Free Domain Radio's Stefan Molyneux on the Inevitable Growth of the State

"Even if we did achieve what we wanted with a very small state, we'd just be resetting the clock back to 1776 and it would roll forward exactly the same way again," says Free Domain Radio's Stefan Molyneux.

Reason magazine's Matt Welch sat down with Molyneux at FreedomFest 2012 and discussed why he thinks the libertarian ideal of a small state will inevitably grow, and why the absence of any form of the state is the only answer.

"If you look at America, which was the experiment of the smallest conceivable government, what grows out of that is the largest government the world has ever seen," says Molyneux.

Held each July in Las Vegas, FreedomFest is attended by around 2,000 limited-government enthusiasts and libertarians a year. ReasonTV spoke with over two dozen speakers and attendees and will be releasing interviews over the coming weeks. For an ever-growing playlist, go here now.

About 5:30 minutes.

Produced by Tracy Oppenheimer; camera by Oppenheimer and Alex Manning.

Scroll down for downloadable versions of this video.

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  • JasonBenoit||

    Great to see something about anarchism.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Really? I think it's a waste because anarchism is a worthless proposition, completely unworkable in the real world. It is, if possible, even more out-of-touch with the realities of human nature than communism.

    The speaker makes an analogy "It's sort of the difference saying 'I think you should cut down on your food' or saying 'You shouldn't eat at all.' ... 'No food at all, are you crazy?'"

    Well, yes, not eating at all is crazy. You will die. No government at all is crazy and unworkable. His blather about "private dispute resolution agencies" is nonsensical in a larger anarchic framework.

  • ||

    You have no "government" now. You have warlords who rule us with with their goons, aka "police". They create the fiction of legitimacy with the hand-waving of "law" and fools like you buy into it. Enjoy your "rule of law", especially if you run afoul of it. You are a fool.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    That's an essentially meaningless distinction. If you like, though, those of us who consider ourselves miniarchists or somewhere in the classical liberal sphere have been making our warlords a good deal less terrible than the warlords in the rest of the world, or the choice of warlords the average person had in, say, 1200 AD.

    You're welcome.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Which ones, and exactly how?

  • Cloudbuster||

    I'm not the one calling names and making radical, unproven claims. But I'm the fool?

  • ||

    Actually he was talking about your argument being wrong:

    "It's sort of the difference saying 'I think you should cut down on your food' or saying 'You shouldn't eat at all.' ... 'No food at all, are you crazy?' - that's how people sort of receive it"

  • Cloudbuster||

    I understood what he was talking about. What I was asserting was that his attempt to say that my argument was wrong was a failure and that his analogy rather amusingly proved my own point when carried to its logical conclusion.

    Every time people talk about effective "voluntary" organizations for use in a so-called "anarchic" system they have to keep applying ever greater hedges and layers of non-governmental organization around the system to keep it from falling apart and inevitably, always, they wind up with a governing structure, whether it runs on democracy, communism or some other basis.

  • np||

    You're completely mistaking a free market of complex organizations dynamically forming their own [b]voluntary[/b] governance with the State. There's a huge difference between the two. No matter how complex or thick the voluntary organizations are, you can [b]always[/b] choose to disassociate, choose something else, or form your own organization with your own rules, unlike where you are dealing with the State where if you don't like it, you have no choice but to go to jail!

    We already live in anarchry: we have different rules and competing voluntary governance even, between various organizations, institutions, workplaces, households, etc.

  • Cloudbuster||

    No, it's a distinction without a difference.

    Once someone is completely surrounded by a vast network of so-called voluntary organization, they'll find themselves basically SOL if they want to form "Bobistan" on their house and half acre in the suburbs.

    Sure they can do it, but since half the neighborhood is protected by ADT Security, the other half is protected by Blackwater Security, the road in front of their house is owned and maintained by AAA Asphalt Road Corp. and the power to their house is provided by Friendly Power Corp. and the sewage service is Acme Sewage, and there's no easy way to replace any of that, the idea that you can actually dissociate yourself without giving up your home and moving somewhere else -- *exactly* what you can do as a U.S. citizen, by the way -- means the idea that you're not living under a government just like any other is complete fantasy.

  • Mr Whipple||

    His blather about "private dispute resolution agencies" is nonsensical in a larger anarchic framework.

    People like Tom Bell, David Friedman and Bruce Benson have written at length about how Polycentric legal systems have functioned in the past, and could function in an advanced society.

    All one needs to do is follow their own arguments for a "limited government" to its logical conclusion.

    Any good or service that the governmetn can provide, the free market can provide more efficiently and more effectively. That includes dispute resolution and adjudication of law.

