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Are you really a libertarian/anarchist?

23 August 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy | 141 Comments »

Anarchist black flagI introduced myself here primarily as an anarcho-capitalist. That’s changed. I’ve dropped my preferences, and now consider myself an anarchist without adjectives. The ancap flag (yes, the nice one with the big red heart) comes down, and my “about” page needs an update.

Preferences? What preferences?

A few questions for you, gentle reader, with my own comments upon them. Note that these, too, reflect my own preferences.

Given the context that we can’t presently know what a free society would look like, how it would self-organize, etc., consider the following:

Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella

Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella

  • If private property is impossible in a libertarian society, do you prefer the state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If minimal states always collapse either into truly free anarchic or grow to monstrous proportions but never remain minimal, do you prefer a non-minimal state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If achieving a free society means that you must give up all legal and societal privileges flowing from state and other crooked institutions today (religion, poison culture, patriarchy, heteronormativity), would you do it? If not, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If living in a free society means that you can’t beat, abuse, indoctrinate or otherwise harm your children, do you prefer the state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If transitioning to a free society means you must change big portions of your life, would you? If not, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If a free society is nothing like you ever imagined, will you cling to the state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If Wal-Mart, Tesco and other mega-corporations are impossible in a free society, do you prefer the state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If intellectual property (copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.) is impossible in a free society, do you prefer the state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.
  • If wage labor, profit, rent and/or interest are impossible or widely loathed in a free society, do you prefer the state? If so, you’re not a libertarian or anarchist.

There are any number of other questions like these that I could ask. How do you reply?

Are you so chained to your own preferences that the unknowable unknown of what a free society might look like scares you right back into statist servitude?

Your comments, answers, complaints, curses, death threats, etc., all welcome below.

  1. 141 Responses to “Are you really a libertarian/anarchist?”

  2. By Seb on 23 August 2009

    A very interesting post. The only one of your questions that I can’t just answer with a clear “no” is the first one. I’m not sure what the notion of private property being “impossible” even means. What I dislike about “the State” is precisely that it’s a bunch of people infringing on other people’s property rights. A world in which “property rights are impossible” would be one in which I don’t even own myself, and it seems to me that even death would be preferable to that. Or what is it that you mean?

  3. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Seb: Cool. That’s kinda why I led with that question, because it’s so controversial.

    Property, ultimately, is a social construct. What we call property under statism might in fact be impossible in a free society, because all social constructs are subject to revision during the transition.

    That might sound scary, but I hold the continuing existence of states to be far scarier.

    The other insight for me is: if a free society is actually a communist society, will I cling to the state? Hell no! Therefore, I’m not an anarcho-capitalist.

  4. By Jim Davidson on 23 August 2009

    Your listing reminds me of Jeff Foxworthy.

    “If your front porch collapses and more than two dogs are killed, you just might be a redneck.” lol

    I think the listing you give of intellectual property is incomplete. Obviously, in a free world, I can have property over the ideas I keep in my mind. I can probably have a property relationship of sorts over ideas that I share only with people who have agreed to keep them secret and respect them as my property – though agreements are often difficult to enforce.

    But copyrights, patents, every control over information that has in fact been released into the wild, that’s all nonsense. Such intellectual property is in fact in the public domain, and is being copied all the time. That’s reality. The pretense that because the state says it is wrong, it must be somehow unjust is simply silly.

    I’m curious about the first item. Do you think private property is inconsistent with liberty? I don’t. I don’t think it requires any kind of state, either.

    In my view, life, liberty, and property are all aspects of the same thing.

    If private property is inconsistent with individual liberty, then who owns your body?

    I don’t believe in collectives like the state, or society. These are sometimes consensual hallucinations, and often coercively imposed illusions. Those who claim to act in the name of the state are in fact acting as they choose. “I was only following orders” is no defense.

  5. By Jim Davidson on 23 August 2009

    Dude, property is not a social construct. It is arguably a learned behavior. Children learn “mine!” very early.

    My property is mine because I say it is, and because I defend it. I also have neighbors who mutually defend our property. I’m equally happy to yell at trespassers at night on my neighbor’s lawn.

    Private property doesn’t require a state. It requires decentralised, distributed defense. In other words, individuals armed in defense of life, liberty, and property. I keep what I can defend.

  6. By Jason Seagraves on 23 August 2009

    I agree with Jim. Private property is the entire foundation from which all other principles flow. It has nothing to do with “preferences.”

  7. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Jim/Jason: That may or may not be the case.

    Revisit the question. Note the “if”.

    Can you answer the question itself?

  8. By Andrea on 23 August 2009

    In addition to the property-as-preference problem, I would contend that it’s not necessary to give up patriarchy, religion, heteronormativity or any other philosophical tenet or choice within your own domain in order to be a libertarian and/or an anarchist. You simply have to agree that everyone else gets to define those choices for themselves within their own domains, too. If, however, I wish to set up my own personal marriage/relationship/family/ household in a patriarchal, heteronormative, religious context, that doesn’t preclude me from supporting the rest of your list in any way. If the government is to get out of my bedroom/personal life, it must do so whatever my personal choices are for myself.

    Anarchy isn’t equivalent to political Buddhism where the only ideal is having no ideals at all; it’s simply an agreement to get out of everyone else’s way.

  9. By Gary Chartier on 23 August 2009

    Obviously, an interesting question is whether it makes sense to talk about a society as libertarian if it lacks property rights. I can imagine someone arguing that, without a zone of reasonable, whether or not absolute, control over some aspects of the physical world, I couldn’t possibly be autonomous, and therefore not free. I can imagine that someone being me. I don’t think I could be a libertarian (even of the fairly odd sort I am) and not say that.

    But I think I could deny it and be an anarchist: for all sorts of reasons, someone might want to deny the legitimacy of property in an anarchical society. I wouldn’t agree. But I wouldn’t deny her the anarchist label if she clearly wanted to do away with the state and all state-like institutions.

    The good news, though, is that, at least on my view of an anarchy, we don’t have to find a one-size-fits-all model of property. I want a world in which groups of people are free to try out everything from anarcho-primitivism to transhumanism, everything from anarcho-communism to anarcho-syndicalism to mutualism to anarcho-capitalism—as long as exit is a genuine option and everyone is peaceful.

    That’s true for several reasons: (i) I don’t like the idea of pseudo-libertarian interventionists using force to quash competing economic systems. It’s violent, and it feels too much like tyranny. Because it is. (ii) I think anarchy has to be a discovery process: people need to explore lots of different ways of crafting cooperative arrangement, not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of those who will learn (positively or negatively) from their examples. (iii) Perhaps most controversially, I just deny that there’s a single correct set of property norms, or anything close to it. I think that a just property system will be one that takes a whole set of diverse values—including autonomy, reliability, productivity, stewardship, etc.—very seriously. But reasonably acknowledging the worth of those values leaves open a pretty broad range of options.

  10. By Gary Chartier on 23 August 2009

    Andrea, I think it makes sense to say that anarchism involves the rejection of the legitimacy any entity with a monopoly over the use of force and of aggression on the part of individuals as well. Understood this way, it’s a moral position regarding the use of force, which is in some sense, logically, compatible with a whole range of additional positions. So I agree with you, if you’re saying something like this.

    But the question is whether the same reasons that justify an anarchist morality of the use of force might not themselves count against various kinds of (in some narrow sense) non-aggressive subordination. There might well be a significant, substantive connection between my opposition to patriarchy and my opposition to the state. (And, of course, even if there’s not, that opposition to patriarchy might still be fully warranted.)

  11. By macFhiodhbhuidhe on 23 August 2009

    I can honestly answer yes to all the questions.

    The issue of “private property” is not an anarchist issue as much as a greed issue. If my communal group is farming, the land that we are working should not be claimed by another individual or group to increase their holdings. As a Christian Anarchist, the land isn’t ours to begin with, we are just stewards.

    I agree with the religion issue, religion is the turning of faith into a force of coercion. Or at least it has been.

    While not anarchist per se, groups like the Bruderhof and Hutterites are living in common purse communities were everyone’s needs are met within the context of the community. Communities such as these have existed for who knows how long, most have fallen under the bootheel of government and capital, the “Diggers” of 1640′s England are a prime example.

  12. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    If dolphins could fly, would you still want a bicycle?

    What you’re positing is, in a couple of those cases, that the axioms on which both the item in question and libertarian anarchism is founded change to something else. But in such a case, if A != A, then the definitions of all the words you use, the concepts themselves, are also changed. The entirety of the philosophy behind all of them would have to be rethought.

    In other cases, I believe the conditions you posit are in fact true. I’m a big fan of IP, but I do believe it is impossible without a state – at least impossible to enforce. Yes, I still want the state gone. The non-enforcability of IP is in fact consistent with core axioms, is demanded by them. I still like its benefits, and wish it could be true, but it’s not.

