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.

Forced Grouping versus Voluntary Collectives

“Oh what you belong to ___ group? I thought you libertarians and anarcho-capitalists hated collectives! Ha, everything you stand for is disproven.”

Ever heard that one, or some variation of it? Well I can’t say it much better than Bastiat himself, however I will expand on his rebuttal.

anmemebastia

I feel like a broken record: no we aren’t against helping the poor, we are against forced extortion to supposedly help the poor. No we are not against education, we are against forced indoctrination. No we are not against law and order, we are against forced grouping that makes us subservient to others to whom the law does not equally apply, and who can initiate force without the same consequences as the civilians.

Anarchists and libertarians are not against voluntary collectives, they are against forced collectives.

Yesterday I was walking in the woods with some friends. We had been hiking for a while and turned and twisted around many paths when we came to a four way intersection. Not wanting to turn back, we began to discuss which way would be best to take. In fact after some discussion, we all agreed to take the same path. But suppose I thought a different path was better. Should I attempt to force them to take the path I want? Or should they, being in the majority, attempt to force me to take the path they want? Of course not.

In a voluntary group, I am free to leave or stay. In the middle of the woods my options are to agree with the group, or be left alone. I see value in the group, and that is why I submit to the majority. Not because the majority has the right to force their will on the minority, and not even because the will of the majority is necessarily better in some way than the minority. No one claims that groups cannot be of great use and help. But they must be voluntary groups in order to serve this purpose best.

Forced Grouping

In addition to the post I wrote on Sociopaths Among Us for this blog, I tailored a similar post for my other, non-political blog. A commenter brought up an awesome point, inspired by the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin Debecker. The book is non-fiction about how our intuition is actually picking up subconscious signals which logically lead us to be uneasy in certain situations when everything does not line up, even though we might not be able to pinpoint why.

Interestingly enough, I just thought about this book yesterday because the book discusses a tactic used by these types of people called “forced teaming” where they create a “we” or “us” when there really isn’t one. For example, a stranger approaches you and says “look at this rain we got ourselves stuck in, I guess we’re going to have to go into this dark abandoned structure together”. The point is is that there is no “WE”. The person is a stranger and this is a tactic that they use to get you to do something that you normally wouldn’t be comfortable with doing.

The reason why I thought of that is because I kept seeing political slander ads that said things like, “this candidate is not for us” and “this candidate doesn’t share our values”. I immediately thought, who is “us” and “our values”? It is scary the little things that people or groups do like that that the untrained or unsuspecting person might fall prey to.

Emphasis added. If forced pairing is a tactic used by dishonest people who are attempting to get someone from you, or victimize you, why would we think it is any different when politicians do it? The government is attempting to victimize you and me by getting us to feel apart of a team that does not exist. There is no us when it comes to government! Any “us” is a forced us, through arbitrary borders, or the IRS, or congressional districting, etcetera.

There is no “us” when it comes to a politician. They are attempting to steal your money, and give it away to their political donors after lining their pockets. They want to force you to comply with a new law, or get you to join in on the forced pairing, and benefit at the detriment of your “team mates”. Some want to make sure gay couples can force bakers to make them cakes, and force pastors to say they are married. Some want to throw you in jail if you smoke a joint, or take more of your money for bombing… I don’t know who, just pick a middle eastern country, I’m sure we are bombing them.

But the only legitimate collectives are voluntary, and all the others ones are for someone to gain while the forced members lose. When it is an individual sociopath trying to get you alone inside a dark building, we see the evils in forced pairing. But somehow when a politician does the same thing, so many are inclined to believe them: “Oh I like him, he looks me in the eye”. Great… great… have fun inside that creepy basement.

Any forced collective is bad, because it just means that some people are slaves, or caged to the desires of others. And when collectives are not forced, only the best ones form and persist. When a collective is voluntary, people only join for mutual gain, and can leave when they no longer value the group. And likewise, the group can expel a member who  takes and takes without contributing.

Most People Are Pro-Slavery

anarchoI’m against slavery. That sounds pretty obvious; most of us think we’re against slavery. But almost every person on earth actually supports slavery. This is because almost every person on earth thinks we need government. So by definition, almost every person on earth thinks we need, at least a little, slavery.

Government is the monopolization of the initiation of force in a particular area. But it takes money to monopolize force, so money is extracted from the working population involuntarily and called taxes. We all must work for our money, a portion of which we are forced to hand over to government. And what do you call it when someone is forced to labor for another? Ah-hem, I believe that is called slavery.

