Does the "Freedom Train" Metaphor Work?

An anarchist libertarian wants to hop off the metaphor of the "freedom train"--a somewhat common metaphor used by those trying to keep on board libertarians with different opinions on exactly how little government they want.

The metaphor implies both anarchists and minimal-statists are natural allies heading in the same direction, just with different opinions about when to get off the train. "Rad Geek" disagrees. An excerpt:

The image of political factions hopping onto a train, and getting off at different stations, might work well enough if you’re talking about factions within a party all of whom agree on the legitimacy of an electoral process. ......But does the same image work for the relationship between minarchists and anarchists? I don’t think it does. The basic problem is that when we imagine the minarchists getting off the train, we imagine that they are simply done with going where they want to go, and, while they prefer to stay at the minimal-government station, we will be free to go on past that station to the anarchy station.

....if minarchists simply hop off the train and leave the anarchists in peace to go on towards the anarchy station, then they are no longer acting as minarchists. Once we’re down to the minimal State and the anarchists start trying to withdraw and set up their own competing defense associations (or withdrawing in favor of individual self-defense, or whatever), the minarchists have only two choices. They can allow it to happen. But then what you have is government where any subject can choose to refuse or withdraw her allegiance at any time, and give it to a different government, or to no government at all. But that wouldn’t be a minimal government, or any kind of government at all; it would just be one voluntary association amongst many in a state of anarchy. Or they can try to forcibly suppress anarchists’ efforts to withdraw from the minimal State, and to move from limited government to no government. If the minarchists really mean it, then in the end they are going to be turning their limited-government cops and limited-government military on us, just as surely as any Bushista or Progressive.

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  • Anonymous Bastert||

    Ummm... can we just all agree to work on ending drug prohibition first? I think everyone agrees on that issue, and it'll have an immediate and direct and positive impact on numerous lives.

    How low will government be ratcheted down? Does that really have to be decided now? Does that question have any relevance whatsoever in our current situation?

  • Vent||

    Great. The metaphor's nonsensical. Let's stop working together against the great breadth of government power.

  • ||

    Honestly, who cares? If they don't believe in the electoral process they're not voting anyway. And an anarchist who's worried about how minarchists will react to a push for anarchy once some minimal state is achieved is just basically just playing Dungeons and Dragons.

  • ||

    That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. It assumes that we're in a state of anarchy now, and the "train" is moving toward some sort of government. In fact, we're in the big-government station now, and we're talking about a train moving toward less government, so of course the anarchists would be on board. If you're an anarchist, minarchy is better than what we've got. Also, if you're an anarchist, you're dumb, but that's another matter.

  • ||

    Say, I wonder what insightful comments Billy Beck might have on this post?

  • ||

    Ummm, when we get to a government that is about 1% the size it is now, this will become a relevant question. Not exactly holding my breath over that happening. Until we effing reverse the growth of government, the 0%ers and the 0.01%ers and the 1%ers and the 50%ers and even the 99%ers should all be pretty solid allies.

    But just to take a stab at it -- as a very minimal minarchist, I'd be quite willing to let the anarchists go their own way and ignore the government until they initiated force against someone, at which point they'd be treated as outlaws if they resisted being held to account for their usurpation.

    There's a real blurry boundary between anarcho-capitalism and a thoroughly minarchist state with voluntary "taxation" and a high tolerance for any anarcho-rebels willing to not infringe upon others.

  • anarcho agoro||

    People get the government they deserve. I highly doubt the bulk of USAians will soon ascend to deserving no government at all. Regional occurrences, probably very transient in their time frame, is about the best we can hope for.

    By nature, "Anarcho" anything isn't scalable.

  • ||

    Oh, and technically, we already have an anarcho-capitalist state with competing private defense agencies -- it's just that one of the PDAs is really really large, and holds in its thuggish grasp about 95% of the population, and doesn't let their victims go elsewhere. The other PDAs -- the Mafia, individuals armed with guns, and anyone who is an outlaw who refuses to file tax returns, vote, or in any way cooperate with the government.

    And I'm saying that about 5% of the population, because right off the bat you have all the illegal / undocumented immigrants living under the radar and off the official books -- and if anyone purports to know for sure its 12 million, and not 20 million or whatnot, perhaps they can explain where they're getting such a precise counting of people taking great pains to not be counted.

  • Ventifact||

    prolefeed -- As a very side note, I have to say it's a rare treat to see someone actually use "to not" when appropriate instead of always saying "not to".

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    What Prole said. Once you get the Fed abolished, maybe we can sit down and talk.

    Hell, for that matter, you can't even get the got dam Dept of Education abolished, so I don't really think the Oppression of Anarchists by the Minarchists is even as relevant as the Oppression of the Night People by the Day People.

    Plus, I like the Digital Duke version of Take The A-Train, but I don't recall jumping on anybody's freedom train. That sounds more like something from the 1970's.

    Don't take that the wrong way, neither, it is a time honored avocation for young libertarians to sit up until all hours sipping expresso or swilling beer, smoking until the room looks like LA on a bad day, hashing (pun intended) out all these really obscure and irrelevant what-ifs. Guilty myself. And it's fun. Er, was fun. Now I'm just a stick-in-the-mud.

    Anyway,

  • Anarcho Agora||

    This thread inspired me to read a bit of Sam Konkin's "New Libertarian Manifesto" (1983 edition)

    I hadn't looked at it for years.

