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Anarcho-capitalism in the real world

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ToxicAssets Posted: Tue, Dec 11 2012 11:09 AM


There is no State.

No, I'm not talking about Somalia.
And I'm not talking about medieval Iceland either.
Not about some allegorical society in a popular novel, nor a cyber-punk video game scenario.

This is not about some hypothetical past, some ideal future or some distant land of pure imagination.

I'm talking about the realest of all worlds: the one which is right here, right now.

The one with all the governments and political parties and bureaucrats.
The one where people are send to war and die for their countries.
The one where people cash checks from the social security.
The one where everyone talks about the State and it seem so omnipresent.

Yet, despite all that evidence, I maintain: there is no State.

Not only there is no State, there could be no such a thing as a State. Not in any possible real world.

The State is a purely mythological entity, a God.
It is still worshiped by many, and believed by many.
And this belief may affect many real decisions and outcomes.

But the State itself does not exist.

And as the State does not exist, there has never been anything in the world that was run by it.

Therefore, there is little point in manifesting opposition to the State itself, or idealizing a society free from it.
We can't get rid of it since it doesn't exist.

"Blood alone moves the wheels of history" - Dwight Schrute
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This becomes clear once we realize this fact: purposeful violence is an economic resource.

Violence is the infliction of pain and suffering upon others.
And purposeful violence is violence used rationally, as a means to achieve certain ends.
Or even as an end in itself, as a direct pleasure inducing activity.
A number of beasts revel during acts of violence.

Controlled violence is always a scarce means.
Producing it involves time and material consumption as well as other costs and risks.
And the costs of producing effective violence can be reduced if labor is divided and organized.
Of course, these economies of scale can be realized up to a certain point.

Pretty much like any other commodity in the world, purposeful violence is subjected to market forces of supply and demand, of diminishing returns and so on.

But the ways purposeful violence is applied in practice by concrete decision takers reveal general patterns that are somewhat interesting.

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 1:02 PM

Okay. Do you have a deeper point?

We'd like to get rid of the institutions in this world which act as monopolies on law over specific geographical areas.

I could make an equally strong argument that you don't exist either, but this doesn't do much in helping us move forward.

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xahrx replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 1:19 PM

I don't exist, I did not post this, therefore it's pointless asking me to remove it.

I am a towel.

"I was just in the bathroom getting ready to leave the house, if you must know, and a sudden wave of admiration for the cotton swab came over me." - Anonymous
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Like every other scarce resource, purposeful violence has different possible uses, and so it needs to be is economized.

Which means that concrete decision takers will establish priorities and compromises so they can best employ their own supply of violence to their best advantage.

But none of this is remarkable of violence as a resource. You could change the word "violence" by the word "oil" and all the preceding statements remain.

What is very peculiar of violence are the preferential uses realized by concrete real world decision takers given concrete real world situations.

These preferential uses generate patterns of decision and these patterns reveal themselves almost everywhere.

Something similar happens when the monetary patterns emerge from the distinct usage of certain commodities as currency.
These economic patterns motivate the consideration of money as a specially interesting subject of economic analysis.

The same is valid for land, labor, energy and many other resource markets featuring peculiar patterns of decision taking determining how these resources are actually put to use.

Violence can be used to acquire resources already claimed by others decision taking units.
And violence is sometimes used as pastime, as a direct source of amusement.

But the chief practical use of purposeful violence, and the source of almost all its value, is the cancellation of outer violence, from the perspective of the decision unit.

And these uses are often prioritized.

There are degrees of cancellation of outer violence.

You may first want cancel it out of existence, or almost. But this can be too costly and not realistically achievable.

The realistic option may be to cancel it to a given extent.
There are several ways these deals of mutual cancelation can take place.
From peaceful independent coexistence to the relationship between a liege lord and a vassal.

Or you may see yourself in the unfortunate position of not having enough violence means to bargain any deal.
 

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Anenome replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 3:54 PM

You seem to be thinking about this issue as if ethical issues were immaterial.

When you say 'purposeful violence' you mean the aggression of the state.

And the aggression of the state is unjust. And that is one of the most important reasons to oppose it.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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Wheylous replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 5:22 PM

Your first post is the realization that first turned me into an AnCap.

More specifically, the ideas I lay out in this article:

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/social-stability-rule-of-law-and-the-free-society/

And the ones I will lay out in a future article relating to courts (that's where I really had an issue).

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This sketch for an economic understanding of the use of violence as means will help us drive our point home.

And the point was, I recall, that whole "The State doesn't exist" deal.

