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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/2707/anarquismo/


November 8, 2004 by

My Mises U. talk on objections to anarchism has been translated into Spanish by Larry Nieves and is posted over at El Liberal Venezolano. I don’t read Spanish well enough to understand the translation, but there it is.


Steven Kane November 8, 2004 at 10:32 am

Excellent. Now all that has to be done is the formalization of each argument and the removal of the colloquial phrases.

Vanmind November 8, 2004 at 8:46 pm

“He’s my advisor, I will always follow him–but I haven’t given up my right to fire him.”

Isn’t this what democracies try to instill about the relationship between citizens and government?

Steven Kane November 8, 2004 at 11:44 pm

It is indeed what they try to instill. However, the system is a complete joke because in order to “fire” anyone you have to convince a large number of other people to join your cause. This is one of the main problems with democracy, you cannot do anything unless numerous other people jump on your bandwagon. Your individual vote is virtually meaningless, so “voice” in democracy can only be exercised from a platform based on convincing other voters what to think. This is an absurd situation if you think about it.

Under pure private property contractualism, and anarcho-capitalist natural order, the only person’s vote that really matters is yours. At any point in time you can exit any relationship that is not to your liking without having to convince thousands or even millions of other people. Hence, in Roderick Long’s example, he may have hired a leader/advisor to act on his behalf, but he retained the option of getting rid of him on a personal one vote basis.

Curt Howland November 9, 2004 at 10:07 am


That’s one of the reasons that I try to engage people that are not familiar with anarchy by using the word “unanimity”.

The usual next words from peoples mouths is, “But that’s impossible.” Leading them to realize that unanimity is how they conduct themselves in their business and social relationships every day is the rest of the discussion.

Randall McElroy November 9, 2004 at 11:04 am

This speech is spreading like wildfire all across the world, and to think, I was there when it happened!

The Serpent November 9, 2004 at 12:02 pm

Steven Kane: Under pure private property contractualism, and anarcho-capitalist natural order …

Mr. Kane, if Anarcho-capitalism is the “natural order” as you assert, then how do you account for the fact that there aren’t any examples of anarcho-capitalistic societies existing in the real (natural) world?

Steven Kane: … the only person’s vote that really matters is yours.

Well if you believe that Solipsism is True and the person reading this post is the only entity that actually exists in reality then I guess I would be forced to concede.

Curt Howland November 9, 2004 at 12:48 pm


Anarcho-capitalist societies exist all around you. You interact with them, as a part of them, every time you interact with someone else voluntarily.

Are you forced to buy milk from one vender? One brand? Or can you choose not to buy it at all?

When you and another person are walking in the same hallway toward each other, are you forced to move to one side? Are you forced to go to the left side?

When you decided to post on this message board, how much did you pay mises.org? Would you have posted if it had cost money to do so? Why do you believe you have that choice at all?

The answer to all these questions is anarchy. You made the decision without coercion, no one forced you. You acted on your own, without a ruler. Peacefully.

You are an anarchist in your own actions. Enlightenment is in realizing that by allowing others that same power to choose, everyone benefits.

Vanmind November 9, 2004 at 5:16 pm

What I seem to be hearing is:

“Whether the label we apply is ‘anarcho-capitalism’ or ‘natual law libertarianism’ or ‘interventionist statism’ everyone still has access to the free will by which they can choose to participate or not.”

Curt Howland November 9, 2004 at 6:55 pm


Except under interventionist statism, if you choose not to play, you still have to pay or go to prison. Playing their game might be a rational decision considering the circumstances, but then by that definition so is chattel slavery.

“Play by my rules or die” is hardly a case for argument for free will, while I do respect those strong enough to die for their beliefs.

Vanmind November 10, 2004 at 3:07 am


Thanks for your input. I learn more here than anywhere else.

I agree that in a totalitarian society non-participation would not be a pragmatic option (although escape attempts might be). I imagine being a non-conformist is difficult in any society.

I have been a starving artist for so long I don’t know how to feel about a Misesian society that wouldn’t even allow for the measly NEA (or Canada Council up where I live). Could someone explain how that tiny bit of socialist funding could work its magic better out there in the same market economy where works of “art” are becoming increasingly embedded/diluted/ruined with product placements? Will we soon have movies-cum-infomercials, prefaced with twice as many pre-movie commercials & trailers? Or will private arms-length philanthropy (which is what those agencies claim to be offering from the public sector) somehow make a new Renaissance possible for the next generation of human achievement?

Perhaps if the whole world was Misesian/anarcho-capitalist there would be more private philanthropy than exists now, and of course that expanded philanthropy need not direct itself toward only the safest ideas and least original artisan projects that promise to “follow the rules.” I suppose that in this semi-interventionist industrialized world, banks–more often than not–have no option other than minimizing risk by shutting the door on cutting-edge genius. Would current counter-intuitive claims that artists must “pay their dues” before receiving significant assistance from socialist philanthropy become better or worse under the free market? Art seems to be the R&D of culture, and artisanship seems to be its factory-line production process. Should we continue to choke off the R&D of our collective aesthetic?

Lisa Casanova November 10, 2004 at 3:24 pm

Art in a totally free market would be like anything else- if people want it, they will pay for it. Personally, I like opera, not exactly a hugely popular art form, and one currently subsidized by government. In a free market of art, there very well might not be enough support to keep it going. But any alternative is simply someone saying to you “This art is good for you, only you don’t know it, so I’m going to make you pay for it.” Another thing- consider the possibility that money belonging to people who like your art and want to pay for it is taken by the government instead, to pay for art by those artists who spend most of their time learning how to game the political system. In the past, people of means have always supported great art and music. Without socialistic funding for the arts, you just might do OK.

