Anarchism

Robert Heinlein Muses on Anarcho-Capitalism in 1962 Letter to Ted Sturgeon

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Fascinating bit of science fiction and libertarian history unearthed by the great "Letters of Note" site. Context: Science fiction legend Robert Heinlein is kindly providing a list of amazing story ideas to the writer's-blocked other science fiction great Theodore Sturgeon (and also giving him an unasked for 100 bucks).

Heinlein rightly notes that being asked for ideas by Sturgeon is "like having the Pacific Ocean ask one to pee in it," and goes on to muse on some very early anarcho-capitalist ideas, influenced by the unnamed but described early libertarian movement mover and shaker Robert LeFevre, who edited a "Freedom Newspaper" in Colorado Springs for R.C. Hoiles and who ran the Freedom School, which was the first real libertarian education for the Koch brothers. Heinlein kept thinking about LeFevre and these ideas, which fed into his 1966 novel The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in which LeFevre pretty much appears as "Bernardo de La Paz."

Here's Heinlein the early anarcho-capitalist, to Sturgeon:

a society where there are no criminal offences, just civil offences, i.e., there is a price on everything, you can look it up in the catalog and pay the price. You want to shoot your neighbor? Go ahead and shoot the bastard. He has a definite economic rating; deposit the money with the local clearing house within 24 hrs.; they will pay the widow. Morality would consist in not trying to get away with anything without paying for it. Good manners would consist in so behaving that no one would be willing to pay your listed price to kill you. Of course if your valuation is low and your manners are crude, your survival probabilities are low, too. Down in Paraguay murder is a private matter, the government figuring that either his friends and relatives will avenge the deceased, or he was a nogoodnick and who cares? There is another culture in which if a man kills another man, accidentally or on purpose, he must replace the other man, even to taking his wife and his name. Obviously our own pattern is not the only way of looking at crime; maybe we are prejudiced….

Here is another [Analog magazine editor John] Campbell-type culture: why should government enforce private contracts at all? At present you can go into court and sue—and (sometimes) force another man to conform to his contract or wrest damages from him. Is there good reason for this to be a function of government? Should it not be a case of let the contractor beware? Why should society as a whole give a hoot whether or not the private, civil promises between two men are kept?

What are the minimum, indispensable functions of government? What functions are present in all human societies? Is it possible to name anything which obtains in one society which is not differently just the reverse in another? Or not done at all? Has there ever been a truly anarchistic society? The Eskimos, perhaps? We have an anarchist running a newspaper in this town [Heinlein is speaking of Robert LeFevre, though he doesn't name him], who is opposed to public roads, public schools, public anything—he maintains that it is not ethical for a majority to do anything collectively which each individual did not already have the right to do as an individual. This is an explosive notion; a corollary is that all taxation is wrong, all zoning laws are wrong, all compulsory education is wrong, all punishment by courts is wrong. In the mean time he lives in a well-policed society, his own considerable wealth protected by all these things he deplores. But one thing is sure: many of the things we take for granted are not necessary to a stable society, but we take them for granted. 

I wrote of Heinlein, LeFevre, and the history of libertarian ideas in my 2007 book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement.

I celebrated Heinlein's influence on his centenary in a 2007 Reason feature, and reviewed volume one of William Patterson's massive Heinlein bio for Reason in 2011, in which I discussed his slow evolution toward libertarianism.

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  1. It’s not bad enough that you slight Brett with the hat tip, you have to double slight me by missing alt-texts.

    1. Eh. I stole it from Instapundit, I assume he did, too. But thanks for standing up for a brother.

      1. Don’t defend him! I hope you get your Eli pick wrong again.

        1. I’m taking Cleveland, which means Eli is going to win. I should really do Warty a favor and pick the Giants to win.

          1. AZ d. NE isn’t going to happen again.

            Wait, why am I advising you away from this? You clearly have some kind of Eli Jinx and I’m banking on him winning.

            Sorry. Carry on.

  2. The pulling stories directly from morning links and failing to hat tip thing has gotten excessive lately.

  3. As I’ve said many times before, I almost never read comments threads in Morning Links, and if I’d gotten this from someone named Brett, I’d have hat tipped him. I came across it on my own.

    1. Have you started going all P. Brooks on threaded comments?

    2. Ignorance is no excuse…neither for the law or hat tips.

  4. I can’t speak for other staffers, but I’m guessing its the same for them.

    1. I can speak for other staffers:

      Two chiles: I also don’t read comments, and I wouldn’t hat tip anyone ever because I don’t wear a hat.

      Cavanaaaaauuuugggghhhh!!: I agree with Brian.

      Ekins: I’d sure like to sleep with Whiterun Guard.

      Gillespie: I also agree with Brian.

      Lucystag: Man that WG sure is a sexy beast.

      Welch: I agree with Ekins.

      See, totally easy.

      1. People say ‘beware!’
        But I don’t care
        The words are just
        Rules and regulations to me, me

  5. Given that I saw this posted on Facebook yesterday (in a group dedicated to Heinlein) I think it is quite reasonable that Brian came across this somewhere besides AM links.

    That still doesn’t excuse the lack of alt text

  6. Heinlein misses the point, unfortunately. At the end of the day, all societies are anarchistic whether you pretend they aren’t or not. It is merely a formality where we pretend that there aren’t individuals performing every action, and that they routinely break any and all rules. It is the nature of man.

    1. Heinlein’s main point was that people should be having a lot more sex with each other, regardless of age, sex, race, color or creed.

      And something about telekinesis or something, I don’t know, it’s been a while.

      1. You forget relation.

        1. I certainly did, good catch.

        2. What about species?

          1. I don’t recall him writing about beastiality but I haven’t read all of his works so I wouldn’t rule it out.

          2. I believe he was quite firm on the idea that both parties should be capable and firmly give assent. So its okay as long as the other species is able to give consent and competent as a sapient.

      2. He was constantly battling his editors

        “Robert, teenagers will read this book!”

        “Well, duh, I’m sure they can grok the sex”

      3. When I was a teenager I really didn’t get how the same guy could write starship troopers and stranger in a strange land. At this point (30 or so) it’s more impressive (the broad range of thought he was willing to consider) than antiethical and confusing

    2. Actually Heinlein delves directly into this point in a later work (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress) where he first (to my recollection) describes the Rational Anarchist philosophy…

      Prof: “A rational anarchist believes that concepts, such as “state” and “society” and “government” have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame … as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world … aware that his efforts will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.

      Wyoh:“Professor, your words sound good but there is something slippery about them. Too much power in the hands of individuals?surely you would not want . . well, H-missiles for example?to be controlled by one irresponsible person?”
      Prof: “My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H-bombs exist?and they do?some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as a ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.”

      and

      1. Believe me, I love the Prof and basically subscribe to everything he believes in. But I never felt like Heinlein truly did.

        1. I think he did at the end of his life. It is pretty clear that the 2 characters who were most representative of his voice were Prof de la Paz and Jubal Harshaw (probably Harshaw most of all)

    3. “At the end of the day”

      I had to stop reading there, that clich? is like the deep dish pizza of writing.

      1. Delicious?

  7. I’ve never read an Ayn Rand book. It is Robert Heinlein who first set me on the path towards libertarianism.

    1. Moon is a Harsh Mistress, baby!

      First book I ever bought, and read it surreptitiously in 7th grade English. 🙂

      1. My first Heinlein was unfortunately Starship Troopers. I was too young for it.

        1. The movie was probably a better way to go.

          1. Ugh.

            Without powered armor it isnt Starship Troopers.

            1. I think the only thing they got that was true to Heinlein was the shower scene.

              1. That was the one and only scene that was an improvement on the novel.

            2. Look, if Heinlein added power armor in to spice up the novelization, that’s his business.

              The fact remains that Verhoeven’s version is canon and Heinlein’s misses the point.