    I found this quote:

    Internally, the "Libertarian" Party has reached a crisis with the 1980 American Presidential election. The premature unmasking of the statism inherent in partyarchy by Crane-Clark's blatant opportunism has managed to generated not only Left opposition but Right and Center opposition. [4] Major defections mount daily. [5]

    The failure of some reformist element to oust the Kochtopus by the Denver Convention (August 1981) and lull the unradicalized back in line would set the U.S.L.P. back dramatically and generate thousands of disillusioned recruits for the MLL and anti-party educational and counter-economic activities.



    "Kochtopus"? In '83? I thought that was fresher than '83...

  • ||

    Any RISK players here? How about we both fight and defeat them before we then turn and fight each other.

    Think of Mao's communists and Chang Kai-Chek's nationalists combining to fight the Japanese.

    Once the common foe is gone, we can nitpick the details.

  • ||

    The anarchists are all enslaved.....

  • thoreau||

    Clearly, what we libertarians really need is one more reason to not get along with each other.

    In fact, I'm writing a newsletter article about how much the other species of libertarian suck ass. Some of the language is a bit colorful, but it's all about appealing to a disaffected base. Would any of you like to subscribe?

  • ||

    Is Kochtopus (then and now) a reference to the Koch Oil Money?

  • ||

    thoreau, I've always wanted to subscribe to your newsletter.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    thoreau, I've always wanted to subscribe to your newsletter.

    You never wanted to subscribe to MY newsletter.

    [makes pouty face]

  • Anarcho Agora||

    Koch Family Foundations

    Honestly, my oldest active recollection of the word "Kochtopus" is time stamped weeks ago (off of Karen De Coster's site).

  • libertreee||

    I guess I was a minarchist who looked down on anarchists, like the commenter above, as dumb.

    Now I am an anarchist who works in the electoral process, once with the LP, now with Ron Paul.

    I may be an anarchist who works only with anarchists in the future, like Rad Geek suggests.

  • ||

    I don't see how this breaks the metaphor. Isn't this just saying that when the Freedom Train gets to Minarchist Central, all of the locals will start beating up the driver and spiking the tracks?

    As others have noted, it's kind of a Trans-Siberian journey at this point anyway, wake me up for the infighting when we get to Ulaanbaatar.

  • libertreee||

    In Somalia we have a near anarchy (ok, a kritarchy) that is being oppressed by democracies.

    There are historical anarchies, if you look hard enough. Or, you might call them kritarchies. They did pretty well.

    Iceland became corrupted from within. The Irish were slowly conguered by monarchy. Southern India appears to have been conquered by nature, not man. Friesland became absorbed into nation states.

    Those are the big four succesfull anarchies that I know of. There may have been city sized anarchies and of course aboriginal anarchies as well.

    The anarchists of the Spanish Civil War accordint to Rothbard formed very repressive, statist communites and acted more like communists than anarchists.

    Oh, yes, the Russian anarchists, who had communes in major Russian cities, and who dressed in black and marched with black flags and rifles, actually saved Lenin's ass a couple of times. They were later purged by the communists.

  • Rimfax||

    So, if you're not with him, you're against him. Where have I heard that before...?

  • Franklin Harris||

    "Kochtopus"? In '83? I thought that was fresher than '83...



    It's probably older than '83. Seriously, this whole cosmotarian/paleolibertarian fight -- in one form or another, with different names, with some people switching sides (Raimondo was anti-paleo in '88, as I recall), and with some a-pox-on-both-of-you factions briefly sprouting up -- has been going on since 1980.

  • Brandybuck||

    Two quotes from the author, which I think are telling:

    I think that it was foolish for anarchists to sign on to the Dallas Accord. Partly because I'm a self-righteous ultra...



    At least he lets us know this right up front! He is unwilling to compromise any of his political points. But such an unwavering demand for pure anarchy is going to net him only misery. Is this a man who would reject a 50% tax cut because it would leave the remaining 50% of taxes in place? I think it might be.

    I imagine a slave in the antebellum South. He is beaten every day. But then his master decides to sell him to a kinder slaveholder down the street, one who only beats his slaves once a month. The slave begs his master not to sell him, because the sale would only legitimize his slavery! And so he continues to be beaten daily instead of once a month.

    Personally, I have no desire to join any movement whose members [minarchists] will turn around and shoot me in the end.



    This is a vile mischaracterization of minarchists. Minarchists are not statists. They are anti-statists. What makes them different from anarchists is the pragmatic realization that anarchy is not viable. If a state is inevitable, then let's see to it that it will be as small and as unobtrusive as possible.

    If I were an anarchist, I suspect I would be significantly happier in a minarchist society than in today's authoritarian regimes. I also suspect that it would be much easier to achieve true anarchy if you start from a minarchist state than from an maxarchist state.

    As one of his commenters says: "Sisyphus old lad, would you rather push a pebble or a planet up a hill?"

  • ||

    This peaceful anarchist is currently incoherent, but still senses this would be a good thread to come back to later.

    thoreau,
    Hold my place...

    Ruthless

  • ||

    Don't all of the continuum-based political analogies fall apart at the extreme fringes? At some point the rules don't matter as much as the enforcement of the rules. It's what allows us to debate whether Stalin was a fascist, or Mussolini was a commie or whatever.

    That said, isn't the existence of that political compass indicative of the failures of the continuum approach?

  • ||

    This sounds like Trotskyists ranting against class-traitor Maoists and vice versa. Ho hum.

