A Rebuttal to “Sorry Libertarian Anarchists, Capitalism Requires Government”

I find it rather fun to debunk articles about why anarchists are wrong. Mostly, this is because the people writing them are generally in favor of limited government, yet use all of the tactics of their big government counterparts when arguing against voluntaryism. This article called Sorry Libertarian Anarchists, Capitalism Requires Government, by Harry Binswanger was a slightly better critique of anarchism compared to Austin Petersen’s, but essentially makes the same mistake of failing to differentiate between defensive force, and offensive force.

The anarchists object to the very idea of a monopoly on force. That only shows that they cannot grasp what force is. Force is monopoly. To use force is to attempt to monopolize. The cop or the gunman says: “We’ll do it my way, not your way–or else.” There is no such thing as force that allows dissenters to go their own way.

If a man wants to have sex with a woman who doesn’t want it, only one of them can have their way. It’s either “Back off” or rape. Either way, it’s a monopoly.

Does he not realize that this argument says rape need only be deemed legal and the rapist is in the right? Anarchists recognize the aggressor as always wrong. Anarchists understand that force is a meaningless word in the way that he uses it, because he fails to differentiate between types of force. Defending against rape is not monopolizing force, it is monopolizing your body. And monopolizing your own body is where all rights stem from.

You are your own property, and therefore philosophically have total autonomy. He speaks of a “proper government”, which is mythical, unless you count the individual as a government of one. The only thing you have the right to monopolize is your own body, and the property that stems from the right of self ownership (acquired by trade, or original appropriation mixed with labor). This highlights the difference between the force used in rape, and the force used in defense of rape.

Monopolizing force in an attempt to rape would not be “proper government” (defined as a government that does not violate any rights) because it seeks to monopolize more than your own body (and your property which stems from self ownership). Monopolizing force to defend against rape would indeed be “proper government” because you are only monopolizing your own body, and demanding that no other (government or individual) break your monopoly on self ownership.

He really digs his own grave on this point, since all government does is in fact “rape”, by failing to recognizing autonomous individuals who own themselves, and therefore monopolize their own body. Government says it has partial ownership of you, and the proof is that they can force you to do things you do not want to do. And in this sense, he makes the same argument as Petersen: they both believe that just by wielding force, whether defensive or offensive, you are a government. But practically no one agrees with their definition of government.

Governments monopolize regardless of rights, and individuals acting in self defense are monopolizing only in accordance to their rights. If a government only operated without violating others’ rights, this means they would not forcefully exclude a competitor, and therefore would not be a government, but a competing business to fulfill a market demand.

And after all of the effort to show how force will be monopolized no matter what, Binswanger then argues that we need government force in order to protect us from force from others. But he never explains why the government’s force is better than those it protects you from. In essence he admits that there is no difference between “the cop or the gunman,” then arbitrarily chooses the cop’s force over the gunman’s. Binswanger would therefor not necessarily prefer the woman’s monopoly on force to the rapists: first he must check with the government to see which will be allowed under their monopoly.

He then goes on to praise the non-existent “American system” of government, which even in its perfect form violates the individual’s right to self ownership, and therefore does not fit the definition of a “proper government”.

The genius of the American system is that it limited government, reining it in by a Constitution, with checks and balances and the provision that no law can be passed unless it is “necessary and proper” to the government’s sole purpose: to protect individual rights–to protect them against their violation by physical force.

Tragically, the original American theory of government was breached, shelved, trashed long ago. But that’s another story.

No, it is not another story, it is very much a part of this story. What is so genius about a system that could not maintain itself? How was it reigned in by a Constitution, if he admits that it was “shelved and trashed long ago”? As Lysander Spooner said, the Constitution either allowed such a system as we have, or failed to prevent it.

Never has a government existed whose sole purpose was and stayed to protect individual rights, let alone doing so funded through voluntary means! So Binswanger can keep arguing for that type of government, but without saying how to get or keep it, what good does the argument do? I could use this same argument for a monarchy or dictatorship, and just ignore the fact that it would be impossible to always have a benevolent dictator in power.

Anarchy on the other hand, tells you how it will remain free: through market decisions. If the market dictates that force be used not only in self defense, we may end up right back where we are now. But that is a less likely scenario based on everything we know about markets and competition–competition delivers a better product for cheaper. It also speaks volumes that we are currently living in the worst case scenario for how anarchy would turn out: violent monopolization of force without accordance to individual rights stemming from self ownership.

But this last point, Binswanger would argue, is moot, because protection is not production, so it is therefore not an economic service which can be provided by the market.

However protection is creating a proper environment for economic transactions, just like vacuuming the floor at a shop creates a proper environment: vacuuming is not production, but it allows the store to be more productive by appealing to customers who want to shop in a clean store. A guard does not produce whatever you are selling, he allows you to be more productive by creating an environment where people feel safe shopping, working, or living.

The anarchists do not object to retaliatory force, only to it being wielded by a government. Why? Because, they say, it excludes “competitors.” It sure does: it excludes vigilantes, lynch mobs, terrorists, and anyone else wanting to use force subjectively.

“A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control–i.e., under objectively defined laws.” (Ayn Rand, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

There can be only one supreme law of the land and only one government to enforce it. (State and local governments are necessarily subordinate to the federal government.)

Yet despite his arguments, governments currently use force subjectively! And how can he claim competition for retaliatory force would be more subjective than monopolization on retaliatory force? What evidence does Binswanger have to show that government can more effectively objectively define laws than competing firms? None! In fact an examination of every government’s laws on earth will yield no such objectivity, especially when their aggressive actions are examined next to their laws. Read the Constitution for proof, and tell me if you think our government is objective in their enforcement.

Vigilantes, lynch mobs and terrorists would all be subject to further retaliation when they violate others’ rights. Not always, but more often than in government, will objective laws come from companies who wish to turn profits, because conflict is costly, and not conducive to the bottom line. Competing entities are not simply competing in force, but in productivity. They must bring people to justice in order to serve their customers, but not invite conflict by going beyond the objective, previously defined contracts they agree to fulfill. In other words, the competing wielders of force have all the incentives to lay out their “laws” and stick to them, while government has no such incentive.

Binswanger does not say what land area a government may cover, so we can assume that governments could be as small as we want, except that he says local and state governments are “necessarily subordinate to federal government” (despite arguing earlier in favor of the Constitution which subordinated the federal government to state governments). But why does a law of the land have to be subject to arbitrary borders? I might assume he would support one world government, because then the ultimate “agreement” across the board would be had over what an individual can and cannot do.

