Libertarianism, Left-libertarianism

Should Bleeding Hearts Be Anarchists?

There are lots of reasons to reject the legitimacy of the state’s claim to authority. But, as I try to show in The Conscience of an Anarchist, a number of those reasons are ones with which bleeding hearts should find it especially easy to resonate.

1. Poverty and workplace inequity can occur for multiple reasons. But neither could be expected to be remotely as prevalent in the absence of the state. The state raises the cost of self-employment, boosts the cost of living, and increases the liabilities associated with being poor. The practical result is that people are denied opportunities to better their economic positions and channeled into often unappealing work environments because the state has eliminated viable alternatives. The state makes and keeps people poor and makes and keeps workers subservient.

2. The state confers privileges on the wealthy and well connected. It protects favored industries with tariffs and grants of intellectual property rights, sanctifies large-scale theft by elite groups, hands out direct and indirect subsidies, implements regulatory regimes that suppress competition, constrains the most effective union activity, uses the tax system to benefit politically favored businesses and hamper the activities of others, employs eminent domain to boost the profits of developers and big box retailers, awards staggering bailouts to cronies in the financial and manufacturing sectors, and otherwise furthers the interests of elites and others. The state masquerades as the protector of the defenseless against big business, when it is actually very much the ally and enabler of the corporate elite.

3. There is nothing the state does that is more destructive than war-making. And if the violence and loss associated with war aren’t natural bleeding-heart concerns, it’s hard to know what could be. The state is hardly the only source of violence, but it is by far the most significant source. States fund wars using taxes, unconstrained borrowing, and inflationary money creation—strategies unavailable to the ordinarily violent. Those who want war, whether for ideological or financial reasons, can shift the costs of satisfying their preferences onto the unwilling; they might be far less willing to be bellicose if they were required to shoulder these costs themselves. States use the vast means at their disposal to propagandize for war and to promote it covertly. They use standing military forces to breed deference to authority and to repress dissent. The availability of standing military forces, economically unfeasible in the state’s absence, creates an irresistible temptation to executives to enhance their own power and to use military force at their discretion. And the existence of the state’s war machine makes attacks on ordinary people’s privacy and safety, as well as their pocketbooks, increasingly unlikely. The state dramatically intensifies the problem of violence.

4. Crime is a statist notion: crimes were first against the person of the king; then, in the king’s absence, the modern state claimed to be the victim of criminal conduct. The very existence of the criminal law, which severs the link between legal liability and harm, makes possible an ongoing reign of terror. Zealots and bigots can make the ordinary taxpayer who doesn’t share their goals bear the burden of funding the realization of these goals. Police violence and broken lives are predictable consequences of the War on (Some) Drugs, with members of minority communities suffering vast and disproportionate losses. A culture of retribution breeds brutal penalties and a prison system that stunts people’s lives and, increasingly, channels vast sums of money into the pockets of the state’s corporate cronies in the private prison industry. The criminal justice system is a creature of the state and neither the system nor its destructiveness would be realistically conceivable in the state’s absence.

People who favor markets, as I do, often defend anarchism by arguing that the state’s monopoly of force and law and its taxation of its subjects violate people’s rights. Without dismissing this sort of argument at all, I want to argue that principled people on the political left—the sort of people who could be expected to listen, at least, to arguments from bleeding heart libertarians—should find anarchism attractive precisely because the state unavoidably harms people on a vast scale through its attacks on the poor, its support for corporate privilege, its war making, and its assaults on personal freedom.

Jeff Riggenbach’s gracious review of Conscience seems to cast what I’m doing in the book as a matter of rhetoric—as an attempt to frame libertarian ideas in ways that will make them attractive to principled leftists. But while I do think that libertarians of all sorts often don’t know how to communicate with principled leftists, I think I’m up to more than rhetorical reframing: I believe that a leftist politics can and should be an anti-statist politics, a libertarian politics. And (while bleeding heart libertarians won’t all be leftists, of course), it seems clear to me that bleeding heart concerns can be effectively addressed by opposing, not just this or that misdeed by the state, but the state itself.

  • Poverty and workplace inequity can occur for multiple reasons. But neither could be expected to be remotely as prevalent in the absence of the state.

    I get off the train here.

  • I’d rather read a piece about places where Anarchy has actually lead to the sorts of either outcomes or better access to opportunity that “bleeding hearts” support. The fact that a current version of the state is bad does not, in and of itself, mean that anarchy is necessarily better.

    • Adam Ricketson

      The problem that is not addressed in the essay is “how to get there from here”… but that question is pointless until a person is convinced that it is worth getting “there”.

      You are free to demand extensive evidence before experimenting with anarchist institutions, but if that’s your attitude then you probably just make a point of ignoring all reformers and philosophers. The only way that the world gets better is that people dream up something that has never existed, and try to create it.

      Finally, if you want to see evidence, there will never be a perfect “anarchy” (or “democracy”, or “monarchy”)… those things are ideals. It may be especially hard to see “anarchy” because it is not embedded in any single institution. However, we can see it in various parts of society. For instance, what we call “religious freedom” could fairly be called “religious anarchy”… and we all know how state-religions have been used to exploit the people. We can also see that liberal democracies are more anarchistic than most other forms of government (in terms of individual liberties and social/political egalitarianism)… and there is a lot of evidence that they promote “bleeding heart” values. I’m not going to try to extrapolate to increasingly anarchistic social orders, but when you ask for evidence, all I can say is that the existing evidence is supportive of the idea that anarchy is good for the worst off members of society.

  • “I’d rather read a piece about places where Anarchy has actually lead to the sorts of either outcomes or better access to opportunity that “bleeding hearts” support.” 

    Aaron, do you know where we can measure such a situation, today, in the world?  The problem with your question is that it cannot be answered; because nothing, expecially in the West, could be considered anarchy. 

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t the standard (cheeky) response to say: “If it’s anarchy you want, move to Somalia.”  (And then I’m not so sure you’d find less poverty or better working conditions.)

      I assume there is a standard anarchist reply to this.  I would enjoy hearing it.  (My apologies if it’s been said before and I’ve missed it, or if I’m misunderstanding what anarchism is.)

      • Hey Jeff,

        I’m no anarchist.  But you might find this bit from the BBC apropos:
        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12278628

        And a few people I know who are more sympathetic to anarchism than I have taken up the issue seriously:
        http://www.observatori.org/paises/pais_74/documentos/64_somalia.pdf
        http://www.peterleeson.com/better_off_stateless.pdf

        Their best point seems to be this: in looking to evaluate the success of anarchism, it’s not enough to look at Somalia and say “well that’s an anarchistic country and it’s pretty crappy.”  Somalia’s crappiness is, in a sense, overdetermined.  So the key question is – how much crappier (or less crappy) would it be under some other form of governance?

        • Anonymous

          Thanks!  I will inform myself.

          • Anna Christa

            The “move” argument fails on many levels. First, it’s a circular argument – it assumes the very thing the recipient is denying, namely the legitimacy of the government over a certain territory. Second, it’s a red herring – it tries to misdirect the attention from the injustice of the criminality of the state to some kind of a personal tourist discomfort, completely ignoring the original claims that it tries to sidestep. Third, it’s self defeating – if moving would be a valid option for solving crime (in this case the state is the criminal), then it must be equally valid for solving any other crime – so the police and courts are really not needed, all one should do is to move elsewhere. Fourth, one can’t really “move” elsewhere without additional cost in some sense of the word. The anarchist recipient would probably gladly “move” (change jurisdiction without changing spatial location) to another justice provider, but the state usually prevents him to do so, maintaining monopoly on justice services on that territory.

          • Damien S.

            Of course, that the state is criminal and illegitimate, but private landlords are not, is a strong and unsupported assumption itself, one rather alien to the rest of us.  And the “move” response is exactly what libertarians would tell someone unhappy with the landlord her parents had been renting from all her life.

          • Anna Christa

            The “move” argument fails on many levels. First, it’s a circular argument – it assumes the very thing the recipient is denying, namely the legitimacy of the government over a certain territory. Second, it’s a red herring – it tries to misdirect the attention from the injustice of the criminality of the state to some kind of a personal tourist discomfort, completely ignoring the original claims that it tries to sidestep. Third, it’s self defeating – if moving would be a valid option for solving crime (in this case the state is the criminal), then it must be equally valid for solving any other crime – so the police and courts are really not needed, all one should do is to move elsewhere. Fourth, one can’t really “move” elsewhere without additional cost in some sense of the word. The anarchist recipient would probably gladly “move” (change jurisdiction without changing spatial location) to another justice provider, but the state usually prevents him to do so, maintaining monopoly on justice services on that territory.

        • Anonymous

          somalia is not an anarchy.  it is dominated by a few thugs.  it is not being governed from the bottom up.  what is happening in somalia is facism….a struggle between two or more opposing forces that want control.   as far as I have read, there is no move toward including all people in governing the country.  while I agree it can be difficult to define anarchy and even more difficult to suggest how a country or region that decided to call itself an anarchy would be run, i get really tired of people calling chaotic, fascistic states an anarchy.  Lets leave that kind of comment to the mainstream media.

        • The counterfactual circumstances anarchists ask us to consider are too remote from the actual world to generate useful discussion about political alternatives.  They are circumstances in which, not only are there no governments engaging in violent and coercive behavior, there are also no other individuals or groups of individuals engaging in the kinds of violent coercive behavior that make stable and organized coercive power – i.e. government – necessary, and that actual human beings are likely engage in should the checks of government be removed.

          Anarchists imagine a heaven, and then say we should be “heavenists.”   Fine, I also vote approval for winged beings, and emerald spires and frolicking nymphs.  These distant aetherial kingdoms float out there somewhere in logical-conceptual space, along with the worlds in which entropy always increases, and disembodied entelechies cogitate eternally above the intellectual love of God and the 28 diffeomorphism classes of Milnor-spheres.The circumstances closest to actuality in which there are no governments maintaining law and order were probably best- described 360 years ago:Whatsoever
          therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every
          man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security,
          than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall.   In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is
          uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of
          the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments
          of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the
          face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which
          is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of
          man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.

          • Anonymous

            Perhaps you don’t buy into the claim that Sage era Iceland was anarchist but David Friedman makes a pretty good case for that interpretation. 

            I also think that the above quote is not quite accurate for Hobbes. Admittedly I’ve not read the entire book but I’ve heard several people who’ve studied Hobbes (wish I could remember some names but that was at least 15 years ago) say that Hobbes actually expected the war of all against all and the truly brutish existence to be infrequent and periods of peace and prosperity.

            I suppose one might ask if we think government actually limits the violence inherent in human nature or if it only serves to direct those tendencies more or less towards those viewed as outsiders. If that’s the case the history we’ve lived and read about might be little different  from Hobbes’ state of nature. We’ve certainly not lived under his Leviathan so it’s not clear we’ve avoided it. (As someone with rather anarchistic leanings I say we never actually got out of anarchy and what we see is exactly what anarchy looks like. Some of the time a actually believe it 😉

            I do think it’s fair to wonder/question if  those periods would produce the level of development we’ve actually experienced with the actual history and institutions that have existed.

          • Anonymous

            I have not met any anarchists who believe that winged creatures will save us.  I think that a social/political system that embraced anarchic principles would be a lot of work and negotiation.  It might not be heaven, but perhaps with a lot of hard work it could be fair and just.  I notice that in the italicized portion of your post that the discussion is only of men.  Perhaps if women and children were also considered, if their input could be heard, we might have a better picture of how we want to do things.  Anarchism is about self government.  It is about not have a tiny number of people controlling everyone else.  It is not about chaos and no order.  It is about trying to figure out a way to do it differently without giving all the power to a very few people for very flimsy reasons.  The people who do have power in our world also have a huge sense of entitlement and even when someone who is not part of their “group” manages to get into power using the methods dictated by the power elite (elections)  they are pushed out of power if they do not follow the rules of the global power elite.  And then our fearless leaders often decide to drop a few bombs on the civilians who elected those people they don’t like.  So electoral democracy is fine as long as those elected support the leaders of the powerful countries.  Otherwise, global leaders who have taken the power will put someone in power that they can control.

          • Anonymous

            So…the only protection from sociopaths is to put sociopaths in charge? That’s what has happened so far with the statist model.

            If men were angels, maybe we could trust them with power.

        • Anonymous

          See also Michael Van Notten’s excellent book “The Law of the Somalis” which argues that externally imposed central governments exacerbate the violence considerably,

          http://www.amazon.com/Law-Somalis-Foundation-Economic-Development/dp/156902250X?tag=bleedheartlib-20

          Van Notten was a Dutch legal theorist who married a Somali woman and lived the last part of his life in a traditional Somali clan.  His book does a splendid job of mapping European natural law theory onto Somali clan customary law, sort of a modern day counterpart to David Friedman’s analysis of medieval Iceland.

          This sort of society is better described as a “kritarchy,” or rule by judges,

          http://rothbard.be/bestanden/frvandun/Texts/Articles/Kritarch1.htm 

          and law rather than “anarchy,” but in both cases the point is that a coercive central government is unnecessary.  I prefer kritarchy because it points out the importance of stable social norms in order to preserve order in the absence of a central coercive authority.  Thus the literature on norms and private enforcement of law in contemporary writers such as Sugden and Weingast become immediately relevant to the analysis of the circumstances in which such a society is practicable – it is no longer an issue of mytho-poetic adolescent fantasy as many of the commenters here seem to believe.

      • Adam Ricketson

        The problem with this critique of “anarchism” is that it treats anarchism as the absence of a particular institution (or more accurately, the weakness and instability of that institution) rather than being:

        1) An ideology or attitude
        2) The presence of the corresponding institutions.

        In reality, Somalia is as far from anarchy as anywhere. First, there has never been an anarchist movement; as far as I know, every movement there has wanted to impose some sort of domination over others (i.e. a hierarchy). So, in fact, Somalia is simply a war-zone among competing would-be states (some of which are just puppets for outsiders, such as the US).

        On the other hand, anarchists have found some contexts within which some regions of Somalia have done rather well in the absence of a strong state, so it does provide some very limited examples of how to solve problems outside of the state.

    • If I knew where it could be measured, I wouldn’t need Mr. Chartier to tell me how illegitimate the state is and why it should be abolished – I could make the comparison for myself.

      When was the last time you bought something simply because the salesman trashed one of the alternatives, while not really addressing the pros and cons of the item he was selling? Mr. Chartier says, basically, that the State makes everything worse – but never says, here’s an example of where a lack of state intervention (whether you’d describe that as a legitimate anarchy or not) demonstrates a better outcome.

      I’ve made this point before, but here goes: If I accept your argument that A is Bad and that A ≠ B, it does not from that follow that B is Good, or even necessarily Better than A. All that has been established is that B ≠ A. But B is Good or B is Better than A are different arguments, and ones that really do deserve to be made on their own merits. In other words, I should be able to make an argument that says this is why you should support Anarchy that lists the pros and cons of Anarchy, rather than relying on a takedown of statism.

  • Anonymous

    The problem as I see it is that the moment I’ve got enough surplus capital to pay someone to carry a gun for me I’ve got the beginnings of a “government.”  Or, if even more directly, it’s the moment where two or more people band together to defend themselves from you after you’ve hired someone to carry a gun for you.

    Or as a formerly deeply-committed anarchist friend who lived in an intentional community in an extremely remote and low-to-no-service corner of British Columbia put it, “turns out when you have complete anarchy the bikers end up running everything.”

