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Why I am not specifically a voluntaryist

17 September 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy, war | 97 Comments »

Maybe it’s nothing more than a definitional quibble, but…

Carl Watner, who has operated voluntyarist.com for long years, provides a definition of what a voluntaryist is, front and center:

Voluntaryists are advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society.

Carl has done amazing work in collecting and promulgating anarchist literature. The amount of learning I have obtained and that others have benefited from via his work — as writer and archiver — is incalculable. Carl’s one of the good guys. One of the guys, indeed, who I can count on to wind up on the right side of the barricades, come the revolution. I heart Carl Watner.

Image from headsonpikes.blogspot.com -- that guy's dead. Sorry.

Image from headsonpikes.blogspot.com -- that guy's dead. Sorry.

However, I can’t but quibble with this definition. I might well prefer non-violent strategies for the attainment of a free society (and the political will certainly never be acceptable). But I am not going to rule out violent, bloody, homicidal strategies to get there, if such turn out to seem essential.

Perhaps this is not what Carl means with his definition. Perhaps the preference, the advocacy for such does not preclude other paths. But I read this definition, and the words of many other self-proclaimed voluntaryists, and see a commitment to non-violence above all other things.

I am not so committed.

I don’t really advocate the strategies as such. I want the end results. Of course I am keenly aware that ends do not justify means. But when one recognizes that the world is ruled by criminal gangs, one ought take into account all legitimate actions for the elimination of crime and criminals.

If the achievement of a free society is to require that a million bleeding heads of torturing tyrants, damnable dictators, pandering politicians, sadistic generals, privileged policemen, criminal soldiers and psychotic, irresponsible “servants” be hoisted on pikes to surround the palisades of the free cities, count me in for the headsman’s role, for I will not dwell in my ice-cream-and-flying-ponies fantasies so long as to preclude my own action toward the attainment thereof.

Would that neither you nor I ever face such choices. But we should be ready, should our realities eventuate as such, to know what we will do.

Do you?

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  1. 97 Responses to “Why I am not specifically a voluntaryist”

  2. By steve on 20 September 2009

    “To initiate violence is not to act in one’s rational self-interest.”

    Is that a fact? Does violent action not have means, ends, choice, etc? Can you explain in a bit more detail?

    I’ll check out Molyneux’s take, sounds interesting.

  3. By Wes Bertrand on 20 September 2009

    Mike,

    I understand the depth of your hatred for the unjust actions of governmental “officials” who daily aggress against (and threaten) people and their property with impunity (all for their supposed “common good”). However, I have to also agree with Jimbo (comment on fr33agents) that “War is hell, and actual combat is a motherfucker.” And the aftermath is indeed permanent.

    Ideas, not guns, rule the world. After all, what gives the use of the policeman’s gun (or taser) perceived legitimacy, if not the set of ideas in people’s minds about the role he is playing by wearing the uniform (and their role as “law-abiding citizens”)?

    Ideas, both good and bad ones, are bulletproof (hat tip to V). No amount of violence in retaliation against rights-violating statists will alter that fact.

    Given the present ideological climate that practically worships obedience to “authority,” any orchestrated acts of self-defensive violence against political initiators of force would assuredly backfire (just as all individual defensive acts against violent statists are suicidal, as Seth eloquently noted (comment
    on nostate

    )), not to mention cause untold death and suffering to innocents. Members of the presently institutionalized and corporate mainstream media seem to be in love with those who coerce peaceful people on a daily basis (i.e., “government”). And, so, they will report their typical fear-mongering statist propaganda to protect their perceived “masters.” Given how much of their ethical souls they’ve sold, most would rather side ideologically and psychologically with governmental evildoers than part ways with them based on a rational code of morality and thus actual principles of justice.

    Slavespeak predominates our worldwide authoritarian culture, after all:
    http://www.buildfreedom.com/tl/tl07a.shtml
    The parental command “Do this because I said so–or else!” that’s infused in the child’s psyche early on is merely carried into adulthood. “You must comply–or else!” is the statist’s command. Thus, obedience to authority is taken as the given by nearly all people (including most liberty lovers), based on fears of what will happen if one is disobedient.

    So, it’s these statist memes that we must relentlessly counter in our personal and public affairs, keeping in mind their origin. Essentially, me must encourage people to abandon their aggressive and obedient ideologies–ideologies that perpetuate the premises that “might makes right,” “ends justify (rights-violating) means,” and that individuals must be sacrificed to the “collective.” Principled education and non-compliance remain the moral means to do this.