He claims the mythical government that he wants will not get its money through force, but voluntarily, and only wield force in a retaliatory manner. So the monopoly on law is what he really wants the government to have. Throw in the possibility of different courts defining different segments of law, or laws in different regions. The laws would depend on the people who voluntary patronize such firms for protection, while agreeing that they will not violate the laws they are protected with, and voila, we have an anarchist society.

People, consumers, would define the laws by patronizing competing agencies of law–security companies, third party arbiters, crime insurance companies, etc. Desire for profits will keep these competing firms from breaching contracts or waging wars. Governments on the other hand, routinely wage wars when they cannot agree with other governments.

The anarchist idea of putting law on “the market” cannot be applied even to a baseball game. It would mean that the rules of the game will be defined by whoever wins it.

An absurd analogy! In order to play a game at all, it must first be defined! This is a paradox; how can there be a winner if it takes a winner to define what it means to be a winner?! How can a game be won, if there is no game until it is won?

Imagine someone saying, “We’re going to play a game. Okay, I win; now I will tell you what the rules are. The rules are, I win.” That sounds like a government to me.

But let’s follow the baseball example. Two people or companies engaging in free trade would be the baseball teams, and they must both agree on the terms of the game before playing with each other. If they never agree, they never play!

If they agree on the rules, they then both agree on a third party to whom’s authority they will voluntarily submit, in order to engage in the game–the economic transaction–because they both want to play, they both see some benefit in the game. So both teams hire an umpire to call the shots based on rules that both teams agreed to, not that the umpire simply makes up.

Again, it is hilariously cringe-worthy that Binswanger would use an example of a baseball game, that could be compared perfectly to an anarchist scenario. Both teams agree on the end that they want: to play a game. They create law by defining the terms of the game. They know the umpire won’t always make the calls they want, but they also know the game essentially would be chaos–not anarchy–without the third party making the calls. Its a win win, even for the loser, who will have the chance to play other games, since other teams know they play fair.

The market was created by the two teams. The two will not be playing the same game, or in the same stadium, unless they first agree on the rules.

Binswanger also forgets that economics is not a zero-sum game. There is no outright winner in economics, and there is only a loser when the business shuts its doors. Otherwise, the business will stay open to competition. The team may lose one game, and win the next one; that is it may lose one customer, and gain the next one, based on how well it plays the game. But the teams it engages with are always on the same page, or they would not be engaging.

This guy might do better writing for the Onion. Look at these two lines, where he tells us why government functions cannot be accomplished through competition:

Actual competition is a peaceful rivalry to gain dollars–dollars paid voluntarily in uncoerced trade.

Governments are necessary–because we need to be secure from force initiated by criminals, terrorists, and foreign invaders.

Peaceful competition cannot exist without violent force. Allowing violent force to be used against you is the only way to prevent violent force from being used against you. Peaceful competition is the ideal, therefore we must accept violent force to make sure all competition is peaceful. He should be embarrassed that he wrote these two sentences in the same article, let alone right next to each other.

Government forcing you to fund and use their services is coerced trade! A voluntary trade would be hiring a firm who agrees to protect you from criminals, terrorists, and foreign invaders. And you would hire the best firm, not the one that says it will cage you if you refuse to engage, as the current government does.

Binswanger has already said that the only moral use of force is to defend rights, yet even when governments have defended some of these rights, they do so by first violating them in order to gain their funding through violent theft via taxation. It is a contradiction of objective morality, unless he somehow thinks paradoxically that an immoral act is required to stop other immoral acts.

The attempt to invoke individual rights to justify “competing” with the government collapses at the first attempt to concretize what it would mean in reality. Picture a band of strangers marching down Main Street, submachine guns at the ready. When confronted by the police, the leader of the band announces: “Me and the boys are only here to see that justice is done, so you have no right to interfere with us.” According to the anarchists, in such a confrontation the police are morally bound to withdraw, on pain of betraying the rights of self-defense and free trade.

First of all, whose rights have been violated? Men walking down the street with guns is not an infringement on any rights. On the other hand, armed police officers walking down the street, paid and armed through theft of the citizens wages, is itself an immoral act (according to his own definition) due to the rights violated to make it possible. Of course the police are morally required to withdraw.

But say it was just two gangs of gun toters: the immoral party would be the first one to fire a shot unprovoked. This isn’t hard: the people in the wrong are the ones who initiate force, who violate others’ rights, who infringe on the self ownership of others, who seek to break the monopoly that the individual inherently has over himself.

And anarchists think a free market for the services government provides would more often hold the wrongdoers accountable, based on the fact that the free market more often serves the consumers’ demands in every area in which the government doesn’t interfere.

Anarchy is no guarantee that a man’s rights will not be violated. Government is a guarantee that a man’s rights will be violated.

Economic competition presupposes a free market. A free market cannot exist until after force has been barred. That means objective law, backed up by a government. To say it can be backed up by “competing” force-wielders is circular. There is no competition until there is a free market, and some agency has to protect its condition as a free market by the use of retaliatory force.

He’s got it all backwards! The only natural law, that offensive force is barred. If you allow government to wield the force, then force has not been barred, and it is not a free market, which is presupposed for competition!

The question is, what is the most effective way of getting to a truly free market? Recognizing all force as immoral would be a good place to start, as opposed to giving government the magic power of abracadabra, and they are somehow not guilty of an immoral act.

If you can disassociate, and refuse to do business with someone, that is a free market. Government, which forces you into their marketplace, does not create a free market.

Competing force wielders would be more constrained by the market than monopoly force wielders, thus being more likely to lead to a freer and freer market, until economic incentives dictate the only rule that ever needed to exist: do not initiate force against others.

And at that point there will be 7 billion “proper governments” on earth called sovereign individuals.

5 Reasons Why the Article “5 Reasons Why I’m Not An Anarchist” is Wrong

I had to click on an article called “5 Reasons Why I’m Not An Anarchist” by Austin Petersen on The Libertarian Republic to see if it offered any new perspective I hadn’t considered.

The article was chock-full of logical fallacies notably the straw-man, red herring, and non sequitur. Petersen’s main method of argument was what socialists use against the free market: “well how would that work?” Austin Petersen can’t think of how private property would work without monopoly government force, so his conclusion is that it cannot. He starts off right from the beginning in a way that makes me question his basic understanding of libertarian philosophy.

1. “Rights are Guarantees”

A right is something that MUST be provided. Any society aimed at protecting natural rights must use some type of force to guarantee those rights. Any mechanism of force used to guarantee those rights have [sic] the same effect as government, no matter what that form may take.

Already his first sentence is so wrong. A right is absolutely NOT something that must be provided. A right is something that occurs naturally. You are alive, so you have the right to live. You are un-harmed, so if someone tries to harm you, you have the right to fight back. You built a home without kicking anyone else off the land, so you have a right to that property.

