Revisiting Anarchy

Coming back to the last stopping point of our discussion, Kevin, a couple of things you postulated (correct me if I misrepresent you) and my responses:

1) Because coercive aggression exists, it should be worked with rather than rejected out of hand.

2) People who refuse to use coercive aggression (anarchists) are utopian and have “given up.”

1) The problem with coercive aggression is that it rejects the wisdom of the free market. Where the free market allocates the greatest total satisfaction to all parties, coercive aggression allocates satisfaction only to a select group at the expense of another group. Any coercive action always creates greater discord on a net basis than order, whether or not that discord is directly observable (and it usually isn’t). In summary, you can’t ever really make things better using coercive aggression, and usually the result is markedly worse.

Furthermore, the 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. Competition begets competition, Kevin, by cartelizing coercive force you only stimulate the competitive spirit in other coercively aggressive enterprises (note that I don’t dissuade from coercive defense of property). Second, your idea asserts that there is something noble in assuming sole responsibility for (wrongful) acts of coercive aggression. 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. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and the end does not ever justify the means. I refuse to become as guilty as those I oppose by sinking to their level.

2) Simply because I refuse to employ methods I detest does not mean I am doing nothing. I am merely “walking the walk” of my beliefs by refusing these methods. In addition, I do plenty to “deal” with the world on a non-utopian, every-day, realistic basis. 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 restrain myself according to a moral code (well, not always); and finally, when I confront a law that directly contrasts with my morals, I subvert it (i.e. if they banned Christianity, I would still worship). All of these anarcho-capitalist actions forward my philosophy in the world as surely as they benefit both me and the people I interact with.

By holding to my principles and refusing to compromise, even when it would be convenient or expedient, I prove that I am both realistic AND nonhypocritical.

And now some things said in the comments by others (again, correct me if I misrepresent):

1) Garvin says that since the optimum set of morals for an anarchistic society cannot be known, my theory is idealistic, incomplete, and unable to achieve its ends.

Thankfully Garvin, we have the free market to determine which is the most advantageous set of morals. Unfortunately, by legitimizing the use of coercive aggression, gov’t creates an incentive for people to be immoral (see welfare, Hitler, et al). A free society, on the other hand, necessitates moral rectitude because people are more directly held responsible for their own actions. Of course, with competing desires, there will be competing moral systems and some will work better for one than another. This is not a weakness, however, but a strength, since the “best” moral systems will logically be the most popular.

2) Doug points out that near-anarchist societies existed and failed. Wince asserts that anarchism doesn’t work well when you’re a bunch of Pre-Enlightenment cannibals.

Wince’s argument is pretty easy to refute, that the only anarchistic society to ever have existed was a bunch of cannibals. First and foremost, just as there is no perfectly socialist society, there will never be a perfectly anarchist society. Second, frontier life has always been anarchistic, and people were able to make very good lives for themselves and their descendants, coexisting peacefully with eachother and dealing with it in their own way when violence occured. Even Socialist California was once a free minded state, its citizens nearly lynching the Chief Treasurer of the United States when he came around peddling his fiat money over gold.

Doug seems to think that simply because there are societies that were at one time anarchistic and are now far less so, that anarchism is a failed experiment. This is wrong, firstly because you trying apply a method of comparison suitable for differing systems of coercive order to a concept that eschews any system of coercive order. It’s not comparing a Chevy to a Ford, it’s comparing an automobile to no automobile. Secondly, where anarchy does promise benefits (by saying it won’t get in the way), it most certainly does deliver them through the mechanisms of the free market and cooperative exchange. 19th century Germany, with its many competing city-states, was one of the most liberal and prosperous states of it’s time, and was a nexus of culture, scholastics, philosophy, engineering, and invention. Switzerland has been a cornerstone of freedom, private defense and trade since 1291, and its banks are more trusted than any in the world.

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