              1. *added to the kill list*

              2. Huh? No way. Verhoeven crapped on a great work of art. He ought to be metaphorically burned at the stake, no that’s too good for him, he should be metaphorically skinned alive with a dull knife.

            3. Yeah but it did have Dina Meyers in that shower scene which gave it some redeeming qualities.

              1. It’s Dina Meyer you idiot! No “s”!

          2. DON’T TALK SHIT ABOUT PAUL VERHOEVEN

            I still maintain that Showgirls is a true masterpiece, unappreciated by schmucks like you.

            1. I just wish it had starred someone more attractive than Elizabeth Berkeley.

              1. Like Rob Lowe? Jim Carey? Harvey Fierstein?

                Clearly you’re gay if you don’t think Elizabeth Berkeley is attractive.

                1. I don’t think rob appreciates just how slutty Berkeley is. IT’S A LOT.

                  1. Slutty != attractive

                    She was the 3rd most attractive female regular on Saved By the Bell.

                    1. Yeah, but Tiffany-Amber Thiessen is fat now. Such a shame.

                    2. But in 1995, I would have much rather seen Thiessen naked for 128 minutes.

                      Really, 128? Showgirls ran that long. Clearly some editing was needed.

                    3. Slutty != attractive

                      Sub-175lbs, yes, yes it does equal out.

              2. That misses the point. You don’t have a perfect looking actress for that role. Why would she be stuck so long at second rate joints? You would have the impossible task of explaining that.

                1. In answer to this I just wish it had starred someone more attractive than Elizabeth Berkeley.

            2. Verhoeven can eat shit and die. He didn’t even bother reading the best military sci-fi novel ever written – he just went ahead and made a shitty movie with the same name.

              1. No, he made a great shitty movie with the same name. Anyone who actually thinks it’s supposed to have any serious relation to the novel is retarded. Enjoy the great shitty movie for what it is, mostly Denise Richards and Dina Meyer.

                1. As usual, Epi, you’re right but for all the wrong reasons. Starship Troopers is one of the most incisive commentaries on militarism and propaganda ever committed to film.

                  The only thing wrong with that movie is Denise Richards’ unfortunate delusion that she would ever be taken seriously as an actor which prevented her from taking her top off.

                  1. Starship Troopers is one of the most incisive commentaries on militarism and propaganda ever committed to film.

                    I remember seeing it when it came out and thinking, “Why is nobody getting this?” Some still aren’t.

                    1. Hey, I got it then, and I was sure Heinlein would’ve gotten and enjoyed it too.

                2. I actually saw the movie before the book and hated it then. None of it, particularly the battle-scenes made any sense.

                  We are going to go to other planets and deploy troops with less firepower than an Airborne battalion today?

                  1. Yes, but the lack of firepower is offset by having them bunched up in tight formations!

                    1. And jogging around looking for the enemy, instead of using scouts, aircraft or the ships in orbit.

                      And let’s call in one airstrike that works spectacularly well, then never do it again.

                  2. I’m sure Verhoeven is deeply sorry that his movie about fighting giant bugs in outer space isn’t realistic enough for you.

                    I’m also sure that he’s sorry that all the explosiony parts distracted you from what was actually going on in the movie.

                    1. I’m going to make a movie based on “The Fountainhead” or “Atlas Shrugged”. For research, I start reading the book, grow bored after a couple chapters and toss it out.

                      Then I shoot a movie with the same character names – except in the movie the government is nice and efficient and helps the characters achieve their goals. The movie becomes an excellent example of how the public and private sectors can work together.

                      Nobody here would have a problem with that, right?

                    2. When Ridley Scott pretty much did that it actually worked. Then again, it wasn’t out of disrespect Blade Runner follows a radically different story then its source material, Scott just didn’t believe much of the novel’s themes were cinematic.

            3. Starship Troopers is entirely absurd entertainment. It goes good with being high. I don’t give a fuck what it shares a name with.

            4. Actually if they had called Starship Troopers Bug Wars or something completely unassociated with Heinlein and not pretented that it had anything in common with that book I would have loved it as a perfect B movie, not quite the masterpiece that the first Robocop was but not far behind.

              Problem is they had to try to tie it to Starship Troopers and ruined everything that book was about.

              1. I agree – but they wanted to profit off the Heinlein name.

          3. I pray that is sarcasm.

          4. The movie sucked ass. It’s one redeemeing feature was Denise Rishards, and she was just about the only female who didn’t show her tits. IOW, the only actress in the movie I wanted to see topless never took her shirt off. So on second thought, Denise Richards was not a redeeming feature.

            This same argument applies to Drive Angry, BTW, but with Amber Heard instead of Denise Richards.

            1. Just watch “Wild Things”.

              1. I might just have to take the 3-way sex scene from Wild Things and splice it into the middle of Starship Troopers. Preferably in as random a place as possible. Just for lulz.

            2. About three years ago, WWTDD.com has a pic set of Richards on the beach wearing daisy dukes with no underwear with a little something peaking out spread out like a pretty flesh colored butterfly. Our dear editors would probably not want us to link to anything that explicit, so I’ll just refer you to Google.

      2. That’s funny, My oldest is in 7th grade and while I fully intend on forcing him to read most of Heinlein’s works I still wouldn’t let him read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress quite yet.

        Somehow I’m thinking your parents had no idea what was in that book or they probably wouldn’t have let you read it either. 🙂

        1. But when do you force him to watch Showgirls?

          1. Every night.

        2. My parents were not in control of what I read. I think that’s creepy, frankly.

        3. My son is 11 and has read Tunnel in the Sky, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and Starship Troopers. He raved about all of them.

        4. Somehow I’m thinking your parents had no idea what was in that book or they probably wouldn’t have let you read it either. 🙂

          After my mom confiscated a book from me in 5th grade (she was cooking and I was asking her to define words like “transvestite” and “homosexual”), I learned the value of not sharing my reading with my parents.

          In 7th grade, I finally had the means to buy books on my own, and my parents lost any semblance of editorial control.

        5. My parents firmly did not give a shit. They might have eeped a little if I were reading de Sade, but short of that, it was all good. Same with music. As long as they didn’t have to hear it, I was free to listen to whatever.

    2. Yep, same here. Although frankly it was mainly because I was able to interpret it as the state’s fault that I was repellent to females rather than my own.

  8. If there is no government or criminal law, why would anyone bother to pay the money to murder someone? And if you made not paying the fee a crime and since the value of a human life is pretty high, I would think the fee to shoot someone would also be pretty high and rarely paid. So I don’t see how this system would result in much of a decrease in murder cases other than letting the odd millionaire get away with offing his wife or his wife get away with offing his mistress.

    1. I think it was just part of a story idea, and he meant for the fleshing out of details to be done by the Sturgeon dude.

      Also your last sentence seems like a good enough reason to me.

      1. I think your wife and or mistress might disagree.

        1. Depends on who gets to the clearinghouse first, I think.

        2. There has to be some amount of compensation that would make your loved ones be okay with you being dead. It could be that they receive a lot of assets, or it could be that they kill whoever killed you.

      2. And some tribal societies have a such a system. If you kill someone you can just pay their family blood money and you are done with it. But I really wouldn’t want to live in those societies. They haven’t been particularly successful in the modern world.

        1. You mean like Icelandic society, which operated as it was for hundreds of years?

          1. yeah, it operated, in the middle ages. Did they have the industrial revolution there? Did Iceland expand out and colonize the world? Does Iceland still operate that way?

            Sure you can operate that way and be successful, provided it is the 11th Century.

            1. John, I think you need to re-examine your position. It is totally metal to handle murder by the paying of weregild.

        2. Depends on how you measure success.

          That tribe that worships QE2’s husband as a God thinks the British work way to hard and are thus unsuccessful.

    2. I’m pretty sure under the rules given (value to society) there are quite a few people who would be faily cheap to off.

    3. Re: John,

      So I don’t see how this system would result in much of a decrease in murder cases other than letting the odd millionaire get away with offing his wife

      You mean like O.J.?