The reason a right is not something that must be provided is because that right would necessarily infringe on others’ rights, because they will be forced to provide “the right” in a non-voluntary society. If you have “the right” to medical care, that means you have “the right” to force others to provide medical care for you. A real right is expressed in the negative, not requiring action (No one may assault me), not a positive, requiring the action of a third party (someone must make sure I am not assaulted).

Also, needing “some type” of force to guarantee rights does not mean you need aggressive force. Defensive force is the only acceptable type to use in a voluntary society. Governments inherently use offensive force, or aggression, to achieve their ends, including supposedly “protecting natural rights” –which they violate by regulating non-aggressive actions without consent of the governed using stolen money. Well if we don’t have a natural right to not be robbed of the product of our labor, what do we have?

“Any mechanism of force” to retain rights does not have to be a government. Just because something has the same effect as government (or better) does not mean that the thing is a government, or has to be accomplished with coercion, as with government. My gun helps me maintain my right to live. Shooting an attacker protects my right, and does not require government. And contrary to what Petersen later argues, voluntarily creating a defense coalition does not necessarily make the organization a government.

anmemebastia

Then Petersen does what liberals do when defending government welfare. He pretends that if the government doesn’t protect the poor, the poor will have no protection.

A fully privatized law system would be justice for sale to the highest bidder…

…the constitution laid out the means for citizens to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, cruel or unusual punishments, or from things like double jeopardy. It means that while citizens have the right to defend themselves, they must also be defended if they are too weak to defend themselves.

It would not be “justice for sale to the highest bidder” because there would be competing interests. The government is currently selling justice to the highest bidder, precisely because it doesn’t have competitors! With competition, nothing is stopping other companies from taking your business if you sell to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping other companies from stepping in on behalf of injured parties.

Corporations today buy off politicians for relatively small amounts of money in campaign contributions. A single person or corporation would have to spend too much money to manipulate the multitude of other companies that would be involved in various levels of the justice system. There would be no overarching authority preventing whistle-blowing. With government, the corporations spend a little money to make a lot in subsidies, regulations, or laws. It would quickly become more profitable to simply not be a corrupt company in the law enforcement industry. People would run legitimate businesses because of consumer demand and competing suppliers: no, the free market doesn’t suddenly fail when it comes to the defense industry!

Also, how is the constitution doing stopping unreasonable search and seizure, cruel and unusual punishment, and keeping poor folks from being “railroaded” into prison? It’s not. But the market would punish police and courts for these miscarriages of justice for the poor, unlike our current system.

Petersen’s definition of a “right” is wrong, he fails to understand the basic nature of what “government” is, and does not distinguish between defensive and offensive force.

2. “…unable to protect its citizens from foreign invasion”

A fully anarchist society with no collective means of defense is at the mercy of foreign powers who have not abdicated such means of survival. An anarchist state is at the mercy of anyone who wishes to expand into their territory unchecked. The Native Americans can attest to this.

The constitution laid out the means through which American society can protect itself. If I band together with my neighbors to form a mutual defense pact, and we call that a constitution, it would necessarily have the same effect as government.

Austin is very confused about the difference between voluntary and involuntary collectives. The constitution is not a contract, because we didn’t sign it. Are you responsible for adhering to contracts you didn’t sign? If you sign one with your neighbors, great! That’s anarchy. If you force the neighbor who didn’t sign to go along with your rules on their own property that is a government.

But again, Petersen says it would “have the same effect as government,” [emphasis added] not: “it would be a government.” I must however assume he is conflating something having a similar effect to government, with something being a government. Otherwise, why would he write a piece against anarchism when his statements support the idea? Voluntary associations would have the same effect as government, but without the coercion. So we can safely bet a voluntary system would yield better results as well; the old, you’ll know the tree by the fruit it bears.

joejarvisinvasionmeme

I’ve talked about this before, why anarchist societies would not be conquered. Basically, without any central control mechanism (government) what is there to take over? An invader would need to force every individual, business, and household to comply, which would be a problem if they were all armed. But if you conquer a country that already has a central oppressive system, you simply get to take over the puppet strings and be done with it: keep collecting taxes for your plunder. Otherwise it would cost more to invade than could be gained.

And of course governments prey on their own people as often as they invade foreign lands; a government is no guarantee that your own government won’t do worse things than the feared invading army. So take your pick of who you want to be pitted against. I would choose a foreign invader who everyone recognizes as an aggressive enemy versus a homegrown monster who you can’t defend yourself against.

In America, under the constitution he keeps mentioning, the “defense” was what originally victimized the Native Americans! Is Petersen simply arguing that it is better to be on the winning side? That would explain the offensive military juggernaut that the military has become today, creating more enemies than it repels.

The idea that we need government to defend a homeland rests on no morals grounds, and at best shaky strategic grounds.

3. “Anarchy means the non-aggression principle is optional”

If you believe in the non-aggression principle… who’s [sic] job is it to enforce it? If someone breaks into your home, and you are unable to defend yourself, or pay for private security, who do you call? If you have a dispute with your neighbor, who (you allege) stole your life savings, how will you sue them or have them arrested to get it back, assuming you might be correct?

Who did they call for protection when the constitution was written, Austin? The constitution was never meant to provide protection, it was meant to allow you to provide for your own protection in whatever way necessary. The government agents almost never prevent a crime, they just do a poor job investigating it, and a poor job bringing the assailant to justice.

What the constitution did provide was a way for the government (with a monopoly on criminal justice) to invade your neighbors home to search it if the same government grants itself a warrant saying the government has sufficient evidence to invade that home. Perhaps a search warrant would still be issued in an anarchist society, but it would not happen by monopoly decision, without any oversight from independent agencies.

I would rather live in a world where a man is still innocent until proven guilty, and unmolested until hard evidence of a crime is uncovered. With hard evidence, an anarchist society and the markets therein could bring justice better than government currently does or can.

Breaking the non-aggression principle does not mean it doesn’t exist, just like violating a right does not mean the right didn’t exist. Austin clearly believes in rights. Well, the non-aggression principle sums up every right. It says that naturally the attacker is in the wrong. The attacker doesn’t have to agree to the Non-aggression principle, but that won’t stop him from being shot, or apprehended, if he breaks it. An attacker might also not agree that you have the right to life, but you can still defend yourself against him, and dole out justice for his violation of your right/ the non-aggression principle.

Enforcing the non-aggression principle would come down to individuals and the people they hire. Vigilance will always be required, like the vigilance that would have been required to retain our rights from the Bill of Rights. But control over government, wielded through voting, is a sham, while the effect vigilant consumers have over the free market is proven.

