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Anarchy is not an end in itself - the end is breaking the monopoly on law

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Clayton Posted: Fri, Feb 26 2010 12:10 PM

This subject seems to come up quite frequently, so I thought I'd address it here. The word "anarchy" - without ruler - seems to mean different things to different people. Some people think of Somali warlords riding in technicals with mounted .50 cals, others think of every adult male open carrying in a US West type world, others think of Homeowners Associations forming "micro-governments" comprised of semi-feudal gated communities, and so on. I have my own ideas about what a stateless society would look like.

Regardless of how you envision a state of anarchy, anarchy itself is not an end - most people would naturally take social, religious and other types of leaders for themselves who would be de facto "rulers", even if these leaders possessed no coercive powers. It is human nature. A few people - like those who frequent LvMI or LRC - might go commando, living in the woods and being their own master in every respect. But only a distinct minority would do this.

Since the defining feature of the State is its territorial monopoly on law, a stateless society - however envisioned - will certainly have one feature... no territorial monopoly on law. I find the focus on the hypothesized attributes of stateless societies (unless for fun) to be fruitless. After all, a stateless society is necessarily more moral than a society subjugated to a State, no matter its cultural character. Rather, we (anti-statists) should focus our energies on exposing and explaining the crimes of State to which the law monopoly is accessory. Ultimately, the State is an alliance between criminals who need legitimacy and corrupt judges who want a coercive monopoly on jursidiction... the key to opposing the State, striking at the very root of evil, is to expose this alliance for what it is because, by virtue of what it is, it cannot stand exposure to the light of day.

The task of the anti-statist, in this regard, is actually relatively easy. Just read LRC, RT.com and Google News and you could fill an 8 hour day every day just cataloging the crimes the State commits in open daylight and those which it commits in darkness but is eventually forced to admit to. The case against the State is so easy, it only needs doing. It's like the first gold miners to strike gold in California, who were finding egg-sized gold nuggets right on the surface. We just have to do it.

The goal is not anarchy. The goal is to break the monopoly on law. Whether the society that emerges in the absence of law monopoly looks like Somalia, an Amish community, a medieval English town under common law, or what have you, is irrelevant. After all, if we eschew collectivism, we eschew the very idea of trying to mold or model society to conform to our preconceptions of what it ought to "look" like. We only desire to see that all men be always liable for their actions under a single law (instead of the dual law under which we currently live), even those with the nerve to appoint themselves dictators and interpreters of the law (politicians and State judges).

</rambling>

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Stranger replied on Fri, Feb 26 2010 12:18 PM

Anarchy is the status between states, not only a utopian future. Since states do not recognize any authority above themselves, then to say that the end we wish to reach is anarchy is to say that we want to be equals of the state.

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I really don't like the fact that when critics wish to discredit libertarian philisophy without actually contributing anytthing, they call it utopian. A libertarian war would not be utopian at all, there would still be crime and fraud. But, it would occur on a much lesser scale than it does today. When peopl wish to reform "society" through the use of government coercion, they don't seem to realize that government caused those problems in the first place!

Pollution ✓

Congestion on roads ✓

Taxes✓

Unjust wars✓

Inflation✓

Theft✓

Fraud✓

Shall I go on?

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Merlin replied on Fri, Feb 26 2010 2:09 PM

ClaytonB:

This subject seems to come up quite frequently, so I thought I'd address it here. The word "anarchy" - without ruler - seems to mean different things to different people. Some people think of Somali warlords riding in technicals with mounted .50 cals, others think of every adult male open carrying in a US West type world, others think of Homeowners Associations forming "micro-governments" comprised of semi-feudal gated communities, and so on. I have my own ideas about what a stateless society would look like.

Regardless of how you envision a state of anarchy, anarchy itself is not an end - most people would naturally take social, religious and other types of leaders for themselves who would be de facto "rulers", even if these leaders possessed no coercive powers. It is human nature. A few people - like those who frequent LvMI or LRC - might go commando, living in the woods and being their own master in every respect. But only a distinct minority would do this.

