No Coercion

Why not just become an anarchist?

This question is directed to a certain, possibly large, group of people: those who, when debating anarchism, concede that it is true that social arrangements and interactions should be purely voluntary, that it is fundamentally unjust to initiate force against others (even in the name of funding for security and dispute resolution), but who then insist that they cannot subscribe to anarchism/voluntaryism because of their reservations about how it would play out on a practical level in the real world.

This is a position I don't understand. Isn't it somewhat akin to someone in the days of chattel slavery claiming that they surely see the injustice of slavery but simply can't become an abolitionist and agitate for the abolition of slavery because they can't see how society would work without it?

So what if you don't know how adjudication or immigration or crime control or defense against foreign states would be handled in a stateless society? So what if you can't quite see how voluntary mechanisms would evolve to produce safe food and drugs, efficient roads, and a well-educated population? Neither can I! Who cares? If you recognize something to be wrong, then for the love of all that's decent and sacred, declare your utter opposition to it, and call for it's elimination!

Hey, a stateless society won't emerge overnight, anyway, so why the reluctance to embrace the philosophy? Why not just become an anarchist and advocate for the abolition of the state on principle while at the same time taking part in the vibrant and diverse conversations about the ways in which a voluntary society might deal with things currently done by the state? You could even try coming up with a plan for a business or community organization that would take on such tasks in place of the state.

The more individuals who declare their commitment to peaceful, voluntary social relations and act to further that cause, the more people will be exposed to the ideas and the more society will begin to shift in that direction, leading to a steady and organically evolving transition to that state of affairs that you already agree is more just and moral than statism. So all you statists and minarchists out there who agree with the moral case for anarchy, for the love of Rothbard, stop worrying about exactly how things will work, and loudly and proudly declare yourself an anarchist!

[Update: To clear up a potential source of confusion, I'm not saying you ought to use the "anarchist" term in particular. I'm just saying you should (if you agree with the moral argument for a voluntary society) commit to the philosophy and argue for it, regardless of whether you call yourself anarchist, market anarchist, anarchocapitalist, libertarian, voluntaryist, autarchist, or whatever.]

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Creationism in Kentucky government schools

It seems there's a goober in Kentucky sponsoring a bill to sneak Creationism into government school science classes.

This is just another example of how government schools (besides being based on theft and violence) are really terrible. The problem on display here is that they can't please everyone who 'helps' pay for them. Some tax payers are morons who want their taxes to pay for Creationism to be taught in science classes, and other tax payers (the rest of us) want Creationism left in comparative religion classes or other classes based on the study of fantasy.

Of course, both groups, as tax payers, have a legitimate beef (particularly since the tax payers pay under threat of violence rather than as the result of a voluntary contract). The problem is fundamentally insoluble in the context of government schools (though the constitutional separation of church and state does provide a sometimes useful tool). The only solution is the abolition of government schools (and the taxes associated with them), thus allowing individuals to choose educational options for their children that they deem appropriate and that they are paying for themselves (or through whatever voluntary assistance may emerge). In other words, the solution is to implement the libertarian (a.k.a. voluntaryist, a.k.a. market anarchist) ethic: do not aggress against others or their justly-acquired property.

And just to head off that tired refrain about how such a peaceful, free-market system would inevitably result in some kids (those who end up with an anti-evolution curriculum) being massively deficient in science education, I'll just say, yep, that's life. Other people make lots of choices for their kids that you probably don't agree with--it doesn't make theft and violence okay.

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We don’t need government for airport security

Throughout the blogosphere and the, um, facebookosphere, I've seen often in recent weeks the claim that we simply HAVE to have the government keep us safe by molesting airline customers. When I've pointed out that shopping malls, restaurants, and schools might be easier targets for terrorists and actually cause more terror (since virtually everyone visits such facilities and on a regular basis) and that they should then be arguing for airport-like scans and pat downs at all such facilities, they respond that airliners are 'more important' to protect for whatever various reasons, so the government's limited resources should be used in that area. 

Setting aside, for the sake of argument, my contention that the "government's resources" are actually NOT the legitimate property of the state since they're taken without consent from millions of innocent people, the key error in their thinking is that they (or the government) have the ability to correctly allocate resources to achieve a certain goal. I argue that they have no such ability. Here's what Murray Rothbard had to say about the related case of police in For a New Liberty:

How shall the police allocate their funds which are, of course, always limited as are the funds of all other individuals, organizations, and agencies? How much shall the police invest in electronic equipment? fingerprinting equipment? detectives as against uniformed police? patrol cars as against foot police, etc?

