A couple weeks ago I went to Lithuania to attend a camp started seven years ago by Simon Black and Matt Smith called the BlackSmith Liberty and Entrepreneurship Camp, or Sovereign Academy… it seemed to have a few names. Continue reading
I see two extremes in religious beliefs. On the one hand, during dark times people flock to religion for the promise of something better after death, since they have lost hope for something better in this life. On the flip side, people ignore religion, or are too distracted to engage themselves spiritually, when their lives are going well. Continue reading
In the past I have fallen into the habit of talking about the problems society faces, mostly from coercive government. These are real problems of which most of us are aware, and there is copious discussion on these topics in older posts on this blog. But at some point, we need to stop identifying the problems with society, and start formulating solutions. Continue reading
Secession is a Natural Right
Morality is what is naturally right or wrong. Saying someone has a “right” is a statement about an individual’s condition in nature, absent other parties. That is why rights are expressed in the negative: because a right is a declaration of the natural state of a human, and the assertion that another human that disrupts this natural state is in the wrong. Continue reading
I often argue that people would be better off without a coercive state. During these arguments, I am put in the position of explaining how the absence of government would lead to utopia. I am asked how this new system would be perfect, while the other party defends an imperfect system. Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
I remember a public school high school history teacher telling the class, “On one end of the political spectrum is Socialism, and on the other end is Fascism”. Wrong, he was so wrong. I could even see it then, as an energetic young Republican who hated all aspects of big government… or so I thought.
Socialism is actually right next to Fascism on the political spectrum, because they are both Statist ideologies. The state can solve all problems, and will never be big enough! Everything within the state, nothing outside of it!
So clearly the opposite of everything involving the state is nothing involving the state: anarchy. Not burning businesses and smashing windows, the absence of rulers; the end of subjugation. The sovereign individual, beholden by force to no one, beholden by mutual benefit to those with whom he chooses to associate.
And now that we cleared that up, here are the top 3 reasons for Republicans, Conservatives, libertarians or anyone else towards the right of the statist spectrum to just abandon all pretenses, and go full anarchist.
#1: You hate big government! And for good reason! You know your history, and have seen what happens when the state grows: it oppresses people. The internal police state that cracks the whip over the citizens, mixed with a fiercely nationalistic military that spreads the big government philosophy worldwide are constant and integral parts of a large oppressive government. And currently, just the American military, ignoring the multitude of internal policing agencies, is larger than the next ten militaries on earth.
The Second Amendment was not for hunting, it serves as a check to tyranny. So if guns in the hands of the average citizen can keep in check the largest military and police state on earth, why would we think those same armed citizens could not repel an invasion by the next ten largest armies put together?
You wouldn’t call the exterminator and have him leave just one little cockroach, would you? No! She’ll have babies, and your house will once again be infested in a matter of weeks. So why would we leave “just a little government”? It’s not going to stay little! It is the camel’s nose under the tent. It doesn’t make sense to leave even a little government, because…
#2: You believe in the free market! The terrible consequences of crony capitalism are quite abundant, from billions wasted on subsidized green energy like Solyndra, to billions wasted in bailouts on failed companies like GM and banks like Bank of America. Then there’s regulations which favor big companies at the expense of the little ones, taxes which make some industries and investments unprofitable, and agencies like the EPA, FDA, USDA, IRS, DHS, etc. that harass the farmer and small businessman to the point of bankruptcy.
Why, why, WHY, would you trust that same government to perform such important tasks as keeping you safe, from threats at home, and abroad? You know that supermarkets have food on their shelves because of the free-ish market, you know that competition leads to better products and more choice, so why would we limit ourselves to Soviet-style rationing systems when it comes to solving crimes and preventing terrorism?
We choose different restaurants, different books, different movies, clothes, cars, houses; but when it comes to responding to an emergency, we get the one local agency that handles that. When it comes to preventing terrorism, we have to use the FBI or CIA or NSA which we aren’t even allowed to see how they operate, must fund regardless of their success rates, and can’t even be sure they are not complicit in terrorism in order to keep their agencies relevant and well-funded. [This is an example of a private organization fighting ISIS]. Choice in the market is always a good thing, there is nothing magic about crime prevention and justice that makes the market unable to function.
#3: You wish you didn’t have to associate with all these idiots! Government causes all problems we face “as a nation” because otherwise we wouldn’t have to face them as a nation, and they would be solved by whoever they affect most. I don’t want to fund cotton growth in the Arizona desert, subsidizing the real cost of water to the point where there is a shortage. It has nothing to do with me, yet because of the farm bill, I have to pay for these farmers’ water, insurance, equipment, etc. I don’t want to pay for the bombs we are dropping, I don’t want to pay for anyone’s medical care but my own, or those who I voluntarily choose to help personally or through charity. The government forces us all into a group, and then makes more laws and regulations when our forced association–surprise–causes problems.
An open border is only a problem if the government is stealing your money to give to the people who hop the fence, or setting an arbitrary minimum wage which ensures a market for illegal work. Education standards in Arkansas don’t matter to me, unless one of those schmucks is going to grow up to become President and tell the rest of the world what to do. Why do I have a say in whether Coloradans smoke a joint? Why do they have a say in whether or not I wear a seatbelt?
Stop the forced association of 300 million plus Americans, and there would be a lot fewer problems to solve! And they would be solved by the people that they matter to, and paid for by the people that they matter to, voluntarily. In the end, we would all have more individual control over our lives, (money), and circumstances, and get to choose which issues will be solved with our money. Instead, we are forced to “solve” problems we don’t care about, that don’t affect us, or that were caused in the first place by forced grouping!
So right-wingers, if you hate big government, if you believe in the free-market, and if you wish all these politicians, bureaucrats, and assholes in general would just leave you the hell alone: you may be a budding anarchist, ready to bloom!