anarcho-capitalism

A Love Letter to Ron Paul Die-Hards and Anarcho-Capitalists

EDIT: I’m not saying that Ron Paul fans are necessarily anarcho-capitalists. They are two camps that need to be addressed equally, and thus share a post. I apologize if the title seems a bit misleading.

I love you guys. Well and truly.

You are truly the only people who can say, with a straight face, that you want to see absolutely no government in the world, or that parents should be able to sell their children, or that law could be perfectly administered through courts that competed for customers like car dealerships. (“You need a court that respects your right for others to pay for your contraception? Come in and get no money down on a brand new 2012 court case!”)

The unbound and unhampered loyalty you have to a Texas congressman who preaches liberty and peace is just simply adorable. You call his son a sellout for not endorsing his father, start riots at state GOP conventions to grab as many delegates for him as possible, and even started a campaign to sue the Republicans for not allowing delegates bound to other candidates to vote for him. Just adorable. You’re like little puppies, yipping and yapping at anyone who gets too close to your candidate, anyone who might might be some big ugly meanie in disguise. It’s cute.

So that’s why, since I’m so in love with you, that I have to take a moment and tell you to stop hurting yourself.

No, really.

You’re starting to make yourself look foolish. Childish, even. Your inability to accept that Ron Paul will not win the nomination is a sign of being a poor loser, and nobody likes a poor loser. Your other inability to accept compromise with others—such as you demonization Paul’s son Rand—means you won’t have any friends. And for some of you, your inability to take what you can get, rather than singing Queen’s “I Want It All” at the top of your lungs every day, makes you look utterly crazy.

The Failures of Central Planning

The talk of a second stimulus is beginning to pick up. It should go without saying that I do not support any additional “stimulus” - but, regardless of my views on the pros and cons, the whole debate needs to be viewed from a different perspective. Instead of Republicans and Democrats debating policy, or economists discussing multipliers and the GDP gap, we should focus on the failure of central planning.

Still Rethinking Fusionism

Lady Liberty

I am a bad, bad man. Last week I started a mini-firestorm of controversy about fusionism, then ran away into the woods of upstate New York for a two week vacation where the Internet is an endangered species. And now that the firestorm has since—partially, at least—died down, I’m here to stir it back up again. Because I totally captured an Internet in a Have-A-Heart trap and can actually use it for my nefarious blogging.

Jason Pye made some very thoughtful points in his rebuttal, which could be summed up by his last paragraph, that we shouldn’t “cut off our nose to spite our face.” Fair enough. I myself am a “gradualist,” and don’t see radical libertarianism as the way forward. Jason and I agree on that. But there are a few things I take issue with.

For starters, I never ruled out working with conservatives on issues. In fact, I explicitly endorsed ad hoc alliances with both the right and the left in order to advance individual liberty. This was the view put forward by our colleague Tom Knighton, and I think its a reasonable and sensible one to use.

The problem I have with fusionism is not that we’re working with people we disagree with on issues. That’s not just politics, that’s just life, and we’re going to have to deal with it. The problem with fusionism is that it seeks to subsume libertarianism as a wing of the conservative jumbo jet that’s flying off into some distant horizon. That libertarianism is really just a bunch of conservatives who like drugs, are okay with gay people, and not as much with war. But, as it goes, libertarians are fundamentally conservative at their core.

D-Day: Heroic Crusade or Pyrrhic Victory

Was D-Day the beginning of a heroic crusade to “Free Europe” or was it a pyrrhic victory for the United States? Did the collectivism that grew at home during World War II help save our liberty or destroy it?

Today marks the 68th anniversary of the invasion of fortress Europe by Allied forces, better known as “D-Day.”  On that day 156,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. Over 4,000 of them were killed and another 6,000 were wounded. On the German side it is estimated that 4,000-9,000 German soldiers were killed and wounded. Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the fight. But that is just the beginning of the story of the Battle of Normandy.

Today, twenty-seven war cemeteries hold the remains of over 110,000 dead from both sides: 77,866 German, 9386 American, 17,769 British, 5002 Canadian and 650 Poles. Between 15,000 and 20,000 French civilians were killed, mainly as a result of Allied bombing. Thousands more fled their homes to escape the fighting.

The men who died on those beaches deserve to be commended. If you want an accurate picture of what happened on those bloody beaches you should definitely watch Saving Private Ryan. It is an incredible movie that shows in gruesome detail the horrors of war and how bodies, minds and lives are shattered by it. Today there will be plenty of pundits speaking of how “America saved Europe” and how D-Day demonstrates what a nation can accomplish when it pulls together for a common cause. But when we look at a single battle, like the Battle of Normandy, we fail to see the big picture of why the war  was actually fought and what was accomplished by all the bloodshed.

Comment Check: Purifying the Libertarians

Recently, I authored a series of posts (a series I may continue) on the problems I see with libertarianism. One of the big ones that got a lot of attention was my third post on anarcho-capitalism, the more radical end of the libertarian movement. Yesterday,I wrote a piece responding to a critique of Gary Johnson, which said he wasn’t a libertarian; naturally, I was not supportive of said critique.

One of the comments to my Gary Johnson post was thus:

I like Gary Johnson but the author of the other piece simply did what Kolassa has done on 3 or 4 different blog posts now: calling out a libertarian because he disagrees with some of their views. I actually find this post funny but quite hypocritical.

- maninblack

That’s fair.