    I think designing a legal system is probably even harder than designing an automobile, and if the government can not design automobiles, what makes you think it can design a legal system?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmXDrm5Q-eQ

  • Farturo||

    The titles of the article and the YouTube clip give the wrong name for Stefan's radio network, which is Freedomain Radio. The video clearly highlights the correct spelling around 0:25.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Molyneux main point is valid, however I'd argue that in order to be viable, the organizations necessary for effective anarchy would have to be created first. Those organizations are far more likely to be developed in a minarchy than in the massive kleptocracy we have today.

  • Cloudbuster||

    "An organization necessary for effective anarchy" is a contradiction in terms. What do you do with people who refuse to engage or recognize the legitimacy of your organizations?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Ask an anarchist. I'm personally agnostic on the "anarchy vs. minarchy" debate, because both have bad problems.

    I deliberately avoided the private defense orgs vs. cops argument because it would have distracted from my main point: an-caps should still fight for less government because anarchy without chaos is far more likely to be achieved via minarchy than from a massive state. The "anarchy vs. minarchy" debate are fun intellectual exercises, but kind of pointless now.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Speaking of which, where are the good discussions of private defense forces? I'm a bit behind on an-cap theory?

  • Name Nomad||

    I attempted to find an online version of "The Machinery of Freedom" by David Friedman, but the chapter I was looking for isn't up on his website. It looks like you'd probably have to buy the book. It's an interesting read and definitely articulates ideas well that initially seem crazy; after being explained, they're far less so.

  • Name Nomad||

    ... and scrolling down I see prolefeed beat me to the punch. You've foiled me for the last time, threaded comment system!

  • ||

    Drop me a line Nomad, I have the PDF version.

  • ||

  • ||

    A pretty great lecture by Bob Murphy, really opened my eyes and gave me that final push from minarchy all the way to an-cap.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Can any of you post anything in support of your claims that's not a video? I'm not part of the post-literate society. I can absorb all of the content of a 40-minute verbal presentation in about 5-10 minutes of reading for 100th the network bandwidth.

  • SouthernAnCap||

  • Mr Whipple||

    What do you do with people who refuse to engage or recognize the legitimacy of your organizations?

    Leave them alone. The non-aggression principle allows the use of force in response to the initiation of force. So, if no one fucks with you, you have no reason to fuck with them.

  • Whahappan?||

    But, but, they're not doing what I want them to!!!!!!! Kill them!!!!!!!

  • Cloudbuster||

    Many of the people who refuse to engage or recognize the legitimacy of your organization are what we, today, call "criminals." Leaving them alone is not an option.

    There's noting illegitimate, per se, about responding to force with force, but it creates an environment where the administration of justice is effectively impossible.

    People will simply use force to get what they want, claim the other person started it, and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of any authority that judges otherwise. Now your private police organization that exists in the absence of higher government must choose between making war against all who defy its authority or being rendered utterly ineffective by the competing criminal organization. Oh no, guess what? Now we have a police state!

  • ||

    "Oh no, guess what? Now we have a police state!"

    And the solution is creating a monopolistic police state?

    There is an abundance of material available addressing these issues. I would encourage you to read them and consider them with an open mind, instead of engaging in power force violence theories that are so full of holes that it would take too long to respond to them all in a limited comment.

  • Cloudbuster||

    There may be an abundance of issues, but I've read what people have said on this thread. I've watched the original video and several of the posted videos and I've seen nothing that passes the smell test.

    Post a link if you've got one. You're the one making the radical claims. I don't think you can call my "power force violence theories" "full of holes" when they're basically exactly what has happened in any society that has grown beyond the tribal level ever.

  • ||

    Ok, fine:

    "People will simply use force to get what they want, claim the other person started it, and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of any authority that judges otherwise."

    This implies that if we have a government, then people in government will simply user force to get what they want, claim they are responding to something caused by others, and refuse to recognize the legitimacy of anyone who disagrees. Are they the only special people immune to these hasty generalizations?

    "Now your private police organization that exists in the absence of higher government..."

    We have a government that exists in the absence of a higher government. Oh no!

    "must choose between making war against all who defy its authority or being rendered utterly ineffective by the competing criminal organization."

    Defy its authority, or its power? Authority is defined by legitimacy, not power. It's unclear to me how a violent group of people using force to get whatever they want achieves authority along with their power.

    Anyway, seems like we're in a false choice: either bend society to your will, or yield to other criminals.

    How does government make all this go away, again?

  • ||

    BakedPenguin said:
    ""An organization necessary for effective anarchy" is a contradiction in terms."

    Anarchy, in this context, means a lack of rulers, not a lack of organization in general.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Cloudbuster said that, not me.

  • ||

    Sorry about that.

