'In all Debates, let Truth be thy Aim, not Victory, or an unjust Interest: And endeavor to gain, rather than to expose thy Antagonist.' -William Penn

Anarcho Capitalism Criticism

by Ethan Glover, Tue, Aug 06, 2013

Why it's Anarcho Capitalism Criticism

In an interview with Judge Andrew Napolitano, Jon Stewart questioned some of the core tenants of libertarianism, showing that at the very least he does not believe in it and at the most (and more likely) doesn't understand it. Because anarcho capitalism is a form of libertarianism, I see the interview as an anarcho capitalism criticism. You can watch the full interview which is broken down into three parts here, here and here. (In that order). Over at the anarcho-capitalism subreddit Nielsio was kind enough to post "Jon Stewart's 19 Questions for Libertarians" which is extracted from the interview itself. So in my usual response style I'd like to take on the questions myself and later post the response from Stefan Molyneux, so without further ado, let's get started.

Is government the antithesis of liberty?

Yes, creating an entity for the sole purpose of deciding what people can and can't do and giving it a central authority and monopoly over such things is at its very nature anti-liberty. When you as an individual do not have a choice in who protects you and provides services for you, you are not a free man. Liberty is true freedom.

One of the things that enhances freedoms are roads. Infrastructure enhances freedom. A social safety net enhances freedom.

Roads are nice, they make travel easy, the freedom to travel is absolutely essential because it allows us to get away from tyranny. In the times of the articles of confederation this meant moving from state to state with competing governments. In the anarcho-capitalist society this might mean from community to community. That being said, it is not impossible for anyone but government to build roads and infrastructure. When these things are privatized they become more efficient and cheaper do the very concept of competition. Maybe private roads wouldn't work any differently than they do now; requiring license plates and registration, but you would have a choice. As a customer you would have more power to protest your respected company for the simple fact that there is always an alternative/another way.

As for social safety nets, this is not freedom. The freedom to live at the expense of another human being is no freedom at all. This is due to that it negates the freedom of another person to their income and property. The ability to donate and support organizations that you choose is freedom. Developing non-profit organizations without being held back by government regulation is freedom. The freedom to help people (with their consent) through voluntary interaction is freedom.

What should we do with the losers that are picked by the free market?

What should we do or what should they do? There is risk in everything. If the taxpayers had to pay for every failed entrepreneur the country would be 10x worse than it is now, that is, it would not exist. Risk is a core teaching in business school, students are taught to assess it and avoid it if possible. When they fail they must get back up again and keep going. If you keep falling off your horse and someone else keeps picking you up, what's the point in trying to stay on in the first place? There is no risk if there are no losers and if there are no losers there are no winners.

That being said, any further comment goes back to privately run "safety nets" in which people help people, rather than people telling the government to make people help people whether they like it or not.

Do we live in a society or don't we? Are we a collective? Everybody's success is predicated on the hard work of all of us; nobody gets there on their own. Why should it be that the people who lose are hung out to dry? For a group that doesn't believe in evolution, it's awfully Darwinian.

Ignoring the last point which is a blatantly false and odd assumption that is very far below Jon Stewart let's stick to the point. Society can exist without government, society was created long before government. You see "society" in the animal world, and while animal societies and human societies aren't necessarily comparable the point is cooperation. It is natural. We live in a society but it is not because of government, it is not because of mob rule, history is full of examples in which the "collective" destroyed government based societies through micromanagement and destruction of economies through its ponzi schemes. On the other hand, the only thing that has ever destroyed a non-government society is government. So the question is, with government, may we ever remain in society?

A single individuals success is based on his decisions, judgement and work. While he works for himself he must cooperate with others, and in order to get what he wants out of others he must use mutually beneficial interactions. If not his reputation can be destroyed, he can end up in jail and all future interactions can totally cease.

Through this system of selfishness/free market cooperation, are people hung out to dry? Not necessarily because people are ultimately responsible for themselves. A person may be out competed, which should be motivation to push harder or to join in on the action. The "losers" in a free market should not be considered victims. If they quit and call themselves so, nobody is hanging them out to dry except for them. For those very extreme and rare cases in which somebody is left on the street with no potential for rebound, we can go back to the last two questions.

In a representative democracy, we are the government. We have work to do, and we have a business to run, and we have children to raise.. We elect you as our representatives to look after our interests within a democratic system.