    W

  4. By Mike Gogulski on 21 September 2009

    Thanks for all the response and reaction to this. Great food for thought and discussion.

    I’ve posted a brief followup, in the form of a wee question, here.

  5. By George Donnelly on 21 September 2009

    To make it more clear, suppose the non-trapped guy orders the trapped guy to do work for him, or else the trapped guy won’t get any food, and the latter consents because he wants to survive.

    Exploitation is slightly hard to define, but basically it’s restricting someone’s freedom to achieve their values by using their situations, such as in the well scenario.

    Non-trapped man is not restricting trapped man’s freedom.

    He is simply refusing to offer help. Perhaps he is unable?

    No one is obligated to expend their own resources to help you if you fall into trouble (unless they caused you to do so). If you think they are, prove it.

    In the well scenario, I personally do not believe there is a moral obligation to help the trapped guy

    You’ve defeated your own argument.

    Voluntaryism is NOT pacifism!

    Joel +10 !

    re/ Assassination Politics, I agree, it will be. Since we can’t seem to muster the Gandhian soul-force necessary, there is no other choice.

    whether it is acceptable to Voluntaryism, and (secondarily) to other related non-aggression schools of thought, to preemptively slit the throats of politicians and their thugs.

    But it is not pre-emptive, AleG. It is always self-defense because politicians are by definition aggressors.

    AleG, as a voluntaryist, I consider myself morally justified in exercising violent self-defense against aggressors at any time. The question is just if it is tactically smart to do it or not.

  6. By Noor on 22 September 2009

    @Brian Drake

    You completely missed the point in your whole post. I was arguing that if a guy in the well has someone else near by that has the power to take control of the situation to his ends, then the trapped guy is not free.

    It’s about people limiting others’ choices by some means or the other, and coercion is only one of those means.

    The State does not send people to your house to coerce you into file taxes. You file them because the State gives you no alternative other than be kidnapped. You can either file your taxes, or allow yourself to be kidnapped. The people in the State exploit you by limiting your alternatives to achieve your values.

    Technically, you file taxes voluntarily because the State doesn’t give you an alternative other than allow yourself to be kidnapped. If you’re going to argue that this situation is not voluntary, then you’re changing the definition of voluntary from “simply non-coercive” to “free to achieve values.”

  7. By Noor on 22 September 2009

    @DixieFlatline
    Why would you assume that I would have to rely on you? Why would you assume that I would have a problem with trading my labour for your care? And why would it be exploitation, if done of my own free will? Sure, my circumstances might not be ideal, but someone in need of life saving surgery also is under less than ideal circumstances, that doesn’t mean a surgeon who charges them for treatment is exploiting them.

    I am not assuming it. I am presenting a situation where you are in a 50-foot deep well, and I can now gain control over you.

    This is juvenile marxian class theory bullshit, the entitlement of the proletariat and all that pap.

    I am not a Marxist, so stop with the red-name-calling.

    And you are a complete moron for proposing a strawman.

    There is no strawman here. I am proposing a simple situation where I can restrict your alternatives, and consequently your freedom, by other means that do not involve coercion.

    Which means it is ok to violate someone elses life or liberty as long as you are willing to pay the price. I thought you were opposed to exploitation based on an (natural) imbalance of negotiating power?

    They’re not mutually exclusive.

    We live in a world with scarce resources. As long as resources are scarce, it is necessary to have a conception of ownership, in order to resolve disputes WITHOUT VIOLENCE.

    Property-ownership (as opposed to possession-ownership) gives a monopoly of violence to the proprietor. When you monopolize a scarce good and keep it to yourself entirely, you restrict others from having a chance at using it even when you could be said to abandon it. If something is not scarce in our world, such as sunlight, it doesn’t hurt anyone if you monopolize a beam of sunlight for yourself.

    If you can justify aggression under a lifeboat situation, then you can justify it under any situation.

    Learn something called CONTEXT.

    @George
    Non-trapped man is not restricting trapped man’s freedom.

    He is simply refusing to offer help. Perhaps he is unable?

    Refusing to offer help is restricting freedom.

    You’ve defeated your own argument.

    I don’t believe there’s an obligation that can be enforced in a court case, but I would judge him as unethical for leaving the trapped man in the well. The trapped man is a part of society, unless you hate society or something.

  8. By Noor on 22 September 2009

    @George
    Non-trapped man is not restricting trapped man’s freedom.

    Again, you assume that the only way to restrict someone’s freedom is using coercion. It’s not, which is what I’ve been explaining over and over.

    He is simply refusing to offer help. Perhaps he is unable?

