.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 7:34 AM

  • 2nd Amendment
  • Fuss,”I subscribe to the “Common view on freedom and government” ”

    And I susbscribe to the view of freedom VS government.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 7:44 AM

  • Magnus
  • The only problem is, since there has never been a real ancap nation before, ancap is nothing *but* theory.Anarchy is all around us. It exists in every voluntary interaction you see every day. Anarchy is the defining characteristic of 95% of every situation and relationship in your life.

    You are clinging to this fantasy that, by bullying people and stealing things in the 5% of life that is controlled by statist (i.e., violent) relationships, the state is somehow keeping the other 95% of life from turning into Mad Max.

    Anarchy never goes away. It is a natural and inevitable result of the fact that humans are independent economic actors, and therefore capable of cooperating or competing with each other, as they see fit. Anarchy is the way human society works, even when one gang becomes so large that it suppresses most of the rival gangs and gets to call itself a “government.”

    What you call the government is really just another gang. They are not official. They are not superior. They are just a mafia organization that has grown to be larger than other mafia organizations.

    A more anarchic society that most Americans are somewhat familiar with is the American frontier, which eventually became limited to what we call the Old West. Several generations of Hollywood propaganda has distorted most people’s understanding of the American frontier, but for a brief time, people got away from the gangsters and the banksters and the government mob and its cronies.

    If you do real research on it, you’ll find that it was far from a crazy, gun-slinging murder-fest. It was tremendous economic growth, and virtually no crime.

    http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

    http://mises.org/article.aspx?Id=1449

    Compare the crime rate of the American frontier, over its 300-year history, to, for example, the so-called Civil War, which was a 100% government operation that killed 600,000 people.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 7:46 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • Russ,It obviously takes more than reading, it appears that most words just bounce right off you. EVERYTHING that works is “anarchy”. The market is “anarchy”, you know, people behaving voluntarily to each others agreed mutual benefit. We can’t ever get too much of that. It works SO well in fact, that it is still able to keep us all aloft despite the ever growing and now mind-bendingly massive parasitical scam/incredibly naive complex of wishful thinking called “government”.

    “Evangelism”

    ?!

    And now you again talk of how socialism sounds good (THAT old saw!). I just watched the Quentin Tarantino fantasy which consists primarily of scenes where American and British agents behind German lines have lengthy conversations with Nazis and slowly give away clues of their non-Hun-ship. Something made me think of this, ha ha.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 8:20 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • Oops, I hadn’t realized that Brother Magnus had already given you a bit of the same Gospel.
  • Published: August 24, 2009 8:29 AM

  • Russ
  • “And now you again talk of how socialism sounds good (THAT old saw!).”My point was the a lot of otherwise intelligent people used to think that socialism sounds good.

    I don’t really think it sounds that good, because I’m more concerned with having other people leave me alone than with guaranteed economic security (which is a false guarantee anyway). The only part of the socialist sales pitch that ever appealed to me was the part about nobody going hungry, or never having to live homeless out in the bitter cold, etc. But then I realized that capitalism is much more likely to solve these problems than socialism. And I realized that back in the 9th grade, when my social studies teacher (I actually had a good one) taught us what socialism is in theory, and what it is in practice, and how the theory and practice diverge.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 9:12 AM

  • Russ
  • Brother Magnus wrote:”Anarchy is all around us….”

    Brother mpolzkill wrote:

    “The market is “anarchy”…”

    “Oops, I hadn’t realized that Brother Magnus had already given you a bit of the same Gospel.”

    Not a problem. I’ll address both together.

    The standard answer to this is, of course, that although the market is unplanned, the market is *not* anarchy, because the market depends upon the framework of law and order that the government provides, and could not function without said framework. Let’s say that government goes bye bye tomorrow. It might prove hard to conduct day to day business when the people who are no longer getting their welfare checks all decide to riot, and you can no longer get to your place of business. If your place of business were burning down in the riot, that could also put a crimp in your plans. Or if union workers who can no longer use the government to extort businesses decide to destroy your physical plant, that could affect the bottom line. Riots are bad for business. So are other things, like thieves, robbers, and vast hordes of rampaging Canadians (*grin*). That’s why we have government. Among its legitimate functions is protecting us from such unpleasantnesses.

    Of course, you could respond that in ancap, PDAs will fill the legitimate role of government, without that nasty chemical after-taste. And that very well might be. Or it very well might not be. We have no way of knowing. All we do know is that no such system has ever evolved naturally, despite disputable claims that the early American West, or Viking Iceland, or tribal Ireland, were close. At any rate, I have no desire to live like a Viking or Irish tribesman, and the early American West evolved into the modern government-based American West as it grew, so I don’t think those models are appropriate for an ancap that could work in a hi-tech, high population density modern society.

    The model I think is appropriate is the model that we currently live under, although of course it’s a “fixer-upper”. I guess it’s my conservative side that thinks that completely tearing down the framework of our society and rebuilding it from scratch, based on a political / philosophical system, might be a bit imprudent. The last time that was tried, based on the philosophy of Messrs Marx and Engels, it didn’t work out so well, if memory serves.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 10:08 AM

  • Magnus
  • All we do know is that no such system has ever evolved naturally, despite disputable claims that the early American West, or Viking Iceland, or tribal Ireland, were close.No such system? The entire body of what we now call commercial law was created privately. It was then co-opted by various governments.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_mercatoria

    the early American West evolved into the modern government-based American West as it grew

    No, it didn’t “evolve.” It wasn’t a passive process. Gangsters moved in, and took things over.

    The real trick was for the gangsters to convince their victims they were a force for good. It is a lie that has been passed on down through the generations, which you now repeat.

    The model I think is appropriate is the model that we currently live under, although of course it’s a “fixer-upper”. I guess it’s my conservative side that thinks that completely tearing down the framework of our society and rebuilding it from scratch, based on a political / philosophical system, might be a bit imprudent. The last time that was tried, based on the philosophy of Messrs Marx and Engels, it didn’t work out so well, if memory serves.

    Socialism fails because of the calculation problem. It is impossible to coordinate production and consumption without markets and prices. Not for you, not for the Russkies, not for the most powerful conceivable computer. Impossible. Socialism was never good “on paper” or “in theory.”

    Your adherence to the existence of the state, in whatever form, is the reason you will never see a “minimal state.”

    Minarchist libertarianism is and will always be doomed to failure because you have conceded that statist relationships have the capacity to solve complex, long-term social problems.

    Once you do that, you have already lost the debate. You have conceded that aggression is not only necessary, but it’s an affirmatively good idea, to be applied where and when it suits you.

    Then, for some reason, you are surprised and offended that other people have taken that idea and expanded on it for their own benefit. They say, “Hey, if the state works over there where Russ likes him some organized violence (e.g., to keep the peasants from rioting), let’s use it over here where it suits me!”

    That’s the dynamic that produced the modern welfare-warfare state. The two sides play off each other, in a symbiotic dance. Side A wants to use state violence to achieve X, and Side B wants state violence to achieve Y. So, each side gives a little to get a little, and you end up with Side A agreeing to Side B’s demands, and vice versa.

    It’s a game that’s as old as the hills. It was going on in ancient Rome. Bastiat complained about the two halves of the French Assembly dividing up the wealth of the population in the 1850s.

    It’s a complete fantasy to think that these people who call themselves the state are going to just walk away from all that power. It’s absurd. You could more easily walk into your local hang-out of La Cosa Nostra, the Russian Mob, the Triads, or MS13, and explain to them, in a carefully-crafted logical argument, how they really ought to be in the business of providing blankets and shoes and food to orphans. Try joining one of those organizations and reforming it from within. It’s ridiculous.

    I have no illusions that the idea of the state will go away just because anarchism is the truth, preferable, or economically advantageous. It’s a criminal enterprise, and so the people who populate it are not susceptible to pleas that they stop being criminal.

    The state will collapse, of course, allowing normal, peaceful, anarchic relationships to more fully flourish, but not because anarchists say so. It will collapse because states all collapse, and for the same reasons — the parasite eventually kills its host.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 11:09 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • “Standard answer” indeed! You’re no statist, you claim, yet you buy and use the State’s biggest whoppers. That was a new tautology on me though: we must keep the State so that it will always protects us from the welfare addicts it always creates.I’m starting to get pretty embarrassed talking here, this is all little league stuff. We don’t have to say (and won’t say) “bye bye tomorrow”. Come on – if you’re even sincere about any of this – this is probably the source of your problems with anarchism. Of course “ancapistan” shouldn’t be (won’t be, CAN’T be) decreed; the State’s poor, stunted creations couldn’t handle it. This is all a false dilemma. Bah!

    “Conservative side”, yep, thanks for showing it so clearly in public.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 11:19 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • I guess it’s my conservative side that thinks that completely tearing down the framework of our society and rebuilding it from scratch, based on a political / philosophical system, might be a bit imprudent.But of course, that would never happen. People are too used to the habits and institutions that they’ve grown up with to to toss them aside and build society from scratch (at least most of them). That doesn’t need to happen to make an anarchist society, anyway. governments didn’t create money, they simply took over the production of money. Governments didn’t create the institution of marriage, they simply wormed their way in with their regulations. Much of our life and society would not be turned topsy-turvey if we went to anarchism overnight (though of course, even that’s unlikely to happen). The difference that anarchism would make would be gradual, and would mostly be noticeable only over a period of time and accumulated changes.

    In any case, I think you guys have beaten this definition of “libertarianism” into the ground, and don’t see anything productive about the back and forth going on now.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 11:53 AM

  • Russ
  • Magnus wrote:”It’s a complete fantasy to think that these people who call themselves the state are going to just walk away from all that power. It’s absurd.”

    And when the Revolution takes place, and we have ancap, all “those people who call themselves the state are going to just walk away”? No, they’ll probably be the first ones to start up PDAs, just like the old KGB is the new Russian Mafia.

    “Minarchist libertarianism is and will always be doomed to failure because you have conceded that statist relationships have the capacity to solve complex, long-term social problems.”

    Well, sure, I have conceded that. Get your head out of your ancap philosophy book, and take a look at history. The US has used “statist” relationships to “solve complex, long-term social problems” for going on 235 years now. And most peoples’ lives aren’t that bad. Face it, the “statist relationships” work.

    “The state will collapse, of course, allowing normal, peaceful, anarchic relationships to more fully flourish, but not because anarchists say so. It will collapse because states all collapse, and for the same reasons — the parasite eventually kills its host.”

    If the state does collapse, it will probably cause a hell of a lot of rights violations, and pain and suffering, in the process. Wouldn’t it be better to try to fix the system and thus avoid all this? Or do you believe in “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall”? This is the kind of thinking that resulted in the Terror in the French Revolution, or the deaths of millions of kulaks in Soviet Russia.

    mpolzkill wrote:

    “That was a new tautology on me though: we must keep the State so that it will always protects us from the welfare addicts it always creates.”

    Oh please. Those “rioting welfare addicts” were just a convenient example.

    “I’m starting to get pretty embarrassed talking here, this is all little league stuff. We don’t have to say (and won’t say) “bye bye tomorrow”. ….”

    Please, you’re getting all worked up over nothing. My idea of government “going bye bye” was just a rhetorical device, nothing more. What is “little league” is all you guys pretending that you have never heard any of the classical liberal justifications for government before, and pretending that ancap is intuitively obvious whereas minarchism is a radical new theory, when of course the opposite is the case.

    “”Conservative side”, yep, thanks for showing it so clearly in public.”

    Not a problem. I don’t see a problem with having a “conservative side”, if that means having a sense of prudence, and thinking that throwing the baby out with the bathwater is wasteful.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 11:59 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • Testify, Brother Magnus!I really liked that, esp.: “Try joining one of those organizations and reforming it from within. It’s ridiculous.”

    That made me think of something and I believe it belongs here on “What Libertarianism Is”:

    Ron Paul’s second career does not advance libertarianism. I dearly love Dr. Paul, but he always reminds me of Nock’s great line about a minister trying to take over a whorehouse. I believe that all political efforts cause more harm than good. Paul has done an incredible job in spreading the word to the receptive (he said the name Spooner on national television, that almost made me cry) but I think this is more than counteracted by the alarm he sets off in all the other political groups. All political actors know in their hearts that all opposing political actors are scum and must be destroyed. NO beautiful & intricate philosophy can survive the ensuing shitstorm or the way the media masters can smear shit on it by the expert way they put two separate ideas into one mental box for most people. I’d bet the average person sees Paul in KKK robes, just as they saw Iraqis flying into the WTC.

    What we need for action is something more along the lines of Gandhi’s making his own salt. The great obstacle is that where the Indians KNEW the British were exactly as Magnus describes them, we have millions like Russ that just aren’t going to see that D.C. is every bit as bad as London. (Not to insult Russ too much, but there could be another reason he is a hopeless case: it seems he is very comfortable with the “Raj”, he has said how comfy he is, he may very well be one of their contractors)

  • Published: August 24, 2009 12:03 PM

  • Russ
  • Michael A. Clem wrote:”In any case, I think you guys have beaten this definition of “libertarianism” into the ground, and don’t see anything productive about the back and forth going on now.”

    You’re probably right. I’ve restated my main contention, that a minarchist is a *type* of libertarian (and not just 98% of a “true” anarchist libertarian), enough times that if Stephan or whoever is still unwilling to accept that, I probably won’t be able to change his mind.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 12:07 PM

  • Russ
  • mpolzkill wrote:”we have millions like Russ that just aren’t going to see that D.C. is every bit as bad as London.”

    *sigh*

    Of course I think DC is bad. That’s why I want to make it much smaller than it is now. Jesus Harold Christ on a frickin’ rubber crutch, you guys just don’t seem to have a sense of proportion. Just because both Hitler and I are “statists” according to your nonstandard definition, that does not mean I would like to live in Fourth Reich Germany.

    “(Not to insult Russ too much, but there could be another reason he is a hopeless case: it seems he is very comfortable with the “Raj”, he has said how comfy he is, he may very well be one of their contractors)”

    So I take it that you are an outlaw, living on the lam, staying one step ahead of the system by the virtue of your wit, charm and wicked left hook? Puuulleeeeze! You are probably a relatively comfortable member of the bourgeoisie, just like me. (And no, I don’t work for the government.)

  • Published: August 24, 2009 12:20 PM

  • mpolzkill
  • Haha, in this case that would be Tom Woods’ “Demon Baby”.A true conservative wants to conserve ANYTHING that makes him comfy. A conservative has no principles but self interest. It may be that he sees further than other conservatives, his self interest may not be AS narrow. It may be that what he wants saved is worth saving, but need not be and usually isn’t.

    I’m the opposite of worked up, exposure to conservatives temporarily depresses & enervates me.
    As M.A. Clem just said, we’re looking bad here, not getting anywhere, it’s embarrassing.

    I love classical liberalism, recommend it to those who have an emotional need for a master as the only tolerable statism there is; but if you haven’t noticed, classical liberalism, after bringing us most everything good about the modern world, died a whimpering death. Why not work on and call for something now that’s even greater than Classical Liberalism? And why would your weak sauce ever appeal to many?

  • Published: August 24, 2009 12:22 PM

  • mpolzkill
  • Excuse me, Gandhi wanted to make London smaller? I missed that somehow.Your definition of statist was the one without proportion. Hitler was a totalitarian statist, you are an appeasing statist.

    We’re all outlaws just hoping a D.A. spotlight doesn’t land on us (if we have any sense), literally, that’s how big the law book has gotten. That aside, I am closer to one of those cave dwelling poor schmucks one hears of (though I don’t avoid the public roads, not my strain of libertarianism), haha.

    I didn’t say you directly worked for them, I said you may be a contractor. That’s a big group, I know; it could be said that in our fascist economy we are all government contractors. I think I want to stop working for them more than you do.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 12:39 PM

  • Rafael Garcia
  • I have loved reading the exchange in these threads between Russ on one side and Stephan and co. on the other. I would just like to add two minor clarifications of my own to both sides:First, Stephan, you insist that you oppose aggression, but not consequentialism, and that you “don’t mind” if Russ opposes aggression on consequentialist grounds. But this is not true. Consequentialism is incompatible, as Russ pointed out, with your deontological opposition to aggression. Moreover, your (perfectly valid) refutations of Russ’s views were also refutations of consequentialism. Consequentialism is always self-contradictory, and always easy to refute for the clear-thinking. To deny this is the province of those who haven’t caught up on the last couple decades of analytic philosophy.