Since the defining feature of the State is its territorial monopoly on law, a stateless society - however envisioned - will certainly have one feature... no territorial monopoly on law. I find the focus on the hypothesized attributes of stateless societies (unless for fun) to be fruitless. After all, a stateless society is necessarily more moral than a society subjugated to a State, no matter its cultural character. Rather, we (anti-statists) should focus our energies on exposing and explaining the crimes of State to which the law monopoly is accessory. Ultimately, the State is an alliance between criminals who need legitimacy and corrupt judges who want a coercive monopoly on jursidiction... the key to opposing the State, striking at the very root of evil, is to expose this alliance for what it is because, by virtue of what it is, it cannot stand exposure to the light of day.

The task of the anti-statist, in this regard, is actually relatively easy. Just read LRC, RT.com and Google News and you could fill an 8 hour day every day just cataloging the crimes the State commits in open daylight and those which it commits in darkness but is eventually forced to admit to. The case against the State is so easy, it only needs doing. It's like the first gold miners to strike gold in California, who were finding egg-sized gold nuggets right on the surface. We just have to do it.

The goal is not anarchy. The goal is to break the monopoly on law. Whether the society that emerges in the absence of law monopoly looks like Somalia, an Amish community, a medieval English town under common law, or what have you, is irrelevant. After all, if we eschew collectivism, we eschew the very idea of trying to mold or model society to conform to our preconceptions of what it ought to "look" like. We only desire to see that all men be always liable for their actions under a single law (instead of the dual law under which we currently live), even those with the nerve to appoint themselves dictators and interpreters of the law (politicians and State judges).

</rambling>

Clayton -

Great post: confusing anarchy with “what I would like” is indeed a mistake often made.

On practical debating terms, I’m now totally convinced that advocating secession of any group of people who want to secede into their own state is by far the easiest and most successful way of giving people an implicit and gradual idea of “anarchy” (Rothbard is buying a drink to Mises and Hayek right now). In these last two days alone I won over two state-loving guys with this argument, in a mere 15 minutes of arguing total. perhaps we can learn a lot from the "total seccession" approach to better understanding anarchy ourselves.

 

 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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scineram replied on Fri, Feb 26 2010 2:36 PM

ClaytonB:
The goal is not anarchy. The goal is to break the monopoly on law. Whether the society that emerges in the absence of law monopoly looks like Somalia, an Amish community, a medieval English town under common law, or what have you, is irrelevant.

I would rather have you not breaking anything then, thank you.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Feb 26 2010 5:11 PM

scineram:

ClaytonB:
The goal is not anarchy. The goal is to break the monopoly on law. Whether the society that emerges in the absence of law monopoly looks like Somalia, an Amish community, a medieval English town under common law, or what have you, is irrelevant.

I would rather have you not breaking anything then, thank you.

So, you prefer that people not expose the crimes of the State? You're advocating cooperation with the establishment in perpetuating the myth that there must be two sets of laws (one for rulers and one for the ruled) for our own good? I find this repugnant. As for the word "break", I do not mean forcibly - force is both unnecessary and counter-productive to the end in sight. All that needs to be done is to carefully document and faithfully describe the true nature of the State, without romance or hyperbole, and as people internalize the ugly, repulsive truth they will automatically loathe and seek to be rid of the State. No marketing or evangelism is required, only careful, consistent documentation of the crimes of the State, exactly as LRC does. I don't think our masters yet understand that the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction of State ever devised is sitting in Auburn, AL and on LRC. In time, they'll figure it out but hopefully it will be too late by then.

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scineram replied on Fri, Feb 26 2010 5:40 PM

ClaytonB:
So, you prefer that people not expose the crimes of the State?

I don't consider all of those a crime at all. I don't need to be reminded about the nature of the state, as was an anarchocapitalist for quite a while. I even bought into the NAP. I think most people realize what the state is, just only you find it so repulsive.

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I don't consider all of those a crime at all. I don't need to be reminded about the nature of the state, as was an anarchocapitalist for quite a while. I even bought into the NAP. I think most people realize what the state is, just only you find it so repulsive.