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The non-aggression principle is a natural law. That doesn’t mean it is never broken, it means the one breaking it is always in the wrong. Remember that Austin doesn’t understand the difference between aggressive and defensive force, but an aggressor does not have to agree to me defending myself.

Things don’t work out perfectly now. Petersen acts like if a neighbor steals your money, the police will clear it right up! If there is hard evidence, the scenario would be no different, except that the profit motive for private courts would make it more fair, since they would be out of business if they weren’t. Currently, you just have to have the right judge: one corrupt person, not a whole corrupt company. Current courts are never defunded no matter how horrible they are. A private court would lose their business if they were unfair.

Then Austin does what liberals do when they argue against the free market and against “greedy businesses”:

In an anarchist state, no one is responsible for defending life, liberty, or property unless they are paid to do so. Crimes such as theft, fraud, breach of contract, or murder could be committed against those who do not have the means of self-defense. In Ancapistan… no one can hear you scream. And no one cares.

Because if something is not done by force, it can’t be done, right? Because the market delivers the best results which lift all ships… but not when it comes to security?

If you understand that the poor will be provided for through voluntary charity in a prosperous free market world, then you should also understand that those without protection will be provided for in a prosperous free market world. And that doesn’t even consider the probability that poverty and crime would be virtually eliminated in a free market world, judging by a comparison of relative poverty among a regions’ poorest members, between current freer market versus less economically free regions.

4. “The Non-Aggression Principle? I didn’t sign sh*t!”

The Non Aggression principle is a social contract… but I didn’t sign it, and neither did the enemies of liberty. Anarchist often sneer at constitutionalists, arguing that they didn’t sign the document, nor did they agree to it. Then they claim that the only thing we need to live in peace and harmony is the non-aggression principle. The only problem? I didn’t sign it. And neither did Kim Jong Un, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, or any other statist dictator on the planet. The non-aggression principle is a social contract, but there is zero obligation to live by it. Indeed, it would be dangerously naive to submit to any form of a non-aggression principle, for as soon as one party signs, those who have not could feel free to decline, and everyone who chooses to live life in a pacific state would be easy prey for those who do not live according to that principle.

Wrong again! That is 0-4 for everyone keeping score at home. The constitution is an involuntary grouping, or social contract, because no one alive today signed it.

The non-aggression principle is not a social contract, because it does not force any obligations on you. Not aggressing, or not violating another persons’ rights is not an obligation; like a right, it is expressed in the negative: an inaction. The constitution is an obligation, a positive, requiring an action of a non-aggressive party who did not agree to adhere by it.

Agreeing not to aggress on someone does not mean you agree to be freely aggressed upon! There is a difference between not attacking someone and allowing yourself to be attacked. You don’t have to sign the non-aggression principle, because it is not forcing you to do anything, it is a statement that whoever aggresses is naturally in the wrong. It is not a social contract, because it does not require the consent of both parties. It is a statement: if you attack me, you are in the wrong, and I will fight back.

Also, I suspect Petersen knows, and just ignored, that the non-aggression principle is not a statement of pacifism. I can’t stress this point enough: offensive force, attacking, is what violates the non-aggression principle, NOT defensive force, force used to protect yourself from an attacker.

Just being in the wrong doesn’t mean you will be punished. But if enough people asserted the non-aggression principle, it would very quickly be in every individual’s self interest to adhere by it. They don’t have to, but I also don’t have to follow laws. I will go to jail if I don’t however, and if you don’t follow the non-aggression principle, you might get shot, because you attacked someone!

Also, in many cases the non-aggression principle forbids the basic principle of a preemptive attack for the purpose of self-defense. Anarchists argue that there is “no harm, no crime,” however, if that is the case, then someone pointing a gun at you is not a crime. For if someone points a gun at you, it could be considered aggression, but if they do not shoot, then there is no harm. A minarchist society punishes threats and rightly labels such acts as aggression.

Where does he come up with this stuff? Of course aiming a gun at someone is aggression; the harm is in the threat! Shooting someone who aims a gun at you is not a preemptive strike. You don’t have to wait until you are punched, if someone is winding up to punch you; they have began the aggression against you. But yes, an actual preemptive strike IS aggression!

Now, what if Kim Jong Un placed a nuclear weapon on the launchpad aimed at Los Angeles… the equivalent of pointing a gun? Is it then moral or ethical to destroy their means of aggression.

Ownership of a non-precision weapon (which means not only a specific intended target can be hit) is de-facto aggression, because it cannot be used without aggressing on innocent parties in the vicinity of the guilty target. It would indeed be defense to disarm a nuclear weapon pointed at your city.

5. “Private Property”

Who defines what is private property? In an anarchist society, there is no commonly accepted definition. Some may choose to argue that intellectual property is private. Some may decide otherwise and begin acquiring that property for their own benefit. Some may argue that they have a right to food, and thus their neighbor’s surplus should be rightly theirs, seeing as how the creek from their property fed the crops next door. The farmer next door might argue that the creek actually belongs to him, since it flows across his fields. The beggar next door might argue that the fields are his, since he has been sleeping in them for longer than the farmer has sown them.

Without a firm definition of what constitutes private property, there can be no reliable transactions between parties. An anarchist society can attempt to define what is truly property, but they cannot enforce it, even if they all agree.

This is Petersen’s best point, but that is sort of like saying gonorrhea is the best STD: they all suck. So his solution to property disputes is to have a third party decide by force? Well couldn’t the same thing be done through arbitration in an anarchist society, but without force?

The difference would be that the third party is performing a service in an anarchist society, and therefore must keep their customers (both people in the dispute) and potential customers (people shopping around for dispute resolution) happy in order to maintain profits. Government will maintain profits (stolen tax dollars) regardless of the outcome, and actually has an agenda of its own, which will often dictate with whom government sides, regardless of who is right or wrong.

We can refer to the non-aggression principle to understand property rights. Are there going to be quarrels? Of course! But the question is, do we settle these by force, or by agreement? Right now, the two hundred some odd landowners regularly quarrel over borders (war), and involve all their subjects at dire costs in human life, and production. By allowing these governments to “solve” our land disputes between neighbors, we allow a whole larger monster that would otherwise never erupt beyond the Hatfields and McCoys.

Is the solution to the stream problem that the EPA owns it? That is where Petersen’s precious constitution has ended us. Is the answer to the hobo in your fields property taxes, in order to exclude the poor and income-less from calling a piece of land their own?

Do we all need to agree perfectly on private property to get along? Nope. Through our free interactions a definition of private property will be developed that is more fair than the one we currently have: we can be sure of it just as we are sure that the market will provide better options for deodorant, restaurants, and grocery stores.

We don’t have to know exactly how private property will be designed. But it will be much easier to be vigilant over the local business that make that call, than to be vigilant over our convoluted statist juggernaut between the local, state, and federal government.