Roderick T. Long November 10, 2004 at 3:36 pm

As Tyler Cowen points out in his book In Praise of Commerical Culture, the support provided to opera, classical music, etc., by the market is far greater than what state patronage has provided. (Moroever, a single CD of some 18th-c. composer enjoys a larger audience today than that composer ever reached even in his lifetime.)

Vanmind November 10, 2004 at 6:33 pm

Thanks, Lisa and Roderick, for the insights. Since I am going hungry anyway, I see little reason to not hope for general economic changes in the future. I still worry, though, when I consider the likely fate of fine art in a pure market world.

I’ve read that Cowen piece, plus parts of “Creative Destruction,” and I have concluded that–like so many non-artists–he is confusing fine art with mere craft. Good clues about his confusion are these misguided statements:

“Artists work to achieve self-fulfillment, fame and riches” &
“Many artists cannot make a living from their craft.”

In “Creative Destruction” he at least touched on the more accurate analysis of de Tocqueville, who I think was closer to describing what happens to fine art (as Kant defined fine art in “Critique of Judgement”) within a market system–namely, entropy and homogenization.

Sure, people in Thailand, etc. now get to experience works of craft and works of art to which, centuries ago, they would never have had access. Of course, many of the works they now get to see never would have come into existence had the creator not received help from their country’s state-run cultural organizations.

Quite possibly, an even greater total number of works would emerge from within a market system, but to me it appears–judging from the recent descent of western culture into a morass of cover tunes, product placements, franchised movie sequels and reality television–that an increase in aggregate production would not necessarily translate into an increase in cultural awareness. As far as I can tell, hoping for evermore stuff to sell isn’t a laudable goal when fine art is the commodity to be marketed. The plethora of works that people in Thailand would get to see under a true market system might start to resemble craft more than art, as private wealth looked for maximum returns-on-investment and would-be artists faced greater pressures to conform to “standards” and “rules” (i.e. craftsmanship). Even audiences, as Lisa pointed out, would feel pressures to “go with the crowd.”

With a Canada Council (or equivalent), people have a chance to apply for funding for projects that are “out there,” because the Canada Council need not care about returns on investment. I can’t help but think that a market system would have even fewer players willing to fund anything but “acceptable” projects that maximized their chance for profit. In either funding system, applicants would need to learn how to “school” the application process (by filling out government forms or by pitching safe projects to private investors). Under a full market economy, the politics would likely not diminish, but the originality of production probably would.

I do see validity in claims such as: “I don’t want my tax dollars to help fund more Maplethorpe pornography.” This is why I choose to support changes toward Misesian society even though I think they will limit true artistic expression. In other words, I am willing to go hungry under either system, because my art compels me to reject desires for accumulating distracting gewgaws.

All in all, I feel that the compulsion to produce fine art is similar to the compulsion of being in love–impossible to quantify, and easy to mistake for a baser lust for money (sex). IMO, this is what makes fine art unique and separate from crafted goods (i.e. all other goods).

Curt Howland November 10, 2004 at 8:43 pm

Vanmind, I’m sad that you’re not doing well financially. Neither am I, but a lot of that has to do with my choice to stay home with my baby.

You have made a choice as well, to apply yourself to a craft you call art. Other people call it art too, that’s fine, but it’s still your craft just as communications (and changing diapers) is mine.

Under the conditions I have imposed, no one wishes to purchase my craft. Same with you. It’s a bummer, but much of life is a bummer.

What is the highest art in all of history to you? Is it the garbage and concrete castle? The Sistine Chapel? A million-transistor CPU? The smooth perfection of Egyptian stone work? The simple statue of Artemis that rested, carefully buried in sand, for 1700 years after the destruction of her temple by early Christians?

The first time I got my hands on a computer motherboard that had been laid-out by computer instead of hand drawn I was in awe! The difference with what I had become accustomed to was so great that I took several minutes to slowly follow some of the traces, to see how the traces plunged through the board to the multiple layers within, to wonder at the density and perfection of curve and line.

I did exactly the same thing when I beheld a wooden statue, not 12 inches high, in a small room in the Cloisters museum in NYC. Carved from a single piece of red coloured wood, she stands in cascading robes that drape perfectly, even reaching below the level of the figures feet on its little pedistal, gazing in wonder at the perfection of curve and line.

Both of these wondrous things had been made for money, by a person or people who knew they had to produce what the customer wanted in order to get paid.

“Art” flourishes where wealth can be emassed so that the priority for something which gives purely emotional benefit can come to the fore. That is why the highest levels of art have always been created for the wealthy, for the powerful. Everyone else was busy just making a living. Since taxes sap productivity, less taxation means more wealth created that can be spent on art at all. And has been pointed out above, I believe it is far better for people to fund “art” that they love rather than have their wealth stolen and spent on something some bureaucrat considers “art” but that is actually human waste in a can.

Vanmind November 11, 2004 at 3:47 am

Good thoughts, Curt.

Not to sound trite, but I suppose we must persevere under any circumstance.

Of course, I continue to lobby those I encounter for a positive Misesian future. I just hope I’ll be able to find an occasional gem or two within the Ashlee Simpson multitude.

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