So here's the thing...
The State doesn't exist because it is meant to be the solution to a set of so-called problems by an entity that can neither have, much less solve, any problem.
And that entity is Society.

Society is the complex result of people acting and interacting with each other.
And except in the fantasyland of political rhetorics, Society doesn't have needs or problems or decision capabilities.
And since there are no social problems, there can be no problem solving mechanisms dedicated to solving them.
Hence, the non-existence of the State.

All we have are different markets.

Markets are the complex patterns of allocation of scarce resources produced by the repeated interaction of rational decision takers.

How actual markets are gonna play depend on circumstances that determine the relative scarcity of the different means.


When the costs or risks of engaging in violence production and exchange are generally high, and the potential benefits are too low or too uncertain, the decisions takers will consider moving towards alternative solutions.

When the situation is reverse, there will be blood.

Political organizations shift resources in order to alter the net balance of mutual cancelation on violence bargains.

And what is generally perceived as State and Anarchy are actually patterns of economic interaction between political organizations dedicated to mobilize purposeful violence in order to cancel each other out and achieve other goals.
 

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Neodoxy replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 7:41 PM

Anyone else feel like they're on the opposite side of an echo chamber which only goes one way?

At last those coming came and they never looked back With blinding stars in their eyes but all they saw was black...
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That blog is looking more awesome every time I see it. Nice job, guys.

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hashem replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 8:16 PM

Yes, the state doesn't exist. It's a concept, a category. But as a concept it has manifest value: when two or more people agree on what is meant by state, then they can engage in meaningful communication about it.

And like others have pointed out, if state means geographical monopoly of violence, then anarchists aren't opposed to statism.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Anenome replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 8:21 PM

(OP) Reads like a parody of David Friedman somehow. Writing's not very clear, or perhaps a bit insular.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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Anenome replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 8:23 PM

hashem:
And like others have pointed out, if state means geographical monopoly of violence, then anarchists aren't opposed to statism.

Schwa? The heck are you talking about. Anarchs are explicitly against a geographical monopoly of violence. I certainly am. We want competition for rights eforcement.

You merely assume we'll use law to make sure some set of laws are the active ones in a region. I thought I already explained why and how that can be avoided entirely while preserving voluntarism.

So, I completely disagree with you here.

Autarchy: rule of the self by the self; the act of self ruling.
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hashem replied on Tue, Dec 11 2012 8:42 PM

Anarchists (almost universally) advocate:

1. morals enforcement (aka law enforcement, or rules enforcement, or instert-your-prefered-euphemism-for-rationalized-violence)

2. the individual's right to use violence in defense (often not even defensive violence, but outright preemptive violence in anticipation of violation of property rights)

These are examples of geographical monopolies of violence. At the minimalist end, the individual is the monopolist, at the collective end enforcement agencies are monopolies.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect. —Mark Twain
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Anenome replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 1:06 AM
 
 

hashem:

Anarchists (almost universally) advocate:

1. morals enforcement (aka law enforcement, or rules enforcement, or instert-your-prefered-euphemism-for-rationalized-violence)

Sure. Except that everybody advocates morals enforcement, meaning there's no coercion going on here. People are grouping together and voluntarily supporting morals enforcement. Even the crooks are supporting morals enforcement, as that makes their 'profession' more profitable, and even they want rights protections generally, when they're not violating someone else's.

There could only be statism in morals enforcement if anarchs decided a particular set of morals HAD to be enforced on others, no matter what they say.

This isn't how I envision is will go down. I think people will group together via wide agreement on particular moral sets in a free society, creating morals enforcement while preserving every inch of voluntarism. And this wouldn't be over some set geographic region, but only under the individual's own property and those whom have subscribed to the same set of laws.

Whither statism?

hashem:

2. the individual's right to use violence in defense (often not even defensive violence, but outright preemptive violence in anticipation of violation of property rights)

First of all, it's reasonable to use force to stop the credible threat of force. If the other disagrees they can sue you in an objective court and have it decide if you were being reasonable or not. But I don't see how statism comes into play at all. It's not aggression to responsible to the imminent threat of force with defensive coercion.

hashem:
These are examples of geographical monopolies of violence. At the minimalist end, the individual is the monopolist, at the collective end enforcement agencies are monopolies.

In a free society, enforcement agencies would not be monopolies.

And while private property has been described as having a monopoly over property I don't think that's quite in the same category, nor the definition of statism. Like, "You own land, STATIST!" What sense does that make.

So, I guess I need more elucidation, not seein' it.

