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Could anarchy work in human society?

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Danno Posted: Fri, May 9 2008 1:07 AM

Okay - in another forum, a side issue came up, largely because of my ignorance.  While I'd love to discuss the possibilities, all of the anarchists I've encountered to date have been nihilists, with no coherent idea of how anarchist society would work.  Finding a self-identified anarchist with coherent vision of how it would work was novel and delightful, but I dislike being underinformed. The thread was already dedicated to another topic, so I decided to move the discussion to here.

I can't, without permission, quote (or even identify) the person I was having the discussion with, but I can quote myself - and I'll start with that.  Do keep in mind that, in intelligent anarchist theory, I'm a bare neophyte, horribly ignorant.

So, if I were living in your vision of a free society, and the guy walking past my house was of the opinion that I was aggressing against him by smoking a cigarette, and shot at me, and I shot back and killed him, I'd have to come to some sort of agreement with his heirs about whether or not I was justified.  If they refused to find agreement and shot me, then my heirs could go after them.

Their reply was, essentially, that the people who were irrational enough to act in that fashion would quickly find themselves extinct, improving the gene pool, and rational, peacable people would quickly become the overwhelming majority.

All I can say is that I've never seen it.  It may be my neighborhood (Minneapolis, Minnesnowta, USofA), but if I find a discussion with my neighbors on any central topic, and find one in ten espousing rational ideas, I'm having a good day.  Looking at the current edition of the local newspaper (http://www.southsidepride.com), I find:

Page 3, the article _Poisoning the poor_ - last column, halfway down - "The rich and powerful are trampling on the rights of the downtrodden."  (I swear, it's there.)

Pages 8 and 9, two separate articles, both of which mention that the fish in Powderhorn Lake (a small lake by local standards) were killed off accidentally in an effort to stop Brazilian elodea, a pernicious plant discovered there.  Both articles admit that there are plans to restock the lake, but both are highly annoyed in tone about the whole thing - without mentioning other options that could have been pursued.

Pages 12 and 13, the longest article in the paper, devoted to an attempt to charge George W. Bush with murder in the third degree, conspiracy to raise oil prices (not illegal, or everyone wouldn't be doing it), and conspiracy to distribute drugs in Hennepin County (which covers Minneapolis).  The guy is, to all appearances, serious.

Page 16 - _Rigged health care comissions circumvent democracy - again_ - an examination of the health care crisis, showing both sides of the market vs public good question, featuring (column 4, paragraph3) "It would be naive to think these Task Forces are simply oblivious of the gold standard solution to the health care crisis: the Single-Payer, government-funded approach."  The irony of using the term "gold standard" as a measure of quality is apparently lost on them.

Page 17 - _Critical Mass defendant found not guilty_ - an organizer of a bicycle mass ride event, in which large numbers of  bicycles jam traffic (in this case, downtown during Friday rush hour) "in support of non-motorized transportation" was acquitted of assaulting a police officer, obstructing the legal process, and fleeing a police officer.  No evidence was cited about any of these crimes, nor was there any mention of the illegality of their purpose, obstructing traffic.  The executive director of the Minnesota ACLU, Charles Samuelson, was quoted as saying "you can't punish intent." (column 4, paragraph 3) - as if he'd never heard of the difference between 1st degree and 3rd degree murder.

Not bad for a 20-page neighborhood rag, and I skipped several which would have required much more typing from me.

These are the people you expect to act rationally and reasonably?  They're my neighbors - whose political and economic ideas are remarkably common around here.  From what I've seen of national news, they're not uncommon elsewhere in the world.

Okay - I've presented some evidence, and would love to see some evidence that I'm wrong - that the majority can be expected to be rational - any place, at any time.  I would dearly love to be proven wrong on this topic.

I'll post a link to this thread in the originating thread, so the folks following that can find this easily if they wish.

Danno, just tryin' to keep things orderly 'round here.

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 1:18 AM

I have a fairly unique view of this, but hear me out:

Under the ideal system, we'd have the exact same government we have now... except it can't initiate the use of force! This means...

  • it must raise money through fundraisers, advertisements, voluntary charitable donations, etc.
  • it can't enact price controls, wage controls, etc.

In other words, most of these "impossible" scenarios would play out much the same as they would today. Technically, this is anarchy. However, it's much more palatable for people who (understandably) associate "anarchy" with black-flag-waving leftist thugs.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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nje5019 replied on Fri, May 9 2008 2:10 AM

I recommend you read Chaos Theory by Robert Murphy. It's a very quick read, and it helped me out a lot when I was trying to understand how anarchy could exist without complete chaos.

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 2:58 AM

Ego:

I have a fairly unique view of this, but hear me out:

Under the ideal system, we'd have the exact same government we have now... except it can't initiate the use of force! This means...

  • it must raise money through fundraisers, advertisements, voluntary charitable donations, etc.
  • it can't enact price controls, wage controls, etc.

Initiating force?  Okay - say they stumble into my hypothetial situation, in which force has already been initiated between two citizens - so they can step in, use force to prevent the further use of force between two citizens, and cite a law that decides which of us is in the wrong. Would this be permissible, and who decides what rules are used to make one side 'right' and the other 'wrong'?

In other words, most of these "impossible" scenarios would play out much the same as they would today. Technically, this is anarchy. However, it's much more palatable for people who (understandably) associate "anarchy" with black-flag-waving leftist thugs.

For myself, I understand that labels are awfully convenient, but individuals rarely fit them perfectly.  It was my understanding that an overriding government that can make such decisions was the antithesis of anarchy.  Are we, perhaps, using different definitions for that word?

nje5019:
I recommend you read Chaos Theory by Robert Murphy. It's a very quick read, and it helped me out a lot when I was trying to understand how anarchy could exist without complete chaos.

Thanks for the pointer - I'll check it out.

Danno - more confused, which usually means I'm about to have another damned learning experience.

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Ego:

I have a fairly unique view of this, but hear me out:

Under the ideal system, we'd have the exact same government we have now... except it can't initiate the use of force! This means...

  • it must raise money through fundraisers, advertisements, voluntary charitable donations, etc.
  • it can't enact price controls, wage controls, etc.

In other words, most of these "impossible" scenarios would play out much the same as they would today. Technically, this is anarchy. However, it's much more palatable for people who (understandably) associate "anarchy" with black-flag-waving leftist thugs.

A state in which coporatism, neo-feudalism, oligarchy, perpetual warfare, "compassionate" statist conservative socialism, statist leftist socialism, lack of free association, lack of opting out ot he state without being, technically, a criminal, lack of free markets, lack of respect for the NAP, full on present coercion by the state, etc. doesn't sound like something anarchists would really agree to; I hardly see how you can say "exact same government we have now" with a straight face :\

Also, saying 'understanably' is sounds like saying that the mis-use of said association (the black flag waving leftist thugs) is valid, when the perception itself is actually quite irrational.  Would it not be better to address such misconeptions instead of pandering to irrational beliefs?  If you want to teach someone how to add, you don't rationalize their wrong answer of "5" when "2 + 2 = 4".   

If you are saying that *some* of what we currently have in terms of lifestyle wouldn't drastically change, I would agree with you to some extent.  Overall however, things would eventually become drastily different; saying "exactly the same" might imply minarchism, which clearly isn't anarchism. 


In hindsight, I'm thinking something along the lines of "Anarchism for Dummies" might be in order at some point.