    And Russ, though your style of argument is one I really admire for the most part, you have a troublingly loose grasp of logical terms like “ad hom” and “reductio ad absurdum”. Stephan was demonstrating that any support for a state logically requires socialism or what you call “statism”. Of course, you can claim to oppose interventionism and to simultaneously support a state. Just as I can claim to believe there is no literal “God” while continuing to call myself a Christian. That doesn’t mean that you and I don’t contradict ourselves in the process. Stephan was helping you by showing you that, and his arguments were not “ad hominem”. You showed a glimpse of understanding his real arguments, which were in fact “reductio ad absurdum”. But you evaded the argument. Stephan’s point is that if it is morally permissible for an entity to violate rights in order to prevent more rights violations, then there is no logical distinction between rights violations like taxation and rights violations like rape. It is easy for an ancap to oppose rape, because anarchist libertarianism is consistantly anti-aggression. You, unlike Stephan, cannot say “I would not rape in order to minimize other rapes” without contradicting yourself and falling into absurdity. If you want to say that (and you should want to say that), you will have to abandon your incoherent “sort-of-statism” and return to the truth (not “purity”, mind you, but plain old truth) of anarchism. And conversely, minarchism offers not results or practicality, but merely untruths and support for evil.

    Though I disliked Stephan’s use of the word “despise” earlier, overall I think his tone has been unexceptional (despite your frequent complaints of name-calling), and it is clear that he has proved that he is right and you are wrong.

    Thanks again to you both (and to you others as well).

  • Published: August 24, 2009 1:21 PM

  • Stephan KinsellaAuthor Profile Page
  • Rafael Garcia:

    First, Stephan, you insist that you oppose aggression, but not consequentialism, and that you “don’t mind” if Russ opposes aggression on consequentialist grounds. But this is not true. Consequentialism is incompatible, as Russ pointed out, with your deontological opposition to aggression.

    True. I was too loose. I meant I don’t care why he opposes aggression, so long as he does.

     

    Though I disliked Stephan’s use of the word “despise” earlier, overall I think his tone has been unexceptional (despite your frequent complaints of name-calling), and it is clear that he has proved that he is right and you are wrong.

    Yes, that was a bit overboard by me; I didn’t take the time to subtly distinguish between criminals, outright statists, and imperfect libertarians.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 1:58 PM

  • Magnus
  • I was the one who used the term “despise.” In this case, I was referring not to people I despise (since I have only love in my heart), but rather to the false equivalence between anarchism and Communism.They are both so extreme, the story goes, and Communism was so wrong, that anarchism must also be wrong, and therefore the best route must be somewhere in the middle.

    This line of “thinking” is just so trivial, so meaningless, so useless, so vacuous, while posing as the supremely reasonable alternative. It makes me sick.

    It’s not reasonable. In fact, it’s anti-reason. It is frequently the least-defensible position in the entire spectrum of opinion.

    My feelings on this subject are part of my general disdain for the “moderate” position, which people typically adopt for no other reason than that it is easy and requires no intellectual rigor, while pretending to be the epitome of maturity and wisdom.

    Moderates are the intellectual equivalent of the sheep who is always to be found in the dead center of the herd.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 3:04 PM

  • gene
  • I agree.Anarchism can not be called extreme by any means. And, really neither can Communism [in the sense of communal, not the State sense}.

    All societies evolved from some system of anarchy, some better than others, so how extreme can that be?

    Many peoples also lived communally before “States” took over.

    The problem is the failure to choose and adapt “working” systems and somehow institute them on a large scale. It’s possible no system will work on a large scale. The State seems to be the outcome of “bigness”. Bigness breeds it and it breeds bigness itself.

    It’s really difficult to say if we have witnessed paricular “types” of systems fail or just the failure of “States”. The last gasp is always an unsucessful attempt to “control” what has become uncontrollable and this will always present itself as “socialistic”, whether it started that way or not.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 6:36 PM

  • Russ
  • Hehehe… I feel like Michael Corleone: “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” *grin*mpolzkill wrote:

    “A true conservative wants to conserve ANYTHING that makes him comfy. A conservative has no principles but self interest.”

    No, conservativism is based on not having the “fatal conceit” that I have the perfect system, derived from pure reason alone, without resort to past experience. It’s based on the idea of piecemeal reform of government, not completely tearing it down, and hoping you can rebuild it all in time. These are ideas from people like Hayek and Popper, despite the fact that they might have resented being identified as conservatives.

    Rafael Garcia wrote:

    “…you have a troublingly loose grasp of logical terms like “ad hom” and “reductio ad absurdum”. …You, unlike Stephan, cannot say “I would not rape in order to minimize other rapes” without contradicting yourself and falling into absurdity. If you want to say that (and you should want to say that), you will have to abandon your incoherent “sort-of-statism” and return to the truth (not “purity”, mind you, but plain old truth) of anarchism….”

    The reason I “evaded” Stephan’s “trap” is because I honestly thought it was kinda silly. I can’t for the life of me see how raping people could ever reduce the total amount of rapes; that’s much more ridiculous than any hypothetical that I ever came up with. Making sure people pay their fair share for a minimal state, and denying them the opportunity to opt out of that and join a PDA instead, is not rape. Not even close; if I were a rape victim, I’d probably be offended by the suggestion of equivalency. So I just didn’t walk into a perfectly obvious and completely contrived “philosopher’s dilemma”. If I were to walk into the trap and say that I would condone rape to reduce the total amount, firstly, it sounds absurd to condone rape (which it is, because it’s an absurd hypothetical). That makes it, on the face of it, a reductio ad absurdem argument (which is valid enough, logically speaking). Secondly, it would color me as a moral monster, hence the charges of ad hominem attack. I think I used the terms accurately enough.

    “…it is clear that he has proved that he is right and you are wrong.”

    Well, this is a matter of opinion, of course, and since I *am* playing to a hostile audience, I will take such evaluations with a grain of salt. But it has been fun.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 7:45 PM

  • Russ
  • gene wrote:”The problem is the failure to choose and adapt “working” systems and somehow institute them on a large scale. It’s possible no system will work on a large scale. The State seems to be the outcome of “bigness”. Bigness breeds it and it breeds bigness itself.”

    This is possible. The problem is that “bigness” seems to be better for accumulating militaristic power. If a state broke up into a large number of small states into order solve its “bigness” problem, that might well make it vulnerable to another, big, militaristic state (Hans-Herman Hoppe’s take on ancap and defense notwithstanding).

  • Published: August 24, 2009 7:57 PM

  • gene
  • i agree russ,smaller states or groups are much easier to handle, but they can be easily dominated.

    small states group together for protection and this makes others do the same.

    eventually the amount of force necessary is so large, that it abuses its power and eventually the abuse leads to its collapse.

    i think it is also why anarchy is so hard to maintain when population is dense. its not so much that the system of anarchy is archaic or inferior, but the dominance of larger force [State].

    force seems to be the double edged sword.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 8:20 PM

  • Magnus
  • I can’t for the life of me see how raping people could ever reduce the total amount of rapes; that’s much more ridiculous than any hypothetical that I ever came up with.That’s the point. He was illustrating the absurdity of advocating institutionalized stealing as a means of reduce the incidence of stealing.
  • Published: August 24, 2009 8:37 PM

  • mpolzkill
  • Russ,Tear what down? I’m a panarchist, no one HAS to be master-less. You have touchingly communicated your fear at ever losing your imaginary protectors; I wouldn’t rip away a child’s security blanket and I won’t be decreeing any “Ancapistan” (absurd, I know, but this absurd straw man is the basis of your criticism).
  • Published: August 24, 2009 9:19 PM

  • Othyem
  • I feel like this debate has gone around in circles. We have, on the one hand, libertarian-anarchists arguing that some variation of anarcho-capitalism is a viable political structure, and on the other we have libertarian-minarchists arguing that it’ll never work. As much as I love discussions like these because I always learn something, I think we’re really spinning our wheels here. My MAIN point, Russ, is not to convince you that anarcho-capitalism is the end-all/be-all or the cat’s meow of political configurations. You’re obviously well-read and nothing I or anyone else said could drastically change your mind into a hard-core Rothbardian. But that’s not what’s at stake.Russ, you think it’s okay for a government to violate everyone’s rights a little bit if it equals a lesser number of rights violations in the absence of government. In fact, this is essentially the sole purpose of government, in your opinion–to minimize the amount and severity of rights violations. I think there’s a few things wrong with this approach.

    “Suffering caused by rights violations is my only concern.”

    You’re right to point out that the SUFFERING caused by rights violations should be the ultimate end; without it, “rights violations” is just another empty term devoid of anything meaningful, and your choice to mitigate them without any reference to the suffering (interpreted broadly) would be irrelevant. Rights violations only make sense in that regard. But why stop there? Isn’t this slightly arbitrary? Why is it okay for a government to lessen suffering by lessening rights violations, but it’s not okay to lessen suffering through some other altrustic approach?

    Here’s an example, let’s imagine we have a group of medical scientists/doctors who’ve stumbled upon a miracle cure for disease X. Several thousands of people die each year by this disease and every one of these cases can be remedied by their miracle cure. Problem is, is the doctors are exceptionally greedy and they decide to charge a “monopoly price” for this curative potion. A price which is much too expensive for the several hundreds, even thousands, of people. To what extent is it justified to regulate the profits of these doctors to ensure that every individual can be cured. Let’s say there are 10 doctors. A regulation on each one would be (I’m guessing) 10 rights violations, but thousands would live. If there were no regulations on these doctors, then there would be obviously 0 rights violations (because certainly people DO NOT have a RIGHT to medicine), but thousands would die. Now, if you’re true intent is to minimze rights violations, then you’d pick the latter option, which would minimize the amount of suffering THROUGH rights violations–that is, no regulations against the scientists; however, it would MAXIMIZE the amount of suffering total–that is, thousands would die. You have a few options here:

    You could say “Screw ’em, there’s so such thing as a monopoly price anyway”, in which case you’re more principled than you think. Or you could go ahead and regulate the doctors to lessen the amount of suffering and death, which would mean crossing the threshold from “principle” to “pragmatic”, but at the cost of clarity. You’ve realized sometimes there’s more dreadful suffering than the kind caused by rights violations so you agree to focus on suffering generally. This isn’t good territory to be in, especially when trying to defend the minimal state from potential expansion.

    Or, you could allow those suffering from their illness a “positive right” to have “affordable healthcare for all.” I don’t need to run into scenarios where that could lead, do I? I’ll speak to the more general claim of providing “positive rights” for your citizens. I’m assuming–perhaps you’ve mentioned it in an earlier post–that in your minimal state an individual’s rights are (mostly) negative, that is, freedom NOT have one’s property violated, etc. By giving people positive rights, you basically win by DEFAULT. The state becomes necessary to protect the very rights it itself creates and defines. Of course, a life in anarchy will have a greater amount of rights violations if the state can make rights at will.

    “I wouldn’t have a problem with that, so long as the free riders moved on along to some other country.”

    You agree that if a civilian doesn’t want to take part in government he’s “free” so long as he migrates somewhere else. Although I don’t agree with that last point, I think we’re headed in the right direction. You are welcome to enjoy your minimal state, and I (or perhaps not) and others who so choose can either consent or not consent. We may differ about what is done with the non-consenters, but if you recognize the value in the act of consenting, then you recognize the value in being able to choose anarchy, whether or not you choose to be an anarchist yourself. That’s what this debate should be about.

  • Published: August 24, 2009 9:37 PM

  • Othyem
  • “This is debatable. A lot of people who do care do not agree at all. The idea is to prevent state-sponsored terrorism (the really dangerous kind with WMDs involved) by providing a “negative example” to those states that could do so. Assuming for sake of argument that a terrorist could set off a nuke in NYC, that would involve a huge level of rights violations, that would make years of war seem relatively paltry in comparison.”This proves my earlier point exactly. A government charged with the responsibility to reduce suffering through rights violations can basically do whatever the hell it wants, so long as its intent stays true to the original purpose. Disregarding the fact that there’s NO WAY to KNOW if a particular course of action will actually result in MORE or LESS rights violations, an administration is pretty much given free reign to intervene wherever and whenever it wants. Hell, a future president COULD say “Canada is planning to invade in order to murder, rape, and kill our children. The results could be catastrophic; the death toll is sure to number in the hundreds of millions! Let’s go to WAAAR!!!” Yes, I know, far-fetched–but that’s the point. Anything becomes justifiable if its purpose is to reduce rights violations. ANYTHING! And there’s no recourse. Future rights violations would be, for the most part, purely speculative.
  • Published: August 24, 2009 10:01 PM

  • Rafael Garcia
  • RUSS: I can’t for the life of me see how raping people could ever reduce the total amount of rapes; that’s much more ridiculous than any hypothetical that I ever came up with.MAGNUS: That’s the point. He was illustrating the absurdity of advocating institutionalized stealing as a means of reduce the incidence of stealing.

    ME: I’m not sure who Magnus refers to here, but the argument was originally Stephan’s, and presumably Stephan had two distinct arguments in mind with this example. I was more interested in the second.

    1) We can accept utilitarianism for the sake of argument, and then ask: why do we expect minarchism will minimize crime instead of anarchism? Stephan (and magnus et al.) had many arguments on this point, and several of them were stronger than the rape analogy. I personally have not thought about this question enough to weigh in on it, though I found the arguments on both sides interesting. As Stephan has pointed out elsewhere on this blog, it’s irrelevant, because there is another (logically prior) argument that the “rape” example serves.

    2) Utilitarianism itself is, in my opinion, outdated and easily refuted. The first claim, that it is outdated, I fully admit to be pure rhetoric and ad hominem (though it explains its appeal to even such luminaries as Mises, Mill, and Bentham). But the second claim, that it is easily refuted, was demonstrated by Stephan’s reductio ad absurdum (which I paraphrased in my last post). Of course you don’t want to say that you condone rape in order to minimize total rapes, because this does sound monstrous. But that is not ad hominem, that is the point – to show that your position is, when thought about clearly and logically, monstrous. The only reason we entertain arguments by utilitarians is because in the end, we don’t take them too seriously. If you really were a person who would kill eight innocent men to save nine, or rape one child to save two, you would be beneath moral discourse. Your arguments show you to be a far more morally and intellectually sensitive being than that, despite your unfortunate attachment to the utilitarian creed (and thus, to the minimal state). Note that for argument 2, the fact that rapes do not in fact stop other rapes is entirely incidental. We are arguing purely about the logical coherence of utilitarianism at that point, not about facts of the world.

    I will drop this subject now, because I’m sure that the cranky preaching of a natural law supporter will not magically convert all utilitarians on this board to deontological libertarian anarchists. Otherwise Stephan would have done it already (with help from Magnus, Othyem, and mpolzkill).

  • Published: August 24, 2009 11:14 PM

  • gene
  • The argument goes around in circles because the basis of the situation does the same.we can’t get around force. the only way to deter what one might conceive of as “wrong” force is to counteract it with greater force.

    in order to have greater force, someone or some group must have the ability to use it. with this ability comes power and eventually or even originally, abuse.

    with this abuse comes submission or the need for even greater force, etc.

    it doesn’t really change whether the background is anarchy or statist. the nature of force controls the system, not the other way around.

    so, we all have the right idea believing that we should not agress and try to live in peace but the problem is you need one [or group] mother —— to keep the peace and that same bad a– dude [or dudes] will eventually mess everything up. and you always need someone deciding when to call the dude, etc. so control enters and things slide downhill!

    my personal view is anarchy and low population is the way to go. if you don’t like the particular situation, you can move and it will be different. Since we have neither, just hope for the best!

  • Published: August 24, 2009 11:29 PM

  • Gil
  • A big point is: would S. Kinsella & friends not bug poor ol’ Russ but actually bug real aggressors and robbers? If a mugger held up S. Kinsella, would he lecture the mugger on not using aggression to get what he wants? Or is S. Kinsella prepared for such a scenario whereby he has the ability to use retaliatory force against a mugger or a group thereof? Or is S. Kinsella hoping in the ‘goodness of humanity’ and hope he’ll never have to face a mugger? Or will S. Kinsella say “yes sir, yes sir, three bags full sir” and give the mugger what he wants with any retaliation whatsoever?If most Libertarians subscribe to one or both of the last two scenario then anarchotopia is unrealisable. After all, one group of people who are strong to give governments crap are Mexican Druglords yet if they could defeat governments and become the new powers their rule is hardly going to be any better.
  • Published: August 25, 2009 1:29 AM

  • Magnus
  • I wouldn’t rip away a child’s security blanket and I won’t be decreeing any “Ancapistan” (absurd, I know, but this absurd straw man is the basis of your criticism)You’re not speaking the statist language, mpolzkill. Unfortunately, the essential component of Russ’s security blanket is knowing that he can force you (and everyone else) to pay for and participate in his state.