The point is that the government has no rational way to make these allocations. The government only knows that it has a limited budget. Its allocations of funds are then subject to the full play of politics, boondoggling, and bureaucratic inefficiency, with no indication at all as to whether the police department is serving the consumers in a way responsive to their desires or whether it is doing so efficiently. The situation would be different if police services were supplied on a free, competitive market. In that case, consumers would pay for whatever degree of protection they wish to purchase. The consumers who just want to see a policeman once in a while would pay less than those who want continuous patrolling, and far less than those who demand twenty-four-hour bodyguard service. On the free market, protection would be supplied in proportion and in whatever way that the consumers wish to pay for it. A drive for efficiency would be insured, as it always is on the market, by the compulsion to make profits and avoid losses, and thereby to keep costs low and to serve the highest demands of the consumers. Any police firm that suffers from gross inefficiency would soon go bankrupt and disappear.

It's the same problem for government-run airport security. It's not possible to allocate resources properly or efficiently in the absence of consumer choice. Some people might want Israeli-style psychological profiling at the airport. Some might like the current scan-and-fondle system. Some might want security that consists of nothing other than allowing passengers to carry handguns with airplane-safe ammo onto the plane. Each airline could set its own security policy, with some using more invasive measures and others going a more customer-friendly route.

As with other spheres of peaceful, voluntary association, someone who has an irrational fear of his flight being hijacked and blown up by terrorists (1 in 25 million chance) could seek out the airline with the most absurdly degrading and invasive security procedures available, and the rest of us would be free to patronize airlines more accommodating of our preferences.
And this would also address the allocation of security resources among the different potential terrorist targets in society (e.g., malls, theaters, restaurants). Consumer choices will result in businesses allocating optimal resources to security and doing so in optimal ways. Both the crazy people and the rest of us are able to vote with our dollars to choose our preferred level of security. It's simple, it works, and it doesn't require any government action.

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Stateless society debate conclusion

I'm getting back to this much later than I had planned, but for anyone still interested, here's the rest of the debate.

Five questions posed to the con side (the side arguing a state would not conquer a stateless society):

1. Given the importance of coordination and interoperability among military units (something even authoritarian state militaries have problems with), and assuming that an aggressive state would act fairly quickly to attack an anarchist territory to neutralize its state-destabilizing influence, how do you think such anarchists—with their distributed, independent defense forces—would provide adequate defense against the concentrated authoritarian state military who has the offensive initiative?

2. There is no basis for only considering potential aggressive states over the next decade. There is no specification in the original question regarding when an anarchist society would emerge or when foreign states would choose to act against it. How would your argument differ if the anarchist society emerged in a time when potential aggressor states were thriving? And even if the potential aggressor states were in financial crises, as you propose, wouldn’t this make them all the more interested in a quick strike against an anarchist region in order to acquire much needed resources, and wouldn’t the states use overwhelming force since they would likely have previously stockpiled a variety of weapons?

3. Don’t state militaries have a huge advantage in terms of the amount of collateral damage they’re willing to cause? They would be likely to use massively destructive weapons, destroying as much anarchist military capability as possible but without having to worry about what damage they might do to non-combatants and non-military infrastructure, whereas the anarchist defense companies would be forced to use extreme caution so as to minimize such collateral damage to their customers or potential customers.

4. How do you answer the fact that states can use the power of taxation to draw on vast resources to fund their attacks against anarchists who must rely on voluntary payments or donations? Related to this, wouldn’t anarchist defense firms be forced to buy weapons at prices that have been significantly bid up by tax-funded, cost-insensitive statist militaries?

5. Defense never wins. Unless the anarchists can invade and destroy the state that intends to destroy them, they cannot win. How is an anarchist society going to project force in an effective offensive to destroy the threat to its existence?

Con side's answers:

The first question is predicated on the classic misconception that an anarchist
defence is militia only armed with rifles and pick-up trucks. In a libertarian
poly-centric private defence context co-ordination, cross training, shared
supplies, weapons calibres and tactics would be normal. Like a fire fighting
company they would be equiped and trained before the fire starts, not building
defences on the run. Competing private security firms share intelligence,
overlap patrols, etc. Most training in the freemarket system would be provided
by the weapons suppliers; as is the case with many weapons systems today. The
Austrian school definition if a monopoly is barriers to market entry therefore
cooperation would be allowable. The state army faces the “calculation
problem” [prof. Murphy said it in class]. What makes them think that a a
“legal” monopoly is more efficient in the provision of services than a
competitive market?