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I'm not sure what you expect from people brought up in public schools. They know no better. Anyway, The Market for Liberty, For a New Liberty and Democracy - the God that Failed all present a positive theory of how market anarchism will work.

-Jon

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You're asking the wrong question...

It should be has anarchy worked in human society?

 

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 6:59 AM

Nitroadict:

A state in which coporatism, neo-feudalism, oligarchy, perpetual warfare, "compassionate" statist conservative socialism, statist leftist socialism, lack of free association, lack of opting out ot he state without being, technically, a criminal, lack of free markets, lack of respect for the NAP, full on present coercion by the state, etc. doesn't sound like something anarchists would really agree to; I hardly see how you can say "exact same government we have now" with a straight face :\

Did I not say that the state can't initiate force? How could any of those things happen? It's a way of framing the debate that isn't shocking for people raising a family, afraid of leftist anarchist thugs rioting through their neighborhood.

Also, saying 'understanably' is sounds like saying that the mis-use of said association (the black flag waving leftist thugs) is valid, when the perception itself is actually quite irrational.  Would it not be better to address such misconeptions instead of pandering to irrational beliefs?  If you want to teach someone how to add, you don't rationalize their wrong answer of "5" when "2 + 2 = 4".   

Irration beliefs? Words are defined by their current usage; "anarchy" now means "rampant lack of respect for property rights", even in cases where there is still technically a government.  You could use the word "anarchy" if you really want, but why do you want to handicap yourself?


If you are saying that *some* of what we currently have in terms of lifestyle wouldn't drastically change, I would agree with you to some extent.  Overall however, things would eventually become drastily different; saying "exactly the same" might imply minarchism, which clearly isn't anarchism. 

Again, it's all about framing the debate in a way that's palatable to the greatest number of people.

 

 

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 7:56 AM

Nitroadict:

Ego:

I have a fairly unique view of this, but hear me out: (...)

In other words, most of these "impossible" scenarios would play out much the same as they would today. Technically, this is anarchy. However, it's much more palatable for people who (understandably) associate "anarchy" with black-flag-waving leftist thugs.

Also, saying 'understanably' is sounds like saying that the mis-use of said association (the black flag waving leftist thugs) is valid, when the perception itself is actually quite irrational.  Would it not be better to address such misconeptions instead of pandering to irrational beliefs?  If you want to teach someone how to add, you don't rationalize their wrong answer of "5" when "2 + 2 = 4".   

No, I'd say that 'understandably' is merely acknowledging that someone's misconception is not irrational - in this case, that it's remarkably easy to run into folks who paint an encircled 'A' for grafitti, and assume that because they claim the label, that they represent the whole of the philosophy.  Addressin' such misconceptions was what I was trying to do here. 

Correcting mistaken beliefs without denegrating the holder of such beliefs is usually more effective than claiming intellectual superiority to those who had such erroneous ideas.  Honey and vinegar, y'know.

In hindsight, I'm thinking something along the lines of "Anarchism for Dummies" might be in order at some point.

That'd be pretty close to what I'm lookin' for.

Danno

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All I can say is that I've never seen it.  It may be my neighborhood (Minneapolis, Minnesnowta, USofA), but if I find a discussion with my neighbors on any central topic, and find one in ten espousing rational ideas, I'm having a good day...

At times I share your dim view. At other times, I ntoice how many times per day people--including stupid people--interact voluntarily without anyone making them do so.

Spontaneous anarchy broke out at Tiananmen Square.

At a communter parking lot, I saw people forming a queue for the bus. Without a word, a "front" and "back" were selected for the queue, and folks getting out of their cars voluntarily took the "back" of the line, which was to outward appearance undistinguishable from the "front" of the line. I actually defied the unspoken agreement and got in "front" of the line, and nobody said a word to me--but most everyone in the line glared at me. When the bus stopped, the "second" in line slipped onto the bus ahead of me, closely followed by the "third," and all without a word they pushed me to the back of the line without any coercion or even discussion.

Or consider even the miracle of the four-way stop sign. People negotiate wordlessly and take turns. If statists' view of humanity was right, a four-way stop sign would be the constant scene of four-car collisions.

These are the people you expect to act rationally and reasonably?

Remember, they live in an environment where coercion is a given. It's perfectly understandable that they attempt to steer that coercion in directions agreeable to themselves. It's also immoral (almost) all of the time, but the very existence of government presents them constantly with the false choice of being coerced into A or being coerced into B. In their personal dealings, people grasp private property and non-aggression very well indeed, and most people behave morally most of the time.

Okay - say they stumble into my hypothetial situation, in which force has already been initiated between two citizens - so they can step in, use force to prevent the further use of force between two citizens...

No, they can't. The first principle is an absolute recognition that the aggressor is in the wrong, and the defender is in the right. When you find two people fighting, the fight is either consensual or non-consensual. There is either zero or one aggressor. You don't know who is the aggressor, but that doesn't change the fact. If you decide to intervene, any force used against the defender is itself aggression, and you're guilty whether or not you realize it. If the defender then defends himself against you, using lethal force if necessary, he's fully justified despite all your good intentions. If you and the aggressor manage to kill the defender, and then the aggressor tells you that HE was the defender, and you and everyone else in the world believe him, then a crime was committed, whether or not it's ever exposed, and you're a criminal, whether or not you or anyone else ever realizes it. Since humans are fallible, that will sometimes happen.

So the bottom line is that intervening is a serious matter, and you shouldn't enter into it lightly. If you see a rape in progress, you can be nearly certain that you know who the aggressor is, and you're probably not a criminal if you intervene. But if you intervene in a conflict, and turn out to be wrong, then you bear the consequences of your decision.

It was my understanding that an overriding government that can make such decisions was the antithesis of anarchy.  Are we, perhaps, using different definitions for that word?

Probably. Hoppe's definition of government, which I think is the simplest and best, is "an agent claiming territorial monopoly on the use of force and the resolution of conflict (including conflict against itself)." In other words, government claims a monopoly on judging who is wrong, even when government itself is the accused, and then claims a monopoly on force for defense, punishment or war-making, in a specified terrritory.

Everything government does can be done privately through contracts. The existing government would be legitimate in an anarchic society if everyone under its jurisdiction agreed voluntarily to pay taxes, obey laws, etc. In other words, if the "social contract" were a real contract and not a fiction. Indeed, a slight twist on the Articles of Confederation would make the original United States into a fascinating anarchic experiment: suppose that one could declare citizenship in any state of one's choosing, regardless where one lived or owned property! I.e., if Pennsylvania's laws were too oppressive, I could simply declare myself a Virginian (presumably, subject to consent from Virginia), and would be bound by Virginian law and exempt from Pennsylvanian law, without relocating. I could also declare myself stateless, but in that case I would have no access to defense or other services provided by the various states. Ego is envisioning something between those two possibilities. It's legit anarchy, if nobody can be compelled without consent to be subject to the "voluntary government" (which is, you rightly note, an oxymoron meant to describe something else).

...it's remarkably easy to run into folks who paint an encircled 'A' for grafitti, and assume that because they claim the label, that they represent the whole of the philosophy.  Addressin' such misconceptions was what I was trying to do here.

I applaud your efforts. The graffiti artists might join this forum and embroil themselves in endless controversy, by failing to realize that "anarchy" means something very different around here than they think.

