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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/14250/if-men-were-angels-2/

If Men Were Angels

October 15, 2010 by

Life in a stateless society will sometimes be bad, because not only are people not angels, but many of them are irredeemably vicious. But the outcome in a society under a state will be much worse, because the most vicious people will tend to gain control of the state. FULL ARTICLE by Robert Higgs

{ 281 comments }

Soonerliberty October 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

This is something statists never get. I didn’t get it for the longest time, either, having grown up as a product of state indoctrination. If men are idiots (the assumption of all planners), then it makes no sense to entrust them with the planning of massive economies (Bastiat/Hayek). If men are evil (the assumption of all statists), then it makes no sense to entrust them with massive armies and police forces (Bastiat). Statists always say we need to check human nature by providing a check against the strong or evil. But how on earth does it follow that we need to give more power to the strong if we must watch out for them? It’s absurd. It’s the same with monopolies. People say we need to break up monopolies, and their solution for doing so is to create the world’s biggest monopoly.

Why people can’t get beyond this is incomprehensible. I like Munger’s suggestion that we always replace the word “state” with “politicians” so that people lose their faith in the mythical powers of the state. Perhaps people would stop deifying states if they followed that simple suggestion, but I highly doubt it.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

Any other point of view is simply something Ancaps never get. It is tantamount to a religious fervor.
Everyone who dissavows Ancap is not a Statist, in the way that you mean it. See my response to Higgs, just for fun.

RWW October 15, 2010 at 11:32 pm

If you fervently believe in the state, you are a statist, in the way Soonerliberty means it.

Poptech October 15, 2010 at 9:23 am

Mises does not share Dr. Higg’s position,

“In an anarchist society is the possibility entirely to be excluded that someone may negligently throw away a lighted match and start a fire or, in a fit of anger, jealousy, or revenge, inflict injury on his fellow man? Anarchism misunderstands the real nature of man. It would be practicable only in a world of angels and saints. Liberalism is not anarchism, nor has it anything whatsoever to do with anarchism. The liberal understands quite clearly that without resort to compulsion, the existence of society would be endangered and that behind the rules of conduct whose observance is necessary to assure peaceful human cooperation must stand the threat of force if the whole edifice of society is not to be continually at the mercy of any one of its members. One must be in a position to compel the person who will not respect the lives, health, personal freedom, or private property of others to acquiesce in the rules of life in society. This is the function that the liberal doctrine assigns to the state: the protection of property, liberty, and peace.”

- Ludwig von Mises, Liberalism

“The anarchists overlook the undeniable fact that some people are either too narrow-minded or too weak to adjust themselves spontaneously to the conditions of social life. Even if we admit that every sane adult is endowed with the faculty of realizing the good of social cooperation and of acting accordingly, there still remains the problem of the infants, the aged, and the insane. We may agree that he who acts antisocially should be considered mentally sick and in need of care. But as long as not all are cured, and as long as there are infants and the senile, some provision must be taken lest they jeopardize society. An anarchistic society would be exposed to the mercy of every individual. Society cannot exist if the majority is not ready to hinder, by the application or threat of violent action, minorities from destroying the social order. This power is vested in the state or government.”

- Ludwig von Mises, Human Action

“A shallow-minded school of social philosophers, the anarchists, chose to ignore the matter by suggesting a stateless organization of mankind. They simply passed over the fact that men are not angels. They were too dull to realize that in the short run an individual or a group of individuals can certainly further their own interests at the expense of their own and all other peoples’ long-run interests. A society that is not prepared to thwart the attacks of such asocial and short-sighted aggressors is helpless and at the mercy of its least intelligent and most brutal members. While Plato founded his Utopia on the hope that a small group of perfectly wise and morally impeccable philosophers will be available for the supreme conduct of affairs, anarchists implied that all men without any exception will be endowed with perfect wisdom and moral impeccability. They failed to conceive that no system of social cooperation can remove the dilemma between a man’s or a group’s interests in the short run and those in the long run.”

“Government as such is not only not an evil, but the most necessary and beneficial institution, as without it no lasting social cooperation and no civilization could be developed and preserved. It is a means to cope with an inherent imperfection of many, perhaps of the majority of all people. If all men were able to realize that the alternative to peaceful social cooperation is the renunciation of all that distinguishes Homo sapiens from the beasts of prey, and if all had the moral strength always to act accordingly, there would not be any need for the establishment of a social apparatus of coercion and oppression. Not the state is an evil, but the shortcomings of the human mind and character that imperatively require the operation of a police power. Government and state can never be perfect because they owe their raison d’etre to the imperfection of man and can attain their end, the elimination of man’s innate impulse to violence, only by recourse to violence, the very thing they are called upon to prevent.”

- Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 9:43 am

Yes, and this is where Mises was flawed. There is a difference between having respect and admiration for a leader like Mises, and worshipping him. That Mises’s classic liberalism has been logically challenged serves as further proof that praxeology is not a static or stagnant discipline.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 11:43 am

Poptech
Thank you for pulling out these quotes. There are many others. Mises has a rational, defensible point of view well supported by logical argument. That is the point.
Many, but certainly not all on this post and adherents to what is going on here, seem to believe that they have captured a beachhead for Ancap, and that only those who speak with the ultimate Truth of Ancap thinking are worthy. The arrogance is astounding. For example:
Fallon
I think you are aware that Mises and Rothbard differ on the somewhat minor point as to whether or not anarchy is possible or even desirable. Yet both have contributed immensely to the body of work on economics and liberty.
The sheer arrogance of you to dismiss Mises point of view because you think of yourself as enlightened on the subject and beyond Mises’s thinking is, well pretty arrogant, but certainly does not advance the discussion.
My question is why is this issue even important? Who cares? And for those that do, why do you care so much. It seems like an empty vessel to me.

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 12:06 pm

The difference between minarchy and anarchy is in the end equal to that of between slavery and freedom.

Arrogance or progress? One can say Newton’s mechanics are flawed without taking away from his greatness. Science is based on irreverence anyway. Further, I was not claiming that I personally defeated any or all of Mises. I have contributed nothing.

Ancap is merely taking the economic calculation and incentive problem to its logical conclusion. Ancap would not have been conceived of without the earth shattering advances of Mises. And even in this I do not claim to have the understanding of, say, a Rothbard, Hulsmann, Hoppe or you-name-the great.

Why do I get the feeling that you are merely engaging in a projection of your own insecurity concerning minarchism? Maybe you should see an analyst.

The Anti-Gnostic October 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm

“The difference between minarchy and anarchy is in the end equal to that of between slavery and freedom.”Let’s not get hysterical. Any working adult is subjected to a variety of obligations, some quite onerous, by which they give up some measure of freedom for some other gain. If I pay a small part of my income to a night-watchman State in exchange for it keeping the warlords at bay, I’d hardly consider myself a slave. Mises obviously didn’t.

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

You are forced to pay and thus forfeit at least that amount of say in this state. Your ‘nightwatchman’ presumption is only a qualifier that reflects your preference. It does not prove that such a state would be the most likely consequence. Once the cat is out of the bag…

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Exactly, TAG. this discussion always tends torward hystarical outbursts.

Fallon, let me give you a go.

Russ the Apostate October 15, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Not only hysterical outbursts, but all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking. The perfect is the enemy of the good.

Fallon October 17, 2010 at 12:35 am

Russ, what you try to label as black and white thinking is praxeological certainty. Minarchy does indeed imply subservience. It does not matter how you color it.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 1:04 pm

“The difference between minarchy and anarchy is in the end equal to that of between slavery and freedom.”
TAG has already address this, but let me show you another way.
“Minarchy is to slavery as anarchy is to freedom”. Gee, since I think freedom is better than slavery, I must be an anarchist.
“Arrogance or progress? One can say Newton’s mechanics are flawed without taking away from his greatness.”
Newton’s mechanics are not flawed when applied to that portion of the physical world that operates within the realm of human senses, more or less. It is only when you try to apply them outside that ream, for example over vast expanse of space or time, or at speeds approaching the speed of light, that they fail to adequately describe physical laws.
That fact that Einstein developed a theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, etc. is not progress in the way you mean it. Einstein did not dismiss Newton, but merely extended our understanding to phenomena not considered by Newton. However, for example, a relationship between velocity and mass exists in both systems of physics. In fact it is the same relationship, elaborated upon for conditions not contained in Newton’s models.
“ Science is based on irreverence anyway.”
I disagree. Science is based on ultimate respect for the Truth, as can be scientifically demonstrated. Truth today can be fallacy tomorrow. A reverence for the Truth is the essence of science.
“Further, I was not claiming that I personally defeated any or all of Mises. I have contributed nothing”
This trend continues.
“Ancap is merely taking the economic calculation and incentive problem to its logical conclusion. Ancap would not have been conceived of without the earth shattering advances of Mises.
Ancap is one conclusion that can be reached if you string a certain set of assumptions together and connect the dots in a particular way. The question is, how can these assumptions be tested? Dreams of utopia have been a part of the human experience for some time now. So have perpetual motion machines
“And even in this I do not claim to have the understanding of, say, a Rothbard, Hulsmann, Hoppe or you-name-the great.”.
Humility is a good thing. Where does that fit, in the relationship between say, freedom and slavery?
“Why do I get the feeling that you are merely engaging in a projection of your own insecurity concerning minarchism? Maybe you should see an analyst.”
Perhaps because I have a very well-developed shit detector, and people like you can read the meter. It’s not like I’m trying to hide it.
Isn’t it revealing how quickly the debate can degenerate into name-calling? It’s fun, I agree, but not very helpful or scientific. But since we’re on the subject, perhaps I could hook you up with a good cult de-programmer?

Tyrone Dell October 15, 2010 at 2:23 pm

I don’t want to interrupt this discussion of yours, but I do want to point out one error you have made.

“Newton’s mechanics are not flawed when applied to that portion of the physical world that operates within the realm of human senses, more or less. It is only when you try to apply them outside that ream, for example over vast expanse of space or time, or at speeds approaching the speed of light, that they fail to adequately describe physical laws.”

This is completely wrong. Newton’s mechanics are wrong. Newton’s mechanics are an approximation of what is actually happening in reality, and thus are wrong. The two main branches of physics right now are Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. There are not three branches (Quantum for small, Newton’s mechanics for medium, and Relativity for large).

General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are also wrong. They are wrong because they don’t exactly tell you what reality is doing — and this is the entire point in studying physics.

Sure, you may get into deeper discussions about if it is even possible to know exactly what is going on in at the minute scale when Quantum Mechanics tells us that probabilities are involved — but this just proves my point further (that Quantum Mechanics isn’t right — its just an approximation to the truth).

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 6:32 pm

The idea informing acts of submission and acquiescence to a government, no matter the size, presupposes an inequality of status assigned prior to acting. In other words, the individual as government vs. the individual as subject is the baseline relationship in the minarchist society model. I do not think it is logical for any self-respecting person to believe this arrangement just.

Sure, minarchists may have a lot of goals similar to anarchists. Praxeologically speaking though, taxation, e.g., ain’t no form of- or way to- freedom.

Though I do admit, moving from conception to action, that minarchists may succeed for a time in creating their nightwatchman state. There may even be a situation where the neighboring anarchists devolve into Auschwitz writ large. But what are the likelihoods? It is those that leave ideological space for government that mar their chances for lasting liberty from the word go.

The conceptual difference between minarchy vs. anarchy is indeed like night vs. day. Minarchy, not mired in utopianism but in poor choice of means, requires the presupposition of official statuses. Anarchists tend to believe that no one should be exempt from the Golden Rule. So as not to mislead those really looking for freedom, maybe minarchy could adopt the famous Commandment from Animal Farm: “ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS.”

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Nice job, btw, Tyrone. And I welcome your interruptions!

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 4:17 am

how is minarchism not utopian?
are we not in the process of seeing it’s failure to constrict the State right now?

Fallon October 16, 2010 at 9:23 am

I am being too charitable to some for sure, Kash. I cannot read minds. But merely because some ideas are laden with fallacies do not make them utopian, maybe? Where is the line?

Poptech October 15, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Agreement is not worship. I can make some comments here on Ancap supporters but will choose to pass.

I’ll stick with Mises, Hayek and Friedman minarchism thank you.

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Hayek and Friedman were minarchists? Really?

RWW October 15, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Friedman was a hack — the Adam Smith of his generation.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Poptech,

After investing several days on this blog, I have come back to your post and this selection of quotes from Ludwig von Mises.

I honestly do not know how what I believe can be stated more clearly, and in light of these quotations it is much easier to understand those who have arugued against these basic common sense, yet poetic statement from the master.

Thank you again for selecting these passages.

Daniel Hewitt October 15, 2010 at 10:55 am

This is the best daily article that I’ve read in a long time.

J. Murray October 15, 2010 at 11:03 am

Once again, the term anarchism should not ever be used again to promote anything on this site purely because of the negative connotations the word conjures. A large part of winning the ideological war is in the words being chosen. It’s easier to hijack a positive word (as was done during the progressive movement) than it is to try and re-educate an entire population on the “correct” meaning of an existing word. There is no such thing as a correct meaning. Meanings of words change over time. Anarchy is now and will be for the foreseeable future what we see in movies like Mad Max. It’s high time to stop using the term and find something else.

It’s a waste of time trying to explain someone why you support mass chaos that’s not what you think anarchy means. That time could be better used for other purposes.

J. Murray October 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

Missed it before the edit timeframe – why you *DON’T* support mass chaos.

Matthew Swaringen October 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I don’t entirely disagree, but I think people are going to hear the term regardless of whether it’s the one we’d prefer to use. I tend to use voluntarist first, and when using anarchy stress anarcho-capitalism (but that makes defining capitalism necessary as well).

If we switch to new terms the very real threat is that those who really do dislike our views start painting that term in the same way the old terms were used.

Don Duncan October 15, 2010 at 7:15 pm

It’s not a possible threat, it’s a certainty. We have seen it with “anarchy”, “capitalism”, “extremism”, many more. The solution is simple. From the start, DEFINE YOUR TERMS, so people will know what you are talking about.

RWW October 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm

It’s a lot easier to misconstrue a word with an obscure Greek origin (anarchy) than to misconstrue a word like voluntaryism, whose meaning is plain (or, at least, any conceivable misinterpretations are fairly benign).

Salvador October 15, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Given the power and endurance of the state, it is obvious that statism is superior to anarcho-capitalism. If anarcho-capitalism was any good at defending itself, the state would never have grown so powerful in the first place.

Martin OB October 15, 2010 at 2:22 pm

By that logic, religion is superior to atheism because most societies are religious.
Statism has been more popular among the masses, that’s all.

Gil October 16, 2010 at 4:10 am

Actually that logic works – religion does indeed have greater endurance than atheism and states have shown to have greater endurance over anarchism.

Martin OB October 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

It only proves that throughout history most people have accepted the statist premise, that some person or group must have the privilege of aggression. It doesn’t prove that the premise is true, just that it’s very popular. The same can be said of slavery.

Anarchy can only work in a society where most (or a critical mass of) people believe in it. Similarly, a liberal democracy, with some respect for fundamental human rights, can only work if enough of the people believe it is superior to tyrannical government. The government tends to reflect the views of the people.

Anthony October 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm

You could use the same argument to defend slavery a hundred years ago…

“Given the power and endurance of slave owners, it is obvious that systems involving slavery are superior to systems without”.

Just because one system is dominant that does not make it right, or ideal, or superior. That is absolutely not a good argument for continuing it.

Mike S October 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm

I agree. The fact that the state has been accepted by the masses is not a very strong argument for the existence of the state. However, it does raise an interesting question. Can a stateless society prevent the formation of the state?

Don Duncan October 15, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Of course a stateless society (based on voluntaryism) can prevent the formation of a society based on violence. Once the state is seen as a flawed, unnecessary protection racket, most will not want to go back to that “uncivilized time”. Our ancestors will laugh at our worship of brute force and deities.

Poptech October 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Can you give an example of one.

Salvadar October 15, 2010 at 9:34 pm

So why hasn’t it happened yet in the entire history of man?

Unfortunately, statism is the reality, anarchy is the religion and the fantasy that cannot even survive a statist threat. Whether anarchy is your preference or not is pointless if it cannot defend itself against statism.

Fallon October 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Here is Prof. Hoppe on private defense. About 30 minutes long. http://mises.org/media/1296

Here is Prof. Murphy, same subject. Just over 30 minutes.
http://mises.org/media/4418

I will just note that without the free market idea an anarchic situation might never rise above mere subsistence. Given a general respect for market exchange and the price system, private property, etc., this idea in combination with no government restraints will naturally give an anarchic society a leg up on any relatively more government oriented ‘society’.

Steve October 17, 2010 at 2:19 pm

That means then that a constitutional republic, or any other government that minimizes the state is pure fantasy as well. It’s all destined to wind up as oligarch or totalitarianism of some kind. Look at the US government right? At least that is what the final logical outcome of your idea concludes.

Alpheus November 12, 2010 at 4:49 pm

I’ve only read about half of “The God of the Machine” by Irena Peterson; from what I’ve read, though, she gave an excellent model for understanding states as channels of energy from individuals.

In thinking about what she wrote, for example, I could explain why Medieval Iceland’s government failed: since they had a strong coupling of religion to government, when they converted to Christianity (which was done as a government decision, rather than by individuals one at a time), the tithes put too much energy into government, and enabled a handful of families to take over.

Thus, I concluded that chieftans should not have been priests as well–or rather, that the roles of chieftan and priest should have been completely independent of each othe.

RWW October 15, 2010 at 11:47 pm

This is like saying that the continued prevalence of murder in society is evidence that accepting a society with murderers is preferable to striving against murder.

The existence of the state is like any other common crime that we may very well never be free of.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Robert Higgs,
I chime in on this topic once in a while just to try to point out the arrogance Ancaps often display in the strained justification for their own mytical beliefs.

For example, first you define the State as “a monopoly operating ultimately by threat or actual use of violence, making rules for and extracting tribute from the residents of the territory it controls”.

Then you reduce everything that Madison is addressing as a concept of Government as this thing you call the State. At the time he was speaking these words, the state was a concept that has the essential nature of human beings, since in his view, as mine, government of a people is best controlled by the governed, and thus a reflection thereof. I presume in your Ancap world, it will also be populated by humans, and therefore will also be a reflection of those human.

Next you reduce Madison’s thesis to a table with two options, No State as you envision it, and State, as you define it. (and later elaborate and associate with all the most vile acts of which humans are capable, as if in an Ancap society, these types of humans will not exist).

Having constructed nothing more than an elaborate straw man, you now presume to assign attributes to them to “prove” that under Ancap, things will not be as bad as under “State” governance. As many have said, but few a eloquently as LVM, that is debatable in the first instance.

Some can see, as do I, that this issue cannot not properly be decided on the basis of a four-quadrant matrix containing your own personal straw man. There is a vast third column between the two that is “not as bad as bad, and less worse than worse”. That is the space occupied by the real world.
You seem to believe that under a Stateless system of social organization, things will be better, although you can only depend on the netherworld of “possibility” to support your assertion, and references to ancient societies that have little relevance to modern societies.
What about the possibility, since we are discussing possibilities without regard to real observable evidence, of a government that is “just right”. Theoretically, that should at least be possible, right? Such a perfectly sized and constrained government would not have the ability to commit all of those atrocities you associate with the State. Since we are just dreaming here, isn’t if fair game to dream about that? Madison did. Mises did. And your response is what?

You assemble a straw man, give it despicable attributes, and argue that the only alternative is to create something new from whole cloth, and that you, and others in your cult who share your zeal, are smart enough to address every issue. And so, if people will just “get it”, they should trust their lives and their own personal concepts and values about governance to “you” to create for them this wonderful new world where all of these despicable things don’t exist. (To be fair, you are only asserting that they won’t be quite as bad).

I don’t know if you know anything about the evolutionists/creationist debate, but it comes to mind. Creationists believe God started with a blank piece of paper, and created all that exists in 7 days and 7 nights. Evolutionists believe that God created the potential for “free ecological markets” over vast stretches of time to operate according to competitive principles and the laws of physics.

In my view, you are more of a creationist. I have found that, beyond the point of illuminating the arrogance of such a literal view, there is little point in debating actual facts with a creationist. The conversation always comes back to verse and scripture. In reality, in my humble opinion, if you learn enough about both views, the ultimately become a meaningless debate and melds into a view which is mutually compatible. So it is with Libertarianism, which does not require absolutism in order to exist. Here endeth the lesson.

Beefcake the Mighty October 15, 2010 at 1:19 pm

I’m guessing Robert Higgs doesn’t really care about what you have to say. And seriously, who could blame him?

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 1:26 pm

And neither do you?

mpolzkill October 18, 2010 at 10:11 am

I think he is commenting on the humour inherent in Zionists and/or burgher pissants making their responding frightened little bleats around a giant like Higgs.