A rich state, question 2, may use tariffs and trade embargoes in moral disputes
because it can, supposedly, afford them. It would also face a rich and well
resourced internal protest movement at home. The goal of a polycentric defence
entity would be to discourage both the rich and poor state from acting rashly
by making the cost of conquest clear, and far more than any perceived benefit
in looted resources, while limiting the damage to the libertarian defence
subscriber. The invading state would have to make very strong propaganda
efforts and if the libertarian society is economically prosperous, it would
have other states or countries as friends, and those socio-political conditions
might stop an invasion.

This goes to the challenge of the third question. While a state can and might
inflict massive damage on anarchist defence companies and their cities; that
would bring the condemnation of the world down upon them. As prof. Hoppe
explains, USA has the power –nuclear weapons- to blow up Afghanistan in one
minute, yet, America does not do it, because it is very difficult to sell that
idea to the people who pay the taxes. Good civil defence, decoy units and bases
and guerrilla tactics (but not terrorism) make bringing to bear overwhelming
force onto a target pointless. What you can't see you can't hit. States very
rarely turn to genocide. The need to protect the customers assets will result
in the companies taking the fight to the enemy bases and ships.

Question 4 is based on the assumption that an anarchist defence company will
want and buy the same weapons that states do. The Taliban has no such problem
and there are many alternative weapons for sale cheap. Many basic weapons are
expired patents, assuming we Honour foreign patents; the USA didn't early on.
Foreign donations may be another source of defence finance as it is with the
IRA, Alqaeda and the Israeli settlers. The state through taxes can support a
war for many many years.

The last question goes to a point that is dear to my heart. I, Wesley, believe
that they will be able to build and use intercontinental strike capability. It
wont be nuclear; there are newer technologies and it will be military assets
only. However Vietnam defeated the USA forces and won that war without
successfully striking any significant blow at the USA. It managed to generate a
massive (wrong headed) antiwar movement instead. There was some terrorism from
colleagues of Obama but that was not organised in Vietnam. If, or after,
defeating the invading army, the private companies would have to decide if it
is necessary to neutralize the invading army. They would know what to do.

Five questions for the pro side:

1.If a strong or populous state would be likely to see the free state as a
threat and invade. Why was the USA not over run in 1780, 1790 or 1812? The USA meets all of your criteria, it demonstrated that freedom was possible, it had
huge untapped resources, it was drawing capital, skilled manpower from Europe
and was threatening the monarchist status quo with its clearly successful
republicanism. Or as Hans-Hermann Hoppe notes on youtube Why don't the French conquer Monaco or the Italians conquer the Vatican city and the holy See?

2.If a free Market anarchist nonstate generates both a capital and a brain
drain from less free states wont that include the best and brightest military
minds? Just as Israel was able to recruit some of the best WW2 generals to
command its army and air-forces. Most were not practising Jews; one did not
know he was Jewish until after they recruited him. Some were gentiles.

3.Given that a libertarian society will respond with guerrilla war, covert
actions and civil disobedience. Given the number cases where such resistance
has succeeded and the limited number of cases where it failed. Isn't it more
likely that a libertarian society with its Polycentric defence structures will

4.The procase has made an argument in basic terms regarding power and
motivation but it has not looked at the Praxiolgical question of whether
leaders and lower ranking troops and government will fight in the states
interest or there own. If that is the same thing. Would they will delay action,
focus their effort on looting and not conquering the target or fanatically
charge the machine-guns until defeated? While rulers can start wars they rarely
control how it plays out.

5.With the availability of new media, cell phone cameras, youtube and things
like Facebook the balance of power is shifting away from central media
institutions that may back a states invasion of a libertarian territory to
other media. Is it not more likely that the opposition to a war or invasion
will rise rapidly to pressure the state into aborting the invasion or pulling
out before it secures anything it can call a victory?

Pro side's answers:

1a. Why was the US not overrun in 1780, 1790 or 1812?

The very question presupposes that the State must have a clear “victory date” to satisfy the “con” team. Such an interpretation is entirely false.

The State can wait. The United States had no capacity to conquer the British Empire at any time suggested by the question. As such, it was of little consequence to the British Empire to attempt such an expensive and difficult contest. So they did not. When they appear to have a momentary advantage (such as against Poland in 1939 by the Germans), they MAY choose to strike decisively.

It might have been more clear to ask why the English Banking Establishment did not bide its time to attempt to subvert and gain control of the monetary system of the United states by establishing, say, a central bank, like the Federal Reserve. But of course! They clearly did.

The history of the 20th century is replete with examples of the English Establishment’s using progressive mechanisms to subvert the institutions of the United States to serve the needs of the English Establishment. [See Quigley: The Anglo-American Establishment.]

