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Toughest An-Cap Topic?

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Willy Truth Posted: Sun, Apr 14 2013 12:53 AM

I've had several discussions regarding stateless societies lately, and they have ranged from the legitimacy of NASA to the ethics of a state regulated currency. **Sentimental moment:** I truly enjoy experiencing 96% of everyone on this forums' intellectual insight (Wheylous, Clayton, JJ, many others--you guys are amazing)... If nothing else, I feel like many of us share the common experience of being occassionally marginalized for our beliefs by someone completely blind to our system... I think this effect is illustrated by many prominent libertarians, Amanda BillyRock being one of the poor souls that has completely shifted their life to accommodate it...

But what do you consider the be the toughest issue to persuade (for the average debate) of An-Cap? If you had to boil down what you've had the most difficulty debating, or simply explaining, to one issue, what would it be?

EDIT: In essence, what is your best "devil's advocate" argument against An-Cap? 

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 1:20 AM

Wheylous was listed first. Wheylous likes this.

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Wheylous replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 1:31 AM

If you're asking about AnCap specific things, I'd say the most common counterargument is "but it would just devolve back into a state."

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 1:33 AM

You're asking two different questions. What is hardest to convince people on is different than what are really the hardest questions for anarcho-capitalism to address. Both of the following are just what really stick out to me. I can't determine a "toughest" per se

 

Hardest to convince people on:

Private defense companies will not take over everything

Democracy is not good

Government welfare is bad

The business cycle is not an inherent part of capitalism

Notable runners up:

Roads

The morality of people without the state

 

Best arguments against anarcho-capitalism:

Public goods

Currency, deflation, and inflation

Speculative bubbles

Notable Runners up:

Intellectual property

Nuclear weapons/formation of the society

Education

 

I can expound on any of these if you would like.

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I'd say depending on how you look at it, that question is either the toughest or the easiest one to answer...

I'd say it's tough because I'm not sure if I could come up with one simple, specific issue...largely because I would think the hardest thing to even begin to get people to wrap their heads around (let alone be persuaded of) is the abscence of a state period.

In other words, I think the answer is in the question.  The toughest thing to persuade people about an-cap, is anarchy itself.

To be perfectly honest, I actually remember not being able to even begin to imagine how a stateless society would work.  Literally, I couldn't imagine it.  I'm very glad to be able to remember this mental state.  I saw the title of some video online or read something somewhere about an-cap and remember kind of shoving it off as people fooling themselves...kind of like people do with communism.  A short while later I came across a series of videos with the theme "in a stateless society" by AntonBately.

I recall seeing those titles and thinking "how the hell would that work?"  I recall listening to some of those with great interest, because it was literally an attempt at explanation of something that I literally could not imagine.

Looking back now, and recalling some of the arguments put forth in some of those, from what I remember, they're not even that good...but it was certainly a start.

Sadly I cannot remember much detail about how exactly my intellectual journey progressed, and what specifically advanced each step, or even what those stepping stones were.  But it was definitely a progression.  It wasn't as if I read a single book and was converted.  (But then again, I didn't really start reading the books that might have caused such a conversion until after it had largely occured.)  It was more of an incremental thing...a process of simply being exposed to various arguments on various topics as I happened to come across them.  I think it was simply a conclusion that manifested as more and more arguments were found to be persuasive...until eventually you kind of realize the overall truth.

So I think a big part of the trick is tackling each issue as it comes up...meaning don't jump immediately to anarchy every time.  Simply guide them to the reality of its unnecessary nature. You don't have to compromise on principle, and pretend that some government is needed for defense and courts and the like...but you don't need to start off by saying they aren't needed either.

You have an advantage in the fact that, because most people can't begin to imagine a stateless society, they don't expect anarchy to be a position someone could/would genuinely hold...so they won't tend to assume such a thing about you.  Which means they'll assume you are at least a minarchist (even if they've never heard that term before).  This gives you the freedom to lead them to the reality of whatever they're advocating, without them getting ahead of you and writing you off before you make your case.

For more on this topic see "Argumentation & spreading the word" in The Ultimate Beginner meta-thread.  In particular,

To Any Who Were Once Apathetic: What Brought You In?

