“Anarcho”-Capitalism (Proprietarianism) vs. Real Libertarian Anarchism

An American's sacred right to property being profaned.

Continuing from my last post, here reproduced are excerpts from the Usenet debates I had in the summer and fall of 2002, mostly, with self-described “anarcho”-capitalists. The original argument concerned “rights” and “freedom,” but it quickly led, as most debates with “anarchos” go, to the question of property. As I mentioned yesterday, these issues, I believe, lie at the very heart of the debates going on presently over the debt-ceiling (actually over revenues vs. spending) in Congress and the media. But you won’t hear our pundits or politicians for the most part bring it down to the very ground it all springs from.

Where you see angle brackets [<< >>] in and around certain paragraphs, those represent quotes from the persons I was debating with. If you want to follow the debate in Usenet format go here. My comments were posted under the handle “xofpi.”:

Note that “anarcho”-capitalists object to the worker’s democratic ownership/control of the means of production precisely because it is, (in theory at least, since it has not been allowed to actually be in practice), democratic. These so-called “anarchists” would rather invest all authority over the means of production in a single manager/owner or oligarchy–i.e., not change the structure of authority at all except to get rid of any vestige of democratic counterweight to it. And then they’ll lie about what they’re opposed to, pretending that they are the guardians of liberty!

The key to the difference between real libertarian-anarchism and proprietarianism (in my opinion, the proper name for “anarcho-captialism”) hinges on the question of authority vs. freedom. Proprietarians deny it–or are in denial about it–but their system is based on the same mystical sources for authority as feudalism and royalism. The proprietarian wants to sacralize heredity as a rational basis for ownership rights. They claim that property is a “natural right,” but in effect their system endorses the same discredited system of aristocracy and hereditary divine right that the Enlightenment threw over and the American founders–at least the leftists among them–thought they had banished for good. Socialism is egalitarian, but not in the way the phony proprietarians claim. Socialism is against the exploitation of humans by other humans, and its cure for this ill is to empower the powerless the only way societies can hope to empower each other–economically and politically–which means democratizing the economic and political systems. Oddly enough, some proprietarians I have argued with in the last couple of weeks have complained bitterly about unions and government “profitting at someone else’s expense.” Don’t they see the irony of this position?! Of course not, because they aren’t truly interested in ridding the world of a system that rewards profit at others’ expense. Indeed they fantasize about getting rewarded by the same system some day. But in order to profit themselves from the system, it’s not enough for them to preserve native inequalities of talent, etc., (which no system can ever hope to get rid of), but to maintain the institutionalized inequalities that real anarchists oppose.

<<…you cannot equalize humans by dragging everyone up to the >> >level of the elite, only by shoving everyone down to the level of the >> >savage. Not everyone is capable of greatness; they lack the talent, >> >intelligence, and mentality. However, everyone is capable of going down…>>

Red herring alert: no one that I know of, except for characters in a Kurt Vonnegut story, has ever argued for equalizing people according to their talents. The issue is not native inequalities, which no person has control over (though give capitalists in the genetic engineering sector time), but institutionalized inequalities, which *can* be changed for justice’s sake.

<<>If leftists were truly about compassion and care and >providing for the starving and sick they would have no problem with church’s >involvement. >>

An objectivist defending the church?!

<<They claim this would be mixing church and state, starting >from the premise that it is the government’s duty to care for the “needy”. >>

Strawman alert: Show me one citation from a leftist who argues that there’s no role for the church in caring for the needy. The church-state controversy is not over the church’s involvement in care for the needy, it’s in the state’s funds going to pay for evangelizing missions, which violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

I read somewhere recently that proprietarians consider the taking of property through war as legitimate if the other side can be said to have “inititiated force.” Thus, because the governments of England, Holland, Spain, etc., were “legitimate” ca 1492 and because their wars against the peoples who were in the Americas were allegedly waged to protect the safety of their citizens against marauding redskins, the appropriation of lands in the Americas was “just,” and all exchanges over property since then have been “just.” (Whereas taxation is “unjust”–even though taxation merely pays for the system that legitimizes private property in the first place.)

<<…does it make sense to change all inequalities if it results in >an overall loss in material terms and freedom?>>

Who said anything about changing *all* inequalities? Isn’t it possible to effect changes that will distribute resources more equitably, which will increase liberty overall for most people, without causing the harms you imagine? There are certain people who have access to more resources than they could possibly know what to do with while many millions more can barely feed themselves. Why not create the conditions for a world in which this imbalance of needs is put in greater balance? How can this present kind of inequality be morally justified?