Starting in 1917 (at the latest), the United States acted to save the British Empire in not one, but two catastrophic conflicts, in the end serving as the primary actor of the Anglo-American Establishment.

In short, the question is moot. The United States was successfully subverted.

1b. Why don’t the French conquer Monaco, or the Italians Vatican City and the Holy See?

This question ignores the obvious. Such forbearance is nothing other than the singular manifestation of the fact that the costs (mostly political) far outweigh the benefits of doing so.

2. Won’t the anarchist territory drain off the best and brightest military minds?

In a word, no.

For the sake of argument, even if it were able to manage this somehow, such would be no guarantee of victory. The arguably superior leadership of the Germans in the Second World War, with their superior (individually) tanks, airplanes, and rocket technology amounted to nothing other than complete military defeat of that nation.

3. Isn’t it more likely that a libertarian society with polycentric defense structures will stand?


The outcome of a conflict depends on the solutions found by each side to the political and logistical challenges of any conflict.

The aggressive state will calculate the costs, both political and economic, of any potential conflict. The state might prefer to avoid a direct conflict, and rather subvert the structures of the target society.

Remember that the aggressor of any conflict has the initiative to choose the time, place and character of the conflict. It is under no compulsion to commit to conflict before it is ready.

Therefore, any military conflict between an anarchist society and an aggressive state will always be at a time when it is to the state's benefit, unless the anarchists are militarily aggressive.

The state will choose the ideal timing and location of any attack, and is unlikely to suffer the potential of an aggressive neighbor in an anarchist territory, and therefore is likely to be successful in aggression.

And why not settle (for the time being) on taking a fragment of the anarchist territory? With all assurances of "peace in our time," the state can come back for seconds at its discretion.

4. Will a statist army 'get the job done' and conquer effectively, or quickly devolve into looting?

There is no reason there cannot be a harmony of interests here: looting and destroying the property of an anarchist society would be in the best interest of both the members of the invading army, and the rulers of the state. Furthermore, there does not appear to be any reason to suspect any more looting and other breakdown of discipline among the statist forces than we typically witness in actual conflicts today.

5. Wouldn't public pressure by the aggressing state's subjects prevent the state from launching or fully prosecuting a war on an anarchist society?

It may depend on the nature of the anarchist society’s origin. If, on the one hand, the anarchist society is born suddenly as the result of a violent revolution or catastrophic collapse of the state formerly ruling that territory, then the answer is, no, public pressure at home will not stop the invading state. Remember that most of the aggressing state’s subjects will have been thoroughly brainwashed to believe that anarchy is chaotic and dangerous and a breeding ground for terrorists. This is particularly true in the case where the private defense firms are acting in a militarily aggressive manner. There will be more than enough public support for the statists to prosecute a war straight through to the bitter end.

Moreover, the rise of social media has been dramatic in its self-promotion, but not so much in achieving any tangible results. Note that for all its vaunted 'game-changing' ability, the 'twitter revolution' in Iran in 2009 ultimately fell on its face. Note also the anti-war movements in the US are largely weak and powerless, relying on slow-moving public perception and a vote every four years or so, to make changes. In Iraq the US has managed to install a puppet government, as well as maintain a large military presence, without too much political trouble; all that was needed was the declaration of a War on Terror, and the US government essentially enjoys the support of a sufficiently large proportion of the populace to conquer anyone that steps out of line.

Now, if, on the other hand, the anarchist society is the end result of a gradual withering away of the government in something like Konkin’s agorist revolution, then public pressure may well save the anarchists from destruction. In that scenario, people would have been able to see a healthy, peaceful, and non-threatening economy emerge and function for an extended period of time before an aggressive state comes to the decision to attack. It would, in fact, be like the above mentioned case of France attacking Monaco or Italy attacking Vatican City (or San Marino). There would be no chance of the aggressor state tricking its subjects into believing such a place was dangerous, and public pressure could certainly prevent a war or end it as soon as it begins.

Pro side closing statement:

To conclude our case that an anarchist society would be overrun by a centralized state, we’ll touch briefly on several points.

One important point is the observation that every piece of habitable land on the planet is ruled by one state or another, indicating that the state has, in fact, universally won the battle versus statelessness. There has not even been a temporary establishment of a self-described anarchist society aside from the Makhnovists in Ukraine at the end of the Russian Civil War and the anarchists in Spain during the 1930s, and those were both only quasi-anarchist and quickly stamped out by the state.