      1. Sure. But the point still stands. You will still about the same number of murder cases since most people couldn’t afford to pay the fee.

        1. I don’t think you could deny that it would make more worthless people act a lot better around rich people.

          Which I think we can all agree is a good thing.

    4. He didn’t say there was no government, just no criminal law.

      The government would still act as a collection agency if you didn’t pay the fee.

      To me, the real question is this:

      What are the minimum, indispensable functions of government?

      I’ve been playing with the idea that government is/should be nothing more or less than the final arbiter of disputes, necessary in any society above a certain minimum size. Without a final arbiter, societies are stuck at basically a tribal level, as disputes will lead to violence between the disputing parties/factions/clans/tribes.

      To be the final arbiter, it needs a defined area where its authority is final (sovereignty).

      It needs a system of dispute resolution (courts, in our system, although the court and the executive/sovereign were combined in a lot of monarchy-type societies).

      And, it (arguably) needs a set of rules to apply to settle disputes (laws).

      Anyhoo, something to ponder with a Scotch and cigar as the sun goes down over the valley.

      1. The government would still act as a collection agency if you didn’t pay the fee.

        And how would they do that without throwing you in jail? Once you do that, you are right back to where we are now. And if you don’t throw people in jail, then those who have no assets for the government to take, would effectively have a license to kill for free.

        1. So only throwing people in jail is the same as throwing people in jail PLUS waging wars, regulating business, regulating trade, prohibiting victimless activities, enforcing state-sponsored education, arbitrarily depriving private property, arbitrarily depriving freedom, etc, etc.

          1. Who said it was? But throwing people in jail requires the government have a monopoly of force. Without that, they can’t throw people in jail since most people won’t go willingly.

            1. You just said it was!

              Once you do that, you are right back to where we are now.

              I’m just saying there’s a huge difference between what RC is saying and what we have now, while you just said they’d be the same. I don’t think they would.

              I don’t think that the US Military is the primary non-libertarian thing about the US government right now.

              I also don’t think that the government lacking all force is a libertarian pillar.

              1. I also don’t think that the government lacking all force is a libertarian pillar.

                I agree. If there is no government, then we get rule by warlord or rule by whoever has the gun and can best use it.

                1. agree. If there is no government, then we get rule by warlord or rule by whoever has the gun and can best use it.

                  oh we get that either way. I just don’t get why so many people have Stockholm Syndrome and actually like their warlords.

              2. And No. I never said running a criminal justice system was the same as having a military and the giant government we have today. It is not. There are lots of very successful countries that have small or nonexistent militaries. If you are lucky enough to have someone else protect you or not have any external enemies, you don’t have to have a military.

                1. The point is that if you don’t pay the fee, the clearinghouses essentially rate your value at near-zero, so anyone can kill you at any time.

                  You want to remain an upstanding member of society so that you’re too expensive to off.

                  And if you think somebody doesn’t care about it being too expensive b/c they just won’t pay, see the first paragraph again.

                  1. You want to remain an upstanding member of society so that you’re too expensive to off.

                    But some people don’t care. Some people are really only good at violence. And those sorts of people, would have a hugely disproportionate share of power in such a society. You guys talk like everyone is equal. They are not. There are some people who really don’t give a shit and are frankly not people you ever want to meet. And those sorts of people would run wild in such a system.

                    1. Wrong, such people would have a $0 or possibly even a negative value at the clearinghouse (that is people have offered up a reward for your death that exceeds what little value you are rated for), so sure run around and kill everyone you like and pretty soon you’ll find that every 2 bit bounty hunter is coming after you for the reward money and just how long till one succeeds.

                      Further the idea that you could just kill off your competition if your business was big enough in this system, sure, maybe but then you’re gonna find it awfully hard to find suppliers and customers because who you have business dealings with is part of what sets your price and you got no way to force people to sell raw materials to you or buy from you.

                      Violence always sounds good in a vaccum but honesty you sound like someone who has played too many First Person Shooters where there are no consequences to violence, in the real world, even one with rules as different as we are discussing there always are and sure it might be possible under that system to get away with the occasional murder but that is true under all systems but the really bad people, when discovered will ALWAYS be punished regardless of the system because people won’t tolerate someone so violent living among them.

            2. Who needs a monopoly on force for that.

              You post a price on the guilty’s head, pretty sure you can find a bounty hunter willing and able to deliver any criminal you like to the gates of the jail for the right price.

              1. You post a price on the guilty’s head, pretty sure you can find a bounty hunter willing and able to deliver any criminal you like to the gates of the jail for the right price.

                And the bounty hunter is going to be an honest guy and do his job right? He would never take your money and keep it.He would never just say fuck finding this guy and extort you?

                You guys are so naive.

                1. He wouldn’t have many customers for very long, would he?

                  You’re assertions are slowly sliding from the idea that a few unstable people make the whole thing unworkable, to assuming that everyone is just a son of a bitch who’s out to stick it to everybody else. I think it says more about you than it does about any theoretical systems of government.

                  1. John has repeatedly stated that he would kill and murder if there wasn’t a Hell that he woulds go to to dissuade him. I think we know what that says about him.

                    1. Episiarch,

                      It doesn’t matter whether I would or not. What matters is that some people would.

                      He wouldn’t have many customers for very long, would he?

                      He wouldn’t need many customers after he stole all of their money. What are you going to do about it? Hire another bounty hunter?

                      You guys all seem to think the whole world is just like you or me. And it is not. It is just astounding how naive you are. Some people are psychotics. And worse, they are smart and charismatic psychotics.

                    2. Some people are psychotics. And worse, they are smart and charismatic psychotics.

                      The word is “psychopaths”. Psychopaths, in contrast to psychotics, have a more or less firm grip on reality.

                2. I mean, you went, “What if there’s a crazy guy, how do you deal with him?”

                  “Hire a bounty hunter.”

                  “Well, um, what if the bounty hunter is crooked?!”

                  You can play that game all day, and it doesn’t prove or disprove anything. I can do the gov’t version of it.

                  “What if there’s a crazy guy?”

                  “Call the cops.”

                  “What if the cops are crooked!?”

                  See? It works both ways. And in fact I’d say the odds that the officials with the qualified immunity are a hell of a lot more likely to be crooked than the guy relying on paying customers.

                  1. Jim,

                    My advice to you is go into the drug dealing business. There is a good example of a market where there is no government. Since the whole thing is illegal, no one can go to the cops and no one can sue over a bad debt. And who rules there and in every other black market? The person who has a gun and is best and most willing to use it.

                    Think about it for a minute. One of the biggest reason why the drug war is such a failure and so awful is because it takes what should be a legitimate business and turns it underground where it is run by psychopaths and criminals. Well, if you got rid of any law or central government, then every market would effectively be a black market. You don’t think the psychopaths wouldn’t run those markets? What are you going to do when someone rips you off or robs you? You can’t sue them. You can’t call the cops. All you can do is shoot them. And once that is the rule, the people who are best at shooting people are going to be the ones calling the shots.

                    1. Black markets are violent because normal people who are afraid of the law don’t get into those businesses.

                      Legalizing everything wouldn’t make everything into a black market, it would make everything into a Wal-Mart.

                      At the base of it comes a very different understanding of human nature; you seem to think that, if not everyone, at least most people are horrible murdering thieving raping bastards only held in check by the threat of the police.

                      I say, if that were really the case, civilization would have never developed.

                    2. Black markets are violent because normal people who are afraid of the law don’t get into those businesses.

                      No. Black markets are violent because the people involved can’t call the cops. If I rob a grocery store, the owner doesn’t have to shoot me, he can call the cops and have some hope of me being caught. If I rob a drug dealer, he can’t call the cops. So the only thing he can do in response is hunt me down and forcibly take his money back.