Giant? Yes. Watch him extemporize for three hours while trying to quell the fears of even more pathetic pip-squeaks here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QzbEkXGd7Ms

Josh October 16, 2010 at 11:15 am

Wildberry wrote…

—-Some can see, as do I, that this issue cannot not properly be decided on the basis of a four-quadrant matrix containing your own personal straw man. There is a vast third column between the two that is “not as bad as bad, and less worse than worse”. That is the space occupied by the real world.—–

Before the establishment of the USA, the REAL WORLD did not include the minarchist/Capitalist system you now support. Based on your arguments you should/would have questioned the rebels and sided with the British – i.e. the status quo.

Anarchists merely see the existing society as anti-Liberty and choose to fight/clamor for its establishment, just as the Founders saw the existing society at THAT time as unjust.

Those quoting Mises would do well to remember something else he wrote…that “government is essentially the negation of Liberty.”

Seems he clearly understood that the State was anti-Individual, but believed, as did the Framers, that is was a necessary evil. Anarchists, like myself, correctly, yes correctly, disagree.

Why? Because you cannot advance Liberty by contradicting your terms/principles or breaking with the ethics of Individual rights and self ownership.

Government, i.e. rule by other people, is unjust because to exist it requires the theft of its subjects, err, citizens. Period. And just because YOU or even a majority are willing to relinquish some of your rights for the so-called protection of the State, doesn’t give you the right to use force to make me submit to YOUR conception of the ideal world.

But, wait…am I not forcing you to accept my ideal? No. Because my ideal world leaves you completely alone to live your life as you see fit. For truly, that is where we all begin (see the Crusoe ethics). It is men like you who come along and, though not as strongly as pure Statists, believe they know what’s best for other people, and believe yourself justified in infringing on my rights for the ‘good of the whole’. In doing so you break with your supposed ethics of personal responsibility and self-reliance, lose the argument, and prove the injustice of the existence of ANY government, no matter how minimal.

Poptech October 17, 2010 at 1:22 am

Lets see what Mises actually wrote,

“Government as such is not only not an evil, but the most necessary and beneficial institution, as without it no lasting social cooperation and no civilization could be developed and preserved.”

- Ludwig von Mises, The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science

Josh October 17, 2010 at 11:08 am

OK…so he wrote that also. Doesn’t change the fact that though he saw it correctly as a contradiction he chose to look past it. That is my point.

Justify government without breaking with the ethic of individual rights? Can’t be done.

I’m quite sure you would not allow me to steal from your home your personal property. But you would allow a group of men to do so? Again, YOU may be OK with it, but just one man being against it (and there are many more than just one) discredits the practice.

Joe October 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Madison had it right. We are not angels and he attempted to construct a government that made it very difficult to attain power over its citizens. As we can see even with the greatest government structure ever designed by man we are still being encroached upon. Can one imagine without government how long any semblance of civilization would have lasted? Mises is a pillar in economics not only because of this great mind but also on his common sense. He understood more about Human Action other than just economics.
Finally, when we talk about the “state” we are talking about ourselves. We are the problem. Whether you use a religious interpretation of what we are capable of or any other, man has shown his popensity for evil and destruction. Madison understood this and I think did a damn good job. Now all us citizens have to do is make sure our government returns to what he envisioned.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Joe, you are my hero. Very well said.

To elaborate on one thing you said, yes humans have a propensity for evil, but also for good. Another measure of the relative value of one social system over another might be how effectively this “good” can be expressed and protected. I think on balance, we, meaning the people of America, have done well.

One last Mises quote fromn his Bureaucracy, page 8 of the Introduction:

“Capitalism means free enterprise, sovereignty of the consumers in economic matters, and sovereignty of the voters in political matters.”

Ancap’s tend to relinquish their responsibility for having created the State they so object to. It’s a little like playing the victim; the State by its very existence keeps them from being free, so to make their point, they think it is a matter of honor to brag about how they don’t vote. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophesy!
Anyway, thanks for your post. Refreshing!

Anthony October 15, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Wildberry,

I am sympathetic to your viewpoint, as I have not decided yet exactly where I stand regarding anarchy. I want to add, though, that one you accept the general premise that the majority of voters has the right to impose their will on all others it becomes very difficult (impossible?) to prevent the erosion of freedom.

I firmly believe that I own my body and that, as a result, no majority (no matter how large) should have the right force me to use my body in a way I don’t consent to, or to prohibit any action of mine that does not involve aggression against another person.

Do you think that other people have the right to tell you what you can do with your own body? Should the majority be able to tell you not to smoke, what you can eat (avoid those fats!), or which consenting adults you can have sex with?

If not, how can you claim the state is legitimate when every state does these things to varying degrees?

As Bob said below, once you accept the state what magic words do you use to prevent it from taking over everything?

Russ the Apostate October 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Anthony wrote:
“If not, how can you claim the state is legitimate when every state does these things to varying degrees?”

I don’t think it’s a matter of whether or not the state is legitimate, but rather a question of human nature. Is ancap a fit with human nature, or not? I think not. I think that even if we had an ancap society somewhere in the world, and even if there were no external threats from non-ancap states, the ancap society would eventually transform itself into a minimalist state. From there it would probably descend into greater and greater statism, as we have done. Whether it’s right or not is a moot point. It happens; it’s human nature. As Burke said, “Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.” Until there is sufficient controlling power within all of us that we can all sufficiently control ourselves (which I believe will never happen), there will still be a need for that power without. That power will evolve, whether you or I think it is right or not.

“As Bob said below, once you accept the state what magic words do you use to prevent it from taking over everything?”

There are no such magic words. Anarchists always point out that minimalist governments never stay minimal, and they’re right. But what makes them think that ancap would be different? What are the ancap magic words? What would make ancap stay ancap? Anarchists seem to assume that there is some magic tipping point, and once we get past it, we achieve the end of history. I don’t buy it. There will always be some humans who want power, and power is like matter; it generates gravity that attracts more power. The only way to prevent this power from eventually being concentrated into something that is effectively a state would be “eternal vigilance”. Again, we don’t have eternal vigilance now; we let the state get bigger, we let power concentrate. Why would things be different under ancap?

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Russ,
You have a way of cutting to the core of the matter which I really appeciate. Well done.

Soonerliberty October 15, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I think the assumption that human nature is a constant is an error in thinking. Human nature is conditioned by genetics, etc. If we negate that, then we negate evolution. One of the biggest logical fallacies is static thinking. It may well be that humans are not ready for anarcho-capitalism, but it does not preclude it forever. I do not believe it will come about in my lifetime or anytime soon, but I believe human nature will change and shed its paleolithic mindset as it has shed the need for religion.

Russ the Apostate October 15, 2010 at 9:38 pm

“I think the assumption that human nature is a constant is an error in thinking.”

True, evolution happens to the human race as well. But evolution involves death, and the more we eliminate that, the more we eliminate evolution. Besides, evolution is slow. Culture evolves much faster, but culture is a thin veneer on top of our more animal nature. Think of “Lord of the Flies”.

“It may well be that humans are not ready for anarcho-capitalism, but it does not preclude it forever. I do not believe it will come about in my lifetime or anytime soon, but I believe human nature will change and shed its paleolithic mindset as it has shed the need for religion.”

Sure, it’s possible. Not long ago, in historical terms, humans were sacrificing their own children to appease Moloch. We have moved on somewhat, since then, although we still sacrifice our children in wars, and steal the lives of our own neighbors by stealing the fruits of their labors. Hopefully some day we will progress to not sacrificing anyone at all. But as you say, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have to deal with the human race as it is.

Joe October 19, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Soonerliberty,
So let me see, we as humans are going to evolve into some super human with perfect reason and not have to worry about those little things like: envy, jealousy, hate, love, laziness, and all the rest. You believe that all these emotions are brought about by religion and once we get past the witchdoctors and become an atheist than the world will be free for the ancap experiment. What is human nature going to change to? Would we still call it “human nature.” It sounds like you want a bunch of robots running around. If sometime in the future your vision is realized it would be time to committ suicide. You won’t take the human out of human beings. It’s like everything else you profess regarding this subject, total fantasy. You sound like you haven’t had much experince in life and being young are real idealistic? Nothing wrong with that but time hopefully will create some realism in your life. Fight the good fight and don’t wait for some magical evolution to create something you are never going to see.

Poptech October 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Ancaps assume that in a society with no laws or government everyone would obey their Ancap principles. I could see it now, government gone and Ancaps going around telling everyone how Ancap is supposed to work.

“No, no this is my property, I don’t care if you have an army. This is how an Ancap society works, I read it in a book. What do you mean you are not going to listen to me!”

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 1:47 am

that’s incorrect.

if it were the case then what would be the point in theorizing PDAs?

…or even coming to the conclusion that an individual has the right to self defense?

Nonarchist October 16, 2010 at 11:06 am

“Ancaps assume that in a society with no laws or government everyone would obey their Ancap principles. I could see it now, government gone and Ancaps going around telling everyone how Ancap is supposed to work.”

Ancaps do not want a society without laws they want a society without the State. Laws can exist without the State. There are many books and articles on the subject of private laws and courts in a Stateless society.

Poptech October 17, 2010 at 12:59 am

Who enforces the laws?

Nonarchist October 16, 2010 at 8:52 am

“There are no such magic words. Anarchists always point out that minimilist governments never stay minimal, and they’re right. But what makes them think that ancap would be any different? What are the ancap magic words? What would make ancap stay ancap?”

I would rather see what would happen without a State then know what eventually will happen with a limited one.

Nonarchist October 17, 2010 at 11:24 am

@ Poptech
“Who enforces the laws?”

The same “who” that enforces them now, the individuals’ belief in them. The State did not descend from the mountaintop bringing the gift of “law” to the masses. Law arose because individuals generally value order over chaos. In otherwords, law arose to meet the demand for order. It was this demand that made people develope laws to protect their property, settle disputes peacefully before they escalated to violence, punish those who aggressed against others, and provide restitution to those who were wronged. The demand for law and order does not disappear without the State and you don’t need the State to enforce either. Some examples of this are.

1) Law Merchant. In “Law Merchant” merchants “governed” without the authority of the State. They formed their own courts and developed their own international commercial laws to resolve disputes. Decisions by these courts were respected, even by the losers, because of the threat of ostracism. If a merchant refused to abide by a courts ruling other merchants would refuse to trade with him and he would not be a merchant for long. Merchant courts were very efficient-they had to be because of the dynamics of trade-and often resolved very technical issues. (See Bruce L. Benson’s ‘ The Enterprise of Law, Justice Without the State, esp. pages 30-36.)

2) The “not so” wild west of the United States. In the early western United States there was very little if any government. Private agencies such as land clubs, cattlemen’s associations, mining camps, and wagon trains maintained order, protected property, and resolved conflicts. Land clubs were organizations established by settlers before the U.S government even surveyed the land. They adopted their own constitutions, making laws to protect property. These clubs administed land claims and protected them from outsiders. They also resolved dispute, all without the help of the State. Ostracism was the primary deterent used against those who violated the laws. (See DiLorenzo, The Independent Review, Vol. 15, # 2, Pages 227-238.)

Some other examples of law enforcement absent the State include medieval Iceland (930 to 1262) and Celtic Ireland (650 to 1650) to name a few.

Donald Rowe October 15, 2010 at 3:04 pm

“I think on balance, we, meaning the people of America, have done well.”

Care to elaborate on that point, specifically the accomplishments that have prevented the aggregation of power by the federal government?

I especially like that section in the preamble where it expresses with clarity the most important function of the state is to continuously promote greater freedom and independence of its citizens as they gain understanding, so they can grow to become less dependance on the state, with the ultimate goal of little or no intrusion by the government.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Donald,
I don’t know, i t seems kind of hokey for me to start a list of what’s good about America. I might need God Bless American playing in the background (sung by Ray Charles, of course).

However perhaps I can point out that despite the many failings of the American experiment, as you and I sit in front of our computer screens, we have the State recognized right to use the vote, education, political activism, free speech, etc, to make whatever changes in government we can muster. That single attribute does not exist universally across the globe. I for one am grateful that at least “we the people” have the opportunity to use that tool to overthrow tyranny, even if we are apparently too stupid at the moment to know how to use it.
“Care to elaborate on that point, specifically the accomplishments that have prevented the aggregation of power by the federal government?”
Although your sarcasm is thick and therefore I can guess you point of view, I’ll try to play it straight.
You are right in observing that the aggregation of power by the Fed, and all that entails, is a failing. But I guess I am trying to raise a couple of points.
First, who has failed and why? If voters are the sovereigns of the political sphere, and government exists with the consent of the governed, then the bulls eye belongs right on our foreheads, right? We are supposed to be the ultimate check and balance on the expansion and intrusion of our government, and we have failed to do so. That is our bad, and there is no way of getting around it. I take issued with the idea that the State is something, because of something inherent within it, cannot be defeated or changed. It can be changed, and one thing we have done right is to allow for this change by way of a simple vote. The thing is, we don’t seem to know what to vote for.
“I especially like that section in the preamble where it expresses with clarity the most important function of the state is to continuously promote greater freedom and independence of its citizens as they gain understanding, so they can grow to become less dependance on the state, with the ultimate goal of little or no intrusion by the government.”
Second, I think we should be about putting our heads together, much like the founding fathers did, for the purpose of charting out a course for America that will sweep across the consciousness of a free people, who will recognize the truth of freedom in it’s design, and exercise their constitutional rights as sovereigns.
You paraphrase the preamble, which makes the point beautifully. Here is another, quoted directly, that I find highly relevant to this topic of discussion. Ready?

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

I believe, as Americans, we are obligated to throw off the attributes if the State that you and I probably can agree are undesirable. It is not necessary that we design the entire concept anew. What is necessary is that before we discard what we have, we make sure we understand the promise and potentials inherent within it. The fact that we have that opportunity without having to go to the extreme of raising and deploying our own armies, is a pretty significant blessing, and something that I think we have done pretty well to preserve.
Queue the music.

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 2:38 am

“However perhaps I can point out that despite the many failings of the American experiment, as you and I sit in front of our computer screens, we have the State recognized right to use the vote, education, political activism, free speech, etc, to make whatever changes in government we can muster. That single attribute does not exist universally across the globe.”

How do you feel about direct democracy? It would certainly be easier to make direct changes this way than with a representative political class.

“I for one am grateful that at least “we the people” have the opportunity to use that tool to overthrow tyranny, even if we are apparently too stupid at the moment to know how to use it.”

and what of those that benefit [or perceive to] from the tyrannical state? isn’t that what we’ve seen, politicians appealing to blocs of voters by claiming he will help them benefit via the power he receives? what about those that end up dependent on the state?

“First, who has failed and why? If voters are the sovereigns of the political sphere, and government exists with the consent of the governed, then the bulls eye belongs right on our foreheads, right? We are supposed to be the ultimate check and balance on the expansion and intrusion of our government, and we have failed to do so.”

This is an argument against democracy.

“We are supposed to be the ultimate check and balance on the expansion and intrusion of our government, and we have failed to do so. That is our bad, and there is no way of getting around it.”

What do you believe is the reason for the failure?
Who is included in this “We”? If I voted to severely restrict government have I “failed”?
If I voted for a politician who claimed to be for liberty but turned his back, is it “my bad”?
Am I supposed to forsake daily life to keep constant vigilant track of politicians?

” I take issued with the idea that the State is something, because of something inherent within it, cannot be defeated or changed. It can be changed, and one thing we have done right is to allow for this change by way of a simple vote.”

if it’s so easy what’s the problem? why haven’t “we” all come to the same conclusion and simply voted for the state to be benevolent?

“The thing is, we don’t seem to know what to vote for.”

I’d vote for dissolution of the entire apparatus. What about you, what would you vote for? What would someone receiving a welfare check vote for?

What is the “correct” thing to vote for?

“Second, I think we should be about putting our heads together, much like the founding fathers did, for the purpose of charting out a course for America that will sweep across the consciousness of a free people, who will recognize the truth of freedom in it’s design,…”

funny enough this describes PRECISELY what anarcho-capitalists are doing via austrian economics and political theory.

The truth of freedom in its design is the maximization of liberty: the Non Aggression Principle.

A State, which must necessarily be an institution of aggression (tax collection), on the other hand breaks this.

“…, and exercise their constitutional rights as sovereigns”

the constitution is a social contract, and illegitimate. you cannot be born into a contract without, legitimate contracts are necessarily voluntary agreements with a promise not to break them. you cannot sign up your grandson to pay for your cable service, nor some random person in ohio.

rights are not derived from the constitution, they are inherent to man.

“I believe, as Americans, we are obligated to throw off the attributes if the State that you and I probably can agree are undesirable.”

What if I’m benefiting from the State and do not agree with you. What if I want to use it’s power to take even more from your class to give to my class? What if I get a bunch of buddies to vote for it?

“The fact that we have that opportunity without having to go to the extreme of raising and deploying our own armies, is a pretty significant blessing, and something that I think we have done pretty well to preserve.”

and if you ultimately decide voting away tyranny is an impossible goal?

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Kash,
You have given me a major project here, but you seem sincere, so let me give it a go.

*How do you feel about direct democracy? It would certainly be easier to make direct changes this way than with a representative political class. *

Direct democracy works for decisions on the scale of the life raft. Representative democracy seems to be required as the complexity of society and government becomes more complex. A democratic Republic is another response to complexity, check and balances, etc. I believe that this is a system whose promise is beyond our wisdom to appreciate and use to our own benefit. That is what needs to change.
“I for one am grateful that at least “we the people” have the opportunity to use that tool to overthrow tyranny, even if we are apparently too stupid at the moment to know how to use it.”

*and what of those that benefit [or perceive to] from the tyrannical state? isn’t that what we’ve seen, politicians appealing to blocs of voters by claiming he will help them benefit via the power he receives? what about those that end up dependent on the state? *

This is a problem associated with the very self-interests that drive both good and evil, both of which are part of human nature, of individuals, and by extentension, communities, governments and even the State as you seem to define it.
I forget the Scotsman who said this around the founding, but he said something like “Democracy is finished once the majority realizes it can vote itself largess from the public treasury”. Have you read the “Tragedy of the Commons” problem? I think it is like that.

*This is an argument against democracy. *

No, that was not my point. I am arguing for personal responsibility. If we created the mess, we have to clean it up. You don’t believe it can, theoretically, be cleaned up. I do, in theory. I am saying that despite where we’ve ended up today, despite 200 years we still have the Constitutional right to make a change. That in itself is pretty impressive.

*What do you believe is the reason for the failure? *

We have not been wise and vigilant as a people. We can do better.

*Who is included in this “We”? If I voted to severely restrict government have I “failed”?
If I voted for a politician who claimed to be for liberty but turned his back, is it “my bad”?*
Yes.
*Am I supposed to forsake daily life to keep constant vigilant track of politicians? *

No, that would be impractical. That is why the model is Democratic Republic. But the political process as it exists today, expecially with the referendum process as it exists in California, for example, make it easier to exploit the ignorance of the voters. Although I have not fully developed my thinking on this point, I believe we probably share the belief that the political process needs to be more local, more based on contemporary communication tools (i.e. internet), and be driven more by principles than an up or down vote on complex legislation by the generally uninformed voter. That would be something, as an example, that you and I could each support without having to resolve the ultimate question of whether Ancap is the only way to go.

*if it’s so easy what’s the problem? why haven’t “we” all come to the same conclusion and simply voted for the state to be benevolent? *

See my comments about wisdom and vigilant above.

*I’d vote for dissolution of the entire apparatus. What about you, what would you vote for? What would someone receiving a welfare check vote for? *

Smaller, more localize national governance that moves towards an economic policy that follows the tenants of Austrian economics, and the political philosophy as I understand it to be literally described in the Constitution. So a basic, Constitutional Democratic Republic. That implies too many assumptions to enumerate here, but I think you get the idea.

*What is the “correct” thing to vote for?*

Well, I think the above is correct. So anything that I vote for has to be rooted in those principles. But voting down a bond measure is not what I’m talking about here.

*funny enough this describes PRECISELY what anarcho-capitalists are doing via austrian economics and political theory. *

How ironic. Do you really think that an economy based on Austrian economic theories, (assuming we agree on the details, which are many) is impossible under a CDR? Just because I think Keynesian economics is wrong does not make me an Ancap supporter.
And by the way, just what are ancaps “doing”? Withholding their vote?

*The truth of freedom in its design is the maximization of liberty: the Non Aggression Principle.*

That’s fine as long as everyone goes along. If we assume that, all kinds of things would be possible. If that is what Ancap depends upon, wouldn’t you agree that is a, well, pretty LARGE assumption? I mean sure, I think it is a good principle. I try to follow it the best I can (although I’ve been known to give obscene gestures to rude drivers). That doesn’t mean that just because I declare it a desirable principle that everyone is going to follow it with as much conviction as you or I.

*A State, which must necessarily be an institution of aggression (tax collection), on the other hand breaks this.*

Taxation is voluntary. Not in the direct sense, of course, because it is a legitimate law and laws entail enforcement. But in the sense that voters enacted it through their representatives and voters could repeal it. Do you agree?

