Zilabus on March 12, 2010, 11:02:13 pm

I currently have no political or social affiliations, although I find myself vaguely and slightly leaning towards socialism or communism (As long as, of course, it is part of the states founding ideals. Converting over, as some fear the case with the united states will be, seems like a damned notion, in my opinion.). Anyway, I'm still searching for that philosiphy that grabs me, which brings me here.

I've done some reaserch, and so far, I cannot find any, so I decided to appeal to the Libertarians of the forum and ask if they know of any exampls of a fully functioning Libertarian (I guess libertarian anarchist to be more precise) society, past or present. I understand there are some examples of libertarianism that exist (Like the "Wild West" or various disaster situations.) but I was wondering if there where any examples of a total libertarien society, existing that way of it's own accord and without an outside situation causing it. (that discounts most disasters and frontier situations). I also discounted situations where libertarianism was considered, but never actually acted upon. (The founding of the United states is then discounted as well, I believe.)

At first I though of the possibilty of some native tribes, but then I realized that the majority of North american tribes (as far as I know from people who are actually tribals and from reaserch) lived in more of a state of communual or socialist living then anything else. South american natives are (also as far as I know) and where mainly opperating under systems of born into 'god-rule' or under a sort of oligarchy.

So, out of curiosity, I'm wondering if any such examples exist. I know my reaserch probably isn't infaliable, so feel free to tell me if I'm mistaken in some points. If you can't think of any, that would be helpful too, I'm just wondering so I can get a better view on functioning libertarian society (Or a lack thereof), and better judge it's merits or value to form my own opinions.
Bring back the funk.

SandySandfort on March 12, 2010, 11:47:45 pm
At first I though of the possibilty of some native tribes, but then I realized that the majority of North american tribes (as far as I know from people who are actually tribals and from reaserch) lived in more of a state of communual or socialist living then anything else. South american natives are (also as far as I know) and where mainly opperating under systems of born into 'god-rule' or under a sort of oligarchy.

Check out the Coast Salish First Nations in Canada. Historically, they were very strong advocates of private property rights and free trade. Of course, the Crown largely messed that up. My friend, Meaghan Walker-Williams, is an First Nations (aboriginal Canadian/"Indian") free market activist. She is working to restore the historical free market to the Salish people and undo the damage done by the Crown. You can read about her here:

     http://www.isil.org/resources/fnn/2001june/first-nations-report.html

Also, the Kunas here in Panama have a strong free market and private property society. I'm sort of an honorary Kuna and I have good contacts if you have specific questions.

terry_freeman on March 13, 2010, 01:45:10 am
Why discount the frontier societies? They're an example of what people do when there's no "authority" with big guns to screw things up. David Friedman wrote a piece on Iceland, which had a very libertarian society. Murray Rothbard describes ireland, prior to its conquest by England, as an anarchic society. People chose which king to follow. It was said that a virgin with a sack of gold could travel from one end of the land to the other, and neither would be in harm's way. Of course, she was probably quite skilled with a knife. Lastly, the time of Judges, before Israel foolishly demanded a king, was quite anarchic. A bit of googling should find URLs for each of these episodes. For the frontier, google "not so wild west."

Scott on March 13, 2010, 11:39:34 pm
I would caution against describing medieval Iceland as a "libertarian society." Ditto Ireland. Friedman uses Iceland to illustrate that law can develop and function in a poly-centric system, and Ireland was a case history of the advantages of decentralized power (clan chieftains would follow one leader until he was shown to fail as a leader, then they'd switch to another one, which made conquering Ireland more difficult and costly than it was later, when they made the mistake of imitating England and Norway and centralizing their authority in a king.

But neither of those societies is what we would recognize as "libertarian," in a consistent sense.

We can construct visions of what a libertarian society may look like, as a thought experiment, which is what ESCAPE FROM TERRA is all about. To my knowledge, there has never been a society run consistently on the Zero-Aggression Principle, which is the core axiom of libertarianism. We can only look at various aspects of other societies for some clues as to how our theoretical models might work in practice.