References given earlier in this thread are excellent. Also, anything published through Mises.org will tend to explain what anarchists here are mostly about. Folks published on LewRockwell.com are not all anarcho-capitalists, but many, perhaps most, are. The Mises.org podcast has some excellent anarcho-capitalist material, and anything by Walter Block or Hans Hoppe is a particular joy to read.

--Len

 

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Paul replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:40 AM

Anonymous Coward:

You're asking the wrong question...

It should be has anarchy worked in human society?

Actually, I think it's "could archy work in human society".

(And the answer is "no")

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 12:26 PM

Okay - I've read the _Private Law_ essay by Robert Murphy (thanks much for the pointer!), and on the surface, it seems reasonable.  It also seems like a fine society in which to run an insurance company, since everyone's going to need a remarkable range of policies.  I'm not yet convinced, though.

Among other things, there are some services that do not lend themselves to competetion.  Local roads, for example - if Citympls Co. owns the local roads, and does its maintainence remarkably stupidly, Countyhenn Co. can't come in, buy land, and set up an alternative road system, looking for subscribers.  Whichever company owned the roads would have a monopoly, and would be the de facto government for those roads - until someone came up with an attractive alternate solution.

Businesses, writing nonessential clauses into their contracts, and insisting upon such a contract before being willing to do business, would replace the legal system.  Uh-huh.  If Acme grocery store won't sell cabbage to me until I've signed an agreement to not commit rape, I'd expect Emca grocery store to open up, skip the expensive paperwork, hire armed guards to protect themselves, and pass the savings on to the consumer - and sell me some cabbage.

If I'm under fire by some self-righteous nincompoop who is convinced that they're acting in self-defense when they try to kill the awful tobacco user, who do I call for backup?  If I've contracted with Arbitrators, Inc., and Nincompoop has a contract with Judgements, Ltd. - this could get downright ugly.  If I'm estranged from my birth family, and my children predecease me in the firefight, who is there to object?  According to Len, my neighbors would have plenty of reason to not get involved, unless we had a mutual defense agreement - so people without a legal clan of heirs would do well to join in such agreements, probably based upon physical location.

If my block's mutual-defense society had a dispute with the MDS across the street, and it devolved into a shootin' war, it would behoove both sides to enlist allies - make agreements with adjoining MDSs.  Pretty soon, the whole thing is being run by the power bloc who can field the most force.  An intriguing study of how that has worked in the past can be found in the story of the Cowboys vs. Wyatt Earp - a good, fictionalized version that covers the facts pretty well can be found in _Tombstone_, a pretty good movie.  There, the rival gangs were the cowboys and the U.S. Marshalls - one had "legal" standing and better backup, but they were, to all intents and purposes, rival gangs.

It still looks like it'd be lovely, but for the loopholes - and I'm a loophole kinda guy.  While I'm usually unwilling to initiate force, I'm probably overwilling to escallate a physical dispute pretty steeply - shootin' the kid who I catch syphoning my gas tank just seems reasonable to me, though it's likely to seem unreasonable to his clan.  Based upon this, I'm most likely to contract with the arbitration company that has the reputation for permitting the most overkill in response to petty theft.  A few years into this, and I'll be contemplatin' pre-emptive strikes against the remains of his clan, just to get some sleep at night - his MDS is gonna have my name on their "better dead"  list.

Nope - as peaceful as most are, there have always been those who would cheerfully loot and assault others.  If enough of them band together to become a serious problem, the peacable folk would have to band together to face that problem, and we're back to having a government.  Probably a better government than we have now, but a government nonetheless.

Len - I'll agree with you - Hoppe's definition looks clear, accurate, and succinct to me.  But unless there's some sort of monopoly on  non-contract dispute resolution, there's gonna be bloodshed - and if there is one, it's called a government - even if it's a publicly-traded corporation.

It's entirely likely that there have been solutions to the noncontractural squabbles that would arise from theft and agression - but until I see a convincing one, I'm gonna have to remain skeptical.

Danno, thinkin' it would have been lovely....

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It's entirely likely that there have been solutions to the noncontractural squabbles that would arise from theft and agression - but until I see a convincing one, I'm gonna have to remain skeptical.

Go ahead: as long as you continue enquiring reasonably, as you're doing here, your skepticism is healthy.

Most of your objections seem to boil down to: what happens when two defense agencies get into a shooting war? That's addressed in the literature, though I don't have pointers at the tip of my fingers. To sum up the general answer: your defense agency exists to make money; going to war over your petty squabbles is at least as bad for business as failing to provide the protection you paid for. You agency and the anti-smoking-zealot's agency will give you the choice of entering arbitration (or some other rough equivalent of "going to court"), or else have your defense contracts terminated. They will not spend the millions a shooting war would cost in order to defend your stinkin' stogie.

Your concern about roads amounts to a "natural monopoly" argument. Having socialized roads doesn't solve that problem: it simply makes government an honest-to-goodness, enforced-with-guns monopolist--with the resulting high prices, poor quality, graft and corruption. At worst, you're talking about trading a government monopolist for a bunch of small local "monopolies" that can hardly be worse.

But they're not really monopolies at all. Suppose I own a parking lot, and carve out a square in the center, put a house on it and sell the house to you, you could call me a "local monopolist": you can't leave your home without passing through my property. This is the extreme case of what you're describing, since the road owner might not have you completely surrounded. You might be able to cut through the woods and escape the locally-owned roads entirely.

The first problem with this "monopoly" is the question how it arose: did you buy the house without stipulating that I'd let you at least enter and leave it? That was pretty stupid. What would you pay for a home on those terms? Five dollars? Similarly, the owner of a residential road would grant certain guarantees, in the form of rights-of-way, to home owners on his street--because if he didn't, the property value would plummet. I have no idea what those guarantees would look like exactly, but after the market explores the issue a while, they'll settle down to a few standard forms quickly. For example, you might always be allowed to enter and leave your property on foot, but must pay to use a motor vehicle. Or you might be allowed to ride with neighbors, taxis that have contractual arrangements, etc., even if you don't pay your fees. There are many possibilities. But a property in which I can imprison you at whim, if it existed at all, would be cheap enough a hobo could afford it.

The next problem is that it isn't a "monopoly" if equally serviceable goods are availabe from another source. You can escape the "local monopoly" by moving to another town. That's a pain, and might be costly, but it remains an option. We must be careful not to confuse the cost of a choice with not having a choice; that's how leftists conclude that capitalists "coerce" their employees: after all, unemployment is costly, and changing jobs is a pain.

In a nutshell, you're right that road providers can't compete by laying three roads to your door. But that doesn't mean they can't compete.

--Len

 

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And besides, there are firms competing on the market for corporate control, however blunted it might be at present due to state meddling.

-Jon

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 2:04 PM

Len Budney:

Most of your objections seem to boil down to: what happens when two defense agencies get into a shooting war? That's addressed in the literature, though I don't have pointers at the tip of my fingers. To sum up the general answer: your defense agency exists to make money; going to war over your petty squabbles is at least as bad for business as failing to provide the protection you paid for. You agency and the anti-smoking-zealot's agency will give you the choice of entering arbitration (or some other rough equivalent of "going to court"), or else have your defense contracts terminated. They will not spend the millions a shooting war would cost in order to defend your stinkin' stogie.

