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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5398/the-market-for-liberty/

The Market For Liberty

July 28, 2006 by

An excerpt from their great book, The Market for Liberty: “The free-market system, which the bureaucrats and politicians blame so energetically for almost everything, is nothing more than individuals trading with each other in a market free from political interference. Because of the tremendous benefits of trade under a division of labor, there will always be markets. A market is a network of voluntary economic exchanges; it includes all willing exchanges which do not involve the use of coercion against anyone.” FULL ARTICLE


Robert Klassen July 28, 2006 at 9:18 pm

I read this remarkable book soon after it was reprinted, and I was struck by it’s similarity to something I had heard many times, so I started asking questions. One correspondent, who had been there at the time, knew who “Skye D’Aurous” was, and explained the connection. At this late date, a comparison with the 1968 lecture series by Andrew J. Galambos, transcribed and published as Sic Itur ad Astra, might be in order.

Greg Clark July 29, 2006 at 12:09 am

I never met the Tannehills, but many 60s era libertarians from Michigan knew them.

What happened to them is not nearly as important as this book they created.

tz July 29, 2006 at 8:51 am

My fundamental problem with the AnCap view is that it is self-contradictory.

If you really believe the market is the solution to everything, then the market should determine the existence and extent of any “rights” or when force is used. Rights or force will either occur when their marginal value (in an austrian sense) exceeds the value for their absence, and only to that extent.

Put simply, if the market provides lots of work for thieves and hit-men, who are you do disagree with that outcome?

You may want the market to provide a different outcome, but it won’t.

So do you choose a set of Rights, which you will impose on those who do not accept them using force in some form including violence, or a pure free market?

But if you choose the former, you will have government. A state even if you choose to call it a “frooble”.

When you say any law must be universal – and that includes property rights – you are saying that it binds all humanity. So if I see it being violated, I as a 3rd party can act forcefully to prevent or reverse the violation. If I cannot impose my will – even something rational and part of the natural law – on another party, then you have no ability to do the same on the same basis.

And if the market (actors) doesn’t choose rights over violations, justice over tyranny, negotiations or procedure over violence, are you going to regulate it? (The market doesn’t provide universal and affordable health-care either, but I’m talking about your most cherished value).

Two other functions of a state besides using force are to discover and impliment the correct positive law from natural law (questions like when property might be considered abandoned). Another is to provide forums – either a group of judges to determine disputes on evidence without bias or a jury of peers to do the same.

I don’t think “the law just is”. If force is ever used by an individual in the absence of a legislature’s definition, that person is acting like a parliment in creating laws – usually off the cuff when they are annoyed. And they act like prosecutor, judge, and jury when they decide their act is proper, and like executioner when the commit the act.

But the key is that any such act is not subjected to any higher authority. If the higher authority is the truth, then it must be an institutionalized and publically known truth. If the higher authority is the market, then forget the silly philosophizing – it depends on whether your hired mercenaries or castellians are stronger or weaker than your opponents. Economic or pure might makes right.

I don’t think individuals are capable of privately doing justice, at least not universally (there are thieves – I point to “The Professional Thief” as an AnCap example of counter-security services). They will simply rationalize their current behavior (as socialists do with “social justice”).

States don’t give or remove rights to use force, e.g. to run off a thief – it only says beforehand when it is proper to do so, and provides the institution that will determine if your individual case was within the rules.

States ought not regulate the market per se, but that would be outside its function. It is to do the minimum necessary, and normally after the fact to preserve “the peace” – that rights won’t be violated by other members of society, and the framework to correct the injustice when it is.

It is easy to refute the straw-man of the levithan we have now, but the question is the minimalist (or proper sized) state which only acts to preserve rights which are considered vital to the public peace. I think that is what Mises was talking about in his book “Bureaucracy” – that you can’t use market measures for things like rights, justice, and truth. Are the police doing better with more or fewer arrests? And I think Hayek made the same kind of point when he talked about traditions.

If a “state” were to be made up of volunteers that implemented the three branches of government and (their executive) merely enforced Rothbard’s world view (as carefully as their legislative branch could determine it generally, and their judiciary specifically), or pick any other or group of AnCap writers – would it be just or unjust?

Curt Howland July 30, 2006 at 3:20 am

Wow, tz. I’m actually impressed.

If there is a market for hitmen, then so be it. Really. That’s not a contradiction, because in order for a hitman to profit he must be in demand, and be successful. Same as everyone else.

An-Cap is not self-contradictory. Any contradictions are because people have expectations that are not met. Do you really expect everyone to be dancing in the Elisian Fields the moment government is de-funded? I’ll assume no, and then ask you why you expect anyone else does?

An-Cap is not the absence of coercion. It is the removal of the _legitimate_ coercive agent, the state. It is only the state which can issue a no-knock warrant and kill me in my sleep, and then have no repercussions. Even any restitution paid to my heirs comes from taxes, the individuals involved suffer no consequences. They as individuals are not liable, so long as they were acting as agents of the state.

Not so for your hitman and thief, and that is why, in very few words, I will take An-Cap over the state gladly.

As far as “straw men”, how is your assertion that “it’s easy to attack the leviathan we have now” any less a straw-man argument? Minimalist states never remain minimalist. Even the explicit wording of the US Constitution has been twisted beyond recognition.

An-Cap isn’t an argument against leviathan, it’s an argument against the state at all, even the minimalist state. That’s why so many people, including yourself, are uncomfortable with it. Your post above is loaded with rationalizations for not abolishing the state, while not addressing any actual problems with the market processes that An-Cap merely applies to everything without arbitrary limitations.

Alex Peak October 27, 2007 at 12:22 pm

I’ll keep this brief. Human rights come first, the market comes second. The market is just and only just because it does not inherently infringe upon the innate human rights we all share, and are inherent in our nature. (Those actions which are taken on the red market, as agorists call it, are inherently unjust, and therefore would be considered crimes in a laissez-faire society, e.g. the hiring of hitmen.)

If rights were to be determined by the market, we’d be placing cause after effect. Rights cannot be determined by the system of exchange deemed just if such the justice of such a system had to be pre-determined by the very human rights one proposes we let the market determine.

Human nature is innate in every human, and markets are an inevitable outgrowth–the result and not the cause–of our nature as humans.

Alex Peak

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