POUL DOWN ON WOMEN?
I greatly enjoyed the article on Poul Anderson who is one of my favorite writers. But he has a serious flaw your writer did not—perhaps could not—discover.
Thirty years ago, ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION published a story in which we refused to join a galactic empire. Our reasons were that any culture, to survive, needed more than one viewpoint; the hero drew the analogy of binocular vision as opposed to monocular. He also stated that having two sexes in a race helped provide it with that sort of binocular vision. Then let me be your reviewer's other eye!
Sexually, Van Rijn is a total jerk, and Flandry is not far behind him. Van Rijn's whores, whose names he cannot often remember, are not the mark of a real, red-blooded man of action but of a child. Perhaps he also has a dull, dowdy Mevrouw Van Rijn at home who keeps his house, raises his heirs, and bores him sick. Perhaps not; we may never know. But it is impossible, as Anderson has written him, to imagine Van Rijn in a serious affair with a woman of character and ability. One gets the impression that either he never met one or that he would not be attracted to her if he did. (Yes, I read "The Man Who Counts." My opinion still stands.) I understand very well that in some circles it is considered manly not to concern oneself with such trivialities as women, beyond the shape of their boobs, but this is still a flaw in the hero and not a virtue.
Flandry is almost as bad. When he admires and respects the heroine ("Hunters of the Sky Cave"), he does not sleep with her, even at her own invitation; he does, however, lay a bet with a buddy on winning a noblewoman's favors. He feels vaguely guilty about the slave status of one of his women; but he finds nothing wrong in the fact that he took—for a bad joke—a girl away from his Admiral, that she later went wild and died. The girl was a trophy, a conquest, nothing more; what matters to Flandry is how it shaped his relations with the Admiral afterwards. She could as easily have been a horse.
Anderson's attitude towards women seems to be one that is common among the older generation of career women: there are three sexes; men, whores (or chicks or broads), and female people. The whores are objects to be used; the female people can easily, if care is not taken, fall into that category. Men do the using.
Because Anderson has all the virtues your reviewer mentioned and because his heroines are fine people, this one flaw is all the more glaring.
Patricia Anne Mathews
Albuquerque, New Mexico
PACIFISM AND LEFEVRE
Although I think libertarians should avoid name-calling and although, in some matters, I even prefer Robert LeFevre's approach to the one taken by many other libertarians, it has to be said that his kind of pacifism (accepting protection but not retaliation) is simply ridiculous. This becomes especially clear if we take not theft but murder as an example. Indeed, short of threatening retaliation by our friends, relatives, or defense agency, I cannot see what to do in order not to be murdered except running around armoured or hiring five bodyguards to accompany us wherever we go and jump before us whenever somebody casually reaches for his pocket.
A more serious point to make, however, is that Mr. LeFevre's position is either self-contradictory or totally void of content. Indeed, if, despite his disapproval, we used retaliatory violence anyway, what would Mr. LeFevre do or what would he advise the criminal to do? Retaliating against us would clearly contradict his own position. So, in addition to advising the criminal to protect himself against our retaliation (something he will be clever enough to do without Mr. LeFevre's advice), the only thing Mr. LeFevre can do is wish that we would not use retaliatory violence, just as he probably wished that the criminal didn't use initiatory violence against us. Mr. LeFevre's wishes are, of course, his private domain, but they do not, as far as I can see, constitute valuable libertarian philosophy.
Guy de Maertelaere
ANTITRUST AND COMPETITION
D.T. Armentano's treatment of capitalism and antitrust ("The Great Electrical Equipment Conspiracy," REASON, March 1972) is the usual approach to the subject that defenders of laissez-faire capitalism use. He first establishes the irrationality of antitrust, then goes into a discussion of antitrust case histories and shows that the historical facts of each case do not support the governmental charges of antitrust, i.e., monopolistic behavior resulting in the elimination of competition. Some writers even present a rational argument for the possible existence of a monopoly in a capitalistic economic system brought about by the workings of the free market place. He concludes his argument with the usual capitalistic statement, "To end the 'monopoly problem' in America, end all government involvement in economic affairs, including antitrust." This approach to this vital issue has gotten us nowhere, and I feel it will continue to get nowhere because it is nonsensical as I will show.
