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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4416/new-block-article-on-punishing-statists/

New Block Article on Punishing Statists

December 8, 2005 by

Toward a Libertarian Theory of Guilt and Punishment for the Crime of Statism,
presented at the The Rise and Fall of the State seminar, Ludwig von Mises Institute, Auburn, AL, Auburn University, Oct. 6, 2000.

{ 9 comments }

Mark December 8, 2005 at 4:22 am

Do two wrongs make a right?
What is the libertarian punishment for a rapist?, for a brainwasher (teacher)?, for an abortionist (not murderer)?
The mind boggles.

Roy W. Wright December 8, 2005 at 6:50 am

Are you suggesting that aggression should go unpunished?

Nathan Shepperd December 8, 2005 at 7:21 am

No, I think he misunderstands restitutive justice.

David White December 8, 2005 at 7:38 am

On a lighter note, his misspelling of the word hypocrisy — i.e., “hypocracy” — surely hits the nail on the head. Are we not ruled, after all, by “hypocrats”?

Yancey Ward December 8, 2005 at 8:20 am

Actually, David, I think we are ruled by hypercrats.

Alan Gross December 8, 2005 at 9:26 am

It is interesting that in his footnote listing states which this is applicable to that he fails to mention Iraq and Saddaam Hussein. Since that trial is proceeding forthwith, is it not more germain than the Hypotheticals? One of the reasons I left the libertartian party is that current philosophy and leadership is obsessed with cloud-cuckoo-land hypotheticals rather than objective and current reality. I have to place you all on the same shelve as communists who believe that one day the state will wither…

tz December 8, 2005 at 10:32 am

It is not axiomatic that violations of non-aggression ought to be punished by aggression. Even trying to measure proper proportions doesn’t help.

One other note – the article assumes a priori that libertarian nonaggression is an ultimate and fixed law, and that no one has any freedom to accept any other system. But there is no reason to assume so, or to accept that it would be proper to violate the rights of people who think or act differently. It is assumed that it is dogmatic truth, and those who differ are heretics (I haven’t read far enough into the article to see if those found guilty of statism – even against willing subjects – would be burned at the stake for this heresy).

And I can’t let the section on theivery go unchallenged. What if I don’t approach the Libertarian state college professor as an irate taxpayer, but simply pick his pocket, or pilfer something from his property (or use one of the many phishing scams)? If you are still a thief when stealing from another thief, then you cannot then claim it wrong for yet another thief to steal the ill gotten ill gotten gains yet again. You may not be the pickpocket, but you are the shill or accessory to the crime, and certainly a beneficiary. As such any justification for stealing from the top of the pyramid of theft applies to the lower layers just as well.

And, if a Libertarian Professor’s stuff is stolen, will he go and call out the state thugs to retrieve the stuff or not, especially if there isn’t a good alternative for recovery?

I think there is a parallel with what consists of a “just war” in that it is better to suffer petty evils than to commit greater ones in trying to address them. And that any evil must be from a “double effect” of an important good being done. So much evil would be tolerated simply to avoid the greater evils that war, or state criminal enforcement, would bring.

But the moment you allow for retribution, which I can see no way to distinguish from the original aggression, you run into a problem. How do I know that the retribution is not aggression itself since the form and substance are at best identical, and at worst some attempt at equivalency – but who decides. Or if someone damages my car, and the vandal doesn’t own a car, can I damage his house – it that aggression and retribution, or two acts of aggression. If I presented a picture of someone damaging a car, could anyone tell me if it was an act of aggression, retribution, or someone taking frustration out on his own property?

At this point some judicial body is usually introduced to decide. (Or some new-age community collective hive mind knows via omniscience that X has been violated by Y, so X’s acts toward Y are in retribution, not aggression even without any declaration by X or writ against Y, but most discussions usually end up in the real world). But what gives any such body authority to either decide the case (facts or law) or allow aggression? Why because X says an act is retribution and not aggression should I accept it? The moment you let any body – private or public say some uses of force (implicitly against the unwilling) are authorized and some are not you’ve created a state (or government or whatever you want to call it).

A state is a state no matter how small, diffuse, or amorphous. Simply hiding it is a bit like fiat currency and inflation – it is very difficult to inflate gold, but you can print paper at will, though the effects will be diffused.

Gold is mined so the value is not constant – there is a constant albeit small inflationary bias which about equals productivity gains. The key is that any change tends to be visible (e.g. a treasury must dump gold to drop the price).

If you are going to have something which authorizes some use of force (i.e. a state), it is better to have it under a spotlight and concentrated where it can be properly loathed even when it is functioning within its bounds.

Greg Newburn December 8, 2005 at 10:56 am

This might be the worst paper I’ve ever read. “hypocracy”? I get that it’s unpublished, and was just a talk, but come on. If this quality paper is what passes for scholarship at the Mises Institute, I tremble for the memory of von Mises.

averros December 9, 2005 at 7:52 pm

“Crime of statism”? What are we talking about? Theft is a theft, violent aggression is violent aggression, there’s no need to invent new “crimes”. The only reason why states (and statists) are bad is because they engage in theft and violent aggression, not because they hold different ideas.

Why all the hair-splitting about difference between the government and the state? There are better names for voluntary cooperative management than “the government” which is invariably associated with state. Like: covenants, corporations, cooperatives, etc.

I have to agree with previous commentators on the very poor quality of presented argumentation.

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