No, they prefer to compartmentalise rather than justify their contradictory nonsense on what the state is. If they realised what it was they would understand it is a criminal sham. If you cannot recognise it as such it is more so your own intellectual failing than anyone else's.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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scineram:

ClaytonB:
So, you prefer that people not expose the crimes of the State?

I don't consider all of those a crime at all. I don't need to be reminded about the nature of the state, as was an anarchocapitalist for quite a while. I even bought into the NAP. I think most people realize what the state is, just only you find it so repulsive.

I don't understand how you could be an anarcho-capitalist, knowing full well what the state truly in fact is and then turn around and support it. I mean everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just don't understand how you could make the switch back.

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For me it was a lot like those times when you wake up with a killer hangover, roll over in bed and think to yourself "shit, was I really that bad? I spoke a whole load of crap last night, how did I ever believe that stuff? I just hope nobody remembers how much of an asshole I was being".

The only difference is that people go back and get drunk again, usually within a matter of days, most people don't go back to anarchocapitalism. 

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"

Bob Dylan

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Clayton replied on Fri, Feb 26 2010 11:48 PM

scineram:

ClaytonB:
So, you prefer that people not expose the crimes of the State?

I don't consider all of those a crime at all.

What you do or don't consider a crime is irrelevant. What determines what is or is not a crime is human custom, established by the long practice of law. The State, through statutory dictates, imposes its will on society by altering established custom through the threat and use of force. This is the ultimate means by which the State furthers its own interests. By definition, the State is criminal. If it were not, it would have no need to alter the law.

I don't need to be reminded about the nature of the state, as was an anarchocapitalist for quite a while. I even bought into the NAP. I think most people realize what the state is, just only you find it so repulsive.

I agree the NAP is deficient, but it is a good first-order approximation of natural law. I find your view that most people realize what the State is to be rather puzzling... you honestly believe that people understand that the State is a legal double-standard?

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Clayton,

Good post man.  Thought it was very interesting.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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hayekianxyz:

For me it was a lot like those times when you wake up with a killer hangover, roll over in bed and think to yourself "shit, was I really that bad? I spoke a whole load of crap last night, how did I ever believe that stuff? I just hope nobody remembers how much of an asshole I was being".

The only difference is that people go back and get drunk again, usually within a matter of days, most people don't go back to anarchocapitalism. 

Knowing what I know now, I can't see anyway of looking back. I may not always voice my opinion in public, but I know where I stand and that's that.

I could understand if I was still the same old moronic Neo Conservative who believed in pepertual war for perpetual peace and never picked up a Ron Paul book ( that is how I found AE and this in turn had fueled my interest in Libertarianism and Anarcho-Capitalism). But, considering I chose my path and everything unfolded the way it did, I just can't see myself ever looking back.

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AJ replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 2:30 AM

ClaytonB:
I find the focus on the hypothesized attributes of stateless societies (unless for fun) to be fruitless.

Fully agree - great post! In fact, we have seen many be turned off of "anarcho-capitalism" by these very hypotheses, especially when they are portrayed as more than mere speculation. A big example a while back was AmaGi, who went back to minarchism after having been an AnCap for precisely that reason. But many more non-libertarians are driven away on a near-daily basis here, or given fodder to attack libertarianism, based on the errors of the over-confident speculation that has been rampant in libertarian circles for the past few decades. Hayekianxyz and scineram may be examples of the same. Overreaching - even in the name of liberty - always backfires, as underscored by this:

ClaytonB:
After all, if we eschew collectivism, we eschew the very idea of trying to mold or model society to conform to our preconceptions of what it ought to "look" like.

This really strikes the heart of the matter.

It's the old split between politics and economics. It used to be called political economy. With that terminology it's a lot easier to notice that the "magic" of the free market and the invisible hand is part of the larger phenomenon of spontaneous order that encompasses common law as well. It is then only a function of the elements comprising that order (i.e., each individual) that determines how things will turn out. The lesson of libertarianism, then, is that central planning cannot improve that order, only degrade it. And that, fortunately, the spontaneous order is actually pretty great, because it automatically turns even the bad sides of human nature toward benefiting others, as Adam Smith pointed out in the case of the market.