This is what is known as mob rule. There is no reason to have a democracy in which the majority vote overrules all rights on the minority. It is the individual who has work to do, businesses to run and children to raise. They must do these things through cooperation and mutually beneficial interactions. There is no one system that can cover/protect/serve every single person in a "society". There is no one thing that works for everybody. This is exactly why the individual must make decisions for themselves and find their own way. The dependency on government is a bad crutch which is falling apart as we speak.

Is government inherently evil?

Yes, give one group the monopoly on force and power over people and they will inevitably become corrupt. When people tell the government to make decisions for other people you get resistance and you end up with the majority never being happy. The government officials, trying to keep their jobs, continuously push the minority to "comply" despite the fact that they are trying to force a square in a circle. Then you have the minority, pushed against a wall whose only option is to resist the organization which has all the power and a monopoly on force. Why wouldn't there be "evil" in this situation? Why wouldn't this inevitably lead to unlawful violence against the minority?

Sometimes to protect the greater liberty you have to do things like form an army, or gather a group together to build a wall or levy.

Yes, this is an agreeable statement and falls in line with anarcho-capitalism. You don't need government armies when you can have private security that is accountable to the people. These companies can work out deals between one another in the case of an invading nation. Of course, what are the chances of this in the anarcho-capitalist society which is non-interventionist and totally open to free trade without regulation?

The same goes for walls and levies, if something needs to be built, there is a way to find money to do it that doesn't involve stealing it from people. Businesses have interest in protecting their own land, so do homeowners, is it so hard to believe that it is possible that entities such as these could get together and work something out? Without some sort of million dollar oversight committee?

As soon as you've built an army, you've now said government isn't always inherently evil because we need it to help us sometimes, so now.. it's that old joke: Would you sleep with me for a million dollars? How about a dollar? -Who do you think I am?- We already decided who you are, now we're just negotiating.

We don't need government to help us sometimes. Even if there were a small government that stole money to pay for an army, that is no admission that is not inherently evil. The presence of an army doesn't make the government benevolent. In fact, that makes it more likely to use that army in its own interest. Just because an entity full of politicians protects you once doesn't mean it won't harm you down the road. In fact it can be assumed that it will harm you more often than not.

You say: government which governs least governments best. But that were the Articles of Confederation. We tried that for 8 years, it didn't work, and went to the Constitution.

The articles of confederation did work, it worked better than the constitution at least. Politicians fucked it up. A group of people got together with the intention of putting the articles of confederation into fine print and fixing anything that was left out and ended up with a central government that supposedly has power over all others thus eliminating the idea of competing governments and further destroying liberty.

"We" didn't go to the constitution, "they" did. The constitution, especially beginning with Lincoln, has only lead the way in further destroying liberty and freedom. The government has not become more effective at protecting people, it has only become more effective at serving those who run it, which by the way, is NOT the people.

You give money to the IRS because you think they're gonna hire a bunch of people, that if your house catches on fire, will come there with water.

You can think that all you want, but that's not necessarily what happens. The existence of fire stations does not negate all the horrible things tax money goes to. Private fire companies whether it be included in security or insurance have and can exist. More efficiently and cheaper too, once again, thanks to competition. You can pay the IRS and think they'll hire firefighters. Or you can pay a private company and know they will.

Why is it that libertarians trust a corporation, in certain matters, more than they trust representatives that are accountable to voters? The idea that I would give up my liberty to an insurance company, as opposed to my representative, seems insane.

Representatives are not accountable to the people, they must only say the right things to get approval of a certain amount of voters. Most of whom do not pay attention and don't have enough knowledge to know what's going on behind the curtain. "Representatives" are not accountable to the people, they are accountable to the ballot box, which is a totally different thing. Corporations are not accountable either because they are often government backed, can hide behind corporations are people laws and do not respond properly to market signals.

Companies on the other hand are accountable. When they fail, they lose money, they suffer legal consequences and lose reputation.  They must compete, they have to work for their money rather than obtaining it no matter what they do. Governments steal money and don't necessarily need to provide good service, companies earn money which they must fight for.

Why is it that with competition, we have such difficulty with our health care system? ..and there are choices within the educational system.

The health care system is highly regulated and managed by government. Government constantly gets in the free markets way and this is especially the case with medicine. Prices are driven up by taxes, fees, regulations, subsidies and a whole host of crap. Not only that but health care lobbyists have gained a considerable amount of power in finding ways to use the government to make more money for the pharmaceutical companies whether they deserve it or not. Health care is not a proper example of competition at work, it is an example of what happens when government takes control of competition and tries to direct it towards its own interests.

