mellyrn on September 21, 2010, 10:52:28 am
Seems to me that the only "rule" an anarchist needs to check, very roughly stated, is: "Is the subject's behavior interfering with me or my interests?"

If the answer is "No", no action is specially called for (though it might be initiated, e.g., "Hey, can I play too?")

If the answer is "Yes", the anarchist does not blindly consult some prefabbed set of responses the way the statist must.  The anarchist has a huge range of options, up to and including reevaluating himself and his interests -- it is not impossible that the "interfering" behavior is actually more interesting than what he'd had going on before.  The statist, otoh, even if the "interfering" behavior is radiantly better than what it's interfering with, is bound to follow The Law, the code, and restore the state-us quo.

In short, the anarchist is free to engage the situation in realspace, not in modelspace.  Government tries to reduce life to rote and formula.

The anarchist is also free to have one set of "rules" with one neighbor, and an entirely different set with the other.  You see, his left-hand neighbor is a real tightass and his right-hand neighbor is so laid back we stick a mirror under his nose every so often to make sure he's breathing, and "what works" with the tightass entirely fails with the mellow fellow, and vice-versa.  The anarchist gets to employ "what works" on a case-by-case basis, even moment-to-moment.  It takes a lot of attention, but honestly it's a lot more fun.

Brugle on September 21, 2010, 02:31:33 pm
the anarchist does not blindly consult some prefabbed set of responses the way the statist must.
Again, I don't see it.  Sure, the ultimate in statism is "that which is not compulsory is forbidden", but most statists don't go that far.  I would expect the typical anarchist to be more flexible than the typical statist, but there's a lot of variation.  Most of my friends are statists, and some of them are more flexible than me in many situations.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 21, 2010, 08:24:52 pm
You're quite right-for many people, we have to provide an exhaustive and unreasonable amount of support for our position, and even then they may not be persuaded.  This in spite of all evidence to the contrary. 

Reversing this question, can anyone recommend one or more "superior" defenses for the necessity of the State?  I have looked extensively over the years, and not found any, other than the one that Robert Nozick (Ayn Rand's is similar to his) provided in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which I found ridiculously sparse (little more than a hand wave).

Personally, I don't know that one exists; however I don't have a proof of that; however, I would still like to seen one or more such defenses to test my reasoning against.

MacFall on September 21, 2010, 10:40:34 pm
What would be the point? Statists do not argue from reason; they posit their beliefs and then call you crazy or stupid or evil or some combination of those things for disagreeing with their beliefs. Including their beliefs about what you actually believe.

At least those with whom you haven't already been conversing for a while. But if you've been talking to a statist for a while he's already heard all the arguments, but has not let them penetrate his belief.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2010, 10:47:02 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.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 21, 2010, 11:15:03 pm
What would be the point? Statists do not argue from reason; they posit their beliefs and then call you crazy or stupid or evil or some combination of those things for disagreeing with their beliefs. Including their beliefs about what you actually believe.

Most, but not necessarily all statists do not argue for reason.  Some argue from reason in general, but have flaws in their reasoning -- those flaws may be difficult to identify.  Others may argue from flawless reasoning but accept some axiom or axioms that I would not.  Since I cannot prove there is no compelling argument that a State is necessary, I cannot conclude in an absolute sense that it is not.

You mention "beliefs".  Beliefs are inherently non-rational; when one believes X one's critical thinking regarding X stops,  and opportunity for error creeps in.  This is dangerous, and can only be avoided by never actually believing anything (especially that one does not believe anything  -- this one is particularly tricky).

Although I find the evidence overwhelmingly seems to support the absence of any necessity for a State, I am willing to consider new ones.  Were I not, I could not reasonably expect anyone else to consider the possibility that no State is actually necessary.

wdg3rd on September 22, 2010, 12:21:45 am
Seems to me that the only "rule" an anarchist needs to check, very roughly stated, is: "Is the subject's behavior interfering with me or my interests?"