The protest: “but the government provides us with services like roads, protection, and a safety net”. Slave owners have always provided their slaves with a shack to live in and scraps to eat. The mafia has long provided “protection” to businesses under their jurisdiction, and extorted the money to pay for it.

Even conceding that we need a little government is conceding that we need a little slavery. You are saying, we need force in order for society to work properly. Once this point is conceded the argument becomes how much force is properly applied to effectively run society. That is why conceding that we need any government means you have lost the debate against the initiation of force. You cannot simultaneously believe the initiation of force is never okay and believe government is okay–unless you’re practiced in doublethink.

Initiating force is immoral (in contrast to responding to force initiated against you); it essentially matches the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. How can we need something immoral, no matter how limited, in order to make the world run properly? The world would be best if no initiation of force was justified by “the system” or considered legitimate. So join me in my desire to end slavery once and for all, and abolish government in favor of free market organization of society.


To begin exploring the ideas of Anarcho-Capitalism, check out my posts Anarcho Capitalism, Without Government Who Would Build the Roads?, True Utopia: Communism versus Anarcho-Capitalism (Part I), and True Utopia: Communism versus Anarcho-Capitalism (Part II).

For anyone who is open to new ideas, and actually solving many problems humanity faces, the system of anarcho-capitalism is certainly intriguing enough to learn about and consider. It is unhealthy that most people never even think about a system without government; we’ve accepted as a premise that we as a society “need” government. Studying anarcho-capitalism is simply the practice of checking that premise, which I would argue, is a false assertion.

True Utopia: Communism versus Anarcho-Capitalism (Part II)

Yesterday I started discussing how a communist utopia is unattainable because of the lack of incentives to produce necessities for human survival. I offered anarcho-capitalism as an alternative, which would bring that “utopia” into reality. While some people would inevitably have more than other people, the reason I am calling the outcome from an anarcho-capitalist society “utopia” is because in such a society there would be enough extra production that no one would go without necessities. And what’s more, is that an anarcho-capitalist society would distribute this “excess” in a more efficient way than government does, in order to eradicate poverty, without discouraging future production. The reason for this, in a nutshell, is because it would be each individual’s choice to decide where their extra resources went.

And this is why hippies or communists don’t want an anarcho-capitalist society: because they can’t let go of control. They want to control how much people produce, and control how much they can keep for themselves. They want to control energy sources, and carbon output. Get rid of the control, get rid of the force, and we can all live happily together. And its okay, hippies can still choose to sing kumbaya together next to the campfire, no one’s going to tell them to stop.

So let’s start by getting back to the wheat example. If you grow an acre of wheat, and the government takes half of it, that means you really only have half an acre of wheat to live off of. You sell some, keep some, trade some, and manage to get everything you need for the year. Now imagine if the government didn’t take that half acre. Your yearly net worth just doubled, so you are able to buy everything you need, plus some. This extra supports the carpenter who you buy handcrafted furniture from, and the fruit importer who you can now afford to patronize. Not only do you have more, but the economy is booming because you have more product to inject into it, in exchange for others’ products and labor.

The result of this is that there are fewer poor people in the first place, because the fruit importer needs to hire more shippers, and the carpenter needs to hire more apprentices. The ripples keep going though, as more people are employed to mill wood, and more people are employed to grow and pick fruit. But even after all this extra economic activity, you still have some wheat left over. Some can be stored, but that costs money too, so you ship some to your brother who had a tough year with his cattle, and you give some to the local church who hosts dinners for the needy. This isn’t the only charity that your grain has produced however, because the carpenter and the fruit importer also made more this year, since you got to keep the full product of your labor, the whole acre of wheat.

And those government workers who were supported by the half of your wheat that was taken, they now need to find productive labor to go into. Their job with government was not necessarily unproductive, but when they must find a market for their labor, the excess that went into funding the government is cut. Now it takes a fraction of your wheat to get the same benefits that the government delivered before. You and 5 other area farmers decide to hire police to protect your crops, so you all chip in a bit (and the neighbors who couldn’t afford to chip in also benefit from the cop’s presence). A police officer who was once paid by the government is now paid by local farmers. And his budget does not bloat with needless equipment purchases, mandates, and costly details because business has to give the best bang for the buck, or competition will replace it.