    Your live-and-let-live attitude is a feature of voluntarism, not statism. Forcing everyone to comply is the whole point of the state, its defining feature, its raison d’etre.

  • Published: August 25, 2009 7:23 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • Gil,There are more scenarios that could be imagined when Mr. Kinsella still has all of the money and freedom that was already stolen from him by your “bada**” of choice: the “unreal” robber according to your conventional view. We radical libertarians are always at a disadvantage in these discussions because it is impossible to know what an unfettered market will come up with. Your average criminal is not as intelligent as your average peaceful citizen. In a free world, why we would all just sit back and let ourselves be robbed without coming up with some systems and technology to defeat them, I don’t know. I do know why we allow ourselves to be robbed right now by your “unreal” robbers: because there are just too many like you and Russ with this massive mental block.

    In an alternate example, we already know what you and Russ do when these “unreal” robbers take away almost all of our rights to defend ourselves, on 9/11/2001 totally drop the ball protecting the sheep they have slowly neutered over the last 80 years or so, Federalize airport security (their every failure brings them further aggrandizement), then spend a trillion of our dollars insanely slaughtering and torturing Iraqis, brazenly start spying on us…ad infinitum. You say something like: “Boy, I wish they would decide to make themselves smaller, but don’t forget, we always need our magic-badged protectors, can’t ever tear down all the wonderful things they’ve done”.

  • Published: August 25, 2009 7:55 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • Magnus,You hit the button there: language. As a very young man I learned the language of Lysander Spooner (that’s why, no matter how hard I try to cool it down, it’s at least a bit overheated, ha ha). Russ seems to be baffled, he can’t understand why we seem to be calling him a bad guy. He’s not, he’s just trapped by the slave language he was trained in by his masters. Gil thinks it’s funny that we seem to be attacking Russ. It’s because that’s where the battle is: the State’s main campaign is always to put its outposts in every mind.

    That reminds me, you conservatives here; how’s your battle against public school coming along? Does it look like the “liberals” are going to give you back your kids any time soon? Keep on saying you hope they get smaller, that should do the trick.

  • Published: August 25, 2009 8:17 AM

  • Michael A. Clem
  • Okay, now we’re really going off in strange directions. An obvious point is that there’s no reason debating with someone who isn’t interested in debate. Would Stephan argue with an armed robber? I can’t answer for him, but I suspect that he would not, unless he thought it might distract the robber and give him a chance to take action. But the absurdity of the question is that it says little about the political system: it can be asked of anyone, today. Would you ask the robber to wait while you pulled out your cell phone to call the local police to come to your aid?Russ, on the other hand, is clearly more interested in debate and discussion on the morality and practicality of these issues, as the rest of us are, and presumably wants to get at some worthwhile truth. Thus, talking to Russ makes sense, while trying to talk to an armed robber doesn’t.
  • Published: August 25, 2009 8:46 AM

  • mpolzkill
  • M.A. Clem,”says little about the political system”

    I don’t know, it says a lot about Gil & conservatism, I’d say. For instance, I think their phantasmagorias are the place to look when you want to find the root causes of the “Cold War”.

    Great talking to you all, I look forward to tonight and reading what you all come up with. Take care.

  • Published: August 25, 2009 9:02 AM

  • Gil
  • “Thus, talking to Russ makes sense, while trying to talk to an armed robber doesn’t.” – M. A. ClemUh huh . . . No, it shows a capacity for talk and nothing else. It reminds me of the story of when the poor people of New York would riot – did they trash the rich side town to make a real statement, nope, they trash their own side of town where it was safe to do so and where there’d be little to no repercussions. Nope, you have no ability to make a real difference in the real world but taking on Russ over the ‘real’ meaning of ‘Libertarianism’ gives a cheap feeling of ‘doing something’.
  • Published: August 25, 2009 8:38 PM

  • Rafael Garcia
  • Gil, your impatience with education and obsession with action are surprising. This Institute is dedicated to education, that is its purpose, and education is achieved by talking and writing. Moreover, what “action” do you suggest, if educating others is not “real” enough for you? Either you are recommending violent revolution, in which case you are not the safest person to be communicating with openly, or you are recommending political action, which is intrinsically evil (as all this “useless” talking has been trying to prove to you and others). As Mises would exhort us: tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. That is, “first, do no evil. but proceed ever more boldly against it.” Political activism usually breaks the first injunction, under the pretense of carrying out the second.
  • Published: August 25, 2009 9:08 PM

  • Gil
  • So, Rafael, you don’t like violent revolution (which ironically was the way in which America got to secede from Britian) nor do you like getting involved in politics (I do respect Ron Paul for pro-active in his beliefs even if I probably wouldn’t agree with all of his beliefs) so what’s left: ‘education’. Okeedokee. 😉
  • Published: August 25, 2009 11:35 PM

  • Rafael Garcia
  • Good point, Gil. I should clarify, political action is only immoral for an anarchist, not a minarchist. And even there, I’m not sure about it yet, I’ve yet to read enough on both sides.Violent revolution against the State is not, of course, intrinsically wrong. But it can be quite stupid, if public opinion doesn’t support it. This is not 1776, and Obama is not seen the same way as George III was.
  • Published: August 26, 2009 11:20 PM

*****

{ 135 comments… read them below or add one }

Magnus August 24, 2009 at 11:09 am

All we do know is that no such system has ever evolved naturally, despite disputable claims that the early American West, or Viking Iceland, or tribal Ireland, were close.

No such system? The entire body of what we now call commercial law was created privately. It was then co-opted by various governments.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lex_mercatoria

the early American West evolved into the modern government-based American West as it grew

No, it didn’t “evolve.” It wasn’t a passive process. Gangsters moved in, and took things over.

The real trick was for the gangsters to convince their victims they were a force for good. It is a lie that has been passed on down through the generations, which you now repeat.

The model I think is appropriate is the model that we currently live under, although of course it’s a “fixer-upper”. I guess it’s my conservative side that thinks that completely tearing down the framework of our society and rebuilding it from scratch, based on a political / philosophical system, might be a bit imprudent. The last time that was tried, based on the philosophy of Messrs Marx and Engels, it didn’t work out so well, if memory serves.

Socialism fails because of the calculation problem. It is impossible to coordinate production and consumption without markets and prices. Not for you, not for the Russkies, not for the most powerful conceivable computer. Impossible. Socialism was never good “on paper” or “in theory.”

Your adherence to the existence of the state, in whatever form, is the reason you will never see a “minimal state.”

Minarchist libertarianism is and will always be doomed to failure because you have conceded that statist relationships have the capacity to solve complex, long-term social problems.

Once you do that, you have already lost the debate. You have conceded that aggression is not only necessary, but it’s an affirmatively good idea, to be applied where and when it suits you.

Then, for some reason, you are surprised and offended that other people have taken that idea and expanded on it for their own benefit. They say, “Hey, if the state works over there where Russ likes him some organized violence (e.g., to keep the peasants from rioting), let’s use it over here where it suits me!”

That’s the dynamic that produced the modern welfare-warfare state. The two sides play off each other, in a symbiotic dance. Side A wants to use state violence to achieve X, and Side B wants state violence to achieve Y. So, each side gives a little to get a little, and you end up with Side A agreeing to Side B’s demands, and vice versa.

It’s a game that’s as old as the hills. It was going on in ancient Rome. Bastiat complained about the two halves of the French Assembly dividing up the wealth of the population in the 1850s.

It’s a complete fantasy to think that these people who call themselves the state are going to just walk away from all that power. It’s absurd. You could more easily walk into your local hang-out of La Cosa Nostra, the Russian Mob, the Triads, or MS13, and explain to them, in a carefully-crafted logical argument, how they really ought to be in the business of providing blankets and shoes and food to orphans. Try joining one of those organizations and reforming it from within. It’s ridiculous.

I have no illusions that the idea of the state will go away just because anarchism is the truth, preferable, or economically advantageous. It’s a criminal enterprise, and so the people who populate it are not susceptible to pleas that they stop being criminal.

The state will collapse, of course, allowing normal, peaceful, anarchic relationships to more fully flourish, but not because anarchists say so. It will collapse because states all collapse, and for the same reasons — the parasite eventually kills its host.

REPLY

mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 11:19 am

“Standard answer” indeed! You’re no statist, you claim, yet you buy and use the State’s biggest whoppers. That was a new tautology on me though: we must keep the State so that it will always protects us from the welfare addicts it always creates.

I’m starting to get pretty embarrassed talking here, this is all little league stuff. We don’t have to say (and won’t say) “bye bye tomorrow”. Come on – if you’re even sincere about any of this – this is probably the source of your problems with anarchism. Of course “ancapistan” shouldn’t be (won’t be, CAN’T be) decreed; the State’s poor, stunted creations couldn’t handle it. This is all a false dilemma. Bah!

“Conservative side”, yep, thanks for showing it so clearly in public.

REPLY

Michael A. Clem August 24, 2009 at 11:53 am

I guess it’s my conservative side that thinks that completely tearing down the framework of our society and rebuilding it from scratch, based on a political / philosophical system, might be a bit imprudent.
But of course, that would never happen. People are too used to the habits and institutions that they’ve grown up with to to toss them aside and build society from scratch (at least most of them). That doesn’t need to happen to make an anarchist society, anyway. governments didn’t create money, they simply took over the production of money. Governments didn’t create the institution of marriage, they simply wormed their way in with their regulations. Much of our life and society would not be turned topsy-turvey if we went to anarchism overnight (though of course, even that’s unlikely to happen). The difference that anarchism would make would be gradual, and would mostly be noticeable only over a period of time and accumulated changes.
In any case, I think you guys have beaten this definition of “libertarianism” into the ground, and don’t see anything productive about the back and forth going on now.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

Magnus wrote:

“It’s a complete fantasy to think that these people who call themselves the state are going to just walk away from all that power. It’s absurd.”

And when the Revolution takes place, and we have ancap, all “those people who call themselves the state are going to just walk away”? No, they’ll probably be the first ones to start up PDAs, just like the old KGB is the new Russian Mafia.

“Minarchist libertarianism is and will always be doomed to failure because you have conceded that statist relationships have the capacity to solve complex, long-term social problems.”

Well, sure, I have conceded that. Get your head out of your ancap philosophy book, and take a look at history. The US has used “statist” relationships to “solve complex, long-term social problems” for going on 235 years now. And most peoples’ lives aren’t that bad. Face it, the “statist relationships” work.

“The state will collapse, of course, allowing normal, peaceful, anarchic relationships to more fully flourish, but not because anarchists say so. It will collapse because states all collapse, and for the same reasons — the parasite eventually kills its host.”

If the state does collapse, it will probably cause a hell of a lot of rights violations, and pain and suffering, in the process. Wouldn’t it be better to try to fix the system and thus avoid all this? Or do you believe in “Let justice be done, though the heavens fall”? This is the kind of thinking that resulted in the Terror in the French Revolution, or the deaths of millions of kulaks in Soviet Russia.

mpolzkill wrote:

“That was a new tautology on me though: we must keep the State so that it will always protects us from the welfare addicts it always creates.”

Oh please. Those “rioting welfare addicts” were just a convenient example.

“I’m starting to get pretty embarrassed talking here, this is all little league stuff. We don’t have to say (and won’t say) “bye bye tomorrow”. ….”

Please, you’re getting all worked up over nothing. My idea of government “going bye bye” was just a rhetorical device, nothing more. What is “little league” is all you guys pretending that you have never heard any of the classical liberal justifications for government before, and pretending that ancap is intuitively obvious whereas minarchism is a radical new theory, when of course the opposite is the case.

“”Conservative side”, yep, thanks for showing it so clearly in public.”

Not a problem. I don’t see a problem with having a “conservative side”, if that means having a sense of prudence, and thinking that throwing the baby out with the bathwater is wasteful.

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mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Testify, Brother Magnus!

I really liked that, esp.: “Try joining one of those organizations and reforming it from within. It’s ridiculous.”

That made me think of something and I believe it belongs here on “What Libertarianism Is”:

Ron Paul’s second career does not advance libertarianism. I dearly love Dr. Paul, but he always reminds me of Nock’s great line about a minister trying to take over a whorehouse. I believe that all political efforts cause more harm than good. Paul has done an incredible job in spreading the word to the receptive (he said the name Spooner on national television, that almost made me cry) but I think this is more than counteracted by the alarm he sets off in all the other political groups. All political actors know in their hearts that all opposing political actors are scum and must be destroyed. NO beautiful & intricate philosophy can survive the ensuing shitstorm or the way the media masters can smear shit on it by the expert way they put two separate ideas into one mental box for most people. I’d bet the average person sees Paul in KKK robes, just as they saw Iraqis flying into the WTC.

What we need for action is something more along the lines of Gandhi’s making his own salt. The great obstacle is that where the Indians KNEW the British were exactly as Magnus describes them, we have millions like Russ that just aren’t going to see that D.C. is every bit as bad as London. (Not to insult Russ too much, but there could be another reason he is a hopeless case: it seems he is very comfortable with the “Raj”, he has said how comfy he is, he may very well be one of their contractors)

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Michael A. Clem wrote:

“In any case, I think you guys have beaten this definition of “libertarianism” into the ground, and don’t see anything productive about the back and forth going on now.”

You’re probably right. I’ve restated my main contention, that a minarchist is a *type* of libertarian (and not just 98% of a “true” anarchist libertarian), enough times that if Stephan or whoever is still unwilling to accept that, I probably won’t be able to change his mind.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

mpolzkill wrote:

“we have millions like Russ that just aren’t going to see that D.C. is every bit as bad as London.”

*sigh*

Of course I think DC is bad. That’s why I want to make it much smaller than it is now. Jesus Harold Christ on a frickin’ rubber crutch, you guys just don’t seem to have a sense of proportion. Just because both Hitler and I are “statists” according to your nonstandard definition, that does not mean I would like to live in Fourth Reich Germany.

“(Not to insult Russ too much, but there could be another reason he is a hopeless case: it seems he is very comfortable with the “Raj”, he has said how comfy he is, he may very well be one of their contractors)”

So I take it that you are an outlaw, living on the lam, staying one step ahead of the system by the virtue of your wit, charm and wicked left hook? Puuulleeeeze! You are probably a relatively comfortable member of the bourgeoisie, just like me. (And no, I don’t work for the government.)

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mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Haha, in this case that would be Tom Woods’ “Demon Baby”.

A true conservative wants to conserve ANYTHING that makes him comfy. A conservative has no principles but self interest. It may be that he sees further than other conservatives, his self interest may not be AS narrow. It may be that what he wants saved is worth saving, but need not be and usually isn’t.

I’m the opposite of worked up, exposure to conservatives temporarily depresses & enervates me.
As M.A. Clem just said, we’re looking bad here, not getting anywhere, it’s embarrassing.

I love classical liberalism, recommend it to those who have an emotional need for a master as the only tolerable statism there is; but if you haven’t noticed, classical liberalism, after bringing us most everything good about the modern world, died a whimpering death. Why not work on and call for something now that’s even greater than Classical Liberalism? And why would your weak sauce ever appeal to many?

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mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Excuse me, Gandhi wanted to make London smaller? I missed that somehow.

Your definition of statist was the one without proportion. Hitler was a totalitarian statist, you are an appeasing statist.

We’re all outlaws just hoping a D.A. spotlight doesn’t land on us (if we have any sense), literally, that’s how big the law book has gotten. That aside, I am closer to one of those cave dwelling poor schmucks one hears of (though I don’t avoid the public roads, not my strain of libertarianism), haha.

I didn’t say you directly worked for them, I said you may be a contractor. That’s a big group, I know; it could be said that in our fascist economy we are all government contractors. I think I want to stop working for them more than you do.

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Rafael Garcia August 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

I have loved reading the exchange in these threads between Russ on one side and Stephan and co. on the other. I would just like to add two minor clarifications of my own to both sides:

First, Stephan, you insist that you oppose aggression, but not consequentialism, and that you “don’t mind” if Russ opposes aggression on consequentialist grounds. But this is not true. Consequentialism is incompatible, as Russ pointed out, with your deontological opposition to aggression. Moreover, your (perfectly valid) refutations of Russ’s views were also refutations of consequentialism. Consequentialism is always self-contradictory, and always easy to refute for the clear-thinking. To deny this is the province of those who haven’t caught up on the last couple decades of analytic philosophy.