So, I'd pretty much have to enroll with a local defense agency?  Mostly, I'm one of those annoyin' do-it-yourselfers - if there's not a local group that has me vastly outnumbered, claiming a monopoly, I'll do it myself.  However, I've never signed a contract sayin' I wouldn't smoke tobacco, and he's never signed a contract agreeing to allow second-hand smoke - so there's a sincere conflict of interest, and a not-unreasonable level of contention over which of us is the actual agressor.  Is his defense agency going to force me, at gunpoint, into arbritration? 

I'll cheerfully acknowledge that even expensive choices are choices, but "you do this or we shoot you" does not fit within my idea of voluntary choice.

Nor do I see voluntary contract as the sole arbiter in such disputes.  The secondhand smoke thing may seem petty, the traffic exhaust from the nearby major road is less petty, but it's still hard to prove actual damage.  The neighbor next door who is burning her old spare tire collection is even more noxious, but I don't have a contract with her about how she's turning my house paint black - what recourse would I have, short of viewing her action as aggression and defending myself violently?

It's not even so much the difficulty to arrange a universal contract regarding air quality that gives me pause - it's the plunderers.   You may, as a rational capitalist, realize that war is not profitable - not on a large scale.  However, nobody ever told the Vikings this, and they raided quite successfully for many centuries.  The 'local government' Irish couldn't prevent them from doing this, it took a 'large government' force, after they'd been conquered by Britain, to bring it to an end.  This is one of the (few) uses of government - to amass enough force as to make aggression from outside unprofitable.  I'd have a tough time doing that on my urban lot.

Your concern about roads amounts to a "natural monopoly" argument. Having socialized roads doesn't solve that problem: it simply makes government an honest-to-goodness, enforced-with-guns monopolist--with the resulting high prices, poor quality, graft and corruption. At worst, you're talking about trading a government monopolist for a bunch of small local "monopolies" that can hardly be worse.

The one advantage that government ownership of the roads gives me is that it's elective - the folks running the roads commission want to be re-elected, and thus have some interest in customer satisfaction.  I'm an urban dweller, so roads are hard to go around - but even as a rural dweller, the local network of roads is likely to have a single owner.  The people with a practical choice between different road systems will have more roads than are needed in their neighborhood.

The larger road systems are likely to be more profitable, and thus expand - there's economies of scale to deal with.

Once that monopoly is in place, there's likely to be very little incentive to put more than the minimum into maintenance - they'll want to maximize profits, after all.  Without practical competition, I'd expect to need to buy suspension parts for my car much more frequently, and pay the price demanded - or forgo transporting myself.

The next problem is that it isn't a "monopoly" if equally serviceable goods are availabe from another source. You can escape the "local monopoly" by moving to another town. That's a pain, and might be costly, but it remains an option. We must be careful not to confuse the cost of a choice with not having a choice; that's how leftists conclude that capitalists "coerce" their employees: after all, unemployment is costly, and changing jobs is a pain.

In a nutshell, you're right that road providers can't compete by laying three roads to your door. But that doesn't mean they can't compete.

Yes, I'd have a choice about where to live - but road quality is remarkably variable, and the choice I'd have would be which monopoly to do business with - and that is unlikely to be a prime consideration when I chose where to live.  You don't, after all, hinge your relocation decision on which cable company has service in that area - you decide on the more-important factors, and live with what you get in the minor factors.

If the roads in a particular place got totally awful, it'd be a poor long-term business decision on their part - but businesses have been known to make poor long-term decisions, or even ignore the long-term issues in pursuit of short-term profits. If I owned the roads, I'm quite certain that my contract with users would have an "as-is" clause - it's not as if they'd have much of a choice, and lawsuits are so inconvenient.

If the roads get bad enough, folks would move away - but this would cause a remarkable drop in property value.  A well-financed, monopolistic road company could easily become the only buyer who wants the land - and in a buyer's market, value gets transferred from the seller to the buyer, often at the seller's expense.  For a "reasonable" extra fee, the road company could offer to do maintenance to X level of quality in an area, add a few nifty extras to the contracts, and offer remarkably low prices on land, homes, and immobile capital that they've acquired at "nobody else wants it" prices  - enticing new folks to move in, and turning a remarkable long-term profit on the whole thing.  With the contractual "we won't do it again" clause, it'd be a one-shot project - but it'd be an awfully tempting project, wouldn't it?  I'd probably not do such a thing, and you probably wouldn't - but someone almost certainly would.

Thanks for bein' patient in explaining where I'm missing something - I appreciate the education.

Danno

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 2:10 PM

Paul:
Anonymous Coward:

You're asking the wrong question...

It should be has anarchy worked in human society?

Actually, I think it's "could archy work in human society".

(And the answer is "no")

Hmm... if, by 'archy', you mean '-archy', it's never failed to compete successfully with it's lack.  If I'm not understanding you correctly, I'd appreciate some enlightenment.

Danno

 

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Ego:

Nitroadict:

A state in which coporatism, neo-feudalism, oligarchy, perpetual warfare, "compassionate" statist conservative socialism, statist leftist socialism, lack of free association, lack of opting out ot he state without being, technically, a criminal, lack of free markets, lack of respect for the NAP, full on present coercion by the state, etc. doesn't sound like something anarchists would really agree to; I hardly see how you can say "exact same government we have now" with a straight face :\

Did I not say that the state can't initiate force? How could any of those things happen? It's a way of framing the debate that isn't shocking for people raising a family, afraid of leftist anarchist thugs rioting through their neighborhood.

Also, saying 'understanably' is sounds like saying that the mis-use of said association (the black flag waving leftist thugs) is valid, when the perception itself is actually quite irrational.  Would it not be better to address such misconeptions instead of pandering to irrational beliefs?  If you want to teach someone how to add, you don't rationalize their wrong answer of "5" when "2 + 2 = 4".   

Irration beliefs? Words are defined by their current usage; "anarchy" now means "rampant lack of respect for property rights", even in cases where there is still technically a government.  You could use the word "anarchy" if you really want, but why do you want to handicap yourself?


If you are saying that *some* of what we currently have in terms of lifestyle wouldn't drastically change, I would agree with you to some extent.  Overall however, things would eventually become drastily different; saying "exactly the same" might imply minarchism, which clearly isn't anarchism. 

Again, it's all about framing the debate in a way that's palatable to the greatest number of people.

 

 



"Did I not say that the state can't initiate force? How could any of those things happen?"

They can happen if The State exists; you would be surprised at the political manuvering involved in turning "force" into "help, or "force" into "defense", or "defense" into "force, etc. etc.  In short, I ultimatley would not trust the state, even if it seemingly can't initiate force.


Googled "rampant lack of respect for property rights"; did not find any referrences to anarchy other than, oddly, this thread popping up :\


Again, appeasing to what's palatable puts your argument on crutches; but I guess it would be easier to give in to someone's misconceptions & opinions, rather than actually attempting to dissasemble their 'logic' in discourse.


You talk about framing the debate to greatest number of people, but wouldn't that mean *not* lying to them?  Wouldn't that mean explaining, appropriatly, the law would still exist under anarchy, just not law as we know it (law by the state) ?  Giving into fears & misconceptions about somehing people do not understand, due to that very fear, is not furthering the debate at all. 

Treating as if you need to make your message moderate waters down the very principles that are needed to be explain & dissemineate the misconceptions in the first place.  An example would be possibly using minarchism as a vehicle to address the problems of the state, in an effrot to make the advent of "smallest state just shy of the lack of state", when the state would still exist regardless. 