    This has been pretty consistent in pretty much every below-the-radar subculture I’ve ever lived in: “government” is a self-organizing aggregate reaction.  Consequently any ruminations about how airy-fairy life would be without
    “government” belong in the same category as similar ruminations about
    how great life would be without greed, or if we all just got along, or if we all cast off sin, or if we all stopped acting in unenlightened self-interest.

    The interesting thing to me about pure libertarianism, at least in North America, is that I don’t think I’ve ever met a libertarian with an IQ below 125.  And indeed if everyone’s IQ was at least 125 I’m pretty sure libertarianism would work out pretty well.  The problem with anarchy is that it works all too well as long as a sufficient subset of the population has a) an IQ below 100 and b) is more willing to risk violent injury or death than you are in pursuit of their self-interest (enlightened or, more often, unenlightened.)

    To put it in purely economic terms, an ungoverned population creates an exploitable economic resource that will be worth attempting to capture and exploit for individual benefit despite the fact that doing so will be Pareto inefficient for the remainder.  Government therefore self-organizes not to maximize freedom or liberty but to mitigate what Marx euphemistically called “primitive capital accumulation.”

    Nice try though.  I agree that if anarchy really would produce the least-possible poverty and workplace inequity,  wealth and privilege, war and aggression, and crime then I’d already be on that bus welcoming you aboard.  Instead I hopped back off that bus nearly 40 years ago.

    figleaf

    • “The problem as I see it is that the moment I’ve got enough surplus
      capital to pay someone to carry a gun for me I’ve got the beginnings of
      a “government.””

      That’s true.  Now read it in reverse…

      • Anonymous

        It’s not so much arrogant as missing the first step.  You don’t get government to begin with till somebody shows up with a gun (or, originally, a sharp rock) that they’re willing to use to get what they want.  At that point you’ve either got “government” by the person with the rock, or else you’ve got “government” by the people who need to band together to prevent the person with the rock from dictating to them.

        After that “original sin” then yeah, once you’ve got government then it can obviously go either way.

        Trick is that until all human beings become angels that particular original sin will attract irresistibly.

        And remember, it only takes one to precipitate the fall.

        figleaf

        • It’s exactly the fact that there are no angels among men that leads me to question why ANYONE should be trusted with that rock.  How can the answer to selfish violence by some be to hand over power to commit it to others? 

          • Damien S.

            It’s not a matter of trusting them with the rock.  Someone already has a rock.  You either do what they say, or get your own rocks, or form a band capable of defending itself from people with rocks, at which point you do what the band says but at least you get a say.

            The OP’s notion that crime goes down in anarchy seems utterly wrong and naive.  Yeah, the state can define various crimes.  But the self-regulation of violence is done by feud, which historically  has a really high death and violence rate.  Meanwhile most democratic states are the most peaceful societies in history, even if you factor in the war on drugs and other state crimes. Even the US, which exceeds in private and public violence, isn’t that bad historically.

          • Anonymous

            Damien, John Hasnas has a nice article (What’s Wrong With A Little Tort Reform) that briefly describes how the blood feud evolved into customary law after the Roman Empire dissolved. You can find it on his website. It’s a very worthwhile read. Customary law developed in the absence of a central authority because people realized that settling disputes by way of violent feuds is much more costly than settling disputes by way of arbitration. And, according to Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, during the 20th century states murdered about 262 million people (not including warfare which was about 1/4th of that total). Maybe I’m wrong, but I can hardly imagine that private crime in the absence of a state would have come anywhere close to that during that period of time.

          • Damien S.

            http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html

            “But, in
            tribal violence, the clashes are more frequent, the percentage of men in
            the population who fight is greater, and the rates of death per battle
            are higher. According to anthropologists like Lawrence Keeley, Stephen
            LeBlanc, Phillip Walker, and Bruce Knauft, these factors combine to
            yield population-wide rates of death in tribal warfare that dwarf those
            of modern times. If the wars of the twentieth century had killed the
            same proportion of the population that die in the wars of a typical
            tribal society, there would have been two billion deaths, not 100
            million.”

            Modern states kill lots of people at times, but there are lots of people to kill.  You need to look at rates, not raw numbers. It’s also pretty unclear that all states should be lumped together in one big group; only organisms with brains commit suicide, but that doesn’t mean brains are a bad idea.  What if we looked only at democratic states?

            More quotes:

            “The
            criminologist Manuel Eisner has assembled hundreds of homicide estimates
            from Western European localities that kept records at some point
            between 1200 and the mid-1990s. In every country he analyzed, murder
            rates declined steeply—for example, from 24 homicides per 100,000
            Englishmen in the fourteenth century to 0.6 per 100,000 by the early
            1960s.

            On
            the scale of decades, comprehensive data again paint a shockingly happy
            picture: Global violence has fallen steadily since the middle of the
            twentieth century. According to the Human Security Brief 2006, the
            number of battle deaths in interstate wars has declined from more than
            65,000 per year in the 1950s to less than 2,000 per year in this decade.”

            The modern world is more peaceful and prosperous than ever, and has stronger states.  Perhaps the states are parasitic on the wealth rather than contributing to it, but that has to be shown not assumed.

          • Anonymous

            The 50’s included a rather large and bloody war so I think it’s a bit skewed to make a comparison between then and now. 

            The data referenced has also been challenged as questionable since modern medicine keeps a lot of people alive today who would have died 100 years ago, much less 500 years ago. It’s hard to make these types of comparison and claim violence has increased or decreased based on death rates due to violence.

          • Anonymous

            With such a huge reduction in crime, I wonder why we are building more prisons?  

          • Damien S.

            If you mean in the past few decades in the US, especially California: one reason is that population grows, so there can be more criminals even with a reduction in crime rates. Another of course is three strikes laws and the war on drugs and yes, the manufacture of criminals by an increasingly failed state that would rather build prisons than schools. But that’s not universal.

            Over the past few centuries, we build more prisons because we are wealthy enough to afford to incarcerate and feed criminals where previously we simply executed them.

          • Anonymous

            There are so many things to question about our prison system.  Like why do black people, indigenous people and other minorities make up the the majority of the prison population but the minority of the rest of the population?  Well, at least we are kind enough not to execute them.  Now that we are so wealthy.  

          • Anonymous

            The discovery of value in the social division of labor and its most efficient and peaceful expression- free market capitalism– is by far the most significant advance in human civilization to date. In contrast, the modern state, government by organized territorial violence,  is singularly responsible for why (if what Pinker asserts is true) rates of violence have not gone down further.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks for the post — it’s an interesting article.

          • Anonymous

            You’re welcome. I’ve read quite a few of his articles and they’ve all been enlightening.

          • Anonymous

            Damien, what’s you source for the claim that feud societies historically have high death and violence rates?

          • Damien S.

            I don’t have a single source handy, just a bunch of reading over the years.  But e.g. hunter-gatherer societies often have a death by violence rate of 3-30%, which you can’t just blame on poor medicine because First Worlders don’t see that level of violence in the first place.  Annd within the US, the part most settled by people from feuding culture, the Southern Scots-Irish, is infamous for both old feuds (Hatfield and McCoy) and weak states,  and having violence and murder rates a few times those of e.g. Massachusetts.

            Sorry I can’t do better right now.  But you could just as easily ask for sources for the opposite claim.  I’ve sure never seen any.

            And in my other comment I did quote several anthropologist names; you could start there.  As for medicine, again, you can look at assault and battery rates as well.  If a weak-state society has a higher murder rate than we have a violent injury rate, that speaks ill of having weak states.  There’s current comparisons one could do today, too.

          • Anonymous

            I did see that other post after asking. I’ll try to dig through some of them however.

          • Anonymous

            Said below but worth repeating. If no one can be “trusted” with having the rock, who enforces the ban on rocks? 

          • Obviously force itself can’t be banned.  What people can do though is rightfully defend themselves from anyone who would attempt to dominate them.

          • Anonymous

            That’s government!

          • People reacting to initiation of force = submission to force?  How?

          • Anonymous

            People will inevitably form a collective for purposes of protection. Then someone will have to decide what that collective entity does. That’s government!

          • Damien S.

            Heh. Most concise summary of generalized state formation ever.

          • Anonymous

            Nothing inevitable about getting together, never mind the form it will take. Collective defense can be market based and contractual. Labeling this activity government is perfectly fine; it is self-government.

            The so-called “free rider” problem can be hedged by investment devices- such as options, according to the economist Robert P. Murphy. Google his short paper on this.

            The right of conscience also means that the “free rider” issue is over-reaching. Some of those riders might be against the defense policy for good reasons. A Nazi state is not worth defending. The American political state is not worth defending either- even if most of its people ought to be defended.  

          • Damien S.

            http://mises.org/daily/1855  This paper?  Doesn’t mention options, and I find it otherwise completely laughable, willfully blind to history.

            Both a priori reasoning and historical experience show that the most efficient and cheapest market defense would be to buy up a compact tract of fortifiable land and promise protection to anyone who lived on it and paid the fees. Which might start out 100% voluntary, but looks exactly like a state to those born into it.

          • Anonymous

            Thanks for looking. It is this 8 page doc that covers options etc: http://mises.org/journals/scholar/Murphy6.pdf

          • Damien S.

            Thanks. Like dominant assurance contracts it’s an interesting idea, but at best it’s only a potential foundation, not a sweeping case. He himself lists possible objections which he then handwaves away. More interestingly, his first efficient scenario involves a monopolistic insurer, while the second involves a tycoon who now owns 25% of the property in the state.

            Both mechanisms of resistance seem to involve a real risk of conquest from within.  I’m reminded of how Crassus ended up owning much of Rome by buying burning buildings in the absence of public fire fighting.

          • Anonymous

            which form has the least risk of monopoly?  Fire fighting can be privatized too.

          • Anonymous

            Static comparisons are problematic. It is extremely important to know how said corporation or state came to be and perpetuate. Besides, corporations tend to be creatures of the state.

            Pound for pound- for those owned by others-life is better on a private slave plantation than a state compelled collective. The state’s political officer in charge has no incentive to maintain the capital stock. At least the slave owner reaps something from keeping the slaves relatively healthy and productive.

            I’ll take Tom Jefferson over a kolkhozy bureaucrat anyday. Though Tom better stop lookin’ at my sister like that.

          • Damien S.

            I think you profoundly underestimate the conditions on Southern slave plantations, say.  And why kolkhozys? Why not the modern US, or Australia, or Japan, or Chile, any of the other dozens of states where the quality of life is far better than a slave plantation?

          • Anonymous

            comparing private v. public slavery. you seem to equate private and public

          • Anonymous

            No one in their right might would choose to be a slave in the instead of being a US citizen. Your argument goes too far and loses any persuasiveness. 

          • Anonymous

            The comparison is pound for pound, public v. private slavery.

          • Anonymous

            Does not matter. No one sane would voluntarily make thatexchange. Would you? 

          • Adam Ricketson

            While neither is nice, I think I’d prefer to be on a Commie farm than a Dixie plantation. Being a southern slave is probably comparable to being in a Soviet gulag.

            1) Have you read Frederick Douglas’ autobiography (the first one)?

            2) Local Party leaders in Communist states are accountable for higher ups, both for productivity and for maintaining political control. I think that they had less license for random brutality than the southern slave-owner did.

          • Anonymous

            never heard of mass famine in the plantation system. But famine, mass death by hunger, is a feature of state control.

          • Adam Ricketson

            Slaves were regularly worked to death, particularly in the more equitorial zones.

          • Anonymous

            castles etc went out of fashion as they became more and more suicidal

          • Anonymous

            No, castles went out of fashion because they could not stop cannons. 

          • Anonymous

            How did my statement disagree with yours?

          • Notice how that “someone will have to decide” thing slipped in?  You automatically assumed that certain among that collective must claim and hold power that others in it do not — which merely makes them a new source of the same domination they were supposed to be fighting.

            Yup, that’s government all right…

          • Damien S.

            No, you’re the one making the assumption.  “Somebody” could well be “everybody”, as in direct democracy, by majority or consensus or random leader or other rules.  But the collective will have to make decisions, e.g. investing in fighters or tanks or SAM missiles or requiring training, and individuals may disagree with decisions, yet remain bound by their choice to join the collective.

          • Anonymous

            Well put Damien. That is exactly right. No organization can act except through its members. It can act on consensus when there is consensus, but when there is not (and there inevitably will be things over which there is not consensus) the view of some portion of the group that is smaller than “everyone” will prevail. Sorting out how competing interests is a basic government function. 

          • In theory that sorting out is supposed to be a benign process focused on the good of the whole somehow.  In practice, instead whoever claims the power to make those decisions simply siphons off whatever helps themselves and the whole can go pound sand. 

            Is there a way of dealing with that problem within a structure most would still recognize as a state?

          • Anonymous

            According to whose theory? Decisions are (supposed to be) based primarily on the competing RIGHTs of the parties, not on a judgment of which is better for the collective good. Surely, there are corrupt judges just as there are corrupt people everywhere, but that is a critique about how to improve the state, not abolish it. 

          • If the point isn’t common good, then how come every time I make a remark critical of the state as an institution on a liberal board, someone inevitably comes along and says “but government is US!”?

            If they’re correct, then that means “we” agreed to corporate welfare capitalism and imperialism just as much as “we” agreed to (for example) fund schools collectively.  Otherwise why does it persist(since concluding that government is instead a formalized extension of the ruling class is out of bounds)?

          • Anonymous

            Pretty much all social decision theory recognizes the difficulties in avoiding  processes that don’t bias the collective choice away from most preferred outcome. In some cases it’s easy, but most don’t meet the requirements for such solution. This was even know back in the 1800s.

          • Damien S.

            In actual practice in First World democracies, political salaries are rather small compared to the power they wield or CEO salaries, and while corporate welfare is a real problem, it’s dwarfed by whole-helping policies like pensions, health care, schools…

            If you can’t describe reality in a recognizable way, then we’re not going to listen to your prescriptions.

          • I wasn’t aware we spend trillions on pensions and schools now.

        • Anonymous

          This strikes me as a purely ideologically driven claim. What actual support do you have that the concept of what we call government emerged via violence?

          I agree that the definition of government as having a monopoly on the legitimate used of violence is consistent with what we currently observe and with certain interpretations of both Locke and Hobbes. Not sure about Plato.

          I think the reality is that the origins of what we now call government is lost in pre-history.

          • Anonymous

            Hi JMH,

            I’m not claiming that government always arises out of violence (I believe it’s anarchists who claim that.)  And indeed it very often doesn’t.  For instance the student government of my alma mater formed and has operated for decades with scarcely a comfy chair in sight with which to threaten dissidents with.  Same with the (often dysfunctional but nevertheless nonviolent) condo associations, co-ops, and municipalities across the country and, for that matter, across the globe.

            In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that government most likely arises at the intersection of disagreement or aggression between third parties.

            That said, the proposal at hand is not to decline to initiate government but to persuade the entire planet to relinquish it.  And persuade the entire planet to do so voluntarily, no less, since by-definition any initiative with the means to either force relinquishment of government or else create a moral obligation to relinquish it would be, by (anarchist) definition, government with both legitimacy and authority.

            And whereas an argument to relinquish government that actually brought about virtual voluntary compliance would have to be very compelling indeed, it’s almost certain that it would be sufficient to prevent people from forming what it sounds like we both agree are the majority of governments: voluntarily constituted and complied with, non-violent conflict-resolution and consensus-building entities.

            Which leaves, however, that one individual who, for whatever reason (including pure Notes From Underground cussedness) is uncompelled by the relinquishment logic to pick up a stick, a rock, or (there being an extraordinary abundance after all armies are all magically made redundant by anarchist persuasiveness) a Mad Max-like array of personal weapons.  Or, worse, two.  Any non-individual deputation that arouse to cope with those individuals, even if the means applied were non-violent (and more-so if they were) would have all the features of constituted (if authorized) or despotic (if spontaneous) government.