Please check back next week for a complete article on property rights in an anarchist society, as the subject deserves more discussion.

Conclusion: Austin Petersen Doesn’t Understand Basic Philosophical Concepts

It simply amazes me that someone could make so many logical errors, and have such little understanding of concepts such as rights, principles, and voluntary versus involuntary grouping. I don’t know if Petersen willfully ignores the difference between defensive and offensive force, or honestly doesn’t understand the different.

And this is a guy who calls himself libertarian! That means we know he would make all these exact opposite arguments in a discussion with bigger statists than himself. Libertarians argue against the need for state welfare because the free market will raise all ships through trade and charity: Petersen argues that the poor would have no protection without government. Libertarians argue that the second amendment and gun rights are to protect us from our own government: Petersen argues that individual gun ownership could not protect us from foreign governments. Libertarians argue that government is a poor regulator that would be well replaced by a free market: Petersen argues that we need government to regulate private property, regulate security businesses, and guarantee rights (by violating others’ rights in order to pay for the guarantee).

Is this guy even a libertarian? He is seeking the nomination to run for President under the Libertarian Party. If Austin Petersen ever happens to read this, and I hope he does, please know there is an open invitation for a public debate over whether or not we need government.


Fiction helps a lot of people envision a voluntary, anarchist society, so I encourage you all to read my novel “Anarchy in New England,” in order to explore a world without government, and some ideas of how that society might function.

Politics Prevents Progress

Cannabis is legal in a handful of states, and gays can now be equally unequal to everyone else! But the public didn’t want to throw anyone in jail for weed 20 years ago, and where I reside in the northeast hasn’t given a crap about stopping gays from being together for at least as long. So why are these things hailed as political victories?

It takes the government way longer to catch up than the public. And in the mean time gays are marginalized, kids are thrown in jail for possessing a plant, and countless other atrocities occur just waiting for the government to stop being so stupid and repressive.

The government has all the advantages in the public discourse. They can repeal some ridiculous law that THEY put in place, and everyone hails the government as having solved the problem! Are you freaking kidding me? Don’t give the government credit for removing a ridiculous law that they put in place in the first place, causing countless innocent people to be locked in cages!

The government stalls progress, and should never be given credit when they finally catch up to the wishes of the public. The public actually gets along pretty well. And if the government didn’t stand in our way, we would solve these issues way before the idiots on Capital Hill ever get around to it.

Another way of saying WE would solve these problems without government obstruction is to say the market would solve these problems. Who would arrest pot-smokers if not the government? Murderers would still be arrested, because there would be a market for it: we would all want to solve the problem of crime. So we would spend our money, and figure out a fair trial system to make sure we take criminals off the street. Not many people will pay to police “crimes” where these is no victim. There would be no special treatment for government cronies, and enough competing agencies to hold the other ones accountable!

joejarvisedmeme

Having government educate children is like a death sentence for humanity. We can be sure they will never make kids smart enough to know they don’t need government! In this modern era, we can easily figure out how to educate kids for very cheap, and in a way that doesn’t make them hate their lives in a classroom for six hours a day. Humanity is ready for the next generation of education where the possibilities are endless, government is holding us back.

And another thing, the people of America aren’t at war with the people of where-ever. We might not like their government, just like most of us don’t like our own government. But don’t let our scumbags in charge convince us that the people of those countries mirror their scumbags in charge. If anything, we are worse in America, because at least we ELECTED our scum to office. Most of the people we condemn got their leaders by outright force (or by the U.S. installing them)!

So again, without the bumbling government machine, we would already be hanging out with Iraqi’s and North Koreans.

And without the government ruining lives over victimless crimes, and arbitrary laws, we would all be sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya.

Government is why we can’t have nice things. End rant.

Would the Fall of the United States Government be as Tumultuous as the Fall of Rome?

It is possible that the United States government collapses under its own weight. Though many scoff at the idea of the U.S. government collapsing, it would actually be stranger if it didn’t. We need look no further than the collapse of Rome in 476, which fell due to many of the same conditions which affect the U.S. today.

But the U.S. has 50 states to pick up the pieces. Because of the unique setup of the United States, these 50 states could cushion the blow of an immediate collapse, stopping another strongman from taking over the whole landmass in the turmoil. Instead, we may see 50 competing countries emerge, which would give free markets, and eventually a stateless society a fighting chance.

But first, let’s quickly review why Rome fell, and how America is in a similar place.

The Writing on the Wall for Rome and America

History.com summarizes eight main reasons why Rome fell, which I would suggest checking out. But the main reasons were, 1) “Invasion by barbarian tribes,” 2) “Economic troubles and over reliance  on slave labor,” 3) “The rise of the Eastern Empire” or splitting in two of the Roman empire, 4) “Over expansion and military overspending,” 5) “Government corruption and political instability,” 6) “The arrival of the Huns and the migration of the barbarian tribes,” 7) “Christianity and the loss of traditional values,” 8) “Weakening of the Roman legions.”

Without getting into a long discussion about the similarities between the current United States and Rome just before it collapsed, I would like to just point out a few highlights. Towards the end, Rome was “crumbling from within thanks to a severe financial crisis. Constant wars and overspending had significantly lightened imperial coffers, and oppressive taxation and inflation had widened the gap between rich and poor.”

That quotation applies unaltered directly to the United States government. The United States is over $18 trillion dollars in debt, and while Bernie Sanders might have you believe the widening wealth gap is because of capitalism, the truth is that the government directly causes large wealth gaps by confiscating money through taxation and inflation, and upwardly redistributing it.

“At its height, the Roman Empire stretched from the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Euphrates River in the Middle East, but its grandeur may have also been its downfall. With such a vast territory to govern, the empire faced an administrative and logistical nightmare…As more and more funds were funneled into the military upkeep of the empire, technological advancement slowed and Rome’s civil infrastructure fell into disrepair.” Again, I struggle to add anything. This very same situation grips the United States today. The endless wars and military expansion in the middle east could be the United States’ downfall. It has become more profitable to be a government contracted bomb maker than to invent new standard-of-living-raising technology.

“If Rome’s sheer size made it difficult to govern, ineffective and inconsistent leadership only served to magnify the problem…As the situation worsened, civic pride waned and many Roman citizens lost trust in their leadership.” I don’t think many Americans trust their leadership right now, but they just don’t know what to do to fix it! We have been scared into thinking government is the only way, somehow still better than markets, even as the empire crumbles under the inmates running the asylum from DC.