    In other cases, such as private tangible property, and wages/profit/rent/interest, I believe their existence and utility is of an integrated whole with anarchism. Anarchy is not a utilitarian construct sought to achieve those particular preferences, nor to let me escape the limitations of reality. My libertarianism is very, very thick.

    Both its premises and the conclusion itself derive ultimately from axioms and givens of nature. If those axioms were somehow different (they cannot actually be), then every conclusion flowing from them changes as well. The question “do you still want the state” is then moot, until thousands of years of philosophical thought is erased and begun again from scratch.

  13. By macFhiodhbhuidhe on 23 August 2009

    A followup on the intellectual property thing.

    Take a look at Eric Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar and Homesteading the Noosphere.

  14. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    Please don’t group libertarianism with anarchy.

  15. By Db0 on 23 August 2009

    It’s funny when you put forth the possibility that Private Property is incompatible with Anarchism, AnCaps get the panties up in a bunch trying to claim that it’s impossible not to have PP or that it’s human nature or somesuch, even though there’s a considerable number of people who would abolish PP once the state went down.

    @Shibby: Please don’t call youself libertarian if you’re not an anarchist as they’re supposed to be synonymous (ie read the political history of those words and who invented them)

  16. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    Shibby, if libertarianism and anarchy were the same thing, would you still be whichever one of them you are?

  17. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “there’s a considerable number of people who would abolish PP once the state went down.”

    You mean who would *try* to. It’s funny when people put forth the possibility that they could do that without the state.

  18. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    “Shibby, if libertarianism and anarchy were the same thing, would you still be whichever one of them you are?”

    But they’re not the same thing. If they were, I guess there’d be another word for whichever one it isn’t. Or perhaps I misunderstand your question?

    On the question of private property, libertarians are very much in support of private property and the freedom to keep it without state intervention.

  19. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “But they’re not the same thing.”

    But they are. Libertarian minarchy is incoherent, internally inconsistent. We have two words for them because some people think they are different things, or because some people want one of them to be a different thing, even though it can’t be. We have words and phrases like “unicorn”, and “square circle”, too.

  20. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    Kyle, a libertarian state is still a state, it still has a military (for defence), law and its enforcement (at a minimum, but still there to protect people and property), and as far as I know, taxes to fund these things.

    I was under the impression that anarchy is the complete lack of government and law. Perhaps I’m wrong?

    I don’t want to get into an argument about which is better.

    They are two completely different things, but they will be grouped together because they have similarities compared to the governmental systems/society constructs we have at the moment in most countries.

  21. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “a libertarian state is still a state,”

    But it’s not libertarian.

  22. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    In what way? Please elaborate.

    Libertarianism is minarchy. Minarchy is NOT anarchy.

  23. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    WARNING! TEACHABLE MOMENT! :D

  24. By Debord Diamondoid on 23 August 2009

    @Seb: the abolition of private property seems to me the only way you ever truly *can* “own” yourself. i’ve just made a pretty convoluted statement there, of course. but if you can cut me enough slack to equate being a slave to yourself with being free for a second or two, consider that the accumulation of property is the chief way power is accumulated today. to maintain unequal distribution of private property, a police force is needed, and a state to command them.

    also, Mike Golgulski, you’re going to die by my hand. you’re welcome.

  25. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Debord: If I’m going to be slain by your hand, can I at least ask the courtesy of spelling my surname properly? Nothing more than cut’n’paste required…

  26. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “Libertarianism is minarchy. Minarchy is NOT anarchy.”

    You’re right, it’s not. Minarchy cannot be libertarian. It might be Libertarian, but then Libertarianism is not libertarian.

  27. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    Kyle, a libertarian sees government as a necessary evil so a libertarian aims to keep the government small, freedoms many and laws few.

    An anarchist sees government as an unnecessary evil. If a country is in anarchy there is no government.

  28. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Shibby: Consistent libertarians are anarchists.

  29. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    That depends what you define a “consistent libertarian” as. Consistent libertarians, in my eyes, are libertarians. Anarchists are anarchists.

    I’m sure that there are many libertarians out there who think that in a perfect world we could have anarchy – but we don’t live in such a perfect world – and that is why libertarians consider government a necessary evil, which isn’t to say they’d rather have a government ideally.

  30. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    I’m always kind of confused by the “perfect world” argument – no less so when I used to make it myself. If you are saying anarchy is utopian, there’s plenty of sound arguments and some empirical evidence that it is not. Its more utopian to think that a government can limit itself, or that the governed can limit it after giving over to it the power they needed to do so.

    If you’re saying it doesn’t exist, well, then libertarian minarchy doesn’t exist either. What would be the point of aligning one’s goals to the status-quo?

  31. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Shibby: To me, a libertarian is someone who practices and advocates for the non-aggression principle. Not even a minimal state is possible without taxation, forced exclusion, compulsory submission to arbitration, etc., in contradiction of the operation of the non-aggression principle. Therefore, a libertarian state is a priori impossible, if one accepts my definition of “libertarian”.

  32. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    Mike, I think libertarians would minimise these things as far as they can, but not get rid of them altogether. But I might be wrong.

    Another difference between libertarianism and anarchy is that under a libertarian government we’d still have a military. Nobody would be forced to join it and it would be for self-defence as opposed to “looking after national interest abroad” or policing the globe.

  33. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “libertarians would minimise these things as far as they can,”

    They already have.

  34. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Shibby:

    Mike, I think libertarians would minimise [taxation, forced exclusion, compulsory submission to arbitration] as far as they can, but not get rid of them altogether. But I might be wrong.

    Libertarians recognize that those things are wrong, that they don’t conform to the non-aggression principle, and have no place in a free society. If someone calls themselves a libertarian yet supports some of them — for whatever reason — then, I submit, they are inconsistent.

    As for this military stuff: who is “we”?

  35. By Shibby on 23 August 2009

    “As for this military stuff: who is “we”?”

    Whatever country is under a libertarian government.

    Anyway, I’m backing out now. Nice talking with you guys.

  36. By b-psycho on 23 August 2009

    Anyone that argues “limited-government” is possible eventually either rejects that premise & goes anarchist, or slides into becoming more of a pot-smoking conservative or a gun-toting liberal, depending on their cultural allegiances.

  37. By Noor on 23 August 2009

    Oh, I’m answering no to all of those. Do I get an anarchist purity ring?

    I’m actually reading Proudhon’s What is Property? I already knew of a few of his arguments though, and I’m on the verge of fully abandoning my former hardline propertarianism.

    No, I am not a communist for I accept a possession right to the product of labor and a monetary system along with others. And no, I do not believe human bodies are ownable at all.

    But yeah, my purity ring?

  38. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Noor: Actually, you’re supposed to answer differently to questions 3 and 5. Fail. No ring for you!

  39. By Hittman on 23 August 2009

    One of the reasons the Libertarians have accomplished approximately squat over the past 40 years is the attitude expressed in this article. Someone who agrees with 97% of the Libertarian ideas is castigated and berated because they’re not a “real libertarian.” Big Ls especially hate the small Ls, so people who could be allies are shoved away.

    The first step in generating any Libertarian success will be for people to stop comparing the size of their Ls. But I don’t see that happening any time soon.

  40. By Noor on 23 August 2009

    Damn, I missed the “not.” Guess I shouldn’t be commenting right after waking up mid-afternoon.

    But yeah, my answer is a yes to those two. Purity ring please?

  41. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Hittman: My ‘l’ is so small, it doesn’t exist!

    @Noor: Ok, you can have a ring. Come and pick it up here any time!

  42. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    That’s why our restaurant never succeeds, those fellow chefs who use 97% non-poison ingredients in their recipes are shunned and castigated.

    Libertarian success could arguably be worse than what we have now.

    http://humanadvancement.net/blog/index.php?itemid=66

  43. By jomama on 23 August 2009

    I keep what I can defend.

    The only definition of ‘what’s yours’, with
    or without the state.

  44. By Hittman on 23 August 2009

    Thanks Kyle, by proving my point with your ridiculous and completely ludicrousanalogy.

  45. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    Hittman, please help me refine my analogy by pointing out where it fails.

  46. By Hittman on 23 August 2009

    Hmmm, editing didn’t come through. Let me try again.

    Thanks Kyle, for proving my point with your ridiculous and completely ludicrous analogy.

  47. By Kurt Walton on 23 August 2009

    I feel like most anarchists are jurisprudentially illiterate.

