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Framing the debate between minarchists and anarcho-capitalists

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Minarchist Posted: Thu, Feb 9 2012 10:07 PM

Which are better, ovens or chainsaws? In terms of what criteria are we judging one or the other to be better? Better for what? Do we mean better for baking pies or better for cutting lumber?

Likewise, in order to settle the dispute between anarcho-capitalism and minarchism*, we must first decide what criteria we will use to judge which is better. What is the ultimate good which we are trying to achieve?

*(Note: I am using "minarchy" to denote a government whose sole function is to protect the property of citizens from internal and external aggression, and wherein there is a universally recognized right of succession, including individual succession. In other words, this is not a state: but rather a kind of firm, or club, membership in which is purely voluntary. This is a stateless society, but with a monocentric legal system. It is monopolistic in fact, though not in law; i.e. there are no barriers to entry.)

To my mind, the purpose of each system is to achieve a world in which property rights are respected to the maximum possible extent. Either system, minarchy or anarcho-capitalism, would at the moment of its inception satisfy that criterion equally successfully (ex definitio).

The basic impulse behind anarcho-capitalism is the idea that a minarchist government of the sort described above (or even more so: a minarchist State) would devolve into a State, which would then become progressively more interventionist, until property rights were severely threatened. The value of polycentric law (and/or security)* is thought to be that consumers can escape a firm which becomes oppressive, or simply inefficient, turning to a rival firm, such that the oppressive/inefficient firm (unable to externalize its costs) goes bankrupt.

*(Note: For my part, I am not questioning the viability of polycentric security per se, which I believe can operate viably within the framework of a monocentric legal order. Therefore, as far as I'm concerned, the crux of the matter is the debate between polycentric and monocentric law.)

The impulse behind the minarchist critique of anarcho-capitalism is the idea that polycentric law (and/or security) is inherently unstable and unsustainable, and would devolve into a State, which would then become progressively more interventionist, etc.

I think the criterion by which we can rationally compare the value of each system is now obvious. Both systems will at their inception satisfy both parties, but the parties disagree about which system is a surer protection against the (re)emergence of the State over time.

Minarchists (of my stripe anyway) must demonstrate why the emergence of the State is less likely given minarchy than given anarcho-capitalism. And anarcho-capitalists must demonstrate the inverse. I'll call this tendency of a social order to be impervious to the emergence of a State "sustainability."

I'll be presenting my own minarchist (as defined above, i.e. stateless monocentric law) theory at some point, but I thought it might be useful to first have this discussion. Does anyone disagree with what I've stated above? Is sustainability the proper criterion for success in the debate between minarchy and anarcho-capitalism? Should the libertarian system (i.e. a system wherein property rights are protected without exception) which is most sustainable be judged the best? Or are there some other criteria we should worry about?

This is my first post here at Mises Forums, by the way. So, hello everyone. smiley

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Minarchist:
*(Note: I am using "minarchy" to denote a government whose sole function is to protect the property of citizens from internal and external aggression, and wherein there is a universally recognized right of succession, including individual succession. In other words, this is not a state: but rather a kind of firm, or club, membership in which is purely voluntary. This is a stateless society, but with a monocentric legal system. It is monopolistic in fact, though not in law; i.e. there are no barriers to entry.)

If that's how you define "minarchy" then you're going to have to define "anarcho-capitalism".  (I'm wondering why you didn't do that originally)

 

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Minarchy as I've defined it is a stateless society with a monocentric legal order. I'm aware that this differs from the typical definition of minarchy, which is minimal statism. So why am I calling myself a minarchist? Because "anarcho-capitalistic jurisprudential-monocentrist" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.

Anarcho-capitalism is usually understood as a stateless society with a polycentric legal order.

The question which I expect to be asked is "how can you maintain a monocentric legal order in the absence of a State? If there are no entrance barriers, and the minarchist government begins as merely the de facto monopolist, won't this system evolve into the polycentric legal order of traditional anarcho-capitalism?" I contend that a stateless monocentric legal order is sustainable for precisely the same reason that a stateless polycentric legal order is unsustainable. Namely, because the "law industry" is unique among all industries in that it can sustain a natural monopolist; i.e. such a monopoly can exist without State intervention.

Of course I'll need to support this claim. But as you see, this thread is not called "the debate between minarchists and anarcho-capitalists," it's called "framing the debate...." Once we've agreed to the terms of the debate, then we'll get to the debating.

Thanks for your response.

 

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I don't think there is a debate to be had.  At least not a useful one, anyway.  You've literally just defined "minarchy" as a "stateless society" and "anarcho-capitalism" as a "stateless society".  And it sounds like you want to essentially have a debate on how a stateless society would organize a legal system...as in, you're not interested in debating policy or philosophy, you just want to debate conjecture.

Have fun with that.

 

P.S.

