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An Anarcho-Capitalist Society in a World of States?

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Minarchist Posted: Sun, Feb 19 2012 9:17 PM

Is it reasonable to suppose that an anarcho-capitalist society, a society with a competitive market for security, could survive intact in a world of States possessed of traditional military forces?

The answer to this question cannot be found in a priori reasoning, because it depends very much on the state of military technology. In 1800, I would argue that an anarcho-capitalist society could have survived very well, because of the state of military technology at the time. Today, I'm not so sure.

To get things rolling, I'll ask this: what is the viability of guerilla warfare (often advanced as the ideal method of defense/deterrence for an anarcho-capitalist society) if the aggressive State wishes to take the land rather than merely extort rents? The idea that it's virtually impossible to win a guerilla war is predicated on the assumption that the goal of the aggressor is subjugation. What if the goal is extermination and colonization? Certainly the U.S. could have "won" the Vietnam war if it's aim had been to exterminate the Vietnamese, and then colonize the land, as opposed to pacifying/subjugating them: the same with Afghanistan presently. And this is not pure speculation; the Germans during WWII were essentially involved in a project of extermination and colonization in Eastern Europe, as opposed to subjugation.

Thoughts?

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Conza88 replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 1:13 AM

Neighboring State Invasion? Bob Murphy.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Neighboring State Invasion? Bob Murphy.

I'm aware of all those arguments. If you assume that some firms in the anarcho-capitalist society will have military equipment of a quantity and quality comparable to a first-rate power, well then defending the anarcho-capitalist society against foreign threats ceases to be a problem. However, with such tremendous capacity for violence in the hands of a few firms, we're now faced with a serious threat to the internal stability of the anarcho-capitalist society. This is exactly why many anarcho-capitalists advance the idea of a militia and guerilla warfare, because they are aware of the danger which a private standing army poses. In my experience, most anarcho-capitalists expressly do not want their ideal society to be involved in the production of tanks, fighter aircraft, submarines, et al. It seems to me that they're stuck between a rock and hard place: defend yourself from foreign invasion by using high-order military equipment but risk a coup from within, or reject that kind of concentration of military power but risk foreign invasion.

By the way, my interest in this question isn't about discrediting anarcho-capitalism as such. At the theoretical level, it's perfectly appropriate to assume global anarcho-capitalism, and then the military issue ceases to be a problem. What interests me are the implication of this military issue for the actual implementation of anarcho-capitalism in practice. For example, is it wise to plan to create an anarcho-capitalist societ in the U.S. while the rest of the world remains as it is? If not, then what is the best strategy for implementing anarcho-capitalism, how do you get from the status quo to global anarcho-capitalism? My intuition is that a transitional phase of minarchism would be necessary to make the world a safe place for anarcho-capitalism, so to speak: i.e. assuming that foreign minarchist States would be less inclined/able to wage aggressive war against the first anarcho-capitalist society. I'm interested in what anarcho-capitalists have to say on these matters. What's your plan of action?

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Feb 20 2012 8:45 PM

 

Is it reasonable to suppose that an anarcho-capitalist society, a society with a competitive market for security, could survive intact in a world of States possessed of traditional military forces?

First, let's not forget that powerful countries do not nowadays merely start wars of extermination on whim (at least not countries powerful enough to take us). A war against a free US would be a war against the free world. We'd certainly have allies.

Next, guerilla warfare is likely not very viable any more.

However, with such tremendous capacity for violence in the hands of a few firms, we're now faced with a serious threat to the internal stability of the anarcho-capitalist society

Same with a minarchist state. Suddenly, no system solves. We're all screwed!

This is exactly why many anarcho-capitalists advance the idea of a militia and guerilla warfare, because they are aware of the danger which a private standing army poses.
Funding for defense is much more readily available than funding for offense.
 
In my experience, most anarcho-capitalists expressly do not want their ideal society to be involved in the production of tanks, fighter aircraft, submarines, et al.
You have only been around here for a bit and you already have quite some experience. Where else have you been speaking with AnCaps? One which, I might add, are not much like the ones here.
 
defend yourself from foreign invasion by using high-order military equipment but risk a coup from within, or reject that kind of concentration of military power but risk foreign invasion.
Let's not forget that a society is made up of its members. If 90% of people fear a powerful army and would rather use guerilla warfare if possible, wouldn't they (if pressed) be able to form a temporary powerful army?
 