Another consideration is that the hypothetical anarchist society could not have come into existence with the snap of some magical fingers. It would either have to emerge gradually through some kind of peaceful transition or rather suddenly through some kind of violent action. Our experience shows us that the state won't tolerate even a tiny challenge to their authority, such as refusal to pay a ticket. They certainly won't let an incipient "non-state" come anywhere close to manifesting itself. The anarchists would have to stage a violent aggressive revolution to come into existence. As we’ve argued before, such violence (however necessary and defensive it may be) will enable foreign states to easily paint the free society as a danger and gain public backing for war.

It may also make sense to view any particular “state” as a territory specific private agency, with its military and police acting as interlocking private defense agencies (PDA’s) working to secure the ‘property rights’ of its clients (who happen to largely be the ruling oligarchy). As such, it will root out and extinguish any hint of emerging statelessness, which would be competition to the state’s monopoly. Such a view renders the “state v. anarchist non-state” more to be one of the emergence and domination of a monopolistic PDA.

We have also shown the benefit is towards the state on an operational level. When an anarchist society first emerges, the state will already have a large tax base and a large military to match, and, efficiency notwithstanding, the state can afford a war of attrition--the rulers really do not care about the personnel or property destroyed. The state can choose the form and the timing of the war to suit itself and will do so to its advantage. So the state can win a war with an anarchist society if it so chooses.

Finally, we have shown that an aggressive state must invade if it can - the anarchist society is a clear and immediate Other to the state, and fundamentally threatens the identity and existence of the state. For every point the con side has raised (e.g. the attraction of foreign military personnel, the ability to arm cheaply, etc.), whether these points are valid or not is moot--the potential they have to be valid gives every state official (and also the state's sycophants) a strong, direct motivation to eliminate the anarchist society in any way they can, as quickly as possible.

One point we have not yet raised is the uncertainty faced by the anarchist society - while the con side has made a great deal out of the benefits of a polycentric defense system, the fact remains that all these 'centers of defense' all operate primarily from within a small given territory. In fact, all the benefits ascribed to polycentrism apply equally well to offense and defense, and this is exactly the situation faced by the anarchist society. We have shown that states can and must win a war against an anarchist territory, but any one state need not act alone – a coalition of states can easily be constructed, each state contributing to the combined effort in its own way with its own independent policies, centers, and strategies. Without knowing which direction the next offensive will come from, an anarchist society must surely, eventually, unfortunately, fall.

Con side closing statement:

Most of the argument the Pro-side presented refers only to "technical" stuff
(who has more money to keep a war going, who has better guns, who is better
trained to fight, etc.) Yet, very important praxeological and ideological
considerations are missing in their analysis.

Praxeology allows us to make clear and undeniable predictions about some social
phenomena. For example, minimum wages restrict the number of jobs that in any
other situation would exist. The opposite of this statement makes no economic
sense. Following the same idea, one understands that there is a praxeological
case for for Anarcho-Capitalism. A free market in the provision of legal and
protection services is the best scenario for consumers. Rothbard made this
praxeological case in his main works.

Yet, Praxeology is not the complete story. As Prof. Hoppe explains, praxeology
does not say anything about “specific” predictions. By Praxeology one knows
that the individual will use the first unit of a good to satisfy his most
highly ranked goal –Law of Mg Utility. What is the first unit of marginal
utility for invading a country and where does the marginal utility diminish to
a point where the invasion is called off or lost?

When talking about Anarcho-Capitalism, we should focus on ideological factors
more than psychological factors.

In Jewish and Muslim countries, people do not buy pork, and the market for pork
meat seems not to exist. But one understands that under other “ideological”
conditions a market for pork would "normally" work. Now, let us imagine that
instead of hating pork that society hates taxes and presidents. Only under
those ideological conditions Anarcho-Capitalism could properly work. Only in
those societies where people respect the libertarian axioms of non-aggression
and private property Anarcho-Capitalism is possible. And as long as the
ideology is strong, that society will exist that way. “Radical” Muslim
societies have existed for centuries, and at the beginning America had a strong
and radical libertarian ideology.

The main question in this debate should not be if anarchism can work or not,
the correct question must be: “under what ideological conditions, the
praxeological –anarchist- prediction would work?”

The Pro-side has not fully considered the ideological factors for an invasion.
The idea of conquering a place for its resources is now universally condemned.
Switching to new resources is the more modern solution. This shifts the balance
away from state aggression.

As Hoppe has also explained, the president’s power does not reside in brute
force, but instead on propaganda. The soldiers don’t kill people for fun or
for money, instead they think they are fighting a just war. there are
historical cases where big powers have not attack small independents states.
And as Prof. Hoppe has also explained, for many reasons guerrilla warfare is
the best way to fight an invasion.