    If he’s unable, that changes the context significantly.

  9. By Noor on 22 September 2009

    Clarification, because most of you probably won’t be able to grasp my point:

    “Technically, you file taxes voluntarily because the State doesn’t give you an alternative other than allow yourself to be kidnapped.”

    Better worded as:
    “Technically, you voluntarily file taxes– the State doesn’t actually send people to your house to make you grab a pen. They threaten you, so you have to consent because they don’t give you an alternative other than allow yourself to be kidnapped (which is immoral on the State’s part).”

  10. By George Donnelly on 22 September 2009

    So your premise, Noor, is to maximize freedom (incl positive rights). Mine is to maximize liberty (only negative rights). Agree?

  11. By Noor on 22 September 2009

    No. I differentiate between basic moral necessities, ethical decencies, rights, enforceable obligations,

    When you fail to realize that reality is far more complex, you end up throwing out a lot of important aspects and parameters.

  12. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Noor,

    The problem with your arguments is that you either can’t or won’t distinguish between human actors and non-human forces/situations.

    “people limiting others’ choices by some means or the other, and coercion is only one of those means.”

    The out man is not the one limiting the in man’s choices. Being stuck in a hole (a non-human entity) is limiting the in man’s choices.

    Actually, the out man is expanding the in man’s choices. Before the out man came along, the in man could 1) bite through his tongue and die quickly 2) slowly starve/dehyrdate to death (assuming there’s no ability to tunnel out).

    So when the out man comes along he offers an additional choice, 3) work for me and I’ll feed you.

    If the in man chooses to work for the out man (doing what exactly? He is in a hole.), he is demonstrating that of his 3 options, HE prefers the 3rd option.

    You can condemn the out man for not offering more options, but every person has scarce resources (time, energy, property) and must decide how they will allocate them. Unless you personally spend 100% of your resources freely giving to others, criticizing someone else seems fairly arbitrary and hypocritical. The in man’s productivity is severely limited (he’s in a hole), so the out man would most undoubtedly find more profitable use of his trading food employing someone more productive (i.e., not in a hole), leaving us even reason to infer that his proposal, while falling short of idealized charity, is still charitable in nature.

    Re: taxes
    Though we use abstractions like “the State” and “the Government”, we are really referring to a group of individual humans. These individual humans tell me “pay us taxes, or we will use force against you.” These are humans who make decisions, not non-human forces. So to compare being in a hole (the hole is not a human actor) to being threatened with force is seriously confused.

  13. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    I meant “each person has limited resources” not “scarce resources”.

  14. By DixieFlatline on 22 September 2009

    Clarification, because most of you probably won’t be able to grasp my point:

    We get it. It’s simply bullshit.

  15. By DixieFlatline on 22 September 2009

    @Brian, you’re wasting your time. Noor doesn’t distinguish between nature and rational human action.

    You’re not going to get anywhere explaining yourself to her, because she doesn’t use methodological individualism. She sees humans as social creatures with collective ends. Arbitrary collective ends at that.

  16. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Noor,

    Everything we do regarding scarce entities “limits other’s choices”. There is nothing inherently wrong with this.

    When I eat food, I’ve removed the option for you to eat that same food. When I put on a pair of pants, you can no longer wear those pants at the same time. When I move my hand to scratch my nose, I’ve removed the option for you to control my hand to do something else at that moment.

    That’s the defining property of scarce resources. When someone uses them, they exclude (at least at that moment in time) their alternative use by someone else.

    So to avoid eternal conflict, someone has to have final say over how a scarce resource is used. This is where the idea of ownership (the right to control a scarce resource) comes in.

    It seems logically, morally, and intuitively satisfying to recognize the first appropriator of an unowned scarce resource as the owner if it.

    Are you proposing a late comer has a superior claim of ownership?

    Or are you proposing that an individual may not have ownership and that collectively, all humans are co-owners of all scarce resources? If that’s the case, I don’t remember giving you permission to think that. Upon what theory of property do you presume to think for yourself or operate your physical body without our approval?

    You certainly cannot refute the idea of scarcity, so how are you proposing scarce resources are justly controlled?

  17. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Dixie,

    I’m actually interested in hearing Noor out because as I’ve said, anyone who rejects the State has already disarmed themselves from “legitimately” imposing their views on me. Though I suspect her views will fair poorly in the free market (I, for one, won’t be hiring a DRO that subscribes to them), I’m only familiar with her ideas in the context of institutional coercion (Statist Socialists/Communists), so hearing them in a different context is at least fascinating to me.