If you were to "campaign" your message to greatest number of people, you are more or less a politican, and your "message" , or efforts of framing the debate to be more "palatable" will eventually reduce itself to a former shell of whatever your original intentions were, as they have with the LP party since it's inception in the 70's.  Although, I do admit, it, the LP part, is looking like that 'hip' new conservative vehicle some praised Buckley of promoting to libertarians (in the past) in an effort to convert them, as the republican party is the farthest from conservatism it has ever been, and the LP party is increasingly moderate & less radical. 


As for the family with children, because after all, we must think of the children, it is their perogative if they want to put their surival of their children before changing their views, and vice-versa.  However, what they could not deny is that what someone would have to say regarding anarchism (and tearing apart misconeptions, etc.) could impact their children's future; would they want their children growing up knowing nothing of alternatives to The State, or would they want them to know the alternatives? 

That enters into a field of parenting that I cannot (and I don't think you can, unless you are a parent) vouch for due to lack of experience.  Although, it seems like a similar choice in whether or not allowing your children to watch TV before a cetain age is appropriate or not.  I will not kid myself into denying that single individuals, as opposed to married individuals with childrend, are easier to talk about regarding this subject (in ways), but that honestly depends upon the individuals involved.  For all I know, I could attempt such with a couple I know now, and they could actually be very interested. 

The main point I would bring up before hand though, is that The State is not required for society to operate, to have a daily life, a job, to raise children, to get married (or whatever the stateless alternative would be, if the state is required for such) etc.  It simply would be different means for such, and it would be up to the parents to decide if it would be worth informing their children, as well themselves, of such alternative thought. 

Besides, the action of arriving at such, via Agorism most likley, does not happen *instantly*, so the point of dealing the state as a monopoly over the way we run our lives, until we strong enough to over-ride it with counter-economics, would also appeal to parents looking to ensure "secruity" for their children.  Also, I would not talk down to them, nor ridicule their own opinions, nor would I attempt to use their children as a barganing chip; I'd imagine any parent being very outraged if anyone did such. 

Refinforcing idiotic imagery of thugs rioting (oops, not all thugs are leftist, whatever you mean by "leftist", this time), of the certain individuals who may actually believe that (I think it's generalizing way too much to think that everyone views anarchy as such) is not something that furthers understanding, education, debate, etc.,

As for using the word anarchy, there a number of approaches involved that do not water down your argument: You can ask them what they think the definition is, ask them why, ask them do you think The State is needed in all areas of life?, ask them why or why not.  Listen to them before they listen to you. 

If it's really a big deal to you, you could possibly say "stateless society", or "open-ended society", or whatever, and then eventually get a meta-argument going on the controversey over the mis-uses of the word anarchy, and how idiots who advocate looting, rioting, force, etc. co-opt the word and give it a bad name. 

I think as long as one does not jump into someones face, yelling "ANARCHY OR DIE", or "YOU  ARE WRONG@#!$$", you can get a productive conversation going.

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No offence, but shouldn't this debate be moved to another thread dealing with the appositeness of semantics such as "anarchy" vs "polycentric" &c.? This thread regards the practicality of anarchism per se.

-Jon

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Most of your objections seem to boil down to: what happens when two defense agencies get into a shooting war? ...

So, I'd pretty much have to enroll with a local defense agency?

Of course not! You can get a dog, or get a gun, or get a burglar alarm, or put up scary signs, or study judo, or simply hope for the best. You can do anything you want to. Every decision has costs, benefits and risks. What I think is bothering you is the thought that, without a defense agency, people would be flocking to your house to rob, rape and kill you and your family. That's pretty much the fear that makes people cling to the state, because they fail to notice two things: if people really were like that, they'd be acting that way now; and the folks who really are like that are probably cops or politicians today.

Yes, I'd have a choice about where to live - but road quality is remarkably variable, and the choice I'd have would be which monopoly to do business with...

Since Mises.org is lousy with economists (of which I'm not one), it's probably a bad idea to keep calling them "monopolies." A local road company isn't the only provider of roads in the world, so they're not a monopolist in any sense--but even being the world's only supplier doesn't make one a monopolist to an Austrian economist. To be a monopolist, you must have the power to bar competition, and the only way to bar competition is by force. So one can only be a monopolist by running a criminal gang or government (but I repeat myself), or else by colluding with said criminals. Electric plants used to be monopolies in the US, because the government would arrest anyone trying to open a competing utility. Roads and the postal system are government monopolies. Etc.

What you mean is that you get to decide "who you're stuck with," which is indeed mostly true. But that's an improvement over today, where you don't get to decide who you're stuck with! You're stuck with the government, which gives us horrible roads at ridiculous cost, on which 40,000 Americans die every year (i.e., approximately one 9/11 per month, since long before 2001).

If the roads in a particular place got totally awful, it'd be a poor long-term business decision on their part - but businesses have been known to make poor long-term decisions...

Unlike government? At least when a businessman does something bad, you can do something about it. When government does something bad, it can shoot you for complaining.

By the way, down that road are lots of claimed "market failures." When you look into cases where businesses do terrible things, you will almost always find the government at the root of it. For example, before power companies' government-granted monopolies, there was a free market in power. It was extremely competitive, prices were low and services were good, and the power companies themselves clamored for regulation to "protect" themselves from "ruinous competition" that would "drive them out of business," supposedly leaving no sources of electricity standing. The result was government-protected monopolies, higher prices, less competition, and by the way, more "externalities" like polution. After all, two power companies at the same price can compete on the fact that one doesn't stink like eggs.

The one advantage that government ownership of the roads gives me is that it's elective - the folks running the roads commission want to be re-elected...

That's a kind of parody of the market. Road commissioners compete for votes, which isn't the same as competing for customers. For example, giving kickbacks to construction companies can buy votes at the expense of "customers." But in any case, they're protected from failure: if you refuse to pay them for their "services," you will be arrested. If you resist arrest, you'll be subdued or even killed. The more you ponder the notion that you own the roads, and exercise your ownership by voting, the more you'll realize what a farce it is. As South Park portrayed it, every election in the end is between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

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Jon Irenicus:

No offence, but shouldn't this debate be moved to another thread dealing with the appositeness of semantics such as "anarchy" vs "polycentric" &c.? This thread regards the practicality of anarchism per se.

-Jon




Yeah, I second that, although the question "Can anarchy work in human society" tehcnically covers the seemingly off-topic acvtivity here.  I apologize for furthering off-topic activity, though.

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Ego:

I have a fairly unique view of this, but hear me out:

Under the ideal system, we'd have the exact same government we have now... except it can't initiate the use of force! This means...

  • it must raise money through fundraisers, advertisements, voluntary charitable donations, etc.
  • it can't enact price controls, wage controls, etc.

In other words, most of these "impossible" scenarios would play out much the same as they would today. Technically, this is anarchy. However, it's much more palatable for people who (understandably) associate "anarchy" with black-flag-waving leftist thugs.

Since trying to enforce a territorial monopoly would count as threatening or using initiatory physical force, why pray tell would we still have a single over-arching government with integrated executive, legislative and judicial functions operating in a given territory with no competitors? I just don't see how we'd have the "exact same government" we have now just without the initiation of force. If it doesn't act like a territorial monopolist it is hard to see why any government would remain structured like states are today for very long.

