AnonymousOne on March 18, 2010, 02:02:47 am
I have an explanation and some questions.

I got into libertarian thought/literature in college and have done a good bit of reading, especially on the economic side of things.  Authors include:  Bastiat, Hayek, Rand, Rothbard, Milton Friedman, Chris Coyne, Hazlitt, Mises, Locke, Bovard, Stossel, etc.

So I'm not completely ignorant on the subject. 

Before I was an Econ major I was a philosophy major so I understand the arguments for an AnCap society.  I even think that if it were possible that is the kind of society I'd want to live in and would think ideal, if it existed.

But here is my problem:  While I agree with the driving philosophy of the movement ... I don't think it's practical.

Assume for a second that somehow, Cuba or some other nation turns into the idealized AnCap "state" (yes, I know, awful term but I can't think of a better one where people of a certain belief are in some way geographically defined)  This state would have, in time:  Extremely private and secure (in the monetary stability form) banks, good industry, good R&D on all sorts of fronts, productive businesses, etc and so on. 

But there is an elephant in the room, the OTHER societies that are still statist and let's face it ... have VERY big guns.

Given a conceptualized AnCap "state" that advances faster, farther, and better than it's brethren in the international community, how does such a group of people survive in a world where 'Foreign Relations' is jokingly, but seriously referred to as "One country F****** another?"

How does this group this "state" of AnCaps survvive and defend itself when other ACTUAL state have the military power to literally turn the AnCaps into a crater with a flick of the switch? 

I agree with the economics and philosophy, but I find the practical application of such philosophy ... problematic at best and catastrophic at worst.  I'm just trying to understand how things would move on a world-wide scale and allow for the survivability for those that choose to live in a stateless society.   

The Economist's Cookbook - Recipes For A More Free Society

SandySandfort on March 18, 2010, 08:15:23 am
How does this group this "state" of AnCaps survvive and defend itself when other ACTUAL state have the military power to literally turn the AnCaps into a crater with a flick of the switch? 

And turning the AnCaps into a crater, would benefit the perpetrator how?

You'll find your answer in Hong Kong. Sure, the Commies could turn HK into a crater, yet they don't. In fact, after an initial demonstration of their potential for control, they have pretty much left HK alone. Why? Because they need HK and its largely free market system.

Presumably, your hypothetical AnCap society would be producing the medical advances the leaders in the other country want. Ditto for energy, food, you name it. Of course, they could come in and try to make the AnCaps produce under threat of force what they produce in a free market. Good luck.

Even the most stupid dictator does not kill the goose that lays golden eggs. Even if one dictator were so stupid (I'm thinking someone like Mugabe) . He would be stopped, but guess by whom? Yup, other dictators who want to live forever. Parasites need healthy hosts. In the case of technological advances, they need essentially free hosts.

one eye chuck on March 18, 2010, 09:41:37 am
Sandy, I think I could see a scenario where it may be in a powerful state's interests to make a slag heap out of a free society. I'm assuming that there would be no visa/passport controls in place to enter such a "state." Immigrants could simply "show up" and try to establish a new life without fear of the local government denying them that chance. In order to prevent a brain/labor drain, a more totalitarian gov't may indeed gin up a casus belli. While I'll grant that R&D does better in a free society, it does not mean that no progress can be made under a repressive one. All it takes is a "Glorious Leader" like Kim Jong Il to starve his people and divert resources to his own Manhattan Project (see also Germany's V-2  and the Messerschmidt Me 262).

I believe, like the OP, that it may not be possible to have a perfect Lib/AnCap "state." Absolutes tend to work only in mathematics and Imaginationland.  There are too many practical questions that defy answers. How would a fire department be funded? Would it be like the old days when you had competing fire companies who would literally fight over who got to put out the fire while the house burned down? Voluntary contributions would be nice, but what if you needed $10 per house to buy a fire truck and most only gave $5? If there is no force behind the request for cash, what would you do? Not provide fire protection for those who didn't give? That creates a danger for the larger community. How would something like zoning work?  No one wants a tannery, a rendering plant or an ammo dump next door, but again, how would it be worked out without some form of government? Who would run/pay for water and sewer systems or would it all be well and septic?

 Maybe the threat of "shunning" ( I saw the idea in another thread) would work for most situations, but isn't that just as much a threat of force? Say our recalcitrant tanner or ammo dealer doesn't grow his own food. Does "not cooperating" extend to not trading? What if he has a family that will go hungry and does not have the resources to relocate, would that constitute a threat against their well being, justifying a forceful response?