  18. By DixieFlatline on 22 September 2009

    Brian,

    I’m actually interested in hearing Noor out because as I’ve said, anyone who rejects the State has already disarmed themselves from “legitimately” imposing their views on me.

    You haven’t debated with many hardcore commies have you? The state is just a monopoly on violence, it’s not the end of violence. Everyone who uses force, thinks they are legitimate.

    There is no ancap utopia. Only the decentralization of force.

  19. By Mike Gogulski on 22 September 2009

    No utopia? But I want a flying pony! And a leprechaun! And free ice cream for everyone, forever!

  20. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Dixie,

    “Everyone who uses force, thinks they are legitimate.”

    The difference though, is that without a State, no one else thinks they are legitimate. Yes, there will still be violence in a free society, but people will recognize it as such and feel morally liberated to oppose it.

    And those who resist will find public support, which is a big factor. With a State, most people are Uncle Toms, licking the boot of their masters, and actually condemn those who resist State violence. Without a State, people recognize criminals as criminals and cheer those who fight back.

    In an ancap society, initiated force is not only decentralized, but it is naturally de-legitimized since without a mystical State, people already know that what’s wrong for Peter is also wrong for Paul (e.g., theft, murder, enslavement).

    Anyone who voluntarily subscribes to anarchist-Communism is perfectly free to start a voluntary commune on their own property without imposing violence on the rest of us.

    No, haven’t debated hardcore Commies. I don’t see how Communism can be instituted (economics proves it cannot work, but it can be instituted) wide-scale without a State, but I’m willing to entertain arguments to the contrary.

  21. By DixieFlatline on 22 September 2009

    The difference though, is that without a State, no one else thinks they are legitimate. Yes, there will still be violence in a free society, but people will recognize it as such and feel morally liberated to oppose it.

    You don’t know what other people do think or will think.

    You can only speak for yourself.

  22. By kristian cantens on 22 September 2009

    @NOOR
    (i hope no ones said this yet)
    voluntaryism is a ethically grounded philosophy, in other words, concerning itself only with actions. the situation you described about the well deals with morality (intentions, and all that other intangible shit), which would have no bearing to voluntaryism.
    at the end of the day, the man in that scenario could not be held reprehensible for any illegal activity

  23. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Dixie,

    “You don’t know what other people do think or will think.”

    Actually, I do know. The same way I know what a consumer thinks about all his available options (or rather, his valuation of them) when he makes a trade. He is demonstrating by his action his preference. I don’t have to guess (or second-guess as most people do) his values, he has demonstrated them.

    As de la Bouette and others have pointed out, the State only exists because people accept it (i.e., it rules by opinion, not simply by force). So in a Stateless society, it’s safe to say I know that enough people (a majority? I’m not sure) don’t buy into Statism, otherwise, there would be a State. The lack of the State (in a sustainable way, not a collapsed State transition) proves that there is a large enough number of people who reject the idea of the State.

    I feel I’m in safe-territory to claim that currently the majority of people think stealing, killing, and enslaving are wrong. They demonstrate this in the fact that individual criminality is a minority undertaking. Yet the vast majority of these same people do not make the connection to the wrong-doing of the State and essentially allow a separate standard of morality to emerge. One for individuals, one for the State.

    If there were ever enough people that rejected the idea of Statism that the State actually withered away and ceased in an area, that would be sound grounds to conclude that the two-standards myth had been rejected (as it is a key foundation to Statism).

    “Private” criminality is already perceived as illegitimate by the majority. Without a State, there is no longer the false distinction and therefore I conclude, all criminality would be perceived as illegitimate.

    I’m speaking in generalizations. Of course not “everyone”. There are perverse individuals now who cheer on private crime. But again, they’re in the minority as demonstrated by the lack of widespread, non-stop (non-State) crime.

  24. By DixieFlatline on 22 September 2009

    Actually, I do know.

    No, you don’t. Respect the limits of your knowledge. No one knows how individuals will react in a free society, if they did, that would be an argument in favour of central planning.

    He is demonstrating by his action his preference.

    Preferences are not fixed. My preference now, may not be my preference in half an hour.

    I don’t have to guess (or second-guess as most people do) his values, he has demonstrated them.

    Correlation is not causation.

    This argument is incredibly boring. I yield the last word. I am sure you have much more to say.

  25. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    “This argument is incredibly boring. I yield the last word. I am sure you have much more to say.”

    Wow, way to hit and run. You’re no fun.

