Posts tagged Anarchy

Re: @Gary Chartier squares off against Lee Doren at last weekend’s Liberty Forum.

@Paul, I think that most libertarian discussion on “equality before the law,” “equality of opportunity,” “equality of outcomes,” etc. tends to be pretty confused and unproductive, for the reasons that Roderick Long talks about in “Equality: The Unknown Ideal” ( For what it’s worth, while I think (as Gary says) that the really important issue is equality of political authority (equality before the law is valuable only a special case of that, and worthless in the absence of equality of authority), I also think that libertarians who rag on the ideal of equality of outcomes are missing something politically and socially important. Obviously, coercion should not be used, Harrison Bergeron-style, to somehow guarantee equality of outcomes. But I think that there is an important question, not about how to guarantee equality of outcomes, but rather where most of the actually-existing inequalities of outcomes come from. Do they largely come from free market processes? Or do they largely come from government intervention? I would argue the latter — that we don’t have free labor markets, capital markets, or land markets right now, and that most of the extent, intensity, and durability of socioeconomic inequality can be traced either to the direct effects of government coercion, or the indirect ripple effects of the rigidified and rigged markets that government coercion creates. So if you want less socioeconomic inequality, I’d say the best way to get it is through individual liberty and free markets; in any case, the inequalities of outcome that we have today are to a very large extent the result of the inequalities of authority (invasions against individual liberty) that we face.

@Gary, thanks for the kind words and for the mention. The bit about Lee’s picture of the electoral left and the electoral right’s views on majority rule was one of the more … interesting moments of the conversation. (Along with being informed that Anarchistic socialism actually started with the CNT.) I didn’t spend any time responding to it because, really, it’s just bewildering, and what can you say at that point?

For what it’s worth, the conversation was arranged on request from Mark Edge at Free Talk Live. We’d done separate interviews for FTL the previous night and Mark thought it would be interesting to get some cross-talk going.

@Angela, I don’t know precisely what he calls himself, but Doren is head of CEI’s Bureaucrash these days. (Which is a whole story in itself.) So, there’s some broad, upper-quadrant-of-the-Nolan-Chart sort of sense in which you could probably call him a “libertarian.” But that’s about as far as it goes. Which did cause some problems for figuring out how the conversation ought to go — since the debate was nominally about left and right, but really also was about a number of cross-cutting issues (e.g. anarchism vs. small-statism, radicalism vs. reformism, anti-electoralism vs. conventional political participation, revisionist vs. establishment views of history, etc. etc. etc.).

Also, thank you for the reminder of B-1 Bob. I used to watch him all the time back when I was in high school — the most entertaining act on C-SPAN this side of Minister’s Questions.

Re: @Nick Ford

Really? That sounds like an oddly restrictive picture of “free market practices” to me. Let’s say that, in a non-communal, commercially-oriented market, I decide to go into business selling pizza with a partner. I’ll do the cooking (I like to cook); she’ll do the delivery (I hate delivery driving; she likes that kind of thing). We’ll split up the administrative and bookkeeping tasks. Under the heading of the partnership, we buy a store, an oven, a delivery van, and some other equipment. Using the equipment that we bought jointly with our pooled capital, I make pizzas; she delivers them to customers.

Now, if we have in fact formed a partnership, then I cannot just individually turn around and sell the store or the oven out from under her. I can’t set prices to be just anything I want, either, even though the pizzas I cook are the product of my individual labor. That’s a business decision which needs to be made jointly, unless we agreed to give me unilateral control over pricing, which we might well not do.

Does that make our pizza partnership something other than a “free market practices”? If so, it would seem like your conception of the free market allows for almost none of the commercial (let alone communal!) activity practiced in any modern market to be counted as “free market practice.” Which seems odd. If not, then what’s the relevant difference between the joint ownership and joint decision-making involved in my partnership, and the joint ownership and joint decision-making involved in a voluntary commune, where the members of the commune agree to joint ownership of land, shops or large-scale capital goods — with similar obligations of joint decision-making?

