Daily Anarchist Forum

Questions And Challenges => Challenges To Anarcho-Capitalism => Topic started by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 09:27:50 AM



Title: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 09:27:50 AM
At the risk of heresy, I'm coming out here as a minarchist. Anarcho-capitalists disagree among themselves, and where all anarcho-capitalists seem to agree, I usually agree with them, but I don't (quite) accept the "anarchist" label for reasons I'll discuss here. I'm not trying to pick a fight with an-caps as much as I'm trying to clarify precisely what we advocate.

My rejection of the "anarchist" label is a matter of semantics, of course. Here's the rub. I want certain rules enforced, namely rules involving what I deem "proper" or property rights. I want you forced to obey these rules even if you don't accept them. An association of persons, including me, will enforce the rules, but we do not require your membership in the association.

This association is a state by definition, because it imposes force upon you even though you do not freely subject yourself to it. An anarchist by definition does not support a state. Since I support a state, however minimal, I cannot be an anarchist.

Again, I will join forces with other people to establish systematically what we deem proper and then to compel others, who have not joined us, to respect it. This willingness makes me something other than an anarchist.

Furthermore, anarcho-capitalists generally are not anarchists in this sense, despite the label. In fact, I've never met a genuine anarchist of any description.

Anarchy is not impossible. The state of nature is essentially an anarchy for example. In the state of nature, an individual defends his claims entirely by his own force, and the successful defense of a claim is itself the only "rightness". No authority imposing systematic rules, constructed collectively somehow by an association of individuals, exists.

The laws of nature exist, of course, but gravity is not a rule formulated somehow by the individuals enforcing it. The genome of a species is not such a system either. Even a rule as fundamental as Lockean propriety is such a rule.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Seth King on January 22, 2012, 09:46:07 AM
I wouldn't call a defense agency of my property a state. To me, the state is an organization that initiates violence against non-criminals. If a person or entity trespasses against another's property the entity that comes to the defense of that property is not a state, although the state currently attempts to do that now.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Syock on January 22, 2012, 10:55:53 AM
Anarchy doesn't mean you can't have help defending yourself.  Wild animals, which I think we can all agree do not have governments, do not act alone at all times.  

I don't see where you described anything that wouldn't happen under ancap.  The difference is primarily the manner in which it is funded.  The difference in funding is intended to keep some group from turning from a voluntary exchange to one of violence.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 11:05:48 AM
I wouldn't call a defense agency of my property a state. To me, the state is an organization that initiates violence against non-criminals. If a person or entity trespasses against another's property the entity that comes to the defense of that property is not a state, although the state currently attempts to do that now.
The question is: what is your property or what is property generally? I came to anarchism years ago through Proudhon, and the question still resonates with me.

My property is not anything I claim. It's what I and my friends aiding my defense of the claim say it is, and if you (being outside of this circle of friends) disagree, we impose our will upon you anyway. Calling our circle a "defense agency" doesn't change this fact. Calling you a "criminal" doesn't change the fact either.

Every state declares its systematic rules universal and declares violators criminal.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Freya on January 22, 2012, 11:08:58 AM
Humans impose authority on each other by there mere fact of existing. Two humans always have power of one another.

The trick is balancing that power in such a way that coercion becomes very obviously against every bodies self-interest. Note that I personally believe that ALL coercion is necessarily ALWAYS against your self-interest.

As long as people believe that coercion is good for their self-interest we will have statism.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 11:13:47 AM
Anarchy doesn't mean you can't have help defending yourself.  Wild animals, which I think we can all agree do not have governments, do not act alone at all times.
For me, the issue is not acting alone or in a group. The issue is imposing a rule that the imposing group itself formulates. A pack of wolves does not formulate the rules that it imposes, because the rules are genetic.

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I don't see where you described anything that wouldn't happen under ancap.
You're right. I don't differ much with an-caps in practice. I mostly differ with their semantics. I am open in theory to systems of propriety presuming a state like title expiration and a progressive consumption tax, but systematic propriety generally requires a state.

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The difference is primarily the manner in which it is funded.  The difference in funding is intended to keep some group from turning from a voluntary exchange to one of violence.
I support a market in the defense of propriety, so I agree with an-caps in this regard.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: ff42 on January 22, 2012, 11:35:16 AM
I want you forced to obey these rules even if you don't accept them. An association of persons, including me, will enforce the rules, but we do not require your membership in the association.

Please explain this a bit better.  Would you personally be willing to kill me (the ultimate threat behind every enforced rule) if I 1) didn't do what the association required or 2) did do what the associated forbade?  Would you kill me if I didn't contribute resources to rule enforcement?  Who defines the rules?  Who interprets the rules?  Who enforces the rules?   If it is majority rule, then how are the minority protected?