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AJ:
In fact, we have seen many be turned off of "anarcho-capitalism" by these very hypotheses (especially when they are portrayed as more than mere speculation).

I'm living proof of that. Molyneaux in the early days kept me off the anarchy train for a while.  It took some good ol' Stirner to get things back in perspective.  Although guys like Hoppe prevent me from ever using the label "Anarcho-Capitalist", even though I find the concepts of anarchy, and capitalism appealing.

"What Stirner says is a word, a thought, a concept; what he means is no word, no thought, no concept. What he says is not what is meant, and what he means is unsayable." - Max Stirner, Stirner's Critics
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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 4:18 AM

LvMIenthusiast:

scineram:

ClaytonB:
So, you prefer that people not expose the crimes of the State?

I don't consider all of those a crime at all. I don't need to be reminded about the nature of the state, as was an anarchocapitalist for quite a while. I even bought into the NAP. I think most people realize what the state is, just only you find it so repulsive.

I don't understand how you could be an anarcho-capitalist, knowing full well what the state truly in fact is and then turn around and support it. I mean everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just don't understand how you could make the switch back.

Judging from his NAP reference I would wager it had to do with him embracing (reverting to?) amoralism. It would fit the style of most of his posts on here - cynical one-liners without value for the forum.

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scineram replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 12:04 PM

ClaytonB:
The State, through statutory dictates, imposes its will on society by altering established custom through the threat and use of force.

You now what is established custom? The welfare state.

ClaytonB:
By definition, the State is criminal.

You can make your definitions to yourself however you like.

ClaytonB:
I agree the NAP is deficient, but it is a good first-order approximation of natural law. I find your view that most people realize what the State is to be rather puzzling... you honestly believe that people understand that the State is a legal double-standard?

Well I don't buy into your natural law. Neither do most people.

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LvMIenthusiast:
Knowing what I know now, I can't see anyway of looking back. I may not always voice my opinion in public, but I know where I stand and that's that.

People often tend to assume that their political views are unique in various ways. But the characteristics of those that subscribe to any given ideology are far less unique than proponents or opponents realise. One aspect of this is incredulity of how anybody could ever change their mind once they've come to a certain position. And yet, it happens, and more often than not it has nothing to do with moral bankruptcy or political expediency but arguments put forth that are less than entirely convincing. 

It seems very logical to you that the state is evil and must be abolished, after all, taxation is theft and the state is the an organization that must tax to sustain itself. But from the outside it's very clear that once you begin with libertarian premises and definitions you end up with libertarian conclusions. And to consider taxation as theft is a very questionable definition in political philosophy. I'm basically echoing Gene Callahan here, but libertarian arguments have no weight against somebody like Hobbes who would say that Leviathan has a duty to tax in order to sustain social cooperation and stop the war of all against all. In order to counter Hobbes you'd have to show theoretically that social cooperation is possible without the state and have the empirics to support such a view. The same applies to Hayek which is, I suspect, part of the reason for Rothbard's vehement disagreements with him, Rothbard's logic had no weight against the sort of arguments Hayek was advancing.

This isn't to say libertarian conclusions, perhaps even anarcho capitalist conclusions, aren't correct, it's just to make the point that libertarian arguments aren't nearly as solid as most people think they are.When you read from a single source it's very easy to caught up in faulty reasoning. I don't wish to claim that the LvMI is being subversive, but part of their mission is to expose people to a certain type of libertarianism and a certain type of Austrian economics, so they present only the viewpoints of various economics and other social theorists. Without realising it's very easy to develop biases because the writers that the LvMI does publish have a particular training and a particular set of beliefs which are conveyed to other interested parties. 

 

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"

Bob Dylan

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You can make your definitions to yourself however you like.

Taking money by force is theft in the one case but not in the other because...? The government says it isn't? Wait, I know you'll just say "yes" to this.