Re: @Nick Ford

On majorities and moving forward:

  1. I agree that anti-statists are in the minority. But, perhaps unlike you, my primary goal isn’t to convince a majority of people to believe something like what I believe. Of course, it’d be nice if more people believed in some form of antistatism, but achieving anarchistic goals is not generally a matter of winning an election, and so does not necessarily depend on winning majority support.

  2. What I am interested in doing is radicalizing and working together with a smaller, somewhat self-selected group of people and encouraging them to act on the beliefs that they mostly already have. As a matter of strategy, I am interested in equipping and organizing the minority so that we will become ungovernable by the majority, not in convincing the majority to stop supporting government. But in order to radicalize you need to be radical and consistent; dropping out the critique of monopoly policing or government war or government borders just as such, and redirecting my outreach towards praising smaller-government candidates, or talking about only the subset of issues where I can agree with an LP voter or an Oath Keeper or Ron Paul’s presidential platform, hobbles my ability to actually communicate what I’m trying to communicate to the folks I’m trying to communicate it to.

  3. As a teacher, setting aside questions of political strategy, I would of course like to educate more people about the right views. But to the extent that I’m not talking about strategy anymore, and just talking about education, I think that the core principles are the most important for people to learn, and I’d rather someone who really understands what freedom is and rejects it, than have someone who thinks they believe in freedom, but only because they continue to be confused about what it entails, and to believe in myths like “limited government,” or to believe that police and taxation are compatible with individual liberty. My goal here is not to jump into the debate just as it is and try and nudge them towards some confused approximation of libertarian ideals; rather, it’s to change the terms of the debate, and reorient it towards the fundamental issues at stake.

Re: @Nick Ford


In order to avoid misunderstandings, maybe you could say a bit about what you mean by a free market practice when you say that a voluntary commune, even if genuinely consensual amongst all the parties, isn’t one? For reference, when I say free market, I mean any network of economic transactions between consenting actors which respects individual liberty and property. Voluntary communes count because, as I see it, one of the things you can do with property is own it in common. Is your understanding of what counts as a free market practice different from mine?

(As for details and worries: children would be in the same situation that they are in now with individualized ownership of property: they start out being born into the arrangements that their parents have made, and live according to those arrangements that are made by their caretakers. Once they are old enough they have to decide whether to take an adult role — in a commune, I suppose this would mean becoming full stakeholders in the commune and voluntarily taking up the rights and responsibilities that go with that — or else lighting out on their own. For people who want to move in but isn’t interested in the communal stuff — the question here is not whether they have a right to rent or buy land in the area (everyone does), but rather whether they can find anyone there to rent or sell the land to them. If the land is commonly owned, then they would have to secure consent from all the current owners, just as, if someone wanted to buy the car that my wife and I used to own together, BOTH my wife and I would have to consent to the transfer. The question, then, is whether folks within the commune are interested in keeping that land within the commune, or are fine with transferring it outside. Whatever decision they’d make, this would only imperil a voluntary commune to the extent that the people within it no longer wish to maintain it. If enough are still on board to block, they either won’t sell, or will only sell when enough members feel that it won’t cause problems for continued operations. Of course, the exact details will depend on the exact decision-making procedure they’ve adopted.)

Re: Against Fiscal Conservatism: On Inpropriating the Expropriators


Yes, Ron Paul gives his money back to the Government, because he’s demonstrating he’s fiscally responsible.

How does returning money back to the thief who stole it demonstrate fiscal responsibility?

It seems to me that if you want to demonstrate fiscal responsibility with stolen money, the way to demonstrate it would be to return it to the owner it was stolen from. Not to spend a bit off the top and return the rest to the thief.