There's nothing in the principles of libertarianism that says there has to be any particular set of laws. We just think that if people weren't being held captive to a particular law set that they'd likely choose to be free generally and thus eventually arrive where we are now. But, a free society can tolerate socialists who want to live under socialist ethical principles and govern themselves under those precepts.

I suppose we hold certain ethical principles to be axiomatic and self-evident, like voluntarism, but that doesn't automatically denote statism.

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


Okay. Do you have a deeper point?

We'd like to get rid of the institutions in this world which act as monopolies on law over specific geographical areas.

I could make an equally strong argument that you don't exist either, but this doesn't do much in helping us move forward.



Yeah, I know.

But here's the thing… to act as anything, institutions would need to have goals and take decisions.

And they don't have goals nor take decisions. That's the role of decision makers.

Institutions are the recognized and expected pattern of decisions produced by them.

They are a form of knowledge. And knowledge is also an economic resource, with it's own peculiar patterns of employment.

Knowledge may be an end and source of pleasure in itself, but the chief use of knowledge is to help decision taking.

Knowledge can help decision taking in many ways.

Technological knowledge provides new possible uses for economic resources.

Institutional knowledge provide expectations about the decision taking process of others.

Knowing the general patterns of decisions also helps the decision maker by economizing the perhaps unnecessary wastes in time, energy and maybe other costs and risks that may come when trying out untested decisions.

You may wish to "get rid of" an institution you consider unfit to some vision or ideal you nurture.

But unless you devise concrete ways of acting allowing you to deviate from this institution with a profit, whining about the world and wishing things were different will not get you very far.

 

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I don't exist, I did not post this, therefore it's pointless asking me to remove it.

I am a towel.


Hahaha...

I'm well aware of the intellectual quagmire recreated whenever someone tries too hard to argue something out of existence.

Outside the exact realm of mathematics, meaningful things usually have multiple and incomplete abstract definitions, and any attempt to affect a synthetical and definitive meaning to them will fail due to the inexactitude and limitations of language itself.

But that's nowhere my point above.

Even though the limitations of language and the fugitive nature of meaning through layers of abstraction are an immensely interesting topic for conversation, I don't want to elaborate on these metaphysical issues now.
They are not important for us here, and I have no ambitions on igniting some theological upheaval today.

Our concern here is takes place in a very practical level where the meaning of things is relatively secure.
 

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Anenome:

 You seem to be thinking about this issue as if ethical issues were immaterial.

When you say 'purposeful violence' you mean the aggression of the state.

And the aggression of the state is unjust. And that is one of the most important reasons to oppose it.


Not at all.

Ethical issues are a big concern when it comes to understand the concrete decisions that are taken on the real world allocation of violence.
That's because most decision takers are to a given extent affected by ethical constraints that limit the practical use of violence.
But these ethical constraints are not the same for every decision taker, or even for the same decision taker during the course of its existence.
And of course they cannot be taken for granted.
They are knowledge assets that are hard to acquire, and not very easy to put to use either.
They are important, but they are also circumstantial.
If your goal is to understand decisions taking place in the real world, you may be better of not disregarding this point.

I most definitely don't mean "aggression of the state" when I talk about purposeful violence.
The State is a non-entity remember? As such, it definitely have no purpose to which violence could be allocated.
But there are some entities, the decision makers, that have purposes, and so mobilize different amounts and qualities of violence to realize them.

I suspect that if I start addressing the notion of "Justice" now, this nice and civil discussion will soon evolve to a non-sensical exchange of rhetorical torpedoes, due to the emotional predispositions people attach to such a word.

For now let's leave it alone, there are many other issues we need to take care of before we open up another can of worms.
 

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Anenome replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 4:55 AM

I'm sorry, just your prose isn't very clear, and I don't know what to make of it.

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Wheylous:

 Your first post is the realization that first turned me into an AnCap.

More specifically, the ideas I lay out in this article:

http://voluntaryistreader.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/social-stability-rule-of-law-and-the-free-society/

And the ones I will lay out in a future article relating to courts (that's where I really had an issue).


To be honest...
My first post is basically a micro pamphlet.
I believe many people can identify somehow with it, since it contains no real argument attached to it.
It was designed mainly to draw attention to what comes next. All the arguments are presented in the following posts.
I decided to post in these chunks because I felt people would not care to read a long text, specially due to my weird and foreign writing style.
And although I like your anglo-saxon speak and the many possibilities it offers, I must confess I lack some practical experience with it.

