Anarchy and Whatnot

22 08 2010

I’ve been a regular poster at for about five years, a forum for anarcho-capitalists or market anarchists. I’ve identified as such a person pretty much the whole time. Prior to that, I had been accused of being an anarcho-capitalist by other libertarians. One way to look at anarcho-capitalism is that it’s libertarianism taken to the extreme – if less government is better than no government is best. Of course, put so simply it probably sounds stupid. For a bit of an explanation, see what I wrote four years ago. Since I put that up there, dana of added a comment:

who will enforce contracts? no enforceable contracts, no business–no entity vested with a mutually agreed upon monopoly on the legal use and threat of force–no business

This is why I don’t like to call myself an anarchist except around people who already agree with me about almost everything. I only know about 1.5 such people in real life. If I ever mention being a fan of statelessness, this new fact becomes more important to the other people in the conversation than whatever we were talking about and I’m suddenly expected to explain myself, to explain how a stateless society could possibly “work”, who would take care of the poor and elderly, who would build the roads, who would solve crimes and lock up the criminals, and so on. Some even ask about things that are already routinely done by for-profit non-government firms, like trash pick-up. The single unsatisfying answer is to first view everything we value as economic goods, and know that I maintain that all economic goods, including roads and justice (though perhaps excluding love) can be provided in a competitive marketplace. I know you’re not convinced, and I don’t feel like convincing you. Hell, I’m not sure that I’m convinced.

Lately, I’ve been very interested in human evolution, especially evolutionary psychology. An understanding of natural selection goes a long way toward understanding human behavior, and a lot of people, smart people and people who think they’re smart, have trouble grasping the mechanics of natural selection. For one, many people happily believe that humans are continually evolving to be more intelligent than before, yet there are many other traits that impact reproductive success, and our environment has changed drastically from that which we adapted to. Though we have the highest capacity for logical thinking of all the Earth’s creatures, irrational thinking and non-thinking behaviors can be and often are more important for survival and reproduction. I suspect that those who’ve spent a bit of time learning about human mate-selection might really get this. Ayn Rand did not, and I don’t think Mises and Rothbard did either. Having gotten into this, I’ve become very cynical about humans.

Having identified as an anarcho-capitalist for as long as I have, I recognize a somewhat familiar objective to an-cap theory developing in my head. Typically, the objection is that ordinary people aren’t good enough or smart enough to be left to their own, that they need to be led, perhaps that they need to be protected from themselves. I sort of agree with this, and I have particular objections for specific arguments that an-cap folks make. For example, medieval Iceland is probably the often cited example of a long-term peaceful stateless society, and it is a very good example, but it was different from modern societies in ways that might be important. It was a fairly small population of norther Europeans, lacking ethnic or cultural diversity. Greater size and diversity in a population do not seem to favor order and peace, and such a legal system might require intelligence and behavioral traits that other populations might not have. Yes, I’m one of those horrible people who doesn’t think all races are equally intelligent. Another great example of peaceful statelessness is that of the American West (long PDF), but again we have similar problems.

Bottom line? I don’t know, but I don’t really feel like trying to explain or defend the entirety of anarchism or anarcho-capitalism  to anyone. I can explain possible mechanics to a dispassionate listener, but I’m much more concerned with how the world is today and how it might be improved, especially for me and those I care about, but also for the billions of people I’ll never meet. If you’re curious, go read David Friedman or Roderick Long; or read, if nothing else. I’d rather talk about individual issues as the come up. In general, more government is bad and less government is good. I guess I don’t really have a point, except to let readers know where I’m at politically.


I’m an anarchist, I guess (Repost)

11 06 2006

EDIT: I originally posted this on my myspace page.

I’ve often found myself engaged in various internet discussions, debates, arguments, and flamewars on social, political, and economic topics. I enjoy it, and think I’ve really gotten a lot out of it over the past 4 or 5 years. I am not the same person I was when I got out of the Army, and the biggest change has been intellectual. Most of that is from the internet. I’ve read some good books, heard some worthwhile radio broadcasts, and even met some interesting people in person, but I can’t imagine where my mind would be without the internet.

It really began when I read a story about how the European Union was banning internet hate-speech, where the member states would be required to prohibit websites from hosting or even linking to holocaust-denial content, for instance. I began a thread on the usenet newsgroup alt.hacker about this story, and was very suprised to find that the educated intelligent Europeans on the board tended to support this law, or convention, or whatever it’s called. To me, this was a flagrant violation of the freedom of speech, something I had assumed Europeans cherished at least as much as Americans. I guess I was wrong.