But we're a young species, as species go. Processes of development are on-going. And there's a first time for everything.


wdg3rd on March 14, 2010, 03:16:12 am

But we're a young species, as species go. Processes of development are on-going. And there's a first time for everything.


Not in the opinion of most of the Elder Patron species in David Brin's Uplift universe.  Everything to be discovered already has been, as far as a billion or more years back.  Nothing a young Wolfling race has done can add anything useful to the Library of the Five Galaxies.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

Azure Priest on March 15, 2010, 09:39:35 am

But we're a young species, as species go. Processes of development are on-going. And there's a first time for everything.


Not in the opinion of most of the Elder Patron species in David Brin's Uplift universe.  Everything to be discovered already has been, as far as a billion or more years back.  Nothing a young Wolfling race has done can add anything useful to the Library of the Five Galaxies.


Humans tend to be grossly underestimated and while stumbling about, tend to do some very interesting and surprising things.

one eye chuck on March 16, 2010, 09:22:13 am
Hi folks,
I've been lurking on here for a while now and finally had something to say. I love the strips on Big Head Press. I agree that if people were to act in their own enlightened self interest (a la Tom Payne Maru, Heinlein's tales of Lazarus Long and the like) life would be great. The problem, as I see it, is people are petty, selfish and rude. The older I get, the more I'm convinced  the human race will suffer the same fate as a bacterial colony given ideal growing conditions (keep growing until either the food runs out or it poisons its environment with its own waste).

 I'm not trying to start a flame war. I have noticed the comments on this board tend to be civil and mostly well reasoned. IMHO, Libertarianism and communism have one fatal shared flaw: they both look great on paper, but human nature gets in the way of implementation. There will always be bullies, grifters and those who thrive on power. There will always be milquetoast sheeple who will clamor for a strongman to lead and protect them. There will always be groups that seek dominance over others or their resources. There will always be someone with  bigger, better, faster weapons systems. I believe this is an artifact of human nature and no amount of societal pressure would change that. As RAH said, "Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."

I would love to see how a society based on these principles would work out (Hence, I'm reading the comic), but I'm afraid that human nature just isn't up to the task.

Rocketman on March 16, 2010, 11:40:34 am
One eye:  Some parts of what you said I find myself in mild agreement with.  The flaw in your reasoning though is just what do you want society to live under if you indeed want it to survive.
  I would argue that the only logical approach is rational self interest.  People as you say are petty selfish and rude when they comprise a group but people as individuals are generally reasonable, kind and caring.  That should then logically be the basis of society, to put the individual ahead of the group.  And you right in that they're will always be bullies and so on who thrive on power.  What better way to stop the bullies than to deny them that power by telling them that they have no more power than any other single individual and if they try to sieze more that society will act against them?  Your thinking shows that your asking some logical questions but you need to think them through all the way to their logical conclusion.   ;)

SandySandfort on March 16, 2010, 07:52:30 pm
... The problem, as I see it, is people are petty, selfish and rude. The older I get, the more I'm convinced  the human race will suffer the same fate as a bacterial colony given ideal growing conditions (keep growing until either the food runs out or it poisons its environment with its own waste).

Questions and problems are never ending, so EFT cannot address every reason an agorist society might or might not work. However, we hope to hit some of the edge questions in future arcs. You may find our fictional examples, enlightening... or not. You can't please everyone so have to please yourself. While I would like shake up some world views, our first job is to entertain. If we accomplish that, we have done our job. If we change (or re-enforce) some ways of thinking, woo hoo! We have hit the perfecta. Keep telling us what you think.

dough560 on March 17, 2010, 03:00:53 am
A limited example of a libertarian society would be the people you find at most shooting ranges or competitions.  We have our share of jerks, but for the most part the people you meet will act from self interest and fully understand the nonaggression principle (without having to have it explained to them) and the possible consequences.

I remember a published story in a liberal rag where a reporter planted a wallet at a Second Chance Bowling Pin Match.  It took several attempts.  Several people brought his wallet to him as he was walking away.  Or as he walked away, several people told him he left his wallet laying on the table. Finally he kept walking.  Several hours later, he returned and found the wallet undisturbed, contents intact.  He admitted the "gun nuts" were in this instance, honest.  He also admitted, anyplace else and the money, if not the wallet would have been gone.  The Second Chance Matches were family affairs and would last from a few days to a week.  So the spouse and kids were roaming around, checking things out.  Anyone could have picked up the wallet, but they didn't.