As you seem to be aware, most do not associate "minarchy" with "stateless society", much less consider them synonymous.  The debate you seem to want to have is not the typical debate between minarchists and anarcho-capitalists...which is generally one between people who believe in a state (albeit a minimal one) versus people who believe in having no state.

Your thread would be much less of a bait and switch if you were to change the title to something more honest...such as "polycentric vs. monocentric legal order in a stateless society."

 

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The debate, if anyone cares to participate, would be between stateless legal monocentrism and stateless legal polycentrism. Most (if not all) anarcho-capitalists that I have ever met believe in legal polycentrism, I do not. That disagreement makes for the possibility of debate, no? Specifically (if my argument in the OP is accepted anyway), the debate would revolve around the following question: "which is a surer protection against the emergence of the State over time, stateless legal polycentrism or stateless legal monocentrism?"

Is it your position that this question is uninteresting? Or that each system is equally sure protection against the emergence of the State over time?

EDIT: I don't see how it's a "bait and switch." I defined my terms.

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Yes, my position is that the question is uninteresting, and furthermore, the title of the thread is misleading.

 

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Duly noted.

EDIT: I'll add this, because apprently it is not very clear. The position that I mean to argue (that polycentric law in unsustainable) can just as easily be (and often is) an argument made by a minarchist in the traditional sense of the word: a minimal statist. The question I am raising is very much at the crux of the debate between minarchism (as traditionally defined or my version) and anarcho-capitalism.

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Jargon replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 12:41 AM

Minarchist:

Most (if not all) anarcho-capitalists that I have ever met believe in legal polycentrism, I do not. 

You may believe all you want Minarchist. But your belief or non-belief is in total irrelevance to reality of the market's functions. If there is no restriction to entry, there will be no 'monocentrism'. Simple as that. I don't even know why I came in here to post this because it's so obvious.

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The Anarch is to the Anarchist what the Monarch is to the Monarchist. -Ernst Jünger

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No2statism replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 12:45 AM

I think the OP makes a good argument about anarchy doesn't last because most people don't have the will to maintain it, but that doesn't justify the state.

OTOH, he may not be making a rational argument, because the Articles of Confederation was minarchist (it was partly the Continental Army that suppressed Shay's Rebellion after all) and we wound up with the very statist Federal Constitution.

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I agree with Minarchist. In Anarcho-Capitalism, there shall be ONE law. The Non-Aggression Axiom. The only thing I'd add is that further developments - in line with the Non-Aggression Axiom - may be made in common-law fashion, either written or unwritten. There will be one Anarcho-Capitalist Declaration of Rights which is the inalienable foundation of society, however.

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Bert replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 12:57 AM

What are rights?

I had always been impressed by the fact that there are a surprising number of individuals who never use their minds if they can avoid it, and an equal number who do use their minds, but in an amazingly stupid way. - Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols
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Every man has a right to his own person and property. No man can aggress against the person and property of another. No law may be made that violates this Axiom. (I mean, if the law is enforced as a law and not simply childishly writ upon a piece of paper. So you're allowed to make a law that say "it's OK to murder," but this law, if enforced, violates The Law).

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tunk replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 1:59 AM

Hi there, Minarchist. Enjoy your stay at the mises forums.

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Jargon,

I don't understand the confrontational (or contemptuous, or patronizing) attitude which is evident in certain responses to this thread. You imply that I am irrationally clinging to dogma, and yet it is you who dismisses my contention out of hand, before I have even begun to state my argument. Apparently, a position which is not in agreement with your orthodoxy is prima facie absurd. If that's your position, then, indeed, I am beating my head against a wall and wasting my time. But I don't really believe that. I seriously doubt that anyone who has come this far from the orthodoxy prevailing in our current society would be so obtuse; I doubt that iconoclastic libertarians would really be so dogmatic. I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. Call me an optimist.

You are aware that I am aware that I have not proven, or even attempted to prove, my contention? As I reminded John James, I will remind you: this thread is not intended to be the debate between minarchy and anarcho-capitalism. What I have said is not supposed to be proof of the validity of my position. I merely described my position in general terms. I was suggesting that the two parties ought to agree to the terms of the debate. Without such agreement, any debate would be futile. Like debating the merits of ovens and chainsaws without first agreeing on what the ultimate good is: baking or cutting lumber.

So, to be extremely clear, what I am asking is this: do you (or anyone else viewing this) agree that "sustainability" as I defined it in the OP is the proper measure of success for a libertarian system, such that whichever system is more sustainable (minarchy [mine or the traditional] or anarcho-capitalism) should be judged the best? Why or why not?

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Minarchist:
I don't understand the confrontational (or contemptuous, or patronizing) attitude which is evident in certain responses to this thread.

All I am doing, is urging you to change the title of the thread to something more accurate.  I think the confrontational nature you're sensing (at least in part) comes from the bait n' switch that viewers of the thread probably feel upon arriving here.