I’ll admit it. That’s a fair assessment to make. In my anarcho-capitalism post, I laid in a bit too heavily with what I saw were the philosophical problems of anarcho-capitalism, rather than what I felt was the real, major problem.

Basically, I would love it if there was no government, no taxes, and no silly laws, and we all just respected each other and each other’s property. The thing is that I just don’t see this happening—though I am more than willing to be proven wrong on that one—and I see having anarcho-capitalism as the foot we lead with to be counterproductive.

I’m not going to kick anarcho-capitalists out of the movement or call them un-libertarian. (Some may be, but the vast majority are not.) I’m not going to start a purity test. I’ll leave that to the likes of Eric Dondero and people like him, who make fools of themselves every day.

Everything Wrong With The Libertarian Movement, Part 3: Anarcho-Capitalism

In my last post, I wrote about intellectual property rights, and why one position that has preoccupied many libertarians—that is, that intellectual property rights don’t exist—is balderdash and something we need to ditch. In my next post, I’m going to comment on libertarian foreign policy positions that I find completely untenable, but in this one, I’m going to focus on my pet peeve of many libertarians: anarcho-capitalism.

Seriously. It’s starting to really grind my gourd.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at an event or just talking with someone, trying to explain libertarianism, when the other person says, “Oh, you just want to privatize the entire government and just let the big businesses run amok and have nothing!” While the second point might be unfair to anarcho-capitalists—I suspect a lot of them have no real love for big business—the rest of it is more or less dead-on for this small yet highly vocal minority of libertarians. Unfortunately, their antics and rhetoric have begun to become associated with the liberty movement in general, which discredits us, prevents us from gaining any more traction with the public, and ultimately is just detrimental to the goal of maximizing individual liberty, which is what the movement is about.

Personally, I don’t really think anarcho-capitalism does that, and let me show you why.

Anarcho-capitalism Revisited

To piggyback off of some of the thoughts going around about anarchism, I think that anarcho-capitalism is completely unworkable in modern society. I have three main reasons why this is so, and then two ways that society and humans would have to change in order to make anarchism and anarcho-capitalism in particular actually viable.

I think this is an extremely important topic for the libertarian movement to consider, because now, more than ever, we’re in a position where fatigue and frustration with the current political system can give us a major opening. People are sick of the left, and they’re sick of the right. They recognize that socialism is not a workable solution, but neither is the current miasma that is crony capitalism. They’re afraid more of big government than big business, but like neither, and just want honesty, integrity, and equality before the law to actually prevail.

All of these are libertarian themes, and we can have tremendous success, but not if we put forward a face that looks completely radical and unreasonable. People aren’t looking for that, aren’t going to buy that, and are likely going to be turned off by it. It’s all about the Overton Window. I may not want to be as vehement or vicious as others do towards anarchists, but I do think we need to challenge their assumptions (and have our assumptions challenged) and point out where they fall on their face

So, why do I think anarcho-capitalism is, in any case, not workable for the modern world, and does not increase liberty?

1. Anarcho-capitalism relies on everyone being perfectly rational

Market Anarchism and the Future of Libertarianism

Yesterday, I read a scathing critique of the anarcho-capitalists associated with the thought of Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Lew Rockwell. Here’s an excerpt (the post itself is no longer available):

Anarchists are to libertarians as Occupy Wall Street is to the Tea Party. They’re both basically pissed off at the same thing. Their solutions are radically different.

Just as the occupiers have a Christmas wish-list of insane Marxist fantasies, the anarchist libertarians (see: anarcho-capitalists, Rothbardians, and people who read LewRockwell.com) have their own catalog of misguided utopian fairytales about smashing the state. And they will be happy to prove to you just how great the world would be without any government, if you would just read one or two of Ludwig von Mises’s 1500 page pedantic treatises, or Murray Rothbard’s confused polemics (imagine reading Nietzsche’s Tumblr if he were into economics).

While I agree with the impracticality of anarchism and the basics of his critique of Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism, I note a glaring omission in his piece. He doesn’t even touch upon the existence of left-libertarians, like the market anarchists associated with the Molinari Institute and the Center for a Stateless Society.

A Powerful Argument for Minarchism, Built on the Foundation of Peace

[In the voice of that narrator guy from Law & Order:]

In the libertarian movement, there are two separate but equally important groups: the minarchists who support a minimal state, and the anarchists would believe in no state at all.

These are their stories.

DUN-DUN!

Such could be the introduction to any documentary about modern libertarianism. It’s quite true: there has been a raging argument between those who want a minimal state that does only a few bare functions (law enforcement, defense, prisons, perhaps roads and fire departments) and those who want absolutely no state whatsoever. It lead to a split in the Libertarian Party in the 80s, after Ed Clark received 1% of the presidential vote in 1980, when anarchists felt the party wasn’t being radical enough. You see the argument vocalized on anarchist websites, such as this writer at Strike the Root who declares that minarchists are “the enemy.” It isn’t helped that it anarchism does seem logical, from a certain standpoint: how can you be for liberty yet still want a state? That’s a contradiction!

Fortunately, a very powerful argument for libertarian minarchism has emerged, one that is built on the foundation of peace.

Stephen Pinker just wrote the book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, and gave an interview to reason about it. In his interview, he points out some very fascinating facts about why violence has gone down. The first point is that the free market (aka “capitalism”) leads to peace:

Quote of the Day: Murray Rothbard on protesters

Murray Rothbard, the Austrian economist and anarco-capitalist, had this to say on protesters — not unlike the fools whining on Wall Street:


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