Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Support for libertarian anarchy

In the last post, I said that I don’t agree with libertarian anarchists who believe centralized “state” government is not necessary because I don’t completely understand their ideas or how they could work in reality.

(libertarian-anarchist view of political spectrum)

To be fair, anarchists are always misrepresented in the society, because when people hear anarchy, they think of left, revolutionary anarchists (or Attila the Hun). Libertarian anarchy (or rightist anarchy — although the name is obviously a misnomer and an oxymoron) looks at the government as a monopoly in two services: law and protection. Consequently, anarchists believe, central government is unnecessary, as any other monopoly. Just as any other services, law and protection do not require a central authority to be provided. A number of competing companies can provide telephone, Internet, rodent control, or lawn-mowing services, and the same is true regarding law and protection.

An immediate reaction of minirchists (libertarians believing in necessity of minimal government) like me is to say that the reason these services can be provided in the context of free market is because the latter is allowed to exist by the structure of the society — law and protection of people’s rights. The only way I can compete freely with a large company (and thus benefit the consumers the most) is if the large company doesn’t higher someone to “bust my cap” — and this happens only when the law (protecting my equal rights) is imposed by a central government, yes, sometimes in a form of aggressive protection. The good thing about democracy is that people control it and decide through this control (more or less) which people are the best for imposing this protection. Furthermore, the government is limited (in an ideal world, much more than today) by the Constitution, which prevents it from grabbing more power and destroying free market (obviously not the case today).

An anarchists would argue that the above is not true. Or at least the main assumption of it is not true — that law and protection must be provided by a centralized monopoly. Just like in any service, anarchists repeat, is successfully provided by free market, which regulates its quality and effectiveness, law and protection too can successfully be provided by free market. And no, this would not lead to chaos. Free, competing organizations dedicated to providing the services of law and protection would not engage in constant warfare but would come to a stable equilibrium — simply because such would be a more profitable situation for all parties involved. Just like today, sometimes force would have to be used, but much less frequently than today and more efficiently (and lawfully).

Furthermore, a democratic government is only as good, as honest, and as democratic as the people it serves. It is necessary for some ideas to be shared among the people in order for democracy to be successful (just compare democracies in Russia and the US). If democracy can be sustained by people that believe in certain ideals and does not turn into chaos (as English king George III believed would happen to the “Colonies”) or totalitarianism (as happened in France after its democratic revolution), the same is true for anarchy (as anarchists argue): as long as people living in an anarchist society believe in a set of ideas, anarchy will turn to neither chaos nor dictatorship.

(libertarian-anarchist view of stateless yet lawful society)

Two essays by Robert Murphy defend this argument in an easy-to-read, cohesive form.
Without question, the legal system is the one facet of society that supposedly requires State provision. Even such champions of laissez-faire as Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises believed a government must exist to protect private property and define the “rules of the game”.

However, their arguments focused on the necessity of law itself. They simply assumed that the market is incapable of defining and protecting property rights. They were wrong. In this essay, I argue that the elimination of the State will not
lead to lawless chaos. Voluntary institutions will emerge to effectively and peacefully resolve the disputes arising in everyday life. Not only will market law be more efficient, it will also be more equitable, than the government alternative.

Just as right-wing hawks embrace the Orwellian notion that War is Peace, left-wing egalitarians believe that Slavery is Freedom. The hawks wage endless war to end war, while the social democrats engage in massive theft — or “taxation” as they call it — to eliminate crime. It is high time to abandon such monstrous paradoxes. It took no king to produce language, money, or science, and it takes no government to produce a just legal system.
Even if you don’t completely agree with the described ideas (like me, who is a right-wing hawk, despite being libertarian in almost all other aspects), the two papers are still an interesting read. More to follow.

No comments: