“Anarcho”-Capitalism: The Boss’s and Landlord’s Paradise

Continuing the discussion I began here and continued here, in this installment, I present for your consideration more of the debate I participated in nearly a decade ago over the inherent contradiction in the term “anarcho”-capitalism.

I should say a little more about why this debate remains relevant. If you listen to the rhetoric of some of the “intellectuals” in the Republican party, you will hear echoes of “anarcho”-capitalism’s sacred principles: private property is a natural right; the state is an impediment to freedom; taxation is theft; freedom to associate with persons of one’s choosing is a natural right. Ron Paul‘s Ten Principles of a Free Society almost reads like a Ten Commandments for anarchos. It’s not surprising given that Paul is a Libertarian and “anarcho”-capitalism is also a product of Libertarian philosophizing, is, in fact, Libertarianism taken over the side of the slippery slope. Paul and his son Rand are far from the only Libertarianism-espousing politicians in power. One other very powerful Libertarian  in the Republican party is Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, whose budget aims to dump social welfare programs from the government’s repertoire of services for the citizenry. These ideas are as close as they’ve ever been to  America’s power center. Are we all comfortable with that? Continue reading

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“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. Continue reading

The “Anarcho”-Capitalist Conundrum

In the wake of September 11, 2001 and continuing through the lead-up to the Iraq War and into 2003, I was involved in an intense debate on several political Usenet groups (my involvement in political Usenet, actually, goes back to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal of 1997-1998), in which there was a clique of rabidly right wing libertarians holding forth on what they called “anarcho-capitalism.” Many believe that the only logical conclusion to right libertarianism (and to history, actually) is capitalism completely unfettered by government. In a sense, they’re right (except for the history part): If you think government is bad for business and you think business is the best way to distribute resources, then the best government is no government at all.  Of course a lot of Libertarians believe government is necessary to provide for the defense of business interests, but the anarchos would argue that if businesses need to be defended, they should do it themselves. Abolish government, they say, abolish borders, open all the world to capitalism. Let the market determine the value of everything. Continue reading

Is Ron Paul’s Principle of “Voluntary Associations” Racist Code?

2. All peaceful, voluntary economic and social associations are permitted; consent is the basis of the social and economic order.

–from The Ten Principles of a Free Society

I mentioned in the first of this series that Tea Party and post-Democrat leftist favorite Ron Paul long ago left a trail of basely racist remarks as he crept to his current place of near-prominence in the national and world debate on issues of war, peace and economics. The article that first detailed Paul’s association with fringe-right ideas is by James Kirchik and it that appeared in The New Republic in January 2008 (quoted after the jump): Continue reading

Gun Rights of the Mentally Ill: “Rights Belong to Individuals, Not Groups”

I imagine Ron Paul and his fans would have read this front page story in today’s New York Times with a very different reaction (not to mention, frame of reference) from mine:

Across the country, states are increasingly allowing people like Mr. French, who lost their firearm rights because of mental illness, to petition to have them restored. Continue reading

A Critique of Ron Paul’s Ten Principles of a Free Society: Natural Rights?

My first encounter with the idea/s of Ron Paul came more than a decade ago on a long-defunct Website, I’m sad to say, the name of which I don’t recall. It was a repository of intelligence about some of the more bizarre beliefs of prominent right-wingers. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson were particularly favorite targets. But there was one page devoted to Ron Paul’s outrageous racism, a catalog of some truly ignorant and occasionally horrifyingly mean-spirited remarks Paul was alleged to have made about poor people of color over the course of his political and academic careers.

When, during the last decade, Paul’s courageous (or simply intellectually rigid?) anti-war stance earned him a lot of love from many on the left and heightened his stature internationally, I wanted to double-check my first prejudice against him. Alas, the site was gone, and the web seemed to have been scrubbed of any evidence of Paul’s backwardness on race.  (A Google check today, however, now that Paul is a big favorite of Tea Party types, shows that his racist past–and probable present– is ready to come back and bite him at any time: Jonathan Chait and James Kirchik for example have written on the subject for TNR.) Continue reading