Talk about economics in the 1800s and the early 1900s is something which few of us can relate to. Talk about the economic situation in the 1960s and 1970s I feel everyone can relate to. Therefore, Fact I is that competition is diminishing in America. I don't see how anyone could dispute this fact. Being in industry and in the financial community, I see competition slowly vanishing every day. Therefore, Fact II is that there should be antitrust laws, i.e., laws which protect competition or which protect the opportunity to compete. To present arguments against antitrust is therefore nonsensical when we live in an environment in which competition is diminishing. True, antitrust in a capitalistic economic system is irrational; it is even irrational at a given point in time in any economic system where pricing determines allocation of resources, as was shown. To argue about the irrationality of antitrust when competition is decreasing is like putting the cart before the horse.
We must first define what government involvement is causing the "monopoly problem" in America and then only in this context can we discuss the antitrust case histories. We can talk about restricting companies from using the government as a marketing channel and we can talk about restricting government from being the licensee of business, but this is not enough. Unless taxation of the corporation is eliminated altogether, you will not have an economic system which breeds competition.
We are currently going through the cereal antitrust fiasco and if government does not find an antitrust law to prove its case, then it will invent one. This is nothing more than attacking the problem (the cart) and doing nothing about the cause (the horse). The question to be asked is, is there healthy competition in the cereal industry, and, if not, why not? Suppose an individual wanted to put a breakfast cereal on the market and compete within the cereal industry. Let's say the individual has $20 million to invest in this venture and that the $20 million is all the money the individual has. I feel that we would all agree that this situation would be an example of healthy competition, i.e., the existence of a challenger, an adversary, even if the market place does not warrant the challenge. But why don't we see this type of competition taking place except on a smaller and smaller scale? I suggest the primary reason to be the following: the individual through conditioning will be psychologically restrained because of the risks involved, i.e., if he loses, he loses all his money, whereas if a cereal manufacturer budgets $20 million for a new breakfast cereal and loses, the cereal manufacturer is subsidized $10 million by government through the payment of less taxes on the profitable portion of its business. The $10 million subsidy will be at the expense of the average worker or successful individual. A further deterrent to the individual is the fact that the cereal manufacturer will pay less in dividends solely due to double taxation, thus leaving more money to be spent by the cereal manufacturer for new ventures. I ask, how can an individual in the long run compete, even if he is efficient, against a corporation?
Our tax structure leads directly to large conglomerate corporations, and the government by bringing antitrust suits is doing nothing more than trying to correct a situation it brought about through a prior interference. Is this wrong other than the fact they are not doing anything about the cause? I feel a mathematical model analysis of our tax structure would prove this out. If you can prove to me that the situation and circumstances of an antitrust suit brought by the government against a firm was not caused by some prior interference (tax laws, etc.) then I will accept the irrationality of the antitrust suit. To do less I feel is not an objective view of the problem of antitrust and will not further free enterprise.
Any system which by its very nature excludes the smallest element, i.e., the individual, from ever competing or which does not penalize management for incompetency is unhealthy. How many mergers would not have taken place if there were not a corporate tax? (Montgomery Wards and Container Corp. of America, North American and Rockwell, American Motors and who knows what all, etc.) Therefore, we need antitrust laws (do not tax the corporation, etc.), and we must change our approach to the antitrust problem if free enterprise is to ever return.
William T. Dawson
Congratulations on your March issue. I was beginning to think REASON was going downhill fast, especially since the LeFevre article, but your refutations of anarchism and the article on antitrust restored my confidence. The attack on anarchism should be applauded as courageous, considering the popularity of that aberrant form of libertarianism in the movement for individual liberty.
My heartiest congratulations and thanks for the "special supplement on Anarcho-Capitalism." The articles were all excellent and long overdue.
Even though I am not an anarchist myself, I was not convinced by your "refutation" of the anarcho-capitalist position. I feel that you have tried to put one over on your readers.
First you printed an article by an anarcho-capitalist, and next month you trotted out four (count 'em) writers to refute the anarchist position. This seems a bit one-sided to me, especially since no anarcho-capitalist appeared to defend his position after your men had attacked it.
Charles Barr's article I felt to be especially unfair. The author stated that the chapter of Rothbard's book which he was criticizing was only six pages long. Now, if he had hoped to make any kind of believable refutation of the anarchist position, he should have chosen a stronger argument than Rothbard's must have been. In fact, such an argument is easy to find, for immediately following Barr's article was an ad for "Rational Anarchy" (115 pages!). Now, did Mr. Barr feel unable to deal with the arguments of an entire book devoted to anarchism, or did he really think that Rothbard had done everything possible (in six pages, mind you) to set forth the anarchist position? It seems to me that he set Rothbard's chapter up as the most easily knocked-down straw man he could find.