  • Robert||

    I don't think his main point is valid. He's arguing that it's more effective in the long run to work for abolition of gov't than it is to work for cutting it down. I don't think that's true.

    First of all, get rid of gov't, and it can still come back. Nothing is forever. What makes him think the time it would take to abolish gov't would be less than the time needed for it to come back?

  • ||

    You can make the same argument against everything. Minimizing government in 1776 didn't prevent it from coming back.

    If the goal is to create a society in which strong centralized governments can never come back, then all systems fail this test. Democracy is no guarantee that government will never grow. What happens to a society is incredibly complicated, and has so much to do with the people involved, that you can never create a system that guarantees anything.

  • Sean Mack||

    There are HUGE problems with that theory about how minarchy leads to empire or whatever. In no particular order, here are a few:

    1) Statism didn't just grow in post Corn Law Britain or the United States. It grew everywhere at once. The parsimonious explanation is "between 1648 and now there's been a massive worldwide trend favoring the growth of the state, impacting even nations that have tried deliberately to resist it by such feeble devices as written constitutions, etc. "

    2) The idea that minarchic efficiency is what propels the growth of the state is not borne out in history. Why does the expansion of the state not track efficiency in the market? Accordingly to this theory, you'd be expect to see the biggest statist expansion happen, say, in the 1920s instead of the 1930s. Instead what you see is: the state grabs the most power in bad times, when efficiency is low.

    Coming at it from the other side, why is Switzerland not an empire by now? We've seen hundreds of years of efficiency and yet no drone strikes from them. What gives, Steph?

    3) The path of expansion Molyneuz describes would obviously be self-limiting. If market efficiency is what makes state expansion possible, and if state expansion threatens market efficiency, guess what? At some point, state expansion will reduce efficiency enough to threaten further state expansion. Where are those cases?

  • ||

    You miss his point. He's not saying minarchy in particular leads to empire, he's saying it doesn't KEEP US from empire. He's basically saying, "all government roads lead to statism".

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    So what? Anarchy is certainly no proven antidote to empire: as I recall, the few instances of anarchy that are often cited by anarchists as proofs of concept were all incorporated into neighbouring kingdoms and empires. After a period of civil war, the anarchistic medieval Iceland was easily incorporated into the Kingdom of Norway, and then into the Danish crown. Ireland was likewise absorbed into the British empire.

    Switzerland is at least an example of a relatively free state that hasn't become an empire. Is there an example of an anarchy either not becoming an empire, or not getting incorporated into one? Because if the risks of becoming an empire are reason to avoid miniarchy, then I can't help but think that being on the receiving end of imperialism is no recommendation for anarchy.

  • ||

    What happens in a society is dictated by so many variables. If a nation is at risk of invasion or absorption by a much more powerful, militarily aggressive neighbor, I doubt any form of government (or anarchy) is guaranteed to stop them. If this was the test for a system of social order, they would all fail.

    They used to say the US would fail because it didn't have a king.

  • np||

    In every single instance where there was anarchy or an anarchistic society, they all fell by conquest of some sort. Anarchic Celtic Irealand wasn't merely "absorbed" into the British Empire, it was outright conquered by Cromwell, ending its thousand or so years of stable anarchy. The Ukrainian Free Territory was conquered by the Bolsheviks, and so on.

    If anything, it's an argument against the State, there is never an instance of a natural formation of the State arising from a peaceful anarchist society. But likewise, how is this any different from where one is already a State? Countries get conquered and/or broken up all the time, so being a state doesn't prevent that situation either.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    1000 years of anarchy, in which the population of Ireland was subject to en masse enslavement and raiding by foreigners (Ireland was by far the one most harassed by Viking raids of any of the northern European states), internecine clan warfare, continual conquest by its neighbors (at least two major invasions by England and a few minor annexations by Scotland and Denmark/Norway), and almost no innovation or markets in any meaningful sense of the word? Ireland wasn't the best place to live in the British Isles, much less the world, and hardly recommends anarchy.

    Iceland's anarchistic stability lasted for 50-100 years, after which civil wars and problems with dispute resolution made it a ripe target for Norwegian expansion.

    The Ukrainian Free Territory, such as it was, had the grand achievements of killing, raping, and divesting landed, pacifist Mennonites of their property and abolishing capitalism and private ownership -- before being conquered by the Bolsheviks with which it was allied.

    Any others? Perhaps we can talk about the moral and practical failures of the Catalan anarchistic communes of the Spanish Civil War, or the English Diggers?