By returning money to the treasury that is superfluous in his budget, is he actively contributing towards the excesses of Government vis a via his actions

Sure: he’s providing them with more money to use in violating innocent people’s rights. So am I, through taxation. But I don’t have a choice in the matter; I get taxed whether I want to be taxed or not. Ron Paul does have a choice in the matter: he has a budget, and he could do everything he can to make sure that the money gets returned to the tax victims it was extracted from, or at least gets spent on things which, while wasteful, do not involve committing violence against innocent people. Or he could turn it back over to Treasury, which will use it to commit violence against innocent people. Doing the latter doesn’t make the violence his fault, exactly — it’s the fault of the people who commit it. But he would be doing more good for the world if he piled up all the surplus money on the National Mall and set it on fire than he does by returning it to the federal government for their future use.

Ron Paul believes the same thing, which is essentially why he does it? I get what you’re saying, I really do, but I just don’t think this is a valid reason to be opposed fiscal conservatism, because fiscal conservatism isn’t causing the problem, it’s actually the opposite–it’s antithetical to out of control government spending

If you think that “out of control government spending” is my primary concern here, then I don’t think you’ve really gotten what I’m saying. My point is that government spending is a secondary issue. The primary issue is government violence.

what’s the alternative?


I’m not really interested in figuring out a way for Dr. Paul to keep his government job. If there isn’t any way for him to honestly handle the loot that he’s been allocated, then he ought to resign. That said:

Give it away? Keep it?

I’d prefer he give it away to a randomized selection of the tax victims it was stolen from. (Returning the money is the only honest thing to do when you come into some money that you know to have been stolen from living victims who you could identify and return the money to.) But, failing that, keeping it and using the surplus to buy beer and pizza for his office staff would still be preferable to returning it to the Treasury.

Re: @Nick Ford


Of course it’s true that “anarchocapitalists” will find that they have many differences with other Anarchists. That’s why they’re called “other Anarchists,” instead of “fellow anarchocapitalists.” But they also have many differences with minimal-statists. The question is one of alliances, not one of absolute ideological unity. But the question is where those differences lie, and whether or not they constitute deal-breakers. Since you are not an anarchist, you may not realize why many anarchists consider support for government policing, government militaries, government border enforcement, or the constant enforcement of tyrannical, rights-violating laws by government courts (in the name of “the rule of [government] law”) to be core issues for the form of libertarianism that they advocate. But the fact is that many anarchists do consider these to be core issues, and the fact is that they are all points on which “anarchocapitalists,” market anarchists, mutualists, syndicalists, communist Anarchists, anarcha-feminists, post-Left Anarchists, Green Anarchists, “Anarchists without adjectives,” etc. etc. etc. all routinely have more in common with one another than “anarchocapitalists” have with minimal-statists and Constitutionalists. Anarchism is about anarchy, after all, and sometimes that means a difference in positions and priorities from those held by governmentalists.

In any case, it’s mighty white of you to be so helpful with suggestions for anarcho-capitalists about how they can best achieve goals which frequently have nothing to do with the goals the goals that you, as a small-statist, want to achieve. However, may I suggest that if your notion of non-capitalist Anarchists is limited to communist Anarchism (ho, ho), or for that matter if your notion of communist Anarchism is limited to folks “who will murder you at the end of the line if you insist … that you have a right to keep the things you have earned,” you might try meeting some more Anarchists in general, including some more communist Anarchists in particular, and to try talking with them in a way which takes their views seriously enough to figure out where the actual points of agreement and disagreement between different Anarchist theories lie.

Let’s start with a simple one. If a group of people consent among themselves to establish communal ownership over land, shops, and large-scale capital goods, do you believe that that commune is a free market social arrangement? I.e., is that a legitimate exercise of private property rights to establish such an arrangement?


People enjoy all kinds of things, and different people enjoy different things. I think that in a free society there will be plenty of people who are interested in joining experiments or making arrangements that involve varying degrees of communal living or communal working arrangements. (Not because they disvalue freedom or individuality, but because that is how they want to exercise their freedom.)