  26. By Kevin Dean on 22 September 2009

    I’ve very much got to disagree with you. If the cornerstone and foundation of one’s liberty is that they’ve killed or beaten all those who would be oppressors into submission, that’s not really liberty according to my definition. That’s not what I’m looking for. I want freedom from aggression, and when I must be an aggressor I’m by no means free from aggression.

    I agree with self-defense, but that opening leads FAR to many people to accept aggression for me. I’ve seen people make “Kill the King” comments about Obama, but that itself has too much collectivism and shirking of responsibility in my eyes. Obama might be the figurehead for an oppressive state, but he HIMSELF is not a tyrant. He himself just states opinions and signs papers. It’s the BUREACRATS who enact the violence. One is being aggressive, not defensive, by advocating the murder of someone who talks and signs.

    I firmly believe that violence can NOT bring about a free society, they are MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE. States REQUIRE violence, it is violence itself that is the hallmark of “the state”. If I ever believed that violence was a NECESSITY to achieve my ends, I would begin re-evaluating my goals.

  27. By George Donnelly on 22 September 2009

    Obama is not a tyrant? That’s outrageous. He’s the one who gives a veneer of legitimacy to all the bureaucrat’s orders.

  28. By Chris Blizzard on 22 September 2009

    1. Obama is a tyrant.
    2. There is no such thing as a sustainable stateless condition, IMO
    3. People’s ethical mindsets are in a feedback loop with the environment they are living in. If they are living in a world where there is no state, aggression will not disappear, and it’s very existence will breed more aggression.

  29. By George Donnelly on 22 September 2009

    I look forward to seeing your argument in support of your assertion in #3 on your blog perhaps, where it can be discussed fully.

  30. By Mike Gogulski on 22 September 2009

    @Kevin: If Obama’s talking and signing causes thousands to die via the bureaucratic/military chain of command, is that not aggression?

    Sure seems like it to me.

  31. By Kevin Dean on 22 September 2009

    George, that exact line is why I oppose violence. I agree there’s something inherent in all acts that legitimize the state but the fact is, without de-legitimizng it, bureaucrats are STILL responsible for their actions.

    My question, frankly is this. Is the act of legitimizing the system AGGRESSIVE itself. Does that act constitute a breach of the NAP, and given the chance would YOU use violence on Obama for his role in legitimizing the state?

    It’s not a question I want an answer to because admittedly, it’s really close to a trap question. But there ARE folks who, in a libertarian utopia, execute him summarily. There’s something dangerous, if not actually wrong itself, in removing ourselves from the collective actions of government and at the same time, holding an individual responsible for the actions of that same government. Obama can make all of the proclamations he wants, just as you’re proclaiming that people should be free. What matters on both sides is the actions PEOPLE take. If Obama said “Jump off a bridge”, I’d blame the people who decided to do that. I’d not call him a murderer for it. To do so absolves people of responsibility and that’s a bad thing.

  32. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Chris Blizzard,

    “There is no such thing as a sustainable stateless condition, IMO”

    We’re looking at a horse. It is a very healthy, powerful animal. Someone has tethered it to weights, attached by chains to its legs. Yet, even with those chains and weight encumbering it, the horse is still able to run faster than you or I, a testament to its strength.

    Even in its chained state, we can study the horse. Its physiology, how its muscles work, how its skeletal structure works, how it converts energy into locomotive power, how its cells cooperate with each other to form organs that perform certain necessary functions, etc… We can learn how a horse “works”.

    Then we can study the weights and the chains. We can learn how they contribute nothing to the locomotion of the horse, and how they serve only to slow it down. They’re a completely negative force in regards to the horse running to its potential, a potential we can only guess at but are confident in because in spite of its encumberance, the horse is still an impressively mobile animal.

    Is it an arrogant and presumptuous claim when I confidently state “the horse will run faster without the chains”? I hardly think so, since we know how the horse works, we know the effect of the chains, and I can simply deduce that without chains, the horse will have its full potential realized. I realize the horse may run in directions I can’t anticipate, and maybe in directions or at speeds I don’t personally desire, but I know it will be capable of running faster than with the chains on. Yes, I know this. I don’t believe it, or say it’s my opinion. It’s simply the rational conclusion I’ve reached (perhaps in error, and I’d be open to hearing how).

    Yet, upon the same investigation into the nature of the horse and the chains (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt in assuming you’re making an educated statement), you assert very definitively, “there can be no such thing as a horse without chains”. Or perhaps by that you mean, “without the chains, the horse will destroy itself. It is because of the chains that all the organs and cells of the horse work together. Without the chains, the trillions of cells in the horse will stop cooperating and begin to cannabalize the horse from within until nothing is left. The horse needs the chains.”