Furthermore, you are not putting this into context. If an AnCap US existed, it would be so through a rejection of the state and oppression. For a powerful force that could enslave the US to arise as a military power within the US, it would have to be worse than a state today. Furthermore, the people would have had to have lost their teeth to not be able to fight back.
 
Plus, assume that AnCap would fail. You appear to imply that some sort of state would succeed (supposedly). Likely a democratic one. Now, following the chain of logic, if a democratic state would succeed in maintaining what little liberty it has, then would the AnCappers be so stupid as to not join in a voluntary "democracy" to temporarily banish the evil? Remember, anything positive democracy can accomplish, so can AnCap.
 
Also, if centralization of power is inherently evil, how come the army hasn't yet literally enslaved us (no, IRS doesn't count, because the army wouldn't intervene).
 
My intuition is that a transitional phase of minarchism would be necessary to make the world a safe place for anarcho-capitalism
Sounds like Wilson to me. Also, I think that if minarchy were to really catch on with the public, such a large portion of the people would then go to AnCap that the transition wouldn't really matter. It would either go all AnCap or the AnCaps would secede and the minarchists would let them.
 
What's your plan of action?
Sadly, looking at Santorum's poll numbers really disheartens me. I do hope that the younger GOP generation can be converted.
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Have you heard of Ryan Faulk's defense due?

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Minarchist replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 12:01 AM

First, let's not forget that powerful countries do not nowadays merely start wars of extermination on whim (at least not countries powerful enough to take us). A war against a free US would be a war against the free world. We'd certainly have allies.

An anarcho-capitalist society in a world of States would be: 1) incomparably rich, and 2) an extistential threat to all States. I'd say that would leave us with no allies and lots of enemies.

Next, guerilla warfare is likely not very viable any more.

Let's not forget that a society is made up of its members. If 90% of people fear a powerful army and would rather use guerilla warfare if possible, wouldn't they (if pressed) be able to form a temporary powerful army?

I agree with your first comment that guerilla warfare is not viable, and I disagree with your second comment that guerilla warfare is viable.

Funding for defense is much more readily available than funding for offense.

Could you elaborate?

You have only been around here for a bit and you already have quite some experience. Where else have you been speaking with AnCaps? One which, I might add, are not much like the ones here.

One can browse the forums without being a registered member.

Let me ask you another question: in your view, if a State attacks the anarcho-capitalist society, and the attack is successful, could the DROs (or whatever entities possess the military capacity) justifiably retaliate without discriminating between those actually responsible for the attack and innocent citizens of the foreign polity? If not, this is a weakness which foreign States could exploit: e.g. a foreign State could destroy via missiles every city in the anarcho-capitalist society and the only just retaliation would be to strike back against the missile launch sites, and some government buildings, etc. Of course a foreign State need not actually do this to achieve its aims: the mere threat is sufficient to compel whatever it wants to compel. No?

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Conza88 replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 7:00 AM

"However, with such tremendous capacity for violence in the hands of a few firms"

Says who?

"we're now faced with a serious threat to the internal stability of the anarcho-capitalist society."

No. We are not.

"This is exactly why many anarcho-capitalists advance the idea of a militia and guerilla warfare, because they are aware of the danger which a private standing army poses"

Total rubbish. A private security agency, ala the 500 odd thousand of private security personal that operate in the States hardly constitutes a "standing army".

"In my experience, most anarcho-capitalists expressly do not want their ideal society.."

Well that's greaaaaaaat and completely irrelevet given it isn't their 'ideal' society to manage. If insurance companies and businessmen consider establishing submarine defence etc, because it's viable and profitable and necessary - then they will.

Btw, in a REAL market in defense - all products would actually be geared towards defense, not offense.

"For example, is it wise to plan to create an anarcho-capitalist societ in the U.S. while the rest of the world remains as it is?"

Statist mindset. But to answer your question; YES. EVEN MORE SO. Good luck to all other competing 'nations'.

"By the way, my interest in this question isn't about discrediting anarcho-capitalism as such."

Yeah sure. Says the dude whose username is minarchist.

"If not, then what is the best strategy for implementing anarcho-capitalism, how do you get from the status quo to global anarcho-capitalism?"

Ron Paul on US World Leadership.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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Marko replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 8:32 AM

It seems to me that they're stuck between a rock and hard place: defend yourself from foreign invasion by using high-order military equipment but risk a coup from within, or reject that kind of concentration of military power but risk foreign invasion.

Why is there correlation between possession of advanced military equipment and a coup?