Why Ron Paul is so effective

Recommendations on policy when dealing with newbs/statists.

Details on best practices

 

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That's actually a really good list.  I think that will serve well as a basis for more argumentation articles.

 

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One big problem is people talking about child labor, my uncle actually said that if we had no minimum wage everyone would be making only a couple dollars an hour and have children working in factories. I knew how silly his argument was but it seemed so extreme I couldn't say anything against it.  I think everyone has heard the children working in coal mines argument against libertarianism.

 

He actually brouht this up after I said social security was robbery. According to him government taxing is nothing compared to the blessings the government gives us so that we are not all working in the 19th century conditions. People really are lead to worship the state. What I should have done was ask why did child labor laws become effective after great increases in productivity. Eventually he would have to conclude it was increased prosperity not child labor laws and minimum wage that made people richer.

"Inflation has been used to pay for all wars and empires as far back as ancient Rome… Inflationism and corporatism… prompt scapegoating: blaming foreigners, illegal immigrants, ethnic minorities, and too often freedom itself" End the Fed P.134Ron Paul
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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 9:53 AM

Neodoxy:

Best arguments against anarcho-capitalism:

Currency, deflation, and inflation

Speculative bubbles

 

You think so? Do you mean this is something where An-Caps are kind of "wrong" in / critics have a "good point"?

 

Biggest Problems with AnCapism imo:

National Defense

Land and Water Monopolization

Liquidation of Civic Virtue

Liquidation of the Artist Class (with the abolition of copyright)

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 10:50 AM

Jargon,

This is something that I've never actually heard much of a compelling argument for, but bubbles just concern me because of how often they've occurred throughout history. I've also never heard a really compelling reason as to why they exist, and they don't fit in very well with ABCT in my opinion.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 12:07 PM

What's the difference between a speculative bubble and a boom-bust cycle?

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 12:57 PM

A bubble is rapid overinvestment in a single area of the economy, whilst the traditional ABCT narrative deals with misallocation of resources systematically and throughout the entire economy in such a way that it's relatively difficult to predict what is and what is not a malinvestment. What is particularly concerning to me is that once a bubble starts to formed then De Soto's explanation of why rational expectations don't prevent malinvestment (entrepreneurs just have to believe that they can "pull out" before the boom occurs) applies pretty exactly. I have no problem accepting that credit expansion "adds fuel to the fire", but I  have a hard time believing that it is the source of bubbles since I see no evidence for it.

I need to read Wood's "Meltdown"

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Neodoxy, what do you mean by "Public goods" as being problematic in an AnCap system?

Also, a common challenge I've faced when discussing libertarianism is running into people who plainly believe that using force for a greater good is moral. I almost take it for granted that most other people are against aggression, but this is simply not always the case. When someone believes that there is no immorality in encroaching on property rights, I've found it's tricky to build an argument by which they'll be swayed.

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:13 PM

Willy,

I mean that important goods and services such as global warming prevention, (some) roadways and bridges, and above all defense may be either chronically under-provided or exist in massive diseconomies of scale compared to what individuals would actually benefit from them. It's all well and good to talk about private defense companies until you start to ask exactly what a normal person's incentive is to pay for these things.

My usual example is a military defense budget of 20 billion a year. If we assume that the median annual income is 45K a year, then paying my entire yearly salary would be negligible in the total defense budget, so what is my incentive to pay this? It's not until we get into the incredibly small number of people with incomes of over 100 million dollars a year in income that we finally reach people who could realistically influence the total defense budget if they were willing to pay very large portions of their income to defending the society. Once you reach this point you also run into the problem of power discrepancies of the society and the incentive of these elite to fund the defense agencies. Large companies might be another viable solution to this problem, although once again that's slightly concerning to me.

Also,

As for the morality/nonaggression thing. I find that some people are more receptive to that argument than others. Some people are more deontological while others are more utilitarian. Regardless you have to convince people that the society is at very least possible. I know of no one who has ever said "I don't care that society would descend into chaos and more violence and much more death would result than would occur with a state, I just can't justify endorsing state violence".