*the constitution is a social contract, and illegitimate. you cannot be born into a contract without, legitimate contracts are necessarily voluntary agreements with a promise not to break them. you cannot sign up your grandson to pay for your cable service, nor some random person in ohio. *

Whooaaa, Kash. That’s a mouthful. Why illegitimate? I think you agree that an individual has certain, unalienable rights. There is a concept in contract law called assignment and successor in interest. By being born in America (whether that should be the only criteria is another debate), we become successors in interest in the guarantees of our ancestors. What is illegitimate about that? You can voluntarily give up these rights if you want to, (to a limit; for example suicide is illegal, but nearly unpreventable) but I voluntarily agree to take that guarantee.

Where I would have to agree with the ridiculous example you use, on the other hand you are right. For example, I did not vote for Social Security, but that money has been taken out of my paycheck since age 16 when I had my first “real” job. I a little pissed about how that is working out for me. In that sense, you have a legitimate point, but it doesn’t resolve how we should change it. We would have to study and debate that specific issue, right?

*rights are not derived from the constitution, they are inherent to man. *

See “unalienable rights” above.

*What if I’m benefiting from the State and do not agree with you. What if I want to use it’s power to take even more from your class to give to my class? What if I get a bunch of buddies to vote for it? *

That is where the wisdom and vigilance comes in. I think to some large extent, that is exactly why we are where we are. I am fascinated with the J.P. Morgan era, as a rather transparent view of how this works. The history of the Central Bank, culminating with the FRB is another great read. These examples demonstrate your point. This is why I think there is a basis for agreement between us on these points. But you negate that with your insistence on Ancap.

*and if you ultimately decide voting away tyranny is an impossible goal? *

Why would I decie that? I don’t believe that. But debating such fundamental issued with you, to be honest, is a little disheartening. Of all people, I would expect someone who has read and studied, for example, Mises, Hyek and Rothbard, you would have an appreciation for the complexities of the problem. I for one have a life context into which these studies, as well as disciplines from many other fields, work together to form a cohesive whole in my mind. I think we have a lot more to work with than you do. I also know enough to understand that there are no simple, cookie-cutter answers, like Ancap.

My best example of that is this blog. Many of the most adherent proponents of Ancap cannot get themselves off the closed loop that says, in various, transparent ways, “The state is bad, you do not ultimately reject the State, and therefore you are not enlightened. Let me enlighten you.” Not much listening, humility, or common ground. That’s why Ancap is a cult and will remain a cult. It rejects the political sphere is if it doesn’t have to exist. That’s a pretty huge assumption, and why I think of it as nothing more than Utopian dreaming, regardless of how eloquently your heroes explain it.

But unlike many here, I want to hear your best arguments, and I will respond with my sincere point of view. Who knows, maybe you will help me see the light.

Russ the Apostate October 15, 2010 at 9:47 pm

Donald Rowe wrote:
“Care to elaborate on that point, specifically the accomplishments that have prevented the aggregation of power by the federal government?”

Read “The New Road To Serfdom” by Daniel Hannan, the British Conservative Party MEP who famously scolded Gordon Brown a while back. He paints a fairly convincing picture that, as screwed up as the US government is, it’s a damn sight better than what they have in Europe right now. (He also warns that, if we don’t wise up, we will soon be in the same predicament that the EU is in now, however.)

Donald Rowe October 17, 2010 at 5:21 pm

Russ The Apostate,
Thanks for the pointer. I will say I am disinclined to read it, prejudicially. He’s a pol. ‘nuf said.
Don

Donald Rowe October 17, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Wildberry,

Thank you for your considerate response. It was ill mannered of me to try to set you up to paint yourself into that proverbial corner in your praise of the state. You are certainly not michael, and my response to your statement, “I think on balance, we, meaning the people of America, have done well.”, was inappropriate. I offer my apology.

Minarchs, one of which I presume is what you consider yourself to be, form a very special group. Very unlike the rote statist, while acting in the defense of his state’s harmful actions or worse, attempting to validate those acts, whose brain is only imperceptibly more active than that of the comatose, the minarch has a beautiful mind. Rattling the brain-cage of the statist with the bones of the state’s victims may resuscitate him into thinking, but brain-mold is not a problem for the minarch. At risk of hyperbole, the minarch’s mind holds a beauty on par with the physical beauty of an Aphrodite. More than just easily able to grasp concepts, any concepts, and analyze them thoroughly, they have the ability to simultaneously hold two vastly incompatible concepts, balance them on knife edge, and reconcile them to each other. In this case, statism and anarchism. That love/hate relationship with the state is impossible for most of us to maintain for long.

But I ramble. The point I can’t seem to pin down is actually more simple than inhaling. There is naught to be gained by poking the minarch. Polite, well rehearsed, affirmations of faith in the state, (or religion, or state/religion) are the result, as you have so very graciously demonstrated. I understand that you are proud of the USA. Your evaluation of it seems to be that it is the best form of state there has ever been in the world. That is sort of like mine; it may be the least worse. But plumbing the depth of badness of all the various forms the state may assume is not something I desire to do with my time. I cannot reconcile the irreconcilable.

That for the state to disappear from our lives, forever, several things must occur. First,the disapproval of the effects of the state’s harmful actions must become as common as dirt. The state itself is doing an admirable job and needs no help. You go Ben! (Damning bankers, while it may feel good, allows the government to slip the noose for its responsibility in everyone’s financial pain. I humbly suggest not assisting this to happen.) Second thing, …

Another time, perhaps.

Cordially, Don

Capt. A. October 15, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Joe’s last statement: “Now all us citizens have to do is make sure our government returns to what he envisioned.”
****************
With cautiously applied respect, – not in your lifetime … or probably even your progeny if you have them, if ever!

When you state, “ … Now all us citizens,” you imply the sanctions of the “collective.” History truly is replete with an abundance of exactly what “the collective” has ultimately endowed future generations with: misery. E.g., Think about this: The danger to America is not Barack Obama, but a citizenry (the collective) capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. The democratic voting collectives’ choice… “Us … we … the collective!” How’s that work’in out for ya? Obamacare? Puke. Put the individual in jail for failing to comply in getting healthcare? Oy. Real freedom and liberty!

On January 2010, after a three-month visit (second one) to Somalia, (a state of anarchy) I witnessed first-hand again, precisely the very opposite of everything I was led to believe about anarchy. I ultimately recognized that anarchy is anathema to the State precisely because and due to the fact that it lacks “authority and control” OVER peoples’ lives. Within my visit I saw no instigation of “legalized plunder,” the State’s foremost measure of using the master’s lash and yoke! (I wonder just how many individuals, who speak seemingly forthright about anarchy, have ever actually witnessed with their eyes and NOT simply accept the age-old rendition of parroting the beliefs of others, including the Misean rendition of a “civilized” society?) There’s NOTHING like witnessing first-hand! By the way, the Unites States government’s current attacks via ground troops (SOG) and especially the Predator drones; unleashing Hellfire ordinance (which I witnessed as well) is far and above, the real CHAOS of uninvited death and destruction perpetrated on the “lack of government” venue of Somalia and its anarchy. Tout au contraire, Madison, et al., weren’t as “correct” in their assumptions relayed to others, as thought! And that’s from “first-hand personal experience” witnessed in the thick of it! I could go on but I believe my point is patently clear. Chalk one-up for Dr. Higgs on his thoughts about anarchy. He’s far more precise and accurate than most.

Anarchy is NOT a synonym for chaos. It merely describes a social system without government. Now, on the other hand, the word government! … is a word that is ultimately synonymous with DEATH! Stand against “legalized plunder,” against the boys with guns and badges and see what the ultimate outcome is! You’ll find out “first-hand!” (Ask the Afghan civilian what the U.S. military represents, huh? Death!)

C’est la guerre,

Capt. A.
Principaute de Monaco
UTC +2:00 CET

Joe October 15, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Capt A,
I do believe that we will never see what Madison had so carefully created. What I was saying is that what he and the founders created was a new idea that the world had never seen. He was a man that studied and knew about all the failed governments in history. For thousands of years humans were subserviant to Popes, Kings, Emperors and all sorts of lunatic dictators. He created the first government in history to be subserviant to the people. We still have people in this country who don’t truly understand what occurred. When I talk of citizens I speak of individuals with individual rights. I don’t speak of a Majority Rule Democracy. I speak of a Constitutional Republic. Europe tried the former and you see where it got them. (Some short guy named Napoleon)
If you read history you will find that there is no thing as a perfect world. There is no thing as a perfect government. In this country the individuals control whether they enslave themselves or not. I know its not heaven on earth but I will put this countries form of government aganist any other government or non-government in the world. It would be safe to say that Monaco would probably not exist if it weren’t for the good old USA. All the royalty would have long been abandoned to the Arian Nation.
I find it somewhat strange that you would pick Somalia as a good example of anarchy. The Somalia people were and mostly still are living under a subsistence-based society. It is a pastoral existence. It is a culture with a complex and powerful system of ethical norms and rules to regulate behavior that was linked with the requirements of a pastoral, subsistence way of life. I would think you have a better chance of anarchy based on these norms. I could say the same thing about the American Indian prior to the Europeans entering America.
So how would a industrialized nation institute an anarchy so us individuals would not end up on the bad end of a life or death experiment?

Capt. A. October 16, 2010 at 10:47 am

Joe,

Thank you for your interest and in responding.

First, your comment, “ … It would be safe to say that Monaco would probably not exist if it weren’t for the good old USA. All the royalty would have long been abandoned to the Arian Nation.”

You might or might not be correct in your supposition. There are instances where historical references about Monaco prove similar to theories tantamount to the existence of Switzerland and the variegated theories as to why Switzerland remained neutral throughout WWII. But that’s for another day of discussion. I have stayed in Monaco, Campione d’Italia, Sark, San Marino and a handful of other venues in Europe for over thirty-years now. (By the way, Europe, as a whole is crapsville. You have scenic beauty, with absolutely horrendous governments. (That’s what the collective wants! Let’em eat cake!) Monaco and Campione et al. are exempt. More about this latter. I neither suggest nor condone the historic tribal wars that have laid waste—a miserable example of what “civilization” should represent by government(s). (If you live in the flag-waving bellicose, regulated democracy, called the U.S., simply look at the history being laid down for future generations.) And no better, Europe today, the EU directly is in this captain’s opinion a true nightmare with its diminishing demographic. It’s worse than the U.S., historically too! Collectivist would vehemently disagree. Europeans, as a whole seem to enjoy their master’s lash and yoke, with redistribution of wealth similar to the U.S. with regard only to how it is implemented. I hear tell Obama is about to “grease” Americans up well, while instituting a tax increase that would make Karl Marx smile!) America is a place … to be from. I left its jurisdictions and renounced its citizenship.

You ask, “So how would a industrialized nation institute an anarchy so us individuals would not end up on the bad end of a life or death experiment?”

The exact formulation necessary to go from government-oriented to anarchy cannot necessarily take place without a vast implementation and complete change in the educational system. I’d offer to start by getting education out of the hands of governmental authority and control. (Much easier said than done!) As long as “government and the elite” control what you know, there is little chance to ever come to an understanding of what true and real freedom, liberty, privacy (both personal and financial), sanctity of private property and freedom to contract (they do NOT exits in the United States) are all about. I do think the Internet will in the long run hamper governments. That is until they CONTROL information, e.g. China. The government and its ability to create unfounded, vacuous “law” will circumvent any real chance of “free choice.” Obviously, it is not in the interest of the controlling elite to do otherwise. YOU ARE its slave and don’t you ever forget it! It’s a seething conundrum! That’s precisely why I, an expatriate left the U.S. long ago … knowing fully well that I wasn’t about to spend the only life I would ever have … in subjugation, a tax slave belonging to the collective. Understand? Forget Madison! The American Constitution is a lamentable experiment gone terribly wrong. The seeds of its destruction were built-in. What coulda, shoulda, woulda been is moot!! Are you living your life twice?

You can Wikipedia Monaco. You’ll find out exactly why I stay here. No income tax, death tax, inheritance tax, property tax, sales tax … in other words redistribution of wealth is nonexistent! Do you have ANY idea or EXPERIENCE of what that is like Joe? Are you truly free to keep ALL of what you earn, choosing so? How about no welfare? That’s right. You come to stay or live in Monaco, you support yourself and those you love and care about. You do not stick your hand in the pockets of others using the badge and gun of government! Period. Campione is tantamount, without the exuberant nightlife. (Paid via the gambling casinos and stamps, which are voluntary—that’s how Prince Albert II of Monaco pays for his constitutional monarchy. If he doesn’t cater to the free market place crowd, I assure you Monaco would cease to exist!) Monaco could be looked upon as soft-core anarchy with individuals who understand and subscribe to two rules: Keep your hands to yourself … and mind your own business! Seven hundred years in the making seemingly show what a truly “civilized” venue Monaco represents. But, I shan’t preach to the choir! Each individual must ultimately choose whatever lifestyle allows him or her to sleep peacefully. Having lived 45-years of life in the U.S., and thirty plus years of living in venues that do not thrust the barrel of a gun into your belly while stammering to inform you in the wee hours of the night that you are under arrest for failing to submit to the collective’s “legalized plunder or other collective violations” is not my way of thinking how life should be lived. Leaving the American collective, the voting booboisie and all that it stands for was for this captain the single very best thing in life done! Everything else fell into place with life lived and how, as I believe it should be. You want the lash and yoke … c’est la guerre!

Finally, if you’ll read the comment below, written by the knowledgeable gentleman, Mr. Jordan Viray he provides an additional lot of information that you might find interesting. Be that as it may, again, my life experience has been filled with interests that lay outside the realm of those who chose to live the only life they will ever have—in the hands of the elitist philistines (government and its bureaucracy). My only regret is that I spent the first 45-years not knowing the truth, subjected to the inculcation, propaganda and schooling of the collective tribe and its government! And, to add, why would anyone want to live in a country known for having the largest prison system in the world? While at hand, I hear the unknowing prattle about how they “live in the land of the free!” What crapola! Leaning into anarchy, as understood by intelligent, critical-thinking individuals such as Dr. Higgs—that shun wheedlers, trough-sucker, gimme-gimmes and those who vote to use government to equalize the masses is to far beyond this captain to even waste time thinking about … especially since I understand with precision and accuracy exactly what my individual freedom, liberty, privacy, wealth etc., is really all about. Capisce?

Again, thanks for you comment.

Best to you,

Capt. A.
Principaute de Monaco
UTC +2:00 CET
“Anyone who needs to be persuaded to be free, doesn’t deserve to be.” ~ L. Neil Smith

Joe October 16, 2010 at 11:19 am

@Capt., Thank you for your response. I can’t respond now but will later.

Joe October 16, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Capt. A., Based on our conversation so far I see that we agree on most everything except the premise of this article. I do not see men as being angels. I have lived to long and been to many places to totally throw out my life experiences. Yes I do believe that if the Germans won the war that Monaco would not have escaped. I think the world would be less free and that many millions of people would have been eliminated. Not only Monaco but all around the world. I have witnessed mans inhumanity to man and there needs to be a control over that part of mans human nature. I do agree with Madison and his common sense when it comes to understanding the evil that can result without protection from a minimal government. I truly would like to read how an “Anarchy” would stop force aganist individiuals without a government? How would contracts be settled and enforced? What type of laws would be established, if at all? So we are both Libertarians but I believe that men are not angels and individuals need government force of law to protect the innocent.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Joe,
Hear, hear! That was beautiful.

I don’t share your pessimism about Madison, but then I can be somewhat of an idealist.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 2:24 am

Thank you for your first hand experiences. Perhaps you’ve seen the Youtube video implying cholera is a result of Libertarian principles; you wouldn’t believe how often Somalia is trotted out as if its primitive society were somehow the result of statelessness all the while ignoring the similar situation of many other Sub-Saharan countries *with* a state.

Unlike media characterizations of Somalia as a warlord infested chaotic mess, most longitudinal surveys of Somalia indicate favorable trends for developmental metrics, e.g. life expectancy, since anarchy took hold. While the populace does not have a scholarly understanding of the problems of the state or the advantages of the free market, many Somalis do understand the benefits of no regulations, no taxation and no central government. Now Somalia has one of the best telecommunication systems in the region and even Coca-Cola has set up shop there.

Attempts by other nations to setup a state have failed thanks to a heavily armed populace. Granted, a thousand of them fell for 18 of ours but that was the price they were willing to pay. Most Westerners recoil at the numerous militias throughout the country without understanding that such militias protect their freedoms more than any government does.

Is the fairly common African situation of fighting between rebels and government forces to see who will end up brutalizing the people any better? No doubt many of these warlords are savage but none can compare with the brutality and violence of the State.

Some quotes from a National Geographic article:

“”We have been through some hard times,” admits telecommunications tycoon Abdirizak Ido, “but the worst was when we had a government. Once there was no government, there was opportunity!

I can say that we have a more efficient communications system than neighboring countries like Ethiopia and Kenya,” says Ido, the founder of Nationlink, one of Somalia’s ten fiercely competitive telephone companies. “In Mogadishu you get landline service eight hours after you order it—for ten dollars a month.” (Cell service is instantaneous.) Local calls are free, and international calls cost 60 cents to a dollar a minute, even from remote villages linked to a phone center by shortwave radio.”

“Gaalkacyo, a desert town in the center of the country, has streetlights, thanks to Abdirizak Osman, a local entrepreneur who branched out from phones to electrical generators, not only lighting the town but also supplying free power to the hospital.”

“Abdul Dini, one of the Nationlink partners (though he and Ido belong to different sub-clans), rattles off his growing list of subsidiaries: A spaghetti factory in Mogadishu (one legacy of a half century of Italian occupation is the Somali avidity for pasta), a plastics factory, a mineral-water plant, a bakery. Mogadishu has two fiercely competing cable TV companies, and a (pirated) copy of Black Hawk Down was playing in one of the city’s cinemas within days of its nationwide release in the U.S. ”

“Without a central bank to regulate currency, self-serving businessmen have been able to print large numbers of counterfeit notes, which they’ve used to back the TNG. The result has been the devaluation of the Somali shilling. ”

Of course when Somalia did have a central bank, inflation was rampant since the government printed vast sums of money to finance its wars. But no, according to most minarchists, anarchy cannot possibly work. Somalia must have a state forced upon it.

It is an absurd conclusion, but to those who believe in the state, it is a necessary one.

Capt. A. October 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm

To Mr. Jordan Viray,

Thank you for submitting a response to my comment further above. It’s always a pleasure to find an individual who takes time to investigate issues. Somalia was the first place along with Sudan that I first visited, flying several Lockheed L-1011 cargo-loads of medical supplies and life-sustaining equipment into the respective countries. Most of it never reached the people it was intended for. (In Sudan) The cargo was placed into government-controlled customs warehouses by government thugatarians and governmental profiteers of the worst kind. I too witnessed this first-hand. The masses stay poor and I can say I do not believe they will remain anything but poor until they abate and finally cease in voting for government in their thug democracies. What an affront to individuals that have no means to get out! Government IS the problem. I trust there will be no resolution, if ever at least in my lifetime. Having flown numerous flights into the vast expanse of Africa over several recent years, I’ve been led to assess with some degree accuracy, exactly what life was all about within these venues of this very old continent. It’s an education not learned from media or government. Best learned by experience. Going to Somalia to see “a state of anarchy” was an eye-opening experience. But, there’s much, much more to it… I’d choose Somalia over many, many democratic states and their governments that I’ve witnessed and visited throughout the years. I’ve listened to just about ALL of the negative reasons why anarchy can’t work. Poppycock! Anarchy in the rough merely needs to be refined and honed, then let people choose … with or without the State! Free … or a slave! And that is the truth.

It’s one thing to read books and watch TV and videos of events taking place in this world. I would suggest that giving a first-hand testament via actual experience critically arrived at is manifestly the only way to really appreciate the “truth.” Have you been to Somalia? Do you have first-hand experience in viewing Somalia and its people? I’m all ears! I no longer trust in any government-controlled media to provide the truth. I have the time and wherewithal and health even at my elder-age to investigate first-hand. I’m fortunate to be able to do so. Truth lays right in front of your eyes. All you must do is “see it” along with a critical-thinking mind. Nothing supplants experience, nothing.

Again, in my previous statement yesterday, when governments exist, there can be no happy ending, ever. And yet I find it truly appalling that people have come to believe that somehow they cannot exist without government, to experience anarchy. Man is not as smart, as he thinks he is.

Banking? Free-market banking is the only acceptable solution, people exercising the “right” through action, as to how they want to handle their medium of exchange. That’s a simplified beginning. Government + banking = a nightmare on Elm Street. Got that people! Just view the world around you today to witness the world central banking disaster! The banking elites are a formidable group however. Prepare for a fight to the end.

I’d finally say that I personally (at my age) see little chance for “anarchy” to thrive unless deep ground-in education provide the true merits that anarchism represent both to personal freedom and liberty etc. Governments will see to it that this understanding, using the horror of the collectives’ democracy, along with its “authority and control,” will remain the single biggest reason for keeping the masses chained. To most, freedom is feeling free and easy in their harness, government always maintaining absolute control of the reins. I’ve witnessed with … and without. I know the difference. The difference is called Monaco. It’s soft-core anarchy within a constitutional monarchy, evolving. Ah, to be young again!