                      So in that environment, who is going to thrive? People are the most violent and able to do that. That is who. Not everyone who sells drugs is a violent criminal. In fact most are not. But the people the dealers pay to collect their debts and protect them sure as hell are.

                    3. I’m not sure exactly where I stand in this debate, but as someone who has worked in a black market, I feel I should correct John on his black market contentions.

                      I was a poker dealer in a poker room in Atlanta (a place where poker is quite definitively illegal). I worked there for 8 months. No one brought a gun, there were no violent altercations, and people would routinely drop hundreds of dollars at the tables and then walk away peacefully.

                      Sometimes people would even argue about the rules in a giant pot (there are a bunch of obscure poker rules that I wont bore you with if you’ve never played casino poker). In those situations, even in thousand dollar pots, people peacefully accepted the decision made by me, a 24 year old, 140 pound pacifist.

                      That being said, I think some of your points about black markets are valid. Games that had worse security set ups than us in the area were robbed (although I’m not sure with any greater frequency than say convenience stores are).

                      The poker room where I worked was run by a retired professional poker player and his wife, both were peaceful people that no one would associate with “organized crime” although technically it was organized crime. We ended up shutting down because of rumors of a police detective looking for the game. The law was only a hindrance in our particular case.

                    4. Wrong again.

                      You are presuming a system where no central government means no law enforcement or dispute resolution system. But one has been presented, we have focused only on part of it (the murder price) but there is more to it than that as it all revolved around paying your debts, so if you break a contract I take my evidence to the clearinghouse and present it to them, they send a request for info to you so you can present your defense and then determine who owes who what (and if you ignore it you lose by default). If the loser doesn’t pay well then their value just went down andI can hire a collection specialist to recover my losses from you.

                      You are conflating no government with no legal enforcement at all when what is being postulated is non governmental law enforcement.

                    5. If the loser doesn’t pay well then their value just went down andI can hire a collection specialist to recover my losses from you.

                      Which is a fancy way of saying you will have me killed, which is exactly what the drug dealer does. You really want to live in a society where the penalty for not paying debts is death? And your collection agency is only as good as its ability to collect which is directly related to how good I am at dealing in violence.

                3. Uh, Bounties are paid on delivery, not in advance.

                  I mean seriously didn’t you even watch Star Wars?

                  1. No Disintegrations.

                4. “He would never take your money and keep it.”

                  I had thought that most bounties are paid following the completion of the required task, so why shouldn’t he keep the money?

        2. And if you don’t throw people in jail, then those who have no assets for the government to take, would effectively have a license to kill for free.

          I think this is one of the most critical points.

          Weregild societies require either debt slavery or clan responsibility for debt to function.

          Without one or both of those, you end up with people who are judgment-proof having no check on their behavior at all.

          1. I guess you could have death penalty for failing to pay the fine.

            Dont do the crime if you cant pay the fine!

          2. I think weregild is justified, particularly over forcing victims to pay for the criminals’ incarceration. Basically restitution, or bondage (i.e. use of the person) until the debt is paid off

          3. I have no problem with voluntary debt slavery (and committing the crime counts as voluntarily taking on that risk).

      2. I think you’re on to something there.

        So the sole function of government should be to settle disputes by means of a published set of rules.

        I mean and also infrastructure and healthcare, but that goes without saying.

        1. So the sole function of government should be to settle disputes by means of a published set of rules.

          True. But to do that, the government has to have a monopoly of force or it can’t settle anything. I wish people knew more about why central governments arose in the first place. It wasn’t, as most people seem to think, to oppress and keep the populace down. It was to stop the local aristocracy and their mercenaries from doing that.

          1. monopoly of force

            This has never been true of any government.

            Ask Lincoln or Kennedy.

            1. The correct formulation is “monopoly on the legitimate use of force.” It can hand out permission slips to use force (to private security guards, people acting in self-defense).

          2. I don’t think it requires a monopoly of force. I don’t think there could ever even BE a monopoly of force.

            It would certainly require a force of some sort though.

            1. The US government most certainly has a monopoly of force. Sure other people have force. But that force is meaningless when the government decides to do something. By not having a monopoly of force, I mean a situation where the government can’t touch people even when they want to. The day the government can’t arrest someone because that someone’s gang will just kill the police who show up to do it and get away with it, that will be the day the government lost its monopoly of force.

              1. They, at most, have an oligopoly of force.

          3. I believe technically the saying is that government has a monopoly on the initiation of force. For what that’s worth.

      3. To be the final arbiter, it needs a defined area where its authority is final (sovereignty).

        And this is why governments alway grow. Once they are sovereign, they move into other areas outside the original defined area. You simply have to figure out how to keep them confined; and no one has been able to do that yet.

        1. always grows

        2. That’s because you can’t. Giving a monopoly on force means they are uncontrollable.

      4. So can we replace a sovereign referee with a private referee (through an arbitration clause)?

        1. So can we replace a sovereign referee with a private referee (through an arbitration clause)?

          How do you enforce the outcome if one party does not agree with it? That is the problem.

    5. In such a system any debts you owed would of course have to be subtracted out from your murder price, ergo if you kill your neighbor then his wife can off you for your murder price minus your husbands making you very affordable to kill for her.

      Also given the timeframe this was written in it would have been before a lot of the work on how an Anarcho Capitalist system could work was done.

      Presumably each person in the region that was governed by Anarcho Capitalism would have contracted with a private protection agency (a cross between private police, insurance company, and debt collection service) who would be responsible for determining who killed you and then extracting your murder price from the guilty parties and remiting it to your heirs. If they failed to do this then their ratings would suffer and they would lose customers and so it’s not like it would just be your widow trying to collect on your own.

      I should note that I am not an Anarcho Capitalist as I do not think such a state would be able to function for long (no more than a decade or two) before it tore itself apart but I do think that it is an important area of academic study to find ways of providing privately things done by the government today.

      1. Most of this got covered by Vinge not much later.

  9. But one thing is sure: many of the things we take for granted are not necessary to a stable society, but we take them for granted.

    That is true. We could clearly have and did have a stable society without public education or even public roads. But I am thinking law enforcement and fair courts to settle disputes are not two of those things.

    1. I dont think Heinlein was arguing that, more that we should consider the possibilities or which are and arent necessary.

      1. I agree with that. It would be good for us to consider the issue. When you take an entire issue off of the table, it tends to swing the debate way too far in the other direction. Currently, it is totally impossible to even argue in public against the very notion of public education. That means education never has to justify its existence and makes it very difficult to argue against its expansion.

        1. ” it is totally impossible to even argue in public against the very notion of public education”

          I found that’s one can’t miss way to kill conversation at dinner parties.

          1. Come on, the shocked looks make for great entertainment.

            1. we’ll that’s certainly true.

          2. Follow it up with an acoustic guitar, and you can clear a house faster than a SWAT team.

            1. and you can clear a house faster than a SWAT team.

              The living do move faster than the dead.

    2. Check out Medieval Iceland. They had exactly such a system, a stable state with no centralized law enforcement or courts. Each freeman contracted with a noble for his defense and protection and he could switch allegiances at any time he liked, a fee was paid and if that noble did not defend his clients he rapidly found himself without clients. The system was stable for about 200 years before the church and influence from Sweeden gave the nobles the power to maintain their position without the defense fees paid by their clients.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I…..mmonwealth

      1. The system was stable for about 200 years before the church and influence from Sweeden gave the nobles the power to maintain their position without the defense fees paid by their clients.

        That is called protection money. Those nobles were nothing but gang leaders. The other thing to consider is that firearms had not been invented. The middle ages really were a golden age to be a noble running a protection racket. It took years of training and a lot of expensive equipment to fight a medieval battle. A group of trained armored knights could slaughter the populace with impunity. What were they going to do about it? They couldn’t build bombs. They didn’t have guns. And the weapons were too expensive and they didn’t know how to use them anyway. So trained soldiers ruled the day. Only later when individual fire arms were invented, did the people have a chance to win by shear mass if nothing else.