Well I don't buy into your natural law. Neither do most people.

Boo hoo. They also don't buy into amoralism...

 

I'm basically echoing Gene Callahan here, but libertarian arguments have no weight against somebody like Hobbes who would say that Leviathan has a duty to tax in order to sustain social cooperation and stop the war of all against all. In order to counter Hobbes you'd have to show theoretically that social cooperation is possible without the state and have the empirics to support such a view.

Or you could just ask Hobbes to furnish some - any - sort of proof for his argument rather than bear the burden of proof which is his and his only to shoulder insofar as his argument is concerned... Nevermind the contradictions in Hobbes's own arguments that make it impossible for his "Leviathan" to even get off the ground. I've little time for Calahan, and even less for Hobbes.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Merlin replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 2:54 PM

hayekianxyz:

And to consider taxation as theft is a very questionable definition in political philosophy. I'm basically echoing Gene Callahan here, but libertarian arguments have no weight against somebody like Hobbes who would say that Leviathan has a duty to tax in order to sustain social cooperation and stop the war of all against all. In order to counter Hobbes you'd have to show theoretically that social cooperation is possible without the state and have the empirics to support such a view. The same applies to Hayek which is, I suspect, part of the reason for Rothbard's vehement disagreements with him, Rothbard's logic had no weight against the sort of arguments Hayek was advancing.

This isn't to say libertarian conclusions, perhaps even anarcho capitalist conclusions, aren't correct, it's just to make the point that libertarian arguments aren't nearly as solid as most people think they are.When you read from a single source it's very easy to caught up in faulty reasoning. I don't wish to claim that the LvMI is being subversive, but part of their mission is to expose people to a certain type of libertarianism and a certain type of Austrian economics, so they present only the viewpoints of various economics and other social theorists. Without realising it's very easy to develop biases because the writers that the LvMI does publish have a particular training and a particular set of beliefs which are conveyed to other interested parties. 

So very true. Rothbard very righty attacked the Mises idea that proving most statist actions are self-defeating from the point of view of those who approve of them wouldn’t be enough to defeat the idea of big government. Time preferences defeat that view.  But Rothbardian “natural rights” fare much worse, as they practically amount to saying: “think like me, all those who don’t are brainwashed bastards!” That’s not going to take one very far.

 The only real advocacy of libertarianism, one that avoids complicated an unproovable ethical and/or historical arguments, has been provided by Mises: unlimited secession rights. 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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hayekianxyz:

And to consider taxation as theft is a very questionable definition in political philosophy.

Why, could you make a case where taxation is not theft?

In order to counter Hobbes you'd have to show theoretically that social cooperation is possible without the state and have the empirics to support such a view.

If you applied the time you do into writing on this forum, you would find the necessary empirical evidence yourself simply by living life and cooperating with those around you - whether it be running a business, or working in agriculture, like myself.

 

 

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scineram replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 3:20 PM

Jonathan M. F. Catalán:
Why, could you make a case where taxation is not theft?

Hobbes has already been mentioned, so why don't you consult Locke, Aquinas, Rousseau or any other philosopher who came to that conclusion? There have been plenty who made a case for taxation.

Jonathan M. F. Catalán:

If you applied the time you do into writing on this forum, you would find the necessary empirical evidence yourself simply by living life and cooperating with those around you - whether it be running a business, or working in agriculture, like myself.

Because there is no state where he lives?

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scineram:

Hobbes has already been mentioned, so why don't you consult Locke, Aquinas, Rousseau or any other philosopher who came to that conclusion? There have been plenty who made a case for taxation.

Why don't you make a case yourself?  Appealing to authority is a very weak argument.

Jonathan M. F. Catalán:

 

Because there is no state where he lives?

Even with the state, not every exchange between individuals includes the state.

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Angurse replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 3:46 PM

scineram:
Hobbes has already been mentioned, so why don't you consult Locke, Aquinas, Rousseau or any other philosopher who came to that conclusion? There have been plenty who made a case for taxation.