And Russ, though your style of argument is one I really admire for the most part, you have a troublingly loose grasp of logical terms like “ad hom” and “reductio ad absurdum”. Stephan was demonstrating that any support for a state logically requires socialism or what you call “statism”. Of course, you can claim to oppose interventionism and to simultaneously support a state. Just as I can claim to believe there is no literal “God” while continuing to call myself a Christian. That doesn’t mean that you and I don’t contradict ourselves in the process. Stephan was helping you by showing you that, and his arguments were not “ad hominem”. You showed a glimpse of understanding his real arguments, which were in fact “reductio ad absurdum”. But you evaded the argument. Stephan’s point is that if it is morally permissible for an entity to violate rights in order to prevent more rights violations, then there is no logical distinction between rights violations like taxation and rights violations like rape. It is easy for an ancap to oppose rape, because anarchist libertarianism is consistantly anti-aggression. You, unlike Stephan, cannot say “I would not rape in order to minimize other rapes” without contradicting yourself and falling into absurdity. If you want to say that (and you should want to say that), you will have to abandon your incoherent “sort-of-statism” and return to the truth (not “purity”, mind you, but plain old truth) of anarchism. And conversely, minarchism offers not results or practicality, but merely untruths and support for evil.

Though I disliked Stephan’s use of the word “despise” earlier, overall I think his tone has been unexceptional (despite your frequent complaints of name-calling), and it is clear that he has proved that he is right and you are wrong.

Thanks again to you both (and to you others as well).

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Stephan Kinsella August 24, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Rafael Garcia:

First, Stephan, you insist that you oppose aggression, but not consequentialism, and that you “don’t mind” if Russ opposes aggression on consequentialist grounds. But this is not true. Consequentialism is incompatible, as Russ pointed out, with your deontological opposition to aggression.

True. I was too loose. I meant I don’t care why he opposes aggression, so long as he does.

Though I disliked Stephan’s use of the word “despise” earlier, overall I think his tone has been unexceptional (despite your frequent complaints of name-calling), and it is clear that he has proved that he is right and you are wrong.

Yes, that was a bit overboard by me; I didn’t take the time to subtly distinguish between criminals, outright statists, and imperfect libertarians.

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Magnus August 24, 2009 at 3:04 pm

I was the one who used the term “despise.” In this case, I was referring not to people I despise (since I have only love in my heart), but rather to the false equivalence between anarchism and Communism.

They are both so extreme, the story goes, and Communism was so wrong, that anarchism must also be wrong, and therefore the best route must be somewhere in the middle.

This line of “thinking” is just so trivial, so meaningless, so useless, so vacuous, while posing as the supremely reasonable alternative. It makes me sick.

It’s not reasonable. In fact, it’s anti-reason. It is frequently the least-defensible position in the entire spectrum of opinion.

My feelings on this subject are part of my general disdain for the “moderate” position, which people typically adopt for no other reason than that it is easy and requires no intellectual rigor, while pretending to be the epitome of maturity and wisdom.

Moderates are the intellectual equivalent of the sheep who is always to be found in the dead center of the herd.

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gene August 24, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I agree.

Anarchism can not be called extreme by any means. And, really neither can Communism [in the sense of communal, not the State sense}.

All societies evolved from some system of anarchy, some better than others, so how extreme can that be?

Many peoples also lived communally before “States” took over.

The problem is the failure to choose and adapt “working” systems and somehow institute them on a large scale. It’s possible no system will work on a large scale. The State seems to be the outcome of “bigness”. Bigness breeds it and it breeds bigness itself.

It’s really difficult to say if we have witnessed paricular “types” of systems fail or just the failure of “States”. The last gasp is always an unsucessful attempt to “control” what has become uncontrollable and this will always present itself as “socialistic”, whether it started that way or not.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Hehehe… I feel like Michael Corleone: “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” *grin*

mpolzkill wrote:

“A true conservative wants to conserve ANYTHING that makes him comfy. A conservative has no principles but self interest.”

No, conservativism is based on not having the “fatal conceit” that I have the perfect system, derived from pure reason alone, without resort to past experience. It’s based on the idea of piecemeal reform of government, not completely tearing it down, and hoping you can rebuild it all in time. These are ideas from people like Hayek and Popper, despite the fact that they might have resented being identified as conservatives.

Rafael Garcia wrote:

“…you have a troublingly loose grasp of logical terms like “ad hom” and “reductio ad absurdum”. …You, unlike Stephan, cannot say “I would not rape in order to minimize other rapes” without contradicting yourself and falling into absurdity. If you want to say that (and you should want to say that), you will have to abandon your incoherent “sort-of-statism” and return to the truth (not “purity”, mind you, but plain old truth) of anarchism….”

The reason I “evaded” Stephan’s “trap” is because I honestly thought it was kinda silly. I can’t for the life of me see how raping people could ever reduce the total amount of rapes; that’s much more ridiculous than any hypothetical that I ever came up with. Making sure people pay their fair share for a minimal state, and denying them the opportunity to opt out of that and join a PDA instead, is not rape. Not even close; if I were a rape victim, I’d probably be offended by the suggestion of equivalency. So I just didn’t walk into a perfectly obvious and completely contrived “philosopher’s dilemma”. If I were to walk into the trap and say that I would condone rape to reduce the total amount, firstly, it sounds absurd to condone rape (which it is, because it’s an absurd hypothetical). That makes it, on the face of it, a reductio ad absurdem argument (which is valid enough, logically speaking). Secondly, it would color me as a moral monster, hence the charges of ad hominem attack. I think I used the terms accurately enough.

“…it is clear that he has proved that he is right and you are wrong.”

Well, this is a matter of opinion, of course, and since I *am* playing to a hostile audience, I will take such evaluations with a grain of salt. But it has been fun.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 7:57 pm

gene wrote:

“The problem is the failure to choose and adapt “working” systems and somehow institute them on a large scale. It’s possible no system will work on a large scale. The State seems to be the outcome of “bigness”. Bigness breeds it and it breeds bigness itself.”

This is possible. The problem is that “bigness” seems to be better for accumulating militaristic power. If a state broke up into a large number of small states into order solve its “bigness” problem, that might well make it vulnerable to another, big, militaristic state (Hans-Herman Hoppe’s take on ancap and defense notwithstanding).

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gene August 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm

i agree russ,

smaller states or groups are much easier to handle, but they can be easily dominated.

small states group together for protection and this makes others do the same.

eventually the amount of force necessary is so large, that it abuses its power and eventually the abuse leads to its collapse.

i think it is also why anarchy is so hard to maintain when population is dense. its not so much that the system of anarchy is archaic or inferior, but the dominance of larger force [State].

force seems to be the double edged sword.

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Magnus August 24, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I can’t for the life of me see how raping people could ever reduce the total amount of rapes; that’s much more ridiculous than any hypothetical that I ever came up with.

That’s the point. He was illustrating the absurdity of advocating institutionalized stealing as a means of reduce the incidence of stealing.

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mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 9:19 pm

Russ,

Tear what down? I’m a panarchist, no one HAS to be master-less. You have touchingly communicated your fear at ever losing your imaginary protectors; I wouldn’t rip away a child’s security blanket and I won’t be decreeing any “Ancapistan” (absurd, I know, but this absurd straw man is the basis of your criticism).

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Othyem August 24, 2009 at 9:37 pm

I feel like this debate has gone around in circles. We have, on the one hand, libertarian-anarchists arguing that some variation of anarcho-capitalism is a viable political structure, and on the other we have libertarian-minarchists arguing that it’ll never work. As much as I love discussions like these because I always learn something, I think we’re really spinning our wheels here. My MAIN point, Russ, is not to convince you that anarcho-capitalism is the end-all/be-all or the cat’s meow of political configurations. You’re obviously well-read and nothing I or anyone else said could drastically change your mind into a hard-core Rothbardian. But that’s not what’s at stake.

Russ, you think it’s okay for a government to violate everyone’s rights a little bit if it equals a lesser number of rights violations in the absence of government. In fact, this is essentially the sole purpose of government, in your opinion–to minimize the amount and severity of rights violations. I think there’s a few things wrong with this approach.

“Suffering caused by rights violations is my only concern.”

You’re right to point out that the SUFFERING caused by rights violations should be the ultimate end; without it, “rights violations” is just another empty term devoid of anything meaningful, and your choice to mitigate them without any reference to the suffering (interpreted broadly) would be irrelevant. Rights violations only make sense in that regard. But why stop there? Isn’t this slightly arbitrary? Why is it okay for a government to lessen suffering by lessening rights violations, but it’s not okay to lessen suffering through some other altrustic approach?

Here’s an example, let’s imagine we have a group of medical scientists/doctors who’ve stumbled upon a miracle cure for disease X. Several thousands of people die each year by this disease and every one of these cases can be remedied by their miracle cure. Problem is, is the doctors are exceptionally greedy and they decide to charge a “monopoly price” for this curative potion. A price which is much too expensive for the several hundreds, even thousands, of people. To what extent is it justified to regulate the profits of these doctors to ensure that every individual can be cured. Let’s say there are 10 doctors. A regulation on each one would be (I’m guessing) 10 rights violations, but thousands would live. If there were no regulations on these doctors, then there would be obviously 0 rights violations (because certainly people DO NOT have a RIGHT to medicine), but thousands would die. Now, if you’re true intent is to minimze rights violations, then you’d pick the latter option, which would minimize the amount of suffering THROUGH rights violations–that is, no regulations against the scientists; however, it would MAXIMIZE the amount of suffering total–that is, thousands would die. You have a few options here:

You could say “Screw ‘em, there’s so such thing as a monopoly price anyway”, in which case you’re more principled than you think. Or you could go ahead and regulate the doctors to lessen the amount of suffering and death, which would mean crossing the threshold from “principle” to “pragmatic”, but at the cost of clarity. You’ve realized sometimes there’s more dreadful suffering than the kind caused by rights violations so you agree to focus on suffering generally. This isn’t good territory to be in, especially when trying to defend the minimal state from potential expansion.

Or, you could allow those suffering from their illness a “positive right” to have “affordable healthcare for all.” I don’t need to run into scenarios where that could lead, do I? I’ll speak to the more general claim of providing “positive rights” for your citizens. I’m assuming–perhaps you’ve mentioned it in an earlier post–that in your minimal state an individual’s rights are (mostly) negative, that is, freedom NOT have one’s property violated, etc. By giving people positive rights, you basically win by DEFAULT. The state becomes necessary to protect the very rights it itself creates and defines. Of course, a life in anarchy will have a greater amount of rights violations if the state can make rights at will.

“I wouldn’t have a problem with that, so long as the free riders moved on along to some other country.”

You agree that if a civilian doesn’t want to take part in government he’s “free” so long as he migrates somewhere else. Although I don’t agree with that last point, I think we’re headed in the right direction. You are welcome to enjoy your minimal state, and I (or perhaps not) and others who so choose can either consent or not consent. We may differ about what is done with the non-consenters, but if you recognize the value in the act of consenting, then you recognize the value in being able to choose anarchy, whether or not you choose to be an anarchist yourself. That’s what this debate should be about.

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Othyem August 24, 2009 at 10:01 pm

“This is debatable. A lot of people who do care do not agree at all. The idea is to prevent state-sponsored terrorism (the really dangerous kind with WMDs involved) by providing a “negative example” to those states that could do so. Assuming for sake of argument that a terrorist could set off a nuke in NYC, that would involve a huge level of rights violations, that would make years of war seem relatively paltry in comparison.”

This proves my earlier point exactly. A government charged with the responsibility to reduce suffering through rights violations can basically do whatever the hell it wants, so long as its intent stays true to the original purpose. Disregarding the fact that there’s NO WAY to KNOW if a particular course of action will actually result in MORE or LESS rights violations, an administration is pretty much given free reign to intervene wherever and whenever it wants. Hell, a future president COULD say “Canada is planning to invade in order to murder, rape, and kill our children. The results could be catastrophic; the death toll is sure to number in the hundreds of millions! Let’s go to WAAAR!!!” Yes, I know, far-fetched–but that’s the point. Anything becomes justifiable if its purpose is to reduce rights violations. ANYTHING! And there’s no recourse. Future rights violations would be, for the most part, purely speculative.

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Rafael Garcia August 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm

RUSS: I can’t for the life of me see how raping people could ever reduce the total amount of rapes; that’s much more ridiculous than any hypothetical that I ever came up with.

MAGNUS: That’s the point. He was illustrating the absurdity of advocating institutionalized stealing as a means of reduce the incidence of stealing.

ME: I’m not sure who Magnus refers to here, but the argument was originally Stephan’s, and presumably Stephan had two distinct arguments in mind with this example. I was more interested in the second.

1) We can accept utilitarianism for the sake of argument, and then ask: why do we expect minarchism will minimize crime instead of anarchism? Stephan (and magnus et al.) had many arguments on this point, and several of them were stronger than the rape analogy. I personally have not thought about this question enough to weigh in on it, though I found the arguments on both sides interesting. As Stephan has pointed out elsewhere on this blog, it’s irrelevant, because there is another (logically prior) argument that the “rape” example serves.

2) Utilitarianism itself is, in my opinion, outdated and easily refuted. The first claim, that it is outdated, I fully admit to be pure rhetoric and ad hominem (though it explains its appeal to even such luminaries as Mises, Mill, and Bentham). But the second claim, that it is easily refuted, was demonstrated by Stephan’s reductio ad absurdum (which I paraphrased in my last post). Of course you don’t want to say that you condone rape in order to minimize total rapes, because this does sound monstrous. But that is not ad hominem, that is the point – to show that your position is, when thought about clearly and logically, monstrous. The only reason we entertain arguments by utilitarians is because in the end, we don’t take them too seriously. If you really were a person who would kill eight innocent men to save nine, or rape one child to save two, you would be beneath moral discourse. Your arguments show you to be a far more morally and intellectually sensitive being than that, despite your unfortunate attachment to the utilitarian creed (and thus, to the minimal state). Note that for argument 2, the fact that rapes do not in fact stop other rapes is entirely incidental. We are arguing purely about the logical coherence of utilitarianism at that point, not about facts of the world.

I will drop this subject now, because I’m sure that the cranky preaching of a natural law supporter will not magically convert all utilitarians on this board to deontological libertarian anarchists. Otherwise Stephan would have done it already (with help from Magnus, Othyem, and mpolzkill).

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gene August 24, 2009 at 11:29 pm

The argument goes around in circles because the basis of the situation does the same.

we can’t get around force. the only way to deter what one might conceive of as “wrong” force is to counteract it with greater force.

in order to have greater force, someone or some group must have the ability to use it. with this ability comes power and eventually or even originally, abuse.

with this abuse comes submission or the need for even greater force, etc.

it doesn’t really change whether the background is anarchy or statist. the nature of force controls the system, not the other way around.

so, we all have the right idea believing that we should not agress and try to live in peace but the problem is you need one [or group] mother —— to keep the peace and that same bad a– dude [or dudes] will eventually mess everything up. and you always need someone deciding when to call the dude, etc. so control enters and things slide downhill!

my personal view is anarchy and low population is the way to go. if you don’t like the particular situation, you can move and it will be different. Since we have neither, just hope for the best!

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Gil August 25, 2009 at 1:29 am

A big point is: would S. Kinsella & friends not bug poor ol’ Russ but actually bug real aggressors and robbers? If a mugger held up S. Kinsella, would he lecture the mugger on not using aggression to get what he wants? Or is S. Kinsella prepared for such a scenario whereby he has the ability to use retaliatory force against a mugger or a group thereof? Or is S. Kinsella hoping in the ‘goodness of humanity’ and hope he’ll never have to face a mugger? Or will S. Kinsella say “yes sir, yes sir, three bags full sir” and give the mugger what he wants with any retaliation whatsoever?

If most Libertarians subscribe to one or both of the last two scenario then anarchotopia is unrealisable. After all, one group of people who are strong to give governments crap are Mexican Druglords yet if they could defeat governments and become the new powers their rule is hardly going to be any better.

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Magnus August 25, 2009 at 7:23 am

I wouldn’t rip away a child’s security blanket and I won’t be decreeing any “Ancapistan” (absurd, I know, but this absurd straw man is the basis of your criticism)

You’re not speaking the statist language, mpolzkill. Unfortunately, the essential component of Russ’s security blanket is knowing that he can force you (and everyone else) to pay for and participate in his state.