I'm in the category of anarchist who will live (and possibly die) by the Zero Aggression Principle.  I don't give a rat's ass if somebody's behavior is "interfering with me or my interests" -- one of us might work for Costco, the other at Best Buy.  Obviously both of us interfere with each other's interest.  If no force is initiated, it fookin mox nix.  We call that free trade and an open market.  Sears-Roebuck didn't sent hit men after Montgomery-Ward or J. C. Penny, those stores failed without force.

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The anarchist is also free to have one set of "rules" with one neighbor, and an entirely different set with the other.  You see, his left-hand neighbor is a real tightass and his right-hand neighbor is so laid back we stick a mirror under his nose every so often to make sure he's breathing, and "what works" with the tightass entirely fails with the mellow fellow, and vice-versa.  The anarchist gets to employ "what works" on a case-by-case basis, even moment-to-moment.  It takes a lot of attention, but honestly it's a lot more fun.

The Zero Aggression Principle is the only "rule" needed.  If one neighbor is a tightass, let him be unless he asks for some medicine for constipation.  If the other neighbor seems comatose, when you're checking his health make sure that mirror is clean per Leary's First Law.
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

terry_freeman on September 22, 2010, 01:49:22 am
http://www.lewrockwell.com/dilorenzo/dilorenzo195.html

Another study of the lazy statist authors who imagined that the West was wild, contrary to the evidence.

We had a little discussion about the consequence of not having One Uniform Law To Rule Them All. As it happens, the West was an excellent case study; many wagon trains drew up their own voluntary contracts to determine who owned what and who had the right to use what and how to divide property, should the team break up. The contracts were similar in many ways, but not identical. There are records of dispute resolutions; the settlers found practical ways to resolve matters which satisfied all parties.

mellyrn on September 22, 2010, 08:55:58 am
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The Zero Aggression Principle is the only "rule" needed.

Yes.  Thank you.  In a groggy way, that's more what I had in mind, and much better stated.

Though as to "interference" -- if your Best Buy sales interfere with my Costco sales, I do take an interest, because it does affect me.  I don't know why you brought in hit men; your sales interfering with mine are more likely reason for me to upgrade my store, my staff's competence, and the like.  I didn't say, and had no wish to imply, that if you interfere with me and/or my interests, I am then required to stop you at all, much less with deadly force.  The only thing I intended to convey is that, in response to stimulus, the anarchist is philosophically free to wing it.  Statists are supposed to play "by the book"; they don't always, because the "book" is so often inadequate.


J Thomas on September 22, 2010, 10:35:05 am
To say that a state is necessary, first you have to say what result you want that it's necessary for. But whatever goal you choose for a state to achieve, people could argue that there might be some better way to achieve that goal. Unless what you want is a state.

Historically there's almost always been a government of some sort. There are a few examples that seemed to have none, like the Inuit. And a few examples where government seemed quite minimal, like old Iceland. Presumably government goes back to neolithic times. When you live in a village, that village belongs to somebody and whoever it belongs to can demand things from you for the privilege of living in his village. The farmland around it is his too. You can fight him supposing that the rest of the village doesn't interfere, or you can go do your farming somewhere else, either under some other village leader or by yourself, or you can knuckle under. It didn't have to be that way but pretty often it was.

There was some of that among the Inuit too. One man, or a few men, a good hunter and presumably a good killer, might run a village. People did what he said or they left. It was fairly easy to leave but uncertain whether anybody else would take you in. The places where anybody could live were not the places where people ate best. A good hunter could feed others when their own hunting didn't go well, and of course "Whips make dogs, gifts make slaves".

To my way of thinking, the best argument in favor of coercive government is that your current government protects you from the possibility of a worse government. If you can't keep governments out, decide whether what you have is better than average. Try to replace it if it's too bad, and hope you get something better next time. This assumes you can't keep them from taking over. If you can, then you have a choice whether you want to.

I think it would be a good thing to get multiple AnCap societies. Then you can look at them and decide whether you'd rather move to any of them over what you have. Given a choice between an AnCap society of fundamentalist christians versus an AnCap society of fundamentalist muslims, I'd hesitate to choose either one but it would depend on the details.