  • np||

    Again, all those foreign raids in Ireland, how is that of any result of being free state? It's no different than if it were a state

    The Icelandic free state lasted 300+ years. Its problems were again, due to conquest, beginning from within. Dispute resolution was NOT the cause if you read its history. Why would that be if the method had been successfully used for many generations? It was with usage and demands of tithe--the beginning of taxation and the proto-State that people opposed that caused the civil wars. Again, there is never an instance of a natural formation of a state.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Ireland and the Gaelic parts of Scotland were by far the hardest hit of any area in northern Europe by the pre-Christian Vikings -- that may not be a qualitative difference, but it's definitely a quantitative difference.

    Usage and demands of tithe wouldn't have been a problem with a good system for dispute resolution -- that's the whole point! Once the Icelandic chieftans and other parts of the society had enough power, the dispute mechanisms in place weren't worth a good goddamn, and that lead to a huge amount of discord. Tithe and the ownership of arable land were both problems which were not resolved by the dispute system, and which both eventually lead to the civil wars and low-intensity conflicts which made Iceland prey for the Scandinavian powers.

    The US, Switzerland, Hong Kong, and many other states which could be thought of as miniarchist states at their conception have achieved a great level of success, and accorded their citizens a great level of freedom compared to their peers. The anarchistic societies which you note were backwaters which rarely achieved anything but short periods of peace followed by great amounts of internal discord.

  • np||

    The problem was that tithing was demanded of people who didn't want to participate. Just like with a state, it eventually came to the point where you couldn't opt out. Various chieftains and larger factions claimed ownership to land that wasn't theirs, thus the rationale for tithe.

    I'll give you that some methods, such as determination of property rights, weren't as well defined but modern scholarly works have tackled it very well, including many of the hard problems.

    A minarchy that doesn't abuse its power and that stays well within the confines of being a minarchy would in practice be almost no different than an anarchy. However, that never remains the case. The difference is that when such a minarchist government oversteps its bounds, what recourse is there? It's already centralized, there's a veil of legitimacy, and the policing powers it uses is dependent upon the central authority for its own livelihood, as opposed to having to find its own clients, so there's an incentive to just go along with whatever abuses and growth of the now, non-minarchist state.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I think we're talking past one another.

    We both seem to agree that neither anarchy nor miniarchy are permanent states -- whether because of the existence of neighboring states or internal problems (I'd say that in the case of both medieval Iceland and Ireland, you've got a bit of both as problems).

    So if there's going to eventually be a government sometime down the line, why not figure out ways to make that government less oppressive? Anarchy allows no way to determine the long-run trajectory of a government; Norwegian Iceland was very different in terms of governing structures and made Iceland one of the poorest and in many ways least free regions in Europe, where once freedom and at least basic literacy abounded. The modern US, while a shadow of what it was concieved to be, still allows its citizens a good deal of personal autonomy compared to its peers. It seems implausible to think that an anarchistic US would not have been apportioned out to some colonial power or other, which would IMO have been worse for liberty than the state that it eventually formed.

  • ||

    I think citing three examples of anarchy, and noting there lack of persistence, to make a generalization argument that anarchy can never work is a little short-sighted.

    History has only given us a small, finite set of combinations of societies, their values, their individuals, their levels of technology, their neighbors, etc. It's very complex, and it's a hasty generalization fallacy to draw sweeping conclusions from such a small set.

    "It will never work, anywhere, ever, because it hasn't before!" as an argument, has been proven wrong countless times (see http://www.lhup.edu/~dsimanek/neverwrk.htm). I never find these arguments particularly persuasive. Perhaps if history showed us more variety in initial conditions for various social orders, maybe. Sadly, this is not the case.

  • Cloudbuster||

    " all those foreign raids in Ireland, how is that of any result of being free state?"

    It's kind of obvious. Bands of disorganized tribes are a far more ripe target than an island united under a single authority for its defense.

    "...there is never an instance of a natural formation of a state."

    Exactly what does the work "natural" mean in your sentence? We are in nature. There are thousands or tens of thousands of states that have formed in human history. That seems pretty "natural" by any standard usage of the word. If you have something specific in mind, I don't think it's a definition of "natural" as understood by most of the human population.

  • ||

    The Immaculate Trouser said:
    "Iceland's anarchistic stability lasted for 50-100 years, after which civil wars and problems with dispute resolution made it a ripe target for Norwegian expansion."

    Sometimes, I think we're being way to generous with ourselves. The United States' experiment with limited government began in 1776. In less than 100 years, people were slaughtering each other in the most brutal war this country has ever seen, specifically over the issues of who gets to secede from who, and who gets to use state power to enforce their way on others. Since then, it's been pretty much down hill as far as freedom and limited government is concerned.

    If we're to apply these arguments consistently, we must also apply it to ourselves.