    “[H.L.A.] Hart noted that even a pre-legal society would follow social norms. Even if there were no specific law against it, walking around naked in most societies [or using violence] would be considered outside the range of acceptable social behavior. Hart called these primary rules: rules directed to all individuals in a given society that impose obligations. Unlike [John] Austin, who suggested that such rules are followed in order to avoid punishment, Hart argued that a primary rule imposes obligation because it sets a standard for criticism or justification within the society.

    A society formed around primary rules alone [which would include anarchist societies], Hart acknowledged, would suffer from difficulties. First, uncertainty would arise concerning what the [informal] rules are, how rules are applied, and what to do if rules conflict. Second, primary rules are static and do not change as the social, economic, and political environment changes. Third, primary rules alone are inefficient because there is no systematically prescribed recourse for when there is conflict over the rules or the rules are broken. In response to these apparent difficulties, Hart suggested the addition of secondary rules, or rules about rules, as he noted in The Concept of Law: “They specify the ways in which the primary rules may be conclusively ascertained, introduced, eliminated, varied, and the fact of their violation conclusively determined.” According to Hart, three basic secondary rules exist: rules of recognition [social contracts], rules of change [legislation], and rules of adjudication [judiciary]. They are laws that establish the authoritative structure by which primary laws are defined and enacted.”

    In other words, these secondary rules are the legal system. So, there can’t be any rules in an anarchist society. No act can be prohibited otherwise you will run into these problems. Murder, rape, assault, molestation… all of these must be allowed.

  48. By ryan on 23 August 2009

    There is no such thing as self-ownership. It is an incoherent concept and should be dropped. I do not own my self, I am myself. Considering my mind is inseparable from my body, and since no one can control my internal actions, I am sovereign. In addition, any other condition, where people attempt to control one another, is totally impractical.

    The assertion, that if there is no private property then there is no self-ownership, is absurd. There is no such thing as self-ownership because humans can not be owned. Humans are not property, they are conscious autonomous beings. Since slavery is undeniably invalid, ‘self-ownership’ is irrelevant.

  49. By Noor on 23 August 2009

    Question – if human bodies are ownable, wouldn’t that mean a child is the property of his/her parents? A child is entirely the product of the parents’ labor, flesh, food that was bought by the parents’ labor, etc.

  50. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    Primary rules (which include mala prohibitum rules) are contextual. The uncertainty, (by which is really meant non-uniformity), is a feature, not a bug.

    The assertion that primary rules are static is not only wrong, it is the opposite of true. They are far more flexible than law. The fact that they are not static is the basis for Hart’s first “difficulty”, so he is even contradicting himself.

    The inefficiency of primary rules is also a feature, not a bug. Hart’s objection that they fail to produce systematically prescribed recourse is just another way of saying they can’t support a state (though that is an interesting and potentially exploitable insight, thanks). That makes this argument for the necessity of a state a circular one.

    Strike three.

  51. By Bobby on 23 August 2009

    Ah, but what if in the absence of a state, Wal-Mart et al were able to thrive? Would you still prefer no state?

    and what if profit, wage labor, rent, and interest were all widely accepted by people outside of the state? Would you prefer a state?

    Personally, I have no preference for the outcome of a free society, so long as I can, as an individual, live the way most aligned with my desires. If the stateless society turned into some no private property wonderland, I would be fine with it as long as it did not disturb my personal equilibrium. I pass all tests, muahaha

  52. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Bobby: I’d prefer to no state in any case. You win!

  53. By The New Anarchist on 23 August 2009

    “Murder, rape, assault, molestation… all of these must be allowed.”

    Technically, murder, rape, assault and molestation are allowed in society already. But reactionary laws against them are also allowed. You can do or attempt whatever you like with the understanding that there is a system in place to prevent you from continuing that behavior.

    Yours is the same argument I hear from Christians about why an Atheistic society would be “bad.” Without something like “God’s Law” (in this case, laws themselves), people would simply fall into debasement and radical primal antics. We’d all just rape and kill and eat each other. That’s stupid.

    In an anarchist society, just like in any other society, there might not be laws against rape but simply an understanding, like there is now, that if you choose to do that or kill or violate, there will most likely be consequences, just not from a State.

  54. By Alexander S. Peak on 23 August 2009

    I’m in the process of writing a reply. I shall post a link to it when it is complete.

    Best,
    Alex Peak

  55. By Jeff Molby on 23 August 2009


    Libertarians recognize that those things are wrong, that they don’t conform to the non-aggression principle, and have no place in a free society. If someone calls themselves a libertarian yet supports some of them — for whatever reason — then, I submit, they are inconsistent.

    As one such libertarian, I’ll concede that “inconsistent” is the right term. I read your site because I generally agree with your principles. I further realize that anarchism is the logical result of consistent adherence to those principles.

    I’m aware of all of that, yet I accept some of the inconsistencies out of pragmatism. That’s why I call myself a libertarian and not an anarchist. I suppose you could (re)define “libertarian” in such a way that it’s a meaningless synonym of “anarchist”, but what would be the point? You’d just have to invent a new umbrella classification for those of us that are willing to make concessions.

  56. By Kurt Walton on 23 August 2009

    “The uncertainty, (by which is really meant non-uniformity), is a feature, not a bug.”

    No, it’s a bug, because it presents a problem. Things that present problems are bugs. You’ve provided no reason for why it isn’t one.

    The static nature of primary rules in a non-legal society is the result of no prescribed system of changing them definitively and conclusively. How do primary rules change in a non-legal society?

    Inefficiency is, by definition, a bug in that efficiency is demonstrably valuable. Your whole argument against statism isn’t one against rules. It’s one against formalizing them. This makes your whole ideology nothing more than primitivism.

  57. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “You’d just have to invent a new umbrella classification for those of us that are willing to make concessions.”

    Minarchist.

    I’ll conede that minarchy fits under the libertarian umbrella, defined in the widest possible way, in that libertarians share certain core beliefs that distinguish them from all other political ideologies. But any time the conversation gets to a context more specific than those very broad political distinctions, the term “libertarian minarchist” loses any useful meaning.

  58. By Noor on 23 August 2009

    You’d just have to invent a new umbrella classification for those of us that are willing to make concessions.

    Philosophical anarchist and practical minarchist. Although that might be a little longer than you’d like.

  59. By Kurt Walton on 23 August 2009

    New Anarchist, you contradicted yourself. First you said:

    “murder, rape, assault and molestation are allowed in society”

    Then you said:

    “there is a system in place to prevent you from continuing that behavior”

    You fail to mention that the system in place also prevents you from *performing* those acts, by force, if it has the chance to do so. How is this any different from an anarchist society if the same behaviors will be sanctioned in either one?

    My argument is nothing like the Christian argument you outline. God doesn’t exact justice in the living world. He doesn’t imprison people if they’re a threat to society. States do.

  60. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    Non-uniformity in rules does not always present a problem. It can also present opportunity. It allows choice for individuals as to which rules they prefer to live under.

    Primary rules change almost continuously because they are interpreted individually by each person, each time an infraction is suspected. The punishment is flexible as well. And before you go on to the obvious objection to that, those changes are not generally arbitrary nor completely unpredictable.

    Efficiency is not demonstrably valuable in all cases. I can point to limitless hypothetical, and many actual counter examples.

    Inefficiency is a value in the ability to control others’ behavior because the cases where there is a value to society in doing so are limited, but the cases where very substantial value to some individuals can be realized at the price of damage to society are numerous. Inefficiency limits the ability and incentive for an individual to do so with impunity.

  61. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @ryan: Arguing that “self-ownership is incoherent” is IMHO a waste of time. “Self-ownership” is a useful rhetorical shortcut, nothing more.

    One can admit that selves can only meaningfully be owned by themselves. Someone could probably write a recursive statement in formal logic that illustrates that idea.

    But you’re speaking of a different “self” here than what is usually referred to in the term “self-ownership” anyway. The “self” you refer to is one’s consciousness. The “self” in “self-ownership” refers to one’s consciousness and body. And bodies certainly have been, are, and can be in the future, controlled.

    Incidentally, the proposition that your mind is not separable from your body is unproven.

    I declare my entire comment here completely off-topic.

  62. By Jeff Molby on 23 August 2009

    I’m fine with the minarchist label, too, but I still don’t get why “libertarian” is being treated as it were an exact synonym of “anarchist”.

    I’m fine with the above list of questions being used to filter out non-anarchists, because “anarchism” is essentially defined by its perfect adherence to certain principles. Libertarianism, OTOH, is a very loosely defined term.

    If someone asks me my beliefs, I tell him I’m a libertarian. If the conversation progresses to the point where greater specificity is appropriate, I’ll call myself a minarchist. I’m certainly no authority on the subject, but I’m pretty sure I’m using the words correctly.