EPA officials decide they still care about the environment, so they start a website that reports on the state of water and air in different places. They make money on the web traffic, and from individuals and businesses who hire them to test land that they might want to buy, or the quality of water in an area. These former EPA employees can use public pressure and boycott to get to their environmental goals, instead of government force—true democracy at work! And now website advertisers and individual customers are paying for it to get done. Again, since this is a business, it needs to balance its budget, and trim the waste. Only the most productive and positive environmental agendas will survive, and the unethical bullying will stop.

So these government workers are now producing, and producing more efficiently then before, adding even more into the economy. Just allowing that wheat farmer to keep all of his labor and product made net production for the entire country increase. And next year, he might decide to plant even more, since every second of effort will be rewarded, not confiscated.

Everything that used to get done, still gets done. The difference is that the free market organized the labor and production so that nothing gets wasted, and so that you must produce in order to consume. But since there would be no government pretending it was taking care of the poor, this responsibility would fall on society’s shoulders. This is not a problem however, because people would have so much extra that they could easily give more to the poor. And we’ve already established that there would be fewer poor in the first place, because more jobs would be available with a net increase in production. The rising tide would lift all ships.

If we look at the internet, we get a chance to explore certain types of free markets, like the market for information. There is so much competition that with hardly any effort, we can find reliable sources for pretty much anything we want to learn or research. This is free to us when it used to cost tax dollars to run a library that could only provide half the information you needed, and take twice as long to find it. And why is it free to us? Because the market has figured out a way for the person who provides the info to benefit, as well as the consumer. An advertiser pays the infopreneur to show products on his website to consumers who visit, who also sometimes find an interest in whatever is advertised. Everyone wins! The website owner gets money for the info he provides, the consumer gets the info he was looking for, and the advertiser gets a targeted market to sell to. Otherwise everyone in a society is paying for a library, which only a small fraction of society would use.

Imagine a world where 30 hours is a normal working week, and most jobs could be done from home. What would you do with all your extra time? Write? Grow a garden? Woodworking, hiking, sports, time with family and friends? Imagine a world where the poorest people live in free apartments, provided by advertisers. Imagine free samples on every corner, everything from food, to hygiene products. Imagine being able to travel the world for practically nothing. Imagine if the lowest standard of living on earth was that currently enjoyed by those in America who make six figures.

This is possible. Not through magic, not through lofty ideals without incentive, but through letting go of control, and allowing each individual to do what individuals do best: learn, produce, pursue happiness, pursue comfort, joy, and love. Individuals will organize themselves to get what they need, in exchange for providing others with what they need. We need to remove the shackles on labor, remove the shackles on production, and let go of our desire to force, and this could be paradise.

So this is just something to think about, since we are hardly ever exposed to ideas that involve an absence of government. We are so conditioned to think that a government is necessary; try thinking outside the box. Be a true rebel! And subscribing to the stale, debunked theories of communism is not rebellious, its actually cliche. But that doesn’t mean we have to give up on the quest for utopia! We just have to be more realistic in our approach of how to achieve it.

True Utopia: Communism versus Anarcho-Capitalism (Part I)

There is a “South Park” episode (season 9 episode 2) where hippies start to take over the tiny animated mountain town in Colorado. As the hippies begin to form the second Woodstock, they convince the protagonists, four fourth grade boys, that “the corporations” are the source of all problems in the world. The boys want to do something about it, so they hang with the hippies waiting to take action. Finally the boys get the hippies to describe their vision for a utopian society.

Stan: So it seems like we have enough people now, when do we start taking down the corporations?

Hippie: Yea man the corporations, right now they’re raping the world for money.

Kyle: Yea, so where are they, let’s go get them.

Hippie: Right now we’re proving that we don’t need corporations, we don’t need money. This can become a commune where everyone just helps each other.

Hippie: Yea we’ll have one guy who like, who like makes bread, and one guy who like, looks out for other people’s safety.

Stan: You mean like a baker and a cop?

Hippie: No, no can’t you imagine a place where people live together and like provide services for each other in exchange for their services?

Kyle: Yea its called a town.

Hippie: You kids just haven’t been to college yet…

This exchange perfectly exemplifies the difference between a fairly tale, and a truly obtainable “utopia” if you want to call it that. There are two ideas that are basically on the opposite end of the political spectrum, but are actually pretty similar in the desired outcome. Communism is the end game for what some imagine to be a perfect society based on cooperation and togetherness, but lacking incentives that would make the society function absent of force.