We live in a world where communication is global. The battle for peoples hearts
and minds is global and the power of state propaganda is diminishing. In that
context the best defence for free society with private defence companies may
be a million web-cameras, civil disobedience and behaving honourably while
standing by the societies guiding freemarket principles.

So, that was my attempt at playing devil's advocate. I actually agree with the opposing side that the logic and evidence weighs heavily in favor of a stateless society surviving any attempts to conquer and "re-statize" it if it can come about in the first place. Let me know your thoughts!

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Argument: Stateless society would survive

I'm finally getting around to posting the other side's opening argument in the Mises Academy online debate over whether a stateless society would be overrun by a state. Remember, my side (three people) played devil's advocate and argued that such a society would be overrun. The other side (also three people) is arguing the stateless society would not be overrun. Below is their exact wording:

 To deal with this issue we must ask how robust the states will be in the next
decade. Economic crisis and fiscal breakdown is driving many states to
austerity measures. Government at various levels are defaulting on their bonds
and pension liabilities. They will default on the pensions of judges, police
and military last, a decade from now. We must remember that the iron curtain
collapsed not because of violent well organised uprising but because state
security staff simply gave up defending the state and party. If we are offering
an alternative with freemarket pay packets for essentially the same work. The
defenders of the state may simply sign up by turning around and standing with

A private defence entity will innovate using the newest gear, tactics. Because
the state entity in question acquires its resources via coercion and not
voluntary exchange, it isn't sensitive to the profit and loss test that makes
markets work. Private defence agencies would be getting constant feedback from
this system about the efficiency of their resources deployments, and can more
rapidly adjust to changing conditions than a bloated, static state bureaucracy

It will put more emphasis on civil defence, shelters early warning systems that
actually tell people what to do instead of generating a panic. Hardening the
target (particularly civilian targets) discourages state attack because they
see that a quick demoralisation of the libertarian society and easy surrender
is not possible. They may see that an attack will only make the enemy angry not

The private defence agencies will trade free membership for good intelligence
and voluntary services in a crisis. It will have a volunteer component for non
financial members, easing them in as protected free-riders in the hopes that a
taste of stable law and enforcement well prove inviting and they will sign up
and buy into the insurances and fuller coverage. It will consider free-riders
as an advertising cost.

It can be expected that in response to a collapse of states services many
communities will choose to become free ports and free trade zones. Private
security and other government services are normal to free ports and free trade
zones. The two systems will grow together. The Private defence agencies and
freemarket judiciary will expand with citizens signing up as the benefits
become apparent. Relatives in unsupported towns will hear of successes and may
join up bringing the company to town. It will be copied in other states overtly
or covertly. People will enter into deals with business alliances developing in
the network.

There may be attacks in the hope of cheaply capturing strategic resources and
technologies but governed by the market the defenders may respond with
defensive force, booby traps on the target resources, or simply lowering the
price of the resources to the attacking nation to buy it off.

Non state players will be a challenge. Such players are driven by religion or
ideology. Their troops are not conscripts but volunteers or brain washed
victims. They use 4th generation warfare tactics: terrorism and ambush. Proper
fortification, new sensor technologies and robotic systems can counter such
tactics. States are afraid of such technology, its a case of using high tech
4th generation warfare against low technology 4th generation warfare, it can be
turned against them in an internal crisis. A poly-centric anarchist-capitalist
society has a plurality of targets making that much harder. It also has shorter
command chains so the lowest officer may know and be known to the top officer.
That engenders loyalty.

Some kinds of long range weapons will force a strategic reach; the ability to
strike a headquarters or missile silo from the other side of the world. Perhaps
subcontractors will deliver these specialised services. Most private defence
agencies will be defending home ground. They will need attacking power to take
back captured ground but most of their assets would be defensive, optimised for
hit and run ambush, creating front line killing zones and similar system.
There should be an emphasis on non lethal weaponry since killing people makes
it very hard to sign their friends and neighbours up as customers. It also
reduces liability risk and collateral damage, friendly fire cases and the loss
of useful intelligence because you have killed the enemy officer.

Generally the free market anacap alternative will hold against a foe. As other
economic forces shake and break the states a system that demonstrates success
will expand into the void they leave.

I feel I should point out that I would have argued this position a bit differently (and much more clearly), and I will probably do a post in the near future along those lines.

Stay tuned for the next segment of the debate, in which each side poses five questions for the other side to answer. I'll wait until both sides have asked and answered before posting that.

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Would a stateless society be conquered?