 

 

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Since trying to enforce a territorial monopoly would count as threatening or using initiatory physical force, why pray tell would we still have a single over-arching government...

I don't think he's useing Hoppe's definition.

It's perfectly possible for a group of volunteers to form a community barely distinguishable from the current system. Eminent domian can be set up on a voluntarist basis by everyone binding their property with a covenant allowing it to be confiscated at a price to be determined by the confiscator. Arrest warrants, similarly, by granting full access to one's property to anyone having a signed warrant. Taxation? Simple: create a contractual liability for whatever fraction of one's pay is demanded, and contractually bind employers not to employ anyone who violates the agreement. And so on. You can recreate virtually every aspect of the current system on a purely voluntarist basis.

Ego is arguing that a "free" society will probably preserve conventions and institutions resembling what we have now, but created voluntarily. All I can say is, "Man oh man I hope not!"

--Len

 

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Len Budney:
I don't think he's useing Hoppe's definition.

It's pretty much the standard definition of the state since at least Max Weber.

Len Budney:
It's perfectly possible for a group of volunteers to form a community barely distinguishable from the current system. Eminent domian can be set up on a voluntarist basis by everyone binding their property with a covenant allowing it to be confiscated at a price to be determined by the confiscator. Arrest warrants, similarly, by granting full access to one's property to anyone having a signed warrant. Taxation? Simple: create a contractual liability for whatever fraction of one's pay is demanded, and contractually bind employers not to employ anyone who violates the agreement. And so on. You can recreate virtually every aspect of the current system on a purely voluntarist basis.

This may in principle be possible and it may even occur in some places on a small scale but I don't see it happening over large territories with large populations.

Len Budney:
Ego is arguing that a "free" society will probably preserve conventions and institutions resembling what we have now, but created voluntarily. All I can say is, "Man oh man I hope not!"

Same here. Even restrictive covenant communities make me leery and queazy. I think this sort of all-inclusive voluntary (at least at first!) government is undesireable from a libertarian standpoint for a number of reasons, one of them being the argument I have made elsewhere that it is illegitimate, due to the inalienability of the right to liberty, to grant any person or organization the right of arbitrary dominion over yourself, another being what seems to me a likely tendency for voluntary (at least at first!) governments structured like that to develop into states over the course of generations. A polycentric legal order would be far more preferrable from a libertarian standpoint. We should oppose excessive centralization of such important services as law and security, not to speak of others that states tend inevitably to take on.

 

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Len Budney:
I don't think he's useing Hoppe's definition.

It's pretty much the standard definition of the state since at least Max Weber.

Yeah, but you could consider it a typo in Ego's post. He means that an anarchist society could look "exactly" like what we have now, and it pretty much could. But once again, with every fiber of my being I hope not.

--Len

 

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 5:27 PM

Nitroadict:
They can happen if The State exists; you would be surprised at the political manuvering involved in turning "force" into "help, or "force" into "defense", or "defense" into "force, etc. etc.  In short, I ultimatley would not trust the state, even if it seemingly can't initiate force.

You're making the leftist mistake of treating the "state" as if it's some magical entity. Any group of individuals, including private defense companies, can turn "help" into "force", etc. Nothing changes just because you call a particular organization the "state".

Googled "rampant lack of respect for property rights"; did not find any referrences to anarchy other than, oddly, this thread popping up :\

What's your point...? When people think of anarchy, they think of spray-painted "A"s, leftist thugs dressed in black lighting things on fire, and stupid pretentious college students chanting useless anti-war, anti-capitalist slogans.

Again, appeasing to what's palatable puts your argument on crutches; but I guess it would be easier to give in to someone's misconceptions & opinions, rather than actually attempting to dissasemble their 'logic' in discourse.

You don't have to put anything on crutches, just try to avoid words that the left has given a horrible connotation.

You talk about framing the debate to greatest number of people, but wouldn't that mean *not* lying to them?

Absolutely! I would never lie to anyone.

If it's really a big deal to you, you could possibly say "stateless society", or "open-ended society", or whatever, and then eventually get a meta-argument going on the controversey over the mis-uses of the word anarchy, and how idiots who advocate looting, rioting, force, etc. co-opt the word and give it a bad name. 

Why do you insist on saying there isn't a state? How does that help your argument? It might help with some 22 year-olds who think being a rebel is cool, but it wouldn't help with anyone else. There's nothing wrong with a state as long as it doesn't violate anyone's rights.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 6:52 PM

Len Budney:

Most of your objections seem to boil down to: what happens when two defense agencies get into a shooting war? ...

So, I'd pretty much have to enroll with a local defense agency?

Of course not! You can get a dog, or get a gun, or get a burglar alarm, or put up scary signs, or study judo, or simply hope for the best. You can do anything you want to. Every decision has costs, benefits and risks. What I think is bothering you is the thought that, without a defense agency, people would be flocking to your house to rob, rape and kill you and your family. That's pretty much the fear that makes people cling to the state, because they fail to notice two things: if people really were like that, they'd be acting that way now; and the folks who really are like that are probably cops or politicians today.

I average 2 burglaries and one act of vandalism (graffiti or broken windows) a year, with state protection - and I live in a relatively low-crime city.  Personally, I'd prefer to do without the state in this case - they're remarkably less effective than a head on a spike would be, decoratin' my property.  What I'm wondering is whether I'd be in the wrong for overreacting to a property crime, and how I would, in a  practical fashion, prevent their heirs and assigns from comin' over to escalate the dispute into a traditional clan feud.  If the levels of force were fairly level, the noise alone would be disturbing to my neighbors.  The third one I shoot, comin' to my place to avenge the one prior, I'd be sorely tempted to make a preemptive strike - would I be in the wrong for doing so?  Would I be in the wrong for shooting the 12-yo kid with the spray can who I catch decorating my garage?

It could get downright noisy.  Who decides what's inappropriate for my response to minor aggression?  Arbitration?  Can I know, in advance, what the decision would be?  Law is so handy for such things....

Yes, I'd have a choice about where to live - but road quality is remarkably variable, and the choice I'd have would be which monopoly to do business with...

Since Mises.org is lousy with economists (of which I'm not one), it's probably a bad idea to keep calling them "monopolies." A local road company isn't the only provider of roads in the world, so they're not a monopolist in any sense--but even being the world's only supplier doesn't make one a monopolist to an Austrian economist. To be a monopolist, you must have the power to bar competition, and the only way to bar competition is by force. So one can only be a monopolist by running a criminal gang or government (but I repeat myself), or else by colluding with said criminals. Electric plants used to be monopolies in the US, because the government would arrest anyone trying to open a competing utility. Roads and the postal system are government monopolies. Etc.

The electric company that has lines to my neighborhood is still a monopoly - they're the only ones allowed to run power lines.  To be blunt, I'm not that sure I'd prefer to live in a city with 4 or 5 different power grids available - it'd be unsightly, and economies of scale would probably raise the cost to the consumer anyway.  The same goes for cable hookup - only one allowed in any area, to keep the lines to a minimum - and probably better that way, as long as there's a mechanism to keep monopoly pricing out of the juncture.  (Come to think of it, they're really not a monopoly - I could get a generator for the electric, buy a tank and LP rather than natural gas, etc - there are alternatives, but they're quite expensive and far less efficient.)

