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Thursday, April 22 - 11:40amSanction this postReply
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This quote comes from a critique by the anarcho-capitalist Walter Block of an article by Tibor Machan apparently trying to reconcile anarchism and minarchism. (I say "apparently", since the original article is in French, and my rusty high school and college French would not suffice to translate such a high concept work.)

Walter Block lays out the case for anarcho-capitalism here:

http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_1/21_1_5.pdf

and then Tibor Machan delivers his rebuttal to Walter Block's rebuttal here:

http://mises.org/journals/jls/21_1/21_1_6.pdf

Both articles are in the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Volume 21, number 1. This journal posts its content online at mises.org.

Walter Block's article expounds on the principles of anarcho-capitalism laid out by Murray Rothbard in "The Ethics of Liberty" here:

http://mises.org/rothbard/ethics.pdf

Fascinating reading -- feel free to (politely and cordially) rip into the anarcho-capitalist heresy in this thread. ;)

 




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Post 1

Thursday, April 22 - 1:45pmSanction this postReply
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Jim,

I started out writing a point by point rebuttal of Professor Block's article - it wasn't hard because his errors are fairly obvious and stand out. But then I read Dr. Machan's rebuttal and saw that it wasn't necessary for me to write anything.

Dr. Machan concludes his article by saying, "In the end what we get from Professor Walter Block is his oftrepeated reiteration of certain opinions about governments, coercion, taxation, markets, competition in law-enforcement, etc., and nothing much more. They do all square with his perspective, of course. But that perspective is in desperate need of being defended as the best one concerning how justice is best upheld in human communities. Arguing in circles is not going to do any good for his case, however. And it is furthermore sad that as he does such ineffectual “arguing,” he manages to embark on endless self-certain polemics and hyperbole, as if his zeal could substitute for the arguments that are missing in his response to my paper."

I couldn't agree more. I'm sad that Block is teaching - I'd like to see better for our kids.



Post 2

Thursday, April 22 - 2:32pmSanction this postReply
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Steve -- still working through Walter Block's rebuttal, after which I intend to tackle Tibor Machan's rebuttal to the rebuttal. Irony alert -- doing all this reading about anarchocapitalist in the copious lulls in the action (inaction?) while getting paid by the state government to work for a minarchist advocate who would love to thoroughly downsize said state government.

This place is just rife with irony, most of it unintentional.

Will post my thoughts on the two dueling (dualing?) articles when I get done reading them.

What are your thoughts on Rothbard's book I linked to?




Post 3

Thursday, April 22 - 2:34pmSanction this postReply
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What is your rebuttal to the charge in the quote that minarchists are socialists about those parts of government they say can't (or shouldn't) be privatized, and libertarians about everything else?



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Post 4

Thursday, April 22 - 2:45pmSanction this postReply
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Socialism should not be confused with justice. While the former ideology advocates the initiation of force, the latter advocates retribution for it.



Post 5

Thursday, April 22 - 3:09pmSanction this postReply
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"What is your rebuttal to the charge in the quote that minarchists are socialists about those parts of government they say can't (or shouldn't) be privatized, and libertarians about everything else?"

Socialist means wealth redistributionist. The things that shouldn't be privatized are of insignificant value (very low taxes/wealth redistribution and very low value lost vs benefits of the things) and not worth debating about. If you are to call me a socialist due to those things, I would consider it a mislabel. If you were to call me a strong capitalist with socialist leaning in insignificant trivialities, that sounds fine with me.

Its not a universal rule that free market works for everything. For example, a person cannot "trade" with a murderous thief. To attempt to say that free market trading is the only "good" solution is an all or nothing position that leaves you robbed and dead.



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Thursday, April 22 - 3:15pmSanction this postReply
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John -- You are echoing one of the points made in the linked article. Walter Block specificially addresses the moral distinction between retributive force and initiation of force -- then argues that government-run retributive force is necessarily a form of socialism and initiation of force, since it is financed by coerced taxation, and maintained by a coerced monopoly preventing private defense agencies.