            And that’s why I’ve tended to focus on the pick-up-a-rock scenario for the inevitability of government rather than something realistic and non-violent… and therefore outside the scope of anarchist idealist definitions.

            Sorry for all the short-hand in previous comments.

            figleaf

          • Anonymous

            No need to apologize,  I did misread your statement. Your additional step is an interesting one that I think fits very well into the legal history that that shemsky pointed to . The potential difference is perhaps that relying on customary/common law is more of a governance structure rather than government itself. 

            I think that’s one difference between both anarchists and the libertarians on one side and progressive modern liberals on the other. The former look more to governance structures which provide processes for governance and seek to minimize the amount of government (understood as something formally different from society). My impression is that progressives tend to lean more heavily towards putting government into the solution. The government may also involve or even rely on similar processes but it represents an institutional barrier between society and governance process. (I suspect some or many progressives will chafe at that statement but I can’t think of a better way to phrase it just now.)

          • Anonymous

            figleaf, I’m not so sure that libetarian anarchists want to convince the whole world to relinquish government. Instead they want to allow individuals and groups of individuals to opt out and form a competing governing institution. In other words, freedom of government similar to freedom of religion. Michael Rozeff and Adam Knott have written some very interesting articles on what they refer to as panarchy, or non-territorial governing institutions. Rozeff has stated, and I agree, that if someone wants to live under a certain form of government they should be entitled to do so, as long as they are not forcing anyone else to join them. I don’t think that most libertarian anarchists would have any problem with a government that didn’t compel individuals to participate in or fund it.

          • Anonymous

            “Freedom of government similar to freedom of religion.” 
            I love this, this is great. Tell me — where is “freedom of religion” found: in the US Constitution, the founding charter for a GOVERNMENT. Tell me — who defends your right to freely choose a religion, or put another way, who prevents others from forcing their religion on you? GOVERNMENT. 

          • Anonymous

            Prior to the formation of the USA Government the people living here were already exercising their freedom of religion — that was why many came to the Americas. We seemed to be doing a good job of letting each other be with regard to their choice of religion.

            It’s also worth considering why that was called out in the USA Constitution. I suspect a very strong case could be made for it being there due to fear that a new government might attempt to take that freedom away. After all, the Constitution was a document defining what powers the government had not what rights people enjoyed and must be protected by government.

          • Anonymous

            “And that’s why I’ve tended to focus on the pick-up-a-rock scenario for the inevitability of government rather than something realistic and non-violent… and therefore outside the scope of anarchist idealist definitions.”
            I guess you are saying that you think anarchists are all rock throwers and unable to understand anything else?  and I guess you are choosing to use throwing rocks as an example of violence as opposed to bombing civilians or allowing people to starve on the streets because, of course rock throwing might break a window or hit a cop wearing a helmet.   Governments are necessary to stop people throwing rocks.  I get it.  But who stops those thugs from bombing people they don’t like?

          • Anonymous

            “I guess you are saying that you think anarchists are all rock throwers and unable to understand anything else?”

            Not at all! My concern isn’t about actual anarchists acting on their principles.  Instead as I’ve said over and over, my concern is about those who decline to act on those principles and instead choose to use their willingness to use violence and to risk receiving it in order to subvert anarchy and/or exploit its reluctance or inability to organize to stop them.

            Not the same thing at all.

            I ought to say, though, that when the WTO protests were happening in Seattle a bunch of little Anarchist wannabes from Eugene, OR, started chucking rocks through storefronts — possibly and maybe even probably for sh*ts and giggles — and ended up getting a lot of more organized mainstream protestors teargassed and rubber-bulleted.

            figleaf

          • Anonymous

            Sorry, I misunderstood, I never really thought about people using the rock throwing to subvert anarchy.  I have listened to complaints  about rock throwers being responsible for police retaliation and I just don’t agree with that.  The police are responsible for their own violence.  I have been going to demos for many years and it is only in the last 10 to 15 years that the police have routinely reacted violently to anyone in a demo because of some behaviours that they did not want.  In the past it would only have been the rock throwers that got arrested.  Of course, there were incidents where the police went nuts, especially in the US, and in Canada (and probably the US) the cops have always been particularly repressive to any indigenous resistance.  But this generalized police violence to anyone in the vicinity of any resistance at all has increased to the point where now we can all realize first hand just how oppressive they can be.

          • Anonymous

            You raise an excellent point — which is how do we restrain government from repressing the very people it is supposed to protect. There are protections built in to US law for that purpose — and we can certainly have a debate about whether they are sufficient (they are the best in the world but could be better) or should be expanded (they should be). But that is not an argument about anarchy and the existence of the state — that is an argument about how the limitations of state power because you have already conceded the existence of the state. 

          • Anonymous

            guess the built in protections are not working for everyone huh?  Conceded the existence of the state?  of course the state exists.  It is in my face every day.  

      • Anonymous

        I think people with guns = mafia.  Maybe that is government.  

        • Pretty much.  That’s what I was trying to point out, that the distinction between one group of people with guns forcing you to do something and another is functionally meaningless.
           

          • Anonymous

            Except that one group is assumed by most people to be legitimate and the others are not. That’s one advantage of anarchism – groups are judged based on what they actually do and not just on who they are.

          • Anonymous

            Is your claim that a democratically elected government, not withstanding its flaws, is no more legitimate than the mafia? 

          • Anonymous

            I’m claiming that all groups, including governments, should be judged based on what they do and not on who they are. Whether a particular act is good or bad should stand on the nature of the act itself, and not on whether it was committed by a private citizen or by a government agent. If a government acts like the mafia (and a lot of times they do) then they should be judged and treated the same way the mafia would be judged and treated.

          • Anonymous

            That is exactly backwards. The reason why someone does something is the ONLY basis for judging them (that is relevant here).

            The taxman stands in a much different moral position than the extortionist because the taxman is the result of a democratic process and acts with the consent of the governed. The extortionist who collects protection money from the local business owner does not. The taxman is answerable, ultimately, to the taxpayer. The mobster is answerable only to a stronger mobster or his own conscience. The taxman’s powers and discretion is limited by laws and the fundamental rights of the taxpayer, and the taxpayer can petition the government for redress if those rights are violated. The victim of extortion has none of those rights. 

            So, even if the taxman and the mobster both take the citizen’s property through threat of force or other forms of coercion, they are in no way morally equivalent.  

          • Anonymous

            The democratic process does not equate with consent of the governed unless each individual being governed consents to participate in and be governed by the process. No one can rightfully substitute their consent for any other individual’s consent.

            Under a system of true consent your reasoning would be correct. But we don’t have a system of true consent. So the taxman and the extortionist are committing the same basic acts.

          • Anonymous

            I want to make sure I understand: you would like a world in which neither you nor anyone must comply with any law they do not like, no matter what the subject of that law is? 

            Do I need to provide examples to prove that you really do not want that world? 

            Once you agree you do not want that world, our argument is about different types of states, not whether or not there should be a state. 

          • Anonymous

            No and no, Farstrider. I would like a world in which no one may govern another without getting their consent. But just because someone is not governed by a particular government does not give them the right to commit aggression against people within that government, and it doesn’t bar a government from dealing with aggressors who are not a part of that government. That would be like saying that since I’m not governed by your government I’m free to attack anyone who is a part of your government and you don’t have the right to do anything about it. It doesn’t work that way. Everyone has a right to self defense and retaliation.

            But taxes should be assessed only on those who have consented to pay for and benefit from the services they pay for. To decline to pay for services that one doesn’t want is not aggression. To force someone to pay for services they don’t want is aggression. It doesn’t matter if it’s the government or the mafia. The act is the same.

          • Anonymous

            “But just because someone is not governed by a particular government does not give them the right to commit aggression against people within that government…”

            You are confusing “right” with “what will actually happen.” With no restraint on the aggression of others, YOU will be a victim of that aggression, which you clearly do not want. 

            You obviously do want protection from the aggression of others — that is why you live in a state rather than in anarchy. (And assuming you live in the US, you are of course free to leave any time, so by staying you actually DO consent to government by your actions, but that is a point for another day.) You just do not want to pay for it. 

          • Anonymous

            Farstrider, one doesn’t consent to be governed by remaining in the territory. That line of thinking makes the faulty assumption that whatever authority is present has the legitimate right to govern, no matter how unjust that authority is.

          • Damien S.

            Does one consent to the rules of a landlord by remaining on their property?

          • Just as question-begging as Farstrider. You imply that the territory is the state’s property, which is exactly the matter under discussion.

          • Anonymous

            yes. so what does that suggest that we should do about living in a country where we disagree with the government?

          • Anonymous

            Exercise your political rightsin an effortto change it, or leave.Those arereallyt he only choices. 

          • Anonymous

            you can work on educating people to think differently as well.  negotiate. talk.

          • Anonymous

            The taxman does not have my consent. Nor does democracy. And you cannot prove that the taxman’s powers are limited- unless what you mean is that there may be nothing left to tax at some point.

          • Anonymous

            Unanimous consent is impossible.

            And of course I can prove that the taxman’s powers are limited, by pointing you to the US Constitution, the Internal Revenue Code and the thousands of cases interpreting them, all  of which specify (that is to say, limit) what taxes may be collected and how they may be collected.  

          • And who interprets those?  The same people holding the guns? 

            A constitution could say damn near anything and it wouldn’t really matter.   The only real limits are the lines you’re willing to scrap the entire system over if they cross them.

          • Anonymous

            The Constitution only means what the power elite says it means. And right now it means that the federal government can do whatever it wants. You have no rights. Believing that the Constitution limits power makes people what the political class want them to be:  docile ignorant serfs.

            In a negative liberty sense you may have 100% consent. But where you have the positive aggressive imposition of the modern state and/or a democratic means, you can never have total consent.

            On the latter, it works out just fine for the greedy because it allows the majority to live parasitically off of the minority. But even here, in real time, the winners in the democratic game are usually the most organized and interested– so you have a situation where minorities feed off of majorities. It’s all given a stamp of democratic approval too- which the idiot serfs are forced to consume in public schools. What a self-reinforcing parasitism democracy is.

          • Anonymous

            This is just nihilistic nonsense. I have no rights? 
            Watch me exercise my right to free speech, which is enumerated in the Constitution you are so quick to dismiss: “I do not agree with our government.”

          • Anonymous

            Good for you!  Good little serf.
            Did you know that some slave owners let their slaves visit family on other plantations– even allowing  them to be gone for several days at a time. Or that the US Army granted leaves for conscripts? Or that you could drink yourself to death in the USSR?

            Gee, you are right. Everyone gots rights, see!

          • Anonymous

            The supreme court interprets the constitution. The president nominates the supreme court justices and the federal judges. The senate confirms the supreme court justices and the federal judges. There is no escape, Obiwan.

          • Anonymous

            Well, yes, that proves my point. The judges are appointed and confirmed by elected officials, each responsible to and elected by the public. 

            We can certainly have different views over whether that is the best way to pick judges or even the best way to pick our representatives in the executive and the legislative branches. But that is a debate about how to form a state, not a debate about whether a state should exist in the first instance. 

          • Damien S.

            Or whether a state will exist, like it or not.  An argument of  “statists” from minarchists on up is that territorial preponderances of force *will* exist, outside a state of constant warfare, and thus the goal is to make sure that preponderance is friendly and in public interests. Anarchists think it can be stably done away with; everyone else thinks this is madness, scrapping centuries of hard work that went into taming oligarchic or despotic governments, to start over from scratch for a pipe dream.

          • Anonymous

            Right. State functions will always be performed by someone. Our efforts are better spent on making sure that someone is accountable — rather than pretending that someone would not exist. 

          • Anonymous

            Will reply in toplevel post

          • Anonymous

            You might want to take a look at how the tax courts work before making a real big deal about how the tax man highly limited. For instance, we’re suppose to be tried by a jury of our peers, not so in tax court even though you can still find yourself in prison.

            I’ve had the IRS simply ignore my presentation of their forms and instructions, without any explanation of why or how the return I submitted was in error. This was after following their complaint process.

          • Anonymous

            Sounds like you have a good argument for how to fix government. Not an argument that government should be abolished. 

          • Anonymous

            Not trying to make a point in favor of anarchy in that comment — merely pointing out the weakness in your claim of limits.

          • Anonymous

            You demand that everyone else be as naive as you. If you mistakenly violate any of the tens of thousands of tax regulations in the USA, or even if you don’t but are judged to have done by an unaccountable bureaucrat, you will be punished. You can “petition” all you want but you’re still in jail. This is one reason why so many new statist mandates have been snuck in the back door into the tax code, rather than just written up as a regular old law (e.g. ObamaCare). You can’t fight the taxman. Even if you win (and that will take a decade), you don’t come close to coming out ahead.

            What is this “moral equivalence” anyway? Whose morality? Judged according to what standard?

          • Anonymous

            I don’t buy into the whole “democratically elected” thing anyway.  If there is nobody to vote for, it isn’t much of a democracy.  And anyway, even if there were someone to vote for, the corporate government behind those elected would not allow them to do things differently.  You are just kidding yourself to imagine that we live in a true democracy.  It is, in fact, very similar to a mafia run organization.

          • Anonymous

            Gosh, I do not remember any US election where that was “nobody to vote for.” Can you point to one? 

          • Anonymous

            guess you missed the last election, huh?  

          • Anonymous

            No, I voted in that one. I remember choosing between at least two, sometimes more, candidates for every or nearly every position. 

          • Anonymous

            Well, if you had several good candidates to choose from, you are luckier than I am where I live.  All the candidates suck.  When I think of US politics, I think republican/democrat and they both seem very similar to me. 

          • Anonymous

            So when you said there was no one to vote for, what you actually meant that there were people to vote for, you just did not like them. 

          • Anonymous

            when I said there was nobody to vote for, I suppose I should have added nobody who would do things any differently than what is already being done.  voting in those circumstances is just a knee jerk response.  allowing yourself to think you are doing your duty.  maintaining the status quo.  more or less supporting the wars, environmental destruction, the lie that the economy is all, that people are incidental.  all that kind of stuff. there was nobody to vote for if you wanted any change.  Not in the latest US election, not in the latest Canadian elections, not in the latest UK elections.   The elite are now globalized.

    • Adam Ricketson

      “as long as a sufficient subset of the population … is more willing to risk violent injury or death than you are in
      pursuit of their self-interest (enlightened or, more often,
      unenlightened.)”

      I think the problem is actually that a large portion of the population is willing to be dominated … and that is exactly what anarchists seek to change.

      BTW, I don’t think that human intelligence varies so much that it would affect basic social structures. Technology and education surely have a greater impact than raw intelligence.

      • Anonymous

        “Technology and education surely have a greater impact than raw intelligence.”

        This is true.  Technology creates what I think the local independent yeomen gun dealers in my former hometown call “force multipliers.”  Education gives people the capacity to read “to the victor go the spoils” in the original Latin, or was that the original Greek, or was it the original Sanskrit?

        “I think the problem is actually that a large portion of the population
        is willing to be dominated … and that is exactly what anarchists seek
        to change.”

        Sure.  If you want to put it that way.  This was the principle the Greeks used to justify enslaving those they conquered: you could surrender and be enslaved, or refuse and be put to the sword.  This was true no less in one-on-one duels than in pitched battles.

        That’s why I said all you need is one person more willing to die violently than you are to have “government” spontaneously emerge — either directly when he or she begins issuing orders and enforcing them with violence or else indirectly when people organize to oppose them.