Again Mr. Viray, thank you for your time and energy to lay out some highlight information for the readers of this site about Somalia. I did in fact refer to you and your information, crediting your comment personally to “Joe” in my recent response to him above.

Regards,

Capt. A
Principaute de Monaco
UTC +2:00 CET

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Jordan (at least I learned how to spell you name…)

I am not an expert on Somalia or Africa, but it seems like a stretch to compare what existed in Somalia as “Governemnt” and what positive things may have occurred to improve a nation from “deplorable” to “less deplorable” to your general concept of “State” that exists here in the U.S. I doubt, if we were to dig very deep, that there would be much that was comparable.

With all due respect, that seems a little absurd.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm

Hey Wildberry, thanks for getting my name right haha.

The taxation, regulation and corruption among political leaders in Somalia lies squarely on the shoulders of the Government. At least that much is comparable; the people of the United States – though it be more advanced and far more wealthy – suffers from the same burden of taxation, regulation and corruption that Somalia did prior to anarchy. Nearly a third of all wealth in the United States is confiscated through taxes and our alphabet soup of Federal agencies shows that we have no shortage of regulation. As for corruption, the examples are legion.

That all this occurs at a more abstract level of initiatives, representatives, theories of “checks and balances” and well-educated committees in marbled hallways in America makes it more genteel without a doubt. The corrupt African official is probably more ostentatious than his American counterpart who takes on the veneer of respect in the revolving door system. But at the end of all of these niceties lies the basis of the state: violence and coercion.

Now if Somalia were the only case of where the decrease of the State came to the benefit of society, it would be seem a little absurd to draw a conclusion in favor of anarchy. But when we see the historical examples of the removal of state price controls in West Germany and a resulting flourishing market, removal of state control of industry in Chile and China with the result of truly astonishing growth … the improvement of Somalia after the removal of the state, it is not so absurd.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

Jordan, my good man.

Let me see if I can follow your arguments.

“The taxation, regulation and corruption among political leaders in Somalia lies squarely on the shoulders of the Government.”

Yes, on the shoulders of “their Governemnt”. I know nothing about how that happened or how it operated, or how anarchy “arrived”. Those things are important, but let’s keep going.

“At least that much is comparable; the people of the United States – though it be more advanced and far more wealthy – suffers from the same burden of taxation, regulation and corruption that Somalia did prior to anarchy.”

I can’t attest to this, but let me grant you this and see where it leads.

“Nearly a third of all wealth in the United States is confiscated through taxes and our alphabet soup of Federal agencies shows that we have no shortage of regulation. As for corruption, the examples are legion.”

This we can agree on. I think we may be getting somewhere.

“That all this occurs at a more abstract level of initiatives, representatives, theories of “checks and balances” and well-educated committees in marbled hallways in America makes it more genteel without a doubt. The corrupt African official is probably more ostentatious than his American counterpart who takes on the veneer of respect in the revolving door system.
OK.

“But at the end of all of these niceties lies the basis of the state: violence and coercion.”

I agree that violence and coercion are attributes of our State. Those are not the only attributes though, right? But let’s stay focused on those, and see where this leads.

“Now if Somalia were the only case of where the decrease of the State came to the benefit of society, it would be seem a little absurd to draw a conclusion in favor of anarchy.”

This is becoming a bit of a logical stretch. The fact that a reduction in the influence of Somalia’s prior government benefited the people of Somalia only supports the notion that reducing the size and influence of any government that is tyrannical and oppressive should result in an improvement, provided the alternatives are not worse. It does not prove that anarchy is a better alternative than any other that could have happened. But let us continue.

Also, I have to claim ignorance on the facts here, but it seems at least debatable as to whether Somalia is in fact in a state of “anarchy”, but we’ll leave that discussion for another time. Let’s assume it is and see where that leads.

“But when we see the historical examples of the removal of state price controls in West Germany and a resulting flourishing market, removal of state control of industry in Chile and China with the result of truly astonishing growth … the improvement of Somalia after the removal of the state, it is not so absurd.”

Ah, the familiar non sequitur. I was afraid of that.

Assuming your facts are correct, removal of price controls would be an example of a policy change in West Germany which moved them from a state of more intervention to one of less. Less intervention is a hallmark of Austrian economics, and therefore should result in an improvement in the functioning of the markets, and benefit the German economy. It did. As far as I know, Germany still has a State.
I think the same goes for Chile and I know for sure that China has a State.

Therefore, anarchy is the cause of these changes, and as such, anarchy is the solution for all that ails us here in America.

Ah, I don’t think that follows. Maybe I missed your point?

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 8:13 pm

“Yes, on the shoulders of “their Governemnt”. I know nothing about how that happened or how it operated, or how anarchy “arrived”. Those things are important, but let’s keep going.”

Taxation and regulation are not unique features to “their Governemnt[sic]” but to all governments.

“I can’t attest to this, but let me grant you this and see where it leads.”

You cannot attest to the US Government taxing, regulating and being corrupt?

“I agree that violence and coercion are attributes of our State. Those are not the only attributes though, right? But let’s stay focused on those, and see where this leads.”

I did not say merely “attributes” as if it were possible that violence and coercion could somehow exist separate from the State; they are the basis of the State, fully necessary for a State to exist.

“This is becoming a bit of a logical stretch. The fact that a reduction in the influence of Somalia’s prior government benefited the people of Somalia only supports the notion that reducing the size and influence of any government that is tyrannical and oppressive should result in an improvement, provided the alternatives are not worse. It does not prove that anarchy is a better alternative than any other that could have happened. But let us continue.”

A logical stretch? I merely affirmed what you had said but in a limited scope, i.e., it *would* be absurd to conclude that getting rid of government was a good idea based on the single example of Somalia. Would it kill you to make sure you understand what you read before replying? It would have saved you time replying to an argument I never made and save me time from calling you out for it.

“Also, I have to claim ignorance on the facts here, but it seems at least debatable as to whether Somalia is in fact in a state of “anarchy”, but we’ll leave that discussion for another time.”

So you are ignorant on the matter and yet believe you can choose to “leave that discussion for another time”. How about you learn the facts first and then Capt. A and I will consider the discussion. Somalia has been discussed on Mises.org before but no doubt you will want to look to other sources to support your claim.

“Ah, the familiar non sequitur. I was afraid of that.”

Nope, it is just evidence. None of it proves what I have to say (that would require deduction from first principles) but it is evidence nonetheless.

“Less intervention is a hallmark of Austrian economics, and therefore should result in an improvement in the functioning of the markets, and benefit the German economy.”

And less intervention is indeed what ancaps are calling for with regard to infrastructure, defense and legal services currently provided for by the state. Conclusion? Anarchocapitalism, not state intervention.

“Therefore, anarchy is the cause of these changes, and as such, anarchy is the solution for all that ails us here in America.”

Your words, not mine.

“Ah, I don’t think that follows. Maybe I missed your point?”

Of course it didn’t follow because that is what *you* said in your failed attempt to paraphrase.

Joe October 16, 2010 at 6:05 pm

@Jordan,
I think to use Somalia as an example of anarchy is not relevant to a large industrial society. I view Somalia similar to the American Indians that use to roam the plains of the midwest prior to the white man. I view Somalia similar to the Arab tribesman living their nomatic lifestyle. I cannot see a large industrial society functioning under an anarchy type system. Please let me know how that would be possible?
I would love to live under a system of anarchy because it would be more free but will it work? It’s not the angels I’m worried about but the little devils running around.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm

The Somalis aren’t a mostly nomadic people. Anyway, what specific concerns do you have about a large industrial society living under anarchy? Crime?

There are a lot of extended discussions and theoretical frameworks of how law and justice would function in an anarchic society. Rothbard and Block both have plenty of work on the subject available here at Mises.org. For a Cliff’s notes version, I suggest Rothbard’s essay “Society Without a State”

http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard133.html

Joe October 17, 2010 at 12:04 pm

@Jordan,
I will be happy to read Rothbard but I would also recommend you read Rose Wilder Lane’s great book, “The Discovery of Freedom.” You can acces this book as a pdf on this site. Go to literature and type in the name of the book. It should be the first result. You will see pdf at the top of the page.
I found Rose Wilder Lane to be a great Libertarian and she wrote one of the greatest books on the history of LIBERTY. I strongly suggest everyone read this book prior to even having the idea of a anarchy society.
I will read Rothbard because he too was a great Libertarian.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I’ve actually read that one. It’s pretty good although it succumbs to the Dark Ages prejudice. But overall I’d actually found it a support of ancap thinking even if she was a minarchist (although a lot of things support free-markets and libertarian thinking that are not necessarily ancap).

Joe October 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

@Jodan,
I read the article above and it does not go into enough specifics to get a good understanding of Rothbard’s position. I guess I will have to read his book. In the article Rothbard did say, “and that therefore the system I am both analyzing and advocating is not “really” anarchism.”
The only reason I would read the book is because I find Rothbard to be lucid and is not some idealistic quack.
As for the Somalis they are a subsistence-based society. Pastoral and not very industrialized. In other words their living the simple life. There are other societies in the world that have lived a basic subsistence level exsistence. That is not how I would choose to live. Also, I would like to have a longer life expectancy than 49 years.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Somalia’s situation has been improved thanks to anarchy. That’s the lesson anarchists draw because Somalis are better able to satisfy their goals in anarchic state versus the prior statist quo. Lol, couldn’t resist.

But it would be a mistake to imply that the low GDP per capita or low life expectancy is somehow due to anarchy. A proper look at the economy of any country must go beyond superficial conclusions based on static figures and must look to changes in an economy.

An entertaining look at life expectancy over time in various countries can be found at the following TED Talk:

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html

This is why a longitudinal examination of Somalia vis-a-vis its cohorts is necessary. Indeed, this analysis shows an improvement in life expectancy, increasing industrialization and increasing living standards under anarchy versus similar countries.

But yes, I definitely recommend his “Man, Economy and State” for that lucidity you describe. Make no mistake though, Rothbard believed that a society without a State was not only possible, but preferable. Any other conclusion is dishonest.

Don Duncan October 15, 2010 at 7:01 pm

I don’t have to imagine society with government. The evidence of 10,000 years shows brutality exalted and exempted from morality by the masses. And you call this “civilization”? Is it any wonder I prefer to imagine a world without government? Every life enhancing invention from money to nuclear fission has been taken by government and turned into a WMD. Fiat money will bring down the world economy if nuclear war does not.
Mises noted the irony of using violence to combat violence. He did not distinguish between violence for self defense and the initiation of violence. The first upholds the sovereignty of the individual and second violates it. The rejection of government for a voluntary society is necessary if people want to live in peace and prosperity. Voluntaryism is the only system that is compatible with reason.

Salvadar October 15, 2010 at 9:39 pm

But how are the voluntaryists going to protect themselves against the statists? They’ve failed until now. Maybe statism is the stable state, and voluntaryism is simply a utopian wish.

RWW October 15, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Is a society without murderers a “utopian wish”? If so, is it wrong to oppose all murder?

Gil October 16, 2010 at 4:43 am

It depends. Is that true that some forms of killing can unfairly labelled “murder” by the state and murder unfairly labelled “a legal form of killing” by the state?

King George October 16, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Would it have been wrong to assassinate Hitler? While coercion can be wrong, it is not always wrong.

RWW October 17, 2010 at 11:47 pm

I was using “murder” in the strictest sense.

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 2:45 am

this is a critical mass problem. how many people know what “voluntaryism” even is?

how many people know what anarcho-capitalism is?

how many people subscribe to it?

how scattered are they from each other?

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Kash,
Not many. But the biggier issue is that some who have encountered it find it unsupportable. I don’t want to associate with Ancaps, they are fanatically attached to their own point of view.

That is my opinion, and one that is apparently shared by many people who do encounter it, so it has no chance of ever “catching on”. That is why cults stay small. They do not do well in the full light of day.

But just to be sure, I am enjoying giving them the chance to make a persuasive argument. It has been disappointing.

Gil October 16, 2010 at 4:39 am

If humanity has been “so brutal” for the past 10 millennia then how are close to 7 billion people, many of whom are posting comments on their Internet-connect computers, alive today? Are you saying you standard of living is no different than what it would have been if you lived 10,000 years ago?

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Don,
Would you voluntarily put your head in a noose to avoid violating your non-violence principle?

There is one’s imagination, and there is the real world. There is a difference.

There is some value in a phrase like “voluntary society”, but it is not nearly sufficient to define a government. There is a little more to it, just like there is a little more to a “free-market” than an isolated, voluntary action of a single consumer. There is a little more to Capitalism than deciding whether to buy bread or beacon.

Joe October 16, 2010 at 6:11 pm

Don,
Please don’t take this too negative but you are an idealist. There are people out there that you would have to initiate violence for self defense every day. You wouldn’t have time to do the things you thought you would be doing being so free. You would eventually pleas and beg for a minimal government with laws that protect you from the beasts.

ABR October 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm

Confusion arises when one mistakes anarchism for the absence of governance. Of course, it is hypothetically possible for governance to be absent in an anarchistic world, but highly improbable.

I suspect that Mises and others would have come round to anarchism if they saw its manifestation in terms of a free market of governance.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm

ABR,

Let’s presume that anarchism does not have an “absence of governance”. I think many, including myself, have a lot of trouble with imagining what that would be. Especially when you have proponents here in this very discussion, apparently discarding even the notion of a majority vote. When you start with only what is left after ancaps discard everything that doesn’t “fit”, how do even simple concepts of ancap self-governance work on any kind of scale in a modern, technological society?

If your response is “Stateless, absolute freedom”, well that is an oxymoron. Very few things in life and reality are absolute. Certainly not human societies.

Is it any wonder that after awhile, one begins to associate ancap with “kook”?
It has all the earmarks of a cult.
But of course, that is just one person’s opinion.

ABR October 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Wildberry, you’re not alone in having trouble imagining what a free market in governance would look like. When the automobile was invented, for example, few could have predicted how many companies would arise, and in what proportion.

And so, I have no idea how many legal societies might emerge under panarchy, or what their memberships might be. Nor can I guarantee that each society would have side-agreements with its competitors in order to manage disputes between members of competing societies.

But since it is in one’s self-interest to avoid war, generally speaking, it’s a good bet that most societies will try to compromise where needed. And in the absence of compromise, a member of X can always do his best to avoid or shun a member of Y, if X and Y have failed to reach a compromise.

At first glance, one might expect a proliferation of laws that each person would have to learn — those of his society and all of its side-agreements — but a free market isn’t going to encourage a plethora of laws for any society. In some cases, X and Y might agree to observe the laws of Z where there is a dispute between members of X and Y.

CGW October 15, 2010 at 1:47 pm

While Mr. Higgs makes some excellent points on the dangers of the unfettered state, he is incorrect in his assertion that ” the state, which holds by far the greatest potential for harm and tends to be captured by the worst of the worst, is much too risky for anyone to justify its continuation. ”

By this statement, he ignores the potential for societal harm posed by companies and corporations. These are too big to be held in check by the people without state backing. To live under a state is difficult enough; to live under the jurisdiction of a corporate entity has the potential to be very bad, as well.

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 3:12 am

Corrupt corporations that don’t want to play by the free market rules USE State power to gain their power… otherwise they would have to gain that power legitimately by appealing to their customers enough to support them.

State power is illegitimately gained (via politics). In a free market the consumer is sovereign.

The State is not a tool of “the people” to fight corrupt corporations… it’s a tool of a bad business to survive and gain power over its customers and it’s competition. (bailouts, anyone?)

to live under the jurisdiction of a corporate entity indeed has the potential to be very bad as well… the difference is on a free market you have the option to stop supporting a bad entity and purchase the services of another, bad business fails. under a State your only option is to “reform” it via the tools it provides (voting) which are relatively worthless.

Gil October 16, 2010 at 4:47 am

So a corporation or a highly, wealthy individual can’t “go bad”? What if a large corporation is engaging in its personal form of “emiment domain”? Or the tycoon who runs his company town like a tyrant?

Fallon October 16, 2010 at 10:22 am

A few quick angles: 1) If the people under the corporation’s aggression still cling to market ideas, rights derived from property, etc, that corporation will encounter resistance- and even from its own employees. 2) A corporation becoming more like government will acquire calculation issues internally and will have trouble expanding, foregoing the rationality that the price system implies. 3) A corporation is relatively isolated as compared to a centralized behomoth, no? Outside forces may align against it. People under its control have a better chance to run away too. If Massachusetts, a corporative body, claimed complete sovereignty, some victims might run to New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut or New York, bordering areas. Freedom happens in the friction between off-setting powers. 4) Since you assumed a company town, I will hold aside the proposition that market entities are incentivized for peaceful cooperation. Who really wants to pay for war or risk internal overthrow with the acquisition of mercenary force?

Gil October 18, 2010 at 12:11 am

Considering anarchism doesn’t really exist it is easy to say that most are willing to deal with shady people and businesses.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 11:09 am

Kash, You said,

“State power is illegitimately gained (via politics). In a free market the consumer is sovereign.”

“Capitalism means free enterprise, sovereignty of the consumers in economic matters, and sovereignty of the voters in political matters” Mises-Bureaucracy Introduction Page 8

Why would you cast off the entire concept of Constitutional government as a tool of the people, just as free markets are? I mean as an idea, an ideal?

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Kash,

“The State is not a tool of “the people” to fight corrupt corporations… it’s a tool of a bad business to survive and gain power over its customers and it’s competition. (bailouts, anyone?)”

I know this is not black or white, but let me ask you, can’t the State that you’re describing be both? Isn’t it?

How about the little “s” state? Is there any room between here and “there” (ancap utopia) for something more accurately representative of the American ideal?

Isn’t it possible to agree that the American ideal, as it existed in the words of our founding documents, is much more desirable, and consistent with Libertarian ideals, than any other concept of self-governance on the planet? Is it impossible to imagine such a structure that operated in a free market, and held Austrian economics as first principles?

I see nothing inconsistent here. What I see is a group of bitter, unrealistic dreamers who discard the promise of that ideal with a shrug and a “been there, done that”.

That strikes me as a cheap and shallow attitude.

But that’s just me.

Bob October 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Thats a bogus claim. Corporatism, isn’t defined solely by it being autonomously Evil, without its partner in crime, the National State/Govt. Cause & Effect is not you Govt. Apologist’s Strong Suit! I guess you are under the assumption that the Anti-Trust Laws were enacted because of a Market Induced Monopoly. Here let me get the URL, right for some of you Statists…. freerepublic.com…

Bob October 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm

How do We as a People Stop Encroaching Govt.? What “Failsafe”, did we overlook in that Holy Document?

Joe October 16, 2010 at 6:21 pm

@Bob,
Good questions. First of all get an education and understand what the constitution really is. Most people don’t even know that it outlines the government powers. If not in the constitution they don’t have the power. Most people think it is a limitation on individuals. When you see politicians taking an oath of office to uphold the constitution and they don’t, get rid of them. Taking care of the government is like being married, you have to work at it.
We have to be responsible for our lives and not think that other individuals are going to pay your way. We are the “Failsafe” and we are failing.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Good points Joe.

Mark October 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm

“Defending the continued existence of the state, despite having absolute certainty of a corresponding continuation of its intrinsic engagement in robbery, destruction, murder, and countless other crimes, requires that one imagine nonstate chaos, disorder, and death on a scale that nonstate actors seem incapable of causing.”

That’s a false choice. If you take away the government’s power to tax, it’s a virtual certainty that the destruction of government would end.

I don’t understand this state thing. I’ve read a lot of descriptions here, but they all sound like emotional/superstitious/religious gobbledygook. Like the state is some mystical entity that hides under the bed. No.

Countries have governments. The rules of government can be changed. The original sin of government is the power to steal money from citizens at the point of gun. It turns aristocrats into masters and the rest of us into slaves. All the other evils of government flow from that power. We can take away the government’s power to tax and with it government’s power to do such tremendous damage.

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Mark,
I like the way you think. But why absolutism? Wouldn’t a reduced power to tax be sufficient? Then we can skip all the fanfare about ancap, etc.

Smaller is better. Cut something. Be intelligent and cut things that will make a big difference. I might want to kick in a few bucks to keep the Coast Guard greased, though. But most everything else can go.
Shift the center of power to the States, then to the municipalities. Make the whole thing smaller and more local. Operate from basic principles. That would be different, and you and I could agree without having to resolve the “Ulimate mystery of the Universe: Ancap or State”. Plenty of time to get to that in a generation or two.

Tyrone Dell October 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

I don’t want to kick in a few bucks to keep the Coast Guard greased.
Now what?

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

We vote.

RWW October 15, 2010 at 11:58 pm

In other words, Wildberry gets together with his friends to steal from you and call it “democracy.” Disgusting.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 11:16 am

And what do you propose?

If we imagine that we are in a life raft, and we have to cooperate on something vitally important and it comes down to making a decision, in your world view what is the right way to do that?

Tyrone Dell October 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Wildberry: “By the way, I have a question for you. Since in America, people can get together, buy property, and build walls and try to isolate themselves from the outside world and live they way they want to, ,(many other cults have done so)why don’t you give your theories a try? I mean really, of all places, why isn’t there an Ancap society somewhere in America that tries to put into practice what you preach? That would be fascinating.”