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:23 PM

Everybody is against aggression when it comes to themselves, by definition. Most people are against aggression in their personal lives in that most people engage in voluntary exchange. People just go stupid when it comes to government. I think a good counterargument is to talk about double standards and the golden rule. An example:

If you kidnap and falsely imprison an innocent man, you would rightfully be charged with the respective crimes. If a police officer does this, he might get reprimanded.

Obviously, there are many people who will not care and think this is actually okay. They are lost causes and you will not get anywhere engaging them in moral reasons for anarchy. Perhaps the can be convinced by economic reasons, but I wouldn't bother.

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:28 PM

"Everybody is against aggression when it comes to themselves, by definition"

False.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:29 PM

I can't tell if you are joking.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:32 PM

Neodoxy:

My usual example is a military defense budget of 20 billion a year. If we assume that the median annual income is 45K a year, then paying my entire yearly salary would be negligible in the total defense budget, so what is my incentive to pay this? It's not until we get into the incredibly small number of people with incomes of over 100 million dollars a year in income that we finally reach people who could realistically influence the total defense budget if they were willing to pay very large portions of their income to defending the society. Once you reach this point you also run into the problem of power discrepancies of the society and the incentive of these elite to fund the defense agencies. Large companies might be another viable solution to this problem, although once again that's slightly concerning to me.

I just want to tack something on here Neo.

A lot of AnCaps forget that in AnCapistan there are no trade barriers. Accordingly, why should not foreign investors or even foreign governments buy shares in these Defense Insurance Companies, as long as it's a profitable investment? What happens now, when a foreign country declares war on AnCapistan and that foreign country and many of its extension-investors or vassal-investors decide to pull their capital out of the DIC? Or perhaps they decide to have a board meeting on how the DIC should respond to the declaration of war? Perhaps the state decides to depreciate its currency massively to buy a bunch of shares in a bunch of the DIC's and control them that way? 

We assume, because markets decentralize, that no one DIC would be responsible for the defense of an entire territory. So that responsibility is dispersed throughout all the DIC's. Why should not 3 of the 7 DIC's sell out to the death threats of the invaders? (A Commander in Chief would not do this, because the state is essentially his property during war time, and he is the sole strategic target and bearer of responsibility for the nation)

There's also the philosophical differences between mercenaries/businessmen and born-and-bred loyal-to-flag-and-country military men. I so nothing in the Rothbardian framework to provide for the loyalty of the DIC's to those they most benefit, those requiring protection.

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:32 PM

Well if you understand the reference then I should think that the answer is obvious

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Malachi replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:32 PM

in fact I believe that most people cannot be convinced until the goobermint attacks something dear to them. which is why this government is so awesome, they are becoming evidence article number aaa1111!!! that they have no legitimacy. the hard part is getting them to escape the conflict dialectic, because somehow everyone wants to be "anti-government" at that point. anti-government means you are an enemy of the state and enemies of the state get shot. the state will defeat itself, what liberty-minded individuals need to do is work on their own stuff, like finances, food supply, economic free agency, networking, and sports.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:35 PM

also its incredibly difficult to explain to people that defense is a private good and doesnt have to cost trillions of dollars. government militaries are horribly inefficient. defense is cheaper than offense, so you are talking about an exponent of an exponent when you compare the cost of a private defense agency to that of a public imperial military.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:36 PM

In addition, I think that as far as the schools of anarchy go, leftist anarchism would be more suited for wars. It's an essentially protectionist economic state of affairs, seeing as they don't respect property rights of foreign capital. No one would invest there. The division of labor would also probably be extremely immature due to the numerous structural problems with anarcho-leftism. Their industries then, would probably be arms production and farming, if they knew what was good for them. Their autarkic and backwards economic situation would much better prepare them for at least a guerilla war.

But AnCaps are convinced that their amorphous blobs of capital held in accounts at politically unaccountable DICs will transform quickly to a fighting force equipped with armor and materiel at the drop of a war declaration.

