Off On the Wrong Foot, Aaron!
You begin your post with an assertion that is in error:
1) Because coercive aggression exists, it should be worked with rather than rejected out of hand.
No, because coercive aggression exists, it cannot be rejected, out of hand or otherwise. You deal with it, or you go to jail or you die. Those are about the only options open. Rejection isn’t on that list.
That’s the first, and most important problem I’ve got with the Anarchists – their ideal is based on the ability to dismiss, somehow, coercive societies. It is, as a commenter Doug Sundseth points out, equivalent to the argument that “socialism has always failed in the past, but that’s because it’s never been done correctly,” or universally, or whatever. It just says that coercive rule is inherently wrong, and wouldn’t it be terrific if everyone just rejected it.
But coercive government works, because people don’t choose death over it. And, realistically, that’s the only choice truly coercive governments offer – submit or die. And history indicates that coercive governments are more “successful” than free market governments because of their ability to concentrate force.
You wrote “(Y)ou can’t ever really make things better using coercive aggression, and usually the result is markedly worse.” Uhh…no. There has, to my knowledge, never been any government that was not based on “coercive aggression,” yet the lot of humanity has gotten better throughout history. The free market is better at it, definitely, but coercive governments work.
Further you add: “(T)he idea that cartelizing the functions of force, even on a limited basis, can create some net good is based on two false assumptions. First, that by assuming exclusive rights over these functions, you can eliminate competitors.” I wasn’t aware that all governments took exclusive rights to all functions. Some, certainly. But perhaps I misinterpret your intent. The second “false assumption” is: “(Y)our idea asserts that there is something noble in assuming sole responsibility for (wrongful) acts of coercive aggression.” Eh, what?
There’s that “ideal” thing again. You have two societies, one anarchic free-market, one coercive, even downright despotic. The despotic government taxes its people and drafts its young men, and builds a military and defeats the free-market society, kills its people and takes its goods. There’s nothing “noble” about this, but it’s a realistic assessment of history. Coercive governments are able to defeat anarchic societies. Anarchic societies are unable to effectively defend themselves. As you yourself noted, “A society that places voluntary moral limits on its behaviour precludes the necessity for a state,” yet there has been no society to date able to do that for any length of time.
I’m interested in reality, while you are concerned about ideal theory.
One further point. You wrote, “I wouldn’t be lauded for being a murderer if my only justifications were that I was applying my murderous ways uniformly and that I had driven all the other murderers out of town.” Who wouldn’t laud you? Define “murder.” What if you “murdered” only those other murderers? Would you not have taken upon yourself the job of “law enforcement officer?” Judge, jury, and executioner? Would not the families of the victims of the other murderers “laud” you? Perhaps reward you?
Guess what? You’re the new Sheriff. Or the new Chief of the tribe. So long as you “apply your murderous ways uniformly and drive all other murderers out of town” a lot of people would probably support you. You’d get to make – and enforce – the rules. Because people, in general, prefer the promise of security to the risks of freedom.
If you won’t do it, someone else will. See the problem?
As to your second assertion,
2) People who refuse to use coercive aggression (anarchists) are utopian and have “given up.”
that is partially in error. What I object to is that some self-proclaimed anarchists have detached themselves from the political process in the country in which they live because it offends their sense of rightness, but they refuse to recognize that by doing so they are not helping in any way shape or form. Instead, if anything, they aid in the (admittedly inevitable) decay of the system, hoping that the result will be a “truly” free-market anarchic society. I object to the utopian position, yes, but not all have completely “given up.” You wrote: “Right now, I am here attempting to persuade you and others to share my viewpoint; throughout the day I engage in mutually beneficial trade and commerce daily; I enforce my property rights frequently and encourage others to do the same with both my words and my actions.” I’m glad you are, and I’m glad you’re willing to use the existing system to protect your property rights, but if you refuse to vote – which Messers Kennedy and Lopez advocate – you have abandoned one method of protecting your property rights under that same system. That’s “giving up” IHMO.
I will leave the other comments to the commenters at which they were directed.