 

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I defined the terms "minarchy" and "anarcho-capitalism" in the OP. I defined them again more explicitly in my response to your first comment. If that is not sufficiently clear for everyone to understand, well then they will not understand. I will not change the title. The author always reserves the right to define his terms. If the reader has some objection to the way the author defines his terms, the reader can go elsewhere. A debate about how words ought to be defined is inane. Do as you please.

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Minarchist:
I defined the terms "minarchy" and "anarcho-capitalism" in the OP.

Do you not understand the definition of "bait-and-switch"?

The whole point of a thread title is give people an idea of the subject of the thread....because they cannot read the OP in the forum view.  If I title a thread "the hottest chicks in the world doing amazing things", it doesn't make it a legit title just because in the OP I define "hot chicks" as "living creatures of an avian variety, suffering high temperatures" and "amazing things" as "feats of great skill, well beyond that which could be expected from a bird brain."

 

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Go ahead and define it for me.

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The whole point of a thread title is give people an idea of the subject of the thread....because they cannot read the OP in the forum view.  If I title a thread "the hottest chicks in the world doing amazing things", it doesn't make it a legit title just because in the OP I define "hot chicks" as "living creatures of an avian variety, suffering high temperatures" and "amazing things" as "feats of great skill, well beyond that which could be expected from a bird brain."

What I am apparently unable to clearly express to you is that this is in fact about the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, as the thread title suggests: whether you define minarchism as stateless legal monocentrism or as minimal statism. I would argue for the former, but the debate which I had hoped to frame is primarily about the viability of polycentric law, relative the viability of monocentric law (with or without a State). That is a debate between minimal statism and anarcho-capitalism, or between stateless legal monocentrism and anarcho-capitalism. The title is apt. I did not make this thread about my version of minarchy, you did. I intended for this thread to be about (framing) the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism. You questioned my definition of minarchy, I answered, and this made it appear to you that I was trying a "bait and switch." But the thread was not intended to be about my theory of minarchy. On the contrary, I wrote about the subject suggested in the title, you posted an off-topic response, and we progressed from there.

In all seriousness, not being sarcastic, do you appreciate what I'm saying? I don't know how to be more clear.

 

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Minarchist:
What I am apparently unable to clearly express to you is that this is in fact about the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, as the threat title suggests: whether you define minarchism as stateless legal monocentrism or as minimal statism.

I completely disagree, and I doubt I am the only one.  The debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism is, as I said, one between people believe the state is legitimate, and people who do not.

When someone says "the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism", I have never in my life even heard of anyone who assumed this was a debate between two people who agree that the state has no legitimacy.

And your counter to that is quite literally "It doesn't matter if the minarchist thinks the State is legitimate or not.  The debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism is the same."  This is complete nonsense.

 

Is there anyone here who agrees with "Minarchist's" notion stated in the sentence before last?

 

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z1235 replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 5:49 PM

Minarchist:
...and wherein there is a universally recognized right of succession, including individual succession. In other words, this is not a state: but rather a kind of firm, or club, membership in which is purely voluntary. This is a stateless society, but with a monocentric legal system. It is monopolistic in fact, though not in law; i.e. there are no barriers to entry.)

What you describe above is anarcho-capitalism. The voluntary participation and the right of secession are not compatible with a monocentric legal system. Owners, clubs, and firms employ monocentric legal systems over their own domains. There are many of them, hence the system is polycentric by definition. 

Before discussing the proper criterion by which to judge the opposing sides in your proposed debate, I think you first need to better present (and distinguish) them -- that is, to the extent that any differences exist, to begin with.

EDIT: And welcome! smiley

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I completely disagree, and I doubt I am the only one.  The debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism is, as I said, one between people believe the state is legitimate, and people who do not.

When someone says "the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism", I have never in my life even heard of anyone who assumed this was a debate between two people who agree that the state has no legitimacy.

And your counter to that is quite literally "It doesn't matter if the minarchist thinks the State is legitimate or not.  The debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism is the same."  This is complete nonsense.

Your interpretation of the problem is skin-deep. Why do minimal statists reject anarcho-capitalism and argue that a state is indispensable? Because they reject the idea that polycentric law is viable! Hence, the crux of the matter is the viability of polycentric law. If a minarchist admits that polycentric law is viable, what would be his reason for believing that the State is indispensable? He believes the State is indispensable precisely because he believes monocentric law is the only viable system, and he (wrongly, IMO) believes that monocentric law requires the existence of the State.

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What you describe above is anarcho-capitalism. The voluntary participation and the right of secession are not compatible with a monocentric legal system. Owners, clubs, and firms employ monocentric legal systems over their own domains. There are many of them, hence the system is polycentric by definition. 

Before discussing the proper criterion by which to judge the opposing sides in your proposed debate, I think you first need to better present (and distinguish) them -- that is, to the extent that any differences exist, to begin with.