I've read your article, though.
And it's a fine and well written summary of the position I'm disagreeing with in my subsequent posts.

My main issue with positions like yours is that they seem to come from the belief that good and evil are inherent to certain people.
Some people are wicked and inclined to all kinds of brutality, while other people are lawful and want to cooperate peacefully.
And the world is this moral battle ground where a celestial army of good will engage the fallen legions of doom.

All these allegories and imagery may be useful if you try to understand and explain things through a theological perspective.
And I'm not saying its wrong because of that, I'm just stating what it is.

But it's hard to consider all of this of any necessity to the economical understanding of the social process in the real world.

If we try to understand the real world economically, we cannot assume the existence of distinct categories of good and evil men, separated by God at birth.
You may believe it or not, in any case it's not a matter of economics.

There are only flesh and bone men, and real organizations of men, and they will generally abide to given ethical constraints when taking decisions given certain situations.

The specific constraints they are subjected to will provide the available courses of action, and their decisions regarding their goals will select upon these the specific courses to be taken.

When all of this is taken seriously into account, we may open up new "vistas of reality".

We can finally start to understand how and perhaps why the all processes we used to call "State" happen in the real world.

That these are not moral entities of an evil nature, nor the intentional result of a moral decision.

They are market patterns of allocation of many forms of violence, given the set of constraints of knowledge and material resources active to a group of decision takers interacting.
 

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Neodoxy:

Anyone else feel like they're on the opposite side of an echo chamber which only goes one way?


I didn't mean to be rude.

I just wanted to post all my core arguments before I started addressing any remark.
I have no interest in preaching, I'm here to have a goodtime and maybe learn new things.

I apologize anyway.

 

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Hashem:

 Yes, the state doesn't exist. It's a concept, a category. But as a concept it has manifest value: when two or more people agree on what is meant by state, then they can engage in meaningful communication about it.

And like others have pointed out, if state means geographical monopoly of violence, then anarchists aren't opposed to statism.


As I said before, I'm not trying to make a case in meta-linguistics here.

The fact that two people agree to a certain extent on the concepts of, say, Gandalf or a machine of perpetual motion, so they can talk for hours about them, desn't imply that any objective version of those things exist in reality.

The meaningful possibilities for imaginary beings are limitless. But if we are to accept these, anything that can be somehow be conceived in thought and articulated in words comes to exist in such a large sense. Like vampires, unicorns, dragons and koalas.

An interesting thing is that once these imaginary beings are created and known by many people, they have impact in reality.

People will buy tickets to watch a movie because they like Gandalf, for example.

And people will write treatises on the State because they believe it exists and represent something more than an imaginary entity, when in fact it doesn't.

The State is a piece of fiction, like Bastiat said.

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Anenome:

(OP) Reads like a parody of David Friedman somehow. Writing's not very clear, or perhaps a bit insular.



I think David Friedman makes a lot of good points. I've only read the Machinery of Freedom and a few sparse things though.
But I also think he fails when he tries to take all these good points and make them all fit the utilitarian vision of society and the almighty Coase theorem. That's BS.
Society has no goal, and cannot decide nor prioritize anything as a group. This can only happen in collectivist woo-woo fantasies.

I also think that Rothbard makes a lot of good points. Probably many more than Friedman.
But he too fails when he declares his vision of justice and ethics is some sort of exact and inescapable conclusion derived from so-called axioms of reason.
With all respect that is due to this great man and his outstanding work, this is almost pure non-sense.

Violence and aggression can take many forms in the real world.
Stuff that wasn't even considered violence can become violences in another context.
And only customary notions and circumstantial knowledge will prevail when it comes to establish what is an act of violence and what is not, and whether they are reasonable provided the circumstantial constraints and goals sought by the decision taker.

There is no such thing as inescapable conclusion of reason in absence of assumptions and provisions.

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Anenome:

I'm sorry, just your prose isn't very clear, and I don't know what to make of it.

That's ok.

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Malachi replied on Wed, Dec 12 2012 6:39 PM
hashem:

Anarchists (almost universally) advocate:

1. morals enforcement (aka law enforcement, or rules enforcement, or instert-your-prefered-euphemism-for-rationalized-violence)

2. the individual's right to use violence in defense (often not even defensive violence, but outright preemptive violence in anticipation of violation of property rights)

These are examples of geographical monopolies of violence. At the minimalist end, the individual is the monopolist, at the collective end enforcement agencies are monopolies.

It actually seems like you are trying to bait someone into playing your definition game, since neither of these is an example of a monopoly in any conventional sense.
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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