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Hayekian Anarchism

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vive la insurrection Posted: Fri, Jun 8 2012 1:46 PM

I know there are a lot of Rothabardian types here.  So here is a cool article I just stumbled on by Steve Horowitz you may find interesting:

 

http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2009/12/the-false-dichotomy-of-rothbardian-anarchism-and-hayekian-classical-liberalism.html?cid=6a00d83451eb0069e20128766c947f970c#comment-6a00d83451eb0069e20128766c947f970c

 

It also mentions the importance of Don Lavoie, someone I am just starting to find interesting.

 

Also of interest for this would be a "Rothbard and Mises dehomoginized" article here:

http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2012/04/the-social-philosophy-of-ludwig-von-mises-is-not-the-same-as-either-murray-rothbards-or-ayn-rands.html?cid=6a00d83451eb0069e2016764e6edc6970b#comment-6a00d83451eb0069e2016764e6edc6970b

 

With an interesting comment here:

 

This is a big topic, but one that should not be limited to Austrian economists. However, since that is how it is couched here, here is my opinion FWIW.

Hayek takes his conception of liberty from the Scottish Moral Philosophers (Hume, Ferguson, Smith, Hutchinson), and later from some of the 19th century British legal scholars. It is largely conservatively deontological, anti-rationalist, and sceptical. It says that moral action may be judged by adherence to a traditional rule, even if adherance to the rule may prohibit some expressions of positive liberty by the individuals within a society, and may not even necessarily appear rational on a cause and effect basis which can be easily seen.

However, without these "rules" of morality which often differ from those of our gut instincts (evolutionalry vestiges of by-gone simpler society when men knew their neighbors), a society would not form and coordinate. Nevertheless, many individual rule followers will experience repression, and even might be harmed by the enforcement of these rules. Hayek and the Scottish Moral philosophers deny that human agents posess the knowledge to derive perfect rules governing complex social orders like some kind of Newtonian physics problem, and that designed rules and morals will often not result in the consequences intended by the designers.

On the other side is Rothbard. Sqaurely a radical rationalist. He takes his inspiration from Catesian rationalists, and Hobbs, Rousseau, Bentham, and J.S. Mill. He opposes Smithian economics and moral philosophy. Those in the Rothbard camp are not rule utilitarians, but radical rational individualist utilitarians (though most deny they are utiltarians at all) who hold that moral acts are first and foremost rational acts, and can only be justified through our perfect reason. Man is first and foremost a happiness (pleasure maximizing)seeking individual, and codified traditional rules often repress the pursuit of ultimate(happiness).

To this camp of thinkers, the irrational is immoral, and therefore morality is derived like a cartesian construction. The higher self is the rational creature who has been liberated from the irrationality of the traditional social institutions which repress pleasure-seeking and intrapersonal freedoms. The market is a wonderful free for all, where everyone uses everyone else to boost his own happiness, just as long as negative liberties are enforced. Morality is often judged by the end result of the action, not the intent. The market is the ultimate arbitrator of morality, since it brings the greatest pleasure to the greatest number.

Squarely in the middle is Mises. Mises lives in the philosophical middle ground of Immanuel Kant. His philosophy attempts to reconcile the Scottish Moral Philosopers and continental philosopers. We see rule utilitarianism. Morality is judged by adherance to a rule which is judged good if it can rationally be shown to bring the greater good.

That is my take. I think the Rand/Rothbard brand, while glorifying personal liberty, is ultimately dangerous to interpersonal liberty and the emergence of social order.

I side with Buchanan (and Hayek), that complete laisez faire (radical individualism) means death to liberty and the market. It brings about a backlash of totalitarianism. Markets function, but only under the framework of good rules, and these rules must be undergirded by a type of deontological morality. Rules must be enforced by some infringement on unconstrained liberty.

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Anenome replied on Sat, Jun 9 2012 4:45 AM
 
 

I side with Buchanan (and Hayek), that complete laisez faire (radical individualism) means death to liberty and the market. It brings about a backlash of totalitarianism. Markets function, but only under the framework of good rules, and these rules must be undergirded by a type of deontological morality. Rules must be enforced by some infringement on unconstrained liberty.

I would argue that this has been largely true historically, the backlash against periods of great liberty into totalitarianism, even in the US, but I don't think its occurrence is an absolute that must happen every time.

Rather, I believe that these periods have happened because liberty was, in these periods, framed or upheld via a political vacuum. There was not a positive legal structure upholding the philosophy of liberty and individualism, only efforts to maintain liberty by restraining government.