<<Is is better for >everyone to have an income of $10,000 a year or for nearly everyone to >have an income much higher than that, even if it means that some will >have an income hundreds of times that of others? >>

According to real anarchists, everyone in a society should be able to have their basic needs met. No one should starve. No child should be deprived of health care and decent education just because his parents are poor. Everyone should have shelter. Equality means equal access to the resources that meet basic needs. Everything beyond that is gravy–and is permitted. The only thing that is not permitted is exploitation of other people for the purposes of personal profit, which is the heart and soul of capitalism. This is why “anarcho”-capitalists are oxymorons, so to speak.

<<>Even if it means that it stifles technological progress, which is the >main means by which people’s lives are improved overall? >>

People’s lives overall are not improved if there is no mechanism to distribute resources more equally.


15 thoughts on ““Anarcho”-Capitalism (Proprietarianism) vs. Real Libertarian Anarchism

  1. Pingback: “Anarcho”-Capitalism: The Boss’s and Landlord’s Paradise « Tragic Farce

  2. Voluntaryist here, and yes I consider myself an Anarcho-capitalist. However, I would like to make something very clear about my own position. I do not and never would object to democratic ownership of the means of production (though I personally think it is a sub-optimal economic arrangement but then again I’ve never seen it tried) assuming that no coercive force is used to enforce the majority’s decision. If a union or an organization of workers decides to pull their resources and enter into a voluntary arrangement in which they each get an equal share and vote in the directions their mutually owned factory, farm, whatever will take and they agree to abide by the majority’s decision then to break this agreement would itself be an initiation of force and the majority would have the right to respond in kind (fire and expel the dissenter). This may very well be a better arrangement than individual ownership. If it is, fantastic, let men choose it willingly, if it isn’t, give it up. However, the second you attempt to enforce the majority’s decisions on an individual who has not voluntarily agreed to the arrangement, you’ve created an institution based on violence and coercion, a democratic state.

    Please respond hope for a challenging and pleasant talk.

    • Dave,

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve heard other anarchos express a similar tolerance for the idea of unions or democratic workplaces in their utopian vision under the same conditions. I think the problem with this utopian ideal is that it requires some authority to legitimize the foundation on which it stands or falls, which is private property. If there is no such authority, no one’s property is safe from the threat of violent seizure. Another commenter on another post here claimed there could be “protection agencies” an individual could appeal to for help in such circumstances. Or maybe individuals could form a cooperative protection agency. But if those agencies lose the battle against aggressive acquirers, the bottom line is, might is the authority that makes right. Actually it doesn’t matter who wins, it looks like violence is as apt to be called for to protect the principle of property rights in this utopia as it is in societies such as exist now where the law is the ultimate authority.

      • Would not violence be called on to protect public property from someone who sought to acquire it violently for their sole use? If that is your only critique of the concept of private property I find it uncompelling. Violence used to protect ones property from thieves and the like is justified. If it weren’t what right would one have to use violence to protect ones life from murderers? In this situation we wouldn’t be worried that might makes right, because it doesn’t, if a murderer “wins” in this particular scenario we would simply condemn him as a murderer.

        Your challenge also smacks a bit of the sort of standard statist critique I hear all the time, that the biggest gang will simply take over everything and we’ll have a dictatorship. Surely, if that’s worry, we cannot tolerate the current situation at all wherein the biggest gangs have taken over and are now calling themselves nations.

        • Oh, no, that is far from my only criticism of property. That would be like taking the position that all prisoners of war should be subject to torture because in one extreme, time-pressured instance, torturing one might conceivably yield information that could save lives.

          No, I fundamentally criticize the principle that private property is a “right.” I begin with the criticism that property is most certainly not a natural right. I recommend you read the next post for more information about my thoughts on that.* We may have a natural “right” to possess things we use, but I actually think talk of “rights” can’t help but be ideologically charged and not very helpful if we’re interested in essential truths about things.

          What I find very peculiar about “anti-statist” capitalism is that its fundamental principles all owe to social contract theory. You want to throw out the social contract and keep the rest, but the original theorists’ main point was you can’t keep the rest without the social contract (ie, the state). It’s as though you guys took a right-turn off the road before you reached Locke’s and Hobbes’s destination. You’re mired in the premises of a theory that must conclude with a state, but you don’t want that conclusion. Why don’t you all try a different theory. Forget “life, liberty and property.” That’s statist to the core. Or embrace the essence of it and admit you’re statists. There’s no shame in following your thoughts to their logical conclusion.

          * Correx: Read this post: https://christofpierson.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/fruits-of-ones-labor-possession-and-property-use-and-usury/

  3. Pingback: Is Private Property in America Ever Justly Acquired? « Tragic Farce

  4. I think the telling point is that anarcho-capitalists can abide the existence of collectivist ‘anarchists’: those who say they hate violence and authority but promote it, EG: You have homesteaded some land, do with it what you will and with whom you will. But you would never agree to reciprocate.