I’m not interested in joining any such arrangement. But the nice thing about Anarchism is that I’m free to choose what sort of arrangement I want to live under. As long as anarcho-communists believe (as most anarcho-communists currently do) that people who don’t want in should be left in peace to opt out, they’re going to be a far sight better to work with than minimal-statists, who insist on the legitimacy of all the most oppressive institutions in the political statist quo, and offer no such option for opting out of their political schemes.

Re: @Andrew Taranto: To all the would-be secessionists out there

@Jason: The contradiction is “anti-federal statist.” In for a penny, in for a pound.

Any argument that could justify a nonconsensual state the size of a mid-sized European country can just as easily justify a nonconsensual federation of states the size of a continent. Any argument that could justify state secession from the federation is just as good an argument, if carried through logically, for justifying community secession from the state, or individual secession from any and all levels of government everywhere.

Re: @Jeremy Weiland: Is there any liberal argument for #hcr that even acknowledges we have a Constitution?

You have a Constitution? Sorry to hear it. But you must’ve known that this is the kind of shit you end up with when you have Constitutions. That’s why I got rid of all mine years ago. Liberty is a social relationship, not a paper document.

(For what it’s worth, the official party line is that it’s authorized under the Interstate Commerce Clause. Is it really? Who cares? Either the Interstate Commerce Clause does authorize this massive corporatist screwjob, or else it has proven that it can do nothing effectual to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.)

Re: Brad Spangler Ⓐ From Joel Schlosberg, a mystery quote related to the topic of anarcho-capitalism is libertarian socialism


There are many definitions of socialism on offer. (Some common definitions get little beyond a kindergarden-level praise of “sharing”; others include everything from “opposition to monopolistic corporatism,” to “centralized state planning for its own sake,” from “the abolition of private property in the means of production” to “all-encompassing gift economies for most or all goods and services” to “systems of production which ensure that a worker receives the equivalent of the full marginal productivity of her labor” (with this last goal usually to be achieved by abolishing of government-backed monopolies over land and capital), etc. Some are for global-scale top-down “rational” planning and “expert” management in all things; some are for abolishing all forms of coercive planning and relying on the spontaneous harmonization of interests. If you’re curious as to what this wealth of conceptions all have in common, I’d say that the concept they are all riffing on is the concept of opposition to actually-existing monopolistic big business, because of a sense that it rigs the system in favor of a class of idlers who live off of a skim from the work of common workers, and a desire to adopt new forms of living which better serve the material and social needs of those common workers. The vast differences amongst conceptions of socialism have to do with the analysis of how the rigging and skimming happen, and what ought to be done about it.

Those who couch their understanding in terms of ownership of the means of production generally do not have in mind “public” (if that means “governmental”) ownership of the means of production; rather, the proposal is typically either for worker ownership of the means of production (among mutualists, syndicalists, and autonomists), or else for common ownership of the means of production (among communists). “Common ownership” may mean ownership managed by a political apparatus, supposedly at the direction of “the people” or “the proletariat” — ha, ha, ha. But it may also mean, as in Bakunin or Kropotkin — genuine common ownership by everyone within the community, with some sort of agreed-on joint decision-making process and backed by common consent, rather than a professionalized political body with coercive powers.

In the worker-ownership and the anarcho-common-ownership versions, I think it ought to be easy to see how these things can come about without coercion. These are just different ways of arranging what laissez-faire economics would call a “firm.” Firms can be owned jointly among many shareholders, and there’s no requirement that those shareholders be absentee investors; as with existing co-ops, the joint owners might be the workers in the firm; or they might be the regular consumers of the firm’s goods and services, or might be a very broad class of community “stakeholders,” etc. Firms can also be run more or less directly by their owners; although most very large firms have a significant separation of ownership from management (that is, the shareholders hire on an agent or a handful of agents to make executive decisions on their behalf), worker-owned or community-owned co-ops are different sorts of beasts, and might well opt for more participatory, hands-on management by the worker or community owners themselves. Hence, worker-ownership or common-ownership of the means of production within a freed market and without coercion.