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if a State attacks the anarcho-capitalist society

This is the root of your problem.  What does it mean to attack a society?  If what is currently the continental US becomes an anarcho-capitalist "society", all that means is that this whole geographic area is now filled with 300+ million sovereign individuals, there is no "society" or whole that can be attacked.  If Canada decides to invade Detroit, you might say they've attacked Detroit Society, but it has no bearing on individuals in Chicago or New York any more than it would on individuals in London, Hong Kong, or New Dehli. 

You have to conceptualize acts of war against anarcho-capitalist society as nothing more than acts of murder, theft, and trespass against individuals.  When you look at it that way, the problems solves itself.

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Marko replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 8:49 AM

The idea that it's virtually impossible to win a guerilla war is predicated on the assumption that the goal of the aggressor is subjugation. What if the goal is extermination and colonization?


However, with such tremendous capacity for violence in the hands of a few firms, we're now faced with a serious threat to the internal stability of the anarcho-capitalist society.


On the one hand you did not argue against the notion a free society can not be *subjugated* by a foreign state. But on the other you worry about a "coup" against a free society peformed by a small private company.

It seems to me a company trying to impose a state on a society of anarchists would face exactly the same problems a foreign state doing so would face. You did not contest the claim the latter is unlikely to suceed, yet you claim the former is a real possibility.

Is your claim then a private firm is better equipped for the task of subjugation than a state? You think a defense company could have concievably succeeded where the US failed and subjugated the Vietnamese?

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 9:06 AM

An anarcho-capitalist society in a world of States would be: 1) incomparably rich, and 2) an extistential threat to all States. I'd say that would leave us with no allies and lots of enemies.

The US right now is incredibly rich and an existential threat to any nation. Yet we still get along just fine with Europe and a bunch of other nations.

I agree with your first comment that guerilla warfare is not viable, and I disagree with your second comment that guerilla warfare is viable.

I do not see how my second comment supported guerilla warfare.

Funding for defense is much more readily available than funding for offense.

It's much easier to raise funds to defend yourself from a threat than to raise funds to actively attack someone.

could the DROs (or whatever entities possess the military capacity) justifiably retaliate without discriminating between those actually responsible for the attack and innocent citizens of the foreign polity

Well, speaking in the void, this is what I can come up with: The soldiers of the foreign state signed an agreement when entering the military to follow through with orders their commanders gave them. When the foreign state attacks you, then the intent of the foreign power is clear, and you have millions of their soldiers on record saying that they will follow through with the attacks. Seems like just retaliation against a threat.

the only just retaliation would be to strike back against the missile launch sites, and some government buildings

I already covered the whole army, but to entertain this specific sentence - and what more do you want to attack? The citizens? Total warfare like in Dresden or Hiroshima? Is that what determines the viability of a nation? A war is between states and militaries, not between peoples.

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mikachusetts,

This is the root of your problem.  What does it mean to attack a society?  If what is currently the continental US becomes an anarcho-capitalist "society", all that means is that this whole geographic area is now filled with 300+ million sovereign individuals, there is no "society" or whole that can be attacked.  If Canada decides to invade Detroit, you might say they've attacked Detroit Society, but it has no bearing on individuals in Chicago or New York any more than it would on individuals in London, Hong Kong, or New Dehli.

You have to conceptualize acts of war against anarcho-capitalist society as nothing more than acts of murder, theft, and trespass against individuals.  When you look at it that way, the problems solves itself.

I fail to see how the absence of a sense of unity among the inhabitants of the anarcho-capitalist society in any way protects them from foreign attack. On the contrary, it makes them more vulnerable to piecemeal conquest.

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Wheylous,

The US right now is incredibly rich and an existential threat to any nation. Yet we still get along just fine with Europe and a bunch of other nations.

We don't have allies because we "get along" with them, in fact, we don't have allies at all. We have dependents and client states. We have these only because we project power in an unprecedented and very aggressive fashion: something an anarcho-capitalist society would obviously not do. Secondly, I mean that an anarcho-capitalist society would pose an existential threat at the ideological level, in the way that republican (or Bonapartist) France posed an existential threat to the European monarchies.

It's much easier to raise funds to defend yourself from a threat than to raise funds to actively attack someone.

Not for a State, which externalizes its costs. And besides, don't you know all wars fought by States are always defensive....  ; )

Well, speaking in the void, this is what I can come up with: The soldiers of the foreign state signed an agreement when entering the military to follow through with orders their commanders gave them. When the foreign state attacks you, then the intent of the foreign power is clear, and you have millions of their soldiers on record saying that they will follow through with the attacks. Seems like just retaliation against a threat.