At the same time there was no moral philosophy of liberty such as we have today in the way of libertarianism, and inividualists had not then won the economic argument (as they easily have today).

In the introduction to Herbert Spencer's book Man versus the State, it's pointed out that the main means of the British Liberals (at the time the proponents of individualism) in defence of liberty was to repeal laws and leave in their place nothing.

How much better to put forth positive statements about liberty, to create laws restraining governemnt and active statements of liberties enjoyed by the people than to merely attempt to quash tyrannies as they spring into law one by one.

That's why it may be possible today to create an individualist political system such as the past was never capable, by building on the efforts of Hayek, Mises, Rothbard, Rand, and those who've build principles of liberty into a philosophical system capable of expression not just in negative terms, not just of what should not be done, but what should be done and why--positive statements of how a society should coalesce and organize via unmolested individualism.

 

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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@ Anenome

Unfortunately that's simply not how a system works. The natural tendency of all systems is to grow until they can grow no more.

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Anenome replied on Sat, Jun 9 2012 6:51 AM
 
 

Serpentis-Lucis:
@ Anenome

Unfortunately that's simply not how a system works. The natural tendency of all systems is to grow until they can grow no more.

To grow essentially automatically implies a feedback loop of some sort, does it? Suppose the feedback loop in government, whatever it is or turns out to be, did not exist or no longer existed, then it would not continue to grow as a natural tendency.

I would submit that the feedback loop causing governemnt to inevitably grow centers around the locus of control in a society, or alternately the locus of decision making: who gets to say yes and who gets to say no, or more precisely: who get to propose and who gets to veto.

Take the kings of hundreds of years ago; they possessed total rule. The only constraint upon the tyranny of kings was that the locus of control was contained entirely in one human being, largely limited by the scope of his own ability to perceive, think, act, hours in a day, etc. The locus of law-generation both affirmative and negative were entirely with him, meaning he got to say yes or no, to propose or veto anything.

Now, in time we progressed to the republican democracy, an improvement on the king in that the locus of control was, in theory at least, moved to the people via the concept of representative democracy. And the locus of control was spread around. The congress (ostensibly representatives of the people) gets to propose, the senate gets to say no (by not passing the same bill), the president gets to say no (by veto), and the final arbiter (no) is the supreme court.

Still, the locus of control in the republican democracy is not with the individual, and there remains the socialist ethic which says that the will of the collective, however it is determined, must override the will of the individual.

In point of fact, this explains why governments continue to grow in despotism, because the socialist ethic allows those who wield power to gain advantage by taking value from those whom have it and can be forced to relinquish it because their will can be legally sacrificed to that of the 'collective will'--which is simply that of those in power whom are said to effect the collective will by the power they wield. Though this is a fraud.

Now, let us return instead to my proposal of an essentialist state which seeks to create a political system predicated on individualism.

In such a state, the locus of control must remain with the individual. The power to propose and veto all law must remain with the individual. The ethic of individual-will sacrificed to the collective-will is dispensed with, naturally, thus removing the ability of a government to grow in tyranny, for no individual will willingly become a slave, in full or in part, given the option and opportunity, and people instinctively know what is in their interest or quickly figure it out otherwise.

In such a state, the individual decides what laws to abide by, and dispense with laws they disagree with at will, and no one can force anything on them at all, as long as they do not violate the rights of another (and in such cases the only coercion used upon them is to re-establish the equilibrium of justice, and because an individualist society must remain a voluntaryist one, they will have agreed to these laws of recompense before ever living under their jurisdiction, meaning that this is not an aggression either).

Such a society will transition the world from one where we accept that others must rule us to ones where we self-discipline ourselves.

So then, in such a nation you literally could not have a tyranny, unless you can in some way define a tyranny as something someone could impose on themselves? But in such cases we never use the word tyranny.

Suppose you decided to become an expert in the violin. You would have to stringently discipline yourself, practicing for many hours a day in fanatic fashion. You couldn't have much of a social life, party, do dangerous things that risk physical injury, etc., etc. Yet we do not call this a tyranny.

So you see that an individualist political order has already grown to its full extent when it allows each individual to completely control themselves! While a socialist-predicated political order may tend towards ever greater control of society simply because it's there to be taken, the individualist-predicated political system already has complete control over the sole jurisdiction it's possible to exert any influence at all: from the individual onto himself.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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@ Anenome

I agree that the feedback loop that causes the government to grow centers around the locus of control in a society. Power to propose and veto legislation is not the most fundamental reason for the feedback loop, something far more basic is, and that is the desire for power.