EDIT: And welcome! smiley

Thank you for your thoughtful response. smiley

Let's put aside the issue of stateless legal monocentrism: my position. I really did not intend for that to be the focus of the discussion at this point. I only mentioned it in passing, in a footnote. Let's pretend I never mentioned it. Now, what kind of debate am I proposing? I am proposing a debate between those who believe in the viability of a polycentric legal order, and those who do not. The former are generally self-ascribed anarcho-capitalists, the latter are generally self-ascribed minarchists (i.e. minimal statists). Again, ignore my position for the moment, which seems to cause nothing but confusion.

Now, this debate should be open and presumably of interest to minimal statists and anarcho-capitalists alike. People of my perverse and anomalous persuation are also interested. The anarcho-capitalists will argue in favor of the viability of polycentric law. The minimal statists will argue against the viability of polycentric law, in favor of monocentric law, and in favor of the State which they believe is necessary to maintain monocentric law. I will take the minimal statist line, except that I will deny that a State is necessary to maintain monocentric law.

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Minarchist:
Your interpretation of the problem is skin-deep. Why do minimal statists reject anarcho-capitalism and argue that a state is indispensable? Because they reject the idea that polycentric law is viable!

Obviously that can't be the case if your entire position is that "monocentric law" is not only viable in the absence of a state but is the only way order would emerge.

If your entire argument is that a state is not necessary for "monocentric law", then how are you in the same camp as people who believe a state is necessary?  How can you be called the same thing?

This is why your definition is nonsensical and you should (1) come up with a different term to describe yourself that doesn't confuse people who already understand the term to mean someone who believes in the legitimacy and necessity of the State and (2) change the title of the thread accordingly.

 

Minarchist:
I am proposing a debate between those who believe in the viability of a polycentric legal order, and those who do not.

Exactly.  Which is why I suggested you actually change the title to reflect that.

You however do not seem to be interested in clarity, and people understanding what they are getting into by opening this thread, but rather in forcing your confusing definition of "minarchism" onto anyone who will bother to listen.

You appear to be operating like this fellow or this fellow.  You have come up with your own definition for some term and wish to appear enlightening by going around telling everyone how they've been wrong in their interpretation the whole time...that "monetary sovreignty" is the key to all economics and "libertarian monarchy" is the most proper political philosophy.

This is why you use the term "minarchism" and call yourself "Minarchist" so that you might be misunderstood as believing in a State and then debate your notion that "anarcho-capitalism" = "polycentric legal order" and that is unsustainable and that in a statless society, "monocentric legal order" is the way things will go.

It's a lot like this Charles Johnson fellow who goes around calling himself the purposfully confusing "free market anti-capitalist" just so that he might be engaged into explaining his whole made up philosophy.

All I'm saying is that not using a term for which a definition is already widely understood and simply changing the definition to mean something almost entirely different, would be helpful.  At the very least a more accurate thread title would help avoid confusion.

 

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z1235:

Minarchist:
...and wherein there is a universally recognized right of succession, including individual succession. In other words, this is not a state: but rather a kind of firm, or club, membership in which is purely voluntary. This is a stateless society, but with a monocentric legal system. It is monopolistic in fact, though not in law; i.e. there are no barriers to entry.)

What you describe above is anarcho-capitalism. The voluntary participation and the right of secession are not compatible with a monocentric legal system. Owners, clubs, and firms employ monocentric legal systems over their own domains. There are many of them, hence the system is polycentric by definition. 

Before discussing the proper criterion by which to judge the opposing sides in your proposed debate, I think you first need to better present (and distinguish) them -- that is, to the extent that any differences exist, to begin with.

 

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z1235 replied on Fri, Feb 10 2012 7:34 PM

Minarchist:
The anarcho-capitalists will argue in favor of the viability of polycentric law. The minimal statists will argue against the viability of polycentric law, in favor of monocentric law, and in favor of the State which they believe is necessary to maintain monocentric law. I will take the minimal statist line,...

There have been plenty of these debates here. I don't see how you are reframing anything. There is a consensus slowly being built that the fundamental factor determining the level of aggression in a society is the population's education in (austrian) economics and enlighentment about the sources of prosperity (voluntary exchanges, freedom). Given similar levels of said education, the outcomes in terms of levels of aggression would be indistinguishale between a monocentric (minarchistic) and a polycentric (anarchistic) legal system. It's the level of education/enlightment that produces and sustains whatever system transpires in reality. 

...except that I will deny that a State is necessary to maintain monocentric law.

Then, please go straight for the beef of your argument/contribution. I don't see how you could achieve the above without some major re-defining gymnastics. 

 

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z1235:
I don't see how you could achieve the above without some major re-defining gymnastics.

As if that hasn't been what this thread was about from the very beginning.

 

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Is there anyone here who agrees with "Minarchist's" notion stated in the sentence before last?