1. You would still have to pay taxes and start businesses inside this walled city that coincide with regulations made by regulators living outside this walled city.
2. http://seasteading.org/

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 3:22 am

you vote to use the State to force to extract money from Tyrone for your own purposes that he wants no part of.

do you not realize that is tyrannical oppression of majority over the minority via the State?

congradulations, you’ve just created a tyrannical state.

what if the majority wanted to extract half your income for a project to shoot centipedes to the moon, and you wanted no part of it?

Gil October 16, 2010 at 4:51 am

And if you’re surrounding by a gang and they tell “your money or your life” what do you do? If you give them your money because you treasure your safety above all then by right it’s the same thing – you’re not strong enough to be free.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 11:17 am

I have Constitutional rights designed to protect against the tyranny of the majority.

Tyrone Dell October 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Wildberry: ” I have Constitutional rights designed to protect against the tyranny of the majority.”

Rights like protection from theft?

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Tyrone,
I’m confused about your point. Yes, if the majority of people voted to rob me, I have a Constitutional right to due process to protect life, liberty and property.
But surely you know that, so tell me, what are you saying?

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Kash
As you may recall, voters approved income tax. Voters could repeal it as well.You seem to be arguing that once something is vote for, it can never be reversed.

If the mjority of voters thought your orbiting centipedes idea was a good idea, we would have bigger problems to deal with. Hopefully, rational people will not think this is a good idea. I’m willing to count on that.

However, it is true that voters elected Obama, and he has turned out to be one of the most effective socialist Presidents since FDR. That’s a little scary, but to be fair, I think they were duped, and are coming to recognize it as an error. Errors can be corrected.

Tyrone Dell October 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Wildberry: “I’m confused about your point. Yes, if the majority of people voted to rob me, I have a Constitutional right to due process to protect life, liberty and property.
But surely you know that, so tell me, what are you saying?”

I am saying that taxation is illegitimate regardless if its voted on or not. Theft doesn’t suddenly become okay if x% of the population decide its okay.
Pure democracy is mob rule, and won’t “work” how you want it to without some acknowledgment of the rights for minority groups.
Anarcho-Capitalism just takes this idea to its logical conclusion — abandoning any ideas of majority-vs-minority groups and extending minority rights to groups consisting of only one individual.

Thus, even if 99% of you all vote to give money to the Coast Guard, it is unethical to coerce me into giving money to the Coast Guard, and any force used to make me is illegitimate. What about this do you not understand?

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Tyrone,
I am responding to your post below, but you are soo deep in the thread I can’t respond to you directly.
You said, “Thus, even if 99% of you all vote to give money to the Coast Guard, it is unethical to coerce me into giving money to the Coast Guard, and any force used to make me is illegitimate. What about this do you not understand?”

First, we don’t live in a pure democracy. One aspect of a representative form of government is that voters don’t decide every issue by majority vote.

Second, and most important, you completely blow off the main issue. Your position depends upon the assumption that each individual is an island, and is not required by his own self interests, to cooperate with others.
Anytime you get more than two people together, they can have difficluty reaching consensus. Majority vote is a long tradition for resolving differences and moving forward with a matter that at least “most” people agree is right.
For those in the minority, there may be a good reason for that, or they may be “right”, and the majority needs some experience with failure to figure that out. Next time around, the majority conclusion shifts based on that experience.
That is so fundamental, I am honestly puzzled by your objections.
Those who choose to “vote” do so because they wish to be associated with the larger group, even though they may not always get the group to agree with their position. In theory, if it is a good position, people are smart enough to recognize it.
Where you assume away the argument is that you acknowledge no model where cooperation is feely chosen. If this is assumed in, then exactly what do you propose as the “parlimentary process” for making decsions as a group?
Now, no cheating. Drawing straws is still a vote.

Tyrone Dell October 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Wildberry,

1. Yes I know; I also don’t like how these comments are setup. Perhaps they’ll change it soon to make it more suitable for in-thread discussions.
2. I was never assuming we, in reality, were in a pure democracy. I was simply trying to show you one way to arrive at Anarcho-Capitalism (and thus the rejection of democracy). The irony I wanted you to see is that if you assume democracy, its logical conclusion is rejecting democracy.
3. I’ll simply leave you with some interesting literature that has shaped my thoughts on this matter instead of making a rebuttal:

a) The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan
b) Democracy: The God That Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe
c) The True Believer by Eric Hoffer
d) Notes on Democracy by H. L. Mencken

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Don’t bother Tyrone. “Russ the Apostate” who is “Wildberry’s” hero reject anarchocapitalist scholarship. Neither have bothered to post exactly what is wrong with Hoppe’s work except to dismiss it out of hand as utopian nonsense.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Jordan,

I thought Russ addressed your point pretty well elsewhere.
If you read the books you cite, then you can pull from where they support your point of view. It is not up to me to pull from the literature that has influenced you, and try to argue within the context of the literature you choose.

I have referenced, for example the Declaration of Independence. That seems legitimate too. But I’m not asking you to read the Constitution (have you?) and tell me where it’s wrong.
Also, just because you have found dealing with me frustrating, doesn’t mean you should lobby Tyrone to disengage. I thought this was a forum for debate and discussion.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Jordan,
I forgot to add, one of the advantages of not falling for your appeals to authority is that I get to argue with you (and others who post here) instead of Hoppe, et al, who, as far as I can tell, is not posting on this blog.

Although I have never said anything about Hoppe here, I’m am not triying to dismiss him, or you for that matter. I am responding to what is written here, and you are doing the same. We apparently don’t agree on some things. That’s interesting. Care to discuss it?
You see, one of my criticisms of Ancap types like yourself, if that you can just so easily blow off a point of view because it doesn’t fully support your ultimate vision of a society that functions according to principles of indivualism that have never worked in America, or in an advance, modern technological society. Some would call that kind of thinking “utopian”. They have a valid point.

By the way, I have a question for you. Since in America, people can get together, buy property, and build walls and try to isolate themselves from the outside world and live they way they want to, ,(many other cults have done so)why don’t you give your theories a try? I mean really, of all places, why isn’t there an Ancap society somewhere in America that tries to put into practice what you preach? That would be fascinating.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 2:57 pm

“I thought Russ addressed your point pretty well elsewhere.”

Of course you did. Failed arguments tend to assume a veneer of legitimacy when coming from a “hero”.

“If you read the books you cite, then you can pull from where they support your point of view. It is not up to me to pull from the literature that has influenced you, and try to argue within the context of the literature you choose.

I have referenced, for example the Declaration of Independence. That seems legitimate too. But I’m not asking you to read the Constitution (have you?) and tell me where it’s wrong.”

Um, you do realize that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are NOT the same thing as you imply. I don’t need to ask whether you have read those documents because it is clear that you have not – or if you have, you fail to distinguish them which indicates a serious problem with your reading comprehension.

I’m not asking you to be able to recount verbatim Hoppe’s arguments. Just a basic familiarity will suffice unless you want to challenge them in which case you should be well-versed in his argument. Hoppe and Rothbard are basic ancap reading but you seem to want us to do your homework for you. If Tyrone wishes to oblige, I’m all the more grateful, but that is not something you can reasonably expect in a debate.

“Also, just because you have found dealing with me frustrating, doesn’t mean you should lobby Tyrone to disengage. I thought this was a forum for debate and discussion.”

I used to teach and when a student would come in not having done the reading, yeah, it was frustrating. Now this isn’t a classroom and I am not the teacher so you are free to debate as you like – but I am as justified in recommending he not waste his time.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 3:16 pm

“I forgot to add, one of the advantages of not falling for your appeals to authority is that I get to argue with you (and others who post here) instead of Hoppe, et al, who, as far as I can tell, is not posting on this blog.”

Mises and Hayek aren’t around either to defend the market but if someone wanted to attack the Austrian view of the free-market, they ought to have read them. There’s nothing special about Mises or Hayek, or Hoppe for that matter, that make them infallible authorities; indeed, ancaps disagree with Mises on the point of anarchy.

You are mistaking the fallacy of “appeal to authority” with due diligence.

“Although I have never said anything about Hoppe here, I’m am not triying to dismiss him, or you for that matter. I am responding to what is written here, and you are doing the same. We apparently don’t agree on some things. That’s interesting. Care to discuss it?”

As far as I’m concerned, argumentation is only really interesting if both sides have a basic background in what is being discussed. With all due respect, “Wildberry”, you do not and so I do not really care to “discuss” this with you.

“You see, one of my criticisms of Ancap types like yourself, if that you can just so easily blow off a point of view because it doesn’t fully support your ultimate vision of a society that functions according to principles of indivualism that have never worked in America, or in an advance, modern technological society. Some would call that kind of thinking “utopian”. They have a valid point.”

That’s a valid criticism but it has no bearing as to whether anarchocapitalism will work or not.

“By the way, I have a question for you. Since in America, people can get together, buy property, and build walls and try to isolate themselves from the outside world and live they way they want to, ,(many other cults have done so)why don’t you give your theories a try? I mean really, of all places, why isn’t there an Ancap society somewhere in America that tries to put into practice what you preach? That would be fascinating.”

It would be fascinating and I’d love to try; but this is not possible even in America, since you: still have to pay taxes, still have to follow the laws in this country, and still have to do what the state tells you to do on pain of force.

Russ the Apostate October 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Jordan Viray wrote:
““Russ the Apostate” who is “Wildberry’s” hero reject anarchocapitalist scholarship. Neither have bothered to post exactly what is wrong with Hoppe’s work except to dismiss it out of hand as utopian nonsense.”

I don’t dismiss it out of hand. I’m just skeptical. All I say to Hoppe et al. is: Show me. They can’t. You can’t. Nobody can. No anarcho-capitalist society that supports a modern economy exists, and never has. If anarcho-capitalism is so great, why hasn’t it ever evolved into a modern economy in the real world? All there is is a bunch of theory, with absolutely zero empirical evidence to back it up. That may be enough for you, but it’s not for me. I see 1930s era socialists and modern anarcho-capitalists as very much the same, in this respect. Lots of very smart people used to think that socialism was the answer to all of our problems, because all the very convincing (to them) theory concluded that this was the case. Then along came the real world, and it turns out that socialism is not, in fact, a solution to all our problems. This leads me to be wary of rationalistic solutions to all our problems that involve us completely restructuring the entire basis of our society. It’s sorta like in “The Fly” when Jeff Goldblum’s character says “You’re afraid to be destroyed and recreated, aren’t you?”

Well, du-uh!

Bob October 15, 2010 at 4:01 pm

What step by step process, like the An-Cap antagonists always ask for, did we not follow in our Representative Limited Govt. Republic that the forefathers laid out?

Wildberry October 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Bob,
We did not remain vigilant. We allowed ourselves to become generally weak and ignorant, and dependant upon the “free lunch” of the funny money being handed out by self-serving politicians.
One of the Jekyll Island crew, I forget which one, said something like “Give me control of the money and I’ll control the politicians.” We allowed all of that to happen. And, unlike some on this site, I believe we could have chosen a different road. But we didn’t.
Once we stopped being vigilant, we started down the road to serfdom, to borrow from Murray. We’ve been traveling for quite a while.

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 3:33 am

how vigilant are you right now?
do you know what’s going on behind the closed doors of all those political parties, special interest groups, think tanks, and private bedrooms of the ruling class?
do you know what to watch for?
do you know what is in all the bills introduced to congress?
do you know the legalese required to decipher what they mean?
are we supposed to expect everyone (or at least a majority of citizens) to achieve this goal of having perfect information?

how much time a day should be spent keeping vigilant? how do we stay informed enough to prevent abuse of State power?

http://mises.org/daily/4750

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

This is a problem, which has gotten much worse over the past 200 years or so. Society is complex, and the political process as it exists today is not up to the job.

So, that makes for an interesting basis for cooperation betwee us. What changes? How can the concept of representative governance actually become representative, while not requiring that every citizen become his own Senator, etc.?

We can’t ever get to that conversation if you insist that I have to accept your premise that the State, in ANY form or uner ANY design is defacto forbidden. That makes your half of the conversation so easy, when if fact it is a difficult problem.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 11:25 am

Oh, and probably more vigilant than the average. That doesn’t change much, except for my ability to point to current events to illustrate my point of view.

fundamentalist October 15, 2010 at 5:13 pm

I’ve been rereading and thinking about the government that God created for Israel after the exodus from Egypt. It is very much like what anarcho-capitalists advocate. God wrote the laws for the society and did not establish a legislature or an executive branch. All the Israelis had was a priesthood and judges. The judges were heads of extended families who judged civil and criminal disputes among the people according to the law. The priests acted as judges and the supreme court but mainly as teachers of God’s laws to the people and lower judges. If the US had a similar arrangement, we would abolish Congress, the presidency and all federal agencies. There wouldn’t even be a standing army. But we would keep the court system and the Supreme Court. Interesting.

Thinker October 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm

I think the dispute between anarchists and minarchists can be distilled into a few fairly simple and uncontroversial statements (cue derisive laughter):

1. There is a practical non-zero minimum (p.nz.m.) to the amount and seriousness of criminal activity in a society. This minimum may be unknown and may even change over time, but it does exist. Neither anarchists nor minarchists would dispute this.

2. A State (def.: compulsory territorial judicial monopoly) may achieve this minimum.

3. There is a practicable optimal amount of criminal activity (p.o.a.) in a society. This not to say that criminal activity is beneficial to the society, merely that crime prevention may at some point cost more than it returns.

4. The p.o.a. in a society may not be the same as the p.nz.m.. This is the case because achieving the p.nz.m. may require more resources than are cost-effective.

Within this context, we can analyze the anarchist and minarchist claims. Minarchists claim that a State is necessary to achieve the p.o.a., whereas anarchists deny this claim. On this, the anarchists have the stronger case because of the problem of economic calculation: a State has no way of determining what the p.o.a. is, whereas an anarchic order does through the price system. This means that an anarchic order will systematically tend to have a more optimal amount of criminal activity than a State will allow. Of course a given State might in some cases outperform a given anarchic order–there is no hard and fast rule that forbids this, merely recognition of a general trend; and in the case that the p.o.a. changes, the anarchic society will tend to adapt to the new optimum more quickly and more effectively than the State will.

Something I’ve notice several minarchists claim, in spirit at least, is that 4. is not true, that the p.o.a. is the p.nz.m.. While this may be the case sometimes, it is not necessarily true, as the p.o.a. depends on the relative values of the people in the society. Claiming that 4. is false constitutes either a great feat of telepathy and foresight or an arbitrary value judgment foisted upon the rest of society. Anarchists’ responses have generally involved denying 2. on the basis of the calculation problem. However, this rests on the false belief that the calculation problem prevents the State from ever making an optimal decision, which is not the case.

Just my two cents for the moment, and I apologize for the acronyms, but I didn’t want to write those phrases out so many times.

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 3:53 am

i think you should define “criminal activity”. Perhaps redefine it in terms of right infringement? (a minarchist may believe non compliance with a State Law is a “criminal activity” whereas an anarchist would consider non compliance with the NAP as “criminal activity”, when they may be in conflict [State Law violating the NAP])this has a direct effect on point 2.if State Law violates the NAP, but the State does not violate it’s own laws, then there are going to be different opinions on what is “criminal”. (is taxation “criminal” theft? is the State then committing “criminal activity”, and should that be factored as such?)

Thinker October 16, 2010 at 10:09 pm

kash-money,

I see your point, so I think it would be reasonable to define “criminal activity” as violation of the NAP or (inclusive or) violation of purely state-made law. Since minimizing criminal activity would require minimizing the possibility of criminal activity and only state-made law can be reduced or limited, it would require eliminating all purely state-made law, leaving only objective law based on the NAP. This fits what I’ve observed most minarchists arguing–that the NAP is valid and binding morally, but to achieve the practical objective of minimizing aggression, a State may be required.

Don Duncan October 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm

Aren’t we all Austrians here? Doesn’t that mean we know how destructive gov meddling in economics is? Why should it be any different if gov meddles in our civil liberties for any reason? If you accept economic freedom as essential without reservation, then why can’t you extend that principle to include all freedom? We empowered gov to protect us in very limited ways and it took that power and expanded it (as history shows ALWAYS HAPPENS) to the point where we now need protection from our protectors. Those that cry for a return to less gov are asking for temporary relief. Even if we could start over the problem would not be solved, only pushed forward, just as our national debt is done.

Matthew Swaringen October 15, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I see just as many barriers to minarchy coming about as anarchy, and when I read most minarchist arguments about the unrealistic nature of anarchy I have to say their arguments generally apply just as much to their own choice.

Given choice I’ll take anarchy. Given a choice of only minarchy or the current state I’d take minarchy. If people are arguing idealistically it’s probably not because they wouldn’t accept minarchy over the current state, but because they won’t compromise the principle or the goal.

I don’t see anything wrong with that.

I don’t think it’s really deniable that anarchy is more consistent philosophically. Sure, you can say that you may believe that minarchy is necessary to obtain some necessary level of security or environmental protection or whatever it is that makes you a minarchist, but you don’t know that it’s impossible for anarchy to produce that.

You have to assume it based on insufficient details to come to the conclusion. This is why almost every minarchist argument seems to me to be based more on fear of the unknown, much the same as the argument of many of those accustomed to modern day government programs. Now there may be some legitimate reasons I’ve not seen yet that explain why they estimate that anarchy can’t do X, but thus far I’ve found the arguments unconvincing. This is why I didn’t remain a minarchist (this isn’t to say I don’t recognize some anarchists became minarchists, just that I can’t really understand why that was).

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 2:48 am

Outstanding post Matthew!

For most anarchists, it is certainly not the case that we would refuse a minarchist state in place of our current system out of a religious fervor for ideological purity. A characterization that we would not accept anything less than the perfect (anarchic) society even if such an alternative society (minarchist) would be better than what we have now is flat out wrong. For the US at least, working within the system towards Constitutionalism, a la Ron Paul, seems like the best option for the moment – this is something many anarchists would agree with (although I would not begrudge any who wanted nothing to do with the system). But as you say, we will not compromise our final goal. How could we since our belief in a free-society is bound up with our belief in free markets?

On the other hand I’m reluctant to get into these endless battles with minarchists who fail to at least acknowledge the philosophical consistency of anarchism. After all, given our present situation, “Why worry about the beard, when the head is about to fall?”

kash-money October 16, 2010 at 4:11 am

True…

I really loved this paragraph, too:
“You have to assume it based on insufficient details to come to the conclusion. This is why almost every minarchist argument seems to me to be based more on fear of the unknown, much the same as the argument of many of those accustomed to modern day government programs. Now there may be some legitimate reasons I’ve not seen yet that explain why they estimate that anarchy can’t do X, but thus far I’ve found the arguments unconvincing. This is why I didn’t remain a minarchist (this isn’t to say I don’t recognize some anarchists became minarchists, just that I can’t really understand why that was).”

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion from my experience of transitioning from a minarchism to an anarchism.

The rift comes from the fact that minarchists necessarily advocate political means to achieve their goals and view anarchists who opt out of the political machine as forsaking liberty for radicalism. they also may believe that anarchists are so radical that they are hurting the cause, because they need to rely on convincing other voters. anarchists are “so hardcore” that they may scare away people who may be swayed into minarchism.

Anarchists on the other hand believe in consistency of their position, in total refutation of the state and many times of it’s political machinery from a moral perspective and choose not to partake in a system they define as an unecessary evil. they don’t care about getting more voters as much as they do educating others about the consistency of anarchist theory, and see alternatives to dismantling the state from within, via civil disobedience, or countereconimics or what have you, or may simply believe that the political machine will self destruct and simply want to focus on educating as many people as possible as they see collapse approaching.

Anarchists also view minarchism as soft tyranny, and while they would rather live under minarchism than a more heavily socialized government, they still reject even the most basic aggressions of the State, such as taxation… and while minarchists may view living under taxation living under liberty, anarchists do not.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 11:27 am

The best way to remain consistent, is to take less into consideration.

This is why fundamentalists are impossible to change. They live in a closed system of logic.

Matthew Swaringen October 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm

The word fundamentalist may not be wrong in merit, since surely we believe in certain fundamentals such as the non-aggression principle. Even minarchists believe in principles and minarchists would definitely be called “fundamentalist” by most people. So I have to say, so what?

You also say we “take less into consideration” but if that is true I wish you’d point it out rather than saying we have a “closed system of logic.” (Which is a phrase which others would also apply to the minarchist).

You are us to the rest of the world. I know this because I’ve talked to people as a minarchist and said the same things that minarchists say and many people thought that I was every bit as crazy as they think I am now.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Jordan said
“For the US at least, working within the system towards Constitutionalism, a la Ron Paul, seems like the best option for the moment – this is something many anarchists would agree with…”

I don’t see much evidence of that here.

Matthew Swaringen October 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

You mean you don’t see evidence that many of us agree with that?