PS.  If you (or your association) attempt to enforce a rule on me (not me personally, but a generic person) that I don't accept then be prepared to die. (not a threat, just a statement of reality).


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 11:36:30 AM
Humans impose authority on each other by there mere fact of existing. Two humans always have power of one another.
Humans do not impose rules of their own formulation (their free will) upon each other merely by existing. This sort of imposition is practically universal among humanity, contrasted with other animals, but so are states.

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The trick is balancing that power in such a way that coercion becomes very obviously against every bodies self-interest.
I agree, but I don't see how you ever reach genuine anarchy without returning to the state of nature, in which individuals defend their own claims exclusively by their own force, or essentially abandoning free will. We can agree to join forces, but as long as my will can differ from yours, states emerge from the clash of competing claims.

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Note that I personally believe that ALL coercion is necessarily ALWAYS against your self-interest.
Yes, coercion serves the interests of the coercive authority, as when you and I agree to defend our exclusive use of two parcels of land. Property in the land is also useful more generally as it creates a market in the parcels enabling market prices and market organization to emerge; however, my particular property in a particular parcel benefits me primarily, and yours benefits you primarily, and the scarcity of desirable land leads to a state. Locke essentially reaches this conclusion.

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As long as people believe that coercion is good for their self-interest we will have statism.
The search for a person believing that no coercion is good is like the search for an honest man. The honest man is an ideal that does not and cannot exist in reality, but we can go on searching regardless.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 11:48:11 AM
Please explain this a bit better.  Would you personally be willing to kill me (the ultimate threat behind every enforced rule) if I 1) didn't do what the association required or 2) did do what the associated forbade?
I would harm you as little as possible. Expelling you from the territory claimed by the association might be sufficient.

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Would you kill me if I didn't contribute resources to rule enforcement?
No. I would withhold rule enforcement from you, unless you are unable to contribute resources. I favor rules entitling the disabled to some support.

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Who defines the rules?  Who interprets the rules?  Who enforces the rules?
My friends and I.

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If it is majority rule, then how are the minority protected?
Rule is by consensus ideally. If you don't like the rules, you leave our territory. A free association might adopt representative authorities if members don't care enough about particular rules to be bothered with the details.

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PS.  If you (or your association) attempt to enforce a rule on me (not me personally, but a generic person) that I don't accept then be prepared to die. (not a threat, just a statement of reality).
Needless to say, I prefer killing you to dying myself.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Freya on January 22, 2012, 11:55:45 AM
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The search for a person believing that no coercion is good is like the search for an honest man. The honest man is an ideal that does not and cannot exist in reality, but we can go on searching regardless.

I believe exactly that.

I do not know if your property and labour is some day going to benefit me. It might never benefit me directly. But the fact that you are trading means that there will be chain reactions set in motion that will eventually benefit me in some way. Because I can not know what I would lose if I violently stole your property from you and because I can not know the retaliation against me if I did, it is rational for me to not steal your property.

Here's something I wrote earlier:

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While charity and solidarity might seem like a "loss of wealth" at first for the "rich", I think in the end it leads to greater wealth for everyone. The tool for the selfish man is cooperation and solidarity. "Greed" is only dangerous in combination with "ignorance". Thats why it's futile to fight greed, which is human nature. Instead fight ignorance with education.

To remind me of this. I always consider where the world would be if Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton or Leonardo da Vinci was forced to work as a serf on a farm or in a factory for his entire life. Then I think of all the people slaving away in China and wonder if one of them could have been the next Thomas Edison. But he will never get the chance to develop himself and achieve great things. This always makes me sad and angry that I will never benefit from the things he could have invented. Even if you don't give a damn about the kids themselves, you should be concerned for your self-interest. And I do care about the kids.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: JustSayNoToStatism on January 22, 2012, 01:08:27 PM
Martin Brock: I get what you're saying about violence, and I agree. If you want to think of it that way, then I say anarchism is synonymous with personal monarchy. Each person is ruler over himself, and he can acquire property (just not other persons). So it's the smallest type of government possible, all the way down to personal secession. People can voluntarily cooperate in other ways, for defense if they want, but the option to secede is implied....This attitude is clearly anti-state, and it's called anarchism, whether you want to call these voluntary arrangements governments or not isn't worth arguing about. We had someone else come on the forum saying the exact same thing, and he got frustrated and left. The truth is that what I'm describing is what people call anarchism, regardless of whether you think that's "right" or not. That's what the word means, so we use it that way (although the direction of causality works the other way too...and that's my point). You are clearly sympathetic to that cause, which is great, so there's no need to argue over whether the definition is acceptable or not.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 22, 2012, 09:03:28 PM
... whether you want to call these voluntary arrangements governments or not isn't worth arguing about.
The people we label "criminal" do not volunteer to accept the arrangements, but I don't oppose a very limited criminal law. As reluctant imposers of force, we should never deny the force we impose. That's my only point.