  • libertreee||

    What makes them different from anarchists is the pragmatic realization that anarchy is not viable. If a state is inevitable, then let's see to it that it will be as small and as unobtrusive as possible.



    Ah, but is a state inevitable?

    I think the age of nation states is on the decline.

    Beginning in 1640 or so with the Treaty of Westphalia, it-the age of nation states-started with good intentions. It would end internecine warfare by allowing for the participation of different ethnic and religious groups in a nation through some form of participation in power, parliamentary democracy or other.

    The American Revolution started the decline even as the French Revolution brought its ideological apogee. America denounced the Divine Right of Kings and established a decentralized order. The French Revolution abolished the Divine Right of Kings but by Regicide established a totalitarian secular order.

    Freedom flourished for the first half of the nineteenth century such as never before, but the chaos of the Napolionic wars had the seed of nation state destrucion therin.

    The consolidation of small states into large central states and empires after 1850 with the American civil war, the consolidation of Germany under Bismark, Italy under Garibaldi, and the triumph of Disraeli over Gladstone in England.

    The War to end all Wars, WWI, and the end of any monarchy, the triumph of bankrupt democracy, in other word, the suicide of nation states.

    The death throes continue as America replaces England as world empire, WWII, Cold War, now Islamo terrorism, and the nation states are unable to rachet down their imperialistic, militaristic nature that stems from their geographical monopoly on the use of force.

    The 21 century opens with the same opera playing, but new currents are pushing us to anarchy, not nation state dominance. The biggest is the Internet, and the ability to survive in cyberspace, which transcends the nation state geographical space.

    The nuclear age brings the ability of nation states to really defend its geographical monopolies into question.

    Somalia becomes the first nation to VOLUNTARILY abandon nation hood.

    Other so called "failed states" emerge, and the great powers are powerless to stop it.

    Fourth generation warfare makes a mockery of nation state armed forces.

    The 21 century might yet see one world government. But, sooner more likely than later, technology and individualism will triumph over collectivism. The end of nation states will come.

    To be continued...

  • ||

    The analogy is fine for people who have a bit of political realism. The train represents the movement and supporters of the movement are on the train. The train only moves forward with the support of the majority of voters, many of whom are not on the train at all.

    If it reaches the minarchy station, the anarchists will propose that it move forward. If the majority of those on the train are anarchists, such an effort will be made. Committed minarchists may well get off the train. Regardless, the train will only move foward with majority support of all of the voters.

    If most voters want private courts suppressed, then they will be suppressed. Only if most voters favor (or at least will tolerate) private courts, will they be implemented.

    If most of those on the train don't want to move forward, the anarchists can get off the train and take a new one. But, that new one will only move forward with majority support of the voters.

    I think as a general rule, if the anarchists on the train can't convince the other libertarians on the train to move forward, they probably won't have much chance at winning a majority of all voters.

    I think this approach applies also to Constitutionalist libertarians, Friedman/Hayek libertarians, and even average people who generally favor more personal and economic liberty. We need a big tent and everyone on the train. And we will see how far it goes.

    The "train" analogy, then, assumes a strategy of working within democratic politics to implement change.

  • ||

    I'm an anarchist libertarian who utilizes the electoral process while it exists (self defense). I think the analogy holds. If you look at the freedom train as a train moving from a totalitarian state on the one end to progressively more free areas, anyone can say, "Hey, this 'town' has exactly the amount of freedom I want" and get off there. The anarchist, on the other hand, would stay on the train until the end of the line where you come to a 'town' with no government at all. It doesn't have to have anything to do with believing in an electoral process. It's about how long and far you fight for less government.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    has been going on since 1980 Jesus Chrysler was on Mess Duty. Or at least since Rand gave Branden the boot.

    There. fixed it.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I did look at what Karen DeCoster has been writing about the Kochtopus and she is definitely making the connection to the Koch Oil money, which has, on balance, done a lot of good.

    Diss those boys if you want, but they've made a lot of things possible that never would have happened otherwise.

    She's also wrong on some of her facts......Sanchez doesn't work here no more. And, well, I'm not going to get into that, but she's wrong about some things.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The end of nation states will come.

    [Pours another glass of wine while some unnamed hippie type sparks a doob.]

  • Brandybuck||

    Ah, but is a state inevitable?

    I would assert that it is, for sufficiently large groups. The only examples of working anarchy that I am familiar with were in small groups or sparsely populated areas. It's no accident that the rise of government coincided with the rise of cities. I can imagine a successful anarchy in Montana, but I cannot imagine one in New York City. You talk about nation states, but I refer to all government, down to the level of a local planning commission. As long as it is institutionalized coercion, I do not want it.

    So why do I think the state is inevitable? Because it is human nature. If there is any correlation between voting behavior and the propensity towards coercion, then government is inevitable. Maybe it arises because people band together to hire a sheriff. Maybe it arises because some homeowners band together outlaw yapping dogs in the neighborhood. Mabye it arises because one group wants to oppress another group. But it will arise.

    If we're going to have a state, let's have a tiny one on a short leash.

  • ||

    I was just utterly flabbergasted to see her ranting on about big, evil corporate money.

    It was like she was blogging from Bizarro world, man.