I already covered the whole army, but to entertain this specific sentence - and what more do you want to attack? The citizens? Total warfare like in Dresden or Hiroshima? Is that what determines the viability of a nation? A war is between states and militaries, not between peoples.

Really? Well then how do you explain Dresden and Hiroshima, or any of the countless number of attacks on non-military targets in the history of warfare? Do they not count? It seems to me that you are talking about what should exist, what you say is moral, as opposed to what actually exists. As it stands, there is total war, whatever your evaluation of it. We're talking about a lone anarcho-capitalist society in the actual world as it exists, and it will have to somehow survive in that world. Wanting the world to be different is not a functional defense strategy. 

Take nuclear weapons for example. If you're unwilling to explicitly target civilian populations, nuclear deterrence is non-viable. That leaves you with nothing but a missile shield to protect yourself from foreign nuclear attack (or the threat thereof used as leverage for extortion), and there are a number of problems with that approach.

Here's a more low-level example. A foreign State sneaks an agent into a major city in the country of the anarcho-capitalists and detonates a high-yield bomb (nuclear or not doesn't matter). The foreign State openly admits that it did this, and threatens to keep doing it in various cities unless X. This highlights a general problem: namely, the anarcho-capitalist society rests all of its hope on direct defense, because it cannot effectively retaliate except against those directly responsible (or perhaps all military targets, but I fail to see how that jives with the NAP, considering that most in the military had nothing to do with the attack, and are only defending their county, and moreover, might have been drafted against their will). And so if a mass casualty attack succeeds, what can the an-caps do in response? They have no hand.

Finally, what do you say about the lack of unity in the an-cap society as a weakness, allowing for piecemeal conquest?

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Wheylous replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 9:53 PM

We don't have allies because we "get along" with them, in fact, we don't have allies at all.

Britain, France, and Germany would attack us in the blink of an eye?

Secondly, I mean that an anarcho-capitalist society would pose an existential threat at the ideological level, in the way that republican (or Bonapartist) France posed an existential threat to the European monarchies.

Seems like those nations would then have revolutions instead of fight foreign wars. If the "US" is so prosperous without coercion, what people will be like "hey, we wanna keep coercion and be less prosperous!" If the US goes AnCap and is successful, I think Europe would not be too far behind.

Not for a State, which externalizes its costs.

What I'm saying is that the free US would have a high incentive to defend.

And besides, don't you know all wars fought by States are always defensive

Maybe I'm wrong, but the Nazi invasion of Europe was defensive? We're talking about large-scale war here, not (serious, yet not as large) confrontations like Vietnam.

It seems to me that you are talking about what should exist, what you say is moral, as opposed to what actually exists. As it stands, there is total war, whatever your evaluation of it. We're talking about a lone anarcho-capitalist society in the actual world as it exists, and it will have to somehow survive in that world. Wanting the world to be different is not a functional defense strategy. 

Nope, not gonna work. You first complained that total warfare wouldn't exist. I then essentially said "what, you want it to exist?" For you to hold your ground, you have to argue that total warfare and killing of citizens should be a viable option for any state. I'm saying total warfare would be unacceptable according to NAP grounds, and hence "shouldn't" exist. If we assume the AnCap society supports the NAP, then total war would not happen. Yet you appear to be using that as a downside to AnCap.

That leaves you with nothing but a missile shield to protect yourself from foreign nuclear attack (or the threat thereof used as leverage for extortion), and there are a number of problems with that approach.

I am slightly treading into unknown waters here, but why would any large state that could post a threat to the US want to nuke us? Imagine the scenario. As I said before, first of all the EU hardly wants to attack the US. The likely ones who might attack are China or Russia or maybe India in the future.

Now, what is the purpose of war? Defense, thumping your chest, and taking of resources. Defense is not applicable, because we're talking about offensive war. So China would either have to thump its chest, or want the resources of the US. If China attacks with either reason, the entire EU would be up in arms and would come help as well. China would easily lose.

Plus, if China wants US resources, it likely wouldn't want to nuke US territory.

Furthermore, examine the opposite side of the argument. You would like to argue that you want the option to be able to kill untold millions of innocent civilians. Is that correct?

But let's backtrack a bit more. Why do you think that the weapons would be successfully planted and detonated?

what do you say about the lack of unity in the an-cap society as a weakness, allowing for piecemeal conquest?