I'm not going anywhere. I have more in common with your lot than with most anyone else.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: JustSayNoToStatism on January 22, 2012, 09:55:49 PM
... whether you want to call these voluntary arrangements governments or not isn't worth arguing about.
The people we label "criminal" do not volunteer to accept the arrangements, but I don't oppose a very limited criminal law. As reluctant imposers of force, we should never deny the force we impose. That's my only point.

I'm not going anywhere. I have more in common with your lot than with most anyone else.
And I agree with your point. Of course, it's questionable whether you can call it "imposing" if it's done in defense of person and property. But yes, I do understand that if people have differing views about the nature of property, then market anarchists are "aggressing" against them, so to speak.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 28, 2012, 05:54:44 PM
... if people have differing views about the nature of property, then market anarchists are "aggressing" against them, so to speak.
Market anarchists (or minarchists) with differing standards of propriety would aggress against each other, so we should discuss these standards openly, but we often avoid this discussion.

I sympathize with mutualists but reject the classical labor theory of value. As a marginalist, I recognize that all market value is not the marginal value of labor. Many non-human resources contribute to the price of a bushel of corn, like a fertile parcel of land, the labor of a mule pulling a plow or the fossil fuel propelling a tractor. The "dead labor" of a farmer's father can also contribute.

Some mutualists essentially suggest that the marginal product of all of these non-human (or dead human) resources should be divided somehow among living laborers, so that labor earns its "full product". I reject this division as well as the "full product" rhetoric, because the division requires some sort of authority to govern it, and this authority impedes the profitable organization of resources in capital markets. I want dynamic market organization, so I don't want laborers consuming every product.

I don't therefore conclude that capitalists should consume the marginal product of every resource they govern. Capitalists investing the product of these resources pursuing profit is useful, but capitalists consuming the product is a separate issue. Many resources other than labor are productive, but I suppose that a man has a right to a market exchange of labor for his labor, i.e. if you consume the product of my labor, I expect you to produce commensurately by your own labor, not by a slave's labor or your father's labor or even a mule's labor or by the productivity of a fertile parcel of land or a fossil fuel.

If you govern productive resources other than your labor in addition to your labor, your income reflects the productivity of both. Distinguishing the two precisely seems impossible, but beyond some level, I suppose most of a man's income reflects more the value of resources he governs by writ of forcible propriety than any meaningful value of his own labor. Adam Smith and other classical liberals therefore propose progressive income taxation. We can then distinguish a man's right to consume income more below this level from his right to consume income more above it.

No other authority must govern expenditure of the latter, except to limit the man's entitlement personally to consume it, as opposed to investing it, and this authority need not be centralized. Juries hearing a tax evasion case could decide, i.e. the law progressively taxes consumption by taxing income not accountably invested, and juries hear cases of alleged evasion. No one actually pays much of this tax. It serves only to discourage consumption above a level reflecting the product of an individual's labor.

Every individual has an individual investment account (like an IRA or 401k) with unlimited, tax deferred contributions, and income not invested is taxed progressively, even at rates approaching 100%. "Investment" might include charitable expenditures, but as a practical matter, common law distinguishes investment from consumption, i.e. common juries govern the income not subject to the tax.

So we have something like an economic planning/welfare state, and it has many resources, but no central authority governs it. Wealthy capitalists, becoming wealthy by organizing resources profitably, are the economic planners and welfare organizers, but common juries limit their discretion to consume the product of resources they govern, other than their own labor. This system is basically what anarcho-capitalists advocate except for the role of juries limiting the authority of capitalists to consume all of the product of resources they govern.

I'm curious to know how an anarcho-capitalist opposes this imposition. I concede an imposition, but I deny that the imposition is isolated. The imposition balances other impositions to check the authority, associated with forcible propriety, that other impositions establish.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Syock on January 29, 2012, 12:37:32 AM
I'm curious to know how an anarcho-capitalist opposes this imposition.

Which imposition?  I saw a hell of a lot of them in what you described.  I don't believe one can be addressed alone.  That is one of the problems with impositions.  When people see one, more start to make sense to balance the first one. 


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 29, 2012, 09:35:27 AM
Which imposition?
The progressive consumption tax.

You're right. I did discuss many impositions, the enclosure of land, the mastery of live stock and hereditary title for example. Forcible standards accompany all of these practices, and many details of these standards are controversies in the classically liberal tradition. We could discuss any of them, but an-caps take many of these rules for granted and do not take a progressive consumption tax for granted, so I'd like to discuss the latter, to explore the common assumptions here.