Can you elaborate more on the political system you are talking about? At the moment I am confused, in that you seem to want a political system, but one that essentially has no power at all. To which I would approve, if the 'government' had no real power at all then there would be no incentive to become a part of it, why bother having a 'government' if it has no power though? My questions might sound stupid, if so it's because I don't really understand what you mean, are you in fact advocating a 'government' or am I misunderstanding you entirely? I mean your post sounded like you were talking about a form of government but at the same time what you describe doesn't sound like a government. A government which can't govern.

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Anenome replied on Sat, Jun 9 2012 3:23 PM
 
 

Serpentis-Lucis:

I agree that the feedback loop that causes the government to grow centers around the locus of control in a society. Power to propose and veto legislation is not the most fundamental reason for the feedback loop, something far more basic is, and that is the desire for power.

Is this desire basic to human nature? Because it seems like there couldn't be anything like a libertarian if it were. I think it's a product of a mind uninformed in the nature of liberty, who hasn't yet grasped the meaning of liberty, but that when people do they tend to accept it and reject a desire for power over others. Certainly you could not make me a dictator even at the point of a gun. Or at least, my first act would be to free everyone and also remove myself from power :P

Serpentis-Lucis:

Can you elaborate more on the political system you are talking about? At the moment I am confused, in that you seem to want a political system, but one that essentially has no power at all.

I've begun developing and advocating on these boards a new political order based on the principles of individualism. I wish I already had a thread in place with the full proposal laid out for examination but I do not yet, and I apologize. Maybe I should stop talking about it so much until then :P

About 90% of the proposal -is- laid out in this thread tho. The heart of the idea being to create a voluntaryist political order which fulfills the idea I talked about here, about a positive statement of freedom in the form of a political structure rather than merely creating a negative political vacuum as the fundamental expression of libertarian ideals.

Such a vacuum will always leave room for the statists to start something, to start a statist governemnt, and that something ends up being more powerful than the vacuum, because it is so easily grasped. The same was true of the American revolution which was a revolution to get away from gov power, but ended up being almost immediately co-opted by the federalists.

Serpentis-Lucis:
To which I would approve, if the 'government' had no real power at all then there would be no incentive to become a part of it, why bother having a 'government' if it has no power though? My questions might sound stupid, if so it's because I don't really understand what you mean, are you in fact advocating a 'government' or am I misunderstanding you entirely?

No, it's not a dumb question, it's an important one, because if the answer were not true then there would be no incentive to have a government. There's a couple response I can think of:

1. As I'd said, to be the positive statement of how libertarian ideals should create a political order, in order to prevent a statist government from popping up in the same region. (Not a strong reason, but fundamental to avoid strife between us and statists).

2. Culture & society: people like living together, and the political order I propose will allow people of like mind to group together and create a political structure suited to their ideals via ad hoc law-creation and spontaneous order. Since it's a voluntaryist order, they can also keep out those whom are misbehaving or discordant. Thus, if you wanted to setup an anarch area, they could group together and pass no civil laws at all. Alternately, you could also create a "socialist paradise," except that all involvement would be voluntary and anyone could leave at any time. This acts as a release valve on society, allowing those who want to try something different to try it without suppression, because they are trying it voluntarily, and we will see which political experiment people choose.

3. Essentialism: Unlike the anarchs, I maintain that there are a few specific legitimate functions of government. These legitimate functions are derived directly from the concept of the non-aggression principle, meaning that the government is limited to using coercion that responds to aggression and suppresses it via prosecution. This includes a national military prepped to stop inter-state aggression, so primarily defense. It includes a law court, both civil and crimial, of last resort that does not have a monopoly on prosecution, but is the only court that can compel attendance in case the aggressing party refuses to come to the table, and includes all the usual protections we're used to now such as a grand-jury and presumption of innocence.

Serpentis-Lucis:
I mean your post sounded like you were talking about a form of government but at the same time what you describe doesn't sound like a government. A government which can't govern.

Read that thread I linked if you like and it will explain a lot. If you think about it, a government predicated on individualism should be extremely different from one predicated on socialism. Until now, libertarians have often assumed that pure individualism would result in a state in which people don't have a government, or the idea that a pure expression of individualism would mean having a government would be impossible. I'm challenging that.

We've tended to think that any government must be inherently an aggressor, and that any government must inherently be statist. But I believe I've found a means of translating pure individualism into a political structure such as no one has seen before which is neither of those things.

I think a gov needs to at minimum protect basic rights--that would be the governing you say seems to be missing. Everything on top of that is not essential. And it is those non-essentials of government that we want to do away with to maximize freedom.