Essentially, you are arguing for several forms of coercion in order to allegedly prevent an even greater level of coercion, while dismissing the possibility of a coercion-free alternative.




Post 7

Thursday, April 22 - 3:21pmSanction this postReply
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Dean -- you are essentially agreeing with his assertion that you are a socialist in these areas, and now are just quibbling about the price. (Punch line of an old joke: Indignant woman: "What kind of woman do you think I am?" Man: "We've already established that -- now we're just haggling over the price.")

But, socialism isn't just about redistribution of wealth, as the state's coerced monopoly of force is alleged in the article to also be socialism..

(Edited by Jim Henshaw on 4/22, 3:23pm)




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Post 8

Thursday, April 22 - 3:28pmSanction this postReply
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Jim I remember having his conversation before. Who said I advocated forcible taxation? It's not necessarily the case that a minarchist government should resort to using the initiation of force. Rand talked about this in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and advocated that whatever government is needed for the use of retaliatory force should be funded by voluntary means.



Post 9

Thursday, April 22 - 3:47pmSanction this postReply
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Jim,

Then we are arguing about definitions. I said socialism is redistribution of wealth.

Socialism has nothing to do with how many groups of people use force. Given that we are informed a society has one group, or two groups, or fifty groups of people who use force, one could not say that in the case of one group it is socialist, but in the case where there is fifty groups it is not socialist. To determine whether one of the groups uses force to perform a socialist act, ask: "Does the group use non-initiated force to remove value from one group to give to another?"

Single government = monopoly of force
Multiple groups = anarchy

It follows from these definitions that monopoly of force vs anarchy has nothing to do with socialism.

If you want to include "monopoly of force" into your definition of "socialism", then with this silly definition of "socialism", I also take the view of a "socialist". Because I don't care to have multiple governments with different conflicting laws that I have to attempt to abide by. I'd rather it be simpler with just one. Then I'd have no concern about placating multiple entities which use force over the same jurisdiction.
(Edited by Dean Michael Gores on 4/22, 3:49pm)




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Post 10

Thursday, April 22 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
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Would it be all right for the government to provide free healthcare if it could be voluntarily funded?

Where in the US Constitution does the word "police" appear?

Does everyone have an absolute right to all the police protection they want?  Does a businessman who must make a large cash deposit have a right to a police escort?  What about the housewife who wants to go shopping?  What about the door-to-door salesman with a sample case of jewelry ... or exotic herbal shampoos?

Criminologists call your fear of being eaten by Hannibal Lecter the "mass mediated hyper-reality of crime."  The absolute objective empirical truth is that the person who is going to victimize you is someone already in your life.  You are morally responsible for your own outcomes.  If you want to hire professional help -- install alarms, learn karate or learn non-verbal communication, hire a bodyguard,learn to use a weapon, etc., etc., -- that is your business.

The government can violate your rights, of course.  Can and will and has and does.  Thus, we have the Bill of Rights and the Courts.  In Locke's theory, the branches of government were Legislative,Executive and Diplomatic.  The Courts were not a branch of government.  The Courts were protections against the goverment.  Thus, the king's men had to come to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain permission ("warrant") to act.

But that is all theory.  In point of fact, General Motors and Ford Motor Company have faced each other in open competition for over 100 years and despite their guard forces (now largely contracted from other suppliers), never a shot has been fired by the one against the other. 

(People who fear that an open market must lead to open warfare probably learned that in government schools and they just never got over the indoctrination.  I mean, look at the comments from Wall Street about President Obama's speech today: sure we need some regulation, but not "too much" ...  )

(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 4/22, 4:31pm)




Post 11

Thursday, April 22 - 5:12pmSanction this postReply
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Jim I remember having his conversation before. Who said I advocated forcible taxation? It's not necessarily the case that a minarchist government should resort to using the initiation of force.

John, good for you that you do not advocate forcible taxation to fund defense. I do not have a photographic memory -- my apologies for not accurately recalling your POV about this topic.