    Collectivist anarchists do not accept the legitimacy of anarcho-capitalists right to exist. Ultimately you guys will invade us, and we would never invade you, as that is antithetical to our ethics. Aggression is intrinsic to collectivism, and especially collectivist anarchism.

    You would eventually understand the economic results of your philosophy, see that we’re better off, adjust your minimum standard of equality above what you can produce yourselves, and claim we’re ‘keeping’ you from your ‘rights’ to ‘basic’ material needs.

    Property is a right, like life, and liberty because we can all have them without negating anyone else’s right to those things. Negative rights can coexist. Positive rights cannot. So yes property is theft.. the way you define it. Property is merely the negation of theft, properly defined. Similarly your definition of liberty is actually slavery for others since you define liberty as material needs.

    These things are also natural rights, because they are the natural result of evolution. Negating them is negating nature and evolution. This is also a very popular collectivist theme, the anti-evolutionary ubermench who is perfect and thus perfectly inhuman, in all things.

    Ultimately anarchism is the negation of predation. Collectivism, and especially collectivist anarchy is the creation of predator and prey classes on the basis of some criteria. Race, Geography (nationalism), sex, wealth, birth (aristocracy), or mere numerical superiority (democracy). Some group claims superior rights anyone else is prey. My _existence_ thus challenges your ‘rights’ as you have defined them. Having some property that you do not, no matter that I spent lifespan acquiring it, is _theft_ to you. Having more personal options than you, no matter that I spent lifespan working for them, is somehow _enslaving_ you, since you have less than me, thus you legitimize pre-emptively enslaving me.

    I would love to find the collectivist anarchist who would commit to _leave_me_alone_ under all circumstances unless I ask otherwise and vice versa. But I suspect anyone who is willing to repudiate predation completely is already not a collectivist.

    • I have to object to the obvious fallacy that “we can all” have property “without negating anyone else’s right” to it. A piece of owned property, if it does nothing else, negates everyone else’s right to that property. That is the nature of property ownership, isn’t it? And that makes it radically different from our universal relationship with life, for example, which, if we’re alive, we all clearly have pretty much equally. As for liberty, one man’s idea of freedom is another’s slavery.

      You know that this idea of property rights came not from people who have little to no property, which is most people in the world by far, but from the small class of people who already own a lot of property or want to acquire more. It’s their assertion that owning their property exclusively is their natural right as a human being. It would be anyone’s right, they say, if they were lucky or clever enough to get it like they were. You have an equal right, they’d say, to that shitty piece of property no one wants over by that mosquito infested swamp, so go enjoy your right and leave me to mine!

      It’s this same class, I think, that came up with the idea of government in the first place. These aggressors who had to own–the predators, you might say–were our first chieftains and petty dictators, the same types who now run governments and corporations. They make the rules the rest of us are often forced to live by, including you anarchos. You call them collectivists? I think they’re the heroes of Ayn Rand, these selfish driven men. And they’re definitely predators, out for more for themselves no matter what it costs anyone else. Isn’t that precisely what made them heroic to Rand? Apparently at least some of you libertarians prefer a predator who is indiscriminate in his kills, who makes even other predators his prey.

      I wonder where you got this idea that anarchy is the negation of predation. Anarchism is the opposition to one class’s rulership over another. It’s opposition to one authorized authority over all. As property requires a controlling legal authority to legitimize it, ie, to allow one person the right to hold one piece of it to the exclusion of everyone else’s right to it, it’s contradictory to anarchy. As “anarcho”-capitalism is self-contradictory, it’s never going to happen.

      I doubt very much libertarian socialist anarchism is going to happen either, though it is at least a logical plausibility. And if it ever broke out (again), it would be because humans had evolved sufficiently in terms of morality and intelligence to enable it.

      • Of course property rights can be retained by everyone. The problem is that you define property to mean the opposite of property. My property rights don’t conflict with yours any more than my right to liberty conflict with yours, and in just the same way. My right to liberty is the right to _my_ liberty, as your right to liberty is the right to _your_ liberty. You don’t have a right to _my_ liberty any more than you have a right to _my_ property. You conflate property with ‘things’. To you there’s a thing, and you have equal right to it as the guy who created it, or created something they traded for it.