Would a stateless society be conquered? Yes. At least, that's the devil's advocate position I'm arguing as part of the Mises Academy course I'm taking, The Economics of Private Legal and Defense Services. It's being taught by the always enlightening Bob Murphy, and he requires the students to participate in an online debate of a relevant topic. Each side in this debate is composed of a team of three people who are required to submit an opening statement, followed by five questions for the other side, and concluding with a closing argument. I thought it would be fun and beneficial to argue for a position I don't actually believe. As a former minarchist (and having debated many minarchists and statists over the years), I'm well aware of some of the reasons given for why an anarchist society would quickly be conquered by one of the world's many states. I thought I would blog the various phases of this debate. Below is my team's opening statement/argument.

If a stateless, anarchic society were to emerge it would surely be conquered by a foreign state. Naturally, this can be broken down into at least two levels of reasoning. The first is the question of whether a state would actually choose to attack a stateless society. The second is the question of how successful such an attack would be.

Regarding the first question, it is clear that a reasonably strong and aggressive state (of which there have always been--and continue to be--many) would choose to invade a stateless territory relatively soon after its birth. There are several (somewhat inter-related) reasons for this.

First, states exist to expropriate resources. The state, as Franz Oppenheimer famously noted, obtains resources by the “political means” (i.e. expropriation) rather than by the “economic means” (i.e. voluntary exchange). The predominant reason some states refrain from invading their neighbors is the existence of a relatively organized and effective standing military force controlled by the central state. For at least some of these potential aggressors, the existence of a territory reasonably endowed with natural resources and not protected by a central state would be simply too much to resist. Even if the only resource were habitable land the lure would still be too strong.

Second, states would see a successful stateless society as a destabilizing influence on their own regimes. Even if an aggressive state were not motivated to invade by lust for resources, it seems likely that one or more states would still attack the anarchist society (and attempt to annex the territory) if only to wipe any hopes of a stateless society from their own subjects’ minds. Consider that one of the most common arguments given by those opposed to statelessness is that it simply can’t work; there’s no successful example of it in the modern world. If an anarchist society were to emerge, the resultant peace and prosperity for the members of that society would forever invalidate the argument that anarchy can’t work. Those who long for freedom around the world would suddenly have a working example, something to strive for and seek. Furthermore, the more vibrant and prosperous economy of the stateless society would cause a brain drain for many states as their most talented individuals left to seek more reward in the stateless territory. Such eventualities would be so threatening to powerful states that they would waste no time in crushing such a society.

The final primary reason one or more states would choose to invade the stateless territory is the state’s distorted cost-benefit analysis. The political elites in control of a state are able to shift most of the cost of conflict onto the state’s hapless subjects, thus making a military attack on a stateless society far more likely than if the political elites had to bear the costs themselves. The decision-makers can force the tax payers to cover the financial costs of war and can even conscript subjects to do the fighting. Even in the absence of conscription, the state is able to bring to bear its powerful propaganda machine to convince large numbers of ‘patriots’ to go off and fight for the state. All of this makes the decision to launch an attack artificially easy for the state’s rulers.

The second question is whether a state would succeed in conquering the stateless society once the decision is made. There appear to be at least a few reasons the state would be successful.

First, states are able to forcibly acquire and concentrate resources. Consider the effort and resources that go into state weapons programs, especially the development of nuclear weapons. In less than five years, the U.S. government developed and deployed nuclear weapons. The government was able to use its power of taxation to spend over $20 billion (adjusted for inflation) and employ 130,000 people to accomplish this task. It used its power of eminent domain to construct the interstate highway system to facilitate military transportation. It used taxation and the lack of a need to maximize efficiency to amass a vast arsenal of tanks, planes, ships, bombs, artillery, firearms, and more. It used the power of conscription to and propaganda to force millions into military service. The stateless society, on the other hand, would be defended merely by decentralized private defense forces funded by voluntary payments or donations. Unfortunately, the anarchists wouldn’t stand a chance.

Second, states have a long history of military organization and expertise (especially a state that would go to the trouble of attacking an anarchist society). It must be noted that not just any state would initiate a war against a free society. The kinds of states that are aggressive enough to do such a thing are the kinds of states that devote a lot of time and resources to military matters. They have long traditions and well-developed operational procedures. They have extensive, high-tech command and control systems. They have officers who have studied war-making and are versed in a variety of tactics and strategies. In comparison, the stateless defense forces would have little history and real-life experience on which to draw. They would be made up of a variety of independent defense firms or volunteer organizations with no coordinated and standardized way of doing things. In addition, if the anarchists didn’t have very long to prepare, they would be at the mercy of price-gouging weapons manufacturers looking to take advantage of the defenders’ urgent needs.