The article goes on to stipulate that enforcing a monopoly of force in a geographic area upon non-consenting individuals is also an initiation of force. Do you disagree with that contention? Do you disagree that that monopoly is a form of socialism? Or do you feel that such a monopoly of force is a necessary form of socialism to combat an inevitably greater form of socialism that would soon arise in the absence of the monopoly?

And, the article then says that if you do away with that monopoly of force and compulsory taxation to pay for it, that you no longer have a government, but rather a private defense agency.

Sanctioned your post #8.
(Edited by Jim Henshaw on 4/22, 5:13pm)




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Post 12

Thursday, April 22 - 5:15pmSanction this postReply
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You do not have a right to any particular good or service. That includes police protection. A monopoly of law does not mean a monopoly of service. It is not anarchy to have competing police agencies so long as they abide by the law, and specifically law that forbids the initiation of force, and has a remedy for when that law is broken. However, you do not have the right to design your own law that sanctions the initiation of force. So that must presuppose some restrictions on what law can be implemented. It doesn't make any sense to say the only moral system is one where anyone can make up their own laws, since that must presuppose that laws may conflict, and they would conflict only if one sanctions the initiation of force, while the other forbids it.


Anarcho-capitalists try to appeal to some utilitarian principle to why there should be "competing laws". I, and Rand for that matter, argue for moral principles. And that is actually why Anarcho-Capitalists' defense of Capitalism is flawed as well, as they argue that the free market produces the best product or service, so therefore they argue, laws should be up to the free market in order to produce the best laws. The idea that people should be free from coercion is dropped entirely in this particular defense of Capitalism. This is merely a perversion of the word "free", as political freedom, which is freedom from the initiation of force is confused with physical freedom without context, meaning the freedom to take whatever action you want including physically brutalizing and oppressing another person.





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Post 13

Thursday, April 22 - 5:23pmSanction this postReply
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Jim:

The article goes on to stipulate that enforcing a monopoly of force in a geographic area upon non-consenting individuals is also an initiation of force. Do you disagree with that contention?


This would of course need further context. What kind of law is used? As I mentioned in the post above that crossed with yours, laws do not presuppose service. You may enact a law, and it would be something entirely different should you use resources to enforce that law. I hold that the only kind of political system that is morally consistent with justice is one where there is a monopoly of law that sanctions what particular action is permitted to remedy the initiation of force. This is does not mean you have the right to enslave another for your protection. Most likely if you had voluntary means for police protection, people would be happy to fund a police force that offers protection to those who may not afford it, since it is not in their best self-interests to have crime go unchecked, as it can have very damaging effects on yourself and your own property.



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Thursday, April 22 - 5:38pmSanction this postReply
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John -- let me sort of sidle up to the question you asked by first seeing if we are in agreement on a related topic:

Would the U.S. Post Office still be a government-run service if they ended their monopoly on first-class mail, taxed their income at the same rates as competitors such as FedEx or UPS and sent it to the U.S. Treasury's general fund, and in all respects were a self-financing entity, paid for via voluntary payments by the users of their services, allowing any and all competitors to compete against them and deposit mail in mail boxes, and be subject to the exact same rules and regulations as their competitors?

The article essentially contends that the answer is "no, under those circumstances this would be a private entity, despite the official-sounding names on the uniforms of the workers and trucks and buildings."

If you do feel that this entity would still be a government agency, please explain what would make it so.



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Post 15

Thursday, April 22 - 5:42pmSanction this postReply
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Jim,

Markets are about exchanges and the exchanges occur within a framework of laws (or there absence). The laws or rules are the context in which exchanges occur. There are some contexts that are not conducive to the kind of exchanges that enable humans to flourish - those where there are no rules of the sort that prevent the initiation of force, fraud or theft, i.e., anarchy. Or, those contexts where there are multiple sets of conflicting rules, i.e., anarchy. Or, those contexts where the set of rules are designed to aid one group in using the initiation of force to steal from others, i.e., those areas under non-objective laws that are not based upon individual rights.