Your live-and-let-live attitude is a feature of voluntarism, not statism. Forcing everyone to comply is the whole point of the state, its defining feature, its raison d’etre.

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mpolzkill August 25, 2009 at 7:55 am

Gil,

There are more scenarios that could be imagined when Mr. Kinsella still has all of the money and freedom that was already stolen from him by your “bada**” of choice: the “unreal” robber according to your conventional view. We radical libertarians are always at a disadvantage in these discussions because it is impossible to know what an unfettered market will come up with. Your average criminal is not as intelligent as your average peaceful citizen. In a free world, why we would all just sit back and let ourselves be robbed without coming up with some systems and technology to defeat them, I don’t know. I do know why we allow ourselves to be robbed right now by your “unreal” robbers: because there are just too many like you and Russ with this massive mental block.

In an alternate example, we already know what you and Russ do when these “unreal” robbers take away almost all of our rights to defend ourselves, on 9/11/2001 totally drop the ball protecting the sheep they have slowly neutered over the last 80 years or so, Federalize airport security (their every failure brings them further aggrandizement), then spend a trillion of our dollars insanely slaughtering and torturing Iraqis, brazenly start spying on us…ad infinitum. You say something like: “Boy, I wish they would decide to make themselves smaller, but don’t forget, we always need our magic-badged protectors, can’t ever tear down all the wonderful things they’ve done”.

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mpolzkill August 25, 2009 at 8:17 am

Magnus,

You hit the button there: language. As a very young man I learned the language of Lysander Spooner (that’s why, no matter how hard I try to cool it down, it’s at least a bit overheated, ha ha). Russ seems to be baffled, he can’t understand why we seem to be calling him a bad guy. He’s not, he’s just trapped by the slave language he was trained in by his masters. Gil thinks it’s funny that we seem to be attacking Russ. It’s because that’s where the battle is: the State’s main campaign is always to put its outposts in every mind.

That reminds me, you conservatives here; how’s your battle against public school coming along? Does it look like the “liberals” are going to give you back your kids any time soon? Keep on saying you hope they get smaller, that should do the trick.

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Michael A. Clem August 25, 2009 at 8:46 am

Okay, now we’re really going off in strange directions. An obvious point is that there’s no reason debating with someone who isn’t interested in debate. Would Stephan argue with an armed robber? I can’t answer for him, but I suspect that he would not, unless he thought it might distract the robber and give him a chance to take action. But the absurdity of the question is that it says little about the political system: it can be asked of anyone, today. Would you ask the robber to wait while you pulled out your cell phone to call the local police to come to your aid?
Russ, on the other hand, is clearly more interested in debate and discussion on the morality and practicality of these issues, as the rest of us are, and presumably wants to get at some worthwhile truth. Thus, talking to Russ makes sense, while trying to talk to an armed robber doesn’t.

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mpolzkill August 25, 2009 at 9:02 am

M.A. Clem,

“says little about the political system”

I don’t know, it says a lot about Gil & conservatism, I’d say. For instance, I think their phantasmagorias are the place to look when you want to find the root causes of the “Cold War”.

Great talking to you all, I look forward to tonight and reading what you all come up with. Take care.

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Gil August 25, 2009 at 8:38 pm

“Thus, talking to Russ makes sense, while trying to talk to an armed robber doesn’t.” – M. A. Clem

Uh huh . . . No, it shows a capacity for talk and nothing else. It reminds me of the story of when the poor people of New York would riot – did they trash the rich side town to make a real statement, nope, they trash their own side of town where it was safe to do so and where there’d be little to no repercussions. Nope, you have no ability to make a real difference in the real world but taking on Russ over the ‘real’ meaning of ‘Libertarianism’ gives a cheap feeling of ‘doing something’.

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Rafael Garcia August 25, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Gil, your impatience with education and obsession with action are surprising. This Institute is dedicated to education, that is its purpose, and education is achieved by talking and writing. Moreover, what “action” do you suggest, if educating others is not “real” enough for you? Either you are recommending violent revolution, in which case you are not the safest person to be communicating with openly, or you are recommending political action, which is intrinsically evil (as all this “useless” talking has been trying to prove to you and others). As Mises would exhort us: tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. That is, “first, do no evil. but proceed ever more boldly against it.” Political activism usually breaks the first injunction, under the pretense of carrying out the second.

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Gil August 25, 2009 at 11:35 pm

So, Rafael, you don’t like violent revolution (which ironically was the way in which America got to secede from Britian) nor do you like getting involved in politics (I do respect Ron Paul for pro-active in his beliefs even if I probably wouldn’t agree with all of his beliefs) so what’s left: ‘education’. Okeedokee. ;)

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Rafael Garcia August 26, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Good point, Gil. I should clarify, political action is only immoral for an anarchist, not a minarchist. And even there, I’m not sure about it yet, I’ve yet to read enough on both sides.

Violent revolution against the State is not, of course, intrinsically wrong. But it can be quite stupid, if public opinion doesn’t support it. This is not 1776, and Obama is not seen the same way as George III was.

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Gil August 29, 2009 at 11:23 am

“But it can be quite stupid, if public opinion doesn’t support it. This is not 1776, and Obama is not seen the same way as George III was.” – Rafael.

Bit late but – it is estimated that the ‘revolution’ was only supported by 30% of the population. The rebels believed in what they were doing not whether the majority like it or not.

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Michael A. Clem September 1, 2009 at 9:49 am

Nope, you have no ability to make a real difference in the real world but taking on Russ over the ‘real’ meaning of ‘Libertarianism’ gives a cheap feeling of ‘doing something’.
Talking doesn’t preclude doing other things, too. But if ideas are so unimportant to the workings of the world, why are you bothering to talk? Actions speak louder than words, don’t they?
In truth, though, human action is meaningless without the thought or idea that guides it. Both thought and action are necessary for meaningful purpose. And, naturally enough, different ideas lead to different actions. The purpose of talking to others about these ideas is to persuade them to take different actions. You can argue about how effective such talk is in persuading people, but you cannot argue without accepting the fact that you, too, are trying to persuade people to take different actions–otherwise, why would you argue? Just to make noise?

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Kaelen October 11, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Russ,

Russ, have you seen A Clockwork Orange? Since a lot of this discussion is hypothetical and no anarcho-cap nor a true monarchist state has existed, go with me on this scenario. Stephan has referred to you endorsing rape to prevent other rapes, and while you see this as extreme and unrelated, he is merely addressing the principle of allowing lesser evils to take place for the sake of preventing greater evils. Let’s say 1 out of 100 men will commit a rape; but it has been proven that if exposed to a live violent rape at a young age only 1 out of 100,000 will commit rape (similar to the process in Clockwork Orange). Would you be okay and support educational techniques that place 100,000 young male kids in a room and then allow a girl who was kidnapped to be brought in and raped (by an already convicted rapist) in front of them, knowing that this would lead to a lot less women being raped overall?

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Othyem August 21, 2009 at 10:27 pm

@Russ

You’re confusing libertarianism with some other consequentialist/utilitarian moral philosophy. The fact that you think Stephan Kinsella’s (and many, many other’s) conception of libertarianism–i.e, a form of (philosophical) anarchism–will lead to “more pain, hardship, suffering, and death” has ultimately nothing to do with property rights in oneself and the extension of that.

So, more people will suffer in an anarchist society? Well, let them *each* voluntarily enter into an explicit agreement and re-enter life under government. Those “rugged individualists” as they’re so called can try to hash out a nasty, brutish, and short life for themselves on the outside. What’s wrong with that?

@Nick

“I would love to know when the arbitrary(surely not “natural: see nature) right to not be coerced is applied to the human being. Surely a 2 year old can be punished for disobedience, can he not?”

I’m always surprised when I see people dispute such fundamental axioms as self-ownership. Anyways, you’re presumably comparing a government’s power to coerce and discipline its citizenry as equivilant to a parent’s power to discipline his or her child. Although libertarianians have differing viewpoints on this, the philosopher A. John Simmons has pointed out, it’s an assumption to assume that parents, in fact, have ANY “right” to discipline their children for disobedience. Children, strictly speaking, have no “natural duty” to obey their parents. Now, whether or not they have a MORAL duty to obey their parents, I think, is largely dependent upon their circumstances and is another issue altogether. Moreover, even if children DID in fact have some natural duty to obey their parents, it still doesn’t follow that this analogy applies equally to the child/parent citizen/government framework.

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Russ August 21, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Peter wrote:

“Well, sure; Adolf Hitler could call himself libertarian if he wanted. But him calling himself libertarian doesn’t mean he is libertarian.”

No, Hitler wouldn’t be a libertarian even if he called himself one. But I am a libertarian, just not the kind Stephan would prefer that I be. Stephan is like a Peikoffian Objectivist saying that a Kellyite isn’t really an Objectivist, or a Leninist saying a Trotskyite isn’t a real Marxist. Or, for you Monty Python fans, a member of the Judean People’s Front saying a member of the People’s Front of Judea isn’t a real Jew. ;-)

Magnus wrote:

“Since when did I consent to having my liberty and property put to a vote?”

I never said you did. A valid, minimal state doesn’t put your rights up for a vote. It only protects your rights.

Othyem wrote:

“You’re confusing libertarianism with some other consequentialist/utilitarian moral philosophy. ”

No, you and Stephan are confusing libertarianism as a whole with your particular formulation of libertarianism. Stephan is just another person who thinks that his is the only “true” version of X-ism, whatever X might happen to be.

“So, more people will suffer in an anarchist society? Well, let them *each* voluntarily enter into an explicit agreement and re-enter life under government. Those “rugged individualists” as they’re so called can try to hash out a nasty, brutish, and short life for themselves on the outside. What’s wrong with that?”

What’s wrong is that the “rugged individualists” might happen to interact with those of us who believe in a minimal government in a way such that somebody thinks their rights got violated. Then what happens? Hatfield-McCoy blood feuds? If all the anarchists were “on the outside”, that would be different. I wouldn’t mind if all the anarchists ran off to Somalia to live. (I think they would be supremely stupid to do so, but that’s another matter.)

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Gil August 22, 2009 at 12:53 am

“Since when did I consent to having my liberty and property put to a vote?” – Magnus.

Are you descendant of a Libertarian family who lived in America before the Founding Fathers who in turn forced a new style of government onto your family? If a government was set up voluntarily before your family arrived do you as an immigrant have the right to trash the society because they are ‘using force & fraud against’ you (“i signed nothing”)? How annoying would it be for minarchist societies facing repeated sorties from anarchists trying to seize public land and property from the minarchists on the contention the public property is effectively the ‘commons’ and therefore they have to right to homestead it and minarchists are ‘iniating force’ when they’re trying to stop the anarchists.

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Peter August 22, 2009 at 1:54 am

But I am a libertarian, just not the kind Stephan would prefer that I be.

You’re a mostly-libertarian, perhaps, but you’re not all the way there since you advocate the anti-libertarian initiation of force to accomplish certain ends.

If a government was set up voluntarily before your family arrived do you as an immigrant have the right to trash the society because they are ‘using force & fraud against’ you (“i signed nothing”)?

Absolutely. Of course.

How annoying would it be for minarchist societies facing repeated sorties from anarchists trying to seize public land and property from the minarchists on the contention the public property is effectively the ‘commons’ and therefore they have to right to homestead it and minarchists are ‘iniating force’ when they’re trying to stop the anarchists.

I’m sure it would be very annoying. That’s the minarchists’ problem. What’s it got to do with right and wrong?

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Magnus August 22, 2009 at 2:41 am

I never said you did. A valid, minimal state doesn’t put your rights up for a vote. It only protects your rights.

Why don’t you tell me exactly what you think this supposedly-valid “minimal state” actually does? Then I’ll tell you if it violates my rights.

In your answer, please pay special attention to the manner in which this supposedly-valid “minimal state” obtains funds for its minimal activities.

Please also address the extent to which people would be permitted, without threat of retaliation or coercion, to opt out of the “services” that this “minimal state” claims to provide.

Are you descendant of a Libertarian family who lived in America before the Founding Fathers who in turn forced a new style of government onto your family? If a government was set up voluntarily before your family arrived do you as an immigrant have the right to trash the society because they are ‘using force & fraud against’ you (“i signed nothing”)? How annoying would it be for minarchist societies facing repeated sorties from anarchists trying to seize public land and property from the minarchists on the contention the public property is effectively the ‘commons’ and therefore they have to right to homestead it and minarchists are ‘iniating force’ when they’re trying to stop the anarchists.

1. There are no “Founding Fathers.” Their proclamations about having “founded” anything are meaningless and not binding on me or anyone else.

2. The purported definition of a certain patch of dirt as “America,” as a territory in which their proclamations were to supposedly be perpetually binding as to all who tread upon it, is utterly void and ineffective.

3. Any “government” that was voluntarily set up before I arrived is only binding on the actual people who consented to it, not me or anyone else. Consent cannot be imputed, by force, on someone, even upon a late-comer.

4. There is no such thing as “public land” because there is no such thing as a “public.” It’s a completely imaginary concept. The claim of ownership, by anyone, over unused land is totally invalid. It’s just noise and hot air, and can be properly disregarded.

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Gil August 22, 2009 at 5:08 am

“There is no such thing as ‘public land’ because there is no such thing as a ‘public’. It’s a completely imaginary concept. The claim of ownership, by anyone, over unused land is totally invalid. It’s just noise and hot air, and can be properly disregarded. ”

What a coinkidink! The imperial Old World nations thought the same way towards the natives of the New World.

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2nd Amendment August 22, 2009 at 8:46 am

Nick,

One should not be punished for disobedience but only for wrongdoing.

Parents should teach children to use their heads, make up their own minds, take responsibilities, take calculated risks, critical thinking.

But parents should not teach children to obey, this is really destructive.

Hitler had an army of obedient drones. Obedience at all costs is apocalyptic.

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Russ August 22, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Damn, it’s like listening to a skipping record here (did that date me?)

Peter wrote:

“You’re a mostly-libertarian, perhaps, but you’re not all the way there since you advocate the anti-libertarian initiation of force to accomplish certain ends.”

No, I’m a libertarian. You, Stephan or even Murray Rothbard don’t get the sole right to decide what the word means, especially if you are against IP. “Libertarianism” is just a general term. Wikipedia has a good definition:

“Libertarianism is a term used to describe a broad spectrum of political philosophies which seek to maximize individual liberty and minimize or even abolish the state.”

The Rothbardian version of libertarianism, which defines libertarianism as the position of being against all initiation of force, is only one definition among many. It implies either that anarchism would result in the maximal individual liberty, or that maximizing liberty is not important, neither of which I can agree with. And I hate to tell you, but Rothbard’s definition is on the fringe of a fringe movement. Of course, to you guys, that’s good, because that makes you more pure and radical.

I can’t understand why you guys can’t be civil with others who want to go in the same general political direction as you. Heck, once we achieve a minimal government, and you want to go further, then you can go your own way. But we’re a long way from that day, and until then, why can’t we work together without all this “You’re not a *pure* libertarian!” crap? Must you divide the libertarian movement into little, tiny, ineffectual splinter groups just for the sake of doctrinal purity, when the libertarian movement is ineffectual enough already? What is it with you guys? Do you all have Asperger’s Syndrome or something? It’s no wonder people like Michael Medved call us “Losertarians”.

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Adam Knott August 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Hi Stephen.

Regarding these assertions in your article:

“Libertarianism recognizes that only the self-ownership rule is universalizable and compatible with the goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance.”

and

“Libertarian property rights principles emerge as the only candidate that satisfies these criteria.”

I am unaware of any proof that the principle of voluntarism or voluntary consent is not universalizable as a principle of libertarianism that can serve to achieve the goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance. So I have to disagree with these assertions.

Lockean property rights theory is how the Rothbard/Hoppe school of libertarian thought grounds its defense of libertarianism. Certainly the theories of Rothbard and Hoppe are not identical with libertarianism.

In your article, I couldn’t find a single use of the words “voluntary” or “voluntary consent,” though I found one reference to “consent.” Because of this, many non-Rothbardian libertarians will interpret your particular conception of libertarianism as an argument for a single libertarian legal order, to be instituted as the single legal order for all libertarians, without regard to individual voluntary consent.

I’m not necessarily proposing you change your conception of libertarianism to include voluntary consent, because I think doing so may undercut the natural law theoretical position. But I do claim that the conscious avoidance of a theory of libertarianism based on voluntary consent cannot go unnoticed by non-Rothbardian libertarians, and to the extent a theory of libertarianism is advanced which seeks to bypass or override the voluntary consent of individuals, it will be strenuously disavowed by other schools of libertarian though.