        Finally, good luck to the anarchists seeking to change all that.  It’s been… how many years since the dawn of Buddhism?  And how’s that been working?  I’m pretty sure most folks don’t see anarchy as an institution in a position to impose moral obligations on the entire population the way religions do.  But considering the contrast between the idealism and the reality it actually makes a lot of sense.

        figleaf

    • Anonymous

      perhaps the reason the bikers took over is that it was not an anarchy at all, but merely a group of people living together who happened to all be on more or less the same page.  They probably did not have any plan of self government or how to deal with conflict.  I think I heard a bit about that situation in BC where bikers just rolled in and took over.  That is why I would consider anarchy to be self government from the bottom up rather than no government.  Personally, I don’t have a problem with rules and regulations.  I just want to have a say in what the rules and regulations are.  The fact is that the way our “democracies” are playing out, all the people who run in the elections have pretty much the same ideas.  Maybe some have a gentler front, but there has not been anyone with a determination to end all wars and to do something serious and probably uncomfortable about the state of the natural environment which has already been degraded to an extent that all life on the planet is endangered. 

    • Anonymous

      I think that anarchy is something to work toward and I have been on that bus for around 30 years.  Emma Goldman said that while socialism is not the answer, it is, at least, a step in the right direction.   There are no perfect, immediate answers, but there are better directions.  Certainly the lack of concern about the environment, people living in poverty,  warmongering, lack of acknowledgement of wrongs done through colonization, the continuance of colonization, massive consumerism, the crazy amount of wealth that a very few people have, the growing gap between rich and poor,  the fear of others being fomented by accusing people of “terrorism” whenever they don’t support the capitalism gone crazy kind of system we live in, the prisons being built for those of us who disagree with the power elite…..all those things are clearly the wrong direction if you are not one of the less than 1 percent of the people in the world who control the global economy.   I think I know a bit about that situation in BC where bikers took over a couple of festivals that had previously been very relaxed and “hippie”.  They were not really anarchists as far as I experienced though.  Most of them were barely political about anything other than the “opt out” philosophy which I completely understand, but found that didn’t work very well either.  An ungoverned population is certainly exploitable, but a population that is working at figuring out how best to govern themselves rather than having a power elite as the government could very well work.  It seems there are people in this discussion who think a few of us should be able to give them the answers as to how things will/should work.  That’s the problem with our present system.  The real challenge is to develop some kind of system that has the ability to change as change is needed without ending up have a small number of people/families making all the decisions for everyone because they have been “elected” after being able to afford the huge amounts of money needed to even get on the election ballot in the first place.  This is just not working.  And IQ seems like a very flimsy criteria to use when making a decision about anyone.  Just a few of my thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    (Note, doing this backwards in that I’ve not really read the blog, just the comments.)

    I doubt we’ll fine many places that are representative of any of the developed societies that many will call anarchist so one challenge is to look at history and try to figure out how modern technologies, populations and culture might affect historical performance of anarchistic societies. 

    There was a comment in these blogs a while back that hinted at an intriguing idea: an anarchistic state. If that’s possible then Aaron’s question by-passed and it’s not a choice between state or no state but the more conventional what form of state. 

    I would think this question, both from intellectual musings, empirical/historical, abstract analysis as well as philosophical perspectives would be interesting to most here. At core it’s the question of can formal social institutions be power neutral.

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t see anarchy as exactly “without government” but rather as governing from the bottom up.  Or reversing the pyramid so that there is not a person or small group at the top with everyone else at the bottom.  As I see it, anarchy would be a very well organized situation where decisions were made on a rotating basis and the entire population, especially those who wanted to be part of the decision making were well informed.  There would be lots of discussion and probably it would take a long time to reach any decision.  But once that decision was reached, everyone involved in the process would understand why the decision was made.

    • Adam Ricketson

      It seems that the first step would be to abolish state secrets.

    • Damien S.

      Can’t you also call that… democracy?  Especially looking at the ancient Athenian version?

      • Anonymous

        I will get to reading more about the ancient Athenian version of democracy one of these days.  In the present, we don’t have any kind of democracy as far as I can see.  people who are elected are difficult to get out.  the electoral system is set up to make a mockery of the whole process….i.e. in Canada at least, getting a majority does not really mean a majority, it just means getting the most seats which can happen without a majority of the population voting for a particular candidate.  And there is not rotating decision making unless you consider the turfing of politicians who do not toe the line to be rotating decision making.  And most certainly, those at the bottom of the pyramind have very little say over decisions that have a big  affect on their lives.  Democracy is a word that has been corrupted to the point where it is essentally meaningless to our present lives.  All it means these days is that elections are conducted to make it appear that people have an actual say in what is happening in their lives so that the so-called democracies of the world can then take the opportunity to impose themselves on countries that don’t have artificial elections.

    • Anonymous

      Perhaps I’m reading something in that’s not present but there seems to be an element of centralization to your approach to anarchy. Just wondering what your response to the article shemsky mentions a bit above in the thread? Seems a much more decentralized, situational and anarchistic.

      I’m not suggesting that the it’s one or the other, I certainly agree that in some cases everyone is impacted or otherwise legitimately concerned and involved so larger group decisions that apply universally exist. The two can complement one another and will if we can manage to apply the appropriate process to the appropriate problem.

      • Anonymous

        My vision of anarchy would be many groups that communicate with each other.  I am not sure how to avoid having the groups become like provinces or states with a federal/central authority.  I think that rotating decision makers might help to prevent that situation.  I think it would be important not to allow “experts” to make all the important decisions.  If there are situations where expertise is useful, then experts should be advisors, not decision makers and there should be some attempt to choose several experts who have not all reached the exact same conclusions.  After reading the Hasnas article, I wonder if social justice issues would be better resolved in an environment that was not part of the court system.  It seems that when tort law was a peace system set up to resolve simple disputes between individuals, there was a good chance that it would work.  Because social justice is open to all kinds of interpretations, it is often not right and wrong, good and bad etc, there are not such simple rules that can be applied.  If your neighbour’s dog pees all over your clean laundry, it seems reasonable that your neighbour should wash your laundry using the kind of soap you normally use and then keep her/his dog away from your laundry while it is drying and this is something that could be decided in a courtroom.  If your neighbour calls you a stupid bugger because you hang your laundry out to dry, it could be that some discussion is necessary regarding the reasons for hanging your laundry out to dry (less energy used, better smelling clothes etc) and this discussion would be better had in some venue other than a courtroom.

        • Anonymous

          I think you are correct that social justice is not something that tort, and especially a common law based legal system,  directly addresses. I think it’s a reasonable basis for helping us form ideas about what are good and bad approaches to social welfare as it requires we consider what people are actually doing themselves and not what they would like to have other people do. 

          Social justice does have multiple interpretations but the core political aspect, regardless of one’s interpretation, seems to me to hinge on the issue of redistribution.

          I agree that some aspects of social interaction require discussion regarding general principles, some of which might even then apply to common law decisions. 

          In many cases the common law process of repeated hearings slowly defining a general principle serves the effort better and produces a more appropriate standard because it’s not driven by a single incident — I’m sure we’ve all seen a number of knee-jerk reactions by government to establish a law for some highly publicized event that seems to lack a clear status of right or wrong. 

          • Anonymous

            I think redistribution of income and wealth is one part of social justice.  Much more important is how we are educated.  When I was in school I didn’t learn that the Europeans came to North America and murdered the indigenous people for their land.  I didn’t learn how the patriarchal system contributes to the subjugation of women and children and how it dictates people’s sexual preferences.  I just learned the same old stuff that everybody else learned.  Most of our heros are men, men died in wars so that we could all be free.  Men rape women, but it is mostly because women dress provocatively or do something else to confuse men.  These ideas have unfortunately not changed all that much.  Often, women still earn less than men for the same work.  Women now work outside the home and often continue to be primarily responsible for keeping the home and children organized.  And I certainly didn’t learn anything about how it is necessary to the ruling class to have the rest of us bickering and blaming each other for societal problems  based on class, race, religion, skin colour, sexual preference or whatever so that while we bicker, they can get on with gathering up money and stuff that makes them feel important.  To have real social justice we need to completely change how we educate ourselves  and our children.  We need to try to arrive at what is true, not what makes us feel like heros.

          • Anonymous

            While I agree to an extent with the issues you identify I think you’re setting the bar at a utopian and unrealistic (is that redundant?) level. Sure, grade school kids get a G rated, highly simplified and pro-whatever culture they live in. That’s largely an inevitable bias the prevailing group puts into it’s history–much is probably due to the psychological condition of viewing one’s self as largely good. Some has to do with who actually knew what and when. A lot of the bad stuff comes out slowly and has to be unearthed through research.

            You’ll never be able to teach anyone everything and so avoid introducing some systemic based bias in their education. Patriarchal societies introduce some biases, so do matriarchal societies. I think you’re over claiming the impact on gender relationships. The USA and our european heritage is largely patriarchal, but women have still held powerful roles and had great influence in the outcomes of both social and political events. A Queen was often just as powerful as a King in europe. I’m not sure if it’s true but I recall one psychological study that claimed to have shown women have greater capacity than men for inflicting harm and pain on others. That may be natural as they tend to have a higher tolerance for pain than men.

            I’m not sure that one can know “what is true” in a social context in the same way that we can about nature or math or logic. I say this as you seem to be bringing up issues that have as much to do with perception and some underlying immutable “truth”. For instance, we’re suppose to live in this patriarchal society but I grew up in a house where the mother was the more dominant, both in terms of family and, for all I can tell, in the relationship between my mother and father separate from the kids. How do that fit with biases due to patriarchal society? How many other families were the same. Where does that old saying about behind every great man stands a woman. I think Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with having made her husband’s presidency the success it was. Or what about the Trail of Tears? What’s the truth to that? White man mistreating the native Americans? A bad decision on the part of some of the tribe? An attempt to renege on the prior agreement by some of the tribe? I’m not suggesting there’s a lot our ancestors could be held accountable for regarding their actions. (While we’re here, didn’t you ever learn about Manifest Destiny? When I learned about it they didn’t leave any doubt that we were talking about displacing the native population.)

            I don’t mean the above to imply that the issues you listed are not important or areas where we could see improvements.

          • Anonymous

            j_m_h
            “That’s largely an inevitable bias the prevailing group puts into it’s history–much is probably due to the psychological condition of viewing one’s self as largely good.” 
            flea
            In our present social/political climate, this seems rather Utopian to me.  I see the prevailing bias as being more related to an undeserved and unreasonable sense of entitlement. 
            j_m_h
            “You’ll never be able to teach anyone everything” 
            flea
            I have no wish to teach anyone everything.  We need to teach ourselves, our children, our grandchildren to respect the planet and everything on it.  We need to teach them how to learn about their world.  What children seem to be learning from a very young age is that getting an education is important so they can get a good job and grow up to be big consumers.  They don’t seem to being taught that learning itself is a worthy goal  They don’t seem to be learning how to learn.
            j_m_h
            “Patriarchal societies introduce some biases, so do matriarchal societies.” 
            flea
            Matriarchal societies?  
            j_m_h
            “I think you’re over claiming the impact on gender relationships.”
            flea
            Maybe you benefit more from the impact of gender bias than you know.  
            j_m_h
            “I’m not sure that one can know “what is true” in a social context in the same way that we can about nature or math or logic. I say this as …you seem to be bringing up issues that have as much to do with perception and some underlying immutable ‘truth'” 
            flea
            I am not sure exactly what you mean by this statement.
            j_m_h
            “For instance, we’re suppose to live in this patriarchal society but I grew up in a house where the mother was the more dominant,…” 
            flea
            My mother was very dominating as well.  Not always in a good way either.  I grew up in a society where gender roles are very rigid.  Girls and boys were expected to grow into men and women, get married, have kids.  There was no talk of gay people, transgendered people, or anyone who did not fit into the mainstream ideas of gender and sexuality.  

            As well, I grew up in a fairly middle class environment with middle class values.  Poor people were scorned and ridiculed.  They were blamed for their poverty.  Anybody who was “different” could be ridiculed.  Women were often ridiculed just for being women.  Ridiculing middle class white guys was not considered very funny. 
            j_m_h
            “Where does that old saying about behind every great man stands a woman.” 
            flea
            Some man must have come up with that one or maybe a woman who was feeling kind of low that day.  Why would any woman want to stand behind any man?  I would rather stand beside them.

            And Manifest Destiny?  Are you joking?  That is an arrogant, racist, foolish, repugnant kind of thinking that I thought had gone out the window a long time ago.

          • Anonymous

            I think the only comment I’ll make is regarding the last paragraph. 

            You were the one who mentioned biases in education. I mention Manifest Destiny because I was taught about that in grade school and even then it was clear that was not any admirable policy.  I don’t know if you got a worse education than I, all public school, but clearly if one listened the education was not so biased as to hide all the blemishes. Small pox and infecting blankets was also part of my american history — though it was not presented as a federal government policy or in a positive light.

            I think you over state your case.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t recall being taught about Manifest Destiny in grade school.  I had very little political awareness of anything when I was in school.  I did think it was weird that a bunch of people from Europe could come and take a whole country from the people who already lived here.  I started worrying about all the trees being cut down at an early age.  I was ridiculed for that kind of thinking.

            I don’t think I come close to overstating my case or any other case.  I think most of the time the social/environmental/economic disaster that has been created by rampant capitalism and consumerism is vastly downplayed.  I don’t know what is going to happen to our planet with all the wars being waged, the climate and other environmental issues that are being ignored,  people swallowing pharmaceuticals until their livers are toxic and their kidneys don’t work, eating fast food full of pesticides, breathing polluted air, drinking polluted water….and to talk about it is to be a fear mongerer….overstating the case.  Geez

    • Anonymous

      If two groups disagree on the decision and cannot be reconciled or refuse to be reconciled, as is their right, who decides which group has their way? Whoever or whatever has that authority is the government.  

      • Anonymous

        It is impossible to say exactly how such an impasse would be resolved, but I think that there would be methods/ideas that were discussed before such a situation arose.  If decision making was rotating, for instance, perhaps the next decision makers could come up with some ideas.  Perhaps there could be input from the general members of the groups.  I think that these kinds of things would take some time to resolve but, hopefully, people would eventually see benefits from taking the time to think things through.  I think it is likely that once decisions were made, they would be better decisions that would be agreeable to most people and even if some were not entirely in agreement, if it was a decision that took everyone’s well being into account, eventually everyone would more or less come around.  To have this kind of decision making, priorities may have to change.  Convenience and expediency may not be such priorities.  Who knows.  It would be interesting to try.  It could hardly be worse than what we have going now.  With our present system, most people stand to suffer from social, environmental and economic decisions that are based on the needs and wants of a very small minority.

        • Anonymous

          The fact that you cannot explain how that impasse can be resolved is pretty fatal to your position. This is nothing personal — no one has come up with a better way to resolve these kinds of fundamental disputes apart from representative democracy with strong protection for individual civil liberties. And since no one can answer the question, it seems dangerously idealistic to just assume that some solution will spontaneously appear.

          So yes,  every system would be worse, probably much worse, than what we have now.  Churchill put it best: It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

          • Anonymous

            Any explanation I could offer would only be an armchair explanation.  In real life there are so many factors involved in any situation that it is even more fatal to make up your mind how things should go before you get there.  Raising children is very good experience for gathering knowledge about how human relations work.  What works today could be completely wrong tomorrow.  It is best to work on keeping oneself flexible and open to other ideas, I think.  Much better than thinking you have it all figured out and then trying to force your solutions.

