One from the Vault

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Having shared two employers with the late Roy A. Childs, Jr., and heard folks at both places praise him to the skies, I've been interested for some years in this underappreciated essayist. I didn't share his anarchism (neither, eventually, did he), but he was invariably an interesting read. Now, a long and long-lost piece called The Epistemological Basis of Anarchism has just been published online for the first time. At first glance, it's a little heavier on Objectivese than I usually find readable and covers a lot of the same ground as his better-known Open Letter to Ayn Rand, but if you've got a taste for that sort of thing, give it a shot.

NEXT: Buddy Ebsen, RIP

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  1. http://google.com/search?q=cache:http://www.indiapolicy.org/lists/india_policy/2000/Jun/msg00007.html

    “It can be argued that private charity is insufficient because the benefits from it accrue to people other than those who make the gifts – again, a neighborhood effect.”

    http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2002/12/Lawandmorality.shtml

    “Laws are often the only practical solution for the Tragedy of the Commons.”

  2. “Laws are often the only practical solution for the Tragedy of the Commons.”

    I’m not sure I know any anarchocapitalists who believe there should be no laws. Law is essential to liberty, and to anarchy.

  3. True, but they are vague on how Stateless Law can exist more than a few days without a bunch of criminal thugs taking over. Failed States such as Liberia are sadly the common result of anarchy.

    Discovering you are once again a statist (hopefully still a minarchist) is mindblowing and depressing for libertarians, but is the inevitable conclusion if one thinks about the consequences of anarchism. Sadly, True Believer anarchists never bother to run the theory to its logical conclusion.

  4. True, but they are vague on how Stateless Law can exist more than a few days without a bunch of criminal thugs taking over.

    Yes, but David Friedman and Bryan Caplan have IMO done the best work on this topic, using the economic public goods analysis of ‘good law’ and ‘bad law’.

  5. Liberia never went through a stateless stage, Hobbes.

  6. At that time the name of the publisher ? Jarret B. Wollstein ? was known to me only because he had been denounced in 1967 in the pages of Ayn Rand’s periodical, The Objectivist. In this issue, he had published Roy Childs’s “Open Letter to Ayn Rand,” in which Roy argued that the political philosophy Rand had developed implied free-market anarchism, not the limited-state position she was defending.

    Roy was sensitive to the fact that the Open Letter had not been particularly deferential to Ayn Rand, whom he admired deeply.

    Speaking of laws, how about this one: Thou shalt not speak ill of another libertarian,
    until such time as our ideas haveth a much greater penetration into mainstream thought as they do now.
    It’s all well and good to hold that “evils should not be tolerated — period”, as Childs said, or that no compromise is possible between good and evil, as Rand said. But choosing to infight over the minor doctrinal differences between the Rand’s, Rothbard’s, von Mises’, and other influential intellectual leaders of takes time and energy, and keeps us further away from the day when we get to decide whether to abolish the courts and the police department.

    It also calls to mind P. J. O’Rourke’s description of the Libertarian Party as “19 high school math professors discussing whether to privatize the sidewalks.”

  7. Wilde: I agree. Though economics is an important lense, one cannot devise a “perfect” political system through it alone.

    Stickler: There is little centralized authority outside of Monrovia. I meant most of the country, should’ve made that more clear.

  8. “Thou shalt not speak ill of another libertarian,
    until such time as our ideas haveth a much greater penetration into mainstream thought as they do now.”

    so who decides our central doctorine, comrade lenin?

  9. Our mixed economy is clearly the result of a snowball effect of special priviledges and rights dating back to the nationalization of railroads (at the railroads request!) A slow rot and gradual reliquishment of power to the state that continues at an astonishing rate today.

    I find it difficult to imagine a system in this world where this does not happen – regardless of how little government you start off with.

    All it ever takes is 1 simple favor from the state, or tribe, or gang, or any collective interest and you restart the process all over again. Perhaps that’s why Jefferson suggested regular revolutions?

  10. “nationalization of railroads” hell, what about the nationalization of money?

  11. “I’m not sure I know any anarchocapitalists who believe there should be no laws. Law is essential to liberty.”

    Law makers do not have a monopoly on establishing order.

    Anarchism does not equal Lack of Order.

  12. Anarchist Illusions is a great read, thanks for the link.

    There are many here who have been seduced by the Dark Side of anarchism/anarcho-capitalism, an idea as seductive and dangerous as communism, fascism or any other utopian idealogy. Did he write anything else on this subject?

  13. Sadly, no. He apparently changed his views later in his (too-short) life, and never got around to articulating his reasons fully. The piece linked was supposed to be the introduction to a longer reconsideration of the topic, but it was never completed.

  14. Thanks for the links, Julian. Interesting articles.

  15. CutnPaste asserts: “the constitution was a coup, so say goodbye to your bill of rights. They don’t apply.”

    The constitution WAS a coup! The Bill of Rights (thank heavens for them, such as they are) was a DEFENSE to that coup. They came afterwards, under protest, to serve as a bulwark against encroaching statism.

    Do you have a copy of the constitution? If you don’t, ask Cato for a hardcopy. It’s free and fits in your shirt pocket.

    Meanwhile, go here (because it’s searchable.)

    http://www.cato.org

    Or

    http://www.billofrightsinstitute.org/

    Search and do a word count on the term “government.” Then do a word count on “liberty” or “freedom.”

    Compare counts, and get back to us about it.

  16. U.S. Constitution, Art. I, Sec. 8: The Congress shall have power. . . To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures. . .

    Talk about your creeping statism. Those assholes wrote in the power to nationalize the money back in 1782.

    Buncha damn neocons. Er, I mean commies.

  17. Stephen:

    Actually, the Federalists were a bunch of mercantilists (come on–Gouverneur Morris? Alexander Hamilton?). They wanted to create a powerful, centralized government to fill the vacuum formerly occupied by Parliament, and promote the interests of the plutocracy at taxpayer expense. The events of 1787-89 were, as Rothbard described it, a Federalist coup.

  18. …and what a disaster it has been! i wish we were today a bunch of warring factions, a la liberia.

    And to think that these federalists didn’t even have the balls to state their true reasons!

    (http://memory.loc.gov/const/fed/fed_10.html)

    btw: the consitutuion was a coup, so say goodbye to your bill of rights. they don’t apply.

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