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Adam Knott August 22, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Sorry. Last word should be “thought.”

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Stephan Kinsella August 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Adam:

“Libertarian property rights principles emerge as the only candidate that satisfies these criteria.”

I am unaware of any proof that the principle of voluntarism or voluntary consent is not universalizable as a principle of libertarianism that can serve to achieve the goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance. So I have to disagree with these assertions.

I am not sure what you mean by “voluntarism” or “voluntary consent.” It only makes sense to me if it implies property rights. After all, consent, or permission, implies the right to withold consent, or permission–and this consent is necessarily pertaining to a user of a particular scarce resource that some other person wants to use, and that you apparently have the right to withhold or grant consent for. I.e., that you have ownership of–property rights in.

So you seem to be talking about property rights but insisting on using idiosyncratic language to describe it and eschewing perfectly good terms like property rights.

If “voluntarism” means something other than property rights, then it is not libertarian.

In short, my argument is that only X satisfies the “goals of peace, cooperation, and conflict-avoidance.” And X means assigning exclusive rights to control in a universalizable control. The word to describe this right to conttrol is “property right”.

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Mark August 22, 2009 at 9:09 pm

So if a buddy of mine puts a gun to head, am I violating his rights if I take it away from him? What if he’s in my house when he does it?

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Bala August 22, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Russ,

You are dead right on a lot of things, especially Stephan’s pompous attitude and his uncivil style of writing and responding. The other part is of course the rather dogmatic “axiom” of opposing all aggression. I specifically find the translation “absence of agression” funny because it is metaphysically impossible, at least as long a we are talking of a world of human beings (warts and all). I fully agree with your idea of “being for liberty” rather than “opposing aggression”.

Stephan’s notion that liberty means the absence of aggression is nothing short of peurile because Liberty means “being able to act as per the dictates of ones own mind”. While that requires the absence of the initiation of force, it cannot be defined as the absence of the initiation of force.

Keep writing in. You make sense.

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Bala August 22, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Mark,

” So if a buddy of mine puts a gun to head, am I violating his rights if I take it away from him? What if he’s in my house when he does it? ”

If you are using this to puncture a huge hole in the notion that property rights are the basis of all rights, then I think this is a good beginning. Frankly, as Ayn Rand said, the basis of all rights, including the right to property, is the Right to Life. The situation you have put forward is best addressed starting from that axiom.

Great example :)

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Russ August 22, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Bala wrote:

“You are dead right on a lot of things, especially Stephan’s pompous attitude and his uncivil style of writing and responding.”

I actually think that Stephan is a decent person, else he wouldn’t care so much about libertarianism. And since he cares so much, occasionally he gets a bit over-zealous. But so do I, and my zeal can make me very sarcastic, and thus uncivil, myself. That’s rather inconsistent with my Rodney King “can’t we all just get along” rant earlier. So I apologize for my excesses to Stephan. I think we’re both on the same side, when it comes right down to it. We just disagree on details.

“Keep writing in. You make sense.”

Thank you.

I would like to ask Stephan a few questions. He has been hammering on my position for a while now, so I would like him to clarify his position.

1) Are you for or against the lowest level of aggression possible in society? If against, why?

2) Do you think that if we lived in an anarcho-libertarian “polity” (for lack of a better word), that would result in the lowest level of aggression possible in society?

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Stephan Kinsella August 22, 2009 at 10:48 pm

Russ:

So I apologize for my excesses to Stephan. I think we’re both on the same side, when it comes right down to it. We just disagree on details.

Of course.

I would like to ask Stephan a few questions. He has been hammering on my position for a while now, so I would like him to clarify his position.

1) Are you for or against the lowest level of aggression possible in society? If against, why?

Well, I am against aggression just as you are (presumably) against rape. All aggression is wrong as all rape is wrong. Preferably there would be no aggression, and no rape. But just as 1 rape is not as bad as 100, a small amount of aggression is less undesirable than a large amount.

2) Do you think that if we lived in an anarcho-libertarian “polity” (for lack of a better word), that would result in the lowest level of aggression possible in society?

Well I believe the most worrisome aggression is institutionalized aggression. If you achieve anarchy that means you have abolished the source of public aggression. All that is left is a relatively small degree of private crime (relatively small for a number of reasons: first, to achieve anarchy, the ideas of liberty would have to be widespread; second, society b/c of the greater free market would be immensely wealthier, thus reducing the need for crime, and increasing the means at the disposal of civilized people to spend on security to stave off whatever crime is left).

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 2:06 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote:

“”1) Are you for or against the lowest level of aggression possible in society? If against, why?”

Well, I am against aggression just as you are (presumably) against rape. All aggression is wrong as all rape is wrong. Preferably there would be no aggression, and no rape. But just as 1 rape is not as bad as 100, a small amount of aggression is less undesirable than a large amount.”

I will take your answer as an agreement that you would prefer the “lowest level of aggression possible in society”. (And yes, of course I am against rape.)

“”2) Do you think that if we lived in an anarcho-libertarian “polity” (for lack of a better word), that would result in the lowest level of aggression possible in society?

Well I believe the most worrisome aggression is institutionalized aggression. If you achieve anarchy that means you have abolished the source of public aggression. All that is left is a relatively small degree of private crime …”

Hmmm… I think this assumes that the “relatively small degree of private crime” will stay small without a State to keep it that way. Of course, some of the reasons you give below could keep the private crime small:

“(relatively small for a number of reasons: first, to achieve anarchy, the ideas of liberty would have to be widespread; second, society b/c of the greater free market would be immensely wealthier, thus reducing the need for crime, and increasing the means at the disposal of civilized people to spend on security to stave off whatever crime is left).”

But, I’m just not convinced. I could be wrong, but I think that PDAs could quite possibly cause a high level of private crime as they compete against one another. And competing PDAs might not be so good at controlling other private crime.

At any rate, I’ll interpret your answer to my second question as saying that you believe that aggression will be minimized under anarcho-libertarianism.

Let me ask one more question, if I may. Let’s say that Ruritania becomes a minimal libertarian State, is renamed Libertaria, and we all move there. Then let’s say that western Libertaria has an anarcho-libertarian revolution, breaks off from Libertaria proper, and renames itself Ancapistan. So you move to Ancapistan to enjoy the pleasures of unfettered freedom. Let’s say it turns out that I am right, and there is less actual freedom in Ancapistan than in Libertaria. Would you then change your mind and become a minarchist? In other words, are you for maximum freedom, or for abolishing the State, assuming that these two options are not completely equivalent?

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Stephan Kinsella August 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Stephan Kinsella August 23, 2009 at 2:45 pm

Russ:

Hmmm… I think this assumes that the “relatively small degree of private crime” will stay small without a State to keep it that way.

Do states keep crime down now? No; they make it worse (think of the fallout of drug prohibition alone); and add to it with their own (think: war, jails, taxes).

But, I’m just not convinced.

So?

I could be wrong, but I think that PDAs could quite possibly cause a high level of private crime as they compete against one another.

Aaaand, then we are left with another state. How is that worse?

And competing PDAs might not be so good at controlling other private crime.

Are states?

At any rate, I’ll interpret your answer to my second question as saying that you believe that aggression will be minimized under anarcho-libertarianism.

I believe it probably would be but this is not why I’m an anarchist nor is this view essential to my being an anarchist. I’m an anarchist for exactly the reasons I said, and I apologize for being precise and clear and not maundering or using fuzzy, loosey-goosey language. I would not endorse aggression even if it was to stop other aggression. I have, you know, principles. I’m against aggression because it’s wrong. I would not rape or condone a rape, even if I thought it would stop other rapes. Sometimes you have to take a stand, y’know?

Would you then change your mind and become a minarchist? In other words, are you for maximum freedom, or for abolishing the State, assuming that these two options are not completely equivalent?

Not sure. I don’t think the hypo is specified in enough detail (nor could it be), nor that it avoids all problematic assumptions, to allow an answer. It’s easier to be guided by principle than to pick everything apart in an attempt to justify compromise and ad hocery.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Moved from the “The Irrelevance of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism” thread.

mpolzkill wrote:

“I wonder if Russ will have a Buckleyesque response to that post! (but can one be simultaneously “crypto” AND honest?)”

Well… ah… it behooves me to say that … ah… I find your attempt to … ah… denigrate me as a … ah … crypto-statist to be quite… ah… nugatory.

Was that Buckleyesque enough for ya? :-P If not, how about this:

Now listen, you queer, you stop calling me a crypto-statist or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered!

(Disclaimer: That was intended as humor. I have no desire to reach through my computer screen and sock mpolzkill.)

“But Russ here has defined “statist”: one who wants to use the State to get what he wants (simple, I know).”

No, I have defined “statist” in no such way because I have never identified myself as a statist; you did that. If I were to define statism, it would be something along the lines of this: “The doctrine or policy of subordinating the individual unconditionally to a state or government with unlimited powers. Statism includes both socialism and interventionism”. (This definition gives the meaning of the word as Mises used it, and is from “Mises Made Easy”, which is available on this site.) The word “statism” has never meant simply “the belief that a government is necessary”, or else that would make Mises himself a statist. It is only used in this sense by illiterates, or by anarchists who are trying an ad hominem argument.

“I will never understand what makes most of the billions of statists with their perhaps millions of different pet systems think that they and their fellow travelers will ever take the reins.”

I really have no desire to “take the reins”. I am a computer geek. I have neither the patience, the administrative skills, nor the people skills, necessary to become an effective statesman. And I have no idea whether my “fellow travelers” will ever take the reins.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 3:05 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote (moved from the “The Irrelevance of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism” thread):

“Thank you. Finally. Finally. An honest faux-libertarian crypto-statist.”

See my last post to mpolzkill about your misuse of the term “statism”. This kind of obvious ad hominem argument is beneath you, Stephan.

“And you do realize the key libertarian insight is that human freedom–human rights–can only be infringed by the use of initiated force. You are aware of this view, are you not?”

Yeah. So?

“What makes you think a “small State”, one that only violates a “minimal amount of rights,” is possible?”

I don’t know that a minimal state is possible. I do know that we have had much smaller states in the past, and did just fine. I think that, in politics, the goal should be, at least in principle, reachable. I believe a minimal government is reachable, at least in principle. I’m not so sure about anarcho-capitalism. It seems utopian to me, and I’ve never thought that anything comes of utopianism.

“What makes you think this State won’t tend to be manned by people a la “the worst rise to the top” and then the inexorable logic of their position will lead them to gradually expand their power?”

I don’t know that this won’t happen. Limiting government does seem to be a constant Sisyphean struggle. And if I became convinced that ancap would work better than a minimal state, I would become an anarcho-capitalist again. I am not unalterably wedded to the idea of a state. I just think, right now, that a very small state is the best way to maximize freedom.

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Stephan Kinsella August 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Russ:

“Thank you. Finally. Finally. An honest faux-libertarian crypto-statist.”

See my last post to mpolzkill about your misuse of the term “statism”. This kind of obvious ad hominem argument is beneath you, Stephan.

It’s not ad hominem at all. I’m an anarcho-libertarian. I criticize your pro-aggression views.

I don’t know that a minimal state is possible. I do know that we have had much smaller states in the past, and did just fine.

“Did just fine”?! Who did? What about the people whose rights were infringed by said criminal states? did they “do just fine”?

I think that, in politics, the goal should be, at least in principle, reachable. I believe a minimal government is reachable, at least in principle.

Why in the world would you believe this?

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote:

“Do states keep crime down now? No; they make it worse (think of the fallout of drug prohibition alone)”

But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state. So you’re comparing apples and oranges.

“I believe it probably would be but this is not why I’m an anarchist nor is this view essential to my being an anarchist. I’m an anarchist for exactly the reasons I said, and I apologize for being precise and clear and not maundering or using fuzzy, loosey-goosey language.”

I fail to see how saying that I am for the minimal possible amount of rights violations is “fuzzy, loosey-goosey language”. Seems clear enough to me. Other than that, when I use my “judgment” instead of “principle”, well, that may be fuzzier, but sometimes reality is not as precise and clear-cut as we would like it to be.

“I would not endorse aggression even if it was to stop other aggression. I have, you know, principles.”

One man’s principles are another man’s dogma.

“I’m against aggression because it’s wrong. I would not rape or condone a rape, even if I thought it would stop other rapes.”

I didn’t realize I was saying that a minimal state would have to rape people to protect rights. As a matter of fact, I know I didn’t say that, because that’s a just plain ludicrous thing to say. A minimal state would tax people, true (at a much lower rate than today), and it would monopolize certain functions, true (many less functions than today). But to say that a minarchist libertarian is in favor of raping people to lower the total number of rapes is just ridiculous. It’s apparently a reductio ad absurdem argument, but in reality it’s just another ad hominem attack in disguise. You don’t seem to know how not to make them.

“It’s easier to be guided by principle than to pick everything apart in an attempt to justify compromise and ad hocery.”

Yes, a pragmatic political philosophy is much more difficult to follow than a dogmatic political philosophy that does all the thinking for you with one easy-to-follow “principle”. After all, in a pragmatic philosophy, you have to exercise your own judgment, think about strategy and tactics, think about what is possible, what is likely, and what is not, think about what is right and wrong, think about when it is acceptable to commit a lesser evil to prevent a greater one, etc. How convenient it must be to slice through all that tedious judging and thinking with one simple, easy-to-follow rule! (It slices! It dices! It makes Julienne fries!) Heck, it shouldn’t be called the Zero Aggression Principle, it should be called the Zero Effort Principle!

If only it were that simple. But I believe in a sort of secular version of Original Sin. We aren’t perfect, never will be, and government is the price we must pay. We will never be allowed back in the Garden.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote:

“It’s not ad hominem at all. I’m an anarcho-libertarian. I criticize your pro-aggression views.”

First, I’m not “pro-aggression” (another ad hominem; I was right, you don’t know how to stop yourself). As I’ve repeated ad nauseum, I am for the *minimal* amount of rights violations possible. Apparently, you don’t understand what the word “minimal” means, or that someone who wants to minimize something is not in favor of it.

At any rate, calling me a “statist”, when according to any sane definition of the word (like Percy Greaves’ definition) I am not even close to one, *is* an ad hominem attack.

“What about the people whose rights were infringed by said criminal states? did they “do just fine”?”

For the most part, yes. When the US government was small, not being able to choose their own PDA had not been among peoples’ most pressing problems.

Russ wrote:
“I think that, in politics, the goal should be, at least in principle, reachable. I believe a minimal government is reachable, at least in principle.”

Stephan replied:
“Why in the world would you believe this?”

Well, first, we now live under a government that monopolizes certain functions, so we know this model “works” for a sufficiently small definition of “works”. We haven’t fallen into a complete Hobbesian war of man against man, or even a case of small warlords fighting each other for power and killing off all the little people in the process. The center still holds; not all has fallen apart; at least not yet.

Second, we used to live under an even smaller government than at present, which arguably “worked” better than the one we have now, so I see no reason why the government couldn’t be made smaller and better again. It’s possible in the future because it was possible in the past.

Last, there’s no a priori reason why government officials couldn’t restrain themselves from violating rights where it’s not absolutely necessary. Granted, it would take a serious cultural shift, where voters and politicians would take freedom seriously, and probably a reorganization of government, such as returning to some serious sort of federalism instead of nationalism that’s called federalism. That may indeed be unrealistic, but it still seems less unrealistic than visions of Ancapistan. (This may be why you favor a “principled” anarcho-libertarianism, where impossibility doesn’t matter; because you know in your heart of hearts that any vision of Ancapistan is completely unrealistic.)

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mpolzkill August 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Russ,

Ha ha, glad you caught my W.F.B. allusion.

I misspoke: you personified MY definition of “statist”. I know my definition isn’t the accepted one, but I think it’s an honest (no ad hom, an attempt to define your position) and literal reading using the word “state” (Websters: “a politically organized body of people usually occupying a definite territory”) Your definition of “statism” seems better suited to “totalitarian”.

It is possible that I’m illiterate, I don’t know. Help me correct this, kind sir:

state = state
-ist = advocate
state advocate = you.

You may not be up for it, but don’t you want your flavour of minarchists to seize control of state power? You don’t prefer the gang holding it now, to be sure. You think it’s possible for your gang to take the reins or else you wouldn’t advocate the State, right? Or you just like being “realistic”?