Making a case for taxation (an excellent case even) doesn't mean it isn't theft, it could be considered "necessary theft." Of course, one could just define away the issue completely, but that wouldn't really resolve the underlying problem.

"I am an aristocrat. I love liberty, I hate equality."
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Sage replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 4:51 PM

hayekianxyz:
In order to counter Hobbes you'd have to show theoretically that social cooperation is possible without the state

Well that's easy: government itself proves that social cooperation is possible without the state, since there's no third party to enforce contracts among the individual members who make up the government. (See Cuzán and Plauché for details.)

Merlin:
The only real advocacy of libertarianism, one that avoids complicated an unproovable ethical and/or historical arguments, has been provided by Mises: unlimited secession rights. 

Unlimited secession rights (i.e. ethical claims) would require ethical arguments, no?

scineram:
Hobbes has already been mentioned, so why don't you consult Locke, Aquinas, Rousseau or any other philosopher who came to that conclusion? There have been plenty who made a case for taxation.

And their cases have been embarrassingly awful. There are plenty of bad arguments given in favor of libertarianism, but the analogy between taxation and slavery is not one of them. As Christopher Wellman writes (p.5):

Thus, when one pauses to look closely at the comparison between slavery and political imposition, one sees that it is surprisingly difficult to distinguish between the two. The key shared element is nonconsensual coercion. This feature that makes slavery impermissible is also utilized by all governments and thus places the burden upon any of us who are reluctant to label all political states unjust. Thus, the analogy between slavery and political coercion appears not only apt, it is helpful insofar as it motivates the central and most important question of political theory: Why not be an anarchist?

ClaytonB:
Whether the society that emerges in the absence of law monopoly looks like Somalia, an Amish community, a medieval English town under common law, or what have you, is irrelevant.

Not for me. As a libertarian, I want society to be, well, libertarian. In fact, the whole point of advocating competition in legal systems is to achieve this end.

ClaytonB:
After all, if we eschew collectivism, we eschew the very idea of trying to mold or model society to conform to our preconceptions of what it ought to "look" like.

Um, isn't this the whole point? Anarchists are trying to mold society to conform to our preconception that there shouldn't be a monopoly on law.

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

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Merlin replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 5:17 PM

Sage:

Merlin:
The only real advocacy of libertarianism, one that avoids complicated an unproovable ethical and/or historical arguments, has been provided by Mises: unlimited secession rights. 

Unlimited secession rights (i.e. ethical claims) would require ethical arguments, no?

Of course, I didn’t mean that arguing secession allows one to bypass ethics. It just treads ethical paths with which the vast majority of people arte quite familiar and willing to follow to eh very end (always to their own surprise). It’s just easier. As for personal beliefs, even we do not know why we hold them.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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scineram replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 6:03 PM

Sage:

And their cases have been embarrassingly awful. There are plenty of bad arguments given in favor of libertarianism, but the analogy between taxation and slavery is not one of them. As Christopher Wellman writes (p.5):

Thus, when one pauses to look closely at the comparison between slavery and political imposition, one sees that it is surprisingly difficult to distinguish between the two. The key shared element is nonconsensual coercion. This feature that makes slavery impermissible is also utilized by all governments and thus places the burden upon any of us who are reluctant to label all political states unjust. Thus, the analogy between slavery and political coercion appears not only apt, it is helpful insofar as it motivates the central and most important question of political theory: Why not be an anarchist?

You place too much emphasis on consent. Very few things are fully consensual. How many people actually consented to respect your so called property?

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MatthewF replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 6:37 PM

scineram:
You place too much emphasis on consent. Very few things are fully consensual. How many people actually consented to respect your so called property?

Why would someone have to consent to respect your property? Couldn't they simply leave it alone?

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scineram replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 7:28 PM

MatthewF:
Why would someone have to consent to respect your property?

You want to shoot them just because they use a car parking on the street?

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MatthewF replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 7:35 PM

Please pretend I'm 5 years old and explain that to me because I have no clue what you're saying.