    At this point, I’d say the burden of proof is on you. Horses are built to run, chains are built to constrain. Asserting the horse is incapable of functioning without chains is a bold claim that requires bold evidence. That you’ve never seen a horse that wasn’t chained does not provide the cause-and-effect support for your claim.

    If you haven’t studied the horse, or the chains, that’s fine, but then you shouldn’t be proffering opinions about them. If you have studied them, and have reached a different conclusion, please enlighten us.

  33. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Kevin,

    I’m on the fence. Part of me agrees with you that the only person truly responsible for aggression is the person that carries it out.

    I condemn the soldier who fires his gun at an Iraqi, regardless if he was ordered to do so. Moral responsibility is not something you can delegate. I’m also convinced libel and slander are non-crimes (since they “aggress” against your reputation, something you do not own), so that makes me sympathetic at least to the idea that just shooting your mouth off isn’t criminal.

    The reason I’m not 100% sold that the “buck stops there” (at the henchman), is that I think the (real, not imagined) threat of aggression is morally and “legally” comparable to actual aggression.

    “If you don’t give me your wallet, I will shoot you” says the mugger.

    If I give him my wallet, and he doesn’t shoot me, has he not still committed aggression? He did not reach his hand in my pocket and physically take my wallet, I handed it to him (under duress). All he’s done is say things (and possibly point a gun, though maybe not). But I only complied because he threatened to harm me. Was not his threat an aggression against me?

    I admit, it’s not a straight line from “threats are aggression”
    to “politicians/generals/beuracrats who only give orders are aggressors”, but I think there is a connection. The assertion about threats (if it’s correct) is proof that “words are not aggression” is not true. There is also the issue of (real, not imagined) fraud, which I also think is an aggression.

    If fraud and threats are aggression (I’m genuinely intersted to hear an explanation to the contrary), then I think the case could be made that those who give orders in the State are morally and “legally” culpable.

    If a mugger demands your wallet, you have the right of self-defense against him. What if the mugger is shy, so he has a friend come up to you and say “my friend over there has a gun and will shoot you unless you give me your wallet to take to him”. Is not the mugger still an aggressor? And since he’s promised a cut to the messenger, is not the messenger now also responsible for the aggression?

    If you percieve the threat as legitimate, are you not justified in acting in self-defense by retaliating against the mugger (man with the gun)?

    But what if the messenger was committing fraud? “That man over there told me he will kill you if you don’t comply.” You act in self-defense and shoot the gunman. But then you learn that the man never had a gun or had never made any threats, the messenger used you as his dupe to take out a rival. Is not the messenger an aggressor?

    Again, I don’t think moral responsibility can be delegated, so you’d still be responsible for killing an innocent man. But that’s where context could determine the level of your guilt. “But the President said that unless I traveled thousands of miles to kill some brown people, they’d travel thousands of miles to kill me” is a weak defense for the imperial soldier and I consider him guilty. But is the President’s cuplability related to the shabbiness of his lies? I don’t think so.

  34. By Chris Blizzard on 22 September 2009

    @Brian

    Your analogy does not relate to it’s subject matter, and what the horse and chains are appear to change depending on what point you are choosing to make.

    Furthermore, I am not arguing that a stateless condition is impossible due to such a thing never having existed, rather than the very large number of occasions that such a condition has existed fleetingly, and then disappeared. And yes, it was a state that caused the stateless condition’s disappearance, both by definition, and functionally.

    My point, though, is this: whatever your definition of a state is, agencies with the exact same attributes will always emerge whatever is done to the incumbent state. The DROs/PDAs which are often discussed, take on state-like properties, and would necessarily grow by the very competitive forces which minarchists and anarchists argue for, but which I personally feel anarchists misunderstand (as they feel I misunderstand).

    If sufficient people become informed and educated about the evils of the (incumbent) states, you might argue, then the possible bad effects of competition will not arise, and anarchy could work.

    I am not opposed to this unproven hypothesis being tested, provided those that wish to carry out the experiment do not coerce me into being a participant OR a spectator; and I will at the same time be advocating minarchy. What happens where these two experiments meet is what you and I would most benefit from discussing, in my opinion.

  35. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    Chris,

    What are “the possible bad effects of competition”? Serious question.

    As to your last paragraph, it’s all about property. You’re free to do whatever you want on your property, as I am on mine. If you want to institute “minarchy” on your (and your friends’) property, God bless. The moment you decide the jurisdiction of your minarchy extends to my property, regardless of my consent, you have initiated aggression (and formed a State).