Another point is that the state is in a good position to subvert the anarchist society, possibly even eliminating the need for an armed invasion. The state’s ability to expropriate and concentrate wealth from its subjects makes it much easier for it to bribe the top players in key industries (like banking, education, and the media). We know from historical experience that successful business figures are often quick to use the regulatory power of states to better position themselves and harm their competitors. We can expect a significant degree of this to occur with anarchist business owners and foreign states. If a state succeeds in dramatically influencing industries like education and media, it may be able to undermine the very anarchist nature of the stateless society and cause large parts of it to return to statism and seek the protection of a neighboring state.

Finally, the anarchist forces would be highly constrained by the need to avoid harming innocents, while the invading state would have no such constraint. The aggressors could engage in massive and indiscriminate bombing campaigns, perhaps even including weapons of mass destruction (keeping in mind the attacking state may not be interested in controlling territory or exploiting resources but rather in destroying an anarchist society before it could lead the state’s subjects to start contemplating statelessness).

It seems clear that a stateless society would indeed by attacked by one or more states and that the attack would be successful in either subduing and occupying the territory or outright destroying the society. One need only look at the history of the Russian Civil War (1917-1923), during which the anarchists (under Makhno) were immediately attacked by the Red Army, and the resistance was destroyed.

Please feel free to react to this in the comments in whatever way you'd like. I'd appreciate any feedback. The other side's opening salvo will be posted as soon as they submit it.

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Update from a victim of the police state

My online friend, George Donnelly, whom I blogged about previously (here, here, and here), posts an update about his situation and the efforts by the state to punish him for the heinous crime of filming his friend being assaulted by U.S. Marshals. Though his situation has improved, he's not out of the woods yet. Spread this around so that people begin to learn the true nature of the state: it's a criminal organization that obtains its funding and seeks its goals through initiatory violence rather than civilized, peaceful exchange and persuasion. It should be viewed not as a 'necessary evil' but as an unecessary and unfortunate detour on humanity's journey toward civilized society. Stop defending it.

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Western statism ensures violence in Somalia

Those who choose to mock anarchists by holding up Somalia as the sort of situation that comes about in the absence of the state are missing a lot of really important pieces of the story. A friend of mine (thanks, Donovan!) reminded me of one of the biggest the other day: that Western statism, in the form of foreign aid money violently expropriated from states' subject populations and transferred to Third World state rulers, results in a violent struggle for control of Somalia. The warring factions each know that whoever comes out on top will stand to gain untold riches from the United States and other Western states. To make matters worse, the factions know that the U.S. sends even larger amounts of aid to regions plagued by al-Qaeda; so they have a serious incentive to invite al-Qaeda into their territory.

And, of course, states like the U.S. have a vested interest in ensuring that Somalia doesn't become too peaceful prior to the establishment of a strong central state, because such a society would be highly threatening to the illusion that the state is necessary for peace and prosperity.

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The right to bigotry

Well, the usual media suspects have wasted no time in attacking Rand Paul for his opposition to the part of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits private businesses from discriminating on the basis of race (and some other stuff). They've implied that such a stance is racist. That's interesting. So I guess I support the right of skinheads to hold a rally, I must be racist, too. I guess if I support the right of homophobes to write hateful blog posts about gay people, I must be homophobic, too. And if I support the right of pot heads to smoke weed, I must also be a pot head. If you're the kind of person that equates defending someone's rights with supporting that person's personal beliefs, I really don't know if I can help you. I suggest you go back to chewing on your crayons and stuffing Cheerios in your nose.

But more importantly, those on the left are out in force defending the morality of the state's using violence to compel certain actions on the part of business owners who have not aggressed against anyone. That's right: they're saying that partial slavery is okay. They're saying that, because they don't like the way some people choose to peacefully (if unpleasantly) use their property, violence may be employed to force them to use it in a different way. They're saying you don't have a right to be a bigot.

Well, you do have that right as a human being. And others have the right to boycott, shun, and ostracize you.

I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said in places like these:
Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act: Was he right?
Defend the Scoundrels, Rand!
Which Institution is More Enlightened?

But let me be very clear about this. If you use violence or the threat thereof to compel someone to provide goods or services to someone else, you are an aggressor and a criminal. If you support such criminal actions, well, let's just say you've got some remedial work to do in the area of ethics.

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Update on George

Carlos Miller has this post today about the latest with George Donnelly's ordeal. Organized crime is not somehow made legitimate by calling itself "the government." This insanity must end.

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