I think it’s something to hope for perhaps, but I don’t know that it’s realistic. I’ll take any gain towards liberty that I can get, but I don’t trust anything close to normal Republicans or social conservatives to produce anything like that.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Lew Rockwell, the founder of Mises.org believes in anarchy but still promotes Ron Paul. Tom Woods who has written a book on Nullification, i.e., using the system to effect change, also believes in anarchy.

Dr. Woods was interviewed a couple years ago and explains his position here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zpmqy9tC4uI

I don’t think anarchists say they would prefer a smaller government to a large one because that is a given. As Matthew pointed out, most of us see a smaller government as the lesser of two evils and a better solution as such … but it is still evil.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Exactly,
I’m happy to at last find common ground.

Russ the Apostate October 16, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Matthew Swaringen wrote:
“I don’t think it’s really deniable that anarchy is more consistent philosophically.”

I agree whole-heartedly with that. That was why I initially was so attracted to ancap. And if I still believed that ancap could ever work, I’d still be for it (although probably I’d be a “pragmatic” anarchist who would not be opposed to using (i.e. subverting) the political system to get anarchism. Eventually, however, I came to the conclusion that the real world and human nature are just too messy to fit into such neat and tidy philosophies.

“Now there may be some legitimate reasons I’ve not seen yet that explain why they estimate that anarchy can’t do X, but thus far I’ve found the arguments unconvincing.”

I think the main reason I doubt ancap is not an argument, so much, but simply the total lack of evidence that something like ancap could work. There is not much evidence to support minarchism, either, granted, but since minarchism involves states, which we do have now, it’s not such a stretch for me to believe in minarchism as it is anarchism. There is less (i.e. basically no) empircal evidence to back up ancap. So tearing down what we have to achieve ancap would be quite a leap of faith.

Also, I think back to the time of the ’30s or so, when Marxism was so fashionable. A lot of very smart people thought it was the wave of the future, and it had a lot of “theory” that these smart people found convincing. But there was no empirical evidence that it works, and eventually, of course, the evidence came in that it does not work. I think that anarchism is in a similar situation; lots of theory, no evidence. So, I am wary.

“Given choice I’ll take anarchy.”

I must admit, I’d rather watch it be done somewhere else first, before giving it a go where I live. You may call that fear. I call it prudence.

Matthew Swaringen October 17, 2010 at 1:09 am

I’ve really got little complaints with your position. I don’t know that you are being more realistic, but I am not going to tell you that you should just believe in something you haven’t seen.

Bob October 15, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Bingo Don!

The truth is humans generally don’t stay vigilant towards anything, unless their interests are on the line. How do you fight it, the state monopolized courts? Fruitless Elections? At least Dr. Woods has a realistic plan within this system, he knows really a lost cause at this point.

Nobody on this site, if you have been here awhile see any hope for govt. It’s free-market based, because that is the only thing that can improve. Regime Uncertainty is the variable within all govt’s, monarchs, etc. Less is better. That is a fact. Why wouldn’t None be the best. Govt. dictates don’t allow the market to work any better.

As far as National Security or Collective Security, in a World that the Conservatives say is too dangerous….I ask how….did the rise of the All Powerful Centralized States of the 20th century nuture that Violence and give the world the bloodiest century the world has known? Do you see a correlation there, or are the Anarcho Capitalists off their rocker? If I’m not mistaken Mises, in “Socialism” talks of the danger in Nation States, collectively lumping in a Nation’s Resources as the term “National Interests”. Thats Socialists talk, nothing more, and undermines Private Ownership! At best that was good propaganda used by the well connected to secure their interests through the Socialized Military Industrial Complex.

Whether reality or not, we better start drawing up something besides the false hope in Curtaling the Nation State, as Common Men. I understand the resistance towards something like this, when we have been pacified into believing the Status Quo is fixable, if we just get off our rears and get the right people in there. How many more decades before this happnes? Too many folk here are vested in the Nation State from some sort of beneficience monetarily, so a political victory is quite hollow at this point. I don’t think people really think about the number of citizens that do receive a paycheck from govt. at any level, or benefit indirectly from it.

Gil October 16, 2010 at 5:08 am

How is the 20th century is necessarily THE bloodthirstiest? It has estimated that the Mongolian Empire killed some 40 million in its day. At least the 20th century saw the addition of 5 billion more people into the world. Hence did the Evil States bring forth far more lives than it took?

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 3:46 pm

“It has estimated that the Mongolian Empire killed some 40 million in its day.”

Doubtful. Do you have a source for this figure? No doubt the Mongols were some of the most violent marauders in history but a figure of 40 million for that period of time when there were scarcely half a billion people on the planet is likely to have made the mistake of including plague and epidemic.

As for the 20th century, we can thank exponential growth, living standards, and advances in medicine for the extra 5 billion people. Nevertheless, the 20th century must be the bloodiest by sheer numbers of people killed; most of these due to States.

Gil October 17, 2010 at 1:20 am

Not really, the Mongolians had not much interest in assimilation and they were willing to use any means at their disposal. If one were to presume that the Black Death was no accident and was used as a biological weapon then that figure can be doubled if not tripled. Besides one has to take population inflation into account rather than just taking a head count

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Yeah, didn’t think you had a source. If you want to use numbers to refute someone, you shouldn’t make them up.

Gil October 17, 2010 at 10:09 pm

Meh. Libertariians numbers of “democide” are probably woefully overestimated since anyone who dies does so under a government regime therefore government killed them.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 1:00 am

“Meh. Libertariians numbers of “democide” are probably woefully overestimated since anyone who dies does so under a government regime therefore government killed them.”

Nope. It’s fairly trivial to extrapolate natural death rates from various statistics and compensate for those from actual total deaths. Just because your shoddy made up “facts” don’t hold up doesn’t mean you can attack valid historiography.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Bob,

“The truth is humans generally don’t stay vigilant towards anything, unless their interests are on the line.”

Here is a line from the Declaration of Independence that is relevant to your point.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. ”

The question is, are we now living in such a time as that motivating the founding fathers? If so, what shall we do about it? If we know what, then how?

Allen Weingarten October 16, 2010 at 6:42 am

Anarchists have been on strong ground in their criticism of government. However with regard to the threat of foreign aggression, they have been skeptical about that danger. Thus most anarchists have denied that without government America would have fallen prey to fascism during WWII, or to communism during the cold war. Today I believe we are falling prey to Islam, particularly with regard to the Jihad tactic of migration (called Hijra). So I presume that the anarchists will join with the liberals in denying the threat of Islam, and welcoming the immigration of all those intent on harming America.

fundamentalist October 16, 2010 at 11:11 am

Allen, I don’t know that we would have fallen prey to fascism in WWII. Look at Switzerland, which remained truly neutral. The US was never neutral and Roosevelt did all he could to provoke the Germans. The same with the Japanese. But counterfactual history is always just an exercise in the imagination.

As for the threat from Islam, I think it is severely exaggerated. A large number of Muslim immigrants to the US convert to Christianity, especially their children. And many of them immigrate to escape the radicals. My experience in Muslim countries (I have lived in two) is that most Muslims are like American Christians; they are Muslim in name only. The vast majority of Muslims merely want to earn a decent living to feed their families and provide some education for the kids. Of course there are radical Muslims in the US; there are radicals of all kinds. McVey, who blew up the federal building in OKC wasn’t Muslim. But we shouldn’t engage in group punishment. Find and punish the radicals who commit crimes. The rest we will convert to Christ.

Wildberry October 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Fundamentalist,

It would be hard to get a Lebanese christian to agree with you. Muslim fanaticism funded from mulsim countries in the region simply overpowered what was an otherwise peacefully co-habitating society in orde to “purify” the Muslim rule. For all living there in the 1990′s, the threat was pretty real, each day they left their houses.

No reason why that couldn’t happen here, is there?

Tyrone Dell October 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

Aside from the very last sentence, I have to agree with everything you just said.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Allen, most anarchists also value security from aggression both foreign and domestic. Fundamentalist brings up the excellent example of Switzerland which was able to maintain neutrality throughout both World Wars (not to mention hundreds of years prior). The Nazis even contemplated invading the country but eventually backed off thanks in large part to the heavily armed populace.

Sure, if Germany, with an army several times the entire population of Switzerland had decided to invade, the Germans probably would have prevailed. Indeed, by the time Hitler had contemplated taking Switzerland, the Wehrmacht and its allies had the tiny nation completely surrounded. And it must have irritated him that German airplanes were being shot down over Swiss airspace. But a victory over Switzerland would have been Pyrrhic.

What kind of military could subdue the United States? Not only do we have two oceans protecting us, we also have a tradition of armed citizenry. If military arms were completely deregulated, you can bet Americans would be armed not only with automatic weapons as the Swiss are but would have various militias with all the most effective and state of the art weaponry out there.

I don’t think for a moment that the free-market would have tolerated such an inefficient procurement system as we have today (thanks to the State). F-35, F-22, Seawolf, V-22, MDA etc. have wasted untold hundreds of billions of our dollars. The result? We are given far less capability for our forced investment in State sponsored defense than would be the case in a free-market anarchic society.

Now you believe that to be an anarchist is to deny the threat of Islam and to welcome all who want to harm “America”.

Wrong. Some don’t believe Muslims are the threat you make it out to be and some do. Frankly, what my neighbor does with his property is his business but if I believed in the threat of Islamofascism so much, then I would try to convince him to voluntarily refuse to sell to radical Muslims. You don’t need a state for that. It is the state that arrogates to itself the power to regulate immigration when such could be dealt with entirely through a system of private property. We had a long discussion about this in another thread

http://blog.mises.org/14124/immigration/

Allen Weingarten October 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Jordan Viray (as an anarchist) you believe that America was not threatened in WWII, and that we are not threatened by Islam today. The question, for the sake of argument, is what would you advocate if we were threatened, and free market defenses would not save us. Would you rely on our government to defend us?

As one example, if Islamists (under Hijra) were attempting to set up a fifth column in America, under a free market, some Americans would not want them to come here, while others would want them to. So the bottom line is that absent government intervention, the fifth column would arrive. Would you then call for government intervention, or accept the fifth column?

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Nope. I do believe that Americans were under some kind of threat both in World War II and that many Americans are threatened by Islam today. It is the extent of those threats that I disagree with. Are Muslims the greatest threat to America? I don’t think so.

We are threatened by some Muslims, no doubt, but we are not in a situation where we need the government to “save us” or defend us. Under a free-market, if I were so convinced of a fifth column, I would spread the word and convince as many people as I could to not allow these people in. Like minded people might choose to buy property elsewhere and exclude all Muslims as would be our right as owners of private property. If this fifth column becomes established and decides to fight, we (as well as most people against whom this column commits aggression) would defend ourselves and employ the services of protection companies.

Neither would I accept the “fifth column” nor would I accept “government intervention”. Indeed, if we had a free-market anarchic society, I would first have to recognize a government and there’s a fat chance of that happening.

Mind you, as we continue this discussion “for the sake of argument”, I believe such a situation is complete fantasy. Please read through the other thread where a group approximating “Mexicans” supposedly destroys the US through uncontrolled immigration.

But let’s say the government was around. Would I rely on the it to defend us? That is surely a rhetorical question because we do not decide the course of government action (unless you are one of the few privileged in the political caste); the government decides for us. The government will do what it does whether that means mounting a defense, capitulating, forcing Islam on us as a means of appeasement, allying with Communist China, calling a Christian Crusade in counterattack, invoking NATO support etc. Perhaps I might agree or disagree with a given policy but it nevertheless remains that I am forced, inasmuch as the government is able to enforce, to follow official policy.

Allen Weingarten October 16, 2010 at 8:55 pm

As expected, you have denied the premise, which was understood to begin with. However the question in effect was ‘would you support government intervention if that would defend us, whereas the free market would not’. As I understand your response (correct me if I am wrong), you would not support government intervention if that were needed to defend us. It is that hypothetical response which suggests that anarchists have to deny the premise, because they have no way to deal with realities in the event that government is necessary.

Conversely, were I asked if I would support a free market solution under the assumption that it would succeed, I would simply say “Yes” rather than digress with something such as “the government decides for us”.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Your understanding of my response is flawed. My response is that we have no choice as to whether we support government intervention for the sake of our defense. Inasmuch as my taxes pay for “defense”, I must support that government scheme. Would I do on my own accord? Most likely not.

It seems you are looking for that marginal situation where I would. If a radical Muslim extremist were next door, I’d rather get a concealed carry permit than quarter the National Guard in my house. If these hypothetical radical fifth column Muslims you propose had somehow gotten to the point where they have armored and heavily armed vehicles and I (or the security company I subscribe to) do not have them and the US Army came and offered to defend me from the impending assault from my armored-vehicle-driving heavy-weapons-toting fifth column radical Muslim neighbors and I had no other option… then yes, I would support their action to defend me.

However, I would like options and an anarchic society would give me those options. Anyone who supports the role of government to provide a service must understand that they ultimately work against that service because of the insane inefficiency of a state monopoly.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Jordan,
“That is surely a rhetorical question because we do not decide the course of government action (unless you are one of the few privileged in the political caste); the government decides for us.”

You have logic 101 down pat. You should try civics 101.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Logic > Civics. Once you understand that the democratic “we” is opposed to the Austrian belief in a “we” of individuals, a study of “Civics” becomes as useful as Humorism.

Allen Weingarten October 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Fundamentalist, in my view, had America not entered WWII, Germany would have defeated the USSR & Britain, and almost did so anyway. It would then have been a matter of time until an isolated America would have fallen prey. However, my point was not one of interpreting history, but of characterizing anarchists, who in order to prove that government is unnecessary, claim that America had no need to defend against her enemies.

[Putting aside that it was in Germany's interest to take advantage of Swiss neutrality, do you believe that Hitler did not attack countries who meant Germany no harm?]

As to Islam, are you unaware that it calls for the death penalty for converts, stoning for adulterers and homosexuals? Its doctrine is that the world is divided into Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb, calling for victory until death, by any and all means. If as you say “most Muslims are like American Christians; they are Muslim in name only” how is it that they do not march against Muslim aggression? After 9/11 there were Muslims who celebrated by dancing in the streets. Can you point to Muslim groups who took umbrage at this? Even the Germans & Russians hid their barbarity & torture from their public, whereas Muslims have taken pride in it. If as you say “The vast majority of Muslims merely want to earn a decent living to feed their families and provide some education for the kids” wouldn’t they have welcomed the prosperity wrought by Israel, rather than engaging in wars of aggression?

It is true that McVeigh was not a Muslim (and didn’t act on the basis of Christianity either) but most terrorism is by Muslims, and done in the name of its jihadist mission. Muslims will not en mass convert to Christianity, but are engaged in the persecution of Christians (who are viewed as agents of the Great Satan). I would be quick to appreciate those of Muslim descent who followed Zechariah 4.6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts”, but the method of the Koran is by the sword, not by love.

When you can point to a significant group of Muslims who are as enraged by Muslim aggression as there were Germans enraged against Nazism, I will believe that Muslims could be as moderate as were the followers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Allen Weingarten October 17, 2010 at 2:33 am

Jordan Viray, I do not consider what you wrote as a response, but an evasion. What it indicates is a non-falsifiable position, where nothing could in principle refute anarchy. That is the definition of a dogma. If you do not think so, please state under what circumstances you would advocate government power for survival?

So again, under the hypothetical situation where advocacy of a governmental situation would save America, while a free market approach would doom her, you would not be an advocate, but (as expected) would deny the premise, and address something else entirely.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Your consideration of my response is, yet again, mistaken. I’ve already given you a set of circumstances where I would advocate government and it is extremely limited and temporary. Please have the courtesy to actually read my responses.

You posited some outlandish fifth column scenario. You are going to have to be more concrete in your situation for me to give an adequate answer since the present form of your question is akin to “under the situation where socialism would help the economy while a free market approach would not, would you advocate socialism?” The fact you are unable to see the absurdity of rejecting a nuanced answer such as “socialism is never a better alternative for an economy because of the calculation problem and attendant misallocation of resources” shows everyone you are not willing to proceed honestly. But go ahead and call it a dodge if you want, the record is here for all to see.

haymor October 16, 2010 at 4:33 pm

Over all statists I hate the most those who call themselves friends of freedom. They are not only ignorant but evil. They are the “Smith” agents of The Matrix. At least socialists do what they preach. They know who is the murderer and who is the murdered. But minarchist pretend to defend the violence and coercion employed by their worshipped State AFTER advocating for freedom. I wonder if they all have a “pact with the Devil”.

Joe October 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Haymor,
Stalin would have loved you. You would have been just another small drop in the bucket of the “Gulag.” So if I tell you I’m going to kill you because I feel like it, at least I told you the truth. Oh well, he only murdered over 30 million of his own people, but there are still people in Russia who thought he was a nice guy.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Well to be sure, haymor, a minarchist promotes a smaller state and there is nothing wrong with that. The real acid test would be:

“Suppose there was a functioning anarchic society, e.g. medieval Ireland, would you impose your minarchist state on it?”

Those who answer in the affirmative can only be sanctioning theft and coercion.

Allen Weingarten October 17, 2010 at 2:48 am

Jordan, if hypothetically there were a functioning anarchic society, I would be pleased to accept it, because my position is falsifiable. Conversely, when it is hypothesized that advocating governmental support would defend society, while a free market approach would not, your ‘response’ is to deny the premise.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Taking a Popperian approach to phenomena as complex as societies is something I reject. That is, the falsifiability of a position does not speak to the validity of that position in itself. Further, to reject a premise is a perfectly legitimate way to show the error in a position e.g. “All birds fly, a penguin is a bird, therefore a penguin can fly” is false not through an error in logic but through an error in the premise that all birds fly. Logic 101 Allen.

Allen Weingarten October 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Jordan, we agree that you do not require falsification as a criteria for statements about reality. I, on the other hand, hold with Popper that statements about reality that are not falsifiable lack empirical content. Consequently, what you say about reality can never be refuted by any evidence.

Allen Weingarten October 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

It may be noted that if “All birds fly” were not falsifiable, it could not be refuted by the fact that penquins cannot fly.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

What I say about reality vis a vis anarchy cannot be refuted in the same way strictly empirical propositions can, that is true.

But the principle of anarchocapitalism is derived from the nature of the state and the nature of man not in the scientific hypothesis-test methodology but through application of logical principles from basic axioms. As Mises founded his economics on the axiom that humans act, so too do anarchocapitalists proceed in the same manner (as Rothbard had done) from the principle that the state is coercion; and that inasmuch as we Austrians make normative statements that an economy is run best when human action is free, so Ancaps make normative statements that the economy and society run best without a state. But both Austrians and Rothbardians believe eschew the standard empiricist view you hold in favor of praxeology as the way of figuring things out. You treat that methodology as a criticism of my position whereas I treat it as a strength.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

“It may be noted that if ‘All birds fly’ were not falsifiable, it could not be refuted by the fact that penquins cannot fly.”

Indeed although any reading into the purpose of that syllogism other than as a demonstration of how your criticism of my denial of your premise was wrongheaded, is itself also wrongheaded.

Joe October 17, 2010 at 10:57 am

@Jordan,
You seem to use the word state like it is a thing of its own. There is no such thing as a state unless you have more than one individual. Let the truth be told, it is people, humans that do nasty things to other people. If they create a state and government it is still the people that do the damage. Your example posed above is not accurate. You would have a lot less to worry about a minarchist state than a socialist state, barbarians and other anarchists that decided they needed more property from each other.
You think because you have an idea and call in anarchic society that it will work?
There use to be an old comedy routine that I always found real funny. The starving Ethiopeans were trying to grow corn in the desert. The comedian was screeming at them that they were going to starve because you can’t grow corn in sand. Just because you think it doesn’t make it true. Just because you envision a Utopian concept of freedom without government is also not true. I wish it weren’t true but reality sets in real fast. I also wish we had the government that Madison created, because then we wouldn’t have to have this conversation. Anarchy would be just be a name in the dictionary.

Jordan Viray October 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

If it seems I use the state as if it is something on its own apart from interactions between individuals, please understand that you are indeed mistaken.

Having an vision for something that does not yet exist does mean it is possible, obviously, but neither does its lack of existence imply impossibility. So no, I don’t think that just because I have an idea and call it anarchic society that it will work.

You could have saved your time and not built up those strawmen so large.

Joe October 17, 2010 at 9:44 pm

@Jordan, It is hard for me to defend anarchic society because there really hasn’t been a test of this type of society on earth. The only thing I can go by is history and what has happened. There was a reason I mentioned Rose Wilder Lane. She outlined how difficult it was to reach the founding fathers and their creation of the constitution. I see how it was established and is now being slowly taken away. Then I would project that on an anarchic society and strain my brain to figure how long this system would last. Based on what I see of the history of our constitutional republic I don’t think anarhic society would last for but a brief period of time. The horrible part would be what would be established after the fall. I don’t discourage an idealistic mind but I find idealism to be great for blogs but when it comes to life and death then survival mode kicks in. Although I can only surmise but all the anarchists would not live long to experience their vison. I say this based on my reading of history and what man has does over the thousands of years. For all you evolutionists I hope your vision of man eventually turning into a peace loving perfect capitalist happens. I personally think too many people blogging here have taken Walt Disney too seriously. Have a good life.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 1:09 am

Anarchic societies like Medieval Iceland and Ireland lasted for centuries. Now there’s no guarantee that an anarchic society would be that stable or even last a year so who knows.