  • John Kindley||

    I consider myself philosophically an anarchist and pragmatically a minarchist. It's the theoretical anarchism (e.g. Lysander Spooner's demonstration that the Constitution is of "no authority") which justifies and enjoins the minarchism, rather than a mere unprincipled preference for less government. Thoreau's essay on Civil Disobedience expresses my attitude very well, especially the first and last paragraphs. I don't have a problem with government laws which merely forbid me to do something I have no right to do anyway, like kill or rob. I have a big problem with taxes, but wouldn't have a problem with a Georgist "single 'tax'" on the unimproved value of land and other natural resources, which is only fair. (For your own edification google "Henry George." The man was a genius, and a true friend of liberty.)

    So anarchism is a state of mind, People. You can be there right now if you only think it. "The Truth will set you free." The Freedom Train has already arrived. Just be sure to avoid the thugs with guns (or at least the thugs with more guns than you) who wanna take your stuff, just as you would still need to do if the U.S. of A. collapsed into nothingness tomorrow. And do your best to lead others to the truth that those thugs who have both guns and government "credentials" have no moral authority over you. It'll make it that much harder for the thuggish minority to continue lording it over the rest of us.

  • ||

    I'm guessing that if a gang of marauding minarchists pound this chap into the ground after the revolution... it isn't going to be because they're acting as tools of statist repression.

  • Brandybuck||

    For your own edification google "Henry George." The man was a genius...



    The man was a kook! The only reason he wasn't a dangerous kook like Marx, was that he was essentially a libertarian. His horrendous economic mistake was assuming that rents were unproductive with no economic value. But rents are a market mechanism to allocate scarce land, and so have a vital purpose.

    Both George and Marx found holes in the quite spongy classical ecomonics of Smith and Ricardo. But instead of attempting to retheorize the classical assertions of value, they took them as Holy Writ and created single-minded political movements. They're they economic equivalents of the guy who reads a bad textbook on physics, and then spends the rest of his life trying to create a free energy engine to plug up the thermodynamics loophole he found.

    Still, a single form of taxation would be an improvement on the nightmare hodgepodge we have today. Just keep the tax low enough that bureaucrats need a second job to make ends meet.

  • GILMORE||

    Oh come on.

    You're almost making me want H&R to post about Ron Paul more. This 'minarchist' thing is like making the best effort to deligetimize any kind of pragmatism at all. Fucking "anarchists?" Whatever. That reads to me like teenage-rationalization of politics, where there is some potential reality that has never been achieved, where if only we got there it would work like magic.

    Unicorn politics. Frankly i'm never using the term 'minarchist' either. I'm just for limited government. At least that doesnt sound like it came from some goth teenager who has 'theories' to talk about. Why are we here? to change the status quo. You dont do it with new, fancy words. You do it incrementally. I see this whole debate as being some kind of stupid distraction while real like passes the iconoclasts by.

  • GILMORE||

    ugh,

    "real life"...

  • GILMORE||

    thoreau | January 25, 2008, 8:37pm | #
    Clearly, what we libertarians really need is one more reason to not get along with each other.


    Forget what i said. T dog got the money shot in early.

  • GILMORE||

    since i'm pile-on posting, i will add that this is yet another time to read Eric Hoffer's "True Believer" for a dose of sensibility. At the least, it explains why the hardcore hate the halfway-types more than the 'enemy'.

  • GILMORE||

    (vomitous post fest)

    Is this one of those things where the perfect is the enemy of the good?

    I'd guess so.

  • Derrick||

    I really, really, really wish that libertarians and anarcho-capitalists would split once and for all. I don't know whether political libertarians are holding anarcho-capitalism back, but the reverse is certainly true. It is really hard to sell libertarianism to the general public when there are people who call themselves libertarians talking about eliminating all government. Not that I think that's a bad idea - it's just that I really think we have to get to minarchism before we start talking about setting up Galt's Gulch or some theoretical shit like that.

  • Franklin Harris||

    has been going on since 1980 Jesus Chrysler was on Mess Duty. Or at least since Rand gave Branden the boot.



    The Rand/Branden split is a different creature entirely. That's purely internal to the Objectivist movement. I'm talking specifically about the Crane/Koch vs. Rothbard/Rockwell thing.

  • John Kindley||

    RE: Henry George

    He was most certainly not a kook. Albert Jay Nock, author of the libertarian classic "Our Enemy the State," called him "one of America's very greatest men" in a biographical essay. Other avowed admirers included Winston Churchill, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain, Louis Brandeis, Clarence Darrow, George Bernard Shaw, John Dewey, Teddy Roosevelt, Henry Ford, and William F. Buckley, among many others. According to Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman: "In my opinion the least bad tax is the property tax on the unimproved value of land, the Henry George argument of many, many years ago."

    Hardly something a great economist would say about a "kook."

  • ||

    Is this like the difference between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks? The answer to which side is correct depends on which one is willing to cut off the most heads, because when you try to institute radical social change that's what it normally comes down to.

  • John Lennon||

    while real like passes the iconoclasts by.


    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Franklin: Yes, but the broader point is that this stuff has a long history.

    For the third time this week:

    libertarians are like the Mafia. We gots to got to the matresses every four or five years.

    And, for the fourth time this week, libertarians are cannibals.

  • Brandybuck||

    Hardly something a great economist would say about a "kook."

    When I say "kook", realize that I am saying it as an ardent Ron Paul supporter. :-)

    I agree with Friedman that a single tax on the unimproved value of land would be the least objectionable tax. That's not my problem with George. It's that he goes on from there to the claim that it would miraculously solve the problem of poverty.