Except for the occasional jerk, you'll find the people at the ranges polite and willing to help you any way they can.  They're people you'd be comfortable inviting in for coffee.

Granted these people are a subset of out society, but many of them live by libertarian principles without realizing it.


MacFall on March 17, 2010, 01:02:06 pm
I think a better question to ask is when, exactly, do people NOT live in a libertarian fashion? One would find that the answer is, or at least very closely approaches, "anywhere and any time they have to deal with the state." Liberty is our default state of being. The only reason that isn't obvious these days is because the state has forced itself into everything to some extent or other. Hobbes idea that the state brings man out of a state of universal war is the exact opposite of the truth: the existence of the state forces or at least gives incentives for people to act in a political fashion, because to refrain from so acting will result in their being victimized to a greater extent.

The vast majority of people live out what can broadly be called a libertarian society the vast majority of the time in that people, by and large, do not initiate force upon one another on an individual or direct basis. The state, by imposing itself on society, prevents that condition of peaceful association from expanding throughout all of society. So unless one is himself a part of the political class, one needs to look no further than his own life to see an example of "real life libertarianism". He does not need a policeman watching him to prevent him from harming others, nor to protect him from those with whom he chooses to associate. He does not need an "authority" to tell him how to live his life, nor does he spend his time seeking to control others.

All around us are examples of people acting individually in a peaceful and productive fashion. The answer to the question, then, does not point to history, but to the idea that the further back the state is pushed - the smaller its scope and the lesser its power - the more we would see "real life libertarianism" in action.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2010, 01:08:14 pm by MacFall »
Government is not, as is often believed, a "necessary evil". Rather, it is a plain evil of such power that it has been able to convince people of its necessity.

terry_freeman on March 17, 2010, 04:16:04 pm
Consider the Amish as a modern-day example. Not only do they not initiate aggression, and avoid the courts and police, they are pacifists. They have a well-ordered society based entirely upon voluntary cooperation. There's an interesting custom, the "running around years", in which adolescents are free to do pretty much any wild thing they wish, but when they choose to formally join the Amish, they agree to the Amish rules of conduct. The only penalty for non-compliance is that the Amish will refuse to further cooperate with you. They won't agress against you, they simply won't talk to you, break bread with you, or do business with you. I am told that 80% of youngsters choose to stay, 20% leave.

There are some Jewish sects with similar aversion to the State. They resolve disputes within the community. Some Christians read certain passages in the New Testament to encourage a similar policy of turning to the community, not the State.

When we set the bar for "true" libertarianism too high, then there's no such thing, ever. There's also no true capitalism, no true socialism, no true anything. Such a bar is absurdly useless.

A distinguishing feature of the Irish society was that one was totally free to leave one king and join another; in short, there was no monopoly of the use of force. What more (or less) could an anarchist ask for?  My understanding, further, is that Ireland was not divided into servile versus armed classes, unlike (for example) Japan, where the samurai were armed, and most others were not, or modern California, where ordinary citizens may not carry arms in Los Angeles, unless they be unloaded ( and thereby nearly useless for self-defense. )

AnonymousOne on March 18, 2010, 01:49:58 am
There are some Jewish sects with similar aversion to the State. They resolve disputes within the community.
As I recall the Hasids are one such group.  The problem is that ... well frankly they are a bunch of masochistic control freaks.

If they want to live and function in that society so be it.  I'll never do any business with them, voting with your wallet is a great thing, you don't have to support the businesses whose morals you don't like.