  • np||

    To give another relatively modern example, Svalbard was an anarchy from its discovery with the Norse, then onto thriving settlements for the last 400+ years. Again, fell by conquest. Nations fought over it, WWI, resulted in Svalbard treaty, and is officially part of Norway now
    (though there are some advantages over Norway: http://www.sovereignman.com/ex.....ency-8270/ )

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    My understanding is that Svalbard was very sparsely populated (e.g., 200 people) in the timeframe you're talking about (about 1200-1600 AD, I'm guessing?). After that, it became something of a hot potato amongst the major powers.

    Off-topic, but I have a friend who went there and considers it the most beautiful place on earth. Always wanted to go.

  • np||

    Yes it was hotly contested among various nations from around the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th century, but I actually meant in the last couple of centuries up to 1900 when various merchants and fisherman from around migrated there.

    I too want to visit. I've been to several European countries, but Svalbard wasn't on my radar at the time until I read about its history and politics.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Interesting. I'm at best passingly familiar with that period of Svalbardian history, so if you have a link to an article describing the time period you're referencing I would appreciate it.

  • ||

    Thanks guys,
    That was a great discussion.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Even now the population is about 3000. I find it frustrating and unconvincing that you think essentially tribal modes of existence can be mapped onto societies with hundreds of millions of people in a world of hostile competing interests.

    Svalbard only managed to exist as an "anarchy" as long as it did because it was a god-forsaken hellhole that nobody cared about with a bare-bones population. As soon as other nations decided they *did* care about Svalbard's status, it ceased to be either independent or an anarchy. There should be a lesson in there, somewhere.

  • ||

    That's the best argument for anarchy you've heard, Matt? Considering it's THE argument for anarchy, I have to wonder if you read the comments on your web blog. You know, the one you're editor of.

    This guy states exactly what I've been saying for years. Government the parasite lives off the market. If you have a minarchy, the market goes ballistic, because it's free. Then the government starts to feed off of it, and becomes huge. This is why communist countries failed while social democratic ones succeeded, until now, where the parasite has grown too big.

    Government is nothing less than a compilation of humans who want to have power over, and live off of, other humans. It is composed of said parasites who at the first opportunity will take money from others by force using any justification that will get those they steal from to allow it.

    If you agree to it, you are a fool.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I no more "agree" to government than I "agreed" to disease, malice, racism, gravity, greed, or any other attribute and entity which pre-existed me. Government appears to be an emergent property of some level of social organization; whether I would like for that to be the case or not is besides the point. That being the case, one can observe and comment on what sorts of governments are possible and how to move them more towards the direction of favoring greater freedom, no? Or would you contend that all governments everywhere, from the one established by the Articles of Confederation to the ones established by fiat or statist writ, are identical in composition and equally noxious?

  • ||

    The Immaculate Trouser said:
    "Government appears to be an emergent property of some level of social organization."

    Well, they've definitely appeared, haven't they? Why is that? Do humans truly need authority that operates by a totally separate set of rules, contradictory to the rules its citizens follow? What a coincidence that our rulers have been telling us this, in various forms, for thousands of years.

    If all the western democracies gave way to horrible totalitarian regimes, would we throw up our hands and say, "hey, we started this way in the dark ages. Where here now. It must be inevitable. Let's learn to deal with it. Must be an emergent property."?

  • Alan||

    Ooh! a new look for Matt Welch!

    Also, a good interview.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Chuck Heston should have asked that dude how he's going to have his anarchy without roads.

  • Virginian||

    Those organizations are far more likely to be developed in a minarchy than in the massive kleptocracy we have today.

    I disagree. As the State gets less and less efficient, it will soon become glaringly obvious to even the most idiotic citizen that private alternatives to State services are far more cost effective. Anyone who can afford it will contract for any number of services the State currently holds a monopoly or near monopoly on.

  • BakedPenguin||

    They have been very successful at selling government failures as the failures of freedom for a long while now. I think if people were to see the benefits of a free society, they would change their minds about the effectiveness of government.

  • Virginian||

    True. The other thing is the government taking credit for private sector advances. So even though the Internet as we understand the term (Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and of course porn) is entirely a creation of the private sector, the State and its fluffers (T o n y, Krugman) credit a DARPA project with all the Internet's success. See also, the constant cry of "Roads!".

    Still, at some point we hit a tipping point. Especially if we can get school choice policy of some kind put in place, people will eventually wonder what the hell they pay taxes for.

  • ||

    I don't know how this fits in but I'll use my personal example and experience. I own a daycare in a heavily socialist-leaning and indebted province of Quebec.

    All I can say is, if it's possible or even ironic, the government is already in a state of anarchy "behind the scenes." The more wasteful it is the more it wants to grow.