    His followers are definitely more kookier than he himself was. Single Tax proponents can yammer on for hours about the new utopia that will arise if only we tax land in precisely the right way. Single-Taxers are great people to have in libertarian social groups, as they allow you to sit someone between a Objectivist and a Bircher!

  • John Kindley||

    Brandybuck: "That's not my problem with George. It's that he goes on from there to the claim that it would miraculously solve the problem of poverty. His followers are definitely more kookier than he himself was."

    Well, I do think that government confiscation through income and sales taxes of a substantial portion of the meager earnings of people on the lower end of the income scale, while simultaneously denying them their natural right to a free and equal share of the earth and the earth's natural resources, is the biggest "cause" of poverty.

    I've heard from a number of people besides yourself that modern day Georgists tend to be kind of kooky. That's unfortunate, because the "single tax" idea itself is very sound. I myself have not yet met one in person. I'm an "internet" Georgist:)

  • Robert||

    Day & night people, commonsewer? Excelsior!

    Left libertarian Quaker, I know one anarcho-Georgist.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Robert: Drink! Or go to bed. Think I'm going to adjourn to the California King.

    Thanks.

  • ||

    I really, really, really wish that libertarians and anarcho-capitalists would split once and for all.



    So do I. Let's get it started. I, a limited government type, will henceforth refer to myself as a limitarian.

    Limitarians unite to crush the Ancap hordes!

  • ||

    As an anarchist I also think this is irrelevant. I am on the train.

    Besides when the time comes when a minarchist government agresses against an individual it is much easier for that individual to fight back since the state would be much less powerless and the individual much more powerfull.

  • ||

    My answer is: Yes, it works as a METAPHOR. Much of this commentary suggests it's something MORE than a metaphor, as if there will come a day when the anarchos and minarchos wage war or something. Both strains of thought are constructs, and nothing more.

    I'm neither. I'm a lessarchist. I don't subscribe to grandiose private defense companies or even a literal interpretation of the Constitution. It's one thing to spin out science-fiction scenarios, another to think they are real and actionable.

    I suggest we table the science fiction stuff. Government is awfully big and growing, so it strikes me the first order of business is to stop the growth, then reverse it.

  • Eric Dondero||

    The term "Minarchist" is utterly ridiculous.

    There are Moderate Libertarians, NOT some version of "Chists."

    Minarchist is still essentially Anarchist. They both fall into the fringe, radical out of the mainstream end of the libertarian spectrum.

  • Episiarch||

    DONDERROOOOOO

    Thanks for your input, Eric. Good to know what a "libertarian" (how vinegary are Rudy's balls, by the way?) like you thinks about anarchism.

    I, like a poster above, am an anarchist in theory and a minarchist in practice. If we ever get to the stage where minarchists can oppress me, I'll probably be so giddy with joy and my legal drugs that I won't get too worked up about it.

    I can't believe that the subject of this article is worried about this. It's like being worried about the sun going nova. It's just not something that you are going to see.

  • ||

    An anarchist society is unstable because it is inevitable that a subset of the society is eventually going to try to exercise state-like power (ie, organized coercion) over the rest. To prevent this requires the rest of the society to organize and coerce that group to stop. Either way, a state-like structure will inevitably arise, whatever term one invents for it.

    And the states that arise out of anarchy tend to be much more coercive than a minarchist state would be. I like the idea of anarchy, but ultimately I think a minarchist "night watchman" state is like the benign bacteria that live in your skin pores and prevent nastier types from moving in. Sure, it would be nice to be totally bacteria-free, but that's not going to happen.

  • ||

    Anarchists want to Smash the State.
    Minarchists want to Shrink the State.

    Say you have two guys standing next to a typical 2008 computer. One guy thinks it's bloated with too much extraneous hardware, and wants to reduce it to just a motherboard, seeking to get rid of the video card, hard drive, DVD drive, wireless card, etc. The other guy hates computers and wants to reduce it to dust.

    Do you see these two cooperating?

  • ||

    how vinegary are Rudy's balls, by the way?

    that is funny shit

  • Nick||

    This discussion is slightly interesting if you want to talk about political theory. If you want to actually change anything it's pretty useless.

    I view myself as a moderate or pragmatic libertarian. I want a much smaller government and a great deal more respect for individual rights. I don't see a problem cooperating with dems, repubs, or any other evil statist types if it will lead to more freedom. I don't grok the people who think that to work towards any bill or political solution that is less than their ultimate goal is violation of principle.


    As far as the anarchist who feel they can't ride the freedom train with us, I don't really see why I should care. If you're not willing to work within the electoral process, why would we care if you with us or against us?

    The way to effect change is to build a coalition of people who are dedicated to the change you want to make and then work to convince the normal people in the middle. Ron Paul is a great example of getting a coalition together, altho his campaign could use some work in convincing moderates to his side.

    Actually given that the most constant smear against RP is that his supporters are all kooks, I think we might be better off without the anarchists. In today's sound bite world, it's pretty easy to take a cheap shot by mocking the most extreme supports of an idea.

  • ||

    That is, do you really think the guy who hates computers is going to help the other guy remove all the extra components in a way that doesn't damage the motherboard, and only when all that arduous work is done and the motherboard is separated, will they have a disagreement about what to do next?

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I, like a poster above, am an anarchist

    Lissen guys, there can be only one Antichrist.

  • libertreee||

    Maybe it arises because people band together to hire a sheriff.