As to the OP:

I can't think of a truly libertarian state that has ever existed, and I'm not sure we ever will.  However ... The ideas of being free are ones that any rational person that sits down and thinks about it for a while should understand and be willing to fight for.  hell in high school I was a card carrying neo-con.  Then I got into economics in college and had the great fortune of having a bunch of libertarian/AnCap professors.  I started doing my reading and kind of came to the conclusion that there is only one way to be free and it doesn't come from government.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2010, 02:03:09 am by AnonymousOne »
The Economist's Cookbook - Recipes For A More Free Society
http://economistscookbook.blogspot.com/

NemoUtopia on May 09, 2010, 11:55:05 am
I've done quite a bit of reading into, and talking to hardcore advocates of, Libertarianism. On the surface, it's something I can agree wholeheartedly with, but here's the problem: it's an idealized system. Yet I find it more attractive than other idealized systems (see true [not Russian/Soviet/dictator] Communism and true [not WWII] Fascism). That said, I'm not truly a libertarian...but that's it's own essay.  Which means I'm temporarially suspending certain aspects of my own philosophy to focus on examples of real-life libertarianism and functionality. One could simply make the argument that because it's an ideal it should be discarded, but from reading here I think most would agree it being an ideal just means we need to address the practical concerns for making the ideal work. There's been a lot of interesting case studies and just plain history behind it, but let's look at frontierism.  Specifically, why-ever should we dismiss it?

Despite the romanticized 'wild west', the truth is that people established essentially libertarian lives until the frontier moved again. That is to say, the true frontier moved West again as the control of the State extended. If anything, it's astonishingly easy to see the circumstances where a truly, or at least mostly, libertarian society arises and then 'succumbs to statism.' The things to focus on are based on the same problems with (surprise!) Communism and other systems: the bad apples. The bad apples are the folks who are shortsighted and focus on use of force, the above mentioned 'sheeple' who ascribe to the mentality, and others who focus on UNenlightened self-interest. So the core question is how to get people to focus on enlightened self-interest. Perhaps unfortunately, this would require a level of 'frontier/cowboy justice' both as deterrent and means of repayment. Still, the focus would be on education of enlightened self-interest and the change of social norms, self-defense and effective communication, and preventing statism reversion.

The first four of those five are amazingly simple and intertwined in any model of libertarian society, especially AnCap. Let's focus on frontierism and examples like Iceland and pre-monarchies. In such cases, the idea of armed (and indeed, warrior) women and scrappy children was anything but outlandish. Self-interest and community interest were usually related. The norms and education of those born to such clans and frontiers reflects this. The problem inevitably arsises at statism conversion. As monarchies, or in the case of the West the originating State, arose they were seen as the ideal. Ignoring that the extreme centralization of power makes one vulnerable to conquest, this meant that the libertarian lives were subsumed by a desired state. Such desire arose from a variety of misconceptions and the general idea of a 'better life' under such a system.

So on the simplest level, 'Escape From Terra' presents the most logical way for a libertarian society of any sort to sustain itself as a look to the future in a frontier that values its way of life and does not idealize (in fact, demonizes) the State. One thing I'm interested in exploring is alternate historical speculation based on clan systems and the Wild West along the same thought experiment. It isn't so much that AnCap can't work as a situation where it will never naturally arise and be able to resist Statitization (...or something like that. word synthesis, you know what I mean)

Brugle on May 09, 2010, 01:37:12 pm
Libertarianism ... it's an idealized system ... other idealized systems (see ... Communism and ... Fascism).
I don't know what you mean by this.  I can think of several possible meanings of "idealized system", some that might apply to libertarianism and some others that might apply to communism and fascism, but none (other than an uninteresting linguistic meaning) that might apply to all of them.

If you think the term is useful, please explain.

the same problems with (surprise!) Communism and other systems: the bad apples
You use "bad apples" to mean any people who (for whatever reason) disagree with the "system" they live under.  If a large enough fraction of the people disagree with the system then it will change.  This is true for any system, not just libertarianism.

However, most people would use "bad apples" in this context to mean a small fraction of people who (for whatever reason) clearly harm those they interact with--criminals and such.  Under most political systems, bad apples can obtain political power (or work with those who have political power) and greatly increase their opportunity to do harm.  Libertarianism tends to minimize the harm that may be done by bad apples (in this sense).

The fundamental problem with communism (and similar systems such as fascism) is not bad apples.  Even assuming that it is possible to keep Hilters and Maos from obtaining power, those systems inherently lead to conflict, waste, stagnation, and misery.

 

anything