Couple other questions on what you just said: weren’t the abolitionists of the 19th century considered to be at least as nutty as “Utopianists”?

You also said: “But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state.”

This minimal state you envision; it (with Mises) would observe the right to seceed, down to the level of the individual? If so, THAT sounds downright “Utopian”.

(Thanks for the dialogue, jests & civility, very fun.)

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 5:41 pm

mpolzkill wrote:

“…I know my definition isn’t the accepted one, but I think it’s an honest (no ad hom, an attempt to define your position) and literal reading…”

Fair enough. But your use of a non-standard definition for the word may lead one to mistakenly conclude that you are trying to implicitly conflate their position and totalitarianism. It seems it would be easier to just use the accepted definition, even if you think it’s not as intuitively obvious, to avoid this kind of confusion.

Russ wrote:

“But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state.”

mpolzkill replied:

“This minimal state you envision; it (with Mises) would observe the right to seceed, down to the level of the individual? If so, THAT sounds downright “Utopian”.”

I do not think that individuals have the right to secede or else such a minimal state would be the functional equivalent of anarcho-libertarianism, wouldn’t it? I should have said “But a minimal state would not prohibit voluntary acts *such as drug use*, else it wouldn’t be a minimal state.” If it allowed all voluntary acts, such as allowing a PDA to replace it for certain individuals, it wouldn’t be even a minimal state, would it? It would be, at best, an “ultra-minimal” state, as in Nozick.

The comprising “states” (in the sense of Ohio or Texas) of a minimalist “state” (in the sense of nation) would still have the right to secede, though.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 7:14 pm

mpolzkill,

I skipped some of your earlier post.

“You may not be up for it, but don’t you want your flavour of minarchists to seize control of state power? You don’t prefer the gang holding it now, to be sure. You think it’s possible for your gang to take the reins or else you wouldn’t advocate the State, right? Or you just like being “realistic”?”

Yes, I think it’s possible for my “gang” to take the reins. Whether this is realistic or not, I think it’s more realistic than ancap. At the very least, I think it’s possible for a gang that is more libertarian than the current gang to take the reins.

“Couple other questions on what you just said: weren’t the abolitionists of the 19th century considered to be at least as nutty as “Utopianists”?”

They were considered to be Utopians by some, yes. But I don’t see any real equivalency here. We know now that we can live quite well without slavery; in fact it was known well before 1860, since the Northwest Ordinance banned slavery in what was then the Northwest in 1785 (I believe), and those colonies (later, states) did fine. We don’t know that Ancapistan is possible; there has never been such a place. Maybe, just maybe, that is because there cannot be such a place? That is what I believe, although I must add that I would be delighted were events to reveal that I am wrong.

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Othyem August 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm

@Russ: “You’re not a *pure* libertarian!” crap? Must you divide the libertarian movement into little, tiny, ineffectual splinter groups just for the sake of doctrinal purity, when the libertarian movement is ineffectual enough already?”

This isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pissing contest about who’s the purest, most fringe libertarian strictly for the hell of it. It’s about being logically consistent and recognizing the logical extensions of your beliefs. In this, a Rothbardian approach is the most coherent, in my opinion. Stephan’s right: liberty and freedom have such a vague, insignificant meaning outside of any reference to aggression, or force, or violence.

Russ, you seem to be caught up in an entirely unnecessary point. Correct me if I’m wrong, but your whole reasoning turns on whether or not anarcho-capitalism–or some variation thereof–is more detrimental to society than a minimal state, which you seem to think it is. A minimal state, according to you, is the best–or better–alternative in order to reduce the amount of suffering that would or could result in an anarchist world. Well, so what? What does that have to do with whether or not the state has a legitimate right to use force against its citizens? Your example of Ancapistan and Libertaria misses the point. What if life in an anarcho-capitalist is less free and less enjoyable than life under a minimal state? Well, first of all, it depends–less free to whom, and less enjoyable to whom? And secondly, what does it matter? Considering the fact that an anarcho-capitalist society has never really existed in full, it may or may not be what everyone thinks it’ll be. Perhaps its theoretical problems cannot be ironed out and living in anarchy is doomed to more violence, pain, and an eventual reconstruction of the state. And if that were so, then I’m sure myself and many others who elected to live in anarchy would re-enter a life under statehood. But that has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the state. And that’s the whole issue here. If I decided that living in anarchy sucked, and that living under a limited government were better, even though I would have to cede some of my rights–such as the right to exact retribution–I would be making a conscious, rational, voluntary *CHOICE* to live under it. There’s no contradiction. They’re not mutually exclusive philosophies. One can believe that government has *NO* legitimate right to force citizens to obey its laws, fund its programs, and fight its wars in principle AND STILL want to be a citizen under it, recognizing that sometimes–or many times–there are MORAL reasons to endorse it. Your moral reason is that living in anarchy would cause more pain and suffering than a minimal state, which I think is a legitimate concern and I have no problem with it. We’re all concerned with limiting the suffering of people and if it turned out that anarcho-capitalism was such a political system that did nothing but aggravate that then we would probably see its endorsement wither and die. That, however, has no bearing on whether or not it’s ethical to allow individuals to make that choice for themselves.

@Russ: “What’s wrong is that the “rugged individualists” might happen to interact with those of us who believe in a minimal government in a way such that somebody thinks their rights got violated. Then what happens? Hatfield-McCoy blood feuds? If all the anarchists were “on the outside”, that would be different.” [emphasis mine]

Okay, so if we could find a way to resolve the free-rider paradox with those anarchists who don’t want to become citizens then we’ve solved the problem, right? Well, if so, then your criticisms are misdirected. Instead of focusing on anarchism vs. minarchism, we should be channeling our mental energy into how we can find a resolution for that. Then it’ll be a win/win. I won’t go into it–this is already getting long–but how about having people in the state’s territory accept the laws either through an explicit or tacit agreement, much in the same way it’s done when traveling abroad.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Othyem wrote:

“This isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pissing contest about who’s the purest, most fringe libertarian…”

It seems that way to me, at least with Stephan. Otherwise, why the focus on “principles” rather than results? Why write an article called “The Irrelevancy of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism”, as if results matter not a whit, as long as one’s heart is pure? Why say I am a statist when I obviously am not, any more than Mises was? Why say I am not even a libertarian when I obviously am?

“Stephan’s right: liberty and freedom have such a vague, insignificant meaning outside of any reference to aggression, or force, or violence.”

I don’t disagree with this. That is why I focus on the maximization of liberty *as* the minimization of rights violations (or aggression, as Stephan puts it), which I agree are essentially the same thing. Otherwise, it is too easy to define freedom as the freedom from want, or some other socialistic definition.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but your whole reasoning turns on whether or not anarcho-capitalism–or some variation thereof–is more detrimental to society than a minimal state, which you seem to think it is. A minimal state, according to you, is the best–or better–alternative in order to reduce the amount of suffering that would or could result in an anarchist world. Well, so what?”

I do think that anarcho-capitalism would be more detrimental to society than a minimal gov’t, but not for a fuzzy reason (at least it’s not fuzzy to me), but because I believe ancap would result in more rights violations. It has nothing to do with suffering in general, but with suffering caused by rights violations. There will always be suffering, and if I cared about minimizing suffering in general I would probably be a socialist. In fact, I think a hell of a lot of suffering is self-inflicted, and that’s a problem for the sufferer to deal with himself. Other suffering is not inflicted by anyone in particular, but simply due to bad luck or inability to compete. Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.

“What does that have to do with whether or not the state has a legitimate right to use force against its citizens?”

I don’t really care about whether everything a state does is “legitimate” or not according to some abstract, rationalistic philosophy. My political philosophy cares about minimizing rights violations, period. If a state does that, it legitimizes itself, so to speak. I am completely “results-oriented”. I care nothing for all this talk of “principles” and “legitmacy”; I care about minimizing rights violations.

“Okay, so if we could find a way to resolve the free-rider paradox with those anarchists who don’t want to become citizens then we’ve solved the problem, right? Well, if so, then your criticisms are misdirected. Instead of focusing on anarchism vs. minarchism, we should be channeling our mental energy into how we can find a resolution for that. Then it’ll be a win/win.”

But there is a way to resolve the free-rider paradox, and make sure that everybody pays their fair share. It’s called “government”! True, that won’t make a hard-core anarcho-capitalist happy, but that’s tough. Nothing will make a hard-core anarcho-capitalist happy except the impossible (if I’m right about ancap, that is), and why should I care about that?

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mpolzkill August 23, 2009 at 9:04 pm

Russ!

“if I cared about minimizing suffering in general I would probably be a socialist”

!

You mean as a person who appears to eschew principles and generally has rather naive ideas about intentions and results?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

“But there is a way to resolve the free-rider paradox, and make sure that everybody pays their fair share. It’s called “government”!”

!!

Goldman Sachs & the Pentagon agree with you 100%.

Wow, Russ…as the old joke goes: “you can’t get there from here.”

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Stephan Kinsella August 23, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Russ:

“This isn’t, nor has it ever been, a pissing contest about who’s the purest, most fringe libertarian…”

It seems that way to me, at least with Stephan. Otherwise, why the focus on “principles” rather than results? Why write an article called “The Irrelevancy of the Impossibility of Anarcho-Libertarianism”, as if results matter not a whit, as long as one’s heart is pure?

Because people like you, who focus on “results” and strategy and activism respond to our arguments against the immorality of state aggression by bringing up such irrelevancies as “but you haven’t shown how anarchy will ‘work’”. If your kind didn’t bring up such disingenous charges, there would be no need to reject them.

Why say I am a statist when I obviously am not, any more than Mises was? Why say I am not even a libertarian when I obviously am?

Libertarians include both anarcho- and minarchist libertarians. Sure. But we anarcho-libertarians believe our libertarian principles imply that all crime, all aggression, is wrong–including state aggression. Thus we think you minarchists have it 98% right, but you are not quite there.

Likewise, you think we are incorrect–but the burden is obviously on you to demonstrate that state aggression is libertarian and justifiable.

I do think that anarcho-capitalism would be more detrimental to society than a minimal gov’t, but not for a fuzzy reason (at least it’s not fuzzy to me), but because I believe ancap would result in more rights violations. It has nothing to do with suffering in general, but with suffering caused by rights violations. There will always be suffering, and if I cared about minimizing suffering in general I would probably be a socialist. In fact, I think a hell of a lot of suffering is self-inflicted, and that’s a problem for the sufferer to deal with himself. Other suffering is not inflicted by anyone in particular, but simply due to bad luck or inability to compete. Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.

One way to minimize aggression is to refuse to commit or endorse it. Period.

I don’t really care about whether everything a state does is “legitimate” or not according to some abstract, rationalistic philosophy. My political philosophy cares about minimizing rights violations, period. If a state does that, it legitimizes itself, so to speak.

Even if you believe that in some hypothetical dreamworld, a minimal state could exist that would do this, you have to admit that our state, and every state that exists, and every state that has ever existed, comes nowhere near this goal — all states that exist, or have existed, or that we can expect to exist, are criminal, were criminal, and will be criminal–and unlibertarian. As such, we libertarians are against the state.

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Othyem August 23, 2009 at 9:22 pm

@Russ: “But there is a way to resolve the free-rider paradox, and make sure that everybody pays their fair share. It’s called “government”! True, that won’t make a hard-core anarcho-capitalist happy, but that’s tough.”

Then that doesn’t really solve anything. You’re for limiting rights violations. Then let’s limit them all the way, i.e., insert a clause into your minarchist government requiring a form of explicit consent, and work out a formal system for punishing those who haven’t consented. Retribution wouldn’t disappear for those who’re in a state of nature.

“My political philosophy cares about minimizing rights violations, period. If a state does that, it legitimizes itself”

To you, yes. But obviously let’s not forget about those rights violations that occur through forcing others under your form of government. Also, most people consider the US as a legitimate state–in the theoretical sense–although its number of rights violations is too numerous to count. Who decides when the number of rights violations is in equilibrium? How do you quantify that, and what weight do you give each right? And further, how do you know that there will be more rights violations in an anarcho-capitalist world? I could just as easily say I favor socialism because there would be less rights violations. If I could get a large majority of people to agree with me then, according to you, it wouldn’t be wrong to establish this form of government on everyone else. All that is necessary would be to believe that less rights violations were occuring under my system–not dissimilar to what’s happening now.

“Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.”

Again, how do you know? Many people say that relying on charity to guarantee basic needs, such as medical care, food, shelter, and so forth is too risky to leave to (capricious?) altruistic human beings, and therefore forced welfare redistribution is needed to assure this doesn’t happen–a rights violation, of course. I disagree, but it’s not unlike your argument that anarcho-capitalism is too risky a system and will lead to more rights violations, therefore we need a system (i.e., government) in place to assure this doesn’t happen.

“I am completely “results-oriented”. I care nothing for all this talk of “principles” and “legitmacy”; I care about minimizing rights violations.”

Or so you think. Your minimization of rights violations is itself a principle.

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Othyem August 23, 2009 at 9:41 pm

Many libertarians, including Stephan Kinsella, differ from me on this. It’s assumed that government is a priori illegitimate. Now, while I agree that government everywhere UP TO THIS POINT is illegitimate, i.e., no government YET has relied on the explicit consent of its citizenry to rule and make rules (except in those extremely rare, perhaps ceremonial, individual situations). This however doesn’t preclude the possibility that some government somewhere in the future (at least hypothetically) does so. Based just on history, though, and not even considering psychology, I don’t think this’ll ever happen; but it’s at least IMAGINABLE. We can conceive of a government that asks consent from each and every member. It’s not a logical contradiction

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Othyem August 23, 2009 at 10:04 pm

I don’t know about you, but I get sick and tired hearing about how the (unjust) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “protecting our freedoms.” It’s obvious to anyone who cares that those wars have nothing to do with our freedom, or our liberty, or our safety, except to endanger it. But what’s to keep those in your minimal state from defining what is good for you? They can always raise the specter of further “rights violations” if we don’t do X, whatever X is. You say “there’s no a priori why government officials can’t restrain themselves.” Yeah, I agree, it’s not a logical necessity that exists in all possible worlds; but that’s beside the point. You don’t get to pick the attributes of the members of your world and the say “Wallah! See, with a few minor adjustments, the minimal state DOES work. It IS better than anarchism.” If that were so, then all anyone would have to do is shift the cultural and philosophical attitudes to where they wanted them and ipso facto there ya have it, a perfect society. I agree however than any drastic change in government will be preceded by a shift in beliefs and attitudes, and there’s nothing wrong with specifying those beliefs best suited to whatever political configuration suits your fancy. But it certainly doesn’t win any arguments.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 10:09 pm

Stephan Kinsella wrote:

“Because people like you, who focus on “results” and strategy and activism respond to our arguments against the immorality of state aggression by bringing up such irrelevancies as “but you haven’t shown how anarchy will ‘work’”. ”

Irrelevant? Not at all. If your version of libertarianism results in more of the aggression you are supposedly against, I fail to see how that can be irrelevant.

“Likewise, you think we are incorrect–but the burden is obviously on you to demonstrate that state aggression is libertarian and justifiable.”

Again, hardly. Since nothing like ancap has ever existed, the burden is “obviously” on you to prove that it could deliver something better than minarchism, at least if you want to convince those of us who are concerned about results.

“One way to minimize aggression is to refuse to commit or endorse it. Period.”

That’s really quite simplistic. If you were a pacifist you could just as well say that the fundamental political problem is not the initiation of force, but force, period. Then you would by that standard refuse to commit or endorse any force. Of course, if all decent people did so, it would only result in the slaughter or enslavement of all decent people by those who are not decent. That would result in more force, not less. It’s a self-defeating philosophy, at least if you are concerned about outcome in this world, instead of the state of your immortal soul in the next. In my opinion, you are basically doing the same thing, except not quite so obviously.

“Even if you believe that in some hypothetical dreamworld, a minimal state could exist…”

An anarcho-capitalist calling minarchism a hypothetical dreamworld?! That’s rich! We’ve certainly been closer to minarchism than we have ancap.

“…you have to admit that our state, and every state that exists, and every state that has ever existed, comes nowhere near this goal…”

But compared to what we have now, some states that have existed (earlier versions of the USA, for instance) were certainly a lot closer.

“…all states that exist, or have existed, or that we can expect to exist, are criminal, were criminal, and will be criminal-and unlibertarian.”

No, I don’t have to admit that all states that we can expect to exist will be criminal.

“As such, we libertarians are against the state.”

*sigh* As Reagan would have said, “There he goes again!” Saying that “we libertarians are against the state” implies that since I am for a (minimal) state, I am not a libertarian.