Maybe I lack imagination, but I keep finding myself forced to come to the conclusion that even if it is something as simple as a town meeting, we, as a species, need to have some form of government. People working together can achieve much more than a lone person. Such cooperation needs some kind of leadership, even if it's just to shout "1..2..3..heave."

The other thing I keep running up against is that it seems to me most people have a desperate need for strong authority figures in their lives.This link - - while not illustrating my point directly, does point to most people's inability to stand up to some one they perceive has authority. This world is a scary place and stories like this make me even more frightened for the future of our species.

I really love the comics on Big Head and the comments are great. I love ideas that make me think! Keep up the good work!


AnonymousOne on March 18, 2010, 11:14:33 am
I understand your point Sandy, but I think it's flawed. 

1.) HK was part of a militarily formidable British Empire.

2.) China knew they were going to get HK back anyway.

Take for example this scenario:  Let's use Cuba again and the same rough generalizations.  AnCap goods from Cuba begin flooding into the Southern US.  This in the short run begins to hurt US manufacturing.  Unions begin screaming, politicians give stupid speeches and next thing you know you have US warships off your coast to enforce a blockade.

Or you have members of this society which go over to the US with the expressed intent of spreading the word.  They refuse to pay taxes, don't recognize gov't, but are otherwise peaceful people.  People start listening, governments get pissed because some people interpret Anarchy the way a LOT of people do and a things get a litte crazy for a while.

I think the biggest one though is drugs.  An AnCap state would be a haven for traffickers and while I disagree with the drug war, thugs involved in it are going to take advantage of a society like that because it could protect them from foreign intervention, at least to a degree.  What does an AnCap society due when DEA agents show up and start plucking people off your shores?
The Economist's Cookbook - Recipes For A More Free Society

terry_freeman on March 18, 2010, 11:32:34 am
Claiming that shunning is the same as the use of force is a morally bankrupt analogy.

MacFall on March 18, 2010, 12:36:04 pm
Chuck: the questions "defy answers" because nobody has yet been permitted to attempt to answer them with anything other than "the state". The market is the sum of all voluntary human interaction, including all the creative and innovative processes possessed by mankind. Nobody would suggest that there wouldn't be problems in a free society. But only by allowing the market, which is the greatest problem-solving force in the world, to work on those problems are we likely to see a solution. Just because you and I and a few other theorists lack the imagination (and experience) to solve every conceivable problem in our minds doesn't mean that the problems are unsolvable. Given sufficient liberty, each person is an endless supply of potential solutions. If people are too afraid to try liberty, we can be certain that those problems you predict will never be solved - only having their symptoms treated by ever-more obsolete political methods that cause a hundred more problems for every one they attempt to solve.

AnonymousOne: You seem to have missed the point about Hong Kong. The Chinese DID get it back, and they have done absolutely nothing to abridge the economic freedom that exists there. Because, as Sandy pointed out, they NEED them.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2010, 12:38:16 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.

SandySandfort on March 18, 2010, 12:57:00 pm
I believe, like the OP, that it may not be possible to have a perfect Lib/AnCap "state." Absolutes tend to work only in mathematics and Imaginationland.  There are too many practical questions that defy answers. How would a fire department be funded?

First, I have to spend more time writing EFT and less time debating stuff that has been settled long ago. So I am going to propose a different approach. Talking about "who will run the roads?" arguments is just a time waster for those of us who have worked through it. So here's the deal. Pick a "problem" such as "who will fund the fire department?" and come up with your own solution. This particular "problem" was solved many, many year ago in the US. To agorist and libertarian types, any of several solutions instantly come to mind. So consider this an exercise for the student: You live in a community of 100 houses a hundred miles from the next community. Assume there is no government and that you are not allowed to create one. What sort of solution would you create such that if a house caught on fire, there would be a system to fight the fire? Your answer has to be realistic and provide the best fire protection possible.

I am not trying to be a dick about this, but most people who say they cannot conceive of a society without government, simply have not tried. I am always gratified when I make this sort of challenge and see the light bulb go on when somebody gets it.

Now be prepared to defend your solution. Other forum readers will try to punch holes in it, so it has to be bulletproof. If you cannot come up with any viable solution, I will have no choice but to ask everyone else for solutions. That could be embarrassing.   ::)

Scalping_Elmo on March 18, 2010, 01:12:13 pm
MacFall has it right. It is hard to predict what the solution to the Cuba Alone problem would be.