We read your special supplement on "anarcho-capitalism" (REASON, March 1972) with great interest.
While Kuffel, Heiner, and Barr may consider Professor Murray Rothbard a leading spokesman for "anarcho-capitalism," we do not consider him to be a consistent anarchist, if indeed an anarchist at all! Charles Barr correctly pointed out some of Rothbard's more obvious contradictions; e.g., his erroneous concept of a "basic legal code" without a government. However, Rothbard's error does not mean that the concept of "no-government" is wrong.
James Kuffel asks, "Is there no alternative to government by expropriation except anarchy?" and "…voluntary support [of government] should at least be recognized as an alternative." Does he seriously believe that those of us who are rational anarchists have not considered such an alternative? We have most certainly considered it and discarded the idea because of the inherent contradiction in such a concept as "voluntary government." For, even if all members of a society in a given geographic area voluntarily agreed to support one agency to protect and defend them against aggression, as well as arbitrate their disputes, there would be no government. There would only be one defense/arbitration agency, which, because of its vastly superior service, gained the voluntary support of its customers. But even to expect such a phenomenon is as unrealistic as proposing that all of us should voluntarily support the same insurance company or one company of physicians, dentists, or house builders.
Just as on a free market any company, because of true competition, must offer better services to its customers, so too, on the free market, defense and arbitration companies would become progressively more effective in their jobs of providing protection and defense against aggression and arbitrating disputes.
We believe that one of the reasons why many limited governmentalists shy away from the idea of rational anarchy is because they view private defense and arbitration companies out of context, i.e., in the same manner in which governments are viewed. In other words, they mistakenly believe the following:
a) governments are defense agents;
b) governments are aggressive;
c) therefore, any agency engaged in defense will also be aggressive.
They have failed to recognize that "aggression" is the nature of governments, not the nature of defense! They have also failed to recognize that a "legal code" is not only unnecessary but harmful to humans, whereas a "moral code" founded on natural law is imperative for human survival. That moral code is very simple to understand; it is the moral code of nonsacrifice, nonaggression, and justice.
Ernestine and Richard Perkins
St. Thomas, Ontario
I would like to express my appreciation for the articles on anarchism in your March issue. Showing the faults in the alleged workability of anarcho-capitalism is a necessary and important step in any discussion on anarchism. However, it seems to me that libertarians have largely ignored the more complex moral issues involved as well as what the construction of a proper government would look like. Mr. Heiner seems to be aware of this in the last paragraph of his article. I mention this only because many libertarians seem to regard political and social problems as completely solved. Though we are on the right track and have come a long way, there is still a great deal of hard work to be done. While anarchism may lack workability I believe that anarchists have at least a plausible moral position and their criticisms of limited government solutions to date are generally good ones. I am hoping that libertarians of the limited government persuasion will recognize this and start to deal with it. Incidentally, for those LG's seriously interested in the construction of a proper government I recommend THE CALCULUS OF CONSENT by James Buchanan and Benjamin Tullock (a book which Rothbard has criticized very very badly).
Finally, as an LG myself, I see no contradiction to the LG position in having private police agencies and perhaps courts as long as the final authority rests with the state and are operated under the rules that have been laid down by the government. Justice is not a service, but securing it may be. How do other LG's feel about this proposal?
Doug Den Uyl
I enjoyed the articles on anarchy and hope that you will follow them with others rebutting them so that I can better make up my mind. I would like to have someone comment on some thoughts that occurred to me as I read.
Should we ever arrive at that glorious day when there is no longer compulsory taxation and the only thing certain (as it is said) is death, it seems to me we will have, like it or not, de facto anarchy. The power to tax is the power to compel obedience. Therefore, no taxation, no power. No power to compel obedience, no monopoly government. Suppose, being creatures of habit, a country decides to have elections, would the minority necessarily support the majority (the winners) in their choices? What would or could the majority do if the minority decides to secede? Declare war? Then let's think harder for ways to get rid of taxation now and worry about anarchy later!
Barr's comments concerning the status of "legality" made me think, well, maybe there are lots of concepts we will have to rethink and others that we will have to discover. I'm not concerned with legality anyway but with moral principles. We all know the law's been an ass too often. If it weren't, this magazine never would have seen the light of day.
Silver Spring, Md.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Letters".