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Sphairon replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 8:13 PM

To scineram, Giles and all those who claim to have rediscovered the virtues of the state:

I see where you are coming from. From an economic point of view, the state fulfills a role that no other entity on the market could imitate and as such is a most intriguing thing to experiment with. Then there is all the objective ethics stuff that permeates libertarian literature and makes it all look a little cultish and cranky upon closer examination.

Still, most of the accusations libertarianism hurls at statism still apply. There is no functioning mechanism to limit the expansion of the state. Thus, unless you think total state control is a good thing, I don't see how you can approve of that institution. The calculation argument is still valid, the state is a terrible economic decision-maker and in light of that, I don't see how advocating state control of arbitrary service X would be anything but a statement of personal preference.

And appealing to Hobbes, come on. You've got to be kidding me. Social contracts? Putting some humans in charge of all the others as a safeguard against human nature? If Hobbes has any other defenses for taxation, please let me know, but this is way more fallacious than even a die-hard Randroid could ever be.

So, my question would be: why throw the baby out with the bath water? What caused you to reaccept the state paradigm? I don't see any benefit in that institution except for personal enrichment at the expense of the public.


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Sage replied on Sat, Feb 27 2010 9:11 PM

scineram:
How many people actually consented to respect your so called property?

But the nature of rights is that other people have to respect them regardless of whether they want to or not. Consent isn't required for everything; I don't need your consent to stop you from violating my rights.

AnalyticalAnarchism.net - The Positive Political Economy of Anarchism

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AJ replied on Sun, Feb 28 2010 2:44 AM

Sage:

ClaytonB:
After all, if we eschew collectivism, we eschew the very idea of trying to mold or model society to conform to our preconceptions of what it ought to "look" like.

Um, isn't this the whole point? Anarchists are trying to mold society to conform to our preconception that there shouldn't be a monopoly on law.

That doesn't determine how society will "look."

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AJ:

Sage:

ClaytonB:
After all, if we eschew collectivism, we eschew the very idea of trying to mold or model society to conform to our preconceptions of what it ought to "look" like.

Um, isn't this the whole point? Anarchists are trying to mold society to conform to our preconception that there shouldn't be a monopoly on law.

That doesn't determine how society will "look."

Not in terms of specifics, but I would say that it has some bearing on the structure (rather than content) of law. It certainly is a certain mode of the relationship between society and political institutions. In a sense, any political ideology, including libertarian anarchism, is inherently normative and has implications for how interpersonal relations function. This doesn't necessarily mean central planning, but it certainly is prescriptive and transformative towards society in an obvious and fundamental sense. The structure and function of law *is* a part of how society "looks", in that law is an aspect of society.

I don't see why there should be a problem with admitting that libertarianism is, at a certain level, precisely about how society should function (in terms of the use of aggression and the structure of law). Such a prescription is exactly what libertarians do every time they advocate their goals, even if the very nature of this goal has a cut-off point beyond which the particulars are not explicitly determined. But something very general and structural *is* explicitly determined, namely, a certain standard or demarkation for the structure of the political in terms of aggression and law.

To propose something like a polycentric legal order *is* to make a certain kind of determination of society, and the temptation to portray oneself as saying absolutely nothing about the structure of society when one is talking about politics seems to be kind of dishonest (at least to oneself).

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AJ replied on Sun, Feb 28 2010 3:39 AM

The anti-monopoly position is negative, merely saying that a monopoly is unjust and/or harmful. It doesn't try to "mold or model" society, any more than taking the lid off a terrarium would "mold or model" the evolution of that ecosystem. Certainly the resulting situation would be different (which is the whole point), but there is no concrete vision of society being advocated.

Brainpolice:
To propose something like a polycentric legal order...

There's a difference between advocating a polycentric legal order (or common law, etc.) and speculating that such would evolve in the absence of a monopoly on law (for instance, as a means of allaying people's Hobbesian fears).

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AJ:

The anti-monopoly position is negative, merely saying that a monopoly is bad. It doesn't try to "mold or model" society, and more than taking the lid off a terrarium would "mold or model" the evolution of that ecosystem. Certainly the resulting situation would be different (which is the whole point), but there is no concrete vision of society being advocated.