By the time we reach a level of economic organization at which I may own a car consuming gasoline produced from petroleum drawn from the earth and drive my car down a highway, we've established a vast system of forcible rules far too numerous and complex to detail here. The details literally fill volumes in law libraries, and any one of them can be a controversy.

An-caps differ on software patents, but many controversies preceded this one. May a man enclose a parcel of land larger than he can fruitfully farm by his own labor and charge rent to others who would farm the same land? Classical liberals debate this question. Read Locke's Second Treatise of Civil Government for example.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Seth King on January 29, 2012, 10:26:08 AM
Which imposition?
May a man enclose a parcel of land larger than he can fruitfully farm by his own labor and charge rent to others who would farm the same land?

My answer to that is "only if he can defend it without aggressing against others in order to procure the defense."


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: JustSayNoToStatism on January 29, 2012, 03:27:42 PM
Which imposition?
May a man enclose a parcel of land larger than he can fruitfully farm by his own labor and charge rent to others who would farm the same land?

My answer to that is "only if he can defend it without aggressing against others in order to procure the defense."
My answer is that there is no way to say whether it's "right" or "wrong." However, we can make predictions about whether this would happen or not. Looking at the history of the homestead act, I think it's safe to say that land will be claimed before it can be put to productive use. So yeah, people will fence in the land. But at this early stage of "grabbing," the land is not worth much. It isn't in high demand, so the rent would be low. In fact, the person who has nothing better to do than go and grab dirt cheap land probably isn't skilled enough to use it very well. Someone who knows what they are doing will approach this person, when the time is right, and buy it. Resources will tend to end up where they belong.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 29, 2012, 06:10:36 PM
My answer to that is "only if he can defend it without aggressing against others in order to procure the defense."
If he only needs a gun and a willingness to use it to procure the defense, because others are not able or willing to resist his force with their own, then his force is not "aggressive"? We seem only to return to the semantics of "aggression" here.

I can only reply that Locke disagreed. In terms of enclosing the commons, from the state of nature, Locke called this business model "dishonest".

I don't call it "dishonest" myself. Carving the land into parcels and entitling men to their marginal value, either by sale or by rent, is a useful imposition. It is indisputably a forcible imposition, but it is a useful imposition, because it creates a market in the parcels from which market prices and market organization emerge; however, the utility of this organization does not imply the "rightness" of landlords living luxuriously entirely by the marginal value of lands they hold rather than the marginal value of their own labor. The utility of the latter does not follow logically from the utility of the former. The latter may only be an unintended consequence of the former.

I suppose we agree that statutory impositions almost invariably have unintended consequences.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Seth King on January 29, 2012, 08:29:33 PM
I don't actually believe in rights(or more accurately, what is right is moot)  or property. There are only claims and what an entity can defend.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 29, 2012, 10:19:39 PM
I don't actually believe in rights(or more accurately, what is right is moot) or property. There are only claims and what an entity can defend.
Spoken like a true anarchist.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Seth King on January 29, 2012, 10:23:33 PM
I don't actually believe in rights(or more accurately, what is right is moot)  or property. There are only claims and what an entity can defend.
Spoken like a true anarchist.

Am I wrong?  ;)


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Martin Brock on January 29, 2012, 10:25:44 PM
Am I wrong?  ;)
I don't say you're wrong, but a state is an entity defending its claims, so I'm not sure the distinction is meaningful.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: Seth King on January 29, 2012, 10:47:55 PM
Am I wrong?  ;)
I don't say you're wrong, but a state is an entity defending its claims, so I'm not sure the distinction is meaningful.

I'll agree with you there completely. The state claims it owns everything in a given geography, from the land to the bodies of other individuals. Anarchists dispute these claims, or more accurately, stake claims in their own bodies and voluntarily acquired property(goods). Therein lies the battle. Who will win? The state definitely has a lot of resources and little resistance to fight these battles. But their power shrinks every time a new individual claims ownership over their own body and voluntarily acquired goods and subsequently disputes the government's claim through disobedience.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: JustSayNoToStatism on January 30, 2012, 04:01:47 PM
I don't actually believe in rights(or more accurately, what is right is moot)  or property. There are only claims and what an entity can defend.
Spoken like a true anarchist.

Am I wrong?  ;)
Wrong is the negation of right, and what is right is moot. To say you are wrong is equally moot.


Title: Re: Why I am not (quite) an anarchist
Post by: SinCityVoluntaryist on March 02, 2012, 02:14:03 PM
 I don't identify as a full blooded an-cap either. I see myself as being more of a radical minarchist with some an-cap tendencies. One of the reasons why I still support the good doctor.