No, I don't think so. While I agree with Minarchist's views on Law - if he is saying that all laws must justly be based upon the monocentric Non-Aggression Axiom - I disagree that what he is advocating is minarchism. 

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As if that hasn't been what this thread was about from the very beginning.

For the Nth time, this thread was and is about the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, which, to my mind, is the debate between polycentric and monocentric law: as I've attempted to explain several times.

No minarchist I've ever met has ever argued that the State is anything other than a necessary evil. Why do they feel it's necessary? Because they believe a stateless society is non-viable. Why do they believe a stateless society is non-viable? Because they believe that polycentric law (and/or polycentric security) is non-viable. They are not advocating the existence of the State for its own sake; they take the State as an instrumental good. Instrumental for what? For maintaining a monocentric legal order, which, again, they believe is the only viable legal order. Or, what is the same thing, the State is not so much desireable as inevitable, because polycentric law (which they equate with a stateless society) is non-viable. Common arguments against anarcho-capitalism are grounded in the notion that the DRO will devolve into the State: a non-libertarian kind of State. And so on. I read these arguments here all the time.

So again, I am speaking about the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, because that debate (IMO, as I explained) is fundamentally the debate between polycentric and monocentric law (and/or security). The fact that I choose to label myself a minarchist is, firstly, irrelevant to the issue; I could call myself a "ham-sandwich-ist" and nothing would be different. Secondly, no, I do not call myself a minarchist (as you suggested above in another post) to incite controversy. I call myself a minarchist because, in the debate between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism (i.e. the debate between monocentric and polycentric law) I take the minarchist position. I am, for the purpose of the debate between anarcho-capitalism and minarchism as usually constituted, a minarchist. The fact that, after that debate is finished, I also take issue with the minarchists, and deny their assertion that the State is necessary to maintain monocentric law, is a seperate matter. I very much regret even mentioning this position of mine, seeing how much gnashing of teeth it's caused. But there's no unmentioning it. And I absolutely refuse to change the title of this thread, and I imagine my username as well, simply because you or anyone else are somehow displeased with the way I've chosen to define a word.

....

In any case, back to the question raised in the OP, what do you all think about using "sustainability" as a criterion for evaluationg anarcho-capitalism and minarchism? For example, if we were presented with the choice between an anarcho-capitalist society which we knew would only endure for 1 year before devolving into a severely statist society, and a minarchist society which we knew would endure for 20 years before devolving into a slightly more statist society (gradually progressing at that rate going foreward), which should we choose? Should this aspect of the social order (sustainability) play a role in our choice between minarchism and anarcho-capitalism, and if so, to what extent? Ought we try to strike a balance between sustainability and initial purity (i.e. with anarcho-capitalism being ideologically pure, and minarchism being tainted)?

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Why not...monocentric law Anarcho-Capitalist?...like me? If you can do the gymnastics to make minarchism mean Anarcho-Capitalism, surely you can do the not-so-gymnastics to add an adjective-phrase to Anarcho-Capitalist when the situation demands it?

Also, the founder of AnCap wasn't for "polycentric" law. So I don't see why there's an issue on this point at all. "Murray Rothbard [...] argues that private courts would have to obey a legal code 'established on the basis of the acknowledged libertarian principle, of nonaggression against the person or property of others; in short, on the basis of reason rather than on mere tradition...' (Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty [New York: Collier Books, 1978], p. 230)

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Also, the founder of AnCap wasn't for "polycentric" law. So I don't see why there's an issue on this point at all. "Murray Rothbard [...] argues that private courts would have to obey a legal code 'established on the basis of the acknowledged libertarian principle, of nonaggression against the person or property of others; in short, on the basis of reason rather than on mere tradition...' (Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty [New York: Collier Books, 1978], p. 230)

The question is how such a "legal code established on the basis of acknowledged libertarian principle" could in fact be established (or rather, maintained) in the absence of a law-monopolist? If the answer is that no institutional structure needs to be established, and that this libertarian legal ethics will simply be universally accepted, well then we don't even need the DRO. If we can presume that libertarian ethics will be universally accepted, then we can all become pacifists, because, by definition, a society whose members all adopt these ethics would contain no violence whatsoever. Of course this is silly. We are not utopians. We are not trying to envision the ideal human nature (the New Libertarian Man), we are trying to envision the ideal kind of social organization given actual human nature: i.e. given tendencies toward violence. That is, how do we best minimize these tendencies?