Re: Against Fiscal Conservatism


This suggests it is a matter of principle,

No doubt. But what’s the principle?

If it’s something like “The U.S. government should be as efficient as possible in spending what it steals from innocent victims,” I can’t see why that principle is worth defending or acting on. The primary problem isn’t profligacy; it’s the stealing.

The money he sends back only delays the theft and destruction that has to occur for the government to continue

No, it doesn’t. It is not as if the IRS is going to collect $100,000 less in taxes or the Treasury is going to issue $100,000 less in government bonds thanks to the windfall. It’s not as if government returns surpluses back to taxpayers when they have surpluses; they just look around for new things to spend the extra money on.

Well I didn’t see this was just for his office budget, but if he inflated the value of staff labor just because he had extra money lying around he would be abandoning his market principles.

What market principles? In my view, there is no way whatsoever to live up to “market principles” when you are distributing stolen loot. All government spending is by definition a command economy, not a market economy, and no price that Paul chose to pay for labor or goods in his office budget, whether small or large, would be a “market” price, because (as Mises teaches us) there’s no way for a command economy to approximate market outcomes.

but you’re acting like what the Fed spends money on is worse than what Paul would spend money on locally

The money went to Treasury, not to the Federal Reserve. In any case, what the U.S. government spends money on is definitely worse than what Paul would have spent it on locally. Paul’s spending would merely be wasteful. The U.S. government’s spending is actively evil and destructive; it goes towards imprisoning, surveilling, hurting, maiming, and killing innocent people, both within the United States and abroad.

Paul spending money that is neither his nor should be spent is central planning as well.

Yes, I agree. There’s no way around central planning when government allocates money. All you can do is get the money away from government as quickly as possible — and, preferably, try to get it into the hands of some those net taxpayers it was originally stolen from. But that’s precisely why Paul shouldn’t give the money back to Treasury for more government allocation.

But I get what you’re saying and it’s not a bad thought, he could have paid himself the $100,000 and spent it at every business in town or something…

I think that would be better than giving it back to Treasury, but the best thing for him to do would be to just give it away directly to randomly selected net taxpayers without demanding any consideration in return.

@Sir Elliot:

He can’t keep the money. If he doesn’t use it, it must be returned to whatever general office staff budget is in place, since the books have to be balanced out.

I’m aware. What I’m suggesting is that it would be better for Ron Paul to use it on something wasteful but non-destructive, rather than giving it back to the U.S. government, which will use it for something both wasteful and destructive.

Maybe if the featherbedding gets too egregious, it would make it difficult for Ron Paul to keep his government job. But then, I’m not especially interested in figuring out ways to help Ron Paul keep his government job.

Maybe I’m not understanding OP’s point?

Maybe not. If it helps, my primary point is that it’s misleading (and indeed stupid, if not dishonest) to describe paying $100,000 back to the U.S. Treasury as “paying back the American people.” What it is, is paying back the American government, which is a different entity, and one which happens to be antagonistic towards, and parasitic on, the “people” it claims to rule.


That’s a pretty massive leap in logic to suggest that Ron Paul’s fiscal conservatism is aiding bankers.

I didn’t say it’s aiding bankers. I said it’s aiding the U.S. government. (The U.S. government, of course, does aid bankers — hence my mention of them — but it also does lots of other things. Like blowing up Afghan children.)

So in an essence, you’re faulting Ron Paul for sticking to his ‘guns’ (Being an honest politician).

No; I’m faulting those who claim that giving stolen money back to the pirate who originally stole it is a form of “honesty.” There is no “honest” way for any politician to spend tax monies; the only thing to do is to get them out of political hands.