The same goes for the educational system, only recently (after this interview) are we beginning to see true viable options for education. From Ron Paul's Home School Curriculum to Tom Woods' Liberty Classroom to MOOC college courses which will inevitably lead to actual degrees. Currently no education system truly competes with government, private schools must use a lot of government mandated curriculum making them effectively useless and really just an expensive version of public schools. And the only reasons private schools are expensive is due to subsidies and the fact that the government provides school for "free" at everyone's expense rather than the expense of only the parents who want the service.

Would you go back to 1890?

No, I'm a fan of technology and I've made it my life, I don't think I'd do well. I would instead like to see a better future.

If we didn't have government, we'd all be in hovercrafts, and nobody would have cancer, and broccoli would be ice-cream?

Maybe, maybe and no...maybe... what? I have no idea. We'd definitely live in a better world. If the government disappeared tomorrow without warning there would certainly be chaos which would have to be worked out through natural processes. The "country" might find itself in a state of weakness much like Detroit now. So long as people started to take responsibility for themselves rather than looking for "god" in the state, things would eventually even out and we would see a much more prosperous and equal place than we do now.

Unregulated markets have been tried. The 80’s and the 90’s were the robber baron age. These regulations didn't come out of an interest in restricting liberty. What they did is came out of an interest in helping those that had been victimized by a system that they couldn't fight back against.

The robber baron age, an age in which the government started putting some serious support behind big bankers. This was the age in which big banksters took over the country entirely and leads to a whole other conversation. The point however is that this was not a period of unregulated markets, this was a period of government support of certain markets over others. The government got out of the way when it came to some (the banksters) and held back others (the rest of the country). This of course lead to unfair growth, but the fact that the "robber barons" were able to do so much and create so much once government intervention was removed says a lot.

Why do you think workers that worked in the mines unionized?

Probably to get together and protest working conditions and wages. Getting together like this voluntarily is a great way to get what you want. Getting the government to do it for you on stolen money is not. In a free world employees can negotiate their wages through market signals, history and current demand. They may be able to do a better job if they all get together and say, "Let's act together to give ourselves more influence and power." So long as this kind of thing remains voluntary and isn't done on other peoples dimes, there's nothing wrong with it.

Without the government there are no labor unions, because they would be smashed by Pinkerton agencies or people hired, or even sometimes the government.

Pinkerton agencies, as in private security, may not harm others unlawfully lest those companies be shut down and their owners thrown in jail. Yes, if a union goes on strike the company may be able to find cheaper workers, this shows the importance of never asking for more than you deserve or more than you can get. This is the nature of competition, you can't have a world of high wages and low prices all in one. If there is someone willing to do the work for less a company has an interest in hiring them, on the other hand if a company is willing to pay you more for your work than your current company you have an interest in taking that job. This hurts your current company, but they should have paid you more right?

The same logic applies to picketing for higher wages. If there's someone else willing to do the work for your current wage or less, what gives you the right to ask for more?

Would the free market have desegregated restaurants in the South, or would the free market have done away with miscegenation, if it had been allowed to? Would Marten Luther King have been less effective than the free market? Those laws sprung up out of a majority sense of, in that time, that blacks should not.. The free market there would not have supported integrated lunch counters.

Slavery was on its way out before Lincoln acted like some sort of savior in an attempt to start a revolt for the purposes or maintaining a central government. All over the world slavery was no longer a popular idea. That being said, slavery, through natural law is illegal. You have the absolute right to your own body, period. Enslavement would be punished through private courts and police. As for desegregation of restaurants, it's possible they might exist, these places would obviously do so at a very high risk. Protests, hatred, violence, these things would all lead to even the most upfront racists being afraid to go to such a place. Racism is not popular, people don't look so highly on those things. Being racist, even verbally, is done so at a major risk of loss of reputation, and bodily harm. Laws don't make this happen, culture does.

Miscegenation on the other hand is not an issue at all. As without government people could get married and create contracts between one another without any government permission at all. Marriage licenses were created out of racism by governments.

Government is necessary but must be held accountable for its decisions.

It will never be accountable for its actions. As I explained before government will only ever be accountable to the ballot box and the majority who wishes to impose its will on the minority. It will always need theft to operate, this is the nature of government. It will always abuse its power merely because there is nothing to truly stand up and say no. The people may fight back but ultimately it is the government who has the big guns.