        1. And Iceland was also a tiny, isolated island of poor fishermen until after WWII.

        2. Actually go read up on it. While your description of the Nobles is accurate for those on the mainland of Europe and even for the last few years of the Icelandic Commonwealth it was in no means accurate for the majority of the duration of that government.

          The major difference is if you pay a gang protection money you can’t just tell them to screw off the next time a payment is due because you switched to a new gang. The power rested with the individual because he could pick and choose between which noble he allied himself with (and paid) whenever he wanted becausr the Nobles had no geographic sovreignty.

          Also, the period that the Icelandic Commonwealth existed in predated the domminance of Heavily Armored mounted Calvary by a couple hundred years and the “professional soldiers” that existed were the ones hiring the nobles to represent them.

          1. The power rested with the individual because he could pick and choose between which noble he allied himself with (and paid) whenever he wanted becausr the Nobles had no geographic sovreignty.

            That is Iceland not everywhere else. Everywhere else they solved that problem by binding people to the land as serfs. And the system was brutally effective until the black plague created such a labor shortage it could no longer be sustained.

            1. Yes, and we were discussing Icelands free market legal system lasting for over 200 years which seems to be a pretty damn stable society.

              1. Sure it was stable. And what did it result in? Who was the most valued in that society? People who were big enough and bad enough to survive, that is who. I bet they didn’t have a lot of deep thinkers. You don’t have to be a deep thinker to bash someone’s head in.

                That is the whole point. Sure it can work. But when it does it results in a society where the ability to inflict violence is at a premium at the expense of pretty much everything else.

  10. Heinlein would take an idea, and just pull and twist it to the extreme. Case in point: Time Enough for Love. Somehow, he manages to bang his own mother, and Heinlein almost makes it seem reasonable. I say almost because it still totally creeps me out.

    However, the idea of paying blood money for the privilege of killing someone may be anarcho-capitalist, but I don’t see it as libertarian at all.

    1. It would make for a very interesting business climate. If I had a large business that could afford to pay the fees, I would just kill my competitors rather than compete with them. And I wouldn’t even have to kill all of them. Once word got out that if you went into John’s business, expect to be found dismembered in a ditch somewhere, I wouldn’t have to worry too much about people calling my bluff.

      1. Unless they pooled their assets. I mean your value would have to be higher than all of your competetors and their families and friends could afford.

        1. They could. But it is doubtful they would as long as I didn’t push it too far. How many people want to get into the business? And if I was really big, they wouldn’t stand a chance even if they did. The combined assets of everyone I know wouldn’t stand up to the spending power of even a good regional company.

          1. The problem is in an anarcho capitalist society the “getting REALLY big” part is effectively impossible as there are no government rents or patents to leech off of.

            1. But some companies can and should get big. Not every company is big because it is a leech. Some are big because only big companies can do what they do.

              Is your little anarcho capitalist company going to build an off shore oil rig and drill in the North Sea? Is it going to build a national cellular network? Spend a few hundred million dollars researching a new drug that may or may not be effective? Hell no it is not. Life would be short brutal and nasty if we only had small firms.

              1. Alright Justice Holmes, so you’re saying gov’t is the price we pay for cell phones and off-shore oil.

                Well what if those things aren’t worth it? What if I’m not willing to impose force on a single person to have those things? I actually think you’re right; unlike many individualist anarchists, I think society would be poorer, not richer. But I’m OK with that because I don’t believe in punishing innocent people for the Great Good.

                1. so you’re saying gov’t is the price we pay for cell phones and off-shore oil.

                  No I am saying big corporations are the price we pay for having those things.

                  Well what if those things aren’t worth it? What if I’m not willing to impose force on a single person to have those things?

                  Whether they are or not is a value judgment. And one I can’t make for you. For mine and nearly everyone else’ money they are definitely worth it.

                  1. Then you’re just saying that killing and oppressing is fine and dandy as long as you get some toys out of it.

                    I mean I’m phrasing it in a purposefully inflammatory way, but if you boil it down, that’s the bones of your statement.

                    1. Then you’re just saying that killing and oppressing is fine and dandy as long as you get some toys out of it.

                      No. I am saying that having a government is a necessary evil to prevent worse killing and oppressing and to have a modern society.

                      Governments suck. But it sucked worse before they came around. If you don’t believe me, read medieval history. There occasionally the central government would go away because there was a civil war or a really bad king. And when that happened, the local thugs ran things and spent their time looting and terrorizing each other.

                    2. The northern Italian city-states, which were richer and more civilized than any of the surrounding medieval kingdoms without any central authority, would beg to differ with that blanket assessment.

                    3. The northern Italian city-states, which were richer and more civilized than any of the surrounding medieval kingdoms without any central authority, would beg to differ with that blanket assessment.

                      And an Englishman named Sir. John Hawkwood came down with a band of mercenaries during the 14th Century and robbed the fuck out of all of them.

                      And beyond that, what do you think a city state is if not a “central authority”? Do you think those cities didn’t have laws and jails? Hell, Venice was an empire and were complete oppressive assholes to the whole Adriatic.

                  2. Actually, if there is a valuable asset whose location is known and which can only be harvested using a large aggregation of capital – trust me, capital will aggregate.

                    Your examples would not go undone, John. They would get done. In fact, they’re a natural reason why large firms would still exist, even in the absence of rent-seeking. You might not get large firms in IP areas in anarcho-capitalism, but you sure as shit would get them in non-IP industries like oil refining.

                    1. Maybe they would fluffy. I didn’t say they wouldn’t. I was responding to Rasillio who said that there wouldn’t be any big firms in such a society.

                    2. Actually the large firms for this purpose in an anarcho capitalist (or even just a real free market system) would not likely be large single firms but rather partnerships of smaller firms probably working under the auspices of a financing company. However once the project was complete each of those smaller firms would go their seperate ways and partner with another group on the next project.

          2. But they don’t have to meet the spending power of a regional company. They just have to combine to meet your personal market-price. Which while is certainly related to your company’s/family’s/friend’s combined wealth, isn’t exactly equal to it. Otherwise it’d be a boring story.

            Let’s say there’s two neighbors, and both have about the same net worth. Neither of them could ever kill each other, cause they’d have to sacrifice all of their wealth to do so. Thus the existence of this type of ‘law’ wouldn’t influence their behavior – they could be nice or dicks to each other with no repercussions just like they are now.

            But if their actual killing value was, say the price of a new car, then it might influence them to act pretty nice to each other, since, while it would still be somewhat painful, either of them could actually afford to pay the price to have the other one killed.

            I think that’s what Heinlein was getting at.

            It wouldn’t cost a million bux to kill a millionaire, but it would cost more than a middle class guy could afford. But probably not more than 10 middle class guys could afford.

            1. I wouldn’t give a shit what you thought White Run because I would have a well paid and well run security team. You would never touch me anymore than the average Mexican can touch the leader of a drug cartel.

              1. They all think that. Until the last second.

              2. As long as the security team is limited to providing protection, anyone can be got to. The safety of the cartel heads is assured in large part by the certainty that the cartel will retaliate, which should be (?) off limits to a security detail.

                Not to mention, those cartel heads spend a whole lot on 24/7 on-site security, which very few can afford.

                A security team can’t prevent a competent sniper from putting a bullet in you, unless you have tens of millions of dollars to spend on something approaching Secret Service type security.

                1. The safety of the cartel heads is assured in large part by the certainty that the cartel will retaliate, which should be (?) off limits to a security detail.

                  What makes it off limits? You are just creating laws RC. We might as well go back to having criminal laws then. Setting rules on what people can and cannot do, is called criminal law.

                  And the safety is more than just the retaliation. It is also them physically being there and protecting me.

                  1. What makes it off limits?

                    I dunno. We’re world-building here, right?

                    And all this is still compatible with their being a very minimalist government.