        Certainly we cannot share the right (well for sake of argument we’ll neglect the obvious) to own a single _thing_. But as certainly we can all share the right not to be stolen from, which is all property rights assert. Now you may want to get into the minutia of initial claim problem, and I recognize the particular problems of real estate (though we would still probably disagree) and IP (which we would probably agree) but your argument as stated, is invalid. Property rights (no matter how initially established) are harmonious with all having property rights.

        To your second point, property rights don’t come from any class, they come from nature. Almost every animal shares the instinct to territoriality and property, even if the property in question is merely their kill or gatherings. It’s not invented. You don’t have to teach a child to be angry when his toy or food or pet is taken. What you want is against human nature. Collectivist theorists all the way back to Plato understood this and it’s why there is always an indoctrination scheme. You have to mold men into the things which will sacrifice life liberty and property for the utopia so lovingly crafted by the technocrat. The problem is it doesn’t work, because the planners never intend to dehumanize _themselves_, and thus are subject to those same human motives. Old privilege of class or sex or race is replaced by new privilege of ideological purity or political pull.

        The way to end _privilege_ is to repudiate _privilege_ and the mechanisms to create it. Not merely create new and more clever predator and prey classes.

        And yes I do call the fascists that run the system collectivists, because they are, and that’s what our system is most aptly described as, fascist. The merger of state and corporate power. Which is of course the same old system with a makeover. But do understand, it was the promise of material ‘freedom’, of positive rights, the Progressive movement in the US, that was sold as the excuse for granting government the power to create that fascist state. And here we are. The larger government has gotten, the greater income diversity has become. But that was of course the real plan all along. So clearly the answer to income disparity is give the technocrats more power;) That has really ‘fixed’ it at every step hasn’t it?;) But even if it wasn’t planned, once the principle of redistribution (we call theft of course) is established and accepted, all that remains is to decide who and whom? There’s no evidence that once the principle of theft is established that it is not _always_ embedded capital that is on the plus side. Even in the degenerate soviet or Cuban or Chavista or Maoist cases.. Someone has to _run_ the state factories and farms after all;) Strangely it always seems to be the old money that picked the right horse to support politically.

        But we do have a couple examples of the most AC’ish states, early America and Canada, and many many examples of the most A states, and many extremely collectivist states. It seems to me the most individualist were better places to live than the most collectivist. The experiments in limited or no government worked very well, and in the ‘wild’ west of the US and Canada where there was essentially no government at all, it was hardly dystopian.

        Hell even events like burning man people don’t lose their respect for natural rights despite the decided lack of any apparatus of the state. It’s run by a collection of private individuals, to the extent that it is. In fact there’s very little theft, even less violence, and lots and lots of private charity, despite quite a lot of mind alteration that we are told would promote civil degeneracy. It’s a pretty good example of a stateless and free system working. At least for a short period.

        And I’m no objectivist. Hayek used the term collectivist, and offered the first real definition that I know, well before Rand used the word. Rand idealized the whole thing. I don’t impute morality to business success. I do have a world of evidence to understand men, driven, or otherwise, do best, tend to less corruption, and are happiest, when they are more free. (by my definition, free from predation, not yours; free to predation)

        Mind you I suspect we have similar goals. It’s just that the tools you want to employ, privilege and authority and force, simply cannot create the absence of those things. You can’t subsidize poverty and not get more poverty. You can’t invade countries to create freedom. You can’t use government to end government.

        But I would be willing to let you try anywhere you could get people to agree with you. I’m pretty sure you would never afford me that liberty.

        Collectivist anarchy is certainly not the negation of predation, but anacho-capitalism is. I know you’re on about class predation. That’s important to you, I get that, it’s important to me too. I just always hope people can see class predation is just a special case of predation. And really all you want to do, whether you think of it that way or not, is change the definition of the predator class, so that you are in it. I mean all of the symbolism is pretty clear:) You don’t repudiate the fist or the boot. There are boots and fists and guns and blood all over the place. It’s just different people wearing the boot. We AC’s want to give the .. well.. boot.. to the boot altogether;)

        AC isn’t self contradictory at all, it’s the only logically consistent theory other than outright totalitarianism (consistent if immoral) or nihilism. AC wants to end the state. Period. Full Stop. You may argue it cannot happen, but it has. You may argue it is unstable. That is a valid possibility. You may argue that an AC society would be the natural victim for states. (like yours). That is certainly a concern. But I think the economic benefits over time would accumulate to the point that they were so overwhelming that the invasion of an AC society would become impossible at a certain point. It wouldn’t be utopia. It would be optopia. Not the perfect society, merely the best possible, the optimum. People would occasionally fall between the cracks and not be caught in the private safety nets. But not very often. People weren’t starving in the streets before the progressives started their fascist drumbeat.

        Left Anarchism, ending the state by means of the state, now that’s a whopper of a contradiction, though I cherish your right to cleave to it.