There is only one context that is conducive to the kind of human exchanges where humans flourish - that context where the laws are objective and arise exclusively from individual rights.

Exchanges are voluntary or not. Voluntary is about choice. Choice is about the absence of initiated violence and theft. If you don't have the right rules, you don't have an environment conducive to exercising choice, which means less voluntary exchanges which means your markets are NOT free.

Contrary to any other definition, the only valid way to distinguish between political systems is in the use of force relative to choice. Is it designed with objective laws based upon individual rights and therefore only using force to defend against rights violations? If the answer to this is no, the system may be anarchy, fascism, or socialism but it is not capitalism. When someone takes an honest look at the fundamentals, they see that Capitalism REQUIRES a minarchy based upon individual rights. You have to establish the monopoly of laws, because they create the context that is required for FREE markets.
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Those who try to argue for anarchy by saying that anyone arguing for any government service is arguing for socialism, is playing cheap word games. They expose their weakness in doing so. And they never explain how a set of laws will arise out of free competition, when there is no free competition because they do not have that context where competitors are free of the initiation of violence. That context requires a monopoly of good laws - it can be arrived at in no other way.



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Post 16

Thursday, April 22 - 5:48pmSanction this postReply
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The question is what is the proper role of government. Should they be tasked with enacting legislation that says what is appropriate retaliatory force, and forbids the initiation of force? Or should they also provide the services necessary for enforcing those laws? I maintain that the government should have a monopoly over law, but not over service. A private police force, meaning they are funded by voluntary means, could certainly extend services to those who do not fund it provided that the 'funders' consent to this. And I think people would do that. But I don't think that police force could make up whatever law it wanted, nor could the funders of such a police force do the same, as that would not preclude someone sanctioning the use of initiatory force.



Post 17

Thursday, April 22 - 5:49pmSanction this postReply
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Jim,

You keep saying, "monopoly on force" - that isn't required for Capitalism or for minarchy. What is required is a monopoly on laws - a single set of objective laws that are based upon individual rights.

The use of force is delegated to the government, but the right to use force in self-defense isn't taken from anyone. I can defend myself with force, I can hire a body guard to defend me, and the police, and the military can each use force to defend me.

Your arguments about force are like straw-men. Defend competing sets of laws, where any individual or organization can make up different laws on anything, at anytime, in any area. That's anarchy.



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Post 18

Thursday, April 22 - 5:57pmSanction this postReply
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Michael Marotta writes,
Would it be all right for the government to provide free healthcare if it could be voluntarily funded?
No, but healthcare is not the same as justice. To advocate a monopoly on the law is not to argue against competing police agencies, since we already have competing security guards and even private police in some U.S. cities. It is only to argue against competing forms of justice, since that would entail the initiation of force, by definition.

If the government's laws are designed to protect and defend against the initiation of force, it would be a contradiction to allow a different set of laws in competition with its own, since that would mean that its own laws against the initiation of force should tolerate their violation -- i.e., should permit the initiation of force -- which is a contradiction in terms.

Far from a government monopoly on law implying the initiation of force, it is anarcho-capitalism -- i.e., competing legal systems -- that implies it.

- Bill



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Post 19

Thursday, April 22 - 6:03pmSanction this postReply
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Michael,

You said, "People who fear that an open market must lead to open warfare probably learned that in government schools and they just never got over the indoctrination."

I won't speak for others, but I came to understand that an absence of a system of laws designed around individual rights would lead to warfare by reading and thinking on my own, contrary to your condescending remark.
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What is an "open" market? If there is no single set of laws, adequately enforced, objectively defined and based upon individual rights, then we know that to some degree it means markets "open" to the initiation of violence.

Some people choose to be blind to the fact that there are no free markets until after you have a proper set of laws (a monopoly of laws), or they choose to be blind to the fact that the initiation of violence is something that should be feared. Who knows where anarchists got their indoctrination. It really doesn't matter because they choose to stay blind all on their own.



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