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Post 20

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 2:36pmSanction this postReply
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Jason, the answer to your question is "I don't know".

Suppose that 50 years ago someone had proposed eliminating Ma Bell's monopoly protection. Could you have predicted what telecommunications would look like today? Today, can you predict what telecommunications will look like 50 years from now?

Yet you expect me to pull out my crystal ball and tell you exactly how defense and arbitration and justice organizations will work at some arbitrary time in the future. I'm sorry, it can't be done.

Here is the text of a letter-to-the-editor I sent Monday to the local newspaper. (It hasn't been published yet and may never be.) Substitute "anarchist" for "libertarian", the point is the same.
I wonder how much respect for private property Robert Maier [Forum, July, 31] observed among the people of Afghanistan. How much were the Afghan people willing to plan for and how far into the future? How tolerant were the Afghan people of different ideas, ideas they disagreed with? How free were the Afghan people to march to their own drum?

The foundation of libertarianism is a profound and consistent respect for private property, especially everyone's property in his own self. This is also known as the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Everything else is a consequence.

Henry David Thoreau wrote "I believe 'That government is best which governs not at all' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."

A libertarian society can be neither created nor imposed but we can achieve a libertarian society when enough people are prepared for it.
The market tends to satisfy the needs and desires of the consumer. If the consumers want justice then that is what will tend to be supplied. If the consumers believe that the market is a zero or negative sum game, that the way to get what they want is by taking it from others, then that is what will happen. (In fact, that's what's happening now.)

A fully free society will be an anarchy, but an anarchy will not necessarily be a free society. It all depends on the culture, on the predominant philosophy.

The battle for freedom is a battle of ideas, not institutions.

Post 21

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 3:01pmSanction this postReply
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Anthony,

Long does not address my chief objection to a regime of competing "market defense agencies": least-cost compromise with criminal or religious "defense agencies." Even in a majoritarian democracy, which I do not favor, once a right is agreed upon by the majority it can be exercised without repression. Under a regime of least-cost compromise, as outlined by David Friedman and others, even rights agreed upon by all rational people will be compromised to appease religious and criminal "defense agencies" organized for the purpose of limiting those rights. Least-cost compromise with religious "defense agencies" amounts to a terrorists' veto.

Post 22

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 4:38pmSanction this postReply
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Adam, I honestly don't see how organized criminal syndicates would be harder to deal with in a free market anarchy than with government. As we all know from looking at history, criminal syndicates often thrive on the conditions fostered by a monopoly of violence. (e.g., if there hadn't been a U.S. government there wouldn't have been an Al Capone.)

Post 23

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 5:02pmSanction this postReply
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Anthony,

The point is more difficult to demonstrate in the case of criminal syndicates, which tend to instrumental quasi-rationality. (In the case of criminal syndicates, the argument would need to go back to harmony of interests, which is quite deep - so for the moment I prefer to focus on a simpler case.)

I would like to see an argument about the case of religious "defense agencies," where a least-cost compromise clearly would lead to greater loss of actual individual rights than even majoritarian democracy. This is the case as long as the religious constituency - whether they wish to impose censorship of "Satanic Verses" or prohibit abortion, etc - is more interested in enforcing their religion than in any actual self-interest (as religious terrorists obviously are.) This is the "terrorists' veto" argument against the least-cost compromise mechanism. The least-cost compromise mechanism, as David Friedman demonstrates, is central to any regime of "market defense agencies." I've never seen the "terrorists' veto" addressed by your side.

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Post 24

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about Adam's "argument" is the unstated assumption at its base: that there is a sufficient number of religious fanatics willing to neglect their own actual defense and willing to put all or most of their wealth into paying a gang to enforce their "moral" prescriptions and proscriptions -- that there is sufficient "market" for such a specialized gang that one would be able to buy its "services" at an affordable price.  Most people, including most religious people, want to live their lives as they see fit, unmolested by others.  They wouldn't invest a dime in these "protection agencies" Adam is so afraid of.

I wonder, frankly, whether irrational fear isn't the actual dividing line, not only between supporters and critics of G. W. Bush's campaign of mass murder in the Mideast, but also between minarchists and anarchists.  Supporters of the war and of the childish fantasy known as "limited government" live in a world full of peril and danger, a world in which they would always be cowering in fear (perhaps under their beds?), were it not for the noble "troops" and "officers" (i.e., hired killers) they employ to "protect" them from all those evildoers who are dedicated heart and soul to their destruction.

This must be an awful sense of life to have to live with.

JR


Post 25

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 7:43pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

The fact of reality is that there are many people - in the case of abortion, as many as 40% of Americans - who are willing to pay for the repression of my freedom. It is a fact of reality that at least some of them are willing to pay for the repression of my rights with their own lives.