    That is the property of the State that is objectionable. Jurisdiction by fiat. Can you explain how competing DROs/PDAs share this property?

    In a stateless society, communism can exist, limited constitutional republics can exist, voluntary “slavery” (indentured servitude) can exist, etc…. There is nothing wrong with you instituting whatever “government” you like, as long as the jurisdiction of said government only extends to the property of those who consent.

  36. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    though technically correct, the usage of “property” in both meanings can be confusing so I’ll reword:

    That is the feature of the State that is objectionable. Jurisdiction by fiat. Can you explain how competing DROs/PDAs share this feature?

  37. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    As far as the validity of my analogy:

    To state the obvious, the horse is the market. The organic, voluntary interactions of billions of individuals. The spontaneous order of human cooperation.

    The chains are the State.

    Even in its current bondage to the State, we can study economics (true economics, not Statist apologetics) and realize the market is completely capable of sustaining itself.

    In this study, we can examine the nature of the State and realize that all State action is destructive.

    I know this simply by definition. The “market” is the voluntary trading of people. People trade because they prefer a specific trade to not trading (or else they wouldn’t trade). Therefore, the market always demonstrates the (legitimate) desires of its participants. The market can never “fail” because it has no goal imposed upon it.

    All State intervention is a distortion because it is an institution of coercion. When you force a man to do something, you are, by definition, preventing him from doing what he wants to do. Even if you force him to take the same course he intended, the addition of forceful coercion is a negative transaction cost and thus a net loss.

    These are simple facts of reality. The market provides the goods and services people desire and the State impedes this. Any legitimate “good or service” the State “provides”, can be provided in a just and more superior way on the market. The arguments for “public goods” have been demolished by more capable minds than mine and anyone who clings to them demonstrates his motivation, justify the State at any cost.

    To further elaborate on my last post, it is not we, the anarchists, who want to impose our “experiment” upon you. It is you, the Statist, who insists upon imposing your experiment upon us.

  38. By Brian Drake on 22 September 2009

    “I am not opposed to this unproven hypothesis being tested”

    That’s also the point of my analogy. It’s not an unproven hypothesis. It’s proven every single day in almost every human interaction. We have anarchy in selecting a mate, in choosing what to eat, in showing “common” courtesy, in selecting a philosophy, etc… etc… etc…

    To paraphrase Molyneux, “we love the anarchy we live, we fear the anarchy we imagine.”

    Though the realm of theory (study of human action, markets, the nature of the State) is sufficient, we have endless examples of emperical illustration.

    None of the benefits of society are due to the State. None of them. If the State provides any legitimate function, we know with absolute certainty that the market will provide it at less cost and at higher quality and therefore we know with absolute certainty that the State is reducing utility rather than adding to it.

    In the grand scheme of things, the vast majority of human interactions are already operating in anarchy. It’s not an “unproven hypothesis” to assert with confidence that with the removal of the State (so that all human interactions will be operating in anarchy), beneficial human society will not only continue, but will undoubtedly improve.

  39. By Chris Blizzard on 23 September 2009

    @Brian: I shall respond only to the points you have made which I haven’t already addressed, otherwise the amount of text we both have to write each time will snowball. Also, I don’t want to clog up Mike’s comments area and there are other ways we can have this debate. If you are interested in an ooVoo debate, or further discussion of minarchy vs anarcho-capitalism at my blog, then I would be happy to do either. This goes for others too.

    “What are “the possible bad effects of competition”? Serious question.”

    The absence of non-objective laws, the ability of agencies to aggress, the tendency of agencies to become state-like, etc

    Can you explain how competing DROs/PDAs share this property?

    By exerting power over those who did not give them a mandate to do so. And if they do NOT have this power, then there really can be no justice whatsoever.

    In market terms, the market can sustain itself economically, this is true. But ethically and demographically, it is unsustainable because it cannot (on its own) enforce objective law and protect liberty.

    “All State intervention is a distortion because it is an institution of coercion.”

    The incumbent states are, yes. But you are making a false assumption if you cannot imagine states which are voluntary by near-unanimity.

    “Any legitimate “good or service” the State “provides”, can be provided in a just and more superior way on the market.”

    Except for ethical justice by means of objective law.

    I am not justifying the state at any cost. You show me an articulation of a stateless condition which can be sustained (first of all) and one where objective law can flourish, and I’ll renounce the state instantly.

    “To further elaborate on my last post, it is not we, the anarchists, who want to impose our “experiment” upon you. It is you, the Statist, who insists upon imposing your experiment upon us.”