          • Anonymous

            Sometimes different governments have disputes with each other that can’t be resolved to either party’s satisfaction. What do you do then, Farstrider? Do you propose a single world government to resolve all disputes?

          • Anonymous

            Let’s look at what governments do in the situation you describe because it is actually a great analogy. 
            (1) Sometimes they try diplomacy, which is the voluntary resolution of their disputes — much like what Flea is suggesting. When that works, great. (2) Sometimes, they refer their disputes to other organizations to resolve, like the World Trade Organization or the International Criminal Court at the Hague. Gasp! That’s the world government you sneer at!(3) Sometimes those two options do not work. What happens then?They go to war, and try to kill their enemy’s citizens and destroy their enemy’s property in order to coerce the enemy into capitulating.  Number 3 is what you get when diplomacy does not work and there is no government around to resolve disputes. In other words, it is what you get when there is anarchy. 

          • Anonymous

            It’s possible that would be what you get when there is anarchy, but it’s much less likely to happen under anarchy than under statism. Under anarchy protection agencies must rely on the voluntary patronage of their customers, who are free to go elsewhere, to bear the cost of  engaging in war. That’s not true under statism. How much less war do you think we would have if individuals, as individuals, had the opportunity to opt out of fighting and/or paying for it? Under anarchy, peaceful negotiation is much more likely to be used for resolving disputes than under statism.

          • Anonymous

            Well, every individual in THIS country already has the right to opt out of fighting the wars, if not paying for them, so I am not sure the point holds. 

            Peaceful negotiation only works when both sides are bargaining in good faith, with respect for the other side’s rights and views. But there are disputes that cannot be resolved that way. 

          • Anonymous

            why couldn’t they just keep talking until they got it resolved?  even if it took 5 years?  I am not suggesting this will always happen, but why is it less likely to happen than anything else?  If it were not up to a few “heads” of state to do all the talking, if the speakers could be rotated, if time out could be taken to consult with those who were not doing the actual talking, why would you think that would be less likely to work?  The situation of going to war to wipe out whoever does not agree with us has not been working.  So far the infrastructures of a few countries have been destroyed, the level of radiation has risen by 700 times in Iraq, millions of children below the age of 5 have died of preventable causes, civilians trying to get on with their daily lives are getting bombed.  Besides all that the young soldiers doing all this bombing and killing are becoming completely destroyed on a psychological level.  Who is winning here?  And what are they winning?

          • Anonymous

            Why WOULD they keep talking until they got it resolved? Why wouldn’t the stronger party act in its own self interest, and force the weaker party to suffer the consequences?   

          • Anonymous

            Ultimately it is in everyone’s self interest not to have war.  At least in any society where warmongering is not a moneymaking activity.  If such a thing had to happen tomorrow in our present society/political system, then I agree.  It would not be very likely to happen.  But if the people who were negotiating had been raised in a society where verbal negotiation rather than armed conflict was considered the way to deal with problems; if the profit motive were removed from warmongering then perhaps it could work.  As I have mentioned previously, anything I can say is really just armchair philosophizing at this point because we really have no idea how people would be if they were not educated to want bigger and more, if consumption of material goods did not drive our economy, politics and social life.  Twenty years ago I would never have thought that I would be sitting on a bus listening to people making multiple phone calls to say they were on the bus, they would there in an hour, 30 minutes, 15 minutes.  Oh, I can see you.  We’ll talk in person now!  Some positive changes have been somewhat less than positive.  It seems to me that we need to move forward, look, step back if necessary and go forward again.  We need to be prepared to change direction when necessary.  It would be a mistake to pre-determine how were are going to do everything.

          • Anonymous

            I’m sorry, but that is just not true. War-making is always in somebody’s self interest or no one would do it. You are forgetting that self-interest can take many forms apart from profit: nationalism, religion, legitimate self defense, empire building, etc.

            And of course there have been many wars motivated in whole or in part by simple economics, i.e., tariffs, access to ports, access to raw materials like oil, etc. 

          • Anonymous

            yes, it is in the interests of politicians who want to get re-elected and makers of ammunition who want to make big profits among others.  It certainly is not in the interest of ordinary people who either get brainwashed into believing that they are defending democracy when they or someone they care about joins a military force or who are civilians getting bombed, raped, beaten and watching their world get destroyed.  We were born with brains.  We were not born with guns and bombs.   If there were a God would she/he really want us to use our guns and bombs instead of our brains?

          • Adam Ricketson

            1) As flea argues, war is costly. Even the “winner” may end up being worse off.
            2) War is uncertain; the “stronger” party may actually lose
            3) Aggressors reveal themselves to be a threat to everyone, creating incentive for others to cripple them at the first sign of weakness.

          • Damien S.

            War is historically quite common, at tribe, state, and gang/mafia levels.  If your theory predicts wars should be rare in general, then your theory is wrong.

          • Adam Ricketson

            My point is actually that war is irrational. You could extrapolate to say that it would be uncommon in a rational society (which is what anarchists are trying to create).  People do not support wars out of rational self-interest; they support wars due to exaggerated sense of group-identity and authoritarianism. States tend to reinforce these war-enabling attitudes even when they are nominally “at peace”.

            As an example, the most common rationalization that I heard for supporting the US invasion of  Iraq was “I trust the  President”.

          • Anonymous

            Some wars are clearly irrational. Why do we have them? Because PEOPLE are irrational. You cannot fix that by abolishing the state. 

            Also, to be clear, some wars ARE economically motivated. Certainly, a lot of violence is economically motivated – that is the whole reason for the mafia to exist in the first place. 

          • Damien S.

            There’s also (4) you exercise extra caution in dealing with foreign businesses and citizens, because you know or fear you won’t be able to effectively sue for breach of contract, or will bear more cost and risk in doing so.  An-cap agencies and legal systems as envisioned could end up being a barrier to trade, by balkanizing the market.  Yes, you have choice — but if your new agency has arbitration and extradition agreements with everyone else, it’s not that much choise, and if it doesn’t, everyone else may choose not to deal with you.

            Shemsky: “Under anarchy protection agencies must rely on the voluntary patronage of their customers, who are free to go elsewhere,” 

            Why can’t they turn into old-fashioned extortionists and taxmen and start demanding payment?

      • Anonymous

        One solution I don’t think anyone suggested below is separation. If the two group have some difference that cause disputed between members of different groups then agreeing to avoid such interactions is a viable solution that is preferable to conflict. This doesn’t fit all possible sources of problem but does apply to many.

  • The fact that a current version of the state is bad does not, in and of itself, mean that anarchy is necessarily better.

    I guess it’s a good thing Gary didn’t make an “in and of itself” argument that the state is “bad.” Instead he provides reasons for thinking that some very central concerns of the bleeding heart left would be lessened without a state.

    the moment where two or more people band together to defend themselves
    from you after you’ve hired someone to carry a gun for you

    How is that the same thing at all unless you further add that defecting from said band would be met with force (which doesn’t much sound like defense)? And if people do act that way and initiate force, how is that an argument for not opposing such a thing, i.e. anarchism?

    The interesting thing to me about pure libertarianism, at least in North
    America, is that I don’t think I’ve ever met a libertarian with an IQ
    below 125.  And indeed if everyone’s IQ was at least 125 I’m pretty sure
    libertarianism would work out pretty well.  The problem with anarchy is
    that it works all too well as long as a sufficient subset of the
    population has a) an IQ below 100 and b) is more willing to risk violent
    injury or death than you are in pursuit of their self-interest
    (enlightened or, more often, unenlightened.)

    I can’t make sense of this. Did you misstate something here or am I an exception to the 125 rule? It seems to contradict itself. Maybe it has to do with the fact that my eyes glaze over when I see mention of IQ taken seriously.

    Government therefore self-organizes not to maximize freedom or liberty
    but to mitigate what Marx euphemistically called “primitive capital
    accumulation.”

    How’s that working out then?

    There was a comment in these blogs a while back that hinted at an intriguing idea: an anarchistic state.

    Is it run by married bachelors?

    • Anonymous

      “How is that the same thing at all unless you further add that defecting from said band would be met with force…”

      How hard is this, gang?  Even if you stipulate that there has to be violence in order for a government to be maintained there’s still no requirement that the government itself be the source of the violence.

      If you defect from a
      mutual-defense society you can no longer expect mutual aid.  
      In the scenario I outlined (defense against bikers) the bikers would be
      the perfectly sufficient source of violence preventing defection. 

      And please don’t get me wrong.  I’m no more a fan of government than I am of toilets, or screen doors.  But you’ve got to poop somewhere, and if you can stand having flies in your face as a price of “freedom” from screen doors you’re made of sterner stuff than I am.  Same with government.

      The trick for me, as a bleeding-heart lower-case-L libertarian, is that you first have to accept that government is as inevitable as bowel functions, illness, or insect pests.  And once you accept it then you can address the question of managing and/or mitigating it so it’s the least intrusive and least costly.  Or at least less intrusive and less inefficient than the alternative.  Which, based on my experience with marginal social subcultures, means being less intrusive and less costly than letting bikers run everything.

      figleaf

    • Anonymous

      The only mention was the view that the standard dichotomy between “state” and “anarchy” was perhaps incorrect and that an anarchistic state was possible. No further details were offered.

      Perhaps now would be a good time to get more detail.

  • Adam Ricketson

    “Poverty and workplace inequity can occur for multiple reasons. But
    neither could be expected to be remotely as prevalent in the absence of
    the state.”

    How does state enforcement of contracts play into this…

    Does enforcement of slavery contracts require a state? How about non-compete contracts, or non-disclosure contracts?

    • Anonymous

      “Does enforcement of slavery contracts require a state?” 
      A state is sufficient but not necessary. Slavery may be enforced by violence or threats of violence that are not sanctioned by anyone but the putative  slaveholder. 

  • The problem I see with this approach to libertarianism is how it seems to assume that, in the absence of the state, people would simply refrain from using their relative advantages against one another. As that wizened sage George Carlin once said, you show me the people with all the land, all the money and all the guns and I’ll show you the people in charge. How does the absence of the state prevent groups from simply recreating its vagaries for their own benefit?

    • Adam Ricketson

      How can someone “have” all the land without a state to enforce his claim? In the absence of enforcement, the natural situation is probably for the people who use a resource on a day-to-day level (i.e, the workers) to treat it as their own.

      Two of the major targets of traditional anarchists (I don’t know if Chartier falls into this category) have been corporations and absentee ownership. Even limiting this discussion to Chartier’s post, he discussed the elimination of intellectual property, which is one of the main ways that people acquire monstrous fortunes these days.

      • In any social system that has built in material inequality how can we assume that individuals won’t use their material advantage to enforce the disparity on their own? Presumably in an anrcho-libertarian society there will still be haves and have-nots. Someone will have a claim to land and resources. What will prevent the haves from hiring the have-nots to enforce their claims? If we accept that the monopoly on violence is a feature of the state, then without the state the right to violence would presumably revert to the individual. In such a situation, why should we assume that the wealthy won’t replace the state with a self-benefiting structure of their own?

        • Hyena

          Property would be of little value under anarchism. Without the ability to enforce absentee claims effectively–you’re not there to render beatings–it is difficult to hold more than you can carry. The main source of power is social networks, but it seems unlikely that you’d be able to build them through property others could just take from you anyhow.

          • Are you suggesting that libertarian anarchism would do away with private-property? If you don’t have enforceable rights to your property (including of course, everything from real property to financial assets) how could you even trade? Why would I barter with you if I could just take your goods by force? Or, if we can even assume that the individual right to violence would balance that out (assume we all have guns) what would prevent a bank from simply keeping your deposit? After all, you have no more right to the property than they do. It’s an interesting idea. I’m just not sure how it would work.

        • What will prevent the haves from hiring the have-nots to enforce their
          claims?

          We will.

          If we accept that the monopoly on violence is a feature of the
          state, then without the state the right to violence would presumably
          revert to the individual.

          Yes, but that means all individuals.

           

          In such a situation, why should we assume that
          the wealthy won’t replace the state with a self-benefiting structure of
          their own?

          So you agree that something resembling the state would be bad? We seem to be making progress. But let me respond with another question: under which system do the rich have more leverage?

          • Damien S.

            “So you agree that something resembling the state would be bad”

            No.  Not all states are equal.  A liberal or social democratic state that is responsive to its citizens and upholds equal rule of law and protects minorities is better than a pure wealthy-thug oligarchy state.  Anarchists try to persuade us to give up the former for anarchy, without being able to tell us how anarchy would avoid promptly turning into the latter.  It’s not “anarchy vs. states”, because there are different kinds of states.  And of anarchy too.

            “under which system do the rich have more leverage?”

            Under which system do the poor have more leverage?

          • Anarchists try to persuade us to give up the former for anarchy, without
            being able to tell us how anarchy would avoid promptly turning into the
            latter.

            Besides the fact that that’s a large part of what anarchists have been doing (see Gary’s latest book, among others), they do so with no clear burden that I can see, assuming we’re playing a fair game. Why does the anarchist, who believes as strongly as you do about your
            state that anarchism is “responsive to its citizens [sic] and upholds
            equal rule of law and protects minorities,” bear the burden of proving
            that it won’t turn into the latter? If this is going to be fair, you can’t compare the best case state to the worst case anarchism. So we should at least be able to assume the same starting conditions, namely a scenario where the system is in a steady-state of responsiveness, rule of law and protections for minorities etc.

            So starting there, why does the anarchist bear the burden? Is it immediately clear that the state you have in mind contains a feature that makes it less likely to turn into the oligarchy? If your reasons were that it had one or all of those things (responsiveness, protections etc.), recall that anarchists are starting from the same set of presumptions. If you don’t believe anarchy can have those things, that’s a different debate. I’m sure you’ll find more than a few anarchists who’ll not only take you up on it. They’ll probably take that time to remind you that it’s a myth that there’s any real distinction between your options and that it’s more like less pure wealthy-thug oligarchy states vs. more pure wealthy-thug oligarchy states. All of Gary’s points above seem just as applicable to the “good” states as the “bad” ones.

            But if we’re going to forgo that debate and stick to the matter of robustness against deterioration into oligarchy, it’s not clear to me that the “good” state has any real advantage, especially when anarchism seems to be all of the good things taken to their logical conclusions. If those things are part of why the “good” state is robust, then anarchism is likely to be even more so.

            In fact, the burden now seems shifted to you because, as Long states in the link above:

            first, a system of freely competing protection agencies could exist without aggression, while government by definition must aggress by prohibiting non-aggressive competitors; second, a competitive system will in practice involve less aggression than will a minarchic system, because anarchy involves a more extended system of checks and balances (the number of protection agencies makes collusion among them more difficult than collusion among branches of a single government), a more effective incentive system (because the market internalises externalities), and greater accountability (the familiar superiority of market democracy over political democracy).

            So your “good” state is guaranteed to be a step closer in the direction of the “bad” state along a key dimension, marked as the latter surely is by rampant aggression; and your “good” state isn’t even the best example of its own key features.

          • Damien S.

            The anarchist bears the burden because the anarchist is arguing for change, radical change even.  I can look around the world and see dozens of states that are pleasant though not perfect places to live in. The anarchist brings no such evidence to the table.

            “because the market internalizes externalities”
            What is this, I don’t even… the very definition of an externality is that which is not accounted for by the market, and IMO dealing with externalities is a primary justification for the state.

            How are the protection agencies prevented from colluding or merging? Or from fighting turf wars? Or exploiting their customers?  In short, how does the anarchy stay an anarchy?