The problem is that communism would require an interim dictatorship, and dictators never give up power. Instead this interim government would never hand the reigns back to the people, but continue to use force and “righteous ideas” to promote and extend their own power. Even if they did hand the control back however, not enough would be produced to sustain the society. We know this from examples like Plymouth Plantation where people starved working together, until they adopted an every man for himself philosophy. Then the colony thrived.

The second idea could attain a very similar society to what communists dream of, but include incentives for production, and exclude force, or a regulatory authority or government. Anarcho-capitalism is the idea that everything in society for which there is a market or demand would be provided by those seeking to profit, even absent an organizational authority. So when the hippie talks about his ideal commune having, like, some guy that bakes bread and some guy that looks out for safety, he is thinking of these people as willing volunteers, not expecting any reward, other than what everyone else gets.

The obvious problem is that if everyone gets the same reward for different amounts of effort, the effort people put in will quickly diminish, and not enough will be produced to provide for the entire society. Anarcho-capitalism doesn’t depend on people doing things out of the goodness of their heart, it depends on people specializing in a skill in order to trade that skill for the products of another person’s labor. So everyone doesn’t have to bake their own bread, and provide their own security, they can specialize in baking bread, and trade that bread for security. Money just streamlines this process so that you don’t have to trade a physical loaf of bread, instead using a placeholder.

But the hippies imagine a society where no one goes hungry and everyone is taken care of. In an anarcho-capitalist society there would be so much extra that everyone would in fact be taken care of. How do I know this? Simply from studying the most free markets that have existed, and extrapolating from there. Right now enough extra is produced in America so that “poor” Americans now live the life that “the rich” once lived. Cell phones, heat, electricity, air conditioning, vehicles, alcohol, material comforts, free time, and access to healthcare are all things that the poor enjoy in the United States. Not because the government magically provides these things, but because there is enough extra produced from a free-ish market.

If these things were simply provided by government, then why is there so much more poverty in some parts of Africa and Central and South America where governments have no problem mandating generous redistributions of wealth? The answer is that stability provides incentives to produce more. If you know that when you grow a field of wheat, almost all of it will be taken, you are much less likely to grow that wheat. In America, there is a relative guarantee that you can keep (part) of what you produce, so we have incentive to produce more. This incentive decreases with every tax hike, every bailout, and every dollar borrowed or printed by government. As the incentive fades, so does the production. This happens on a continuum, which is why our economy is slowly bleeding to death with every government intervention.

So it makes sense that if the closer we got to a free market, the more extra there was, that in the most free market possible with nothing being taken by force, more would be produced. Why not grow more wheat if you know that you get to trade every single grain for your benefit? But don’t take an individual’s benefit as negating others’ benefits—after all there is a field of wheat where a dirt lot could have stood.

So instead of a government that automatically takes 40-50% of your labor, and the products of that labor, you have a society where each individual controls where his or her extra labor and production goes. The fact that there is no siphoning body like the government provides two-fold benefits, they aren’t taking the extra product, and because they are not taking it, the population produces more. So now the government is not there to take anything from the laborers, and this leads each laborer to make more of whatever they make.

The control in this society would be with the individuals, and that is what does not sit well with those who want a communist utopia. Many people cannot stand to think that a person could be greedy if they chose, and instead prefer a body which can use force to control producers. The inevitable effect of this force is less being produced, and therefore less to go around. When this production is not confiscated however, that extra will find its way into the hands of those who need it, instead of into the hands of government cronies like corrupt corporations, and unproductive bureaucrats.

So if the hippies could just let go, chill out, and give up their desire for control, we could get pretty damn close to their utopia. After all, aren’t communists really interested in freeing the laborer? What could be better than allowing an individual laborer to keep the entirety of what he or she produces? What could be better than freeing the individual from being forced by the government to give money to corporations in the form of bailouts, grants, and subsidies?

And guess what, no one’s going to let the wheat they worked hard to grow wither in the fields. Tomorrow I will discuss how that wheat (or whatever necessities) will get to everyone that needs it in an anarcho-capitslist society, therefore obtaining the utopia of which communists can only dream.

Without Government, Who Would Build the Roads?

In the past I have discussed Anarcho-Capitalism, the system of organizing a society based on the free market instead of the government. I began by discussing that absent of government there would still be a market for protection, police, and crime investigation, and a free market would provide these things because profit would be available to those who supply security. I discussed how different security companies would interact to avoid chaos, and how based on the desire to live a happy, healthy life, the market (customers) would demand companies which avoid violence in favor of negotiations with other companies based on prewritten contracts, and eventually a third party “arbitration agency” which companies would use to avoid the costs of mini-war, and avoid violating their customers contracts. Essentially there would be a clause in everyone’s security company contract that says the company will not go to bat for you if you actually commit a crime. Since these companies have incentives to solve crimes, they would most likely perform their investigative jobs better than the government currently does.