    The idea that the sheriff arose from the people who delegated their authority of self defense to him is unfortunately a fiction.

    The office of sheriff came from Anglo Saxon Earls in the late period of Anglo Saxon English rule, just before the Norman invasion. The sheriff was NOT a friend of the people. He got his power and renumerations from the nobles.

    True, the American sheriff is a product of American democracy, but although he is elected, and in that sense is more in touch with the people than city appointed police, he is still an officer of the state. American democracy is at heart merely a REFORM of monarchy, not its abolition.

  • libertreee||

    I like the idea of anarchy, but ultimately I think a minarchist "night watchman" state is like the benign bacteria that live in your skin pores and prevent nastier types from moving in.



    But, what will keep the state down to night watchman size? The US Constitution has not kept the American government small. The tendency of government is always to grow. The state has a geographical monopoly on the use of force, and it uses force to sustain itself through taxation. There is no real incentive to stay small for a monopoly.

    The idea of competing free market defense and justicial agencies at least offers a theoretical framework where we can see that the incentive to grow has its limits.

    And the technology of the 21 century may well provide the means, while the collapse of nation states the opportunity, to implement this alternative.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    They both fall into the fringe, radical out of the mainstream end of the libertarian spectrum.

    All libertarian thought is out of the mainstream. Or did you just mean out-of-the-libertarian mainstream?

    And some people think it's a circle.

  • ||

    Anarchists are stupid. And not just because they believe that all government is evil.

    "We want no government, but we're not gonna do shit about it."

    I'm libertarian (or at least libertarian leaning) out of practicality, not ideology. Anarchists like private corporations and free markets with choices and that crap, right? You can think of a nation as that, too. Living in other countries where you can get your own petty freedoms is a trade-off because most of those countries are poor and unstable. And we all face trade-offs. It's the free market of states. I do not say, "the state is evil." I say, "we can all do better with less of the state."

    It sucks that libertarians and anarchists can't unite for a little bit. I see Paul Krugman bashing Obama like fucking crazy in his op-eds (I don't actually BUY the Times or visit the site; don't worry). I ask, why not bash the conservatives? To a liberal, wouldn't changing a few lefties to extremists be less important than changing a few conservatives to moderates? Why do anarchists have to be little Paul Krugmans?

  • ||

    I can imagine a successful anarchy in Montana

    There is a much stronger collectivist streak in the "rugged individualists" up here in Montana than you might suspect. Think Major Major's old man. Not to mention the Californicators, and their ilk.


    The train metaphor is only relevant (in my view) in that the train is running full throttle in the wrong direction. We can jump off, and hide out in a little bubble of pretend libertarian paradise, but we're only one traffic stop, or one nosy, pissed-off neighbor, from being victims/ possessions of the State.

    Don't know why I'm such a spoilsport, this morning.

  • x,y||

    Oh, and technically, we already have an anarcho-capitalist state with competing private defense agencies -- it's just that one of the PDAs is really really large, and holds in its thuggish grasp about 95% of the population, and doesn't let their victims go elsewhere.



    This doesn't seem right. How can you call the state we have now a PDA? There's no consent or voluntary exchange.

  • Jacob||

    Um, wouldn't it be easier to secede from a minimal state that wasn't tapping your internet and phone lines, where gun ownership was unrestricted and the culture appreciated freedom and federalism, a state that maybe didn't even have a standing army versus the current one?

  • thoreau||

    Government is awfully big and growing, so it strikes me the first order of business is to stop the growth, then reverse it.

    But have you considered the full theoretical implications of supporting something that isn't perfect?

    :)

  • Eric Dondero||

    No, not all libertarian thought is "out of the mainstream." Moderate libertarianism, as presented at MainstreamLibertarian.com is just as legitamate as Radical Libertarianism. There is no one true form of libertarianism. And just because the Anarchists are less polite and more obnoxious than Moderate Libertarians does not mean in any way they get to rule the roost.

  • ||

    One of the PDAs is really really large, and holds in its thuggish grasp about 95% of the population, and doesn't let their victims go elsewhere.

    I missed the part where I couldn't leave the US of A anytime I wanted.

    Or even surrender my citizenship.

    For all of its flaws, we're still a long way from North Korea.

  • Anarcho Agoro||

    I've already seceded. Our house has been an "anarcho capitalist collective" for over a decade. It works for us (hell, these days I'd go so far as to say it's wildly successful), but it's just not scalable. As it stands today, if you're gonna leave everyone to their own devices, a significant number of people demand a boot on their neck.

    Read this: http://exile.ru/print.php?ARTICLE_ID=6473&IBLOCK_ID=35

    It'll be 4 generations (at least) before we have even a remote chance of anarchists and minarchists arriving at a zero-sum game point.

  • GILMORE||

    Daniel Reeves | January 26, 2008, 11:08am | #
    Anarchists are stupid. And not just because they believe that all government is evil.


    I wish you'd stopped with the first part.

    I'd have said, 'Anarchists are a bunch of fags'

  • ||

    Anarchists want to Smash the State.
    Minarchists want to Shrink the State.

    Say you have two guys standing next to a typical 2008 computer. One guy thinks it's bloated with too much extraneous hardware, and wants to reduce it to just a motherboard, seeking to get rid of the video card, hard drive, DVD drive, wireless card, etc. The other guy hates computers and wants to reduce it to dust.

    Do you see these two cooperating?