If it's possible for libertarian law to dominate in a stateless society as Rothbard suggests, we must explain how this is possible, without resorting to the aforementioned utopianism. In other words, what kind of social organization, what kind of institutions, other than the State, could maintain this legal order (or any particular legal order)? Obviously Rothbard is motivated by his awareness that private production of law/security in itself does not guarantee that libertarian ethics will prevail. The free market ensures that demand will be met, it does not determine what demand will be. If demand is for Shariah Law, Shariah Law the market will produce. Ordinarily, we libertarians reject the idea that demand can be "wrong," because it's entirely subjective. The consumer is always right, however stupid we may think his choices are. However, we obviously cannot bend on the question of libertarian law. We must say that demand for other than libertarian law is "wrong," and try to somehow undermine it. Otherwise, we cease to be libertarians. And, many have done this. Many anarcho-capitalists I've met seem to care more about abolishing the legal/security monopolist for its own sake than about having a society operating on libertarian legal principles: as if a society with a hundred competing legal firms all practicing slight variations on Shariah would be preferable to a legal monopolist practicing libertarian law. These are confused priorities.  We and Rothbard, on the other hand, are searching for some safeguard for libertarian ethics in the absence of the State.

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The question is how such a "legal code established on the basis of acknowledged libertarian principle" could in fact be established (or rather, maintained) in the absence of a law-monopolist?

What are you talking about? There would be a "law monopoly" in Libertarianism. This shall be the Non-Aggression Axiom, as enforced by private companies. It will be written in an Anarcho-Capitalist Declaration of Inalienable Rights, too. Of which more advance principles shall constitute the Libertarian Law Code.

Laws that violate Libertarian ethic are illegal (if enforced). But Libertarian law shall be imposed as best as possible by Private Enforcement Agencies. There is a Law monopoly, in the sense that there is only Natural Law in a libertarian society. I fail to see how my view is "Utopian." I don't think human nature will "change." I think Non-Aggression must be imposed as The Law upon people. 

The structure you're looking for is simply the Law Code which Rothbard writes about. That's what we monocentric Anarcho-Capitalists ought to push for. 

EDIT- I should say, I agree fundamentally with what you're saying, so sorry if I sounded rude. Better way to phrase it: 

1). We want to establish a monocentric law code via a network of Libertarian scholars, perhaps.

2). If this is not imposed, then the Libertarian fight continues; we must continue to pursue our principles and implement them in the real world.

3). If this Law Code is imposed, our fight is somewhat over, though we must continue to be vigilant and fight against all crime.

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Suppose there were a code; there are two possibilities.

1) This code exists and the competing firms abide by it voluntarily. In this case, we have simply ignored the problem. If we can presume voluntary compliance with the code on the part of the firms, why not presume voluntary compliance with the code on the part of everyone in society? And in that case, we would be pacifists and utopians.

2) This code exists and the competing firms (or some of them) do not abide by it voluntarily. Society in this case is not governed by libertarian law (or only in part). So, in this case, what good is the code? How would the situation be altered if the code didn't exist at all?

The bottom line is that rules without enforcement are utterly worthless, and our challenge is to come up with some kind of enforcement mechanism to preserve libertarian law without a State. My solution, as indicated earlier, is that a monopolist is required: but this monopolist need not be a State. That is, it can be a de facto monopolist: a natural monopolist. And I have my reasons for believing that, unique among industries, the law industry can sustain a natural monopolist.

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And I have my reasons for believing that, unique among industries, the law industry can sustain a natural monopolist.

Sure, I agree. It depends on what you mean by "monopoly." Basically, the way I imagine it: There is one basic declaration of rights; this cannot ever be changed. Libertarian scholars could set up an enterprise to directly influence law. What say you to that? So the laws would be overseen by Libertarians to check on basis with Non-Aggression. I don't think there is a need for, say, a monopolistic law firm. Far better if the nuances of the law are developed in common law fashion and then  sifted through by the Libertarian elite for any issues with the NAA.

You bring up the issue of enforcement. Sure, it's a big issue. I can easily write a "no murder" law: the trouble is enforcement. And that's where AnCaps argue that private enforcement agencies handle the issue best. But, yeah, I agree, there should be a definitive, single law code with the same underlying principles throughout. I think it's problematic that you're bring up law and enforcement as a single topic. Just remember the simple solution for both.

Law: Try to establish a Libertarian Law Code.

Enforcement: Try to get the Law Code imposed.

That's perhaps the best we can do, unfortunately...EDIT- I should add at this point that I am an Anarcho-Monarchist. I think there are many ways the King could help with this issue. Perhaps you're interested?

 

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Sustainability is one factor of the debate, but the most important one is the one you stipulated out of the picture: how well each system would satisfy the goal of protecting property.  The big problem I see with minarchism as you stated it, is that the moment people start seceding, you devolve into a polycentric order.  In order to keep a single legal order, you would have to use force against those that try to create rival legal institutions, which already puts this system on a weaker footing than polycentrism regarding protecting property.  

The other way the debate needs to be framed is in non-legal/political terms.  What cultural factors and institutions need to be in place in order to acheive statelessness?  Whether we like it or not, the state plays a large paternal role for most people, even if they don't technically rely on it economically or politically.  Historically, the church played this role, but the church is pretty much irrelevant now.  Anarcho-capitalism, if it is ever going to be acheived, can't rely on everybody changing there hearts, it needs some sort of large scale cultural institution which fills the father-role without actually governing.  This is one place where minarchism suceeds, because it can keep the visible parts of government in tact (president, congress, ceremonies) while its inner workings drastically change.