By an atypical physical restriction on this commodity, only one entity can own the street that goes past my house - and it'd be a remarkable inconvenience to me if a different one owned the alley that goes past the back of my house.  Unless the neighbors to the north or south of me convert their dwellings into thoroughfares, those are the only two possible routes.  As they are the only two roads with access to my house, they're a monopoly to me.  When economists talk about the difficulty in being a monopoly because there can be other sources, well - there can be other sources.  Absent a multi-level structure, with other companies allowed to build alternate roads above or below the level of existing structures, roads will have to be monopolies - at least, locally.  When we achieve personal transit by air, without roads, it'll be less of an issue - but so far, we haven't.  Most economists acknowledge roads as being a special case.

What you mean is that you get to decide "who you're stuck with," which is indeed mostly true. But that's an improvement over today, where you don't get to decide who you're stuck with! You're stuck with the government, which gives us horrible roads at ridiculous cost, on which 40,000 Americans die every year (i.e., approximately one 9/11 per month, since long before 2001).

Not so much different - I could move to, say, Montana, if they had great roads, and roads were that important to me.  Nor do I see that much correlation between road quality and traffic fatality.

If the roads in a particular place got totally awful, it'd be a poor long-term business decision on their part - but businesses have been known to make poor long-term decisions...

Unlike government? At least when a businessman does something bad, you can do something about it. When government does something bad, it can shoot you for complaining.

When the local roads provider is bad enough, I can move elsewhere.  When the local government gets bad enough, I can do the same.  For USAians, so far, when federal government is vile enough, one can expatriate.  I'm not seeing much difference here.  Not that I wouldn't happily do without 98% of government "services" - but that other 2% is hard to do without, in any kind of society.

By the way, down that road are lots of claimed "market failures." When you look into cases where businesses do terrible things, you will almost always find the government at the root of it. For example, before power companies' government-granted monopolies, there was a free market in power. It was extremely competitive, prices were low and services were good, and the power companies themselves clamored for regulation to "protect" themselves from "ruinous competition" that would "drive them out of business," supposedly leaving no sources of electricity standing. The result was government-protected monopolies, higher prices, less competition, and by the way, more "externalities" like polution. After all, two power companies at the same price can compete on the fact that one doesn't stink like eggs.

To my understanding, the electric companies were doing just fine, and didn't much like the government competition (TVA), but the Federal government insisted on getting involved, over the existing utilities' protests.  There was no government-sponsored level of monopoly - just the recognition that it was a better decision to build plant/grid where there wasn't any competitor yet.  At least until 1940, nobody was asking for government protection: there were still parts of the country that didn't have electric service yet.  (This from Shlaes' _The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression_, which I highly recommend.)

I'll need no instruction on market failure, but thanks - while I'm not an expert, I've studied enough to know that the market cannot fail unless it's interfered with externally.  I *have* traveled on a privately-owned, public-access road - the guy with property on both sides of the stream built a bridge, about midway between the two "public" bridges, and charged a toll - reasonable enough in price to make it an easy decision to use it.  This was 30 years ago, though - he's probably been regulated out of business.

However, roads exist on a 2-dimensional plane, and cannot easily overlap, or compete - which makes them different from most markets - I'd be tempted to call the situation unique, but there's probably another example of a supply/demand where There Can Be Only One.

The one advantage that government ownership of the roads gives me is that it's elective - the folks running the roads commission want to be re-elected...

That's a kind of parody of the market. Road commissioners compete for votes, which isn't the same as competing for customers. For example, giving kickbacks to construction companies can buy votes at the expense of "customers." But in any case, they're protected from failure: if you refuse to pay them for their "services," you will be arrested. If you resist arrest, you'll be subdued or even killed. The more you ponder the notion that you own the roads, and exercise your ownership by voting, the more you'll realize what a farce it is. As South Park portrayed it, every election in the end is between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

Politicians who buy votes with cash alone are rarely successful - there's an awful lot of votes, and few will sell their votes for less than a pack of cigarettes.  Giving concessions to the unions is less personally expensive, and the union mindset can be remarkably sheeplike.  But a DOT commissioner, with lousy roads on the day of elections, is unlikely to remain in office, and they know that, so it's competition of a sort that'd be unavailable with private ownership of the roads.

As I acknowledged, roads are an exception to most market rules - but they're an exception that most people need to deal with on a daily basis, and a free market there won't reflect usual market forces and options.  This will need to be addressed before I'm going to be convinced that government has no use at all.

I've seen, on another thread, a huge list of books dealing specifically with roads from the libertarian standpoint - I expect that there are convincing ones from the anarchist standpoint, as well.  I'll get to looking at further evidence, but I'm not that hopeful that it'll work out convincingly.  Murphy's contention in _Chaos Theory_ that non-relevant clauses in voluntary contracts would cover aggression that's not usually contracted about was plausible, but not convincing - the available contracts themselves would be part of competition, and simpler is usually preferred by the customer.

Danno, the doubtful.

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I'm curious, why do people who worry about natural monopolies (let's say, arguendo, one was the case) evoke government as the solution? Why not a firm owned by the individuals in a given community, for instance? I really don't see how this lends any support to the idea of a minimal government. Governments do not handle anything well, why expect them to handle a supposed monopoly well? Why this persevering addiction to forcing others to pay for what one desires?

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Paul replied on Fri, May 9 2008 7:45 PM

Len Budney:

It's perfectly possible for a group of volunteers to form a community barely distinguishable from the current system. Eminent domian can be set up on a voluntarist basis by everyone binding their property with a covenant allowing it to be confiscated at a price to be determined by the confiscator. Arrest warrants, similarly, by granting full access to one's property to anyone having a signed warrant. Taxation? Simple: create a contractual liability for whatever fraction of one's pay is demanded, and contractually bind employers not to employ anyone who violates the agreement. And so on. You can recreate virtually every aspect of the current system on a purely voluntarist basis.

See Rothbard on validity of contract.

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There's nothing wrong with a state as long as it doesn't violate anyone's rights.

The reason why some of us object to what you're saying is that, as we understand it, a state violates rights by definition. We're anarchists, implying that we oppose the state as an institution, so it makes no sense to say "the state can be good" if only it ceases to have the very traits that would make it a state or if only the right people were in control of it. In my understanding, in order for a state to form and sustain itself, people's rights must be violated. If you took away the key features of territorial monopolism and coerced payment, the institution would cease to be a "state" in any sensible definition of the word and have no more legitimacy or meaning than a local country club. Why would you continue to call such an institution a "state", and why would a self proclaimed anarchist propose that they support "states" based on some criteria for legitimacy when anarchists are supposed to reject the legitimacy of states?

Your position seems to mirror that of the objectivists who think that if only you took away taxation you can have a legitimate state that can go invade Iran or Venezuela.

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No, not all individuals think of anarchy as what you say it is; if this were true, how would there be a debate in the first place if *everyone* thought anarchy as such?  Argue all you want on that point, but each individual has a different set of perceptions on anarchy, assuming of course an individual knows the word anarchy at all (not the meaning, the word itself; some of my family members have not actually heard the word used before; something I actually find odd & interesting...).  You are treating as if everyone who is not involved in this debate automatically has a certain view of something, and it is not logical at all. 

I will not avoid words that drive towards consistiency; I do not find your words of "a government that doesn't use force or coercion is fine" as consistient, because the government, or state, or what makes up the government, the various agencies, the 3 branches thereof, etc. etc. since you were obviously confused by my "abstraction" of calling it The State, which oddly enough, again, anyone, not just leftists, can make.  There is a difference between shorthand & abstraction.