    I see it as more like an anarchist and minarchist standing next to statist cart full of steaming manure, with a sign on it saying, "Free gifts for you! And the children! Just vote for me and you'll get your share!"

    The miniarchist wants to shovel out the manure onto the statist's doorstep and try to salvage the wagon. The anarchist wants to wheel the wagon to the front door of the statist's house and set the whole shebang on fire.

    Both are excellent ideas -- and neither is likely to happen anytime soon, because the statist's enforcer is watching over the wagon, with a shotgun he made you pay for aimed at your chest.

  • ||

    Anarchists are stupid. And not just because they believe that all government is evil.

    I wish you'd stopped with the first part.

    I'd have said, 'Anarchists are a bunch of fags'


    You forgot to include standard libertarian disclaimer #69 -- NTTAWWT.

  • GILMORE||

    Prolefeed =

    dude, i think it's time to turn the computer off for a few hours.

    Ararchists, steaming shit, shotguns? Maybe its time to enjoy a movie, a book or something.

  • GILMORE||

    What the fuck doesc NTTAWWT mean?

    I am not a cool kid now.

  • ||

    What the fuck doesc NTTAWWT mean?

    I'd answer, but you requested that I step away from the computer before somebody got hurt. ;)

    Not That There's Anything Wrong With me doing That ...

  • ||

    Freedom train? I prefer "Ship of Fools" as a metaphor.

  • BlueBook||

    As a hobo camped out on the roof of the Freedom Train, I will probably continue to ride until the tracks run out and the whole thing plunges into a rocky chasm. But that's just me.

  • Brandybuck||

    I've heard from a number of people besides yourself that modern day Georgists tend to be kind of kooky. That's unfortunate, because the "single tax" idea itself is very sound. I myself have not yet met one in person. I'm an "internet" Georgist:)



    You really have to meet one in real life! For maximum effect, do not let him know that you're a Georgist too. Let him drone on and on about the coming utopia. Casually suggest that perhaps landlords do provide economic value by acting as a market allocator for a scarce good, and listen to him rant on for another hour. See him thump his worn copy of "Progress and Poverty" like it was a Bible. If he starts slowing down, idly wonder why Alfred J. Nock doesn't have a bigger reputation in libertarian circles.

    It's like watching a 9/11 Truther talk, but without so much spittle.

  • BlueBook||

    For the nerdy hell of it:

    Two Borg drones are a having a debate; one wants to dismantle 99% of the cube but retain the most basic systems; the other wants to scrap the cube entirely and send each drone off on his own way. The debate is lively and enlightening, but at the end of the day, they are still Borg. Short of the entire collective spontaneously collapsing, the best they can hope for is to someday make their bio-mechanical control implants slightly less itchy.

  • Jacob||

    I'm an anarchist on Wednesdays. What day is the Freedom Train scheduled to arrive at Minarchist Station?

  • Jacob||

    It's like watching a 9/11 Truther talk, but without so much spittle.



    You know my 9/11 truther!

  • Jacob||

    Off topic, but I suggest that we all have gay sex at the next Reason happy hour, just to frustrate the Lew Rockwell crowd:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/018918.html

  • Jacob||

    If nobody's down for it, then I was just joking, of course.

  • ||

    prolefeed,

    Well, obviously neither minarchists nor anarchists have many viable options at this time for advancing their respective political philosophies. My point is, even if they were free to act without interference from statists, their goals are fundamentally different, and the means of achieving those goals are ultimately incompatible.

    Minimizing the state, while preserving its basic functions of protecting individual rights, would be a very long and arduous process of gradual change via the electoral process. I don't think anarchists are going to stick with us when their goal could be much more quickly achieved by destroying the govt entirely.

  • John Kindley||

    "I don't think anarchists are going to stick with us when their goal could be much more quickly achieved by destroying the govt entirely."

    Or the anarchists could simply, arguably more effectively, spend their time trying to convince the People (which arguably includes "mainstream libertarians") that the government has No Authority to, e.g., impose an income tax, or put people in jail for smoking marijuana. (In fact, it has no authority to do anything other than what conforms with natural justice, which everyone has a right to do anyway, whether they're "from the government" or not.) Even if on principle such anarchists don't participate in the electoral process, this would hopefully have an influence on the people who do.

    Anarchism can and should be framed in a way that is much more palatable to mainstream sensibilities. Of course, the historical connotations of the word "anarchist" itself is a big part of the problem.

    How radical really are the following principles expressed by the "radical" anarchist Lysander Spooner (from his The Unconstitutionality of Slavery [1860]:

    If, then, law really be what this definition would make it, merely "a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power of a state " ‑‑ it would follow, as a necessary consequence, that law is synonymous merely with will and force, wherever they are combined and in successful operation, for the present moment.
    Under this definition, law offers no permanent guaranty for the safety, liberty, rights or happiness of any one. It licenses all possible crime, violence and wrong, both by governments and individuals. The definition was obviously invented by, and is suited merely to gloss over the purposes of, arbitrary power. We are therefore compelled to reject it, and to seek another, that shall make law less capricious, less uncertain, less arbitrary, more just, more safe to the rights of all, more permanent. And if we seek another, where shall we find it, unless we adopt the one first given, viz., that law is the rule, principle, obligation or requirement of natural justice?
    Adopt this definition, and law becomes simple, intelligible, scientific; always consistent with itself; always harmonizing with morals, reason and truth. Reject this definition, and law is no longer a science: but a chaos of crude, conflicting and arbitrary edicts, unknown perchance to either morals, justice, reason or truth, and fleeting and capricious as the impulses of will, interest and power.
    If, then, law really be nothing other than the rule, principle obligation or requirement of natural justice, it follows that government can have no powers except such as individuals may rightly delegate to it: that no law, inconsistent with men's natural rights, can arise out of any contract or compact of government: that constitutional law, under any form of government, consists only of those principles of the written constitution, that are consistent with natural law, and man's natural rights; and that any other principles, that may be expressed by the letter of any constitution, are void and not law, and all judicial tribunals are bound to declare them so. Though this doctrine may make sad havoc with constitutions statute hooks, it is nevertheless law. It fixes and determines the real rights of all men; and its demands are as imperious as any that can exist under the name of law. [*15]