If you are confused you might want to start by reading the first post I wrote on this subject. But what I wanted to talk about today is the fact that most people never even imagine a society without government. People mostly default to imaging a riot, burning buildings, looting criminals, and widespread death and destruction. This is a pavlovian response that has been conditioned by government and its agents (the media) throughout each of our lives. I started by talking about police because protection is one of our most base needs, so we default to wondering how we would be safe without government. But there are plenty of other things that government currently does, which would also be fulfilled in a free market society without government–and it would be done better because of the incentives a company has to provide a product based on demand, and turn a profit.

Think about the incentives politicians have to provide us with government benefits. Just their jobs, which many “useful idiot” voters provide them time and time again, despite poor performance. What if the entity that was responsible for building roads could go out of business if it did a bad job? In a free market, a better company would take its place. Currently we have to beg and plead for our government to correctly use our tax dollars in order to provide us with good roads. Too many of those dollars are siphoned off by greedy politicians, and well meaning but ineffective government programs.

People want roads, and other people want profits (we all want some degree of profit to get us the things we need in life, it is not a bad thing). The desire for profits makes some people respond to the demand for roads with a supply of roads. Since roads are shared by many people, you may think that the government needs to pay for them, so that everyone could use them. But why not cut out the middleman–the government–and just leave it to the people who need the roads most to build them? Maybe if you live on a dead end street with 3 other houses, you put up with a dirt road because who would be willing to pay for your road? Maybe you and your neighbors put your money together and pave your dirt road at some point.

But you might live on a busy street with businesses; businesses that want people to be able to access them on smooth well maintained roads. Problem solved, now the business payed for something that you will be able to benefit from. Maybe a shipping company teams up with other companies in the area who need to move their goods, and builds a highway. Since they don’t want their money wasted, they restrict access and make it a toll road. Other companies need to use the road, and decide to pay the toll–after all, they have the money to spend on things like tolls, because they don’t have to spend it on taxes. But if the tolls are too excessive, there will be a market for another road to be built in order to compete and drive prices for using the road down.

If the toll roads cause gridlock, road companies may start teaming up with each-other to sell subscriptions. “Subscribe to toll road A company and get access to all toll road B company roads!” because the two companies have a mutually beneficial agreement. “Subscribe to toll road C company now and 50 cents of every dollar you pay for the first 6 months will go towards buying cars for families in need”. “For one low price subscribe to the Toll Road Association and  get access to every road in the country”. The free market solves these types of things because there is profit to be gained in doing so. Since no one is forcefully restricted from competing, prices are driven down, and quality up by companies vying for your business. If you are dissatisfied with a company for any reason, there is always one waiting to take your business and give you what you want.

Its a useful exercise to consider different things which the government provides, and think about how they would be provided in a free market. If there is a market for charity, those charities will exist. Right now many people pay their taxes and assume they have contributed to helping others, but the government is really bad and inefficient at helping the poor and needy. Since we do not want to see people starve, be homeless, or left to their own devices if they are unable to take care of themselves, markets would arise to fulfill these things. With all the leftover money not going to government in taxes, people would be much more willing to throw some money towards charities. And even if they were not willing to give up their money to charity, companies that they patronize will see a profit in providing charity, because it attracts customers.

A restaurant may have a free meal program once a month for the hungry. A school would give out 20 scholarships a year subsidized by those enrolled at the school. A security company would offer protection to those who could not afford it, because their customers feel better about themselves when they contribute to society’s safety. The only difference is that these things would be done better, because they would have to be done better to compete. The government takes away the competition by force, and monopolizes certain industries and services, leaving us with no choice if we are not satisfied with the quality and price.

Everyday I hear about another private company dropping their healthcare coverage for part time workers or retirees, because the government has made it too expensive through regulation in Obamacare. At one point those companies decided to offer healthcare to their employees in order to attract and retain good workers, but the government stepped in and has ruined a good situation for a lot of people by using force in the economy. Give anarcho-capitalism some thought. Next time you use a vital government service, ask yourself if that service could be absorbed and improved by the free market. I think that in an honest assessment, you will find that incentives are the key to quality goods and services.