          • Anonymous

            So,  if some of us would like to break free of statism so that we can make our own choices about how we are governed, while harming no one else and not taking anything from anyone else and not interfering with anyone else’s choice on how they are to be governed, we have to justify that to you? By what rights are you entitled to a justification? Do you feel that you own other people, or are they your equal? Sorry, Damien, but the burden is all on you to justify why people should not be allowed to make changes to their lives.

            And every point you raise in you last paragraph applies equally to the state.

          • Damien S.

            You’re moving the goal posts.  If you want to convince us to disband our government, you have a high burden of proof, as I stated above.  If you can go somewhere without taking anything from anyone or harming anyone, that’s great.  What’s your plan for that, space colonies?  The Earth is already claimed, and we share oceans and atmosphere so it’s pretty hard to avoid accidentally harming others without careful work.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not trying to convince you to disband your government. I just want to choose how I am governed and let you do the same (meaning that I want freedom of association). Why should I have to go anywhere to do that? The government doesn’t own every square inch of land and everything on it. And if I want something that your government or anyone else’s government has then we can trade with each other.

            There is such a thing as secession. It can work.

          • Damien S.

            The government defends every inch of land.  It also regulates the quality of the air that flows over your land and the water that flows beneath it.  You simply can’t secede  from those services, so you’re asking to become a parasite by seceding from taxpaying but not the services those taxes provide.

          • You simply can’t secede  from those services, so you’re asking to become
            a parasite by seceding from taxpaying but not the services those taxes
            provide.

            So your argument is basically if I provide you a service you don’t want, and refuse to go away and stop, you owe me money. Where do you live? I’m on the phone with my travel agent now.

          • Anonymous

            Damien, there’s something that I’ve wanted to ask you for a while now. You said that you used to be an anarcho-capitalist but have now rejected it in favor of liberal democracy. What changed your mind? What made you come to think that statism is better than anarchism?

          • The anarchist bears the burden because the anarchist is arguing for
            change, radical change even.  I can look around the world and see dozens
            of states that are pleasant though not perfect places to live in.

            Talk about moving the goalposts. I think you forgot what we were talking about. We were talking about the tendency of anarchism to turn into “a pure wealthy-thug oligarchy state.” I questioned that anarchists had the burden to prove that won’t happen because the claim doesn’t qualify as extraordinary do to the very fact that there isn’t any “seeming to be the case” about the kinds of systems anarchists describe, only stereotypes about “chaos” linked to the word. Asking for a show of hands about how many people think anarchism is chaos isn’t “seeming to be the case.”

             

            The
            anarchist brings no such evidence to the table.

            Again, with regard to the specific claim in question, statists also don’t bring any (of a specific kind of historical ) evidence that anarchy is likely to turn into “a pure wealthy-thug oligarchy state” for the same reason that such examples don’t exist. Your own point undermines you there. Now you do bring conceptual evidence, ethical philosophy and thought experiments to the table, but so does the anarchist. At that point, it’s a matter of which ones make more sense and I, of course, think the anarchist ones do.

            the very definition of an externality is that which is not accounted for by the market

            In a certain narrow textbook context but why is Roderick limited to that? It’s certainly not the only only way of talking about externalities. Are you denying that you can shift benefits and costs politically, outside of market forces? Because that’s what he’s talking about. State police don’t internalize the costs of their actions because they don’t have to compete on a market. They get paid vacations and medals for violating rights. States run expensive wars because they don’t have to pay for them.

            dealing with externalities is a primary justification for the state

            That’s certainly a justification given for the state (which creates some of the worst externalities known to us, e.g. waging war on tax money) but it’s really only a justification for regulation of some kind, which isn’t the same thing at all. The market is us and it’s precisely the anarchist position that you can “regulate” without a state.

          • Adam Ricketson

            “The anarchist bears the burden because the anarchist is arguing for change, radical change even.”

            I have written up an analysis of the above argument at my blog:

            The value of radical political thought
            http://e-vigilance.blogspot.com/2011/08/value-of-radical-political-thought.html

          • Anonymous

            Competing protection agencies will never happen.  You cannot force companies to provide you products in the marketplace, just because you want the product.

            The problem with private protection agencies is that no one is going to sign up with one so they themselves can be arrested and jailed.  Who would volunteer for such a service?  However, the same person might be happy to sign up for a service that arrests and jails others that have committed crimes, as defined by the purchaser of the service.

            So I charge my neighbor with a crime under protection company A.  He charges me with a crime under protection company B.  Now the protection companies go to war?

            Protection companies will never compete with each other.  It causes their costs to be catastrophic.  The best they could do is offer protection over a piece of property to whomever lives there, with the purchasers having less voice over how it’s done, since it’s a private company and not a democratic instrument.

          • Anonymous

            You can’t force companies to provide you with shoes just because you want shoes. But lots of companies sell shoes because people want them and are willing to pay someone to provide them. People also want and need protection and dispute resolution, so there would always be companies that would be willing to fill that need.

            Criminals don’t want protection agencies protecting ordinary people against being victimized by crime. That would cut into their business. But most people aren’t criminals. Yes, most people, who are not criminals, would be happy to sign up for a service that protects them against people who commit crimes. Doesn’t that make perfect sense?

            Protection agencies that have disputes with other protections agencies could go to war. But violence costs money, which someone, namely their customers, has to come up with. If there was a choice between a very costly protection agency (one that was always going to war) and a not so costly protection agency (one that settles most disputes through peaceful arbitration), wouldn’t it stand to reason that most people would choose the not so costly protection agency as their protection agency?

            Individuals can choose not to patronize certain private companies. The ability to take one’s business elsewhere tends to encourage private companies to satisfy the needs and desires of their customers. In that regard, market democracy is vastly superior to political democracy.

          • Anonymous

            You cannot “shop” for policemen and judges the way you “shop” for security guards or lawyers.  Security guards and lawyers are in your employ and are partisan on your behalf.  Policemen and judges are supposed to be impartial because they are resolving disputes.  If you are “shopping” for them, you are going to “buy” policemen and judges who are on your side.  You are not going to buy policemen and judges who are liable to arrest you or judge against you.  The system needs to be more indirect, over a large group of people.  In this instance that sort of market won’t work.

          • Anonymous

            Actually a number of people might be more incline to subscribe to an organization with a reputation for fair and honest findings over one that always takes the side of their customer. First, signing up with an agent that operates that way sends a signal that you might not be the most honest person so fewer people will have anything to do with you. Second, such agents will tent to be more expensive as their costs should be higher. Last, such an agency that’s so unconcerned with the truth might be one that will act very opportunistically towards its own customers.

          • Anonymous

            The Mafia has plenty of customers.  People deal with them out of fear and not because they choose to.

            You cannot force a private mercenary police system to fight the Mafia.  You cannot be a command consumer and force a private business into existence because you want that portion of society privatized.  If it’s privatized, and nobody wants the job, it doesn’t get done.

            In your system, how do you seek justice against your neighbor.  Your neighbor steals your car or rapes your daughter.  He belongs to a different justice service, or none at all (“self-justice”), or he signed a no-arrest contract with the service.  Now what?  Where’s your authority?

            This is real life, not some fantasy football league where you can quit if you don’t like the commissioner.  While you’re waiting for the entrepeneurs to provide all of these free-market security and justice services you think will appear, overlords or Mafia will appear instead, dispensing “justice” that applies to you but not to them.  Good luck opting out.

          • Anonymous

            Real life? You think people would prefer to deal with dishonest thugs over honest producers or whatever the person was trying to buy? You really think many people are paying protection to the mafia?

            I’ve not suggested any system in this thread, certainly none relating to protection, so that’s a non sequitur.

            I tend to settle my disputes with my neighbors–though I’m really having a problem thinking of any I’ve had–by talking with them.

          • Damien S.

            I think it’s perfectly fair to compare the best cases of states that actually exist to likely outcomes of anarchism.  And to reject “state vs. anarchy” as a false dichotomy.

          • Not when “likely outcomes of anarchism” is the question at hand and we disagree about what the range of outcomes would include, which from my perspective  includes cases that are better than any existing or theoretical state.

            Your argument is basically, “Some states are better than anarchy because anarchy isn’t better than some states.” That’s called question-begging. But you know that, don’t you?

          • 1. Saying that “we” will regulate seems to me to assume that each individual has equal power. In a materially unequal society, this is simply not the case. Sheldon Richman’s example of the apple seller is a case in point, for it assumes that the man selling $100 apples is doing so surrounded by competition. But what if he owns all the apples? Does he need the state to corner a market? I would think it would be the opposite; that the state is the mechanism through which his less powerful competition might best prevent him from doing so.

            2. I make no claims as to whether the state is good or bad. Rather, I proceed from the assumption that the state is the result of the human tendency to self-organize. That the state is not an impediment to human nature but the result of it. If you remove this state, why should we not assume that people will merely make another? Even Mr. Richman’s article suggests that economic anarchism isn’t really stateless, but rather trading one form of social control for another. It merely takes power from the political state and transfers it to the market. The real question is which form is more likely to serve the interests of most if not all people? With the market, your influence depends on the level to which you’re engaged with the social system. The more of a stake you have in the economy the more influence you will wield. A political state is, at least in theory, not dependent on the size of your share. While obviously in practice this doesn’t hold, I see nothing in anarchist theory to make me believe that a market led system will make us all suddenly start to behave.

      • Damien S.

        Given the site, I’d assumed he was arguing for anarcho-capitalism.  Seems I was probably wrong, and I don’t know what he’s arguing for.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Chartier

        • Anonymous

          Apparently another form of market anarchism. I liked the self-description of “left-wing, market anarchist”. Some might thing that’s an oxymoron but it probably means he’s just a real person.

    • The problem I see with this approach to libertarianism is how it seems
      to assume that, in the absence of the state, people would simply refrain
      from using their relative advantages against one another.

      Where does “it” seem to assume that? Anarchism is the position that says that to address the problem of people using their relative advantages against one another, you’re more just and better off doing so without relying on a forcibly-maintained monopoly on the use of force. It seems to be supporters of the state that always make the argument that their dear leaders will refrain from using their relative advantages against them.

  • Hyena

    This is why I became an anarchist before snapping back and becoming a “post-libertarian”. There are issues with anarchism for which I abandoned it but I’m not going into them.

    One thing I’d like to point out is that under anarchism, contracts have to be self-enforcing. The idea that you’d be able to use a “gotcha” clause or later proffer an argument on the wording is foreign under anarchism because there’s no external power to constrain the actions of others. Use of violence or attempts to tarnish reputations are unlikely to work well: if they perceive you acted in bad faith, they will see you as wrong and dangerous; if they suspect that both parties had an agreement in good faith that broke down because each perceived the deal differently, they’ll see you as dangerous. So in practice, all agreements would need to be enforceable by the honor of the person agreeing to them.

    That has limits, of course, which is a problem with anarchism. But I think an argument from anarchism might be useful in reforming our conception of law. It’s likely, for example, that we’d benefit from a highly technical view of contracts among financial companies and a much more laid back approach for individuals.

    • Adam Ricketson

      Good point. Corporations are inherently the result of complex contracts and laws, so it would make no sense to give them any leeway. In contrast, the expectation that every person retain a lawyer has become implicit in our society, and it is absolutely ridiculous. It may just be an illustration of the fact that our legislators (in the US) are largely lawyers themselves.

      You have also illustrated the proper use of ideology: ideologies don’t exist so that we can dream of utopia, they exist to help us make decisions by providing a set of questions and criteria that we have already considered the ramifications of.

      • Hyena

        Right.

        IIRC, the status of contracts in law is sometimes as representing an agreement rather than being the agreement. With corporations, there’s an argument to be made that the contract must be the agreement because there’s no other clear way for an entity like that to produce an agreement. It’s not conscious, it relies entirely on agents. In theory, if it were conscious, that reliance would allow it to always disavow contracts (some companies try this, I believe).

        So, for them, contracts and their wording would be relatively more important. But my main point is that lots of comanies are engaged in legal machinery: they build precise systems in this way, so the contracts need to hold to the letter for the same reason that a computer program does.

        • Anonymous

          I had not ever thought of that aspect of contract between real people and corporation. I suspect it’s one that actually does create a challenge for contract law. 

          I do think there’s a lot of work that can be done to improve what corporations are, how they function within an economy and society, legal status and various privileges they enjoy.

          • Hyena

            To be honest, however, I think the lineage begun with the joint stock companies is at an end. There will be no real improvement; they will be supplanted.

          • Anonymous

            Are you sure corporations started with joint stock companies? My understanding is that the first corporations were municipalities.

    • Anonymous

      “post-libertarian”? Any defining attributes here?

      • Hyena

        Not really. An acquiantance coined the term to describe my political views, which are informed by sources like staunch libertarianism and anarchism but conclude they are unviable, though still incredibly useful in thinking about the state.

        • Where do I sign up?

    • Anonymous

      “So in practice, all agreements would need to be enforceable by the honor of the person agreeing to them.”

      I really don’t see why contract disputes would be much different that they are today in a court. I would expect that an anarchistic society would rely on things like The Reasonable Man standard and discovery of what the customary acceptable behaviors for the relevant community were. Both of these are long established legal concepts within the common law approach to jurisprudence and dispute resolution.

      I certainly agree that modifications to our existing legal systems, allowing these types of anarchistic elements to be expanded and extended into how we settle our disputes in a less centrally controlled/dictated type of environment.

      • Hyena

        The issue is that there wouldn’t be a law to go to court over. You’d have to rely on social acceptance of your decisions to put force behind them.

        • Anonymous

          In the long run, what social organization or means of relating does not rely on social acceptance? It is the same in post-libertarianism as it is in Stalinism.

          • Hyena

            In the long run, sure, but generations often pass between those runs.

          • Anonymous

            Only when we’re organized under formal and rather centralized, top-down social institutions. The less formal, less centralized one’s tend to be more flexible and adaptable to changing values — most of the time I think without becoming too faddish and unstable/unpredictable.

          • Hyena

            How is this an objection to what I said?

          • Anonymous

            I don’t think more endogenous social processes based on what people actually do rather than what legislation and regulation says they can do have less delay.

            For example, in the 70s in reaction to the oil crisis and high gas prices highway speed limits were dropped to 55 mph. A lot of people complied with those limits because their pocket books supported that. Later, gas prices dropped in real terms, cars got much more fuel efficient and people started driving faster. It took about 15 years to get the speed limits changed though. One of the factors driving the increase in speed limits was the fact that almost everyone sped, but only some got tickets — there was a great sense of injustice due to that condition. I think this example does extrapolate out to other types of change where social acceptance (and it’s supporting “force”) occurs quite quickly and the formal force  you appear to suggest is needed will be what lags. 

            In most cases we won’t need to wait generations. If you’re not making the case that we’d have to wait for generations until some social enforcement exists, during which agreements will only be as good as the people who made the agreement, then I don’t understand your point in this subthread.

          • Hyena

            No, we are blessed with a government that is more or less responsive to the demands of the people. That is not true of much (most?) of the world and may not always be so for us.

            Certainly, it is even less true of history.

          • Anonymous

            I think we’ll have to differ on that claim. 

            We have a government that’s responsive to some extent to about 30% of the people, much more responsive to special interests and those who are well connected and rich. 

            Unfortunately that government and it’s agencies seem to increasingly have a disregard for both the laws we’re suppose to live under and “collateral damage” done to people (killings when crashing through the doors of the wrong house, property taken from law biding people who then face substantial hurdles in getting their property back and the like).

        • Anonymous

          I’m not so sure of that. I think the reference to John Hasnas’s article offers a somewhat different possibility to consider. Law can be custom and common expectations.