Especially since the Cuba Alone problem is a straw man to begin with. I could rattle on about the first Boer war, or "The Myth of National Defense", etc. but that would just place me in position to defend something that has no value. Instead I would say that true AnCap requires a type of critical mass before a whole region can become liberated from the depredations of the state.

Essentially before Cuba could become free, or any nation for that matter, the government needs to start shrinking. This could happen through fiscal irresponsibility by the criminals in charge, or any other number of reasons. To cut this short, I will say that Cuba or any other nation is not an island unto itself. No nation would be allowed to become that free if massive imperial powers still exist, otherwise as their government weakens some random imperial power would stage a revolution and replace the leader with a dictator that is friendly to the imperial power.

Here is a more realistic situation to mull over:
Lets say the US went down due to a massive inflationary depression on the scale of Zimbabwe. Imagine all the turmoil this would cause worldwide, as every nation that holds the USD as its premiere reserver currency goes bankrupt due to a lack of funds to pay for their baby-killing soldiers.

From the ashes I could imagine many free cities and allodial fiefdoms springing up.

terry_freeman on March 18, 2010, 08:15:44 pm
True AnCap does not require the exclusion of all other solutions to function. True AnCap is simply voluntary interaction, and is the default solution to most problems, if we can avoid the State horning in. I was just having a read about the South Korean educational system, where the state plays far less of a role than in America. High school attendance is not required at all, yet 98% of S. Korean adults have graduated from high school. Contrast this with America, where high school attendance is required by law, and 30% never graduate. California students make fun of the mandatory and useless State exit examination; one of the questions is "if n = 12, what is -n?"

It is possible that one of my grandsons, a 2nd-generation home schooler, could pass that high school exit exam. He is all of 7 years old. California spends over $10k per student per year, and their students have difficulty with making change.

Zilabus on March 18, 2010, 11:19:35 pm
I think one important thing to realize is that it isn't an absolute that an ultimate free market situation will produce the best goods in all situations. Many times it will, yes, but not always, and especially not when competing with an entire world of non-ultimate free market states. When the Uited Sates starts seeing FreeCuba producing better medical supplies, and cutting into the profit of valuble backers in next election season, they will take action. High tariffs on goods from FreeCuba are likely to be expected, along with the government seriously giving our pharmicutical companies a hand. The same thing can be repeated with many different countries and industries. I doubt other countries will turn FreeCuba into a huge pile of ash in the ocean, but I'd say they're definately going to try to suffocate it, and try to force themselves above the level of FreeCuba.

FreeCuba would be a haven, and I think could easily be compared to the (Almost, but not quite) city states of the carribean in the time of Privateering. And these where wonderfully independent, self surving cities at the time. But, this ended quickly when Governments came to power in that area. FreeCuba would be in an opposite, and very difficult situation. They start in a situation where the entire world is under government power of one type or another. The small governments would likely embrace and love FreeCuba. The large ones, those that currently act as power brokers for the entire earth, would not.
Bring back the funk.

AnonymousOne on March 19, 2010, 12:16:47 am
Wow this had gone far afield in some ways. 

Sandy, No I am not trying to rehash the privatization debate.  I'm VERY much in favor of privatizing everything I can get my hands on.  Those were not my points because I think that Hayekian orders emerge in such situations. 

And while I understand that the HK answer bears some fruit.  There HAVE been limits placed on HK by China, no nearly as strict as the rest of the country, but control is still control.  Also the scenario is of a "free" bit of geography being transferred  from one nation state to another.

I'm just curious as to the predation of other nation states  against an AnCap Society.   (Perhaps I should have clarified that better)

And the Boer War is a Red Herring I think because the very nature of combat has changed ... astronomically.  Yes you can fight a guerrilla war, up until someone just decides to carpet bomb everything to slag to eliminate the competition. 

I can conceive of a society without government.  I can conceive of decentralized governance through voluntary means.  What I'm having problems conceiving of is the survival of such groups from the predations of powerful nation states.

However ... Elmo's idea of a critical mass will bear some thinking on.  Thanks for tweaking my brain.

I really didn't mean for this to be a quasi-troll question.  I'm actually trying to learn and think about this.
The Economist's Cookbook - Recipes For A More Free Society

SandySandfort on March 19, 2010, 11:12:38 am
Sandy, No I am not trying to rehash the privatization debate.  I'm VERY much in favor of privatizing everything I can get my hands on.  Those were not my points because I think that Hayekian orders emerge in such situations. 
...I'm just curious as to the predation of other nation states  against an AnCap Society.   (Perhaps I should have clarified that better)
However ... Elmo's idea of a critical mass will bear some thinking on.  Thanks for tweaking my brain.