                    Perhaps the security companies themselves agree that they will not get into the business of hunting down and killing people who get to their targets?

                    Perhaps there is some sort of supra-company agency or government that makes sure this doesn’t happen, to prevent a slide into warlordism?

                    I’m just saying that no security team that you could afford could prevent you from catching a bullet, really.

                    1. Perhaps the security companies themselves agree that they will not get into the business of hunting down and killing people who get to their targets?

                      Mine wouldn’t agree to that and I doubt yours would either.

                      Perhaps there is some sort of supra-company agency or government that makes sure this doesn’t happen, to prevent a slide into warlordism?

                      That is called a “king” or now a “central government”. So much for anarchy.

                  2. Um, human nature.

                    YOU’RE dead, what incentive does your security force have in extracting revenge on your killers when said actions would put their lives at stake as well.

                    Even in the case of the Cartels, knocking off one of their leaders is not guaranteed to get you killed, as long as the business is intact for his replacement.

                2. Fuck that. If we’re in libertopia, I’m putting an RPG into John’s car when he pisses me off enough. Your security detail can eat a bowl of dicks and go up in flames with you. The only reason you don’t get that now is the restrictions on RPGs, and even that fails. Just ask Tachito Somoza. Your security team isn’t going to have Secret Service clout to shut down roadways and evacuate buildings, so I guarantee I can find a place to take a shot at you.

              3. I got a 30-06 with a sniper scope that can put a lie to that theory in about 30 seconds.

                1. Maybe you do. And if you are a big enough bad ass with that scope, you will run things. And that is exactly my point. Your power in such a society would rest on your ability and willingness to do violence.

      2. Until someone kills you.

        I think people underestimate the price of doing something so destructive. It’s bad for business. There are consequences to killing people, and it’s much more productive to all get along. Yeah, I know that people don’t, but it’s still worse.

        1. It just makes it dangerous, not impossible Episiarch. Look at organized crime leaders. Many of them have long careers and end up dying peacefully or getting arrested instead of being killed by their own.

          The problem is that in that kind of environment, the person who most succeeds is the person who is most willing and most able to kill. If I am just a homicidal bad ass, it doesn’t matter that you make a better widget than I do because you will be dead and everyone will be buying my widgets.

        2. This is important. John also comments on how difficult it would be to kill the owner of a large company. A few things to consider: most large companies have multiple owners, so the cost of killing one owner would be less.

          The other thing to consider, most large companies started off as small companies. If they behaved violently when they were small, they would probably never get big.

          1. If they behaved violently when they were small, they would probably never get big.

            Why wouldn’t they get big? Violence pays. The Cosa Nostra started out small didn’t it? If I am organized, smart enough, and violent enough, I will get very big.

            1. The profit base of the Mafia and other organized crime is black market pricing. If liquor, drugs, prostitutes, high-interest loans, and gambling are legal, they can’t afford the overhead for murder. All they would have are protection rackets and blackmail (and a lot of blackmail possibilities go away in anarcho-capitalism.)

              Then all you would have is just another gang of thugs trying to twist arms on a highly-armed populace that–by the fact it exists–has a mechanism for dealing with warlordism.

              1. f liquor, drugs, prostitutes, high-interest loans, and gambling are legal, they can’t afford the overhead for murder.

                If there is no law, there is no overhead for murder. Everything becomes fair game. They were only able to run the protection rackets because people engaged in illegal businesses couldn’t go to the cops. They needed protection. Take away laws and every business is in that situation.

            2. Your complaint has been that it would be difficult/impossible to punish a large company for violent actions due to the expense. Now, it’s impossible to punish a small company? Why? If a small company is violent and nasty, it’s much less expensive to get them to behave.

              1. Jesus,

                It is hard to punish any company provided it is violent and nasty enough. And that is the point. In a society where there is no law, there is a premium on being able to effectively deal out violence.

      3. I’m not an anarchist, but you would really go around killing people as long as you could get away with it?

        1. No I personally wouldn’t. But some people would. And that is really all that matters. 95% of the people in Sicily would never dream of doing such a thing. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the 5% who would and formed the Cosa Nostra.

          1. I’ve lived in Afghanistan, Iraq and now in Liberia.

            The only thing that stops me from doing that is the threat of force and losing my assets.

            1. The only thing that stops me from doing that is the threat of force and losing my assets.

              That is just because you have too much to lose and are not enough of a bad ass or a psychotic. Not everyone fits that description. Some people have nothing to lose. Some just like killing people. Some people have no value in a society other than to bust heads. Those people can and do think differently. And that is what creates the problem.

              1. We already have those people. Matter of fact, I believe our government actively seeks some of these people out, in order to put their talents to use.

                1. Jesus,

                  And a lot of such people are in prison too. They wouldn’t be if murder were legal. They would be quite valuable members of society.

                  1. They would also die in very large numbers for the shit they pull.

                    BTW, I’m not arguing for such a system. It would be horrible, but I think it would be more nuanced than your position allows.

              2. And how would it be any different than today?

                Those king of people kill and bust heads today until caught and imprisoned and then let free to kill and bust heads some more until finally they rot in jail or are given the DP.

                In this hypothetical society, the first time they are caught their price is lowered to the point that someone caps them and plops a $20 down.

                1. In this hypothetical society, the first time they are caught their price is lowered to the point that someone caps them and plops a $20 down.

                  They wouldn’t be capped. They would be very highly paid and valued member of some corporation or organization. Those are exactly the people you would want to hire to both protect you and terrorize your competitors.

      4. One thing all this discussion proves:

        This is quite a good idea to do some world-building and story-writing with.

    2. One thing that Heinlein decided to do in his later works was to push the envelope and see just how far he could go and still get published.

      He also wanted to attack as many sacred cows as possible, not necessarily because he wanted to eliminate them but because he wanted to make people think about things and not just accept the status Quo.

      For example, in most of his later works open sexuality and group marriages were the norm, and while it is true that he was one of the first generation of what we now call Swingers with his first wife, from what anyone can tell he was devotedly monogamous with his second wife who he was with the entire period he was writing these books.

      Finally if Time Enough for Love creeps you out you should try “To Sail Beyond the Sunset” which is the story of Lazarus’s (the main character in Time Enough For Love) mother Maureen. Casual Incest is a central feature of that book.

    3. I think it was creepier when he was like, 1000 years old and he was nailing a 16 year old he adopted when she was 8.

  11. Thanks for the article. Heinlein was describing cultural alternatives; his ideas on a price are the same as early English common law and the concept of wereguilt. American criminal law today, as I understand it, is technically non-punitive and rehabilitative and civil compensation is basically a less defined wereguilt system up to the jury.Libertarians want bthat to be more consistent.

    For info on people today using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ http://www.Libertarian-International.org ….

  12. Here’s the thing about Heinlein:

    If you read stuff he wrote in the late 40’s, when he was in a nuclear panic, it doesn’t read libertarian at all.

    He pretty much advocated that the US suspend its Constitution and conquer the rest of the world while it still had a nuclear monopoly, because of the consequences of a multipolar nuclear world.

    So I think that a lot of Heinlein’s libertarianish writings are more a function of “hey let’s examine this neat idea and its implications in fiction” and didn’t really arise from core convictions regarding liberty.

    1. Um, you have any examples? I don’t recall reading anything like that.

      1. I have a trade paperback called Expanded Universe that’s all short stories and essays.

        It includes the short story “Solution Unsatisfactory” and the editorial essays “The Last Days of the United States”, “How to Be a Survivor”, and “Pie from the Sky”. All of which offer sentiments that are one variation or another on what I just posted.

        There’s also the short story “Free Men” where the residents of a future America held in bondage by a nuclear power lament that they didn’t conquer the world themselves in 1945.

        1. I have that book as well but havn’t read it in quite some time. I’ll have to go reread it to see if I find those themes present

    2. He really hated Communists – but everything I read, it was for all the right reasons.

    3. His core conviction was falling in love with Virginia, as Asimov noted.

  13. I can’t really become more minarchist without being an anarchist, but I don’t think I will be. I did convince myself that roads should be privatized after a while.