I think a better model for propertarian anarchists would be to form union's which practice riflery and distribute Electromagnetic Pulse Generators and have everyone grow their own potatoes. But that's a very volunteeristic model. The economic realities of AnarchoLeftism would force them into something like this, whereas with Propertarian Anarchism it would depend on civic virtue.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:38 PM

lol you mean we don't need to have thousands of nukes for defense? Are you saying that nuking American cities isn't a viable defense strategy?

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Malachi replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:44 PM

good observations.

But AnCaps are convinced that their amorphous blobs of capital held in accounts at politically unaccountable DICs will transform quickly to a fighting force equipped with armor and materiel at the drop of a war declaration.

I'm not sure which ancaps are being referenced here, but I agree that this is a farfetched scenario. the main problem, as I see it, is that the human capital involved in the private protection industry is better suited to protection than aggression. this is with good reason, as those companies have had to be that way to sell their services. it actually takes a lot of work to create and maintain an aggressive fighting force.

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:46 PM

Jargon,

I don't have a real problem with your first point (although I think it's foreign governments, not foreign investors that would be the problem since these investors would probably acknowledge that their investment would go south if their governments won the war), but I disagree that the leftist society would be better at anything because of how backwards the society would be.

I also think that guerilla tactics would be one of the things the anarchist society would excel at. I do agree that the extent that "voluntaryism" prevails is the extent to which the anarchist society can fill in the cracks such as what we've been talking about.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:56 PM

Why would a private defense agency pay investors that it knows are going to either fund an attack or actually attack them?

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:57 PM

Neodoxy:

 but I disagree that the leftist society would be better at anything because of how backwards the society would be.

Dunno. It's hard to say. I just think that a leftist society, since it need not conform to consumer's desires, would be heavy on military production, despite the backwardness that would inevitably define the economy.

I think that the radically immature division of labor would be a wartime advantage for the following reasons:

A higher percentage of their capital stock is devoted towards the base necessities - food and defense. Infrastructure would probably be crap as well, making invasions hard. They would already be a hardy autarkic people, accustomed to living in 'sustainable' conditions. There probably would not be a huge difference between wartime and peacetime quality of life. I envision a lot of potato gardens and a lot of opensource-produced AK74s, and that's probably it.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 2:59 PM

Because an entrepeneurs goal is profit. And the foreign investors needn't attack said entrepeneur's organization. He could just step aside.

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:03 PM

Jargon,

Inherently I don't think that you're wrong, but remember that this society, would probably have originated out of the capitalist society. I don't think that anyone is going to be too happy about seeing their living standards steadily go down over time, so I think that this would make the society inherently unstable and prone to uprisings. If the society does stay together and remains true to its ideology, then remember that these these are the hippy, liberal, progressive anarchists that are supposed to be running things, so I don't think that they would be too keen on war

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:03 PM

Jargon:

Because an entrepeneurs goal is profit. And the foreign investors needn't attack said entrepeneur's organization. He could just step aside.

Jargon:

A lot of AnCaps forget that in AnCapistan there are no trade barriers. Accordingly, why should not foreign investors or even foreign governments buy shares in these Defense Insurance Companies, as long as it's a profitable investment? What happens now, when a foreign country declares war on AnCapistan and that foreign country and many of its extension-investors or vassal-investors decide to pull their capital out of the DIC? Or perhaps they decide to have a board meeting on how the DIC should respond to the declaration of war? Perhaps the state decides to depreciate its currency massively to buy a bunch of shares in a bunch of the DIC's and control them that way? 

Oh noes, a foreign government wants to pull its capital out of my company and declare war on me! I am honor-bound to send him his capital and then fight the war.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:08 PM

How does the company, which is witholding people's private property, know that war will be declared? If the demands for returning capital held at the company are not respected, then that company is criminal and has made a fool of itself on the international market.

Companies can also be played off of each other. Foreign investors/states can tell DIC's that they will only spare a handful of them in the territory. Would you like to be the one living or the one dead? How many profit-oriented businessmen will select the latter? What reason is there to believe that virtue can be leaned on?

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Neodoxy replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:14 PM

"Because an entrepeneurs goal is profit. And the foreign investors needn't attack said entrepeneur's organization. He could just step aside."