        Don’t get me wrong, I would prefer to live in the world you think could happen than the one we live in. I just see the results of the attempts which are never remotely the world you envision. And honestly I don’t see how a society whose fundamental principle of negating the rights of others can end up moral, and you must admit history shows this. Maybe it can work. I would like to be far away when you try;)

        And to be fair you might like to be far away should an AC state happen;) We only have limited evidence it can work (eg again the pioneer west). And a valid criticism is there would always arise some warlord that creates a state. It may be so. But the creation of a gang to prevent later creation of a gang isn’t the perspicuous answer. Also I think the acceptance of the meme that government is beneficial per se is part of the thing that allows that to happen.

        But my original point stands. It is telling that you would never agree to leave me alone under all circumstances, whereas I would agree. In fact I would do so without you asking and do not think you are obliged _to_ ask, I would love to see you try collectivist ‘anarchy’, and even more, love to see it actually work. If it did I would have to re-evaluate. But collectivists, alas, do not agree that there is any person, property, or life against which they might not possibly want to make a claim. That I am happy without you, accumulate more capital than you, live free-er than you, will always comprise to you a negation of your ‘rights’ to the things I have, even if I have no interaction with you whatsoever. That’s why a progressive will never answer “So that I can plan my life, how _much_ is the most taxation you will ever require?” The question annoys them. Because the question implies there might be a limit, that there might be a _standard_.

        • Property rights equals the right not to be stolen from? That’s all it is? That still amounts to gross inequality of rights. Don’t think of it in terms of class, if you don’t want to, but imagine a child–a single individual, if you will–born into extreme poverty (it happens to some individuals) and compare that person’s ability over time to live and be free compared to that of a child born into extreme wealth. Tell each of those individuals, when they reach the age of reason, they have a human right not to have their things stolen and see how each one would welcome that news. “No one can steal a single one of your ponies, Hortense. Johnny, those rags you’re wearing are yours and no one else’s. And, kids, we’re not talking about things here. We’re talking about principles! Isn’t that fantastic!? Isn’t nature wonderful?!”

          So maybe you think rights are not and should not be equal for each person, as nature shits out different lives unequally and, optimally, we let nature take its course without arbitrary interference. Then what actual good are “rights?” Aren’t they just a mark of privilege for those that have them and envy for those that don’t. In this life, this real world that is neither “A”C nor anarchist, much of what people consider their property is actually owned by banks or finance companies. I presume in “A”C you’d still have those types of entities, correct? So will you also have repossession and foreclosures? Or in this optopia, will the owners suddenly develop tolerance and patience for late payments out of respect for people’s right, maybe, to believe in the illusion of property? I’m just curious.

          You say I (or maybe you mean left anarchists, of which I may or may not be one; I don’t really know, to be honest) want to use “privilege and authority and force” to accomplish their version of optopia, to use your term. I can’t speak for anyone but myself. My main criticism of “A”C is really against unfettered C, and, you may be right that I think only a state can have the power and strength to counter its worst excesses. Of course, it is precisely a state that is currently enabling its worst excesses by servicing its every need at the expense of “the people” whose government it allegedly is in business for. You blame the Teddy Roosevelt (I presume) era progressives for the current state of affairs, but this is really a recent phenomenon, this collapse of the living standard, equality and the middle class in the US. It’s the result of Hayek-inspired types getting into positions of political power and half-baking “A” into the way C is done in this country. Haven’t you been paying attention for the last 30 years? Talk about trying to end the state by means of the state! You guys are already at it, and have been at it every time the GOP gets anywhere near power! It’s why the country is sinking into the pit.

          As long as there is inequality of rights, there will always be a threat to peace among people. That’s a primary rule of human being. If you don’t deal with that, you’re never going to have peace, no matter how opt you think your topia is.

          (And by the way, I am grateful for the thoughtfulness of your comments. Hope you’ll continue to share your thoughts and questions with me.)

      • Oh and I almost forgot, no property does not require a controlling legal authority, much lass a state. In fact most human interaction to this day, even with the moral erosion allowed by the democratization of ethics, honors property rights without any role of the state whatsoever. And even when the state is involved it scarcely protects my property rights, usually it does nothing at all, and when it does the most I can expect is some punishment to accrue to the perpetrator, very unlikely, and most unlikely of all would be the repatriation of the property.

        I don’t not steal from my neighbor because I might be caught. I’m pretty sure I could figure out a way not to get caught. Most property crimes are never solved and if all these people can manage not to be caught I’m _certain_ I wouldn’t be,

        I don’t steal from my neighbor because it is _wrong_, and that is the reason most people don’t. Most people intuitively understand that theft is wrong, because everyone, because it is human nature, doesn’t want to be stolen _from_ and it takes some sophisticated cognitive dissonance to justify one and not the other. Not that people don’t manage it. But even the ones that do most often grow out of it.

