Good show today.
Before I get into what I’m sure everyone is waiting on, I want to talk a little about drug laws and political strategy. My own philosophical journey began as a conservative, who actually believed taxation was evil. Not that there shouldn’t be any taxes, but just that taxes were bad, and high taxes were worse. At some point I realized that ,while I didn’t like people smoking pot, and I don’t like women being prostitutes, and I didn’t like x,y, or z, it just wasn’t justifiable to take money away from me and from other people to pay the cops to arrest them, to pay the courts to try them, and to pay the prison guards to keep them. Then I had to decide if I really believed in limited government, or if I could rationalize higher taxes to prosecute crimes without victims. In my early days as a libertarian, I didn’t believe in a right to be a prostitute or smoke pot, I just didn’t think it justifiable to expropriate people in order to keep them from it.
As far as which way to vote, let’s not forget that this is politics, and every political environment is different. I cant recall what state he was talking about that was considering legalizing pot with only 10 authorized distributors… but I will tell you, if this were in Oklahoma, it would be a slam dunk! Take the deal. However, if we are talking about a little bit more liberal state… maybe like Michigan, I wouldn’t vote yes. I would try to hold out for a better deal.
Now onto Anarchy and the State. Jason’s detailed example of the walled community is only a covenant community; these sorts of arrangements are all over the place in anarcho-capitalist theory. In pure theory, in a stateless society these would be permitted where they are not now. For instance, one of the conditions of living within the wall might be to attend a certain church every Sunday. As it is, this would be illegal.
In the instance where a resident breaks the terms of the covenant, he could be brought to the private court and a judgement could be brought against the violator. So, that’s out.
Now let’s define a state. What Jason described was not a state. That very scenario could happen and be dealt with, without a state. So what is a state? No one explains it better than Rothbard in Anatomy of the State (also available in free audio on iTunes, or here). This, by the way, is a title anyone who even gives lip service to liberty should read, even if you don’t agree with it you ought to be able to say that you read it. So in short, the state consists of two things: a monopoly of violence over a given geographical area, and the power of expropriation. If you don’t have both of these things together, you don’t have a state. As an aside, the Ayn Rand people have a halfway system, where there is a monopoly of violence held by one body, but they have no power to tax. This “government” under the Randian system would be funded only by donations or volunteer work. It is a moderate view, and not as good as the Rothbardian vision, but I think it is more realizable. Consider for instance that 400 years ago people couldn’t conceive of the Churches existing or operating without people being taxed to support them. How, then, would it work? How would we function if people weren’t forced to pay for courts and police?!
However, that’s not exactly what we’re talking about when we speak of a stateless society. This is perhaps why the Rothbardian tent is referred to as Anarcho-capitalists. These people really believe it when they say they believe in a free market. Not just when it comes to boats, cars, trains, and planes, but also when it comes to police protection and courts.
But let’s back up to the whys of Anarchy. I have met no an-caps, in person or online, who advocate anarchy for the reasons Jason cited. It is not through the reasoning that a small government is better than a large government and therefore no government would be best at all. More often than not, it is made on ethical grounds, that it is wrong to expropriate people, and that it is wrong to restrict entry into an industry, and with a utilitarian argument as a supplement that competition brings excellent. On this latter point, we can compare likely scenarios in the current system where there are whole neighborhoods in Detroit, Chicago, and other big cities where the police dare not go at night unless shots are fired. Under the Randian system what would change? It’s not like they would get an extra big donation for stopping a break-in in the ghetto. But, under the Rothbardian system, someone would go. In a truly free market, there is always a bottom tier company that provides the most… “Economical” option. Those cheap shoes from K-Mart come to mind, the ones that seem to fall off your feet after you’ve worn them 60 days. Don’t get it wrong, I’m not bragging about low quality. I am pointing out that low quality is better than what we have now in certain places.
On the ethical point, it really is quite black and white. Is it okay to take money from people against their will using the threat of violence? Is it okay to establish monopolies and not allow competition? I won’t retype it. Move your eyes back up and read it again. If you have a problem with this, if you believe in the free market, and if you believe in logic, you must be an anarchist on some level. I don’t know if it is actually necessary to advocate for anarchy. I don’t, always. But, sometimes I do, merely because if I advocate anarchy, and the guy I’m talking to wants a Department of Education and a DOT, and a USDA, and so on, then all of the sudden a minimal state becomes a halfway point, and a place to compromise. All of a sudden, the minimal state Jason talks about seems a lot more reasonable!
I have to hand it to Jason on his manners, and reinforce what he says regarding cutting people out, name-calling, and the like. By what I said in the paragraph above, I’m not trying to denigrate or disparage anyone who isn’t an an-cap. It’s alright if you aren’t an an-cap, but you have to, and you will, give on one of the points. Usually they say, and I said for a long time – yes taxation is wrong, and monopolies are wrong, but in this one area it is justified, because to not do it would leave us so much worse off.
I’ll also point out that an-caps should be the most polite people in society. The fact is that when you call the protection company (probably an insurance company) to file battery charges against a man who punches you in the nose after you call him a name, the cop (for lack of a better title) is going to scoff and just say that you had it coming. These will be people working for a profit and not bullies with a badge on some kind of power trip. In the stateless society, we won’t have hall monitor cops who get off on hauling people to jail for minor infractions.
Oh, and I almost forgot. My own argument against Anarchy. It’s short and sweet, and that’s good because I have another 12 hour shift tomorrow. It is as good as the argument against a limited government. The nature of man is to seek power and control. No state will develop into a state, and a limited state will grow into a large state.
That’s all for tonight. Listen to the show tomorrow. Then, come here for the after show. Leave a comment and tell your friends about the blog, and about the show.