I'm sorry if I do not feel like typing paragraphs to fully explain a shorthand phrase that is thrown around here in context quite a bit for the sake of wordiness.  I'm sure it would be an abstraction if I could not explain the state consists of (again, 3 branches of government, congress, the various federal& state beuracracies, the FED, corporations in bed the government, etc. etc. etc.) at all, and just stared blankly at you.  I suppose from now on I'll just say 'government' as I'm tiring of your automatic use of "leftist" on things you don't agree with.  In other news, those damn leftist kids just won't stop walking by my house every few hours when they need to get to their car !

Additionally, my point in googling such is that your arrogant generalizing of what everyone else seems to view of anarchy falls apart on the invdividual level (those 22 year olds that you refer to included), and I did not find any source nor site advocating that exact term as being "anarchy".     

As for PDA's, other's have addressed this better than I:

(even though this addresses the Objectivist view of minarchism, it still addresses minarchism):

"Objectivists advocate something a bit different than what most libertarian minarchists support. They oppose taxation and advocate what may be called "subscribed government" or voluntary donations to the government. But if this is the case it ceases to be a state can may as well be called a "private protection agency". For if it is truly patronized just like a buisiness, then it has market prices, and instead of saying "donations" we may as well call it "investment". However, if this institution still maintains a coercive monopoly by initiating force or threatening to do so in order to stop people from forming or patronizing any other protection agency within the territory, then it is not truly voluntary either and it still is a state. So even if taxation were abolished, states would still be involuntary if they still tried to maintain a coercive territorial monopoly. This is the underlying problem in the ideal of the Objectivist state (despite the fact that they eliminate taxation from the picture). " ~ BP

"What guarantees that private entrepreneurs under Market Anarchism will not behave in tyrannical and abusive ways? The answer, of course, is that nothing “guarantees” it, just as nothing “guarantees” that governmental politicians will not behave likewise. But under which system is such behaviour most likely to be restrained? The superiority of anarchy over government here lies in the fact that under government the tie between the decision to commit aggression and the cost of that aggression is far weaker than under Market Anarchism. Under a governmental system, the cost of state policies leading to war is borne by taxpayers and conscripts, not by the politicians who crafted those policies. Under Market Anarchism, by contrast, agencies who resolve disputes through violence rather than arbitration will have to charge higher premiums and will thus lose customers. A government can’t lose “customers” (taxpayers) unless they take the drastic step of moving to a new country; by contrast, switching protection agencies would be as easy as switching long distance service. " ~ Roderick T. Long

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:22 PM

In some cases, anything but a monopoly is by definition immoral. What you support competition for natural rights?

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Ego:

In some cases, anything but a monopoly is by definition immoral. What you support competition for natural rights?

 

Do you believe that monopoly naturally results from a free market? I certainly don't. I think that competition is the only thing that can possibly function as a check and balance against monopoly. Competition and monopoly are diametrically opposed in my understanding. So what do you mean when you imply that anything but a monopoly can be immoral by definition? Competition is immoral? Plurality is immoral? Polycentricity is immoral? How so?

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:32 PM

I meant that the concept of a "monopoly" isn't what's evil; what's evil is the violation of rights that generally props up the monopoly. That's all I meant.

Essentially, there needs to be a "default" legal system that respects natural rights. There can be infinite competing legal systems in which consenting parties can try their cases, of course!

That choice would have to be consensual, though.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Ego:

I meant that the concept of a "monopoly" isn't what's evil; what's evil is the violation of rights that generally props up the monopoly. That's all I meant.

Essentially, there needs to be a "default" legal system that respects natural rights. There can be infinite competing legal systems in which consenting parties can try their cases, of course!

That choice would have to be consensual, though.

I've yet to see or hear of a monopoly that isn't propped up through violations of rights, particularly by coercive restrictions on competition. So to me the very nature of a monopoly is immoral. Centralization is a bad thing as a matter of principle. The entire point of a free market is to avoid having a central authority determining things and instead allow a spontaneous order to emerge as a consequence of free association and competition.

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:39 PM

Is it wrong to coercively restrict theft or murder?

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Danno replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:42 PM

I consider myself to have a monopoly on my will - nobody else can control it unless I give that control to them freely, of my own will.  Not all monopolies are about the marketplace.

Ego:
Essentially, there needs to be a "default" legal system that respects natural rights. There can be infinite competing legal systems in which consenting parties can try their cases, of course!

Would that default legal system need to have 100% voluntary agreement to be valid?  In any random collection of 100 people or more, you're not going to get that level of agreement.  If the majority can enforce it upon the unwilling minority, we may have problems.

That choice would have to be consensual, though.

I don't wanna leave - I was born here.  I don't agree with your laws.  You have problems. Sorry.

Danno

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Ego:

Is it wrong to coercively restrict theft or murder?

 

Theft and murder does not equal competition. Bad attempt at an analogy. If you think that it is legitimate for an institution to outlaw their competitors, then your position is closer to that of the objectivists than market anarchists and you support a key feature of all states throughout history - the coercive territorial monopoly.

Furthermore, to make the argument you seem to be wanting to make, you have to bludgeon the meaning of coercion beyond repair. Bringing a thief or murderer to justice does not constitute "coercion".

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:47 PM

Brainpolice:
Theft and murder =/= competition. If you think it is legitimate for an institution to outlaw their competitors, then your position is closer to that of the objectivists than market anarchists.
Why do you think I want to outlaw anything? I specifically said that there can be infinite competiting legal systems; one must be the default legal system, though, just like there must be a default currency (for repaying damages).

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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Ego:

Brainpolice:
Theft and murder =/= competition. If you think it is legitimate for an institution to outlaw their competitors, then your position is closer to that of the objectivists than market anarchists.
Why do you think I want to outlaw anything? I specifically said that there can be infinite competiting legal systems; one must be the default legal system, though, just like there must be a default currency (for repaying damages).

 

What do you mean by a "default legal system" and a "default currency"? Market anarchists oppose a monopoly on the provision of law and a monopoly on money. Different legal systems and currencies must freely compete, otherwise this isn't market anarchism. If a "default" or nearly universal standard happens to emerge out of free competition, that's fine and dandy. But it cannot be some kind of imposed and over-arching thing preceding competition, for that would just be statism all over again. You can't set up some preceding "rules of the game" that restricts the experimentation of competition in order to preserve or enforce a one-size-fits-all standard. It simply wouldn't be a free market.

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Ego replied on Fri, May 9 2008 8:56 PM

By "default legal system" and "default currency", I mean both parties are forced to fall back upon those in the case that neither can agree upon something else.

Don't allow leftists to play games with definitions! Some of the libertarian-leaning leftists at this forum will try to redefine "left-wing" back to its original defition (Third Estate, limited government, free-markets, laissez-faire reforms, etc.). Fine! We non-leftists can't stop them from using their own personal definitions; they can use whatever labels they want to describe any concept they want.

However, they have the audacity to then use their personal definition of "left-wing" (remember, the original definition, which is no longer valid) to prove that modern leftists are more libertarian than modern rightists! They will say that libertarianism is "inherently leftist" (again, using the original, no longer valid definition), and use that to insist that we should prefer and side with modern leftists over modern rightists.

Question their motives.

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