    Science fiction literature history seems fascinating but the media matured before my time. I feel like I would have to read a lot of Wikipedia in order to start reading start reading science fiction if I can ever get around to it.

    1. Do you have to understand the history and major players of the genre in order to enjoy a good book? If so, that’s an interesting, if somewhat burdensome approach to new material. Maybe I’m superficial, but generally, I can just read a book and take what I can from it, with the understanding that if I spent the time to dig deeper, the story might be more rich, and might not.

    2. I have to agree, I don’t get that either. I pick up mysteries as well, but beyond Chandler and Jim Thompson, I don’t care much or even know much about the history of the genre.

      Just a few to toss out depending on your thematic preference:

      end of the world: Blood Music
      old fashion cyberpunk: might as well go with Nueromancer. It has a consistent and unique style through out. Mona Lisa Overdrive is a bit better, but often steps out of the interesting parameters of the first novel. Then to see how thoroughly Gibson evolves as a writer, read Pattern Recognition, though you might like it better when it was titled Crying of Lot 49.
      new fashion cyberpunk: Altered Carbon
      space opera: Chasm City
      big ideas: Sundriver first uplift trilogy
      ampersand Marooned in Realtime

  14. Tangentially on-topic: I made the mistake of following Charles Stross’ blog a while back and discovered he’s a rather naive pseudo-socialist corporashuns are evul guy. Now I’ve lost interest in reading more stuff by him.

    1. Well, then you’re stupid, because most of his work is excellent. If you can’t enjoy someone’s work without having them agree with all your politics, you’re going to have a tough time finding good entertainment.

      1. Hey Epi, take your ad homs and go fuck yourself.

        They don’t have to agree with all my politics but if they hold some stupid idiotic opinions, I lose respect for them and just lose interest, in the case of Stross. This applies to novels, not so much to music or movies. I still like Gore Vidal’s novels even though he said some pretty batshit stuff in his later years, when he basically lost it, IMO. Same goes for Kurt Vonnegut. The guy was an open socialist (though not a naive OWS type), but I can still read his stuff. Time and distance probably help. Stross I just plain lost respect for, which led me to lose interest in his writing.

        1. No, you go fuck yourself!

          Seriously, though, Stross’ work is excellent. And it may surprise you that there are libertarian ideas strewn through his work. Read the Laundry series, including the latest, The Apocalypse Codex, or even Saturn’s Children.

          1. That’s the reason I started reading his blog, I thought he was a libertarian writer. When he started praising OWSer’s back when the movement got started, well that was just too much for me.

            I did read the Laundry series, or at least the first three or four, although I can’t think of any libertarian ideas offhand other than that he makes seems to mock the byzantine bureaucracy of the Laundry.

        2. British authors tend to bleed their political ignorance into their work the worst. A few months back I purchased a set of comicbooks when I noticed while browsing that Richard K. Morgan wrote them. I wished I had not done so as lost a lot of respect for him. The opinions he was having the characters mouth off read like someone who had only been exposed to Soviet propaganda about life in the West, but had never engaged in an actual economic transaction himself. Dangerous stuff buying a stick of gum in America. Bring a gun, you are likely to get shot at, or knocked out by the clerk flunkies of the Big Corporations who want to steal your organs. I’m not really exaggerating the tone.

          1. Yeah, Stross is pretty right-wing compared to most of them. The Scots are especially hardcore communists, Ian M Banks being pretty typical with the extra anti-America hard-on (in his contemporary fiction). Then there’s China Mieville, an avowed Trotskyist.

            I got the impression Morgan was pretty much evul korporashun that way just reading the Takeshi Kovacs stuff, but it didn’t really bother me because those books are just light fun, reprocessed Chandler with less talent and more spaceships.

            1. Jesus fucktarded christ, do not read Market Forces It’s the broken window fallacy in novel form. God damn, but that book was dumb.

              1. Yes. Market Forces had all the hallmarks of the novel he couldn’t get published until he had another published first.

                Given the tidal wave of shitty science fiction and fantasy that gets published, something that didn’t has a tiny chance to be something that should see the light of day.

                Writers have the backs of desk drawers for a reason.

              2. Jesus fucktarded christ, do not read Market Forces It’s the broken window fallacy in novel form. God damn, but that book was dumb.

                Yeah I think I heard something about that around these parts a while back.

            2. Yeah, the first two Kovacs, I could have cared less about the politics. Just a fun ride, though I had other problems related to the second one unrelated to the politics. Let’s just say I needed to dip into a few thousand pages of Jules Verne to shake that story, and guess that is not a bad thing.

              The most irksome common word of the British left is ‘neoliberal’. The subtext of its usage is to imply that capitalism is merely another choice of political systems and not a matter of normative economics.

              1. I always regarded them as fantasy, because from a hard sf standpoint, the idea that you could download people into bodies or sleeves is pretty ridiculous. Did they somehow manage to reroute all the neuronal connections in the physical brain every time someone was sleeved? Perhaps this really all about pushing blank slatism.

                1. I imagined it as several different entities with a common narrative thread of false memories.

            3. Then there’s China Mieville, an avowed Trotskyist.

              I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from reading Perdido Street Station, which I adored, but I’m in no rush to get to the rest of his books.

              1. Definitely avoid Iron Council if you don’t want to get bludgeoned by Marxism.

                1. It’s still worth reading, though. I like “The Scar” the best.

    2. Yeah, I try to steer very clear of what writers do and say outside of their work for that very reason.

  15. Throwing up a few links to consider the various possibilities of an ancap society

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2WhnOHCpKs
    How Would Private Law Work?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kPyrq6SEL0
    Law without Government: Conflict Resolution in a Free Society

  16. Has there ever been a truly anarchistic society?

    Epi mentioned Iceland. They actually had pretty sophisticated system:

    http://www.daviddfriedman.com/…..eland.html

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig3/long1.html

    Ireland was another, though less studied and less known of, though they had a similar private system of law, private arbitration and professional jurists, lasting a millennium or so I think until Cromwell’s conquest.

    In modern times, an anarchistic Free Territory was established in Ukraine from 1918 to 1921, which ended from the Bolsheviks’ conquest

  17. Having no government would be terrible.

    Who’d pay John to post on Reason all day?

    1. I would GBN. I have a soft spot.

  18. Such flights of fancy–the usual state of mind for the libertarian–are problematic in that they are ends-based with a suspect premise: government is bad. So let’s construct the most plausible-sounding society that lacks government. Except government cannot be inherently bad, because all of human history (even such idiosyncratic examples tossed around as ancient Iceland) suggests that government simply is. That is, hierarchy and tribal life are essential aspects of human biology. We are born into a government, no matter where we are born: the family unit, an absolute dictatorship, usually a benevolent one and a very generous welfare state (you don’t have to contribute a dime or any labor for years!).

    The original human societies were probably tribes of extended family members with more or less complex regulations on behavior, work contribution, and rudimentary aspects of law and order. Civilization has seen the evolution of the tribe to encompass larger populations till we get to the modern state. Nothing written in the fabric of the cosmos can tell us which is the best model; you have to pick a moral framework and choose among alternatives, though it seems that cooperation and hence a ‘welfare state’ are more of an extension of ‘natural’ human tribalism than the radically individualistic notions favored here. But for all we know the invention of civilization will cause us all to destroy ourselves, and will in retrospect have been a bad move.

    1. Cool story, bro.

      1. I’ll take your word. My vision blurred halfway through the first paragraph.

      2. I bet it was deep.

        1. It was actually one of the few smart things Tony has ever said. You will have rules it is just a question of who you want enforcing them.

          1. It’s a question of being able to choose which rules you want to follow. We already live in partial anarchy as there are different rules for different organizations.