But I entertain no delusions that individuals in an anarchic society would be “peace loving perfect capitalists” as your gross caricature suggests; a society can only be as good as the individuals in it. Perhaps you should examine the scholarship here of how law and security might arise in an anarchic society before you discard the idea on such a superficial level.

tom October 16, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Excuse me, but nobody seems to get to the crux of the biscuit, here. For me, the issue is the state’s involvement in economics and the solution is, to paraphrase Ayn Rand, ‘Just as there was the separation of church and state, so there needs to be a separation of economics and state, for the same reasons’. I mention Ayn Rand, not to drop names, but to bring someone who I think will be considered one of the greatest philosophers of modern day into the fray. If individual freedom is to be argued for, her name stands out……or should.

Russ the Apostate October 16, 2010 at 6:39 pm

If the state needs to be funded (and it does, if it is to exist at all), then rigorous separation of economics and state is impossible.

ABR October 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Would you oppose a State in which the number of votes each ‘citizen’ acquired was equal to the amount of money he donated to the State?

King George October 16, 2010 at 7:08 pm

For the anarcho-capitalists, there stands only one test: PROVE IT. Until now, with all the wealth in the world, not ONE person has been able to create a voluntaryist society that can stand against a statist threat. I think the last one out in Minerva failed miserably. In the rest of the world these theories fail miserably. All the theories in the world are not worth the paper they are written on if they cannot be proven to work in the real world, but only in a make-belief world within the constraints of logical axioms.

Matthew Swaringen October 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Wow you’ve got to be really clever to call us out like that.

Jordan Viray October 16, 2010 at 11:25 pm

For the anti-slavery lot out there, there stands only one test: PROVE IT. Until now, with all the wealth in the world, not ONE person has been able to create a slaveless society that can stand against a society which employs slaves. I think the last time someone tried, Spartacus comes to mind, it failed miserably. In the rest of the world these theories fail miserably. All the theories in the world are not worth the paper they are written on if they cannot be proven to work in the real world, but only in a make-believe world within the constraints of logical axioms.

Fallon October 17, 2010 at 7:11 am

Nice

King George October 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm

Not really nice at all. You all have yet to prove that these theories work in the real world. In the meantime, keep feeling good about yourselves, but you’re not making a difference until you… actually do something and make a difference. Preaching to the choir and intellectual masturbation isn’t going to get you anywhere in the real world.

Fallon October 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

You and I can go back and forth with stats ad infinitum and never get to certainty. Humans construct interpretive knowledge before analysis. So let’s get to arguing about the quality- or lack thereof-of these underlying assumptions. Otherwise it is indeed a fruitless endeavor.

Gerry Flaychy October 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm

How do we eliminate “the state” ?

Amanojack October 17, 2010 at 3:01 am

The Rothbardian conception of anarchy continues to be this site’s Achilles’ heel, exposing its anti-statist position to easy attack by passersby. Fundamentalist AnCap is just central planning dressed up to look “principled.” It is a pathetic strawman of anti-statism, itself completely bound up in the statist way of viewing things, even while loudly denouncing the state.

A clear understanding of emergent natual orders leads one away from AnCap just as surely as from statism. Markets work. Central planning doesn’t, on anything larger than a family or small tribe. We are way past that, but our instincts are not.

Fallon October 17, 2010 at 7:13 am

Wow. Better elaborate. Sounds like war is peace and up is down so far.

King George October 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Rothbardian ancap assumes an objective, singular set of morality for all society. Maybe not centrally “planned” but certainly centrally defined. David Friedman’s conception is much more realistic.

Fallon October 18, 2010 at 2:56 am

I see what you are getting at now? This is indeed an interesting angle. Is the idea of non-aggression aggressive by its self-appointed blanketing implication? A license to impose by force a live and let live doctrine (how to read this sentence is in itself problematic)? Is Non-Aggression really Objective? Or does it actually allow for the maximum amount of civil possibilities for individuals– e.g. some choose to live in communes or isolation, cooperatives or corporatives, under syndicalist or Randian frameworks. But all will agree to disagree without conquer.

King George October 18, 2010 at 9:28 am

Every culture and society has a different definition of what “non-aggression” means. There are many problems with the Rothbardian definition (as there are with other definitions). The best way to discover this will be by market discovery processes, not arbitrary moralizing.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 6:46 pm

“The best way to discover this will be by market discovery processes”

Something, of course, which the State precludes.

Steve October 17, 2010 at 2:59 pm

There really are only two choices here the state and the free market. What people are touting as a minimalist state is just a point on the spectrum between these two forms of government. When you accept the premise of the state you move toward government over people, and when you accept the premise of the free market you move toward self-government. What I don’t understand is how the minimal state proponents say that complete free markets won’t work, due to the lack of successful examples. Where are the examples of successful minimal states? Every minimal state that has been established has devolved into a massive state; look at the US, the shining example of a minimal state. By their own logic then it’s illogical to believe in the fantasy of a minimal state. It’s true that every society finds itself moving somewhere on the state/free market continuum, but there really is no ideological or theoretical middle ground on which to stand; you either believe in state or believe in self-governance. Empirically and logically the minimal state can’t exist.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Steve,
“look at the US, the shining example of a minimal state. ”

I think some might have trouble with that one. I do.

Kristoffer M. Hansen October 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm

It seems that the problem many minarchists have with anarchy is that they know of no instances from history or the contemporary world of an anarchic society. The following two examples of historical anarchic societies should hopefully calm them:

The first is Iceland. Iceland was originally settled (barring the possibility that some monks may have lived there earlier) by Norwegian nobles/peasants fleeing Harald Fairhair, the first king of all of Norway. On Iceland they established an anarchic, if primitive (but probably not more so than the rest of Europe) society which thrived for approximately two centuries. The Icelandic Sagas are a lasting monument to this society – Njal’s Saga in particular shows how elaborate the Icelandic legal system was.

The second is archaic Greece, or rather the Greece of the poet Hesiod. His didactic poem Works and Days only refers to ‘lords’ in a judicial setting. Lords to Hesiod are merely judges, even if he thinks of them as ‘gift-swallowing’ and corrupt.

There you are, two examples of very real, historical anarchic societies. If such primitive societies could thrive in anarchy, why should a contemporary, perhaps marginally more civilised society not be able to do so?

King George October 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm

And where are these societies today? The Icelandish one was eventually conquered by a king. So much for the “overwhelming defense” against statism.

Iain October 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Good example. A society doesn’t work because some barbarian comes in and takes it over.

Josef Stalin October 17, 2010 at 8:16 pm

And where are these capitalist societies today? The Ukrainian, Polish and Czech ones were eventually conquered by Communist Russia. So much for the “overwhelming defense” against Communism.

Fallon October 17, 2010 at 8:33 pm

These areas generally had the longest and deepest entrenchment of serfdom and were very late into the industrialization game, no?

Kristoffer M. Hansen October 18, 2010 at 4:00 am

There was actually a large difference between the serfdom of Russia and Poland and that of Bohemia and Austria. I think it’s safe to say that Bohemia was the most prosperous part of Austria-Hungary, with the exception of Vienna itself.

Fallon October 18, 2010 at 4:53 am

The histories are very complex. Who were the capitalists, how capitalist were they, and how did they help/hinder the Soviet rise is better question.

King George October 18, 2010 at 9:30 am

Given the state of communism today and the living standards of those under communism, I’d say that this is a pretty poor example.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Actually, that’s precisely the point. Just because the communists took over some capitalist countries does not mean communism was somehow better as you admit. Similarly, just because Medieval Ireland and Iceland eventually fell to the State does not somehow mean the State is superior to anarchy.

My post under the name “Josef Stalin” was tongue firmly in cheek.

King George October 18, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Admittedly a decent point. As bad a system as communism was, it still managed to capture over half of the globe at one point. There is no example better for anarchy currently existing today than Somalia, and that really isn’t something you want to be mentioning. It’s like showing a picture of a normal-looking child as proof that incest sometimes doesn’t harm anyone… just the fact that you mention Somalia and anarchy in the same sentence immediately discredits you, regardless of the merits of whatever it is you have to say.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 2:34 am

“There is no example better for anarchy currently existing today than Somalia, and that really isn’t something you want to be mentioning … just the fact that you mention Somalia and anarchy in the same sentence immediately discredits you, regardless of the merits of whatever it is you have to say.”

That is true only for those with high cognitive dissonance. The mere mention of “Somalia” and “anarchy” in the same sentence has zero bearing as to the credibility of the author.

Some people suggest Somalia is possibly in a state of anarchy
“Somalia” and “anarchy” are both words found in the English language

According to your worldview, writing this sentence immediately discredits the writer. As both sentences are clearly true, your proposition that “the fact that you mention Somalia and anarchy in the same sentence immediately discredits you” is false and works rather to discredit you for sloppy thinking and poor reasoning skills.

Have you actually studied or been to Somalia? “Capt. A” has and you should read his posting. Sub-Saharan Africa is poorly developed but anarchy has not hampered Somalia compared to its cohort but rather seems to have helped as longitudinal surveys show. That is the basis for mentioning Somalia.

Kristoffer M. Hansen October 18, 2010 at 3:55 am

So because they didn’t remain in a state of anarchy down to the present day is an argument against anarchy?
Things change. I for one don’t believe that a possible future anarchic society would last forever, nor do I believe that any existing society or state will last forever.

King George October 18, 2010 at 9:33 am

It’s not an argument against anarchy, but these are poor examples FOR anarchy. Where is there a wealthy anarchic society today? Exactly, there are none. What sets you apart from the communist utopian dreamers? Right now, absolutely nothing. You both lack for real-world evidence. Arguing over slight differences in theory (which is the point of the forums here) is good as a waste of time, but that’s it. Until the ideas of anarchy can be proven in the real world, they are not worthy of serious consideration by non-libertarians (most of the world).

Donald Rowe October 18, 2010 at 9:43 am

“… help improve the world.”sniff … sniff … I think I smell something. Ah yes, arrogance. Common yet unpleasant.edit: posted in the wrong thread?

Donald Rowe October 18, 2010 at 10:25 am

It was posted correctly, the source of quote is redacted.
Thanks.

Kristoffer M. Hansen October 18, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Minarchy/a limited state was tried in real life, as there are no wealthy minarchic societies today any theoretical limit to state power is hairsplitting and a waste of time.

All fall down and worship the historical truth of our enlightened governments! They have succeeded, they have survived the trials of history, therefore they have proven to be superior!

So why don’t we all stuff our anarchism/minarchism/liberalism where the sun doesn’t shine and go on to live as happy little taxpayers, hmm?

King George October 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

Well, that’s what most anarchist supporters do. They talk a lot and engage in a lot of argumentation over the merits of contractual slavery, but in the end they DO bow down to their governments. You pay your taxes and do what every good citizen should do, right? That’s what I thought.

You, like most others, have obviously never heard of a devil’s advocate.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Force has a way of influencing action and so we pay our taxes in order to avoid going to prison. But just because we tolerate some evil does not mean we wish for that evil to exist.

Hopefully some will see this discussion and change their preference for the State. In that way we help fulfill the site mission: “Do not give in to evil but on the other hand go more boldly against it”

You, like most of the State supporters here, flatter yourselves if you think you are playing Devil’s Advocate. Nozick was a competent opponent. You? With all due respect, not so much.

King George October 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm

What is Nozick compared to me and millions others like me? Again, doesn’t matter much if you think you are successfully rebutting me, if you think I’m a complete dumbass, or even if you think I’m a state lover. What you think about me doesn’t matter, but what I and millions of others think about you and your ideas DOES matter. We are still waiting for the proof. Anarchism has no chance in hell of achieving widespread acceptance without that proof.

Fallon October 18, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Your Highness,
Do you reject praxeology?

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 2:55 am

“What is Nozick compared to me and millions others like me?”

A critic of anarchocapitalism who has actually done due diligence in examining contemporary scholarship regarding the issue.

“Again, doesn’t matter much if you think you are successfully rebutting me, if you think I’m a complete dumbass, or even if you think I’m a state lover.”

Obviously it does matter if I think I am rebutting you, else I would not post my dismantling of your ideas in this public forum.

“What you think about me doesn’t matter, but what I and millions of others think about you and your ideas DOES matter.”

That is, of course, the point of the anarchocapitalist postings highlighting the flawed thinking behind Statist arguments.

“We are still waiting for the proof. Anarchism has no chance in hell of achieving widespread acceptance without that proof.”

The proofs for anarchism as derived in the way of the Austrian praxeological method have been around for a long time. I know Rothbard and Hoppe aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no point claiming there’s no proof when they have been around for decades. Just because you can’t be bothered with the scholarship does not mean that such scholarship does not exist. You can’t really criticize Austrian economics if you haven’t read “Human Action” and you can’t really criticize anarchocapitalism if you haven’t read “Man, Economy and State”.

Thankfully both are available free of charge online so those who want to go through the trouble can see, in fact, that your charges fail.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 7:13 pm

“What sets you apart from the communist utopian dreamers?”

Lets see, how about an understanding of economic reality from the fact that humans act, the historical fact of the success of free-markets over socialist planned economies, and the scholarship of people like Rothbard, Hoppe and Block whose work has been comprehensive and exhaustive enough to have anticipated all these supposed “attacks” on anarchocapitalism.

Again, you put yourself with the pro-slavery philosophers when you asserted that “until the ideas of non-slave society can be proven in the real world, they are not worthy of serious consideration by slave societies (most of the world).”

Of course we had said as much earlier but you continually fail to see that the non-existence of something is not proof that such a thing should not exist.

King George October 18, 2010 at 10:27 pm

And you, my friend, are thinking like a statist. The shock and horror! I guess nobody is allowed to criticize an idea without also automatically being assumed to be in love and adoration with the opposite of that idea? Funny how even the anarchists do that. Maybe it goes beyond “state indoctrination”, eh?

Although you insinuated that I was a dumbass earlier, I forgive you. I am simply reminding all of you that while words and ideas matter, the world is waiting (and needs) something more. I’m just hoping you all remember that the next time you waste 6 hours debating when a child achieves self-ownership and whether a child can morally defend themselves or not against parental abuse.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 3:02 am

“I guess nobody is allowed to criticize an idea without also automatically being assumed to be in love and adoration with the opposite of that idea?”

Your words, not mine.

“Although you insinuated that I was a dumbass earlier, I forgive you.”

While I appreciate the gesture, it does not absolve you of the fact that you are indeed, rather unintelligent (at least as it concerns this particular issue).

“I am simply reminding all of you that while words and ideas matter, the world is waiting (and needs) something more. I’m just hoping you all remember that the next time you waste 6 hours debating when a child achieves self-ownership and whether a child can morally defend themselves or not against parental abuse.”

Great, I’m glad to see you are shunning these sorts of academic debates in favor of “something more”. Oh the irony.

Wildberry October 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

To all of those Ancaps who have been appealing to authority, specifically Rothbard, to support the notion that Ancap is the only “true” solution to the problems of the American State, let’s take a look at what he says:

From Lew Rockwall.com:

Murray Rothbard delivered this talk 32 years ago at the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (ASPLP), Washington, DC: December 28, 1974. It was first published in The Libertarian Forum, volume 7.1, January 1975, available in PDF.

“Let me say from the beginning that I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state.”
1) Here is a quick and dirty history of taxes in America: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005921.html

If we assume no taxes, then I presume it would be possible to come up with an alternative scheme to pay for services of what would otherwise be a “State”. Provided these were not “taxes” per se, presumably because an individual could opt out by not paying them, then a State could exist by Rothbard’s definition on this point.
2) Today, the American Arbitration Association may be selected by parties to a contract as the agreed method of dispute resolution. In addition, California Code of Civil Procedure Sections 638 et seq., provide an alternative to contractual arbitration, and permit a waiver of jury trial. Therefore, neither at the state or federal level, does the State maintain a “coerced monopoly” of the courts. You would have to depend upon the existence of police to show that this element was satisfied. As far as I know, a private security services could exist, say in a small town that just paid directly for a “protection service”, and therefore even if this is not the case anywhere in America, (I don’t know) it would be possible.

Therefore, this leaves a whole lot of “State” that is still theoretically possible it appears, in Rothbard’s view. This view says absolutely nothing about how a people could choose to be self-governing on the scale of a Constitutional Democratic Republic. To go beyond his definition to support the notion that the logical imperative of Ancap is the only social structure consistent with Austrian economic theory, based on a claim of Rothbard’s authority is, to be generous, a bit of a stretch. He goes on to say:

“On the other hand, I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual. Anarchists oppose the state because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.”

A society “where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person of property of an individual” is simply one where everyone lives by the Golden Rule. I can find nothing wrong with that. It’s never happened, but I suppose we could become better at it.

At the level of the State, if it can be shown that taxation was voluntary, and not “coercive aggression”, there would apparently be nothing wrong with it in Rothbard’s view.
So is taxation voluntary?

Assuming that a people, under a system of self-government, had the ability to freely elect political representatives of their choosing, and thus empowered those representatives to enact legislation by transparent legislative procedures, then such a law would be both legitimate and enforceable, provided that there was a prior, voluntary agreement to be bound by those laws. That is similar to the process of arbitration, where both parities agree to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision. Therefore, those who didn’t want it enacted, presumably a minority, would nonetheless consent to be governed by it, voluntarily.

Despite all of the quite valid observation about how the otherwise legitimate political and legal processes have been co-opted by a minority of special interests which have done so by using the political process to produce outcomes not anticipated by those in the majority who legitimately enacted it, it was none the less voluntary.

As proof of this point, it is merely necessary to point out that today, in October of 2010, it is legitimately and literally possible for the 16th Amendment to be repealed. The fact that it has not yet been done does not make it “coercive”.

The power to enforce compliance by imposition of punishment is something common with all laws. To say that a law imposes “coercion” merely restates the definition of what a law is.
To say that a law is coercive is not to say that an undesirable law cannot be voluntarily repealed by the same process by which it was enacted.
The concept of “voluntarism” does not exclusively belong to Ancaps. To insist on this view is merely to hijack the legitimate discussion of the merits and failings of other concepts for self-governance. In my view, we don’t need to re-invent that part. We have a pretty good system. That system has been hijacked and abused by special interests, and have produced undesired outcomes for those who allowed themselves to be led down the wrong path.
It can be changed by the same process that enacted it.

haymor October 18, 2010 at 3:21 am

To say that taxation is voluntary because it is enforced by a majority over a minority is to fall on the confusion of democracy with freedom. That is to accept for example that once one say to the saleman that he wants a bottle of juice the customer is still enforced to pay it if the price is increased right after the intention is announced or if the bootle is no longer a bootle but a piece of paper or the agreement consist now of dollars for nothing. No sane person could possibly agree with a contract whose conditions can be changed overnight. And taxation is precisely this. If one aims an human ethic made of universal rules, one can’t accept that a majority can expropiate the minority or even a single individual. This is brute force, the animals rule. But not one based on reason, which is what make us humans.
Truth can’t either be changed by election nor by force.

Carl October 17, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Free markets are good and nothing less should be accepted.
But why does Mises.org entertain the idea of anarchy.

Our government does abuse power etc etc etc but that doesn’t mean all governments are evil by association and the only alternative is anarchy. seriously

Democracy’s and republics are bad forms of governments because men are not angels but a just and good government is only an arms length away. We don’t have to try and put a pretty face on anarchy.

Free markets are great and would exist with a good government, so would the safety of your life and property.

Inquisitor October 17, 2010 at 10:22 pm

Law, order and defence are goods, hence a market and not socialism are the best way to furnish them. That simple.

Wildberry October 18, 2010 at 10:57 am

Socialism is bad. (Free) markets are good. Anarchists believe in free markets. Therefore anarchists are good. It’s that simple.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Wildberry’s argument broken down logically:

Let “Free markets” = A
Let “Good” = B
Let “Belief of anarchist” = C
Let “Anarchists” = D

A = B
C = A
Therefore D = B

Flawed logic. Simple.

Wildberry October 19, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Jordan,
I believe you are making my point, which was that Inquisitor’s logic was flawed.

I didn’t bother to challenge the premise, which is that law, order, and defense are “Goods” and therefore subject to the time and value preferences of a “consumer” only in a completely free market, which is at the very least, debatable.

You are gaining ground, though. You are wearing me down.

However, before I go, let’s solve the logic problem correctly: “Therefore, anarchists belief in a free market is good.”

Therefore, it follows:

Wildberry believes in free markets. Jordan believes in free markets. Wildberry and Jordan should be able to put their heads together and reach some common ground on where we might start the process of making our mutual markets more free.

Thus endith the logic lesson.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Well I only examined your logic which was flawed.

Inquisitor’s statement was “Law, order and defence are goods, hence a market and not socialism are the best way to furnish them.”