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Chyd3nius replied on Tue, Feb 14 2012 11:24 AM

Why not...monocentric law Anarcho-Capitalist?...like me? If you can do the gymnastics to make minarchism mean Anarcho-Capitalism, surely you can do the not-so-gymnastics to add an adjective-phrase to Anarcho-Capitalist when the situation demands it?

Also, the founder of AnCap wasn't for "polycentric" law. So I don't see why there's an issue on this point at all. "Murray Rothbard [...] argues that private courts would have to obey a legal code 'established on the basis of the acknowledged libertarian principle, of nonaggression against the person or property of others; in short, on the basis of reason rather than on mere tradition...' (Murray N. Rothbard, For A New Liberty [New York: Collier Books, 1978], p. 230)

I have read what Rothbard thinks about anarcho-capitalism and I think it's pure nonsense. How can you force property owners to follow NAP? Rothbard said circumcision is against NAP and libertarian ethics and abortion is part of them - how are you going to force jewish and catholic property owners to follow it? David Friedman is more 'anarchistic' than Rothbard, he said that property owners can decide what law they will follow. State is a monopoly of law, and what Rothbard is advocating is a monopoly of law. Privatizing police, defence and courts is not enough, true free market means the privatization of the law too. And Rothbard is not advocating the privatization of the law.

EDIT: Wtf happened to this post? EDIT2: Ok, the second 'quote' is mine.

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Sustainability is one factor of the debate, but the most important one is the one you stipulated out of the picture: how well each system would satisfy the goal of protecting property.  The big problem I see with minarchism as you stated it, is that the moment people start seceding, you devolve into a polycentric order.  In order to keep a single legal order, you would have to use force against those that try to create rival legal institutions, which already puts this system on a weaker footing than polycentrism regarding protecting property.

You're certainly correct that minimal statism is per se a violation of the NAP. If a minimal statist intends to make an argument on the basis of sustainability, he must acknowledge that fact. In light of this, a minimal statist might set up the comparison between anarcho-capitalism and minimal statism (with respect to their respective levels of sustainability) as follows:

minimal statism: we begin with minor violations of the NAP, but as a result we get a stable society - e.g. the minimal state might fulfill its intended role without expanding its powers for 30 years. Those are 30 good years for liberty, not perfect but damn good.

anarcho-capitalism: we begin without any violations of the NAP, but as a result we have a less stable society - e.g. the polycentric legal/security order unravels within 3 years as monopolies develop, and a state emerges which has greater powers than the minimal state would have. Now, those were 3 awesome years for liberty, but it was only 3 years, after all.

Is there any objectively justifiable way to choose one scenario over the other? No.

Given these two scenarios, it is objectively true that the minimal statist scenario is 10x more sustainable than the anarcho-capitalist scenario. If sustainability were the only variable, then we could objectively justify our choice of the former over the latter. However, sustainability is not the only variable: the two scenarios do not begin at the same point - that is, they are "sustaining" different states of affairs. We can call this other variable "purity:" i.e. purity of adherence to the libertarian ethics, the NAP. The anarcho-capitalist scenario has 100% purity: it does not admit of any violations of the NAP whatsoever. The minimal statist scenario, while quite pure, is not 100% pure. You might be thinking that there's a problem with quantifying purity, and there is, But if we say that a system which admits of no exceptions to the NAP is 100% pure, then we can at least say that minimal statism is less than 100% pure, even if we have no rational basis for assigning minimal statism a specific number on the purity scale.

So, given the two scenarios, we know that minimal statism wins in the dimension of sustainability, and that anarcho-capitalism wins in the dimension of purity. Those are objective truths. But, in order to objectively justify our choosing one system over the other, we have to establish some objectively verifiable relation between sustainability and purity, such that X amount of sustainability = Y amount of purity. Of course, this is impossible: as it is impossible to establish an objectively valid ratio of apples to oranges, or a "just price." Each individual subjectively determines how many apples he wants to trade for a given quantity of oranges, and that is the "correct" ratio/price. Likewise, every individual must choose how much "purity" they might be willing to trade for a given quantity of "sustainability," if any.

However, I am not a minimal statist. I am advocating a stateless society which contains an institution which superficially looks very much like the minimal State - but it's not truly a State. It doesn't have the coercive powers that a State has. For the sake of argument, put your objections to the side; I realize that I will need to explain what I mean, and demonstrate why such an arrangement is viable. I've already hinted at my reasoning: i.e. a natural monopoly (i.e. one which is not enforced by coercion) in the "law industry" is viable because of the unique characteristics of the "law industry." I'll get to making this case at some point soon; maybe later this morning. For the moment, I just want to finish the discussion started above. So, for the sake of argument, assume that my nightwatchman pseudo-State is possible.