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Magnus August 23, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I do think that anarcho-capitalism would be more detrimental to society than a minimal gov’t, but not for a fuzzy reason (at least it’s not fuzzy to me), but because I believe ancap would result in more rights violations. It has nothing to do with suffering in general, but with suffering caused by rights violations.

You have stated this position a couple of dozen times now, in various ways. You simply believe, hands down, that anarchism leads to more aggression in a society than people would experience under the rule of some (unspecified) state.

You have staked out this position, but not once have you told us where this belief comes from, what it rests on.

What is your reasoning that leads you to this conclusion?

What evidence do you have for this belief?

It strikes me as a belief that is impervious to reason and evidence. It appears that its origin is fear. It seems like anarchism is a situation that you have a hard time envisioning, in concrete detail, so you have filled in those missing details with a kind of Mad Max cartoonish scenario.

Why do you think that you can solve complex, long-term, dynamic, economic social problems through aggressive violence, like taking their money by force to fund state officials’ income, or requiring them to submit to their final “authority”?

Do you at least understand that the state is merely the term that is given to legitimized, regularized, institutionalized violence?

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Othyem wrote:

“You’re for limiting rights violations. Then let’s limit them all the way, i.e., insert a clause into your minarchist government requiring a form of explicit consent, and work out a formal system for punishing those who haven’t consented.”

Then we have the free rider problem again. If the state can’t fund itself, it probably could not ensure the minimal level of rights violations.

“But obviously let’s not forget about those rights violations that occur through forcing others under your form of government.”

I don’t forget that. I think the total level of rights violations would still be higher in ancap. Of course, I can’t prove that; it’s just a judgment call or intuition, whatever you want to call it.

Russ wrote:
“Voluntary charity, not socialism, can take care of this.”

Otheym replied:
“Again, how do you know?”

I don’t. And what’s more, I don’t really care. Suffering caused by rights violations is my only concern, as far as my political philosophy goes.

“Your minimization of rights violations is itself a principle.”

Whatever. What I mean is that I don’t care about legitimacy or justifying rights violations or a philosophy that consists of never condoning rights violations, when those things are separated from outcome.

“It’s obvious to anyone who cares that those wars have nothing to do with our freedom, or our liberty, or our safety, except to endanger it.”

This is debatable. A lot of people who do care do not agree at all. The idea is to prevent state-sponsored terrorism (the really dangerous kind with WMDs involved) by providing a “negative example” to those states that could do so. Assuming for sake of argument that a terrorist could set off a nuke in NYC, that would involve a huge level of rights violations, that would make years of war seem relatively paltry in comparison.

“But what’s to keep those in your minimal state from defining what is good for you?”

Not a whole lot. Humans are imperfect, and “Out of the crooked timber of humanity no straight thing was ever made”.

“I agree however than any drastic change in government will be preceded by a shift in beliefs and attitudes, and there’s nothing wrong with specifying those beliefs best suited to whatever political configuration suits your fancy. But it certainly doesn’t win any arguments.”

I think it’s better than Stephan’s strategy of completely ignoring outcomes, stubbornly saying that we must never condone aggression no matter what, and then saying that if this results in more aggression then so be it because at least this way we will be principled and have clear consciences while Rome burns. Most people do, as a matter of fact, care about outcomes. Defining a goal, and then exploring how it can be achieved, seems a lot more practical, especially when so many people have more or less the same goal.

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Russ August 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Magnus wrote:

“Why do you think that you can solve complex, long-term, dynamic, economic social problems through aggressive violence, like taking their money by force to fund state officials’ income, or requiring them to submit to their final “authority”?”

Because that’s the way that we have solved such problems for quite some time (all of recorded history, as far as I can tell), and despite the glaring imperfections of the system, it more or less works. It would obviously (to me) work better if we eliminated the more obvious imperfections, while keeping the basic idea.

“Do you at least understand that the state is merely the term that is given to legitimized, regularized, institutionalized violence?”

In a word, yes. “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.” – George Washington

“It strikes me as a belief that is impervious to reason and evidence. It appears that its origin is fear. It seems like anarchism is a situation that you have a hard time envisioning, in concrete detail, so you have filled in those missing details with a kind of Mad Max cartoonish scenario.”

Well, considering how the planet Earth has never seen anything even remotely like ancap, it is a bit hard for me to envision in concrete detail, yes. I wouldn’t say my resistance is an imperviousness to evidence, since as far as I can tell, there is no evidence regarding ancap. None whatsoever. As for an imperviousness to reason, I like to flatter myself that that is not the case, but I confess I would prefer if the arguments were more convincing, involved actual evidence, and focused on outcome. I also confess that fear has something to do with it. Truth be told, my life under our current system is not all bad. Trying ancap would be the equivalent of risking all on one roll of the dice, when you don’t know what the odds are, and don’t really even know if the number you’re betting on is one of the possible rolls.

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Stephan Kinsella August 23, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Russ:

I don’t forget that. I think the total level of rights violations would still be higher in ancap. Of course, I can’t prove that; it’s just a judgment call or intuition, whatever you want to call it.

I used to think this too, when I was a newb quasi-Randroid. Then I read some more and wised up.

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Othyem August 23, 2009 at 11:56 pm

@Russ: “Then we have the free rider problem again. If the state can’t fund itself, it probably could not ensure the minimal level of rights violations.”

Actually, no. I’m assuming you’re talking about a truly limited government in which it inherits its powers through the willful relinguishment of some of each individual member’s rights, and whose power does not exceed the rights of the aggregate. If the state of nature is as horrible as you imagine then there will be no shortage of people who desire to be under the state’s protection, and therefore there won’t be a shortage of funds for the state to function. I’m not against government, per se, because I believe–as do most libertarians–in the “right” to freely associate and enter into contracts with whomever one chooses, whether that be a labor union, or in this case a government. To solve this, just have, as part of becoming a citizen, a clearly defined set of laws, regulations, legal rights, tax rates, etc., and have people sign these contracts. If they should have a change of heart, they should be able to opt out. It seems to be, then, that the only problem, is finding out what to do with free-riders. Here we have a perfectly limited, minimal state defined however you want to define it, with the simple caveat that members entering must explicitly consent to give up a few of their rights for the enjoyment of the state’s services (e.g., law enforcement, etc.). Those who do not wish to enter into a contract with the government are free not to do so.

Let’s pause. If you recognize this scenario as one step slightly better than the clumsy approach of forcing everyone to follow your prescription of an ideal society by being force-fed government, then we’re making progress. In fact, that’s the whole point. You should always give people a choice, or else it’s slavery under another name. The only problem, and it’s a minor one at that, is the free-rider dilemma. What do you do with those individuals who don’t consent to be a part of the government? Surely, this can be solved, and if it can’t be entirely eradicated, then its prominence as a problem can be reduced. And in going this route, you’d have the added benefit of not violating the rights of those individuals who wouldn’t want to live under your minimal state.

Ya know, it’s not necessary to endorse anarcho-capitalism, or think that it’ll “work” for you to recognize the legitimacy in it. You say you don’t care about such things, but why the hell not? Voluntary consent is one of the most fundamental attributes of self-ownership. Sure, you have moral reasons for endorsing the state, but that has no bearing on legitimacy. If you recognize that it doesn’t, then you’re (somewhat of) an anarchist.

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Gil August 24, 2009 at 2:05 am

Why, oh why, Othyem, should an immigrant arrive on U.S. shores and start telling the U.S. Federal Government they should disband because the immigrant doesn’t like this rule or that tax? Can I come onto your personal residence and tell you what I don’t like about this or that and raid your fridge while I’m at it? I haven’t signed any contracts with you.

Then again what if the common organisation in Anarchtopia are HOAs because large gated communities with full-time security guards roaming the private streets within the HOAs are the most secure form of private existence in Anarchtopia? That is to say, well you could start your own private sovereign farm and try to be self-sufficient but are quickly overrun by land pirates and because you’re in the middle of nowhere in particular, you have no one to cry to. What if the safest and most properous HOAs got to where they are through the Protestant Ethic and not marijuana-feuled hippie values? You could find yourself choosing between the lawless, crime-laden badlands or wealthy-gated HOAs city-states with prohibitive moral laws. Oops? Would things go full-circle?

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Luke August 24, 2009 at 3:13 am

(I’m joining in this discussion late, so sorry if someone has already addressed this point..)

Gil,

You ask why “should an immigrant arrive on U.S. shores and start telling the U.S. Federal Government they should disband because the immigrant doesn’t like this rule or that tax? Can I come onto your personal residence and tell you what I don’t like about this or that and raid your fridge while I’m at it? I haven’t signed any contracts with you.”

But that is an invalid analogy because you ‘own’ your personal residence and the contents of your fridge and you can set the rules for visitors who wish to come into your home because you have (presumably) acquired these in a manner consistent with libertarian principles. In contrast, the U.S. government does *not* ‘own’ the entire geographical area that is currently under its jurisdiction because, as a state, it is in the institutional embodiment of the negation of libertarian principles.

That does not mean that an ‘immigrant’ who comes onto U.S. shores (as you can see the language itself is misleading as it implies the U.S. government has a legitimate claim to the territory) can start *acting* in contravention of any government rule they don’t like because many government laws are consistent with libertarian principles.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 7:14 am

Othyem wrote:

“Here we have a perfectly limited, minimal state defined however you want to define it, with the simple caveat that members entering must explicitly consent to give up a few of their rights for the enjoyment of the state’s services (e.g., law enforcement, etc.). Those who do not wish to enter into a contract with the government are free not to do so.”

I wouldn’t have a problem with that, so long as the free riders moved on along to some other country. For one, they *are* free riders, and are benefitting from the government’s protective services (even if they *say* they don’t want that) without paying their fair share. Second, the big problem I have with ancap is the idea of having multiple arbiters of last resort in a given geographical area. If those arbiters don’t play nice with each other, then you could have a big, bloody mess. And each free rider is essentially setting himself up as his own arbiter of last resort, unless he joins a PDA, in which case you still have the same problem.

“Ya know, it’s not necessary to endorse anarcho-capitalism, or think that it’ll “work” for you to recognize the legitimacy in it. You say you don’t care about such things, but why the hell not?”

In theory, ancap does sound good, I’ll admit. The only problem is, since there has never been a real ancap nation before, ancap is nothing *but* theory. Socialism sounded good in theory, too, to a lot of people, until they realized that it kills the golden goose. (Unfortunately, some people still haven’t realized this.) Anyway, if I’m right, and ancap does turn into a Mad Max nightmare, then what am I supposed to think? “Well, life sure does suck here in Ancapistan, but at least we don’t have an illegimate government, like the one we used to have that made life less sucky”? That seems a bit Panglossian to me.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 7:34 am

Stephan Kinsella wrote:

“I used to think this too, when I was a newb quasi-Randroid. Then I read some more and wised up.”

I looked at your link briefly, and as you might guess, I subscribe to the “Common view on freedom and government” in Figure 4, except in my preferred version the maximum of the curve would be closer to the origin.

I don’t think that reading more is the solution. I could read all day, and it would all be nothing but theory, since there is zero ancap experience. And you know what they say about theory and practice; in theory, theory works, but it practice it doesn’t. Besides, I have read all the major evangelism for ancap, as far as I am aware. In fact, I used to consider myself ancap. But in recent years I did some re-evaluation, and came to the conclusion that my previous belief that ancap would ‘work’ was simply due to a fervent desire that it would work. In other words, I succumbed to wishful thinking.

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2nd Amendment August 24, 2009 at 7:44 am

Fuss,

“I subscribe to the “Common view on freedom and government” ”

And I susbscribe to the view of freedom VS government.

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Magnus August 24, 2009 at 7:46 am

The only problem is, since there has never been a real ancap nation before, ancap is nothing *but* theory.

Anarchy is all around us. It exists in every voluntary interaction you see every day. Anarchy is the defining characteristic of 95% of every situation and relationship in your life.

You are clinging to this fantasy that, by bullying people and stealing things in the 5% of life that is controlled by statist (i.e., violent) relationships, the state is somehow keeping the other 95% of life from turning into Mad Max.

Anarchy never goes away. It is a natural and inevitable result of the fact that humans are independent economic actors, and therefore capable of cooperating or competing with each other, as they see fit. Anarchy is the way human society works, even when one gang becomes so large that it suppresses most of the rival gangs and gets to call itself a “government.”

What you call the government is really just another gang. They are not official. They are not superior. They are just a mafia organization that has grown to be larger than other mafia organizations.

A more anarchic society that most Americans are somewhat familiar with is the American frontier, which eventually became limited to what we call the Old West. Several generations of Hollywood propaganda has distorted most people’s understanding of the American frontier, but for a brief time, people got away from the gangsters and the banksters and the government mob and its cronies.

If you do real research on it, you’ll find that it was far from a crazy, gun-slinging murder-fest. It was tremendous economic growth, and virtually no crime.

http://mises.org/journals/jls/3_1/3_1_2.pdf

http://mises.org/article.aspx?Id=1449

Compare the crime rate of the American frontier, over its 300-year history, to, for example, the so-called Civil War, which was a 100% government operation that killed 600,000 people.

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mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 8:20 am

Russ,

It obviously takes more than reading, it appears that most words just bounce right off you. EVERYTHING that works is “anarchy”. The market is “anarchy”, you know, people behaving voluntarily to each others agreed mutual benefit. We can’t ever get too much of that. It works SO well in fact, that it is still able to keep us all aloft despite the ever growing and now mind-bendingly massive parasitical scam/incredibly naive complex of wishful thinking called “government”.

“Evangelism”

?!

And now you again talk of how socialism sounds good (THAT old saw!). I just watched the Quentin Tarantino fantasy which consists primarily of scenes where American and British agents behind German lines have lengthy conversations with Nazis and slowly give away clues of their non-Hun-ship. Something made me think of this, ha ha.

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mpolzkill August 24, 2009 at 8:29 am

Oops, I hadn’t realized that Brother Magnus had already given you a bit of the same Gospel.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 9:12 am

“And now you again talk of how socialism sounds good (THAT old saw!).”

My point was the a lot of otherwise intelligent people used to think that socialism sounds good.

I don’t really think it sounds that good, because I’m more concerned with having other people leave me alone than with guaranteed economic security (which is a false guarantee anyway). The only part of the socialist sales pitch that ever appealed to me was the part about nobody going hungry, or never having to live homeless out in the bitter cold, etc. But then I realized that capitalism is much more likely to solve these problems than socialism. And I realized that back in the 9th grade, when my social studies teacher (I actually had a good one) taught us what socialism is in theory, and what it is in practice, and how the theory and practice diverge.

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Russ August 24, 2009 at 10:08 am

Brother Magnus wrote:

“Anarchy is all around us….”

Brother mpolzkill wrote:

“The market is “anarchy”…”

“Oops, I hadn’t realized that Brother Magnus had already given you a bit of the same Gospel.”

Not a problem. I’ll address both together.

The standard answer to this is, of course, that although the market is unplanned, the market is *not* anarchy, because the market depends upon the framework of law and order that the government provides, and could not function without said framework. Let’s say that government goes bye bye tomorrow. It might prove hard to conduct day to day business when the people who are no longer getting their welfare checks all decide to riot, and you can no longer get to your place of business. If your place of business were burning down in the riot, that could also put a crimp in your plans. Or if union workers who can no longer use the government to extort businesses decide to destroy your physical plant, that could affect the bottom line. Riots are bad for business. So are other things, like thieves, robbers, and vast hordes of rampaging Canadians (*grin*). That’s why we have government. Among its legitimate functions is protecting us from such unpleasantnesses.

Of course, you could respond that in ancap, PDAs will fill the legitimate role of government, without that nasty chemical after-taste. And that very well might be. Or it very well might not be. We have no way of knowing. All we do know is that no such system has ever evolved naturally, despite disputable claims that the early American West, or Viking Iceland, or tribal Ireland, were close. At any rate, I have no desire to live like a Viking or Irish tribesman, and the early American West evolved into the modern government-based American West as it grew, so I don’t think those models are appropriate for an ancap that could work in a hi-tech, high population density modern society.

The model I think is appropriate is the model that we currently live under, although of course it’s a “fixer-upper”. I guess it’s my conservative side that thinks that completely tearing down the framework of our society and rebuilding it from scratch, based on a political / philosophical system, might be a bit imprudent. The last time that was tried, based on the philosophy of Messrs Marx and Engels, it didn’t work out so well, if memory serves.

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