After the Hun invasion forced many Germanic tribes to flee their land, “[t]he Romans grudgingly allowed members of the Visigoth tribe to cross south of the Danube and into the safety of Roman territory, but they treated them with extreme cruelty.” I find this interesting as some have called for illegal immigrants to earn their citizenship through military service. This would seem to fit with the Roman plan, as many displaced Germanic tribes ended up fighting for Rome as mercenaries, and then eventually sacking Rome twice.

America also has refugees to deal with, caused by the wars which the U.S. created and escalated. This also leads to a loss of traditional values, which I am not saying is necessarily bad, but will certainly add to the troubles of keeping the American Empire afloat. For instance, a predominantly Spanish speaking area of the U.S. might want to split off to form its own little society.

But the Collapse of the American Empire Could Do More Good than Harm

This is the thing: saying all these things pose problems for the empire does not mean all these things pose problems for the American people. In fact, the American Empire is the biggest risk to our life, liberty, and property. The fear is that things will devolve into chaos in the absence of mammoth government. Now lessons from after the Roman fall might seem to suggest this is true.

The Dark Ages did indeed follow Rome’s fall. But these were conquered lands, which have historically felt turmoil when an invading empire departs. I would start by suggesting the actual United States territory would not devolve the same way conquered lands did under Rome. State governments would probably pick up the slack. It seems there may be a mixture of competition between states and rich landowners who may become like modern feudal lords.

According to Examiner:

Since the government and military broke down, people began searching for protection and access to resources. Rich landholders provided a respite for the desperate. The rich allowed the poor onto their lands and provided protection. In return, the poor worked the lands for the landowner and provided a portion of the crop to pay rent. This was the beginning of the feudal system.

At the time, peasants would seem to have had little options in terms of which Lord to work for. But these days, moving to gain protection from a better more fair “Lord” would be easier. Also, “as a result of several factors, the European economy degraded to barter,” which means it was hard to aggregate capital as a peasant, without a way to protect it. Today things like bitcoin give the opportunity to use alternative currencies in the event of a U.S. dollar collapse. Since these currencies would not be centralized and controlled by government or one corporation, it would be that much harder to hold economic power over others. If an entity with a lot of one type of currency became aggressive, simply refusing to accept or use that currency would take their power away.

My Bitcoin address

This could cause an equilibrium between government and industry, with people choosing who they think can do a better job of providing security and other services. If the government ended up oppressing people, powerful corporations could offer protection, and vice versa. Since companies, at their base level, offer a valuable product and must compete to attract customers, it would seem that they would be likely to outcompete government. This is because government is inherently violent, forces you to accept their services, and steals your money to fund them, meaning you cannot defund bad services.

Without a monolithic state to back up the aggression, smaller states would have to ease up on their oppression, allowing people the viable alternative of not participating in the government system. Without a centralized United States Currency (because it would almost certainly be one of the causes of collapse, or at least collapse with the rest of the government) it would be harder for government to have control over corporations, and corporations would have less to gain from taking control of a government.

Since people would be using voluntary currencies, this would make it more difficult for one state or corporation to aggregate vast amounts of wealth that allow them to monopolize with the same ease that the United States government does today. Using force would cost them more than they could gain from it.

What do you think? Is my assessment naive and overly hopeful? Or would this collapse lead to the regrowth of the economy into the conditions depicted in my fiction novel, “Anarchy in New England”?

Anarchy in New England Cover (FINAL)

It Is All About Consent (and not just when it comes to sex)

Is it ever okay to have sex with someone who has not consented? No! Of course not! Essentially everyone agrees that consent is required before having sex, apart from a few rapists who try to justify their aggression by blaming the victim.

Aggression is failure to secure consent before taking an action that damages an individual.

But when we talk about consent in every area of governance, victim blame is rampant, or even the standard.

A business owner consents to you working there, and you consent to doing the job for a prescribed price. Then the government says it is going to take 25-50% at least of what you earn. What, I didn’t agree to that?! “No it is okay, look at all these wonderful services they are providing you!”

No, it is okay for me to rape you, because I am really good at sex! You’ll enjoy it.

I buy a house with cash; it is mine right? Sure, just pay $4,000 to your local government every year. But I didn’t consent to that! “It’s called a social contract, your consent is not required, just being a living breathing human binds you. And anyway, we paved the road in front of your house.”

I took you out on a date and paid for dinner, so you are going to have sex with me. I don’t need your explicit consent, it is implied by your presence, and the fact that you accepted the dinner for which I paid.

If a person does not consent to their labor, their time, or their money being taken, then it should not be taken! It is as simple as that. Why is it so easy to see this when it comes to rape, yet people have no problem ignoring consent in every facet of governance?

No, a majority cannot consent for you. If the whole frat house votes for you to have sex, that does not mean you gave consent. And if an entire country votes that people who smoke weed, or use cannabis as medicine, should be jailed, the victim is still the person using weed! They did not agree to that law, they did not consent to having plants be banned from usage, they did not aggress on anyone by using the plant, and they certainly did not consent to being locked in a cage for violating such rules.

joejarvismeme

Now some would try to flip my argument about consent, and say that if society makes a law, and the law is broken, society is the victim. But this is victim blame. The non-aggressive party is being blamed for the aggressor’s actions. We defend the jailers and condemn the jailed because we’ve been hypnotized to think laws are more important than actual aggression. But if a law is not protecting someone from aggression, it is itself aggression: forcing people to do something, or forcibly prohibiting them from doing it, without gaining their consent.

“Well what if a rapist doesn’t consent to being punished?” He took, he did not ask. Therefore his victim will set the price of what he has taken. Whatever the price–life in prison, death, public flogging–he took that risk by aggressing. If you don’t discuss the terms before the forced transaction, you can’t complain when the bill comes.

Even when you vote for someone, get them elected, and then they pass a law that you must follow, this is still not consent! Because you consented to sex last week, does not mean the man can come in whenever he wants and rape you! Although you agreed to sex earlier, you can withdraw your consent at any time! (Of course this gets into some muddy water, because electing a politician is essentially enabling a rapist).

Saying people deserve to be ruled without consent because of the horrid way they act, is like saying “she deserved to be raped because of the slutty way she dressed”.

And then of course there is the whole, “Well without the government who would keep us safe, build the roads, bomb hospitals in the middle east, teach children, blah, blah, blah.” Yes, and without rapists, how would women ever get pregnant and procreate?

In short, the government is a rapist trying to justify their aggression by blaming the victims: us!

If there is a “rape culture” the government has created it. Anyone against rape cannot possibly be for government without being quite hypocritical. We must consent, or an action is simply unjustified aggression.


Can Individuals Delegate a Right They Don’t Have to the Government? -Video

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Jan: Can you properly delegate a right you do not have?