  63. By Kurt Walton on 23 August 2009

    So, consider this scenario. I have a 4 year-old daughter and I’m living next to Bobby the pedophile. We live in a stateless, non-legal society and there is no uniformity of laws. He doesn’t want to live by laws prohibiting (or sanctioning) molestation, while I do. Mr. Gogulski here says that private property is impossible in this hypothetical society. What is to be done?

    That, my friend, presents a problem. What states do is allow people to live in a society with laws of their preference. Their jurisdiction is limited to a certain land area. What would most likely happen in the scenario I outlined would be that Bobby the pedophile would molest my daughter and society would be outraged and run him out of town because he’s a danger to others. I don’t really see how this is different than defining your borders and making a certain thing against the law within them.

    “The punishment is flexible as well. And before you go on to the obvious objection to that, those changes are not generally arbitrary nor completely unpredictable.”

    You’re using very ambiguous language, probably on purpose. What does it mean for the changes to not be arbitrary or not completely unpredictable? I’m not sure that you think the obvious objection is. I can think of many. So can you, though I doubt you’d admit it. You like being an anarchist. That’s your problem. You like it too much.

    “Inefficiency is a value in the ability to control others’ behavior because the cases where there is a value to society in doing so are limited”

    Really? Open up your local paper. I guarantee you the cases where there is value to society in controlling others’ behavior are many, and this will become obvious while reading said newspaper. You don’t want the guy on page 3B of the Metro section who killed and raped a 60 year-old lady walking the streets. Not until you can be sure he’s not going to be engaging in that kind of activity anymore.

    Your problem is you think law is synonymous with monarchy. You think it’s one person forcing another person to do something. That’s not true at all. Contractarianism is based on consent. There is a difference between the members of your community deciding the law (directly) and a monarch subject to no limitations deciding the law based on his personal whims and biases.

  64. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    “He doesn’t want to live by laws prohibiting (or sanctioning) molestation, while I do. Mr. Gogulski here says that private property is impossible in this hypothetical society. What is to be done?”

    You shoot him. Or, if your morals don’t allow that, you depend on luck to prevent you having to watch your daughter being raped. It’s up to you.

    BTW, Mike did not say that private property is impossible in this hypothetical society, he asked “if it were impossible, would you still want this society?” Big difference.

    “What does it mean for the changes to not be arbitrary or not completely unpredictable?”

    It means they change by knowable rules of cause and effect (though in practice they will usually be so complex as to be very difficult to conclusively analyze).

    “I guarantee you the cases where there is value to society in controlling others’ behavior are many, and this will become obvious while reading said newspaper.”

    Selection bias. The daily newspaper that reported every instance in which someone was not raped, robbed, or murdered would require that your paperboy drive around in an intercontinental ocean-going cargo container ship.

    “There is a difference between the members of your community deciding the law (directly) and a monarch subject to no limitations deciding the law based on his personal whims and biases.”

    Yes, the former is far more dangerous.

  65. By Danoteles on 23 August 2009

    I am afraid that indoctrinating of my children is unavoidable.

  66. By b-psycho on 23 August 2009

    Kurt: You & your neighbors running the pedophile out of town is different from a state with laws & borders because your non-state community is (ironically) limited. You can expel pedophiles because they initiate force, there’s unanimous agreement on that there. A state can do the same, but due to its monopoly on force it can be used to unilaterally expand what is unacceptable. It’s inevitable for a state to trend towards control by those that most want to use that power — who are, naturally, those with the most acts they want to ban. Both scenarios do not tolerate the pedophile, but the 2nd eventually grows to equate to some degree whatever the hell the people in charge don’t like to being that pedophile.

  67. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Dano: Your fear is a sign that this is a lie you tell yourself.

  68. By Randall Randall on 23 August 2009

    “Considering my mind is inseparable from my body, and since no one can control my internal actions, I am sovereign.”

    Ryan, your mind is *currently* inseparable from your body, but technology may change that, as it might whether someone else could control your internal actions. A natural law approach shouldn’t depend on the current level of tech, I’d think.

  69. By Kyle Bennett on 23 August 2009

    Philosophically, consciousness is inseparable from some physical substrate that allows sensing and acting upon the external environment. That does not rely on current tech, nor any particular biological arrangement of brain and body.

  70. By Danoteles on 23 August 2009

    Mike, opinions I express bear values which I don’t want to suppress and children learn naturally from their parents.

  71. By Mike Gogulski on 23 August 2009

    @Dano: Well that’s not the same thing as indoctrination.

  72. By Danoteles on 23 August 2009

    Is “I, as your loving father, don’t believe that drugs will in any way open your mind and will not be happy to see you taking them” an indoctrinaton?

  73. By Mike Gogulski on 24 August 2009

    @Dano: Absent any other context, I don’t think so. But what context comes before might be important.

    Anyway, your statement is admissible because it’s an “I believe” statement rather than a “this is” statement.

    Sounds to me like daddy hasn’t used any decent drugs, though… (no, I don’t have any!)

  74. By Jeff Molby on 24 August 2009

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/indoctrination

    1 : to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : teach
    2 : to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle

    It’s impossible to not indoctrinate. Even if you try very hard to avoid teaching them anything, you’ll still teach them to value self-sufficience.

  75. By Kyle Bennett on 24 August 2009

    “Sounds to me like daddy hasn’t used any decent drugs, though”

    Haha, I was thinking the same thing.

    There, now the statists can dismiss all our arguments with the claim that we’re just high.

    Imparting values is not indoctrination. Limiting his behavior with “because I said so” while his well-being is your responsibility and not yet fully his is not indoctrination. Teaching a child how to think for himself is not indoctrination. Teaching him only to memorize concrete conclusions is indoctrination.

  76. By Danoteles on 24 August 2009

    But my statement is as well directly aimed to touch on the child’s emotions, just as any good brainwash or propaganda. “I will not be happy” and you do not want that, or do you?

  77. By Kurt Walton on 24 August 2009

    I underestimated the level of retardation that existed here. Forgive me.

    I will now commence not taking anarchists seriously…

    You can’t eschew the value of democracy and the lessons of history and expect to be taken seriously. What will happen is people will not care in the least that you don’t wish to obey their laws, because your arguments are poor ones. They will be just fine with subjecting you to them. I’m sure killers want the right of freedom, too. But no one cares. Nor should anyone care.

    Maybe if you made less asinine statements people wouldn’t think you anarchist fundamentalists weren’t complete nutjobs.

  78. By Kyle Bennett on 24 August 2009

    “You can’t eschew the value of democracy [...] and expect to be taken seriously.”

    Your assumption that I have that expectation is incorrect. Your implied assumption that I require it is also incorrect.

    Your assumption that I eschew the lessons of history is incorrect as well. I have learned them well, and am proceeding from that knowledge, which includes both what freedom consists of, and the fact that it will have to be achieved without the cooperation of the majority of my fellow men.

  79. By Kurt Walton on 24 August 2009

    You have no argument.

  80. By Kyle Bennett on 24 August 2009

    “You have no argument.”

    I do, but more importantly, I don’t need one.

  81. By Alexander S. Peak on 24 August 2009

    Mr. Gogulski,

    My reply turned out longer than I’d expected it to, so I just turned it into an essay titled “Anarchism Without Adjectives.”

    Check it out here:
    http://alexpeak.com/ww/2009/017.html

    To Shibby,

    You write, “Libertarianism is minarchy. Minarchy is NOT anarchy.”

    I would reply by saying that all true minarchists and all true anarchists are libertarians.

    You also write, “I’m sure that there are many libertarians out there who think that in a perfect world we could have anarchy – but we don’t live in such a perfect world – and that is why libertarians consider government a necessary evil, which isn’t to say they’d rather have a government ideally.”

    Alas, Ms. or Mr. Shibby, I think that if we lived in a perfect world, it would be okay to have a state because the state would not be a threat to one’s liberty and because the state would actually be able to serve the people. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and a utopia is simply impossible. That’s why I am an anarchist. Utopians truly believe that government can work if we just pass the “right” set of laws, if we just get the “right” people into power. But reality doesn’t work that way. Government doesn’t work, except insofar as it aims to exploit people like you and me. Anarchy is not perfect, but the state is downright rotten to the core. I don’t want to say that anarchy is a necessary evil, because I do not think it is an evil at all, but I do think it is a necessity.

    Finally, you write, “Mike, I think libertarians would minimise these things as far as they can, but not get rid of them altogether. But I might be wrong.”

    When you say the libertarian would minimise these things as much as possible, we agree completely.

    Take for example this letter written by Harry Browne to Reason magazine:
    http://www.harrybrowne.org/articles/GovernmentDoesn'tWork.htm

    Browne refused to take part in the anarchist/minarchist debates usually because he thought they were pointless. We’re all moving in the same direction, he maintained, so why fight now? Let us argue about it only once we’ve succeeded in cutting the state down to a tiny fraction of where it is now.