            If you don’t like it, you can always leave and deal with other people who abide by rules you favor and if they don’t like you, they can kick you out (problematic individuals can be blacklisted). That’s whole essence of property rights.

            Don’t conflate as Tony did having rules and many to choose from a and being ruled by the State.

            1. I choose the set of rules that allows me to do absolutely whatever I want, but that forbids others from doing anything that annoys me.

    2. government stealing and killing are bad

      try again. Wait. Actually, don’t.

  19. These anarchy threads always make me laugh. You want anarchy, great. I am coming to take your stuff. And inevitably the response is “but I will shoot you first”. Well sure you would. And maybe you would get the drop on me and maybe I would you. But that is not the point. The point is that you would have to shoot to keep your stuff. And in such a society your value ability to survive is directly proportional to your ability to deal in violence or be connected to someone who does.

    And I love how the same people who vehemently object to the death penalty are now on this thread embracing a blood feud culture where you can pay to murder someone. Do you think negligent homicide should be punishable by death? I don’t. But create such a system and then accidentally back over some kid and see what their parents think. There is at least a decent chance they will pay about any price to have you killed. And it would all be perfectly fine under such a system.

    1. What anarchists don’t get is that not everyone or even most people are rational or think in ways you would consider rational. First, some people like violence and combat. They love nothing better than to go out and shoot at and be shot at. We have Hollywood idea that violence is this horrible thing to everyone. It is to most but not to all. Some people get off on it. And some people just can’t understand consequences. You all think that because your friends or family would take revenge that would deter someone from killing you. Well some people don’t care or can’t understand that their actions have consequences. In a law and order society, those people are locked up so they can’t hurt anyone. In anarchy, they would run amok until they were unlucky enough for someone to kill them.

      1. If you’re talking about irrational people who care not at all for their lives, then how is that any different today, with a state?

        1. With a state, you catch those people and lock them up. Without a state, they go merely on. And worse still, their skills are highly prized. I want the guy who can kill without remorse working for me not someone else.

          1. It would not only be in most people’s own interest but even more so for security and insurance companies interest to defend against and catch such psychos.

            For anyone in defense, hiring them would be a liability. If you’re in some other business, everyone would be more aware of information about him, and you would most likely be blacklisted hiring such a guy, assuming he can’t be caught after killing someone

            1. For anyone in defense, hiring them would be a liability. If you’re in some other business, everyone would be more aware of information about him, and you would most likely be blacklisted hiring such a guy, assuming he can’t be caught after killing someone

              No it wouldn’t. It would be a valued asset. You would want people who were the most skilled and the most proficient at violence.

    2. Do you think negligent homicide should be punishable by death? I don’t. But create such a system and then accidentally back over some kid and see what their parents think.

      Yup.

    3. These john post always make me laugh. You think people are evil, great. Who is going to protect you? And inevitably the response is “the state”. Well sure they would. Maybe they would protect you or maybe they would be evil too. But that is not the point. The point is that the state shields individuals who engage in institutionalized aggression from transparency and accountability. And in such a society your ability to survive is determined by the people you are so afraid of.

      1. You don’t know what institutionalized aggression is. There is a big difference between even the worst police state and true institutionalized aggression. As lousy as our current cops are, they are nothing compared to say the mercenaries who terrorized 14th Century France during the 100 years war after central authority broke down or what the Cosa Nostra did to Sicily or what happened in China during the warlord eras.

        1. So because things could be worse, you shouldn’t try to make them better?

          failed state ? no state

          1. It is not that they could be worse. It is that there is about a 10,000 year history that says they will be worse. Governments have always broken down into anarchy. And never once did it result in anything but misery.

            1. That is actually an argument against Governments. That they’ve broken down and resulted in civil war signifies failed States. Anarchy is no where achieved in that fashion since the civil wars and conflicts come about because they are all vying for state power!

              Having the state break down is completely different from having it peacefully dissolve or people deciding not to participate. This is exactly how the Ukraine Free Territory was formed, for example, peacefully, from people not wanting a state, rather than vying for state power

              1. Yeah because when anarchy occurs people are just going to stop trying to victimize each other? That is nonsense. People are what they are. Leaving them alone isn’t going to prefect them anymore than having the state run their lives will.

                The state you are describing is no different than the end state of Marxism. There is no government because everyone’s nature has changed and there is no need for one. That is how the Marxist fable ends. It the anarchist version of that is no more likely to ever happen.

    4. John—Do you have a cop on location? Because even in this world WITH a state, the only way to stop someone coming to take your stuff is, prevent them with either really good locks (the LeFevre solution) or use force to stop them—“I will shoot you first”. No difference.

      1. -Do you have a cop on location? Because even in this world WITH a state, the only way to stop someone coming to take your stuff is, prevent them with either really good locks (the LeFevre solution) or use force to stop them—“I will shoot you first”. No difference.

        Yes Brian, if some really bad guy wanted to take my stuff, the cops would arrive to late to stop him. But the state has a few affects on things. First, the threat of going to jail makes that guy a bit more picky about who he robs. There is a reason why people like that tend to congregate in the black market. That is where they can do the most violent things and get away with it. Second, the biggest reason I am not in danger is that I live in the right neighborhood. If I lived in a more dangerous neighborhood where there were more dangerous people and they were victimizing me were less likely to result in the cops doing anything, I would be in a lot more danger. It is a lot more dangerous to live in Anacostia than it is in McClain.

        Tell me Brian, do you think police have no effect on people’s behavior? That no one who is in prison would be a threat to society if they were released? If you have anarchy, there will be no prisons and the people there now will be out walking around and in no worries of ever going back. You really don’t think that would make the world a more dangerous place or put a premium on the ability to commit violence?

    5. Again John. You are conflating a system with no centralized authority for a system with no rules.

      The type of anarchy being discussed here has rules and an enforcement mechanism, it just lacks a central government and yes I agree that in the medium term such a system would become unstable but it is not for the reasons you claim. Every day legal issues of theft and murder could be adjudicated quite efficiently by anarco capitalist private security firms. Where things would break down is over issues deep moral issues where there is no compromise possible like abortion. One group considers it murder and contracts with a security firm that rules that way, a second group does not and contracts with a firm that considres it ok. Inevitably the son of a client of the first firm will impregnate the daughter of a client of the 2nd and she’ll get an abortion at which point the “father” or “paternal grandparents” want her prosecuted for murder (or alternatively they go after the Dr who is also a client of the 2nd firm).

      There is no solution to this issue short of warfare between the 2 firms and warfare over moral quandries like this are what would destroy an anarcho capitalist society, not the inability to handle a murdering psychopath.

      Perhaps you should go an actually read some of the articles dealing with anarcho capitalism so you have some idea what you’re talking about rather than setting up so many strawmen.

      1. One group considers it murder and contracts with a security firm that rules that way, a second group does not and contracts with a firm that considres it ok. Inevitably the son of a client of the first firm will impregnate the daughter of a client of the 2nd and she’ll get an abortion at which point the “father” or “paternal grandparents” want her prosecuted for murder (or alternatively they go after the Dr who is also a client of the 2nd firm).

        Yes. It would degenerate into armed gangs waging constant warfare against each other. That is exactly what I am saying would happen.

        1. The end result I do not disagree with, however the reasons and mechanism’s you postulate are nonsense and your constantly bringing these up show that you havn’t bothered to even read what the anarcho capitalist scholars have come up with and this is a real shame because we could massively improve society by implementing much of what they have worked out while retaining some minimalist government to serve as an arbiter of last resort giving firms a way to arbitrate these moral issues without having to resort to warfare.

          Would it be an anarcho capitalist society? No, we’d still have a minimal state but it would be a hell of a lot better than what we have now.

    6. Just to throw fule on this fire. Reminds me of when John Gotti’s kid was killed in a car accident.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new…..-acid.html

  20. Stop trying to improve my mood by writing stories about Heinlein. I see right through your thin little scheme.

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