Dialogue with wilkox on anarchy Part VII

This is an ongoing discussion with wilkox over anarchy. To read the first post, click here, to see what this post is a reply to, click here.

First I will address the questions asked by wilkox:

The best way to look at this problem is to cut it down to its true size. First, consider the number of times this would actually happen. It’s minuscule – the combination of vindictiveness, money, and properties up for sale and geographically arranged in just the right way is very unlikely. In those very rare cases, most would be resolved quickly and peacefully, through negotiation, social pressure or a payoff. The number of cases that are left – probably in the single digits per year – fall into that category of weird, unfortunate things that happen sometimes, state or no state.

I’m sorry but I don’t find that particularly satisfying a claim. Vindictiveness/competitiveness in a totally free market would be perfectly capable of creating this sort of problem. I would say it wouldn’t even have to be vindictive- let’s say a commuter through a property consistently affecting the road quality, or littered or something. That sort of behaviour would be the reverse of what anarcho-capitalism suggests, and so the property owner would be well within their rights to halt the commute. I think this part of the discussion is a bit of a moot point as without actually having an anarcho-capitalist ‘state’ then we can never really know the numbers, but I would say it could be worth further thought if it were to ever occur (which based on people’s attitudes, ability and behaviour almost certainly won’t be the case).

The second aspect is the “finite nature of property”; that is, eventually we’ll run out of space on the surface of the earth, and those who hold property will have a natural monopoly over those who do not. It’s a real problem, but it’s exactly the same problem under anarchy as under a state. Worse under a state, as people with guns under electoral pressure to be “doing something” have a bad record of doing stupid things. Space is a solution, as you say; seasteading might be a palliative, although I’m dubious about that one.

I don’t think it’s exactly the same problem. While a government can be tyrannical and so on, at least it can force (however immoral it might be) a dominant private sector out of property ownership in some way should that occur. I don’t think anarchy offers the same (almost deus ex machina like) recourse. The government might want tax from property ownership, but it doesn’t want to dictate whatever-the-hell it wants to go on there (voting, however symbolic, ameliorates that).

I’m sorry if this came across as a personal attack, as I certainly didn’t mean it that way. However, my point still stands: even the mere inclusion of government on the list of possible solutions to the problems we are discussing is a clear case of status quo bias. The burden of proof is on statism: the need for a violent, monopolistic, rights-violating organisation is an extraordinary claim requiring an extraordinary defense. Anarchy isn’t perfect, but government doesn’t even deserve a seat at the table.

Well I suppose that’s the discussion we’re having really. In your opinion, what else could pull up a chair?

I’m not sure where you’re going with this. A government is by definition a single organisation with a monopoly on violence, enforced by violence. Isn’t that exactly what Plato was warning against?

Well, no he wasn’t. Plato’s ideas regarding the auxiliaries and city states et al were a direct, determined effort to make absolutely sure that anarchy didn’t happen. I think the difference is that Plato (and indeed 99% of human history) placed the state above the individual. Plato appreciated that while some rights are to be removed, it’s better to have a nice warm city to cuddle up to than have Sparta come around with another forty tyrants.

Even were I to concede this, governments have had millennia to achieve this theoretical perfection and failed. I submit that they are by their nature incapable of doing so.

I disagree and think that a perfect government is a difficult thing to achieve, but that’s not to say that it is impossible. Furthermore the improvements over the ages has been dramatic as well as accelerated. Whether it finds calm in a better government or anarcho-capitilist measure (or something else entirely) remains to be seen. Further evolution in politics and culture may find a government everyone can be happy with. If we’re discussing the millenia or so, why do you think that there has been (at least recorded) no period of successful anarcho-capitalism? It may sound silly, but the principles are basic enough to be respected, and the advantages of such a system you purport should make them defensible against a government forcing itself or some outside invader.

I suggested that

the police force, its laws, legislation and so on are decided by a party and that party is voted for, with votes from other parties (hence their policies) and scientific discovery all taken into appropriate consideration.

To which wilkox replied

Democracy is not a magic wand that turns evil into good. Being in a majority does not give you the right to lord over the minority.

I agree completely. But democracy has given a lot of space for minorities (even if it should give more). There are plenty of parties that have stances on only a few areas, who do not expect to receive majority votes and behave really as a detector for public opinion and well as in some instances getting involved in the decision making process.

Further on, Wilkox writes

This is one domain where the private sector has an incontestable advantage: imagine how well a business would do if it treated its customers the way the police treat the public.

How? We’ve been discussing how a private force would be funded by a group of individuals, to which the private force would enforce the law. Either you’ll have a situation where this private force will arrest and put one of these individuals into some sort of punishment, in which case the individual may well cut funding completely (or threaten to) or we have a private force punishing people who didn’t pay for it- no accountability. Are mercenaries in Iraq et al being the moral leaders of troops over there?

Let’s leave the zeitgeist for a separate debate- it’s not really the flavour of this dialogue and I apologise for bringing it up.

Anyway, wilkox finishes with asking me if I consider myself a minarchist. Based on the wiki’s approach that

[minarchism] refers to a political ideology which maintains that the state‘s only legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud(Such states are sometimes called night watchman states.) Minarchists defend the existence of the state as a necessary evil but assert that it may only act to protect the life, liberty, and property of each individual.

I would have to say no, I am not a minarchist. I believe that governments have every ability to become profitable, workable systems and offer some industries and individuals opportunities that would not otherwise be allowed to them under a totally free market.

While the state’s functions stated by the wiki on minarchism I agree with as well, I also believe that governments also have other useful sectors that are worth keeping. Grants for cultural endeavours, such as art, facilities in poor areas and so on I would argue are best delivered by a government that is voted upon, and not left on reliance by the free market that intrinsically requires efficiency. The dole and caring for homelessness and poor is another concept I am in strong support for, and I am not convinced a private company working for itself would work for these goals. Other institutions, as previously discussed, like schools I feel would be better served under a universal system (that would still require rigourous testing) than an alternative.

Buried in mind I don’t think government as it stands is very efficient, and many services it offer could be offered by outsourcing, thereby reaping some benefits of free markets. By outsourcing, a government and the companies it has outsourced to are both accountable to the constituency and still get paid.

I don’t think taxes, provided they actually do things, is really such a bad thing at all. Effectively taxing for what is required would almost certainly drastically reduce taxes.

So no, I don’t consider myself a minarchist, but I do believe in a more efficient democratic system that needs a fairly drastic overhaul.

Wilkox responds to this post here.

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~ by freeze43 on June 29, 2010.

One Response to “Dialogue with wilkox on anarchy Part VII”

  1. […] private justice, property, property rights, statism, utilitarianism This is my response to part VII of an ongoing dialogue with freeze43 on the topic of anarchy. Read freeze’s introductory post or […]

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