    But Browne was quite familiar with anarchist arguments. Not only did he work with the anarchist Galambos in his earlier years, but his library contained works by some of my favourite anarchist authors, including the amazing book The Market for Liberty by Linda & Morris Tannehill.

    In this letter, he writes that libertarians want to minimise the state as much as possible. The debate, then, amounts to this: just how much is possible? Minarchists do not believe it is possible to eliminate the state completely, while anarchists do. But, Browne points out, we really don’t know what alternative institutions we may come up with once the state is severly limited and our creative, entrepreneurial energies are released. Maybe, we’ll even discover ways to replace the state completely!

    And, of course, if those new methods and organisations and institutions do arise, as a libertarian, won’t you celebrate them and embrace them, and abandon the state? :)

    To Mr. Bennett, as far as I’m concerned, Tibor Machan and the late Harry Browne, despite being minarchists, are indeed libertarians (yes, with the small L). This does not mean that either one is or was perfect. Someone can be wrong about a thing or two and still be a libertarian. Murray Rothbard, for example, used to say that everyone is allowed at least one mistake. In Rothbard’s case, his big mistake was copyrights, which he unfortunately supported. I’m sure I have some mistaken views, too, which I hope to work out in the coming years.

    While it would seem to me that anarchism is a more-purely libertarian ideology than minarchism, I don’t think I can go so far as to say that minarchists are not also libertarians. Or, to put it another way, I believe one can be an inconsistent libertarian and stil be a libertarian, just as I believe one can be an inconsistent liberal/conservative and still be a liberal/conservative.

    To ryan,

    If self-ownership doesn’t exist, then you cannot own the atoms in your finger. If you do not own them, and can never become owner of them, then you can have no say in what happens to them. You cannot cut them off from your hand, nor sell them afterward.

    But, if you do have the freedom to cut off your fingers and sell them, then you must own them, and in fact you must own the physical matter that makes up your entire body.

    Just ownership is the right to control a given thing. To not own yourself is to not have a right to control yourself. Thus, to resist any enslavement would somehow be a natural crime against your enslaver. But of course this conclusion is absurd, and because it is absurd, there must be a reason why it is absurd. That reason is self-ownership. It is, in fact, the only possible way that the innate criminality in resisting enslavement would be absurd.

    In short, I have no intention of ever dropping the concept of self-ownership. I am my ego, and thus do not own that, but I own by body. My body itself is not me, as evidenced by the fact that I can cut portions of it away and still be me.

    You say that “There is no such thing as self-ownership because humans can not be owned.”

    But it is only correct to say that humans cannot be owned by persons other than themselves. If a person cannot own herself, then other person can own their physical bodies, for after all, their phyiscal bodies (without self-ownership) are nothing more than unowned resources that can be homesteaded. You need self-ownership in order for other humans to be incapable of owning you. Further, since just ownership is the right to control, if there is no such thing as self-ownership, then there can be no right to control your body, and even the act of raising your arm would somehow be a natural crime.

    Finally, you write, “Since slavery is undeniably invalid, ’self-ownership’ is irrelevant.”

    If self-ownership does not exist, then slavery is not invalid. Slavery is only invalid because self-ownership exists, and slavery is only undeniably invalid because self-ownership is undeniable.

    Noor writes, “Question – if human bodies are ownable, wouldn’t that mean a child is the property of his/her parents?”

    GOod question. No. Just because the parents had sex does not mean they “created” the child. And even if they had “created” the child, the mere creation of a thing does not make it property. I can create a serious of words, but I do not thereafter own that series of words, and thus cannot copyright the series of words. To own a thing, one has to be a first-occupier to an unowned resource (the baby is a self-owned resource, and thus cannot become owned in this way) or one has to receive in trade or as a gift the property from another (and no human, baby or not, can give away self-ownership).

    Respectfully to all,
    Alex Peak

  82. By Kent McManigal on 24 August 2009

    I smell a lot of “if” coming off this post…

  83. By Hittman on 24 August 2009

    Hittman, please help me refine my analogy by pointing out where it fails.

    I can’t. It makes no sense at all. Politics food. Analogies, even good ones, are always suspect, but some, like yours, are comparing apples and motorcycles, and cannot be repaired.

    In an anarchist society, just like in any other society, there might not be laws against rape but simply an understanding, like there is now, that if you choose to do that or kill or violate, there will most likely be consequences, just not from a State.

    Vigilante justice?

    What would most likely happen in the scenario I outlined would be that Bobby the pedophile would molest my daughter and society would be outraged and run him out of town because he’s a danger to others.

    But how do we know Bobby is guilty without proof? Who will pay for the investigation, and testing the evidence? And doesn’t driving him out of town just put another town at risk?

    Is “I, as your loving father, don’t believe that drugs will in any way open your mind and will not be happy to see you taking them” an indoctrinaton?

    Yes. Indoctrination is not always a bad thing.

    In Rothbard’s case, his big mistake was copyrights, which he unfortunately supported. I’m sure I have some mistaken views, too, which I hope to work out in the coming years.

    You should start with copyrights. Yes, they’ve been made ridiculous at the behest of big business, but in their original form they provide a way for creative people to get paid for their creations. You don’t get to profit off my hard work without me getting a piece of it, at least for a while.

  84. By Mike Gogulski on 24 August 2009

    I was going to rip up on Hittman, but with Kent’s simple comment, I can’t be bothered.

    Whiff the “if”, people… whiff it. Whiff it good.

  85. By Alexander S. Peak on 24 August 2009

    Dear Hittman,

    I recommend reading The Market for Liberty by Linda & Morris Tannehill. It should help to explain how law would work in a stateless society. The book is not, in my opinion, flawless, but it is filled with gems of wisdom. It is definitely a must-read.

    As for copyrights, I used to support them. I believed in them, in fact, all the way up to 2008, when finally, the arguments against them became so weighty that I could no longer in all good conscience support them.

    Sincerely yours,
    Alex Peak

  86. By hacksoncode on 24 August 2009

    I might equally ask: if all anarchies eventually devolve into all-encompassing states (and, so far in human history, every single one of them has), and if it were possible to create a minarchy that prevented this (which is still mostly untested), would you still be an anarchist?

  87. By Francois Tremblay on 24 August 2009

    “I might equally ask: if all anarchies eventually devolve into all-encompassing states (and, so far in human history, every single one of them has), and if it were possible to create a minarchy that prevented this (which is still mostly untested), would you still be an anarchist?”

    Yes.

    Why do you ask? What do you expect to gain from this question? I am already an Anarchist, so it does not expose any contradictions in my thinking.

  88. By hacksoncode on 24 August 2009

    So you would prefer an anarchy that eventually devolved into an all-encompassing state to a minarchy that prevented an all-encompassing state from evolving?

    Interesting.

  89. By Francois Tremblay on 24 August 2009

    Your completely unrealistic hypothesis notwithstanding, I find it interesting that you find it interesting. What exactly do you find interesting about it? Is it the fact that you recognize someone that has what you lack, i.e. a sense of justice that goes beyond base pragmatism?

  90. By hacksoncode on 24 August 2009

    I find my hypothesis (borne out by the evidence of *every single one of the many natural anarchies ever in existence*) rather sound, thank you.

    What I find interesting is that your ideal of “justice” contains damn little of it. Pragmatism is base, it is true, but so are humans.

  91. By Francois Tremblay on 24 August 2009

    So now we’ve found out that your supposedly hypothetical question (at least, that’s how you presented it at first) is now what you consider a sound proposition. A bit of hypocrisy here? Why not present a straight argument instead?

    As for calling me base, speak for yourself. My idea of justice does not include coercing people in the name of a hypothetical (and illogical) security.

  92. By hacksoncode on 24 August 2009

    I presented my question exactly that way to start with. I’m not sure where you’re finding hypocrisy, but it’s not in what I said.

    Anarchy has always had the inevitable result of the strong coercing the weak, not in the name of any form of justice or security but indeed in complete contravention of both (though, historically, that’s how it’s often presented).

  93. By Francois Tremblay on 24 August 2009

    “I presented my question exactly that way to start with.”

    No you did not present it that way. You clearly presented it as a hypothetical question. Stop lying, it only makes you look like an arse.

    “Anarchy has always had the inevitable result of the strong coercing the weak”

    Since what you just said is exactly the opposite of the standard definition of Anarchism (i.e. being against hierarchies, which are nothing but “the strong coercing the weak”), you must either be a complete idiot or you are using a completely different definition of Anarchism. So please give us your definition first, before we can further evaluate your claims.

    “not in the name of any form of justice or security but indeed in complete contravention of both (though, historically, that’s how it’s often presented).”

    Since you seem to define up as down and warm as cold, I have to agree that the opposite of Anarchism (i.e. YOUR position) is in complete contravention of both.