    I didn’t accuse you of wanting to impose your experiment. However, 90% of anarchists are closet commies (not saying you are one of these since I don’t know you) and the other 10% are in disagreement over whether murder is justified in bringing about their aims. Yet all use the word “anarchist”. And I am not a ‘statist’, since the definition of that is “concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government often extending to government ownership of industry” – i.e. fascism.

    “It’s not an unproven hypothesis.”

    In overall terms yes it is. None of the anarchies that ever existed have sustained themselves. Ever.

    “We have anarchy in selecting a mate, in choosing what to eat, in showing “common” courtesy, in selecting a philosophy, etc… etc… etc…”

    I would call that freedom, not anarchy. And I would argue, as I hope you would, that the fascist incumbent states intrude into all of the above areas.

    Fancy an ooVoo debate?

  40. By Noor on 23 September 2009

    @BrianDrake
    The problem with your arguments is that you either can’t or won’t distinguish between human actors and non-human forces/situations.

    You do realize that I used to be a valiant ancap defender that would have argued exactly the way you are now? And my answer is no. The situations can be caused by either nature or human beings. With nature you can’t hold anyone responsible, but you can call a human immoral if he attempts to take advantage of a natural situation. Cut the strawmanning.

    The out man is not the one limiting the in man’s choices. Being stuck in a hole (a non-human entity) is limiting the in man’s choices

    If the out man doesn’t help when he can, he’s anti-social, and when he takes advantage of the situation, then he is immoral.

    Actually, the out man is expanding the in man’s choices.

    Compared to the in man’s present situation, yes. But the out man can expand the in man’s choices vastly by justing help the in man out, which would be the decent thing to do, and it would reflect upon his character as a moral person, unless you hate people or something.

    To your second comment:

    The difference between possession and property is about time, basically with property you permanently deny someone a right over it even when you are not using it. I don’t really want to go further into this, because I’d rather keep this comments section ontopic (which is going into why voluntaryism is bankrupt). Email me at hernoor08 at gmail if you want me to explain further.

    I’m only familiar with her ideas in the context of institutional coercion (Statist Socialists/Communists), so hearing them in a different context is at least fascinating to me.

    Well, I used to be a valiant apologetic for ancap for one or two years (it took me a long, slow process to fully abandon it), and these days I’m more in line with the traditional European anarchism, but I’m usually better at framing things for ancaps since I understand the worldview and reasonings very well.

    @DixieFlatline
    Communists are against monetary systems, I’m not. Ancoms are completely for mutual aid/cooperation taking the place of market competition, I still think competition can be a part although I do tend to prefer the former. So your assertions that I’m a communist are nothing but red-baiting.

    @kristian
    @NOOR
    (i hope no ones said this yet)
    voluntaryism is a ethically grounded philosophy, in other words, concerning itself only with actions.

    Yep. It completely forgets about the situation you’re stuck in.

    the situation you described about the well deals with morality (intentions, and all that other intangible shit), which would have no bearing to voluntaryism.

    Of course it’s intangible to your extremely simplistic worldview. I grew out of that.

    at the end of the day, the man in that scenario could not be held reprehensible for any illegal activity

    Basic social decencies and ethics do not always translate to enforceable obligations.

  41. By kristian cantens on 1 January 2010

    @NOOR
    voluntaryism is not supposed to be an all encompassing philosophy. it merely concerns itself with justice, where only ethics (or ones actions) come in to play.

  42. By Roger Young on 2 January 2010

    “I might well prefer non-violent strategies for the attainment of a free society (and the political will certainly never be acceptable). But I am not going to rule out violent, bloody, homicidal strategies to get there, if such turn out to seem essential.”

    You certainly had the opportunity to pursue such retribution (after being beaten by a state agent) but instead, you ran off to another country like a scared kitten.

    Not necessarily an unwise action (voting with your feet) but certainly not consistent with your stated belief.
    When is there a more appropriate use of this “strategy” than in the case of personal self-defense?

  43. By Mike Gogulski on 2 January 2010

    @Roger: Yup, that’s me, the scared kitten. In a better world, retribution or compensation might be possible. They aren’t possible right now.

  44. By George Donnelly on 4 January 2010

    Roger is a troll. Pay him no mind.

  45. By cclodfe on 29 March 2010

    Actually, voluntaryist hold constant to the non-aggression principle. This does not mean they are pacifists. Self-defense is a justifiable action. The means must be consistent with the ends. You can not force people into freedom.

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