I didn't make that argument, so I won't defend it.

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Minarchist replied on Tue, Feb 21 2012 11:11 PM

Maybe I'm wrong, but the Nazi invasion of Europe was defensive? We're talking about large-scale war here, not (serious, yet not as large) confrontations like Vietnam.

I meant that States engaged in military aggression (almost) always pretend to be defending themselves, and if your point was that it's easier to rally capital and people to fight a defensive war, well then perception is everything, isn't it? I might grant you the NAZIs as an exception to this rule, as they were pretty open about their aggressive intentions - then again, one could argue that they believed (and the German people believed) that they were defending themselves in a deeper sense, from the baddies they saw behind the scenes trying to strangle Germany, etc. And of course they started the war against Poland with a false-flag attack, pretending to be the victim. But anyway, as a general rule, agggressive States pretend to be defending themselves, and the masses almost always fall for it.

And anyway, I don't think I agree with your claim that it's easier to raise resources for defense than for offense. There are many shades of meaning between the two, and many rationales that can be used to drum up support for any kind of war. Take the French revolutionairy wars for example. It was pure agggression on the part of the French, and it was the first (arguably) total war with mass support and participation - motivated by the notion of spreading their ideology.

Nope, not gonna work. You first complained that total warfare wouldn't exist. I then essentially said "what, you want it to exist?" For you to hold your ground, you have to argue that total warfare and killing of citizens should be a viable option for any state. I'm saying total warfare would be unacceptable according to NAP grounds, and hence "shouldn't" exist. If we assume the AnCap society supports the NAP, then total war would not happen. Yet you appear to be using that as a downside to AnCap.

As for total war being in violation of the NAP, that's entirely beside the point. The question at hand is how would an an-cap society fair in a world of States, which do not recognize the NAP. I think I see where our miscommunication is coming from. You think that when I say "there will be total war" I mean that the an-cap society will engage in total war? That would indeed be contrary to the premise of the question I'm asking, but that's not what I mean. Rather, I'm saying this: the foreign States will engage in total war (i.e. they will have no qualms about committing Dresdens and Hiroshimas against the an-caps), and in light of this, in such a world, what will the an-caps do? How will they survive? Does that clarify things?

I am slightly treading into unknown waters here, but why would any large state that could post a threat to the US want to nuke us? Imagine the scenario. As I said before, first of all the EU hardly wants to attack the US. The likely ones who might attack are China or Russia or maybe India in the future.

Now, what is the purpose of war? Defense, thumping your chest, and taking of resources. Defense is not applicable, because we're talking about offensive war. So China would either have to thump its chest, or want the resources of the US. If China attacks with either reason, the entire EU would be up in arms and would come help as well. China would easily lose.

Plus, if China wants US resources, it likely wouldn't want to nuke US territory.

Firstly, a foreign State would not have to actually nuke the an-caps to achieve its objectives, the threat would be sufficient. Imagine this: a single city in the an-cap country is nuked by a foreign State, to show their seriousness. They then issue a statement to all the inhabitants of An-Capia, to the effect of: pay us $X by the end of the year or we nuke another city. Now you might say, there's no tax collecting authority to raise this tribute, so the Chinese or whoever are wasting their breath. Well, firstly, the money might be collected without any State, maybe by the DROs or whatever. Secondly, if a State is required, well then guess what: the residents of An-Capia have just decided to give up anarcho-capitalism and form a State to collect the loot to pay off the Chinese. Why? Because no one prefers nuclear annihilation to ideological purity.

Secondly, we could get into a discussion of who specifically might be interested in extorting, subjugating, or extermination the residents of An-Capia (China with a brutal government, massive population, and tremendous thirst for natural resources would be a likely candidate for the latter), but if the security of An-Capia rests on the idea that no foreign State would be interested in attacking it, simply because they're all peaceable, well that's not much an argument for the ability of an an-cap society to defend itself from States.

Furthermore, examine the opposite side of the argument. You would like to argue that you want the option to be able to kill untold millions of innocent civilians. Is that correct?

This is about a simple question: will or will not an an-cap society survive in a world of States? The answer to that question is not contingent on the morality of alternative arrangements.

But let's backtrack a bit more. Why do you think that the weapons would be successfully planted and detonated?

The fact is there is no way to stop a determined terrorist of this sort from succeeding. Any nuclear nation could do this to any other. Why don't they currently? Because of the threat of nuclear (or other massive) retaliation.

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