  94. By hacksoncode on 24 August 2009

    You might want to try learning what a *hypothesis* is before you cast aspersions.

    Your supposed argument about anarchy being against hierarchies is exactly why it’s a utopian philosophy (if something that sophomoric can be dignified with the term).

    You may be “against” hierarchies, but what actually prevents them from happening? Nothing, actually. Humans aren’t like that. Live in your fantasy world all you want. Well, except you won’t, for long.

  95. By Francois Tremblay on 24 August 2009

    “You might want to try learning what a *hypothesis* is before you cast aspersions.”

    I know what a hypothesis is. A hypothesis is an assumption or supposition of causality based on some observations, which is then tested more rigorously. Ask people before you cast aspersions on what they do or do not know.

    “Your supposed argument about anarchy being against hierarchies”

    It’s not an “argument.” It’s how most Anarchists define it. If you want to define Anarchism in a different way than those who believe in it, that’s fine, but you need to be clear about it beforehand.

    “is exactly why it’s a utopian philosophy (if something that sophomoric can be dignified with the term).”

    Oh, look at you. You think using slightly more sophisticated words makes your opponent seem simplistic. That is so kindergarten mentality.

    “You may be “against” hierarchies, but what actually prevents them from happening?”

    Is that a serious question, or are you just setting up another “trap”? Why would I spend time engaging in dialogue with you on this topic when you show so far no willingness to engage in dialogue?

    “Nothing, actually. Humans aren’t like that. Live in your fantasy world all you want. Well, except you won’t, for long.”

    Humans aren’t like what? Humans like to lick boots and follow orders? Not me, buddy, not me… Maybe you are enough of a worm to like it, though. If so, good for you! You live in the right kind of society for you!

    PS you have yet to define Anarchism, at least how you define it in your “fantasy world” where up is down and warm is cold.

  96. By b-psycho on 24 August 2009

    If anarchism is an inherently utopian philosophy, then explain my own approach to it being based on a view of humanity rejecting the idea that man is naturally good & subsequently corrupted by power, instead feeling that man naturally sucks & handing some among us a monopoly on force just makes things worse?

  97. By Hittman on 24 August 2009

    Alex,

    Thanks for the link, but I don’t see any discussion of copyright in the book. The book is, however copyrighted. I’ll spend some more time with it later.

    Current copyright law is ridiculous. The purpose is “to promote the useful arts” but now that they’ve been extended to several lifetimes at the behest of Disney Inc., they hinder the arts rather than help them. Originally they lasted for 28 years. “Life of the Author” would be better, but they should last no longer than that.

    I’m familiar with most of the arguments against (reasonable) copyright, and don’t buy them.

    I’ve written a novel that I’ve released as a podiobook under a Creative Commons license. (bloodwitness.com) Thousands of hours went into writing it, hundreds more into recording and producing the podcast. You can listen to it for free. You can give it to your friends. That’s my choice. But since I’m the one who did all the work, I should be the one who makes the money from it. No one else should unless I enter a contract with them.

    Without copyright someone would be able to sell the recordings and I’d never see a dime of it. They could transcribe it, publish the book, and reap all the profits while cutting me out of the process completely. Can you honestly justify someone else making all profit when I’ve done all the work?

  98. By b-psycho on 24 August 2009

    Mike, your reddit thread is…amusing, to say the least.

  99. By Noor on 24 August 2009

    @Alex Peak
    GOod question. No. Just because the parents had sex does not mean they “created” the child. And even if they had “created” the child, the mere creation of a thing does not make it property. I can create a serious of words, but I do not thereafter own that series of words, and thus cannot copyright the series of words. To own a thing, one has to be a first-occupier to an unowned resource (the baby is a self-owned resource, and thus cannot become owned in this way) or one has to receive in trade or as a gift the property from another (and no human, baby or not, can give away self-ownership).

    Like I said earlier, I’m skeptical of propertarianism, so I’m arguing internally from the assumption that property-ownership is valid.

    But anyway, uhh, how exactly is the child not derived entirely from the parents? Doesn’t the parents’ flesh along with the parents’ labor-earned resources, go into making and developing the child?

  100. By P.M.Lawrence on 24 August 2009

    Mike Gogulski wrote “Property, ultimately, is a social construct”.

    No. Property is an extension of the self. This does not require any social context. However, and what may being misused by being called property, there is an emergent phenomenon that arises from property when it is recognised socially: a convenience in allocating resources and in individuals being able to police their own possession of property (since their force is unlikely to trigger others intervening, and others may well help the owners). Note that “police” is a term that derives from a social context.

    Jim Davidson wrote ‘…property is not a social construct. It is arguably a learned behavior. Children learn “mine!” very early.’

    Who says it is learned? What is learned is, just what things are whose – not the idea that things can belong.

    Shibby wrote “An anarchist sees government as an unnecessary evil”.

    No, or rather, not necessarily. An anarchist sees no ethical basis for it, but he may well concede some sort of necessity provided you spell out that you mean “…it is necessary for, e.g., imperialism” – or even, in emergency contexts, necessary to drive out invaders etc. But these things are themselves evils, and do not justify.

    Mike Gogulski wrote “Not even a minimal state is possible without taxation, forced exclusion, compulsory submission to arbitration, etc., in contradiction of the operation of the non-aggression principle”.

    Actually, it is, although it might be highly unlikely. A sufficiently minimal approach does not require taxation as it can be funded through a pool of revenue yielding assets, does not need to employ force to exclude since individuals within can act to exclude individual outsiders and larger scale outside intrusion triggers defence which does incidentally exclude but is not force to exclude, does not require compulsory submission to arbitration since voluntary methods suffice (those who cannot reach agreement can easily act against each other forcibly without disrupting the system, so long as nobody else gets hurt – triggering exclusion by the individuals at risk), etc. Of course, I consider it an unstable thing unlikely to occur or, if it does, to endure – but not an intrinsic impossibility of a logical fallacy sort.

    Kurt Walton wrote “No act can be prohibited otherwise you will run into these problems. Murder, rape, assault, molestation… all of these must be allowed.”

    Actually, yes; they must be allowed in one sense, but they should be kept from occurring. That is, they should be engineered out, and/or dealt with by stopping them. If a would be rapist is pushed out by other means, his offences are engineered out. If his victim defends herself successfully, or others come to her aid, his offence is halted. But at no point is there a prohibition or machinery to enforce it, rather there are workarounds such that the price of prohibition – machinery of control – is not there. See also b-psycho’s remarks.

    Ryan wrote “There is no such thing as self-ownership because humans can not be owned. Humans are not property, they are conscious autonomous beings. Since slavery is undeniably invalid, ‘self-ownership’ is irrelevant.”

    Actually, humans can be owned. There is no contradiction arising from their being conscious and autonomous, in those cases where they themselves consider themselves to be property. There were often provisions in slave codes forbidding the freeing of slaves against their will, and indeed there was a brief slave revolt against emancipation in the British West Indies. Of course, we need not expect the circumstances for this category to apply today – but it means there is no essential logical impossibility involved.

    Kurt Walton wrote “I underestimated the level of retardation that existed here. Forgive me.”

    Ipse dixit.

    “You cant eschew the value of democracy and the lessons of history and expect to be taken seriously”.

    That appears to signify, you can’t expect to reach different positions than the ones statists did and expect to be taken seriously.

    “What will happen is people will not care in the least that you don’t wish to obey their laws, because your arguments are poor ones”.

    No, because they have made their minds up differently.

    “They will be just fine with subjecting you to them”.

    Certainly – but that neither justifies them, nor do they have a kick coming if they fail. If they refuse reason, resorting only to force, they have no reason to appeal to if force fails them.

    “I’m sure killers want the right of freedom, too. But no one cares. Nor should anyone care.”

    Actually, everyone should care, if only because the freedom takers don’t stop there (and there are deeper reasons too, but that should suffice).

    Alexander S. Peak wrote “Slavery is only invalid because self-ownership exists, and slavery is only undeniably invalid because self-ownership is undeniable“.

    Actually, the proper basis is not to start from ownership and go to the individual, but to start with the self and recognise that property is the extension of the self. The former would imply that the self can sell or otherwise transfer the owned self away from the self. In actuality, any extension can be separated from the self, but there is a logical impossibility to removing the self from the self. (This does not contradict the exception category I mentioned earlier, about slaves who wish to be slaves; at any point they can cease to wish that, and so move out of the category.)

    Hittman wrote “But how do we know Bobby is guilty without proof? Who will pay for the investigation, and testing the evidence? And doesn’t driving him out of town just put another town at risk?”

    No, it doesn’t – because they don’t have to take him. Nor, if things aren’t rigged by putting all resources under some system or other, does that prevent him living.