          • Hyena

            Sure, but this is a different understanding of “law” than the one in normal circulation. It doesn’t do us any good because it simply reframes “social acceptance” and calls it “law”. That’s not really getting us closer to anything, it’s just restating and equivocating.

            Which is fine, I guess, so far as it goes. It just doesn’t go far and it’s mostly a hand-waving move anarchists use to make people who fear literal “lawlessness” more comfortable with actual lawlessness.

            It’s rhetorical, not substantial.

          • Anonymous

            I disagree. It’s actually part of our legal heritage and even part of our existing legal system. One of the core premises of tort law is the concept of the reasonable man standard. Basically it says “given the situation, location and time (no one thinks our expectations can be the same as they were 100 years ago in all cases) what could a reasonable person expect from others. That requires was consider the local customs.

            I suppose some might be advocating lawlessness; I am not. I’m talking about a bottom up processes for generating law. The fact the law will be more subtle and not something powerful groups or people can easily influence to their specific interests has both benefits and costs. 

    • One thing I’d like to point out is that under anarchism, contracts have
      to be self-enforcing. The idea that you’d be able to use a “gotcha”
      clause or later proffer an argument on the wording is foreign under
      anarchism because there’s no external power to constrain the actions of
      others.

      There isn’t?

      The issue is that there wouldn’t be a law to go to court over. You’d
      have to rely on social acceptance of your decisions to put force behind
      them.

      Oh! I see the problem now. No wonder you rejected anarchism. You were doing it wrong.

      • Hyena

        Don’t be daft, son. 

        If you can’t recognize Long’s argument as being part of the basis of my own, you shouldn’t reply to me. All Long is doing is colonizing the term “law” in a way that’s helpful in his discussion but creates useless entanglements in this one.

        • First, I’m not your son.

          Second, I take it you mean this:

          Sure, but this is a different understanding of “law” than the one in
          normal circulation. It doesn’t do us any good because it simply reframes
          “social acceptance” and calls it “law”. That’s not really getting us
          closer to anything, it’s just restating and equivocating.

          Which
          is fine, I guess, so far as it goes. It just doesn’t go far and it’s
          mostly a hand-waving move anarchists use to make people who fear literal
          “lawlessness” more comfortable with actual lawlessness.

          It’s rhetorical, not substantial.

          That’s just nonsense. If you want to overlook the fact that Long
          specifically has in mind things that in fact took the form most people
          would recognize as legal institutions (e.g. the Law Merchant) and call
          it “lawlessness,” it’s not Long who is equivocating. Try as you might,
          you simply cannot take decentralization of law and equate it with the
          lack of law because it doesn’t have  a center without begging some key
          questions.

          • Hyena

            Merchant law had established courts and practices. Prior to that it was just custom. That these courts were not tied to territorial states is of no consequence whatever.

            Try again.

          • Hyena

            Moreover, you are confusing issues. “Decentralized law” is still law, it simply doesn’t flow from an easy center and comprises things like polycentric law. This is quite apart from custom or convention, which rests solely on social acceptance in a direct way. Decentralized legal systems are still law, still handed down by a state-like body, still enforced by external power.

            That’s not anarchism, that’s city-states on one end and jurisdiction over persons at another. Long’s argument is that you can obtain law-like behavior from custom. And that is true, that’s where laws start from. But once you create a formalized system of creation and enforcement, it stops being custom and starts being a law because it now stands apart from the customs and traditions which birthed it.

          • Anonymous

            Not if those customs and traditions, and how they change over time, continue to inform on the application of the law you say has separated from the more informal social structures.

          • Hyena

            Informing and influencing are different, however, and really only apply in grey areas. Those are properly understood as spaces where no law yet exists.

          • Anonymous

            Not at all. If the underlying basis, how people are interacting, has started to change then the prior decisions become increasingly less relevant. Even in today’s system of judge made law such a situation would justify the judge distinguishing the case and setting the new precedent.

            This bottom up approach to creating law allows both the development, discovery as some like to describe the process, of new law for new situations as well as modifications to existing laws due to changing situations.

    • Anonymous

      You leave a  common scenario, and one which your model has no answer.  Two contracting parties have contrary, but honestly held views on what the agreement was, but each regards the other as acting in bad faith by asserting their contrary view. Someone has to decide who is right and who is wrong. Whoever that is, it’s government. 

      • Hyena

        It’s not the contracting parties beliefs that matter here, it’s always been what they can convince others of.

        The point of my comment is pretty simple: say you are writing up contracts for rental cars and someone takes one. You can argue that they acted in bad faith, so when you hired goons to deliver a firm beating, it was well-deserved. Likewise with reputation tarnishing. But it’s important that others see the bad faith of your counterparty or they won’t want to contract with you. They’ll fear that you’ll set goons on them or damage their reputations.

        Instead say that the issue is “normal wear and tear”. The renter argues that the ding is “normal” since it was from a road rock. You insist that it’s not because if it were, you’d have a lot full of dinged cars but you don’t. 

        Do you think you’d get away with any measures here? No. You’d never be able to convince others your claim and if you pursue any retribution, you’ll be Yelped into oblivion.

        • Anonymous

          Your universe pretends that people do not lie — intentionally or otherwise. 

          Also, the fact that the rental car will not get any more customers is pretty cold comfort for the guy who you so casually dish out a “firm beating.” 

          • Your universe pretends that people do not lie — intentionally or otherwise.

            It does no such thing. It merely asks, again, can systems minimizing the signal-to-noise ratio (facts-lies) “be supplied only through the conscious actions of human beings invested with the power to enforce rules on all members of society”? I’m just going to keep hammering this until it sticks.

          • Anonymous

            Keep hammering. Your question makes no sense. It may be partly my fault because I got us off on the tangent of lies v. truth. Let’s assume everyone is telling the truth AS THEY SEE IT. Sometimes, parties can still resolve their disputes when this is true, but sometimes they cannot. When they cannot resolve it themselves, then what?

      • Whoever that is, it’s government.

        No, it’s not. You believe that the only way that two parties can resolve a dispute is if there is a dispute resolution mechanism “that claims, and in large part achieves, a forcibly maintained monopoly, within a given geographical territory, of these legal functions.” That’s a government and it just doesn’t follow.

        And I don’t have a model. I have an anti-model that merely asks “whether there are any essential goods or services that can be supplied only through the conscious actions of human beings invested with the power to enforce rules on all members of society”?

        • Anonymous

          Yes, there are: dispute resolution, property laws, contract laws, public defense among others.

  • Anonymous

    Prof. Chartier,
    Thanks for the interesting and provocative post. With respect to your point no. 3, have states never in history been required to fight just wars, including purely defensive ones? Is it not possible that relatively peaceful and non-violent communities may need to protect themselves against violent and aggressive ones that would like to take their land/resources and enslave them? Might the relatively peaceful community not find it in their legitimate interest to oraganize a state for purposes of self-defense? Even if a state was not purposely created solely for self-defense, might at least the part of it dedicated to national defense have legitimacy or authority?

    • Adam Ricketson

      On the chance that Prof. Chartier cannot respond, I’ll offer an answer.

      First, as noted by another commenter, a military is not necessarily a state. The main issue is whether people are forced to support the military (either through conscription or taxes). I don’t know if there has ever been a group that voted to convert from a voluntary defense group to a compulsory defense group (i.e. state) in response to a particular instance of outside aggression. However, we all know that the potential for outside agression is commonly used as a justification for state power.

      To my knowledge, most states (at least those that have survived, including the USA) were founded by invasion or and domination. Furthermore, they typically rely on elaborate ideological justifications, such as religion or nationalism (i.e. they are not just pragmatic responses to events), though these are probably constructed after-the-fact.

      In the end, I think that you are unlikely to find some sort of spontaneous formation of a state, since that model seems to require a modern, cosmopolitian society, whereas most states emerged from more provincial and clan-based societies.

      • Hyena

        Does the lineage matter here or just the internals? Mongolia, Polynesia, China and a few others may well consist of spontaneous states, though they later had wars which established their borders. They weren’t created by displacement and subjugatuon, however. Or, at least, it looks that way.

        • Adam Ricketson

          1) China: clearly an instance of invasion and domination. Consider Tibet and Taiwan, along with many other regions where the Han have forcibly colonized. Prior to the PRC, there were plenty of wars among local warlords to establish domination, and for a century or so it was ruled by Mongol invaders.
          2) Mongolia: I can’t say
          3) Polynesia: I don’t know about the societies that existed prior to European settlement, but the current ones clearly have dominant and subordinate groups.

          • Hyena

            The point with China is that it’s spontaneous vis-a-vis, say, Turkey or the US, which are simple invader states. Polynesia is the same.

  • Damien S.

    “Damien, there’s something that I’ve wanted to ask you for a
    while now. You said that you used to be an anarcho-capitalist but have
    now rejected it in favor of liberal democracy. What changed your mind?
    What made you come to think that statism is better than anarchism?”

    Replying here to avoid narrow-column syndrome.

    It’d be more acurate to say I was strongly tempted by an-cap; I was never 100% convinced.  Rough history:

    Age 13-17: read L. Neil Smith, discover Libertarianism, get blown away by the beauty and moral clarity of it all, disappoint liberal parents. Worry about how it all seems right, I can’t think of any argument that would “convince a Nazi”. All this despite being a public school and food stamps kid, though I’m not sure I knew we were on food stamps.  Free lunch, yes. Read _Capitalism and Freedom_ via high school library.

    Age 18: college, discover Internet, join Extropians list and polycentric law and anarcho-capitalism.  (Also, Vernor Vinge SF.) Have an epiphany from another extropian that “natural law” is unprovable and redundant bunk, thus solving the Nazi problem. I view libertarianism as what I want to be right, or just as what I want, not as something that Is Right.

    18-20something: vote Libertarian. Read Hayek and get tempted to call myself classical liberal instead of libertarian. Read _Machinery of Freedom_.  Defend the possibility of an-cap to my skeptical friends, and defend government to extropian an-caps.  (I believed an-cap could work better than government; claims that government did not work at all, which many people made, struck me as utterly absurd.) Argue about free market vs. universal health care with my lefty economist father. Worry about national defense, pollution, endangered species protection, the initial allocation of property, and that anarchist law enforcement seemed like an unstable equilibrium, but generally have an attitude of hoping solutions will be found.

    20something: realize one day that for all the theory about how horrible governments were, Scandinavia sounded like a perfectly nice place to live, and universal health care seemed to work. Gradually shifted from favoring theory to empiricism, which allowed the worries above to be seen as fundamental flaws, not rough patches. Accepted messy solutions for a messy world vs. trying to shoehorn the world into a pure theory.  Called myself liberal-libertarian for a long time, as I had and even have some sympathy with libertarian critiques, but eventually embraced social democracy as my view of necessary govt’ functions became stronger and using libertarian just seemed misleading.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for replying, Damien. I appreciate you taking the time to do so. If you turned your thought process upside down it would be very similar to mine. I had many arguments with my progressive parents as well. Reading Lysander Spooner, more than anything else, is what convinced me to be an anarchist. Roderick Long’s “Anarchism As Constitutionalism” also played a part, as did some email exchanges with Sheldon Richman.

    • Hyena

      I think that’s relatively close to my progression as well.

    • Anonymous

      Very helpful analysis of your transition, Damien.  I used to believe that anyone who learned public choice theory and who had read Hayek’s “Creative Powers of a Free Civilization” was necessarily more or less libertarian.  As someone who is very much a “liberal-libertarian,” or bleeding-heart libertarian if you prefer, it seems to me that you simply gave up on making the world a better place.  I happen to believe that freedom is essential for innovation, and that in properly structured markets innovation helps the poor most of all.  As a consequence of this “bleeding-heart” propensity, I feel continued moral urgency to create innovative, entrepreneurial solutions (most of which require more freedom than most nation-states allow) in education, health care, security, justice, and community formation, all of which continue to be dominated by government and thus are more or less resistant to transformative innovation.

      • Damien S.

        “it seems to me that you simply gave up on making the world a better place”

        Funny, seems to me that I embraced trying to make the world a better way in concrete and measurable ways.

        Social democracy, or for that matter any political movement that isn’t libertarianism or libertarian conservatism, or on the other side central planning style socialism, can be all about properly structured markets.  In fact, that’s much of the point of government in this view: properly structuring markets so that externalities are accounted for and market failures patched.  Yeah, we view some things as not amenable to any known market structures; that’s why we have governments.

        • Anonymous

          The most urgent moral improvement seems to me to be the alleviation of global poverty and, relatedly, the reduction in global violence.  The most effective “concrete and measurable ways” to reduce global poverty and violence is, to a first approximation, to increase economic freedom and, in a more refined sense, to create islands of world-class law in developing nations around the world.  Certainly the libertarian community has been leading the research on the role of economic freedom in alleviating poverty, albeit sometimes with a simplistic approach regarding the challenges of creating world-class legal systems in the developing world.  Whether one would not call Hernando de Soto, Doug North, or Paul Romer “libertarians,” their work on the importance of creating world-class investment environments around the world mostly validates 20th century free market economics.  I am actively involved in increasing economic freedom in the developing world AND in creating islands of world-class law (the recent Honduran Charter Cities law is the best example) because this is the most urgent cause on the planet.  And the progressives are completely worthless as allies in this movement.  See “Gated communities and nation states” and the associated links for more,

          http://athousandnations.com/2009/08/21/gated-communities-and-nation-states-the-cartel-responsible-for-global-poverty/

          With respect to domestic issues, for me the most morally urgent issue is to create a more innovative educational system that will serve the poor more effectively than does our existing system.  VERY gradually some elements of the mainstream establishment have come over to support charter schools, sort of, in a half-hearted way, but as someone who spent much of my life creating better schools again I would say that for the past twenty years progressives have mostly been part of the problem rather than part of the solution.  See this article for more,

          http://www.flowidealism.org/Downloads/How%20to%20Avoid%20Wasting%20$60B.pdf

          In general, I see innovative market solutions as benefitting the poor and marginalized the most, much as Gary Chartier does.  

          Moreover, just as the USPS has become obsolete, to the point where it merely shuffles around subsidized junk mail, so too do I see the rest of government functions gradually becoming obsolete.  Better private, virtual, and homeschooling options will gradually make government schools as obsolete as USPS, private arbitration will make government courts obsolete, etc.  It may take thirty years or three hundred years, but eventually I see a world in which most government functions are superceded by entrepreneurial solutions (for profit and non-profit).  

          For a 10,000 foot view, see “Be the Solution:  How Entrepreneurs and Conscious Capitalists Can Solve All the World’s Problems,”

          http://www.amazon.com/Be-Solution-Entrepreneurs-Conscious-Capitalists/dp/0470450037?tag=bleedheartlib-20

          For more detail contact me and I can bring you up to speed.

          • Damien S.

            Economic development benefits from strong but not smothering governments, with good rule of law, well-defined property rights, and low-corruption.  I also note that most successful countries have developed behind protective tariffs  and with a fair bit of internal nurturing by government.  Free trade and pursuit of short term comparative advantage often leads to overspecializing in commodity exports, and short-term income but long-term vulnerability to change.

            From what I’ve seen the success of charter schools has so far been rather mixed.  I agree that having more choice seems compelling, yet it doesn’t seem a big component in countries whose systems outperform our own.  Conversely, a big flaw in US public schools is that the funding system, by local property taxes, sneaks in “you get what you can pay for” in an ostensibly public system.  If we had state or national level funding, like most other countries, it might look a lot different, and could help the poor quicly without any experimentation.