Now it does not follow that “a market and not socialism” are the best way to furnish goods solely from the fact that “Law, order and defence are goods” but it does follow praxeologically which is something he doesn’t need to prove on Mises.org.

“I didn’t bother to challenge the premise, which is that law, order, and defense are “Goods” and therefore subject to the time and value preferences of a “consumer” only in a completely free market, which is at the very least, debatable.”

Law, order and defense are means to satisfy certain wants in humans e.g. security. Therefore they are goods by definition.

“However, before I go, let’s solve the logic problem correctly: “Therefore, anarchists belief in a free market is good.”

Therefore, it follows:

Wildberry believes in free markets. Jordan believes in free markets. Wildberry and Jordan should be able to put their heads together and reach some common ground on where we might start the process of making our mutual markets more free.

Thus endith the logic lesson.”

Those things don’t really follow logically but I don’t really have any substantial objections to what you say. If we were able to reduce government to the size most minarchists desire, I’d be quite a bit happier no doubt.

Russ the Apostate October 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

His argument is really: Free markets are the best way to provide some goods and services. Therefore, free markets are the best way to provide all good and services. This is so, even though no modern free market on the face of the planet has ever successfully supplied all goods and services.

Wildberry October 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Russ,
OK, that is a good point you are making, as I have come to expect.

Let me start from there and see if we can build up a system of assertions from what has been said on this post.
1. Free markets are the best way to provide all goods and services.
2. To the extent that government intervenes in the operations of a free market, those markets become less free.
3. There is sufficient historical evidence to posit that once a government emerges, it continues to expand the scope of interventionism, thus making markets increasingly less free.
4. This pattern does not continue forever undisturbed, in that history records that catastrophic collapse of very large governmental structures is also common.
5. Such historical moments of governmental collapse are inevitably followed by the emergence of alternative governmental regimes that repeat this cycle, perhaps with variations on the themes.
6. These cycles seem to operate on a time scale of centuries, as history shows many similar patterns along these lines throughout the world over millennia.
7. Although not theoretically impossible, history has never produced a lasting example of an anarchistic state of social organization which has persisted under modern conditions. (i.e. excluding primitive examples of non-advanced economies)
8. Therefore, if the emergence of a State is inevitable, then an objective of an enlightened people with regard to a system of self-governance might be to develop a design in which negative interventions upon the free market can continually be corrected by a non-violent political process.

I’m just wondering, does this hold up?

Donald Rowe October 19, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Wildberry,

Please excuse my intrusion into your conversation with Russ the Apostate.

Nice list, 1 thru 6 are concise assertions that nearly all can agree upon.

My attention is drawn to the pair, 7 and 8. Their utility to sway one’s strongly held convictions is questionable, but that is not what concerns me. It is, rather, with the thought that the relationship between the two, the negligible probability of successful anarchy and the near certainty that the state will emerge, or re-emerge, only to fail, eventually, may be mutually causal. If there is such a link, a perpetual motion “death loop”, that would be a an interesting phenomenon. If a mutual causal loop can be cogently posited, perhaps by one of the several agile minds I have seen at this site, it may lead to ideas that ultimately result in the attainment the mutual goals of the anarchist, the minarch, and the statist.

Just a thought.

cordially,
Don

Allen Weingarten October 17, 2010 at 8:51 pm

Jordan Viray, you write “As Mises founded his economics on the axiom that humans act, so too do anarchocapitalists proceed in the same manner (as Rothbard had done) from the principle that the state is coercion; and that inasmuch as we Austrians make normative statements that an economy is run best when human action is free, so Ancaps make normative statements that the economy and society run best without a state.”

Mises took as a priori that which each of us knows from within, and logically derived his conclusions. The principle that the state is coercion, and that what is best is that man be free, is shared by you, Mises and me. So the difference that Mises & I have with anarchists is not with that principle, but with what is the reality of the world. Our views on the world are falsifiable, while yours are not. So your methods of analysis are more akin to those of religious dogma, which are invariably justified, rather than tested empirically. Apparently you do not view it as a weakness to hold to a position about the world which cannot be refuted by evidence.

Fallon October 17, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Your views are falsifiable? Really? You sound like you are abandoning praxeology when it becomes uncomfortable. Give an example then.

Allen Weingarten October 18, 2010 at 6:39 am

Fallon, I gave the example of my views on statements about the real world being falsifiable when I wrote that if there were a well functioning anarchist society, it would refute my view that anarchy was not survivable. More pertinent is my view that the free market is better than government intervention in the areas of economy, medicine, and education. Still more pertinent is my view that WWI was not justified, but WWII was. Note that the point is not whether my conclusions are correct or mistaken, but that they are influenced by evidence produced by the reality of the world, i.e., they are falsifiable. Do you instead hold to dogma, where if the reality of the world provides counter-evidence, you will find some way to justify the dogmatic statements as to how the world is?

Einstein differentiated between the a posteriori and the a priori when writing “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

We have the historical examples of Medieval Iceland and Ireland, the more recent example of the American West, Capt. A’s observations of fairly anarchic society in Monaco and rather impressive gains of Somalia under anarchy.

You believe that the free market is better than government intervention in the area of economy? Are not the provision of security and infrastructure services part of the economy? These things are a result of human (inter)action and so Fallon’s original charge that you abandon praxeology when it becomes uncomfortable still holds.

Fallon October 18, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Mises: “Economics does not follow the procedure of logic and mathematics. It does not present an integrated system of pure aprioristic ratiocination severed from any reference to reality. In introducing assumptions into its reasoning, it satisfies itself that the treatment of the assumptions concerned can render useful services for the comprehension of reality.”
Human Action, ch. 2, sec. 10
(Thanks Stephen Kinsella)

Inquisitor October 17, 2010 at 10:24 pm

Based on Mises’s own theorems, anarchy is praxeologically superior to a minarchist state, whatever errors he fell prone to. The rest on “falsifiability” does not even make sense. Minarchism bloats into massive governments wherever it is implemented. How’s this a good thing?

King George October 18, 2010 at 9:37 am

The point isn’t whether anarchy is praxeologically superior. The point is whether not only if it can come into existence, but also whether it can defend itself against predators. If it can’t, then it is not worthy of being defended even as an intellectual idea.

A society of angels and pacifists is also superior to the world today, but only if they had an adequate defense against the devils out there. Otherwise, it’s not worth considering as more than an utopian dream, and to be recognized as such.

Allen Weingarten October 18, 2010 at 10:26 am

King George, I agree with your concerns on whether anarchy can come into existence, and whether it can defend itself. These are questions dependent upon reality. Yet note that when someone rejects ‘falsifiability’, he will not be influenced by any evidence that derives from reality.

King George October 18, 2010 at 10:42 am

Just because people cannot detect the flaw in a logical system does not mean a flaw does not exist. There are always hidden assumptions in any system, and these assumptions must match up well with how the world operates in order for the theory to be accepted as valid and applicable to the real world.

To be fair to the anarchists, there is not much evidence to go by to disprove anarchism. Unfortunately for them, that same lack of evidence is damning on the “natural superiority” of anarchism — if it was indeed so good, why did it fail to establish itself? In the end, no matter how good a theory seems on paper, it must work in the real world and be verifiable to be accepted as valid.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Again, falsifiability is not a necessary condition for a proposition. It’s a great tool for empirical sciences but even your dogma of “falsifiability” fails when the axioms behind science itself, i.e., logic, are considered.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 7:17 pm

“A society of angels and pacifists is also superior to the world today, but only if they had an adequate defense against the devils out there. ”

Again you fail to realize that most anarchists do not believe an anarchocapitalist society would be made up of angels and pacifists. Most ancaps desire security and defense also but believe that the market can provide these services better than the state.

Keep clinging to your delusion that ancaps are utopian dreamers though, I know how blind stereotyping can simplify the world for those who refuse to think.

Russ the Apostate October 18, 2010 at 7:30 pm

Some of us think that anarcho-capitalists are utopians precisely because they believe that the free market alone can provide sufficient defense and protection of rights, not because we believe that all ancaps are pacifistic saints. It’s not that we refuse to think, it’s just that our thinking has led us to different conclusions.

Jordan Viray October 18, 2010 at 8:41 pm

“Keep clinging to your delusion that ancaps are utopian dreamers though”

The “your” in my sentence refers to “King George”. That is, unless you agree with his idea that anarchocapitalists believe anarchic society would be composed of “angels and pacifists”. Few, if any, anarchocapitalists believe that.

Now your belief in anarchocapitalist society as utopian from defense and property right considerations is quite different; those are the main issues that most people struggle intellectually with in the transition from minarchism to anarchocapitalism.

King George October 18, 2010 at 10:30 pm

“The “your” in my sentence refers to “King George”. That is, unless you agree with his idea that anarchocapitalists believe anarchic society would be composed of “angels and pacifists”. Few, if any, anarchocapitalists believe that.”

I never said that, Jordan. I believe those were two different paragraphs and two different concepts, and you made the mistake of mentally connecting them together into one concept.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 3:22 am

“I never said that, Jordan. I believe those were two different paragraphs and two different concepts, and you made the mistake of mentally connecting them together into one concept.”

In the first paragraph you were talking about anarchic society and questioning “whether it can defend itself against predators” because “if it can’t, then it is not worthy of being defended even as an intellectual idea.”

and your second paragraph states “a society of angels and pacifists” unless it has an “adequate defense against the devils out there” is “not worth considering as more than an utopian dream”

And you claim the second paragraphs which follows immediately after the first is conceptually unconnected? Yeah, right.

Wildberry October 18, 2010 at 11:22 am

Inquisitor,
There must be more to this assertion about Mises’s own theorems leading inevitably to anarchy, and “whatever errors he fell prone to”. Please tell me more…

On your comment about not understanding “falsifiability”, I’ve personally not heard the scientific method described this way before, but my take is that method about sums up Allen’s point.

For example, even as solid as Einstein’s calculations were, they were not “accepted” until the great eclipse observations that showed the existence of the phenomena predicted by the theory. Had that (or other) experiment not yielded the results it did, then it could not be said that a theory of relativity actually described the real world. The existence of phenomena in the real world that are predicted by a theory are “falsifiable” by scientific observations (experiments) which prove or disprove the existence of the predicted phenomena. Make sense?

Finally, the recognition of the truth of your axiom, “Minarchism bloats into massive governments…” is historically true, and making that more difficult was one of the fundamental objectives of the Constitutional framers. The fact that the result of their effort has produced mixed results is a valid observation.
One could also observe, however, that since these fundamental tools of self-governance have continued to remain intact despite the past 200+ year assault, that framework is nothing short of miraculous design. Yet, with a lack of all humility, anarchists seem to believe they can do better.
Well, even on the level of civil discourse, that appears to be an unsettled issue.

Joe October 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm

@Wildberry,
I find your remarks to be to the point and refreshing. If all the anarchist believers would only understand that to work towards the original ideas and ideals of the founders of this country they would have no need for anarchy. I want to thank you for your views. Your arguments are sound and realistic. I hope to see you on this site speaking to other topics.

Wildberry October 18, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Thank you Joe, I really appreciate that feedback.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 4:06 am

“Our views on the world are falsifiable, while yours are not.”

Nope. Mises’ view that “humans act” is not falsifiable.

“Apparently you do not view it as a weakness to hold to a position about the world which cannot be refuted by evidence.”

It’s the nature of reality that there are some propositions which cannot be refuted by evidence. It’s a weakness if you are only willing to admit as possible those statements which are falsifiable. This is where you and standard economists fail.

Gerry Flaychy October 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Anarchy cannot exist if we cannot eliminate “the state”, so, how do we eliminate “the state” ?

Russ the Apostate October 18, 2010 at 7:33 pm

And how do you insure that the anarchist Revolution does not have the same result as the French Revolution, i.e. all the power of the State, and then some, devolving into the hands of a Napolean?

Gerry Flaychy October 19, 2010 at 10:48 am

This problem suppose the elimination of “the state”, firstly. If “the state” cannot be eliminated, then there is no more problem to resolve for anarchists, because there will be no anarchy possible at all !

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Eliminating the state could be done fairly effectively by ending all taxes (whether direct or in the form of inflation).

At that point the State would have to rely on unpaid police to enforce its dictates e.g. accepting legal tender and following its laws. It’s reasonable to expect, though, that the police, tax collectors, and politicians and others living on taxpayer largesse would be nearly annihilated if they did not receive pay.

Indeed, just about all policemen would rather work for a private company providing security versus working without pay for the state. The result might be that laws would become mostly unenforceable (who will enforce them?) and that would be a fairly close approximation of anarchy.

Ultimately though, individuals in society will have to refuse to follow the orders of the State as a matter of principle to get to anarchy. This is much easier if the State is de-clawed.

Russ the Apostate October 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm

If reducing government to a minimal state would be difficult or impossible (as people here take great joy in pointing out), then why would it be possible to end all taxes? Government collects taxes basically through legalized extortion. How do you end taxation, if the government does not want it to end (and it won’t want it to end)?

ABR October 19, 2010 at 5:16 pm

Individuals and business owners would have to refuse, en masse, to pay their taxes. That could happen overnight. Will it happen? Hm…

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Well I certainly don’t believe reducing government to a minimal state is impossible although it is difficult (anarchy even more so). As I said “Ultimately though, individuals in society will have to refuse to follow the orders of the State as a matter of principle to get to anarchy.”

Is the growth of government irreversible? Not completely. I mean we did repeal Prohibition and the Civil Aeronautics Board among other things so it would be theoretically possible to repeal other government accretions.

Just getting rid of the Personal Income Tax (introduced 1861) which represents around 45% of tax income and Corporate Tax Income (introduced 1909) which is 12% and Payroll tax (introduced 1935) which is 36% of all revenue would mean government would have to adjust to less than 10% of its current income.

Naturally though, debt financing through printing money will have to go too by ending the Federal Reserve and reverting to an audited gold standard.

It’s hard to say how less effective government enforcement would be if it were reduced to a tenth of its current size. That depends on the individuals in government and their propensity to use force but there would be quite a bit of momentum from contracting government were these repeals enacted.

I think that environment would be more amenable to individuals refusing en masse to pay their taxes or voting to abolish them completely but who knows.

Gerry Flaychy October 19, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Governments receive money not only from taxes but also from borrowing, from the central bank , and from commercial operations. There is too many form of ‘taxes’, like income taxe, sale tax, import and export duties, tickets. And there is also many people and corporations waiting for money from the governments to continue to operate and even to ‘survive’.

In brief, I don’t think that this idea would be very popular, even practicable.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm

The current impracticability or unpopularity of the idea has absolutely zero bearing as to whether it is possible which was your original question.

Gerry Flaychy October 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

My question was how it is possible to eliminate “the state”. If it is not possible by plan A, it doesn’t meant that it is not possible at all.

Jordan Viray October 20, 2010 at 1:09 am

“Plan A” is possible as are several other paths to anarchy

Different ways of non-violent resistance: refusing to pay taxes, ignoring the laws, refusing to go to jail and televising the use of force to bring someone to jail, protests, advocacy etc.

Different ways of violent resistance: I won’t really go there but the American Revolution did cost lives and they had far less cause to go to war than we currently do. Still, violence is last resort obviously.

Different ways of using the political process to gradually draw down the state: Constitutionalism, shifting the balance from Federal to State power which would de facto reduce the state in more libertarian states, establishment of a successful third party, nullification, changing the makeup of the Supreme Court etc.

There is nothing intrinsically impossible about the elimination of the State. No one knows how or even if it would play out but, again, there’s no need to worry about your question, “Anarchy cannot exist if we cannot eliminate “the state”, so, how do we eliminate “the state” ?”

Gerry Flaychy October 20, 2010 at 9:39 am

Jordan Viray, thank you for your informations and clarification.

Allen Weingarten October 19, 2010 at 9:46 am

Jordan Viray, commenting on “Our views on the world are falsifiable, while yours are not”, responds ‘Nope. Mises’ view that “humans act” is not falsifiable.’

However “humans act” is not inherently an empirical statement about the world, but a metaphysical orientation. Note that there are people who operate instinctively as when recoiling from a fire, rather than those who have reasoned in terms of intentions. How we determine the form of behavior of an individual can only be determined by reality, i.e., by what is falsifiable. The point is ‘falsification’ does not apply to metaphysical concepts, and the outlook of falsification is not in itself falsifiable. Conversely, when von Mises writes about the world, whether it is about its economic operations or about anarchy, his statements are falsifiable.

[Other metaphysical outlooks that are not falsifiable are determinism, probability, and free choice. Surely, some things are determined, some have a probability of occurring, and people do choose, but there can be no falsification of those outlooks, only whether or not happenings in the world are of those forms. Similarly, as the Einstein quote stated “As far as the laws of mathematics...are certain, they do not refer to reality”, meaning they are not falsifiable.]

What Popper brought out was not that every belief was ‘falsifiable’, but rather those beliefs that render statements about how the world is. He exemplified this by statements made by Marxists, Psychologists and others, who purport to say what occurs in the world, whereas their methods could only show that their own theories were correct, because no evidence could in principle refute them. For example, a Marxist would argue that capitalism was going to create depressions; then when they did not occur it was because capitalism by avoiding a depression was going to create a worse disaster. Some psychologists would say that everyone acted to further power; then when someone relinquished power it was interpreted to be an indirect way of furthering power.

Popper would agree with Viray that anarchism is not falsifiable, because no evidence in principle could be accepted for its refutation. He might add, that once people believe that no falsification is required, they are in no position to criticize statements about the world by others because there is evidence to the contrary.

Allen Weingarten October 19, 2010 at 11:24 am

It may be noted that in Robert Murphy’s latest blog, he sets up a test between an Austrian and Keynesian theory. That is precisely what falsifiability means, where reality determines the outcome, rather than one’s outlook that ensures how reality must be.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 3:12 pm

“That is precisely what falsifiability means, where reality determines the outcome, rather than one’s outlook that ensures how reality must be.”

No one is saying that an outlook “ensures how reality must be”. Rather, there are some facts of reality for which we conform our minds which then ensure how some other aspect of reality must be.

Jordan Viray October 19, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I hope your making identical posts in more than one thread does not become a habit. Well I’ll cut and paste my reply in the other post here:

“Note that there are people who operate instinctively as when recoiling from a fire, rather than those who have reasoned in terms of intentions.”

Is this meant to inform us? “Human Action” covers such cases in the section entitled “On the Serviceableness of Instincts”

“How we determine the form of behavior of an individual can only be determined by reality, i.e., by what is falsifiable.

So here you say reality is what is falsifiable, something I called you out for before. It was wrong then and it is still wrong now.

“However “humans act” is not inherently an empirical statement about the world, but a metaphysical orientation.”

Nope. It’s not either or but rather both. As Mises stated “Economics does not follow the procedure of logic and mathematics. It does not present an integrated system of pure aprioristic ratiocination severed from any reference to reality.”

“He might add, that once people believe that no falsification is required, they are in no position to criticize statements about the world by others because there is evidence to the contrary.”

Nope. Just because Austrians proceed praxeologically does not somehow take away our ability to criticize statements made by others using contrary evidence.

“Is sum, praxeology holds over empirical methods, but its statements about the world remain falsifiable”

Nope. Praxeology is not divorced from reality which is necessarily observed and so a statement about the world that humans act is not falsifiable. There are some distinctions you should be drawing but I’ll leave that up to you.

Wildberry October 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

I have posted a question from a different point of entry here:

http://blog.mises.org/14299/the-progressive-conversion-of-social-power-into-state-power/

Chucko October 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Actually, men ARE angels.

Why? Men invented angels. Hence the angelic character springs from inside men, not imposed from above by otherworldly forces – because there are no otherworldly forces. Its just us, here and now, acting with energy or sloth, self-interest or altruism, but in a way that is “Oh so human”.

That the State has evolved at all is merely an extension of family structure with the elders at the head and the younger below. Again “Oh so human”. Or “Oh so natural” like a wolfpack or herd of elephants – perfectly natural and to be expected.

That a certain percentage of any population shall be 2 standard deviations away from the norm – both in the good (saintly) and bad (evil) direction is to be expected – as variation is a biological necessity for survival of the species, as Darwin so correctly points out. That’s why juries should be a random sample of the population as a whole – because truth resides in the middle of the distribution, not at the tails. This is the essence of democracy: No individual knows Truth but the population as a whole does. In fact, this is the statistical justification for the doctrine of checks and balances. Note balance – toward the middle.

Hence, given the above, the proper role (OK: one of the proper roles) of the state is to ensure that the truth (or the Good or the Right) which is embodied in the collective wisdom of the people (and hence knowable) shall be freely expressed, exercised and made real. That is, that the tails shall not dominate the political discourse.

I kinda think that was what Madison was getting at through the lens of his reading of history and through the lens of his experience with royal totalitarianism by which Truth (or the Good of the Right) resides with the king as a consequence of the king’s unique and very private (we are not invited!) conversation with god.

So Madison was on the right track, was he not?

Jordan Viray October 23, 2010 at 8:18 pm

“Actually, men ARE angels.

Why? Men invented angels. ”

Unbelievably poor reasoning. Men invented styrofoam cups so according to your reasoning, men ARE styrofoam cups.

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