Deal with it.


Post 26

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 8:16pmSanction this postReply
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Rick said:

"Yet you expect me to pull out my crystal ball and tell you exactly how defense and arbitration and justice organizations will work at some arbitrary time in the future. I'm sorry, it can't be done."

Rick, that is an evasion of my question.  Obviously I am looking for an explanation of the proposed plan to make "private defense companies" work.  And as of yet the only response I've gotten from any of you is --

"Well, if everyone would be perfectly good and never commited criminal acts we would not need any form of government and everyone would be free."

Anthony said :

"Western civilization has undergone dramatic changes in its cultural makeup, and so it would not take thousands of years to recreate the relative political freedom we enjoy. "
 
This is nonsense.  Decades of decay and warlordism followed by totalitarian governments would likely have the effect of setting civilization back quite a bit and it would take quite a long time to regain what was previously acheived.  To make it more personal -- both of us would be DEAD for a long time before we ever got a chance to live under comparable conditions to those we live in now.

 - Jason

(Edited by Jason Quintana on 8/03, 8:19pm)


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Post 27

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 8:04pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

The only people I know of who are intent on repressing my freedom and actually have the resources and wherewithal to do it are "officials" of the U.S. government, the California government, and the San Francisco government.

Deal with it.

JR


Post 28

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 9:46pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

Me too (except it's LA County instead of SF.) And I'd like to keep it that way, without getting the "Fetus Defense Agency" and the "Shariah Defence Agency" into the same business.

Are you moving to Somalia any time soon?

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Post 29

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 11:08pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

Either you know full well that Somalia is not an example of what individualist anarchists have in mind, or else you haven't actually read their writings and are instead merely throwing their names around in your posts to make it seem as though you have.  Either way, you're being intellectually dishonest. 

JR


Post 30

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 11:27pmSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

I think that you started the dishonest snideness by accusing me of "paranoia," just because I take what 40% of Americans tell the polls at face value. I replied in kind, albeit with greater elegance.

Or is it that the "terrorist veto" - the 40% funding the 1% who are willing to force a least-cost compromise of my rights by betting their lives - is something your "market defense" regime has no answer to?

Shall we abandon Paranoia, Somalia, and other snidenesses henceforth, and deal seriously with political theory for a change?

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Post 31

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 - 11:59pmSanction this postReply
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"Shall we abandon Paranoia, Somalia, and other snidenesses henceforth, and deal seriously with political theory for a change?"

I'd love to.  But you are clearly not ready for such a step yourself.  If you were you wouldn't have said (with characteristic disingenuousness) that "I take what 40% of Americans tell the polls at face value."

Forty percent of Americans do not tell pollsters that they believe abortion clinics should be bombed and abortionists murdered.  Forty percent of Americans tell pollsters that they believe abortion should be illegal.  To disagree with you on this issue is not identical to threatening either your life or your freedom with violence.

JR




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Post 32

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 1:56amSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

"Should be illegal" means "your life or your freedom should be threatened with violence if you do it." Or does the word "illegal" have some other meaning that I have not encountered yet?

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Post 33

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 3:06amSanction this postReply
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Adam,

The overwhelming majority of the people who make up that 40 percent are law-abiding and believe in what they understand to be the democratic process.  When they say that abortion should be illegal they do mean, of course, that people who perform abortions should be prosecuted and, if convicted, punished -- by fine or imprisonment.  They believe current law is unjust and should be changed.  But they will abide by the present law until it is changed.  There is no evidence for your apparent belief that any significant number of these people will commit violence or contribute financially to the welfare of those who commit violence against abortionists.

JR


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Post 34

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 6:37amSanction this postReply
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Jeff,

That is precisely my point. As long as we have a government, however minimal, those people will abide by the law and my liberty is not compromised. But take away the government, and the laws that restrain them today are taken out of operation. If they still believe that they are morally entitled to limit my freedom by violence, and are willing to bear their share of the cost of limiting my freedom (and in the context of the existing system for funding law enforcement, that is part of the actual meaning of answering "should be illegal" in the polls,) and there is no government to restrain them, then collectively they would be in a position to fund and operate a "Fetus Protection Agency," and thus use the least-cost compromise mechanism to limit my freedom.

I see two directions of argument for your side:

1. Argue that this is OK, because I also could also use the least-cost compromise mechanism to limit their freedom if I were so inclined. But, not seeing any compensating advantage in limiting their freedom, I would not be persuaded by that line of argument.

2. Argue that they have a moral right to limit my freedom in this way (this is the argument of "Libertarians for Life" and similar groups.) But because this is objectively false, that line of argument also fails.

So, what else can you think of?

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Post 35

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 9:02amSanction this postReply
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Adam,

More than 50% of Americans believe drugs should be illegal, according to every poll on it that I've seen.