And the entrepreneurs' company would be duly confiscated and most of its wealth would dissipate

"Foreign investors/states can tell DIC's that they will only spare a handful of them in the territory. Would you like to be the one living or the one dead? How many profit-oriented businessmen will select the latter? What reason is there to believe that virtue can be leaned on?"

What country do you see as waging this war, exactly? Justifying war against anarchist states would be hard enough without slaughters.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:19 PM

Companies can also be played off of each other. Foreign investors/states can tell DIC's that they will only spare a handful of them in the territory.

like when xerxes sent emissaries to all the polis except athens and sparta.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:23 PM

Jargon, even if it were a real possibility that foreign governments would invest in DIC/PDAs and then pull the capital and then declare war, this is all assuming that DIC/PDAs in Ancapistan would be publicly traded companies. I see no necessary reason to assume this.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:24 PM

Neodoxy:

What country do you see as waging this war, exactly? Justifying war against anarchist states would be hard enough without slaughters.

Would it though? Imagine the headlines "Anarchy territory is a breeding ground of hard drugs and Taliban sympathizers!" "Anarchists producing chemical weapons and hard drugs and distributing them to terrorist organizations!" "Anti-American sentiment festers in the den of the enemies of order!" and so on. One would only need an unexpected and violent event as pretext for a war.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:25 PM

gotlucky:

Jargon, even if it were a real possibility that foreign governments would invest in DIC/PDAs and then pull the capital and then declare war, this is all assuming that DIC/PDAs in Ancapistan would be publicly traded companies. I see no necessary reason to assume this.

Good point.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:27 PM

well they still havent conquered all of afghanistan, its hard to imagine how long it would take to conquer an anarchist area. its more likely to get nuked, which is why people need to spread austrolibertarianism, so it happens more than one place.

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gotlucky replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:31 PM

Jargon:

Would it though? Imagine the headlines "Anarchy territory is a breeding ground of hard drugs and Taliban sympathizers!" "Anarchists producing chemical weapons and hard drugs and distributing them to terrorist organizations!" "Anti-American sentiment festers in the den of the enemies of order!" and so on. One would only need an unexpected and violent event as pretext for a war.

Quite possible. See Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory for evidence.

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Jargon replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:35 PM

Malachi:

well they still havent conquered all of afghanistan, its hard to imagine how long it would take to conquer an anarchist area. its more likely to get nuked, which is why people need to spread austrolibertarianism, so it happens more than one place.

That is, assuming that we are actually there to win a war.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 3:47 PM

but its not like they ever conquered iraq either? they wanted to stay longer and the iraqis put them out of it. its hard to explain but its like the culture goes underground, even areas that are under physical control arent really conquered, thats why all the violence. you guys have to think about how much support an occuppying force requires. those assets are all vulnerable. 

in a counterinsurgency mission, the force has to engage the population because combatants are indistinguishable from civilians. in engaging the populace, they eventually find out what the people want in order for the violence to stop. guess what, they want to be left alone. usually they get a lot of bullshit demands prior to this. but thats why coalition forces pulled out of the citiesand suburbs of iraq for years before the main withdrawal.

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Marko replied on Sun, Apr 14 2013 4:50 PM

1. If you are from a place that is culturally/linguistically distinct but that is small, and you go ancap and thrive. Wouldn't tens of millions of poor-off Chinese, Africans or Latin Americans want to come to your ancap paradise. And if they do, wouldn't — without the state — their language become dominant so that you would fail to pass down your culture to your grandchildren who would instead grow up to be Chinese/English/French/Spanish speakers?

2. If you are from a place that is full of natural resources, especially if the place is sparsely populated and the resources are mostly "public property" and not being exploited. And you go ancap, wouldn't Exxon Mobil and the rest of them huge, foreign state-connected corporations come in an profit from and deplete "your" resources in your country? And then without a direct benefit to yourself, which you can apparently have in the present arrangement? (Eg I believe the Norwegians actually receive a check for every year in the mail from oil sales proceeds.)

3. How exactly would a war machine that was not centrally-directed look like? There has been so much writing on what economy minus the state would appear, but so little on how may an army minus the state look like.

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