Now, I avoid the problem faced by the minimal statist. Remember, the reason that the minimal statist is unable to prove that we libertarians should choose a less pure but more sustainable minimal statist society over a more pure but less sustainable anarcho-capitalist society is that there is no objectively valid "price" of sustainability in terms of purity, or vice versa. But, my system of pseudo-statism is just as pure as anarcho-capitalism; neither admits of any violation of the NAP whatsoever. Therefore, we can drop purity altogether; it's no longer a variable relevant to the comparison between the two systems. We are now comparing anarcho-capitalism and my pseudo-statism only on the basis of sustainability. It's no longer apples and oranges; now it's apples and apples. And, as you might have guessed, I'll argue that my pseudo-statism is much more sustainable than anarcho-capitalism. If that turns out to be the case, then we are objectively justified in choosing my pseudo-statism over anarcho-capitalism.

Keep in mind, this is only the outline of the argument. I've worked out the logic of comparing anarcho-capitalism with either minimal statism or my pseudo-statism; but I've been using only hypothetical scenarios. For my part, I still have to demonstrate that: 1) my pseudo-statism is viable at all, and 2) that this pseudo-statism is more sustainable than anarcho-capitalism. If I do manage to succeed in proving those two points, the anarcho-capitalists will be logically compelled (as explained above) to recognize that my pseudo-statism is preferable to traditional anarcho-capitalism (supposing of course that we all agree that sustainability and purity should be the two criteria in terms of which we make our decision).

The other way the debate needs to be framed is in non-legal/political terms.  What cultural factors and institutions need to be in place in order to acheive statelessness?  Whether we like it or not, the state plays a large paternal role for most people, even if they don't technically rely on it economically or politically.  Historically, the church played this role, but the church is pretty much irrelevant now.  Anarcho-capitalism, if it is ever going to be acheived, can't rely on everybody changing there hearts, it needs some sort of large scale cultural institution which fills the father-role without actually governing.  This is one place where minarchism suceeds, because it can keep the visible parts of government in tact (president, congress, ceremonies) while its inner workings drastically change.

I agree. And this need for some organizing structure, to safeguard libertarian ethics in a stateless society, is what motivates me in suggesting "pseudo-statism." In my experience, much of the arguing back and forth between minarchists and anarcho-capitalists is a result of the latter's unwillingness to talk about the shape society will take in the absence of the State: as if this question is unimportant, as if abolishing the State per se guarantees the success of libertarianism thereafter. I always find it slightly ironic that individuals who want the State out of the business of organizing society have so little interest apparently in taking on the job themselves; society will still need organizing. That need doesn't vanish with the State, it just becomes a task for individuals, working through cooperation rather than coercion.

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Given these two scenarios, it is objectively true that the minimal statist scenario is 10x more sustainable than the anarcho-capitalist scenario.

While this is not directly to your point the scenarios you posed seem to be an awful assumption-e.g. why couldn't the second scenario play out as 3 years (to use your figures) of absolute liberty and 30 years of minimal statism thus making the second scenario measurably "better" using the same criteria?

 

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MaikU replied on Wed, Feb 15 2012 3:36 PM

RothbardsDisciple:

EDIT- I should add at this point that I am an Anarcho-Monarchist. I think there are many ways the King could help with this issue. Perhaps you're interested?

 

 

 

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(english is not my native language, sorry for grammar.)

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I should add at this point that I am an Anarcho-Monarchist. I think there are many ways the King could help with this issue. Perhaps you're interested?

From a purely economic standpoint, a constitutional monarchy would be preferable to a democracy, for all the reasons Hoppe cites.

However, I think a constitutional republic is still preferable to a constitutional monarchy. That said, I've entertained the idea of incorporating some kind of unelected and hereditary authority into the scheme of the constitutional republic. The term "king" won't do. Maybe tribune, in reference to the Roman official, who had only the power of veto. That might be workable, having an hereditary "tribune" who has only the power of veto. The trouble is trying to insulate such a person from the corrupting influences of politics. He would have to be financially independent; if he were dependent on the legislature for his annual income, well then he becomes a servant of the legislature. He might have an estate, which is inalienable.

In any case, I appreciate the libertarian interest in monarchy. Democracy and libertarianism are not necessarily good bedfellows, and libertarians should not reject undemocratic political arrangements out of hand. The socialists love democracy precisely because it allows for the unchecked expansion of the State. That a tyrannical State is elected, or even genuinely represents the views of its citizens, in no way whatsoever excuses the tyranny. The question I have is, "what political arrangment will best allow for a libertarian society?" If the answer were democracy, I'd be for democracy; if monarchy, I'd be for monarchy; if rule by everyone with red hair, I'd be for that. For me, the form of the government is purely instrumental.

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