Sen. Inoue: You cannot tax your neighbor, but you can authorize me as a senator to vote for programs that will tax your neighbor…

Jan: Then you think that you can actually delegate a right you do not have? …It is interesting to me how the agent can have more power than the principle. If the principles are the people, and the source [of power] comes from the people, the individuals do not have the right to initiate force against others-

Sen. Inoue: As individuals-

Jan: Well, if they get together then all of the sudden they have the right?

Sen. Inoue: If they authorize the government to do so, yes. If they authorize the government to enter into a war and kill people, that’s a right.

Jan: Where does this right come from if it doesn’t come from the people?

Sen. Inoue: The people through the Constitution.

Jan: The Constitution was made by the people right? So then the people are the source of all legitimate power, so if the people did not have the right to initiate physical force against anybody, then the government cannot have- It seems like there’s a contradiction there as far as if you say that all legitimate governmental power is derived from the people, and you agree that the individual citizens do not have the right to initiate force against other citizens, then it would seem clear that they cannot delegate that right to the government.

Sen. Inoue: Why don’t we just leave it this way, we disagree.

What Jan Helfeld is saying is that if a citizen does not have the right to do something as an individual (like rob their neighbor), then what gives the government the right to rob his neighbor on the citizen’s behalf? If the government derives its power from the people, where does this extra power come from, that the people can never exercise as individuals?

What is so magic about government, that suddenly they can act on an individual’s behalf in a way that the individual could never act on his own? What is so magic about a group of individuals that allows them to rob their neighbor, or initiate force, when said force would always be illegitimate as an individual?

There’s nothing magic about it. It is wrong to initiate force as an individual, and it is also wrong to initiate force as a group, even with approval of the majority. The only legitimate way to take someone’s money (time, labor, wealth) is for them to voluntarily hand it over to you. Otherwise it is theft, even if the government is the robber.

Charity versus taxation is the difference between sex and rape.


You Don’t Always Need to Know How It Works, to Know It Works

This was shared by the Facebook page Emancipated Human:

Although I can talk at length as to how a Voluntary or Stateless society may function, the reality is that this is fundamentally irrelevant to the idea of true freedom. Do you know exactly how your laptop works? Do you know exactly how your cell phone works? Do you know exactly how Skype works? Do you know exactly how the Internet works? Do you know exactly how your e-mail account transmits an e-mail? Do you know exactly how your car works?

The reality is many of us live in complete ignorance of how all of these things work and yet we are still comfortable to buy them from people who know how they work. Likewise it is similarly unnecessary to know how society may be “structured” in the absence of the coercive monopoly on initiated aggression known as “government”.

My desire to be free has absolutely nothing to do with how the roads will be built, who will feed the poor, who will protect us from foreign invaders, who will protect us from thieves, rapists, and murderers, who will take care of the sick, who will look after the elderly, and who will educate our children.

Aside from the erroneous assumption that “government” is adequately doing these things already is the fact that theft, assault, rape, and murder on a colossal scale is occurring today even amidst such a swollen monstrosity as the United States “government”.

Our desire to protect ourselves from thieves, liars, and murderers has given us the insane belief that we will be protected from them if we put other thieves, liars, and murderers into power. Sane people do not seek to subjugate or rule their neighbor, let alone their town, county, city, state, or country. It is not only that power corrupts but that it attracts the corruptible and vile among us. The lust for power is more addictive than cocaine or heroin can ever be. Vacate the State! – DC

With economic knowledge of the free market, we can be sure that all those things government monopolizes and does horribly (keeping you safe, roads, helping the poor) would be done better. That doesn’t mean I have to know exactly how it would function, just as I don’t know exactly how everything in the grocery store ends up on the shelf every time I go in to buy it. But it does.

When things are in demand, and people are free to voluntarily supply those demands, and others can voluntarily accept the service or goods offered for the price, there is nothing else to worry about! Keeping an eye on businesses from which you can simply remove your funding voluntarily will produce much better results than forcing everyone to pay for things they may disagree with, not want, or not use.

But it is always still worth questioning how these things might happen in the absence of a coercive violent monopoly.

How might the roads be built?

How might populations be defended from invasion?

What would happen to the poor?

The case for improvement, even if it is not heaven on earth.

Shooting Civilians Not Enough, Cops are Now Shooting Each Other Too

It has been a while since I have posted about the police, but yes, they are still murdering innocent people of all races, ages, and genders. Recently however, police incompetence has taught a few of the officers some lessons of their own. Some cops are getting a nice taste of what they routinely dish out to us peasants.

A police supervisor shot one of his minions who was undercover, supposedly because the supervisor missed a meeting and didn’t know the procedure for the drug bust.

The undercover cop bought $60 worth of drugs. Then he got shot 9 times by his colleague who hadn’t attended the briefing. If this was a citizen who bought $60 worth of drugs, and was shot to death, you would never have heard about it, because he would have “deserved it” according to the media, the police, and most sheeple. Also, the cop who shot him would never have been taken to court.

I’m glad it was a cop that got shot by this other cop and not an innocent person. The cop that got shot had conspired to rob and cage non-violent people. The cop who shot him had conspired to do the same, plus murder a non-violent “criminal”. They are feeling the consequences of their unjust violent actions, (funded by theft in the first place).

This should teach us two things: 1) cops have no value for human life when they can demonize their non-violent target as a druggy, 2) even if cops did care about people, and even if they only policed crimes with victims, they are often too incompetent to properly deliver the service.

To prove this point, I direct your attention to exhibit A- a case where the police were actually attempting to do their job; investigating a report of a suspicious person and possible break-in.

A man shot by police officers who went to the wrong Atlanta house ran bleeding outside where a neighbor heard him asking, “Why did they come in my house? Why did they shoot me? Why did they shoot my dog?”

It happened Monday night when officers arrived at the wrong Atlanta address after a report of suspicious activity, shot homeowner Christopher McKinley, killed his dog and “likely” shot a fellow officer, leaving him seriously wounded, authorities said Tuesday.

The most tragic part of this story is that they killed a nice, happy, family pet for no reason. Even if they had responded to the right house, did they think the dog had broken in? What is up with police shooting dogs for no reason? This should really scare people if the nature of those who go into police work enjoy killing innocent animals, just like serial killers.

The innocent man police shot is lucky to be alive, and the only consolation is that at least one of the officers knows how his victims feel after being shot by a fellow officer.

We have trigger happy sociopaths running around and telling us they are keeping us safe, but when they are called to actually do their job, they can’t even get the right house, resulting in the death of a pet, and attempted murder of the innocent homeowner. And even if it was the right house, they still would have killed the victims’ pet, and still gone in trigger-happy guns blazing for no reason.