Okay, fair enough. Let me throw this out: Maybe those of you who are questioning a stateless society are asking the wrong questions. They all seemed to be couched in terms of "state," "society," "Island," etc. That is group think. At some point, critical mass may indeed play a part in bringing about a free society, but that is at the end, not the beginning of liberation. The beginning is self-liberation. In any given day, most everything you do is done without government oversight or interference. The trick is to expand that a little bit every day.

All governments, govern with some consent of the people. Which is to say, they cannot govern without widespread consent. If you want a free world, don't play the game. Ignore the oppressors to whatever degree you of comfort you can. Just say, NO.

Some people will say no, by just not volunteering to help the government oppress themselves and others (e.g., failing to fill out the census). Some will go a step further and "game" the system legally (e.g., look for loopholes in the system and exploit them). Every player, who does so, burdens and slows the system. Enough of that, and the system collapses of its own weight. finally, a hardcore minority will choose to subvert the system more proactively.

The point is, every time you choose freedom, you become freer, irrespective of what happens in society. Of course, your free acts help overwhelm the system and provide an example an incentive for others. In that way you are increasing freedom in general. Peace and freedom are viral memes, if given the right soil in which to grow. So start composting. Just say, no.

wdg3rd on March 19, 2010, 10:57:19 pm
"The Consent of the Governed" rolls into "The Sanction of the Victim" very smoothly, going from Jefferson to Rand.  I don't play those games any more.  No consent, no sanction, and especially no mercy (they don't offer it except as a joke, I don't grant it period).
Ward Griffiths

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

AnonymousOne on March 20, 2010, 01:16:16 am
Yeah Sandy I appreciate the thought experiment, I'm still working on it.  And I do try to ignore the state when feasible. 

I remember on the fr33 agents forum that there was a thread titled "random acts of anarchy"  where people posted up things they did to subvert the the state systems.  I think one guy dumped all of his street's garbage for a month by putting it in his truck and taking it down to the dump.  Apparently the city workers got really confused.  :D

Anyway thanks for giving me some things to think about. 
The Economist's Cookbook - Recipes For A More Free Society

Heinlein Libertarian on March 20, 2010, 02:43:15 am
Imagine you live in a world entirely composed of sovereign individuals. No government, no army.

A relatively large group of people (large enough to support itself without outside trade,) decides that they should rule the world. Let's call them "The Autarky." This group of people starts training their members to be soldiers, and arming them with the best stuff they can make. The Autarky also taxes its citizens to buy aircraft carriers, fighters and bombers, attack helicopters, tanks and artillery, etc.

What happens if these people decide to invade? You can fight them as an individual. You get one shot before they tear your house to bits, or call in artillery to pound you to bits. How does one person stop a mortar crew? Red Dawn is not what really happens when untrained guerrillas go up against a trained army. Red Puddles is more like it.

In the meantime, what happens to your kids? Your neighbors? If fighting means your entire family will be killed, do you fight? Genghis Khan avoided a lot of fights like this, and people have not changed one bit since his time. Some will surrender to protect their families.

Even assuming you can raise an army, how do you fund it? Private individuals pay all the tax dollars the government spends, admittedly. However, what if you need more to defend against the Autarky's forces than you can get voluntarily? There are a LOT of free-riders out there. If you need 70% of the GDP to fund the war effort, and people only donate 35%, you are going to lose.

What if you need more people to do the job? An AC or Libertarian state won't be able to draft people, will it?

Finally, what if the Autarky is willing to use nukes or CBW to attack the unhealthy ideas from outside their borders? The only way to prevent somebody from dropping fusion bombs and anthrax on your home is to have these weapons yourself, and a credible means of retaliating after they are used against you. These are not, by any means, defensive weapons. Would individuals be allowed to possess them, regardless, in this hypothetical world?

Government is almost always bad, but the protection of citizens from initiation of force by outsiders is a legitimate function of government. Without a group to train, organize and obtain funding and even troops for an armed force, that force is going to lose. There is a legitimate role for police, as well. A gang could do everything I discussed above to its fellow citizens as easily as a neighboring country. Another role would be quarantine. Somebody with the plague is putting your life at risk just as clearly as a person with a gun, and what is the point of telling them you will not trade with them when they have already walked in to your store and infected your customers?

An army does not mean you cannot operate domestically with all of the rules we see in EfT. It does mean that others are going to have a much harder time stopping you from doing so.