    Hacksoncode wrote “So you would prefer an anarchy that eventually devolved into an all-encompassing state to a minarchy that prevented an all-encompassing state from evolving? Interesting.”

    How so? The posited alternative may be one he believes impossible and/or unjustified on other grounds, and there may be yet other alternatives. It’s like asking whether you prefer apparent health (that you even have with primary and secondary syphilis) to having malaria that keeps syphilis from getting to the tertiary stage. He may doubt that the latter works, he may really be healthy, he may hope for some other treatment, or any number of other things.

    Hacksoncode also wrote “You might want to try learning what a *hypothesis* is before you cast aspersions”.

    Ipse dixit.

    “Your supposed argument about anarchy being against hierarchies is exactly why it’s a utopian philosophy (if something that sophomoric can be dignified with the term)”.

    How so, considering that things of this sort have actually happened?

    ‘You may be “against” hierarchies, but what actually prevents them from happening? Nothing, actually. Humans aren’t like that. Live in your fantasy world all you want. Well, except you won’t, for long.’

    Er… Now who’s living in a fantasy world? From time to time, things have worked to undo them and/or head them off; this just happens to be one of the other times. Unless you suppose that history has come to a stop, that’s no sounder than a claim that republics can’t exist made by someone in the Middle Ages.

  101. By Teresa on 24 August 2009

    If all labels suddenly become obsolete, would you still call yourself an anarchist without adjectives?

    And if costumes don’t matter, why do you call yourself an anarchist without adjectives instead of a libertarian?

  102. By The New Anarchist on 24 August 2009

    Kurt Walton: “You can’t eschew the value of democracy and the lessons of history and expect to be taken seriously.”

    I doubt your familiarity with the true value of democracy since you live in a democratic republic and not a 6th Century BC Athenian wonderland.

    Even then, democracy is simply a form of government and not a almighty, blessed Way set down by glittery, shiny beings. Even if it were, I would be sorely disappointed in said glittery, shiny beings for thinking that everyone deserves a say in how I live my life (even the ancient Athenians limited their voting to the men – a prospect I find endearing – like a different physiology gives me magic powers that women don’t have).

    The “lessons of history” are whatever you make them out to be. This type of random, subjective, McCarthy-era nonsense is specifically why people are anarchists. We know history is bullshit, written by the winners. We know the masses cop to that bullshit every day. And if our forefathers hadn’t been on some proto-Parker Brothers’ Monopoly high when they set down the rules for this nation, then people might be better off and less angry. But once you strip away the republic, there is still capitalism to contend with, the underlying idea of which is that “stuff” is more valuable than “people,” specifically you people, specifically you.

    Try this: walk into any bank and present yourself as the deposit on a new account. Tell them that, since you’re a human being (and a voter, I’m assuming, which should raise your value a lot) and that you are priceless. Therefore, you should be able to withdraw any amount of money you desire because you, Kurt Walton, know the lessons of history and understand the value of democracy and will use your newly found wealth to spread those lessons to the world. See how long it takes you to be escorted out.

    Why would they do that? Because your value is in your labor, and not even much exists in that. There are hundreds of millions just like you. And whether you value democracy or anarchism or a government system founded on lessons put forth by a sentient willow tree, no one’s going to care about you unless you can offer them something that can be turned into cash. There’s your value.

  103. By Mike Gogulski on 24 August 2009

    @Teresa:

    1: If that occurred, the qualifier wouldn’t be necessary.

    2: Because the lexical distinction is useful in pointing out differences of philosophy and approach.

  104. By Noor on 24 August 2009

    To all the capitalists asking about property, I invite you to read Chapter 4 in What is Property?

    Chapter 4 is basically a nice compilation of all the arguments against property (that do not apply to possession-and-use).

  105. By Vache Folle on 24 August 2009

    Thanks for exercising my mind.

    It seems to me that many of the problems that are being discussed are artifacts of thinking in terms of individuals. Homo sapiens is a social animal by and large, and the recognition of “property” is a social act. Property does not derive from the individual organism but from the group.

  106. By Noor on 24 August 2009

    Property does not derive from the individual organism but from the group.
    Yes. The “extension of the self” and “product of labor” applies to possession, which must be distinguished from property.

  107. By Kyle Bennett on 25 August 2009

    “It seems to me that many of the problems that are being discussed are artifacts of thinking in terms of individuals.”

    This is one reason I am an anarchist, so people who believe this will have no say in how I run my life.

  108. By Kyle Bennett on 25 August 2009

    “Chapter 4 is basically a nice compilation of all the arguments against property”

    Is that really the best the anti-propertarians have?

  109. By Francois Tremblay on 25 August 2009

    “Is that really the best the anti-propertarians have?”

    Yes, it is.

    And it beats the crap out of anything I’ve ever seen from your side. Is there ONE cogent argument for property rights, or are they all just special pleadings?

  110. By Kyle Bennett on 25 August 2009

    “Yes, it is.”

    LOL. For a while there, I thought that because people seemed to take anti-propertarianist positions seriously, that there was a substantive argument behind it. After seeing Proudohn a while back, I kept looking for the *real* arguments.

  111. By Francois Tremblay on 25 August 2009

    … funny, I’m still looking for the real proprietarian arguments. Since you’re gloating, you must surely have some?

  112. By Aaron Kinney on 25 August 2009

    Francois owns Kyle on the property rights argument.

    Therefore, Kyle is Francois property, and property rights are valid. Waitaminute!

    Oh God, my head hurts…

  113. By hacksoncode on 25 August 2009

    Part of the problem is that I doubt we agree on the definition of “free”.

    To me, one of the most fundamental freedoms is the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your own labor without interference from others (yes, yes, including the right to sell it to someone or labor for hire).

    Essentially speaking, and leaving off the petty details for the sake of argument, that’s more or less the definition of “property”, as well.

    So, to me, “free society” and “no property” are simply a contradiction in terms. The argument for property is exactly the same as the argument for liberty.

  114. By Francois Tremblay on 25 August 2009

    “To me, one of the most fundamental freedoms is the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your own labor without interference from others”

    Yes… that is one of the reasons why I am against property rights. Probably the biggest one.

  115. By hacksoncode on 25 August 2009

    Perhaps it would save a lot of time if you define what you mean by “property rights”.

  116. By Francois Tremblay on 25 August 2009

    Don’t try to divert the issue. I define the term the same way the law defines it, and the same way we all define it. Right to use, enjoy the fruits of, buy and sell, rent out, and destroy. In short, total control over an object, as long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s total control over their objects.

  117. By hacksoncode on 25 August 2009

    So, paraphrasing your earlier comment: One of the reasons you oppose the right to enjoy the fruits of your labor is that the right to enjoy the fruits of your labor is one of the most fundamental freedoms?

    I’m not diverting the issue. I’m obviously missing something terribly vital to you, because that makes absolutely no sense.

    Unless, of course, you’re opposed to freedom. I don’t mean that in an ad hominem way… I’m just trying to think of all the ways in which that statement could possibly have a useful meaning.

  118. By Francois Tremblay on 25 August 2009

    You seem to be confused. Property rights are the opposite of “the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your own labor without interference from others.” I oppose property rights precisely because I do want “the freedom to enjoy the fruits of my own labor without interference from other.” Property rights mean that my full product is stolen from me, with the support of the State’s laws, which are based on property theory.

  119. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    You just said, 1 comment ago, that you defined property rights as “Right to use, enjoy the fruits of, buy and sell, rent out, and destroy. In short, total control over an object, as long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s total control over their objects.”

    And you are now saying that they are the opposite of “the freedom to enjoy the fruits of my own labor without interference from other”.

    Is this just a quibble that the fruits of your particular labor don’t happen to be objects or something? Or that the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your labor is in some abstract way different from the right to control said fruits?

    Or is it just that you want the right to control the fruits of your labor, but want to deny that exact same right to someone that might *gasp* employ you?

  120. By Kyle Bennett on 26 August 2009

    @hacksoncode,

    The difference, as far as I can tell, is that he supports the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor *only while one is actually laboring*. Stop for a cigarette break, and somebody gets to expropriate it… errr, labor on it, I guess. Property is the same thing it is for the rest of us, with the exception of persistence.

    But I don’t want to put words in his mouth.

  121. By Francois Tremblay on 26 August 2009

    I think you are confused because you confuse the free market with capitalism. In the capitalist system, your labour is a commodity, an object, sold to the highest bidder. It is owned by the leader of that work hierarchy (or in corporations, the fictional person of the corporation), and he is the one who gets the fruits, not you. You sign a contract which delegates responsibility of your production (i.e. the result of your labour) to that leader.

  122. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    Of course you are free to do that. You’re also free not to do that.