          • Anonymous

            On developing nations, are you aware of the massive over-regulation that is characteristic of the developing world?  According to the World Bank’s Doing Business index, it requires 18 documents to import a good legally into the Congo.  In order to get a document notarized in Mexico an aspiring business person needs to pay $500 or more, thus excluding all but the upper classes from legal business activity.  And on and on and on.  The Tunisian street merchant Mohamed Bouazizi immolated after being harassed for the umpteenth time by bureaucrats, thus setting of the Arab spring.  Sadly, despite the increase in democracy resulting, unless there are increases in economic freedom we will not see increases in broad-based prosperity in the economic world.  Have you ever tried to do business in the developing world?  It is like swimming through molasses – especially for the poor.  With money one can buy one’s way through the morass (aka “corruption”).  Without money one is stuck in the grey market, eternally subject to harassment by police and bureaucrats.  Most of the world’s poor are subject to constant harassment of this nature.  Much of the “corruption” is due to massive over-regulation.  

            One of the reasons why economists created the economic freedom indices is to provide objective measurements of the various obstacles to economic freedom.  When people point out that even Britain and the U.S. had various tariffs and trade barriers at the height of their transition to prosperity, the assumption becomes that those barriers were part of the solution rather than part of the problem.  But quite aside from those debates, every nation that has become prosperous had dramatically more economic freedom than do poor nations today.  In the first part of the 20th century when Sweden was one of the fastest growing economies on earth government took a smaller share of GDP than was the case in the U.S. during the same period. It was only after Scandinavian nations became wealthy that they increased government expenditures.  And even today Scandinavian nations are more free market than the entire developing world (the few exceptions being nations such as Chile that only recently became more free market than Scandinavian nations, though not coincidentally it is also the case that Chile is now a middle-income nation and the wealthiest nation in Latin America).

            The lack of economic freedom in the developing world is absolutely indefensible.  Yes, good property rights and rule of law are likewise crucial prerequisites (the economic freedom indices include measures of these institutional measures).  I am involved in several entrepreneurial initiatives to bring world-class legal institutions into developing nations in order to solve this problem – talk of “strong” government does nothing to get us there.

            With respect to education, I’ve created a charter school that was ranked the 36th best public high school in the U.S., with most of those ranked more highly being either magnet schools or schools in wealthy suburban districts.  I did so in rural New Mexico, one of the most poorly performing academic areas in the U.S.  I did so on less money than the local public schools (we got roughly 90% of the per pupil funding of the public schools AND had to pay for our facilities – portable buildings – out of our per pupil rather than bond issues) and while being constantly and viciously harassed by a local hostile school district and a highly bureaucratic state department of education.  An experienced charter school founder aptly describes founding a charter school as equivalent to starting a business while fighting an uphill political campaign while running a highly regulated social services agency.  It is brutal.  

            When charter schools were originally proposed, they were criticized on the grounds that they would cream off the best students.  Now that we know they mostly serve poor and minority students, the complaint is that they are not especially high performing (though some are).  Why not be grateful that poor minority students have new options that they obviously want (see “Waiting for Superman”)?

            I am not surprised that many are not great.  That said, bad charter schools can be closed, whereas Detroit Public Schools (and countless other inner city districts) have been destroying lives for decades and yet they just keep going and going and going.  Moreover, test scores are not the be all and end all.  Charter school parents and students are much more satisfied than are other public school parents.  In my schools I had kids who were depressed and suicidal who were desperate to escape the previous hell-hole where they had been attending school.

            I could go on, and have written on many of these issues at length elsewhere.     It is endlessly exasperating to know that we could create a much better world, but that academic bigotries towards entrepreneurial solutions are delaying morally crucial improvements in the world.  

          • Damien S.

            Yes yes, lots of over (or rather, *bad*) regulation in underdeveloped countries, probably part of why they’re still underdeveloped.  But the tariffs — and government “internal improvements” — extend beyond the UK/US industrial revolutions to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.  And for that matter, China.  Some government being bad doesn’t mean all government is bad.

            Charter schools still benefit, AFAIK, from taking students whose parents care enough to put them into charter schools.  That’s a huge selection bias right there.  And again, how do government schools of other countries outperform us without them?  I’m not particularly opposed to charter schools or other choice actually, and am pretty friendly to homeschooling, but I’m also sceptical of it as a panacea.

          • Anonymous

            “Yes yes, lots of over (or rather, *bad*) regulation in underdeveloped countries, probably part of why they’re still underdeveloped.”  

            I would say indisputably why they are still underdeveloped.   There are no poor nations with high levels of economic freedom and no rich nations with low levels of economic freedom, increased in economic freedom result in increased rates of economic growth, etc. etc.Although tariffs abound, whether they were a net plus or a net negative in any particular situation is an unknown counterfactual.  More broadly even if some governments happened to “get it right” with respect to tariffs, on balance most governments most of the time have imposed interventions that were net harms (see above on economic freedom).Some “governance” services are crucial, no doubt about that, and in a world of entrepreneurial governance there would be competing providers of increasingly high quality governance at various scales and with respect to various governance needs.With respect to education, my particular charter school happened to be in an isolated valley such that it was largely a de facto neighborhood school – only 20% of the students “selected in,” most came in order to avoid the hour long bus ride that they had to make prior to the school’s opening.  In any case, any educator who has seen dramatic improvements in students in situation A rather than situation B knows that such improvements are possible.  The challenge is to scale such improvements, and for reasons in the various articles I’ve written more entrepreneurial approaches to education are most likely to scale such programs.Other countries that “outperform” us do so with far more homogenous populations where students and parents often have a more traditional and respectful approach to education.  In one of the schools I created my partner was a Chinese-Brazilian who, after working with American students, said simply, “The reason Asian students learn more is that Asian parents support the teachers and the school.”  By contrast, we were constantly faced with parents who excused their child’s ill behavior.  I see rampant disobedience in American schools as a global cultural disease, being disseminated by pop culture that is very gradually corrupting adolescent populations around the world (American students actually do okay at the elementary level, then really fall behind in secondary school).  That said, such disobedience is also connected to American creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.  But it is possible to create schools in which kids of all races and classes can think and create for themselves AND learn high level academics, but it requires a dramatic change in pedagogy which is not possible in the standard K-12 default operating system within which most public and private schools are required to operate.  Our existing 100-year old school model is ill-adapted to channel the increase in adolescent autonomy in constructive directions.

          • Anonymous

            Amen!

          • Anonymous

            I applaud your efforts. If we desire a more egalitarian society we cannot bring it about through social engineering projects, but only by providing equal opportunity for all, especially in education from which all good things flow. If everyone has access to a decent education you will get more equal outcomes naturally, since all children are capable of learning (the phrase “the soft bigotry of low expectations” is perfect here).

            One of the first things that started turning my thinking in a more libertarian direction some 20 years ago was the absolute disregard modern liberals seemed to have for the educational opportunities available to the less fortunate elements in our society. These folks sent their kids to excellent public schools like Beverly Hills High or to private schools, but would fight to “the last Australian” to preserve the monopolies enjoyed by miserable inner city schools that condemned their students to a third rate education. To this day, I can’t figure this out.

          • Anonymous

            “I see rampant disobedience in American schools as a global cultural disease, being disseminated by pop culture that is very gradually corrupting adolescent populations around the world” 

            But then what is the pop culture responding to? It seems to me that when those in power model extreme violence (wars) and environmental destruction in order to profit; when those in power are beholden to the dollar and to power over others, then obedience to such modeling is inhuman and inhumane.   We should be happy that the students in American schools are being disobedient.  What needs to happen is that they need to be presented with ideas and ideologies worth listening to.  Pop culture needs some better influences.

  • Anonymous

    The Friedman’s were not into aprioristic economic reasoning. Chicago school utilitarianism and positivism is at odds with Austrian thinking. And even Hayek became apologetic for the welfare state. You never read Mises?

  • Damien S.

    “Just as question-begging as Farstrider. You imply that the
    territory is the state’s property, which is exactly the matter under
    discussion.”

    The question-begging is inherent until one provides a theory of just property-formation that can be related to the real world.  Otherwise there’s little difference between born into a state and being born into a land-holding corporation.

    • You are correct; there is little difference. I’m not sure why you’re bringing that up with me as I’m not an anarcho-capitalist.

    • Anonymous

      Which would then support approaches like Friedman’s Machinery of Freedom as sound approaches to social political organization.  For some reason I doubt that’s a conclusion you want to support.

  • Adam Ricketson

    Since we’re talking so much about state formation, you may want to see this recent publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

    “Punishment sustains large-scale cooperation in prestate warfare”
    by Sarah Mathew and Robert Boyd

    Unfortunately, only the abstract is public:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/108/28/11375.abstract

    From their description, this society is largely anarchistic with a good bit of “nationalism” thrown in. It’s an interesting example to show how these organizational systems can co-exist, but don’t take it to be too informative about anarchism; anarchism is a modern school of thought meant to be applied to modern society.

  • Damien S.

    Castles went out of fashion — and were replaced by bases, armories, airports, radar stations, and extensive border controls.  It’s still true — maybe even more so — that it’s easier to defend a perimeter around a large area than a small one, and any perimeter rather than a bunch of customers who want to live whereever they want.

  • Damien S.

    “I wasn’t aware we spend trillions on pensions and schools now.”

    Seriously?  Social Security is the single biggest federal expense, $700 billion.  Medicare is $453 billion. Unemployment/welfare 571 billion, Medicaid 290 — those two aren’t pensions, but they are policies aimed at the whole. This is over a majoriy of the budget, year in year out, $2 trillion.  Defense is most of the rest.

    Bailouts are big but a one-off expense, and a lot of them aren’t even proper expenses, getting paid back later.

    School spending, I’m not sure of, but it’s the biggest component of state+local spending, and that’s 10% of the economy, so some large fraction of $1.4 trillion.  Or, alternatively, average $10,000 per public kid, and estimate 12 grades * 4 million kids/grade = 48 million, or about $500 billion. 

  • Damien S.

    “which form has the least risk of monopoly?  Fire fighting can be privatized too.”

    Fire fighting has been privatized in the past.  It’s been followed by public firefighting. You might want to learn why.

    “never heard of mass famine in the plantation system. But famine,
    mass death by hunger, is a feature of state control.”

    Never heard of Russian families being broken up as their members were sold to different places.  Never heard of systematic rape by the ruling class, as was the case for slaves.  Never heard of Russinas being forbidden to read.

    What is it with libertarians and the frequent need to be apologists for slavery? Or the idea that dragging up the worst examples of states and comparing them to average conditions under slavery somehow invalidates democratic states?

    “This doesn’t fit all possible sources of problem but does apply to many.”  A key point of government is dealing with precisely that residuum of conflicts which cannot be resolved by other means. So you haven’t accomplished anything here.

    • Anonymous

      That’s quite a charge, ‘apologists for slavery’. Your the social democrat, i.e. proponent of public slavery, a priori subordination of the individual to the collective, taxation, public schools, what have you!
       
      I am using ideal types a la Max Weber prior to actual historical observation. This means I am comparing systems that assert the same rights of ownership. To ignore this glaring contrast in history is to identify yourself as a state worshipper, proponent of public slavery, indeed.   

      Thank you for exemplifying the confusion and distortion that accompanies rejection of economics too. 

      Fire fighting became politically corrupt and negatively competitive (fighting between volunteer companies in the streets) before municipalization in the States. The move to professionalize fire-fighting could have gone the privatized route. And many of the famous mega-fires of the late 1800s came after government took control. 

  • Adam Ricketson

    “famine, mass death by hunger, is a feature of state control.”

    Like in Ireland, right?

    • Anonymous

      Try comparing two slave systems, one public and one private. I gave the example of American plantations with Soviet kolkhozy.  The latter system enabled the mass murder of millions. There were no such comparable treatments in the Americas- even considering the awful attrition of slaves in e.g. Brazil. Brazilian slaves could marry out of slavery too, right?   
      Were the Irish famines based on slavery? How does it fit the model?

      Do you reject the notion that a private owner of capital, slaves even, has more incentive to upkeep said capital than a state controller that has no personal risk and may even be barred from profiting?

      • Adam Ricketson

        First, your statement that the bureaucrat faces no personal risk is just false; if his actions are seen to undermine the political and economic strength of the regime, then he’s heading for the gulag (and of course, the buck stops somewhere in a dictatorship–that person/group will have to deal with any economic loss arising from mistreatment of workers, just as a slave-owner would)

        Second, incentives are only part of the story. Those incentives arise from the power the the slaveholder; this same power enables the slaveholder to act on a whim for his personal amusement, even if it destroys his slaves (assets, in the capitalist framework). He can rape them. He can kill them just because he doesn’t like how they look. Finally, there are a lot of economic activities where the produce is worth more than the capital that goes into it, so the slaveholder’s incentive to maintain capital does not necessarily mean that he has sufficient incentive to see to the health of each slave; slaves could be replaced (and most were malnourished, from what I’ve heard). The Soviet system surely consumed many lives in the name of economic progress, but it had to maintain the impression that people were more than mere resources.

        All in all, I think that the omission in the original comparison is the fact that American slavery was more totalitarian than the Soviet system. For all their desire to control their subjects, the Stalinists still had to be concerned that the people could rebel and overthrow them, so that placed some limits on their abuse of power. In contrast, while the American slavers feared a slave rebellion, they had much more confidence that they could put down such a rebellion, being backed by the full force of the USA, where slaves were a minority that was easy to segregate (culturally, legally, and politically) from the power structures.

        • Anonymous

          Thanks Adam. Sorry for no reply. I have been paying the bills and not reading BHL.

      • Adam Ricketson

        “Try comparing two slave systems”

        As long as you’ve extended the definition of “slavery” to include the USSR, then we might as well extend it to include the situation of the Irish in the 18th century. I think they would call it “wage slavery”.

        Anyway, the point was to illustrate the invalidity of the “famine” criterion.

        If you decide to make arguments by cherry-picking historical examples in order to support a nonsensically broad assertion, don’t be surprized when others seem to change the topic.

  • Anonymous

    Right. State functions will always be performed by someone. Our efforts are better spent on making sure that someone is accountable — rather than pretending that someone would not exist.

    I wonder if the appropriate anarchist response isn’t: “Some state functions will always be performed by anyone available who is appropriate. Our efforts are better spent on making sure that whom even performs the duty is accountable for acting with proper authority and within the legitimate scope.”

  • Anonymous

    Here is a link to a very interesting article in the guardian regarding how Obama is more or less carrying on with the Bush agenda.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jul/21/barack-obama-social-security-cuts

  • Damien S.

    “There are no poor nations with high levels of economic freedom and no rich nations with low levels of economic freedom”

    I’m not up to whipping out a scatter plot of “economic freedom” and  GDP per capita but eyeballing http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking suggests there’s at best a lot of noise.  UAE and Saudi Arabia are pretty rich and #47 and #54, at 67-68.  Armenia is #37 at 69, and $5000, vs. UAE $36,000.  Argentina is #138 and 52, but several times wealthier than its neighbors in the list, and is as wealthy as Chile, much higher on the list.  #11 and #12 are Chile and Mauritius, doing okay but much poorer than countries significantly beneath them in “freedom”.

    Are there *any* countries that industrialized under laissez faire conditions?

    “Competing governance” — we have that right now, and it manifests with labor migration, the limit on which is the reluctance of successful sovereign governments to take in large numbers of new “customers”, and business migration. Massachusetts governance successfully attracted me with universal health care, public transit, and a rich array of tech jobs, plus the best public schools in the country if I ever have kids.

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