        Anyway time for my evening run, but terrific discussion, don’t get to talk to left anarchists often, much less coherent ones, Nice change from neocons and garden variety progressives. The anarchists I do talk with usually don’t even understand their own philosophy, I think a lot of left anarchists are in it for the ‘cool’ factor or are anti-establishment for it’s own sake. Certainly they have no idea of the older classical liberal Spooner style anarchist tradition. And so you know, AC’s only call themselves AC’s when talking to others, amongst ourselves we are the original anarchists:D

  5. A thought occurred to me last night that might help you get away from your conflation of rights (natural or otherwise) with material things. Really what property rights are, like the rights to life and liberty, are the right to protect. These do not derive from social compact theory or any other theory. They are innate, and a product of our evolution. You don’t have to teach anyone, or most animals, to protect what is _theirs_. And you don’t have to teach people or animals to know what is _not_ theirs. Watch the behavior of predators with _their_ kills vs the behavior of predators trying to take a kill from another, or in the act of predation generally. The claim that natural rights are a manufactured social fiction is absurd, when faced with the necessity to explain why we live on a planet _full_ of animals that express them. The fiction is that they were created by some man made theory, social or otherwise. I suppose Hobbes must have been a contemporary of Dr Doolitle to inform a surely grateful animal world of their newly invented ‘rights’;)

    If you give it a few moments thought, you might agree had we evolved from herd animals we might have different natural orientation to property, or had we evolved from solitary predators or solitary gatherers.

    So yes when you confuse property with things you completely neglect the key point, and in fact you create a logical absurdity. Not only do people not have a right to things _per se_, (although this is _your_ position, that people have a right to the things you think they should and not a right to the things you think they shouldn’t) you cannot have a right to _things_ because _things_ can be ruined, destroyed, or lost by completely inhuman forces.

    I can claim a ‘right’ to a thing but if it’s destroyed in a tornado have my _rights_ been violated? Well yes in your system where you have a right to _things_. If I get terminal cancer has my right to life been violated? Well yes according to your concept.

    But the way you define it those are not rights, because 1) they cannot be held by everyone, and 2) they can often not be held at _all_ due to completely natural circumstances. How then can these things be rights? Much less natural rights?

    These natural rights are not the right to things, but the right to _protect_ things. No guarantee of success exists. You have the right to _protect_ your life, to resist being caged, and to protect the goods you created but didn’t immediately consume in case of hardship in the future or to help your progeny.

    The right to life is simply a right to self defense. It’s not a magical claim of immortality. The right to property is _not_ a magical claim to things, it is a right to protect what is owned.

    In an AC society it is expected that collectivists and other would be predators will occasionally force us to put those rights to use. It is expected that occasionally we will fail to protect life liberty and property, but we always retained the right to protect those things. That right cannot be vitiated, even if we might choose not to use them, we could always change our mind. In the worst case we might have to relinquish our life (but never right to protect it), to exercise our right to liberty. Or we might choose the opposite, life as a slave to protect our life. But the rights exist, they are the result of our existence, of evolution, of being human. They are natural.

    You are absolutely right that individual material things, even our lives, cannot abide multiple mutually exclusive claims. But that observation is merely a tautology. But I suggest you extend your understanding of that. That no rights can exist to material things _whatsoever_. Certainly you don’t have the right to a cellphone, a free meal or free healthcare, because to claim those you had to make a mutually exclusive claim against something. That is a claim. That is not a right.

    I think the example (possibly apocryphal, but even so) of the Native American honoring his prey. There is fundamental recognition of the animals natural right to defend itself, even when taking it’s life.

    So the question is, do you confuse these things on purpose to try to make a rhetorical point, which probably works on some of the credible, or did you just never think it through?

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  7. Since I can’t thread that deep, (and it’s probably as well) I’ll pop to the end.

    You make a valid point which indicates you do sort of understand though maybe you don’t believe that rights are that simple or minimal.

    Yes all natural rights are is the unalienable right to protect. Because that is all that cannot be.. well alienated from you;) Your life, liberty, and property, as material entities clearly can.

    The question then is legitimate.. “What use are they?” That is a good question I would love to address, and it may be that you will not find the answers compelling. But can we stipulate that natural rights can exist and be equally held by all if we accept them in this minimal sense?

    So what good are they?