Sure there is: a vision of a society without a monopoly on law, which can only be realized through the inertia of proactive action within a society. Certainly, this doesn't mean central planning or some kind of authoritarian "molding", but it is a structure of legal pluralism. What isn't concrete are the particulars within each legal domain, but there is a vision of society being advocated in terms of political structure. That's essentially what all political philosophies do in that they pertain to structure.

There's a difference between advocating a polycentric legal order (or common law, etc.) and speculating that such would evolve in the absence of a monopoly on law (for instance, as a means of allaying people's Hobbesian fears).

I think I agree but I don't see how that's relevant to my point. Advocation and proactive action is itself a kind of determination, a prescription, a structuring. Polycentrism isn't non-structural, it's a meta-level context for political organization, and within that context you have a multitude of sub-structures. That's just a part of what political ideologies involve, even pluralistic ones.

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AJ replied on Sun, Feb 28 2010 3:57 AM

Brainpolice:

There's a difference between advocating a polycentric legal order (or common law, etc.) and speculating that such would evolve in the absence of a monopoly on law (for instance, as a means of allaying people's Hobbesian fears).

I think I agree but I don't see how that's relevant to my point. Advocation and proactive action is itself a kind of determination, a prescription, a structuring.

Anti-monopolism needn't involve advocating polycentrism.

Brainpolice:
Sure there is: a vision of a society without a monopoly on law, which can only be realized through the inertia of proactive action within a society.

Is that really the case? That seems more like how states form.

In any case, an anti-monopolist can sidestep all this by reducing his position from, "Let's break the monopoly on law and keep it broken" to "Let's break the monopoly on law and see what happens."

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scineram replied on Sun, Feb 28 2010 6:14 AM

Sphairon:
There is no functioning mechanism to limit the expansion of the state.

Of course there are. The Constitution held back the american government somewhat. It was not perfect, nothing is. The Articles were better.

Sphairon:
unless you think total state control is a good thing

What? No, that's a complete non sequitur.

Sphairon:
The calculation argument is still valid, the state is a terrible economic decision-maker

This is true, but still the nirvana fallacy. It is flawed, but the alternatives are worse.

Sphairon:
So, my question would be: why throw the baby out with the bath water? What caused you to reaccept the state paradigm? I don't see any benefit in that institution except for personal enrichment at the expense of the public.

 You don't see them, but you still use valuable services that the government provides. Whether they can be better provided by the market can be debated, and it must be, not assumed.

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scineram replied on Sun, Feb 28 2010 6:16 AM

Sage:
But the nature of rights is that other people have to respect them regardless of whether they want to or not. Consent isn't required for everything; I don't need your consent to stop you from violating my rights.

Your rights again. Of course if you start with libertarian premises then you get libertarian conclusions.

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Sphairon replied on Sun, Feb 28 2010 7:27 AM

scineram:
Of course there are. The Constitution held back the american government somewhat. It was not perfect, nothing is. The Articles were better.

See, this defeatism is exactly my problem:

Political philosophers have for centuries tried to put a square into a round hole by attempting to find restraints on an institution whose virtue is said to be its supreme power over all that is within its territory. Few of them have honestly expounded upon why a monopolistic law code provided by a too-big-to-fail organization is necessary in the first place, and if they did, their answers were most unsatisfactory to me (see Hobbes).

Say what you want about the anarchists, but at least they dared to ask questions about the nature government that had been overdue for a long time.

scineram:
What? No, that's a complete non sequitur.



That looks like a rising trend to me. I will admit that default is likely to precede total state control, but my point remains: those who claim we need government at 5% of GDP doing X and Y have not been able, theoretically or practically, to defend that position.

scineram:
This is true, but still the nirvana fallacy. It is flawed, but the alternatives are worse.

And said worse alternatives would be?

scineram:
You don't see them, but you still use valuable services that the government provides.

Sure I do. But I don't see how this constitutes an argument.


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