But this is because of (1) the propaganda apparatus of the State itself, and (2) the costs of such prohibition being socialized and out of sight.

When you register your opinion on what should and should not be illegal, in the wretched process of mob rule known as "democracy," you are acting under the assumption that your mere opinion, so long as it has majority backing, will be enforced by the collective state system that you're forced to abide by and pay taxes to regardless, and that the system will force even those who disagree with you to fund your repressive project.

It's very hard to find many Americans who would even call the police on their neighbors if they found them smoking marijuana, much less voluntarily contribute hundreds of dollars a year to locking marijuana smokers into cages, busting down marijuana smokers' doors, and spying on all Americans to make sure they are not marijuana smokers. When you have to pay the full costs, you are more interested in the details of the success of the project. You'd want to be convinced that your money is doing more good that harm, and is accomplishing what you want it to. This is true of voluntary charity and business. One big problem with socialism is that "we're all in this together, whether we like it or not," and so all sorts of things become funded that would not voluntarily.

40% of Americans think, Yes, abortion should be illegal. But few of them would do anything violent to stop abortion in a free society. Most people assume that it's the government's job to fix all manners of perceived problems on earth, that it is capable and efficient at doing so, and that, while the government is doing X, Y, and Z, it might as well do whatever they want it to do. When most Americans think that government should outlaw this "assault weapon" or that "designer drug," they hardly realize they are advocating a very elaborate program of violence, coercion and inefficient central planning. If they saw, up close, what their desired program involved, and knew they had to pay their full share of the cost, they'd usually reject it. This is all an elementary notion of political economy.

So, in short, I believe that, under market anarchy, no criminal gangs would have enough people brainwashed to fork over half their income to fund programs of aggressive war, prohibitions of all kinds, and massive economic collectivism. Would have you offered two thousand dollars of your own money to help oust Saddam Hussein, even if you knew that your neighbors who opposed the war wouldn't have to chip in? Would have half of Americans joined you in this pursuit?

If, on the other hand, the criminal syndicates did succeed in winning the tacit consent of the people, who came to tolerate and fund the syndicates' activities, they would be states.


Post 36

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 10:45amSanction this postReply
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Anthony,

Everything you wrote is true of people who merely think that banning X (e.g. drugs etc.) is a good idea on secular grounds, and have not taken the true costs of the prohibitions they defend or propose into account.

But religion-based prohibitionisms are different - the believer actually believes that abortion is murder, and that he is earning points with his deity (buying eternal life, and so on) by sacrificing his earthly wealth toward the costs of enforcing that prohibition.

Note that the prospect of anti-abortion forces using the least-cost compromise mechanism to restrict abortion in an anarcho-libertarian society - even if they were still a 40% minority - is openly promoted by "Christian Libertarians" in anarcho-libertarian fora. It is only in secular fora, such as this one, that anyone tries to shove this prospect under the proverbial rug.
(Edited by Adam Reed
on 8/04, 10:59am)


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Post 37

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 10:53amSanction this postReply
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Adam, do you really think that the people who want to launch a coercive crusade to stop abortion because they think it will earn them "points with [their] deity - buy[ ] eternal life, and so on" - are dissuaded from their crusade by the law? Is Roe v. Wade standing in the way of thousands of murders of abortionists and their patients? The law doesn't stop the occasional lunatic bomb-thrower. I doubt there'd be many more of them under anarchy.


Post 38

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 11:18amSanction this postReply
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Anthony,

Different religious people have different beliefs about the relative cost of "points with their deity." Some think that they can only earn points by sacrificing things that cannot be replaced, such as their own lives and the lives of others. The vast majority of believers think that it is a sufficient sacrifice to fund the "Christian Soldiers" financially, and in an anarcho-libertarian society would only support the "Fetus Protection Agency" if, thanks to the first kind of believer, it had the muscle to be effective. They also believe that under a monopoly government which prohibits financing a terrorist organization, God will understand and give them their points for supporting other Good Works instead.

The above is normally obvious. Read what Christian Libertarians have written in "Professors of Liberty" and similar fora. But I think that all of this you already know.

(Edited by Adam Reed
on 8/04, 11:26am)


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Post 39

Thursday, August 4, 2005 - 12:17pmSanction this postReply
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Adam,

I have yet to meet a prolife Christian libertarian who believes that freelance violence would be acceptable to stop abortion. Some of them do believe in making it illegal. But most hard-core prolife Christian libertarians that I know don't believe force should be used to stop what they consider to be the slaughter of the unborn. They advocate persuasion and education as the ways to stop it, just as they advocate such non-violent means to deal with the problem of the coercive state a problem that they almost invariably consider far worse than abortion.

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