    Well in the philosophical sense it’s useful to know what can actually logically exist at all;) But more than that it’s a fundamental substrate upon which to deduce some sort of ethical system that promotes human well being. Essentially all natural rights are is the right to _exist_ and be human. A recognition that since these are tropes that all people share, that animals share. Even some plants protect their territory and shy away from harm, and even seem to dislike being caged (Kudzu!), We may or may not like them, we may think they are insufficient to our purpose, but these aren’t human fictions, constructs, contracts, or compacts.

    The AC position is (although many may not understand it to be so or say it quite this way) is that if we recognize these rights the human condition is better off than if we don’t. It is also that if we try to improve upon this minimal recognition we make things worse. History seems to demonstrate this. In the rare milieus that AC was approached there was hardly a lack of civil society. In fact civil society seems to exist inversely to the state. Look at the UK riots now. Look at early America. Look at America now.

    So there seems to be empirical evidence. But it should not be surprising. Before there are states there are not states. The meme that we need a state to survive or thrive is an invention of the state as old as Warlords and Kings.

    Anyway I don’t think I need to convince you much about the A.

    So you don’t like the C in AC. So let’s see if I can help you see the problem isn’t the C so that you can embrace the A more fully, ie no state enforced ‘Anarchy’;)

    First I will note that there are markets before there are states. Some animals trade and effectively make use of specialization of labor. So markets are arguably (and I do argue) natural. In fact markets are not only a result of evolution, markets _are_ evolution. But I’ll leave that be for now and I won’t ask you to accept that, but hopefully you will accept that at the least markets are _more_ natural than states if in no other sense that markets precede states.

    The problem is we aren’t AC at all in the US. (or anywhere) We’re CC, Collectivist capitalist, which really negates capitalism (and Randians even consider blasphemy;).

    I _have_ been paying attention. There is no area whatsoever that we have a free market. But we do have areas that are almost completely planned, like health care, credit, education, that are _completely_ screwed up. They weren’t always. The problem with the silly NPR ‘deregulation’ meme is that it didn’t happen, (there’s no credible case that banks were ‘deregulated’ when they have been _nationalized_;) but even were it true, no one can explain the _mechanism_ of how deregulation might have caused a problem. Whereas I can explain in detail how each regulation causes problems.

    Isn’t it ironic that the ratings _monopoly_ set up by the government was blamed for abetting the crash by_protecting_ fannie and freddie (at the governments behest) from realistic ratings for securitized mortgages and now that they are trying to be more diligent the government is blaming them for _doing_ their job;)

    How about not set up monopolies in the first place? If S&P had to actually compete for market share with it’s _record_ do you think they would have protected the securitized mortgages? Of course not.

    If it had not been for GSE’s in the first place. No mortgage bubble.

    If it had not been for the fed. No bubbles period.

    If it had not been for ratings agency monopoly. Much minimized bubble.

    Had the government not been pushing banks to make risky loans in general, no mortgage bubble.

    Had _any_ of those interventions not been in place the problem couldn’t have happened. Having happened, had we just not _bailed out the banks_ and doubled down on ‘stimulus’ spending we would be out of this mess already. What was the excuse for bailing out the banks? If we don’t main street won’t have credit. Guess what? Main street doesn’t have credit. Unemployment is still on the rise. Not to belabor the point but there is no capitalism where there are bailouts or nationalization.

    A decent analogy for the situation is a balloon that the fed is pumping air (credit) into continually and the government is trying to squeeze the balloon into a shape it prefers. Eventually the balloon is _going_ to herniate and rupture. And so it did. The simplest answer is end the fed which is just a perpetual redistribution machine from main street to wall street. From workers to employers. From citizen to government. From everyone farther from where the money is created to those closer.

    (Aside: Are you aware one of Keynes _stated_ purposes in General Theory was to screw workers? Since workers according to him, were too stupid, if need be, to take a pay cut rather than lose their jobs. (sticky wages myth) His idea was to _inflate_ their wages away continually. And this is exactly what we do)

    Even a cursory analysis shows that clearly income diversity has become greater the larger government has become. This shouldn’t be surprising either. What is surprising is that people keep thinking more government will somehow reverse the problem. When you concentrate power of _course_ it is going to be used for the purposes of aggregated capital. There’s no evidence that this will ever be otherwise.

    But without that power, aggregated capital becomes a social plus. The worst thing your millionaire neighbor can do is offer you a job or buy you out. But with a compliant government he can force you out or buy you out at firesale price. A rich corporation can only sell me products or employ me, but with a compliant empowered local government they can prevent me from leaving the work camp and force me to buy from the company store.