Yet, if we suggest reform to the police system, we are labelled cop-haters by these thugs and their brainwashed supporters. I believe in the free market, so there will be protection and crime investigation if the market (the consumer) demands it. I do not need my money stolen to provide me this service–especially when the “service” endangers me more than the criminals they “protect” me from.

We need to open policing up to competition by abolishing all state monopolies on crime prevention and investigation, which includes government contracting to a private company. We need to be able to remove our money from bad agencies, and give it to good ones. Right now, the police who commit these atrocities are not properly punished, nor are the agencies defunded which hired the incompetent at best, possibly sociopathic officers.

At least when cops get shot by other cops, they are feeling the consequences of their unjust actions for once.

      

Government is Horrible at Divvying Resources

Resources are limited, this is true. Even when creating wealth, such as growing a garden, it requires the resources of land, water, and sun. It does not follow, however, that the state is necessary to divvy up these resources appropriately. To put it another way, there is no evidence to suggest force is the best way to decide where resources will go.

I bring this up because I’ve heard people say we need a government because land, water, oil, etc. are all to some degree scarce resources, meaning they are limited. But why on earth would anyone think the government will be a proper arbiter or these resources?

joejarvisoilmeme

Just look at oil. This is a scarce resource, that many people want and need for industry. Are the governments of the world doing a good job splitting that resource? No, they spend more money fighting wars over oil than the actual oil is worth, and that is before we even place a value on human life lost! The only reason governments can spend more wealth obtaining a resource than it is worth, is because the wealth they spend is forcefully taken by them in the form of taxes!

[Fun Fact: there is enough habitable land on Earth for every person alive to own over two acres.]

A company that needs to turn a profit on the other hand, could not spend more obtaining the resource than it is worth. They cannot spend $1 billion mining gold if the amount of gold they mine can only be sold for half a billion dollars. But governments spend far more on wars to obtain land and oil than the total amount of production that said land or oil could sustain.

So if no one was allowed to rob us, including government, then these issues would have to be solved in a mutually beneficial way. In order to obtain oil, we would have to pay the price asked, or go elsewhere. Elsewhere would include solar, wind, hydro, and other forms of creating electricity. The government has helped keep us in the stone age of fossil fuel because they rob us to obtain the oil, then rob us to subsidize the oil, and keep the shelf price of it low enough so that we don’t bother seriously looking into alternative fuels.

But if we were not robbed by the government, that wealth would stay in our hands, and we would be able to spend that wealth in peaceful ways that create more wealth. Instead, government spends it on murder and destruction.

And somehow people still think government is the best arbiter of limited resources? They just don’t know any better alternatives. That is why they should read my fiction novel Anarchy in New England, in order to explore a world where coercion is never okay, and mutual benefit has monumentally raised the standard of living.

How Police in Iceland Dealt With a Fight I Witnessed

Last week I was in Reykjavic, the capital of Iceland. The scenery and the people are just great, and so is a lot of their culture. People talk about the socialist aspects of Iceland and other Scandinavian countries, but whatever the detriments caused by their relatively big government for their population size, police brutality is not one of them.

Only one person has ever been killed by the police in Iceland, and he was shooting randomly from his apartment. I realize less densely populated areas generally have less crime as well, but even adjusting for population size and crime rates, American police would have been expected to have killed 1,000-3,000 people since the 1960’s; not over 1,000 each year as it currently stands.

The other night I witnessed the Icelandic police officers’ restraint in dealing with drunken idiots. In America, they would have filled up the paddy wagon, or worse. In Reykjavic, they appear to be more interested in diffusing situations, not escalating them.

First, there were multiple officers standing around dealing with some situation, and a very drunk viking was screaming at them in Icelandic. I assume he was saying something negative towards the police. The drunkard’s friends ushered him away, and calmed him down. The police did not even acknowledge him. This is called restraint, and American police should take note. Instead of acting like a rival street-gang and throwing the rude drunkard to the ground or murdering him for being intoxicated in public, they let his friends deal with him. I guess they don’t have as much to prove.

Then, I just so happened to be in the vicinity of a couple guys who started yelling at each other. I didn’t know what they were saying, and at first honestly thought they may have been joking around with each other. But they were not, and one ran over and tackled the other to the ground. Friends stepped in to make sure it didn’t get too bad. There were some punches and kicks, but I don’t think those involved even wanted to really inflict much damage. The fight had mostly been broken up by the time the police van (which had only been a block away) stopped and about eight Icelandic police calmly stepped out.

I think one of those involved in the fight had already departed the area quite quickly, but a few others involved were gently beckoned to the police so they could figure out what happened. After a couple minutes of talking, everyone was sent on their way. No arrests, no brutality, and no one, not even those who had been fighting, were really hurt.

In America, someone would have been arrested, and put through the ringer. In all likelihood they would have been tackled to the ground, leading to worse injuries than were sustained in the actual fight. Then the police would have lectured them about how violence isn’t the answer–unless you are the police. Then it is always the answer.

This is a simple anecdote that doesn’t prove much, it is just what I saw from the police in the safest country on earth, with practically non-existent police brutality. But maybe it shows that America needs to rethink how situations are handled. Are police here to actually keep peace, and diffuse situations as the Icelandic police did? I don’t think so. I think the majority of people who become police in the USA do so for dubious purposes. Instead of setting an example of how to act, they use their position to act however they want. And I think the majority of police departments are more interested in writing traffic tickets in order to increase their budgets.

That being said, the system of public police does not properly place the incentives to behave well, neither in Iceland nor in America. If police were private, then the company they work for would be able to be defunded if the customers went elsewhere. In order to maintain a good image, and protect their profits, companies would fire and even prosecute bad officers. Currently we cannot defund the police no matter how few crimes they solve, or how many innocent people they maim.

The smaller a government gets, the more control the market has, though still indirectly. And that is probably the real reason why the Icelandic police are pretty good, because they still somewhat feel market pressures that a private company would feel. In a country with 300,000 residents, you have more access to the President than Americans have to their representative, where districts include over 700,000 people for the smallest federal office.

And we see the same thing in America. Generally speaking, the worst atrocities committed by police happen in big cities where the people and the voters have essentially no control over their politicians, nor the people they hire, including the police. In small towns, people know the police chief, and can knock on their selectman’s door. The politicians are much more likely to feel the brunt of their bad hiring, or failure to address cases of police brutality.

Even things that are technically illegal victimless crimes in Iceland were not enforced. Apparently it is illegal to carry around a beer, but everyone was doing it, and the police did not hassle people over it; probably because they are their neighbors, friends, and relatives.

This is not a complicated issue. If we want police to behave appropriately, we must place the incentives properly. Private businesses have the incentive to make sure their officers respond with appropriate force, instead of looking for an excuse to escalate situations. Governments–especially big ones–have essentially no reason to enforce high standards among police.