    What, would you make it illegal to sell the fruits of your labor?

  123. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    Before we attempt recapitulate all the communist arguments of the preceding century, allow me to say that I’d *like* to get to that goal.

    It’s just that there are only 2 ways to get to a point where people aren’t in conflict because they are competing over scarce resources:

    1) Evolve beyond greed. Technically this is possible if you assume that greed is actually counterproductive to individuals and their offspring (a dubious proposition). Get back to me in a few million years and let’s see.

    2) Develop technology to the point where there is effectively no shortage of resources. Technically, this might be possible. It’s certainly our best hope. It might only take 1000 years if we really hurry.

    Luckily it appears that people do start having fewer children when that becomes a) possible and b) unnecessary to ensure their survival in old age. So at least it’s not a logical impossibility.

    So the question remains: what do we do in the mean time, and how do we get there as fast as possible?

    Historically, a capitalist system has proven (and indeed, can be mathematically proven) to be the most efficient way to allocate scarce resources for maximum productivity.

    Let’s get to a technological state where anarchy is theoretically possible as fast as we can, and see what happens. I’m sure we’d *all* love to live in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe.

  124. By Kyle Bennett on 26 August 2009

    “I’m sure we’d *all* love to live in the Star Trek: The Next Generation universe.”

    Not me. Sure, the technology, and the apparent general environment of goodwill… but peek under that surface and it’s either a fascist/socialist dystopia, or TV fiction. They left hints throughout the series of their wider socio-ecoonomic organization, and it’s simply not possible without some very nasty stuff happening just off camera.

    Just think a minute on how demeaning and depraved the Prime Directive is.

  125. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    Yes, well, there’s some difference of opinion on what “must” be happening off stage. But the real point is that it’s a universe where a true anarchy might theoretically be possible.

    And the nice thing about the Prime Directive is that if you want to have a lovely little anarchy they will leave you alone to do it.

  126. By Francois Tremblay on 26 August 2009

    “What, would you make it illegal to sell the fruits of your labor?”

    No… LTV does not prohibit selling, obviously, since it tells us how much things should be sold for.

  127. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    The word “should” there sounds suspiciously non-anarchical. Would you prevent selling it for some other amount? (and how?)

    The distinction between selling your labor and selling the fruits of your labor is so narrow as to be nearly indistinguishable. If you’re offended by “having” to do what someone else asks you to do, run your own business and skip that step.

  128. By Francois Tremblay on 26 August 2009

    “The word “should” there sounds suspiciously non-anarchical.”

    Please do not pretend to know what Anarchy is.

    “Would you prevent selling it for some other amount? (and how?)”

    Why should I? I would hope that people are not assholes and don’t try to exploit me. If they do, I’ll simply not buy their crap, and support boycotts or pulling their products off the shelves. Ostracism should be enough of an incentive.

    “The distinction between selling your labor and selling the fruits of your labor is so narrow as to be nearly indistinguishable.”

    You apparently can’t do basic math. That’s okay. Many stupid people lead happy lives.

    “If you’re offended by “having” to do what someone else asks you to do, run your own business and skip that step.”

    Yes, that’s an option obviously available to everyone, and so easy too. Dangit, how did I not think of this before? I just gotta take all this capital I’ve accumulated by being paid my full product and… oh wait. I still live in the capitalist system. I guess you’re just an idiot.

  129. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    Actually, I know perfectly well what anarchy is. It’s a complete fantasy that fails to take into account many millions of years of evolution of the human species.

    That’s why I’m a minarchist rather than an anarchist. Don’t be me wrong, though… if we get to a minarchist state and it turns out that magically people stop being acquisitive and venal, I’m all for doing away with that last bit too.

    It’s just that that’s religion and not science.

  130. By Francois Tremblay on 26 August 2009

    “Actually, I know perfectly well what anarchy is. It’s a complete fantasy that fails to take into account many millions of years of evolution of the human species.”

    Like I said… you don’t understand Anarchism, and yet you pretend that you do. Anarchism does not “fail to take into account” evolution! Have you even HEARD of Mutual Aid by Kropotkin? His WHOLE BOOK is on that very topic, you asshole. It’s a well-known book, you have no reason to not know about it if you know anything about Anarchism, which you don’t.

    “That’s why I’m a minarchist rather than an anarchist.”

    Then you are absurd, since minarchism is the most absurd and the most contradictory of all political positions. Either you believe in the State or you don’t: your silly middle ground (yea, we need the State, but the State is evil, but it’s a necessary evil, but it should be limited, it should limit itself, even though it has no reason to limit itself, but it’s necessary!) is the laughingstock of pretty much everyone else.

    “Don’t be me wrong, though… if we get to a minarchist state and it turns out that magically people stop being acquisitive and venal, I’m all for doing away with that last bit too.”

    Actually, minarchism can ONLY work if “magically people stop being acquisitive and venal.” Otherwise, it will always inevitably collapse into a tyranny (ironically, this is what minarchists always accuse Anarchists of, because they are projecting, like any good believer).

    “It’s just that that’s religion and not science.”

    Oh, I would say you’re projecting again, but I don’t think minarchism is a religion. But it’s certainly not science, that we both agree on.

  131. By hacksoncode on 26 August 2009

    I’ve seen the arguments that attempt to take evolution into account. It’s just that they fail miserably at this attempt.

    They’re just wrong.

  132. By Francois Tremblay on 26 August 2009

    … what? That doesn’t even make any sense. Are you claiming that the information is wrong, that Kropotkin and modern supporters of the cooperation theory (like Donna Hart and Robert Sussman) are factually wrong? Or that the argument made from that information is wrong?

    If you’re gonna say “you’re just wrong,” don’t expect me to take you seriously. Either tell us WHAT is wrong with the arguments, or admit you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.

  133. By John H. on 30 August 2009

    …If I may?

    Franc doesn’t disbelieve in ownership, his problem is with property. The strict mutualist position (which Franc, last I checked, has adopted) is that renting out capital is immoral, and so “property” (which includes the ability to rent out your possessions) is wrong.

    Franc, you’re an enigma. I’m not sure if you’re the worst evangelist in the world or the best. You make everyone (even your allies) want to punch you in the face sometimes, but you always get them to think about your point. You’re responsible in large part for my conversion to a sort of mutualism, so thanks, you pinko bastard. ;-)

  134. By Francois Tremblay on 30 August 2009

    Thank you John for the succinct formulation.

  135. By VoidMaster on 30 September 2010

    The wording of your questions presumes many assumptions that I do not consider to be “givens.” For example; I am not sure why you assume that private property would not be possible in a libertarian society.

    One need not rely upon the state for protection of anything—be it private property, personal safety, etc. In fact, I would go so far as to put forth that one acts foolishly to rely upon the state for anything, including protection. I am quite capable of protecting my own person and property, even intellectual property. I do so currently and I do so without any help from the state.

    That is not to say that I face no limitations. I am under no illusions regarding my capacity for self-defense. If enough people bearing enough firepower came around bent upon taking what was mine, they would surely prevail. But guess what: that is possible with or without the state. Indeed, the state presents as the most likely culprit in such an endeavor. Theft is theft, regardless what the thief calls it or what he is wearing.

    So private property is quite possible even in a pure anarchy. It is the act of retaining possession that makes it private property, not the enforcement of rules. In fact, it takes enforcement of rules to abolish anything—including private property. And the presence of rules implies statism, even if it is a minimalist state. Ergo, the enforcer of rules is an agent of the state, regardless what label he applies to his master.

  136. By Michael on 3 July 2012

    I actually agree with Murray Rothbard in his article: “Are Libertarians “Anarchists”? ”

    The spurious logic of the dialectic is not open to the left-wing anarchists, who wish to abolish the State and capitalism simultaneously. The nearest those anarchists have come to resolving the problem has been to uphold syndicalism as the ideal. In syndicalism, each group of workers and peasants is supposed to own its means of production in common, and plan for itself, while cooperating with other collectives and communes. Logical analysis of these schemes would readily show that the whole program is nonsense. Either of two things would occur: one central agency would plan for and direct the various subgroups, or the collectives themselves would be really autonomous. But the crucial question is whether these agencies would be empowered to use force to put their decisions into effect. All of the left-wing anarchists have agreed that force is necessary against recalcitrants. But then the first possibility means nothing more nor less than Communism, while the second leads to a real chaos of diverse and clashing Communisms, that would probably lead finally to some central Communism after a period of social war. Thus, left-wing anarchism must in practice signify either regular Communism or a true chaos of communistic syndics. In both cases, the actual result must be that the State is reestablished under another name. It is the tragic irony of left-wing anarchism that, despite the hopes of its supporters, it is not really anarchism at all. It is either Communism or chaos.
    http://mises.org/daily/2801

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