Please tell me what you think of it so that it can be improved by any flaws you find :)

***edit: I'll give you a classification for it: it is an Autarchist Republic.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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Wheylous replied on Mon, Jun 11 2012 5:36 AM

 Unfortunately that's simply not how a system works. The natural tendency of all systems is to grow until they can grow no more.

That tautology is so useless.

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@ Anenome

I never said that everyone has a desire for power. The people attracted to the government do have a desire for power however. Power in and of itself isn't a bad thing, it could in theory be used for good, you say you don't desire power but if you had the power to free the mind of Statist irrationalities would you not do so? Socialists are right in a way, wealth creates a imbalance of power, but wealth is not the sole reason for the imbalance. With power comes a kind of authority, not really formal authority, but a authority that their status as a powerful person grants them. Other people are more likely to bend to their will even without being bribed, this is a result of evolution but it has unsavory results to say the least. I could go into more detail but this isn't the thread to do it in.

In a way I agree that a political vacuum isn't a good thing. (At the moment.) A highly individualistic government is almost as difficult a concept for most people as anarchism. If people are willing to accept such a system then it would seem like they would be at a point where a political vacuum could exist without the risk of another oppressive government arising though. Giving the government a vital function is also a bad idea because it opens the door to a growing government again. From a psychological standpoint when people begin to associate positive things to a person or entity then the person/entity is able to get by with things they normally wouldn't. A example of this is a abusive relationship, in that they usually start out with the abusive person being nice, the victim starts to see the soon-to-be abuser as a good person, over time the abuser shows who he/she really is but by then it's too late because the abuser has made the victim dependent on him/her in some way. (Only the illusion of dependence is required.) Think about it for a while and you'll see the similarities between that and government. The government starts with "good intentions", it makes people dependent on it, or just makes them believe that they are dependent on government, that's when it starts to reveal it's true ways. (Welfare and security are the most crucial dependencies. People believe that without the government they will starve and that the bad guys will get them.)

These are just my quick thoughts on the matter.

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@ Wheylous

Think you could explain why?

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Anenome replied on Mon, Jun 11 2012 4:32 PM
 
 

Serpentis-Lucis:

In a way I agree that a political vacuum isn't a good thing. (At the moment.) A highly individualistic government is almost as difficult a concept for most people as anarchism. If people are willing to accept such a system then it would seem like they would be at a point where a political vacuum could exist without the risk of another oppressive government arising though.

I doubt it. People who don't realize that men don't need to be actively ruled would get together and try to start a statist government in a region IF there didn't already exist an individualist government there making that impossible. Historically, it seems any government vacuum always gets filled eventually. Much better then to fill it with a society based on individualism.

Serpentis-Lucis:
Giving the government a vital function is also a bad idea because it opens the door to a growing government again.

But it's a vital function that can only be done by government... that is the sanctioned use of force. The counterweight to that is to only give government jurisdiction to act when someone's rights have been violated. Then they can do nothing legally, and have a natural check on their growth. The big mistake we've been making is giving government almost unlimited jurisdiction to regulate people. Of course it's going to grow under those circumstances. Take a close look at the constitution of the US, there's no 'strict limits' in there at all. You'd expect such a government to grow continually. Professional politicans need something to do, need to show something.

So dispense with broad-based powers without limit, dispense with professional politicans too. Ad hoc government.

Serpentis-Lucis:
From a psychological standpoint when people begin to associate positive things to a person or entity then the person/entity is able to get by with things they normally wouldn't. A example of this is a abusive relationship, in that they usually start out with the abusive person being nice, the victim starts to see the soon-to-be abuser as a good person, over time the abuser shows who he/she really is but by then it's too late because the abuser has made the victim dependent on him/her in some way. (Only the illusion of dependence is required.) Think about it for a while and you'll see the similarities between that and government. The government starts with "good intentions", it makes people dependent on it, or just makes them believe that they are dependent on government, that's when it starts to reveal it's true ways. (Welfare and security are the most crucial dependencies. People believe that without the government they will starve and that the bad guys will get them.)

These are just my quick thoughts on the matter.

That is a good analogy. It's just that in an autarchist republic, something like forced welfare would be impossible because you cannot impose a law on someone which they don't willingly accept. Absent the ability to coerce funds out of people to give to others, what recourse does the politician have? None.

An autarchist republic changes the rules. The locus of control is with the individual, not with the politician. You don't elect representatives, you represent yourself. No one can tax you or force any law on you.

In such a society, where no one is coerced against their will, it's hard to imagine how government aggression could take root.

 
Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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