    Its message, laws and codes are so convoluted and subject to interpretation it literally creates an atmosphere of paranoia and inefficiency because private operators are afraid of being cited by inspectors each with its own version of the codes.

    I can't tell you how many times I've had to digest the utter, irrelevant, costly, contradictory, time-wasting nonsense from the state; from inspectors to rude urban planners.

    It's an impossible situtation and no one is "thinking of the children."

  • ||

    Also, and this is just one example, the government prevents me from hiring self-employed caregivers to go around the obscene "social costs" in my payroll taxes but guess what? Because of its own fiscal mess, the government now hires workers on a contract basis. They're allowed but not small businesses just starting out.

    Why not a two-year grace period? Let us for save our money before knocking us to the ground before we launch?

  • ||

    "An organization necessary for effective anarchy" is a contradiction in terms. What do you do with people who refuse to engage or recognize the legitimacy of your organizations?

    If they don't harm you, they can do a strong ignore -- and hey, no worries. The point of anarchist organizations is to prevent others from harming YOU -- they are welcome to have whatever heretical thoughts they want about anarchy, so long as they don't attack or harm you.

    If I hire some bodyguards, and you think, "I don't recognize the legitimacy of those bodyguards", so what? But, if they try to attack you, they might get a hard lesson about the alleged non-legitimacy of your personal protective service.

  • BigT||

    If I hire some bodyguards, and you think, "I don't recognize the legitimacy of those bodyguards", so what? But, if they try to attack you, they might get a hard lesson about the alleged non-legitimacy of your personal protective service

    And if the attacking bodyguards are better armed they can well take all your possessions and women.

    Governments are necessary because people are not angels - human nature drives us to control others and take their stuff. Both anarchy and communism suffer from the same delusion, perfectable humanity.

    The best system has a balance of power such that no one cadre can take control. That is the genius of the US system, imperfect as it is.

  • ||

    I disagree. Believing in a state assumes that people will vote like perfect angels, and elect perfect angels, who wisely steward the world towards a great future, based on threatening people with violence if they break rules. How's that worked for the last 8000 years?

    It's a self-contradiction to assume that:
    1. Some people are inherently evil.
    2. They will take stuff.
    3. Therefore, we need a government.
    4. Those same inherently evil people will now vote and have state power and it will all turn out great.

    ???

  • BigT||

    I wrote: "The best system has a balance of power such that no one cadre can take control."

    A balance of self-interested, evil people if you will. It is when one group or individual becomes dominant that severe problems develop, absolute power corrupting etc. It takes 3 (maybe more) groups, or as the Founders brilliantly conceived, branches of government, each of which can over-rule the other in some ways. It has turned out quite well, although perversions of the system continue to accrue.

  • ||

    BigT said:
    "It has turned out quite well, although perversions of the system continue to accrue."

    I assume then, you're not a big fan of government, because, if you were, I think you would have to conclude that it hasn't turned out very well at all.

    I don't see the rationality in assuming that a distributed system like anarchy would result in a centralization of abuse power, but we just divide a government into branches, and the problem is solved. There seem to be clear examples of this being horribly insufficient in practice to restrain the power of a state (and, I would say, a lot more examples of this then there are examples of anarchy failing).

  • ||

    There are HUGE problems with that theory about how minarchy leads to empire or whatever. In no particular order, here are a few:

    1) Statism didn't just grow in post Corn Law Britain or the United States. It grew everywhere at once. The parsimonious explanation is "between 1648 and now there's been a massive worldwide trend favoring the growth of the state, impacting even nations that have tried deliberately to resist it by such feeble devices as written constitutions, etc. "

    Actually, statism took a hit in the 1700s -- going from "I am the state" of Louis the Whatever or the English monarchs to the Articles of Confederation was a massive reduction in statism.

  • MJGreen||

  • ||

    2) The idea that minarchic efficiency is what propels the growth of the state is not borne out in history. Why does the expansion of the state not track efficiency in the market? Accordingly to this theory, you'd be expect to see the biggest statist expansion happen, say, in the 1920s instead of the 1930s. Instead what you see is: the state grabs the most power in bad times, when efficiency is low.

    Coming at it from the other side, why is Switzerland not an empire by now? We've seen hundreds of years of efficiency and yet no drone strikes from them. What gives, Steph?

    North Korea. Huge amount of statism, the most in the world, but unable to expand that model elsewhere because the population is fucking starving. Collapse of the old Soviet Union. Cuba versus south Florida.

    Switzerland is a tiny, virtually uninvadable mountainous country surrounded by huge states. Expanding is not on the agenda.

