When I wrote parts 1, 2, and 3 of the Nuclear Anarchism series I expected to receive many comments informing me that I was an idiot for even considering the concept of privately owned nuclear devices. Now that the arguing has died down, this fourth part will address the common objections raised by those responses, as well as any interesting or thoughtful ones.
I am proposing “high tension system” as a descriptive term, as well as a generative theory behind it. I am mostly speaking in general terms, because although the application to government should be obvious, the concept can also be applied very widely to non-government systems. All systems exist to achieve certain stated goals, and by extension all systems have ways to be diverted from the intended, or desired goals. These systems can be usefully distinguished by whether they are dominated by positive feedback with respect to corrupting influences, such as government, or negative feedback, such as free markets and open source development.
If you saw someone treated for an illness by bloodletting and the procedure was botched so that the patient lost a dangerously large quantity of blood, would you listen if the doctor that said that the proper treatment was to let some more blood?
In the previous two articles I have talked about the reasons people bring against private nuclear devices, and how they can (and must) be handled without statist intervention. In this article I am going to talk about why we want these things. First, I highly recommend reading the essay Why Alternative Energy Isn’t, which demolishes a few of the common myths floating around about energy production and distribution, and is useful background material to keep in mind while reading this.
I’d like to hopefully draw attention to a short story titled “Lone Star Planet”, alternatively “A Planet for Texans” (available from the Gutenberg Project) written by Henry Beam Piper and John Joseph McGuire and published in 1958. It describes an unusual political system that I believe libertarians everywhere would enjoy, and statists will be horrified by (which is a good thing). I will try to avoid spoiling the plot, except for the description of the politics, and a minor event that demonstrates it.
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me” ~ John Galt
If you follow a gun control debate long enough eventually the anti-weapon side will bring up nuclear weapons as something that no one would ever support. This is usually at the end of a series of progressively more powerful weapons, challenging the pro-weapon side until they cave in. Then the anti-weapon side will argue the line in the sand back to progressively less powerful weapons. Usually the pro-weapon side caves when nuclear weapons are brought up, but if they don’t the anti-weapon people will simply say that the idea of a privately owned nuke is too ludicrous to bother arguing about. Better to simply ridicule it. Unfortunately private nuclear weapons is a concept so far outside the Overton window of the average person that this argument works.
I intend to show that the arguments deployed against private nuclear weapons are faulty, inconsistent, and ultimately based on pure fear. I focus on nuclear weapons, but these arguments could apply to most nuclear devices.
Someone asserted to me that the state was necessary for disaster relief. At the time I didn’t give much of an answer because I was dumbfounded at the assertion, and it would have taken a while to explain. I am going to use Florida hurricanes as an example. Feel free to replace it with your preferred danger: earthquakes, tornadoes, sharks, tsunamis, whatever. Here is my response.
My family started as more or less standard evangelical-conservative, but with libertarian leanings, also with a large side order of barely restrained rage and control issues. Being early homeschoolers (though not part of the actual movement) we had a fear and paranoia of the government (mostly CPS). This background pointed me in roughly the correct direction, while also giving me first hand experience of what happens when you put someone in authority who can’t lead without controlling others, and can’t even control themselves.
A common idea seen among modern utopians – particularly ones of the communist persuasion – is that we currently have everything needed for a post-scarcity society but that this utopia is held back by the market (often with much more colorful language than that). Others say that we do not have the technology yet, but that it is just around the corner (within the next century or so). However, even with technology far beyond what we have now the basic functions of a market would still be necessary to cope with a still existing scarcity.