Anyway, that discussion got me going, and political threads on alt.hacker are pretty rare, so I wound up spending some time on certain political newsgroups. I was also listening to a bit of talk radio. Yeah, after 9-11-01, I wound up with the major talk stations as my number one and two presets. 550 KFYI, the local Clear Channel/Rush Limbaugh station was the #1. Although, I was working nights, so I didn’t end up listening to Limbaugh. The night began with local paleo-conservative Charles Goyette and ended with Art Bell. Sean Hannity was thrown in the middle for a while, but I eventually decided that I didn’t like him much. I mean, I was a libertarian-ish conservative sort of guy, and I knew I was supposed to like Hannity, but over time, I grew to dislike him enough to keep him turned off. Bell’s show was not so much politics, if you’re not familiar with him. It’s mostly been about UFOs, ghosts, quantumn physics, time travel, witchcraft, and other things that are more interesting in the dark. He’s mostly retired now, and I think he’s doing every other Sunday night. I have a lot more thoughts on him and his show if anyone cares.

Charles Goyettewas the man. Well, he still is, but he doesn’t have a radio show right now. More than any other person, he forced me to be intellectually honest. As the war in Iraq loomed, he was the one who wanted to know why. He demanded an exit plan. For every claim the Bush administration made, he interviewed someone who knew better. He knew who to ask and has this amazing ability to see the big picture and remember all the important little details. As war drew nearer and its justification got worse his position on it became one of clear and total opposition. And so did mine. And it was not a popular position to have at the time. It caused me grief. It eventually got Charles fired. Although, he did have a good contract and managed to stick around for quite a while, he got pushed from afternoon drive-time into the 7-10 spot. When the contract was finally up, he was done, just in time for the 2004 election campaign. It shocked me. The rule in radio is that you never get to have a last day, and there was no exception for him. I couldn’t even e-mail him as the address he had been using was at and they killed it instantly. Searching around the web for a way to get a hold of the guy, I stumbled upon That’s where it really got going. Charles did a brief stint at a local start-up talk station, and then wound up at the brand new Air America station at 1010 AM, which went off the air some months ago. Air America’s back now on a new station, but they didn’t pick him up.

When I first found that site, I couldn’t get enough. Lew Rockwell is the man who founded the Ludwig von Mises Institute. The Mises Institute is basically about the work of Mises, his student Murray N. Rothbard, and Austrian economics in general. Lew’s own site is basically the super-blog of radical libertarians. I was already pretty comfortable with libertarian lable, but this site really sealed the deal. The interesting thing is that many of the people who write for LRC aren’t exactly strong libertarians, but the overall themes are represented quite well. I found stuff byAnthony Gregory particularly interesting, as it tended to represent my views quite well, his political background is similar to mine, and he was the only LRC writer I’ve found who’s actually younger than me. Gregory’s got a real knack for making the radical libertarian perspective sound reasonable to ordinary people. One of my favorite things he’s written is called A Libertarian in Berkeley.

Over time, I found myself reading and listening to more of the content on Eventually, I bought and read Rothbard’s major economic treatsie, Man, Economy, and State. A bit latter I found what might be the world’s #1 anarcho-capitalist web forum. After that, it was only a matter of time and now I have to admit that I’m an anarcho-capitalist, market anarchist, or simply anarchist. This means I believe the best government is no government at all, and this pisses people off. When I began this little history lesson, I had a point about web forums and their anonymity. I like discussing politics with people on the internet because it doesn’t much matter if they develop a negative opinion of me, but I tend to shy away from actually telling people how I really feel in real life as I don’t want people to hate me. But what the hell…

So what does it mean to be a market anarchist? And just how do I think society could possibly function without some sort of government to build roads and lock up criminals? A market anarchist is simply someone who takes libertarianism or the Non-Aggression Principle all the way, and this means that no government is legitimate. This means no taxes. And that means no tax-funded military, roads, schools, courts, police, prisons or healthcare for the eldery. The economic argument is that if these goods are sufficiently demanded by consumers, someone will bother to produce them. And realistically, there is nothing anyone can think of that hasn’t been produced without a government, with the lone exception being moon rocks. Defense against foreign invaders has been provided by private landlords and voluntary militia. The oldest paved roads in the US were privately built and owned. Private schools do a better job teaching children and spend less that half the money of government schools to do it.

Check out this short and simple FAQ to learn more.

For the record, there’s a whole group of anarchists out there who’ll say I’m not a real anarchist because I’m pro private property or pro-capitalism. I don’t care. I’ve heard it before. I’ll hear it again.You can find this position in this messy FAQ. And as far as anarchists go, I’m a pretty conservative one. I don’t generally advocate radical violent change. It’s mostly just about knowing what is the best sort of government – none. If you argee with this, you’re an anarchist. The rest doesn’t matter.