  • GILMORE||

    John Kindley | January 26, 2008, 3:09pm | #

    Anarchism can and should be framed in a way that is much more palatable to mainstream sensibilities.

    Sure. Problem being, most self-described 'anarachists' are also 'patent assholes'. It's a bit of a branding problem.

  • ||

    Also, East Asian people pronounce anarchist "anal-kiss", which turns off the majority of the population (Herrick and His Balls notwithstanding).

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I liked Prolefeed's Antichrist/libertarian/steaming metaphor.

  • GILMORE||

    Asian Analkiss troo levolutionellys, fascist wide eye!

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Being a minarchist, I have no interest in suppressing anarchists whatsoever.

    Therefore, I have no idea what this radgeek guy is getting at, and will be scratching my head for a day or so after reading his ideas... free as he is (for now) to express them, as are we (also for now) free to express ours.

  • thoreau||

    Is this freedom train making a midnight stop in Georgia?

  • ||

    Off topic, but I suggest that we all have gay sex at the next Reason happy hour, just to frustrate the Lew Rockwell crowd:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/018918.html
    Jacob | January 26, 2008, 2:21pm | #

    If nobody's down for it, then I was just joking, of course.


    Oh, we're all with you, Jacob. Just, you know, waiting for you to go first. But hey, we'll all chip in for the gay midgets, the Wesson oil, and the trampoline to get things started ...

    (rejoins betting pool regarding when exactly Jacob will utterly humiliate himself)

  • Tom Gardner||

    Libertarianism is just a gateway drug to anarchism.

  • hunert=100||

    If everyone (and I mean everyone) ignores the government completely, won't it vanish?

  • Roderick T. Long||

    Check out RadGeek's follow-up, which answers a lot of the questions people are asking here.

  • ||

    ya..."Dispossessed" By ursala K La Guin is a good book....very unlike the above mentioned article.

  • Graeme||

    The sentiment of the statist libertarians posting on this board show their true colours. I do not know how one can defend property rights, but not be concerned with justice in property acquisition.

    IE...Ron Paul's immigration position, is the most non-libertarian position, one can take and the same can be said for defending corporate privelege. The property was not acquired justly, but lets just pretend that did not happen...

    John Kindley: I am a geoanarchist as well, although I have not met any other georgists in my life.

  • ||

    "Honestly, my oldest active recollection of the word "Kochtopus" is time stamped weeks ago (off of Karen De Coster's site" --Anarcho Agora

    The term referred (in the '70s) to the dominating influence Koch was inadvertently building in libertarian movement circles. The man was donating a lot of money and it was having an effect. The effects were both good and bad. The term today refers to those who are still attached to the sections of libertarian organization started or still funded by Koch. It used to be an affectionate term, as I understand it.

  • PhysicistDave||

    Brian N.,

    No, "Kochtopus" was definitely not originally an affectionate term!

    If memory serves me right, it may have been Dave Nolan who coined the term: at any rate, Nolan was associated with a newsletter (that I subscribed to) which popularized the term.

    Initially, Rothbard was associated with the Kochtopus: I remember talking with Murray about the term, which he admired as a pretty clever piece of propaganda from the other side. (I was a doctoral student at Stanford at the time, when Cato, the Institute for Humane Studies, etc. were all based nearby, in the San Francisco Bay Area, so I had a ringside seat to all this.)

    Murray admired it even more when, a while later, he had a falling out with the Koch operation -- Rothbard believed that the focus should be on long-term intellectual/scholarly/philosophical/educational development, but the Koch forces decided to go "mainstream" and try to influence the existing powers-that-be. This was connected, for example, to Cato's move from the West Coast to DC.

    Historically, the split is connected, as I suppose Karen is emphasizing, to the current Cato-Reason cosmopolitan-libertarianism vs. the Ron Paul paleo-libertarianism.

    It does not have much to do with the anarchist/minarchist split, however. Rothbard was friendly to Paul, although Rothbard was a radical anarchist. And , many of the most outspoken Paul supporters are Rothbardian anarchists (for example, Lew Rockwell and many of his writers). On the other hand, many of Paul's critics, at Reason and Cato, are minarchists, even though Paul is also a minarchist.

    Rad Geek (Charles Johnson) is of a different anarchist persuasion than the Rockwell crowd, so his points are rather independent of everything I just explained!

    Sorry, for the complications, but that's the story from One Who Actually Lived Through It.

    Oh, and for the record, my own sympathies way back then tended to be Rothbardian and now tend to be Rockwellian-Paulian anarchist, though I'm interested in the points made by other factions: I actually think Rad Geek raises some interesting points, though I disagree with his conclusions.

    PhysicistDave

  • wizard of oz books||

    With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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