    3) The path of expansion Molyneuz describes would obviously be self-limiting. If market efficiency is what makes state expansion possible, and if state expansion threatens market efficiency, guess what? At some point, state expansion will reduce efficiency enough to threaten further state expansion. Where are those cases?

    Greece is having * trouble * expanding its government because they are fucking bankrupt. New Zealand had its government chopping drastically back by the FN SOCIALISTS because their backs were against the wall. Any of the PIIGS countries. And so on.

  • ||

    Speaking of which, where are the good discussions of private defense forces? I'm a bit behind on an-cap theory?

    read "The Machinery of Freedom" here, if you haven't already:

    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/

  • BakedPenguin||

    Thx. I'd meant to get around to that one.

    Did Spooner ever address the issue?

  • FD||

    He certainly believed in self-defense.

    The right to bear arms is, in my view, the very basis as to why a foreign invader would hesitate in stepping onto US territory. An armed populace is the best defense against intrusive government, domestic _and_ foreign.

    And what a surprise (Not!) -- statists of all stripes object to the everyman controlling his own destiny. Simultaneously, as they want to strip citizens of their guns, will argue that anarcho-capitalism would result in a defenseless country.
    Cripe...

  • 0x90||

    Power exists, and its source is people. The tendency to delegate power is natural, but it needs good judgment and vigilance. However, to mark a particular group as holding exclusive right to its unilateral exercise, while simultaneously imagining that this group will not consequently tend solely toward its own betterment, is to engage in wishful thinking.

    The principled politician: nothing prevents his existence, but be sure, you will never know of him. Because when you wish for this man, what you are really wishing for is a weak man. Not weak, according to the idealistic reality you desire, but according to the one which exists: he is not a fit competitor. This points in a particular direction, and your principled politician is only a mirage.

    These are hardly a novel observations; to hold such notions when it comes to entities other than the state is rightly get apt to get one laughed out of the room. And this, when the power given to them pales in comparison. What, then, is so special about state? Only that the legitimacy of its monopoly rests on moral assertion, and is not, therefore, susceptible to rational audit.

    Which is to say: the problem lies not with the state, but with the people. Until the argument no longer ends with "because it is right," which only means "because I say so," one should expect to see the cycle to continue.

  • Killazontherun||

    How has this not been posted?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?f.....EdKqbqCGnc

  • ||

    http://youtu.be/FEdKqbqCGnc


    FIFY. Damned ampersand-stealing squirrels.

  • Killazontherun||

  • ||

    Neither of your links work.

  • ||

  • Killazontherun||

    Thanks Also Ran for that correction. I pasted the URL directly as it read out in the bar, but YouTube is doing something to circumvent a direct link.

  • Killazontherun||

    I see, the browser is adding unnecessary info in those two instances.

  • sarcasmic||

    There will always be government, or at least some organization of men with the last word on violence. Because they are the last word on violence, they have license to steal. After all, who's going to stop them?

    In absence of government there will be gangs of men competing for the last word on violence, and the license to steal that comes with it. The winner will be the new government.

    Sorry anarchists, but that's just the way it is.

  • Mr Whipple||

    In absence of government there will be gangs of men competing for the last word on violence,

    You mean like now? Governments are gangs that compete for the last word on violence.

  • sarcasmic||

    Isn't that what I said?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Anarchy leads to government, is what I believe you implied. Which is a contradiction.

  • sarcasmic||

    How is that a contradiction?

    Anarchy is an absence of an archon.
    It doesn't mean that there are no rules, it means that there is no central authority that enforces rules with violence.
    Unfortunately, an absence of organized violence invites men to organize for the purpose of violence. Warlords, whatever, but it's human nature. Taking is easier than producing. When you are the last word on violence, no one can stop you from stealing.

    That's what Benjamin Franklin meant when he said that there are two things that cannot be avoided: death and taxes.

  • ||

    sarcasmic said:
    "It doesn't mean that there are no rules, it means that there is no central authority that enforces rules with violence.
    Unfortunately, an absence of organized violence invites men to organize for the purpose of violence."

    Actually, the Non-Aggression Principle is not the Non-Violence Principle. It's not pacifism. Any protection force can be considered an organization that employs violence. Catching a thief or a murderer is an act of enforcing a rule with violence. There's no reason I've heard to assume that a society without archons must lay down like lambs before any group of people who grab guns and go around waving them.

  • sarcasmic||

    An organization that exists for the sole purpose of employing violence will seek a monopoly and use that monopoly as a license to steal.

    I'm not saying that an anarchist society would lack any defense. I'm saying that the defense would lose or become the assessor.

    It's human nature. When you're the guy who punishes those who steal, who stops you from stealing?