    At core, sans a compliant government, it’s always better to be in the proximity of aggregated capital than not. You’re the ant and I’m the grasshopper. The inevitable privation resulting from my profligate lifestyle occurs. Would I be better off if you were also a grasshopper? If you’re an ant, you may or may not drive a hard bargain, but I at least have a _chance_ to come to some accommodation with you to ease my situation.

    Further, the economic reality is that aggregations of capital are not stable sans government. They tend to dissipate without protective taxes, tariffs, regulations, etc. It’s _hard_ to create a and maintain a successful business. Heirs piss away fortunes all the time.. unless the family is in the government game and not to belabor the obvious but corporations, as we protect them, _are_ in the government game. And yes indeed taxes and regulations, etc can and inevtiably _do_ protect existing capital. Business will always happily accept a tax if it is structured so as to fall on competitors even more so. That’s old school protection.

    You might possibly admit to all that, that _academically_ capital is not inimical sans government force, but you say: the reality is that capital always promotes the creation of government power in order to wield it. This is certainly a legitimate point.

    But we do know that in the US for example the Constitutional restraints on government power held fairly well for about a century. It wasn’t until the murderous Morgan tool Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency that we ended the semblance of a laissez faire free market and became pretty much a full on Fascist state.

    (And I suggest that tree of Fascism bloomed from the evil collectivist seed of slavery we planted at the birth of the nation)

    So there have been times and places where the separation of state and markets _has_ worked even if imperfectly.

    Even so, you press, what _good_ are natural rights if they don’t guarantee food on the table?

    But this begs the question of guaranteeing food, or anything, whatsoever. I can promise you food. The state can promise you food. But that’s not security. The FDA promises safe food, but food is no more safe. Police promise to protect and serve, but you aren’t protected and only the police are usually served. SNAP promises food, but the national debt is clear indication that the ability to provide bread and circuses is finite. When I can no longer provide you bread and circuses you have been made dependent, you riot. Who does this help?

    I think you are right to an extent that so long as there are unequal rights there is a threat to peace. But really it’s never rights that can be unequal. I can promise that I will never take your rights, because simply, it is impossible to do so. However claims can be unequal, in fact must always be.

    If I acknowledge what is true, that you have the right to protect your life liberty and property, then I will most likely behave accordingly. How do we know this? Aside from being common sense, we see it happen. Left alone, most people _do_ behave in such a way that it seems they know they have a right to life, liberty, and property, and don’t try to force others to express them. If I don’t think claims are rights, I will not have any expectation that you will give me anything unless I provide something for you that you value also. I might try to take from you, but cognitive dissonance isn’t pleasant for most people and more, most people do not enjoy violence. There’s a reason Presidents and Kings fight wars with other people’s sons.

    However if you tell me that my _claims_ are rights, then I will likely behave accordingly. (again London, Watts, etc).

    AC doesn’t purport to create Nirvana. It does however have philosophical, logical, economic, historical, and (though theist anarchists might disagree) _evolutionary_ reasons to think it would allow for the _optimal_ human condition. It certainly refuses to carry the seeds of ill that we know, primary amongst those is the state itself. All we can promise you is what we couldn’t take if we wanted: Your right to be human.

    It’s all likely hypothetical of course. I would love to hear your answer/opinion about the original question rephrased: If aliens came down and gave us two adjacent countries to set up our respective anarchies,(although mine wouldn’t take any setting up) whose do you think would accumulate more capital? And if you’re honest about the answer to that question, how long do you think your people, thinking claims to things are ‘rights’, would abide a richer neighbor?

    We would never be safe from you, because never thinking we have claims on others, we work to please others, and our industriousness creates capital that gives us an ‘unfair’ advantage by it’s very existence. But then we never subscribed to the idea we had a right to be safe anyway. We accept the reality that we may sadly have to express our the right to protect.

    Doesn’t this thought experiment give you some pause?

    There is another natural aspect of humans and many animals. Envy. The difference is that cannot be expressed equally by everyone. The difference is that results in predation which is _inherently_ asymmetric.

    We may all equally have the right to protect ourselves from predation. That is individualism. That is natural rights.

    We may not all equally have the ‘right’ to be predators. That is collectivism. The myth that predation is a right is one of humanities heaviest burdens. Collectivism, claiming always to promote equality, is intrinsically anisotropic.

    (for completeness their is also a philosophy of individualist predation, nihilism, but this a logically perverse case and very rarely are their real life examples in sane humans, even among bomb throwing style ‘anarchists’, and there is a reason for it’s rarity. Collective predation wins over individual predation. We aren’t mostly descended from individualist predators. When we hunt, we most often hunt in groups)

  8. Pingback: Will the “Final” Revolution Be Started by Second Amendment Absolutists? | Tragic Farce

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