  • sarcasmic||

    *assessor aggressor

  • ||

    sarcasmic said:

    "An organization that exists for the sole purpose of employing violence will seek a monopoly and use that monopoly as a license to steal."

    Who said anything about an organization that exists for the sole purpose of employing violence?

    I can hire a bodyguard. Must he be secretly looking for an opportunity to to obtain and monopoly and steal? I've met a few body guards. They were generally nice people. They don't seem to fit this sweeping generalization.

  • ||

    "When you're the guy who punishes those who steal, who stops you from stealing?"

    This argument is most effective when demonstrating the faulty logic of ensconcing a single, particular group with a monopoly. This is not the case when protection is distributed between multiple groups.

    However, it's a great argument against a state. Definitely something to think about.

  • Killazontherun||

    We were going to see the world
    In this land
    We placed Baptismal fonts
    And an infinite number were baptized
    And they called us "Carabi"
    Which means "Men of Great Wisdom"

    Where are you going,
    And are you going anywhere?
    Where are you going
    Send me a letter, if you go at all

    Ahh, the salvation of souls,
    But wisdom we had not
    For these people had neither King nor Lord
    And bowed to no one
    And they had lived in their own liberty

    Where are you going,
    And are you going anywhere?
    Going in circles
    Going in circles, anywhere

  • Mr Whipple||

    ...the consistent application of the non-aggression principle and a respect for property rights

    The "government" is granted special rights that go above and beyond any individual's rights. In fact, the government is a monopoly on the use of force. Maintaining such a monopoly necessarily requires a violation of the NAP. The existence of a government is a violation of the NAP. Therefore, consistent application of the NAP would exclude the existence of a government.

    However, if an institution or organization is not granted any special rights beyond the individual, I would argue that that organization is not a "government", but a "voluntary organization".

  • sarcasmic||

    The "government" is granted special rights that go above and beyond any individual's rights.

    Government doesn't have rights. Government has powers.
    Initiation of force is not a right. It is a power.

    The existence of a government is a violation of the NAP. Therefore, consistent application of the NAP would exclude the existence of a government.

    That is the guy's point. However in practice it is an impossibility.
    What happens when, in a society that embraces the NAP, a gang of men decides to start looting people in the name of "protection"? Who will stop them?
    If a group of men is organized to stop the gang, what stops them from replacing them as the aggressor?

    The sad fact is that government is inevitable.

  • ||

    Yes, and slavery is inevitable. And women will never have any rights. And man will never fly. And we'll never break the sound barrier. And a computer will never need more than 640K of RAM.

    It's all so dreamy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Slavery is imposed by government. A lack of rights for women is imposed by a government that only recognizes rights for men. The rest is just bullshit.

    Go back to your mom's basement. She needs you to fold the laundry.

  • ||

    sarcasmic said:
    "Go back to your mom's basement. She needs you to fold the laundry."

    Ah, and we finally succumb to the appeal to ridicule: the most definitive sign that I'm dealing with an incredibly mature, open-minded individual, whose thoughts are governed by pure logic and reason.

  • Robert||

    Mr. Welch is much better looking with the beard.

  • ||

    Wrong. He looks MUCH better without the fur on his face.

  • advancedatheist||

    This goes to show the fundamental tragedy of the human condition and why libertarians don't understand their own world view. Every society we know of which has both agriculture and metallurgy produces a state, and this happens organically by human action but not through human design. Molyneux's fantasy of eliminating the state while maintaining agriculture and metallurgy would just result in the state's rebooting later on because the underlying causes would still exist.

  • ||

    I don't think these arguments go anywhere, because there are examples of everything changing to everything else. Apparently, we shouldn't eliminate the state because eventually we'll have a state. Applied consistently, then, we should abandon limited government, because it will always grow to an oppressive government. If everything always transitions to something worse, how can we evaluate a preference using this information? It becomes meaningless. Therefore, why not, then, consistently apply the Non-Aggression Principle and support the idea of no state at all? Given this basis of comparison only, it's no worse.

  • Repairman Jack||

    The right to individual secession shall not be infringed.

    Pass that as a constitutional amendment and the US territories are technically anarcho-capitalist.

    Disclaimer: But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist. - Lysander Spooner

  • tipuasher||

    Our government didn't start building the deficit-spending nanny-state from the start; it started off the rails after the likes of anti-constitutionalists
    http://fabianzaccaria.com

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    Now a lot of age-old do accoutrement shoes factory, aswell abutting the UGG production. Chestnut or this white mostly, annular able annular academician clumsy boots body Ugg Boots For Women

  • Ruth James||

    I think it is great to see something about anarchism. I feel like it gets looked over so often. I just hope that everything will get resolved.
    Ruth James | http://www.activeasphalt.com.au

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