About starting one -- if it takes a lot of violence to get rid of the government, and you can't be sure what you'll get afterward, then I'd support it if the government is a lot worse than the usual. But unless a solid majority of the citizens are ready for AnCap that probably isn't what you'll get, instead you'll take pot luck for a new government. And if a solid majority is ready for AnCap you might get it without a violent revolution.


RA Heinlein mentioned something he called "rational anarchism". If you don't recognize the authority of the state, you can live as an anarchist even though there's a state extorting money from you and threatening you with police etc. You oppose them when it seems worth it. You let them impose on you -- without conceding their right to do so, only their power -- when it isn't worth the fight.

Brugle on September 22, 2010, 11:06:45 am
can anyone recommend one or more "superior" defenses for the necessity of the State?  I have looked extensively over the years, and not found any, other than the one that Robert Nozick (Ayn Rand's is similar to his) provided in Anarchy, State, and Utopia, which I found ridiculously sparse (little more than a hand wave).

There are several arguments for the state (and responses to them) in Section II of Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice edited by Edward P. Stringham.  Arguments for the state are by (as you mentioned) Nozick (with responses by Roy A. Childs Jr. and Murray Rothbard), Tyler Cowen (with a response by David D. Friedman, a further argument by Cowen, a response by Bryan Caplan and Stringham, and a further argument by Cowen and Daniel Sutter), Randall G. Holcombe (with a response by Peter Leeson and Stringham), and Andrew Rutten (which is a response to an anti-state argument by Anthony de Jasay).  There are also anti-state arguments by Childs (in reponse to Ayn Rand's "The Nature of Government", which is not included in the book) and Alfred G. Cuzan.  (It is interesting that some of the pro-state authors consider government to be unnecessary but inevitable.)  I assume that the editors tried to include "superior" pro-state arguments, but I didn't find any of them persuasive.

I've read a bit over half of the book and am enjoying it immensely.  The other sections (on theory, history of thought, and historical examples) also contain many classic articles, so those of you with a better memory than me might want to skip some parts that you've already read.

macsnafu on September 22, 2010, 11:47:21 am
Off-hand, the primary defenses I can think for the state are:

1) contractarian - the implicit contract with the state

2) inevitability - government is inevitable, for some reason or other

3) necessity - government is necessary to create the rules and conditions for property and market

A lot of the time, people just argue that anarchism is impossible or contrary to human nature.


I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

mellyrn on September 22, 2010, 11:56:03 am
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Again, I don't see it.  Sure, the ultimate in statism is "that which is not compulsory is forbidden", but most statists don't go that far.

Hi, Brugle.  I do agree with you that statists, as actual flesh-and-blood people, rarely go that far.  It just isn't practical.  But it seems to me that the concept behind a state, written constitution, written laws (codes) with (codified, ergo artificial) consequences, is that the interactions of real flesh-and-blood people can and should be reduced to a formula.  In actual practice it works so badly that "if I do not laugh, I must weep for [them]".

Elsewhere (not anywhere in this forum) I have argued that the state is a kind of "Dumbo's feather".  You remember Dumbo, the Disney elephant that could fly only when clutching his "magic" feather?  Dumbo could fly just fine all on his onesie, but he believed he needed the feather, and that he would fall without it.  Most people go about most of their business with zero reference to any law about how to proceed, and get along just fine (there's a growing trend in European cities, so I hear, wherein all traffic laws are abolished -- no speed limits, no traffic lights, etc -- and in the cities where it's been implemented, accident rates have plummeted).  But suggest that we do away with the state and laws and law enforcers, and they seem to panic:   as if they believe that it's only the magic of Law that keeps them from driving their car across the sidewalk and into the mall, dressing in nothing but spray paint, and assaulting the mailman when there are no cookies in their mailbox.

For me, that's the chief reason it's hard to get a rational discusssion from someone who insists "government" is necessary.  I don't believe that they think government is necessary, but rather have a gut feeling that it is.

Brugle on September 22, 2010, 03:23:55 pm
But suggest that we do away with the state and laws and law enforcers, and they seem to panic:
...
I don't believe that they think government is necessary, but rather have a gut feeling that it is.
I agree.  When I suggest eliminating the state, I typically get a response like "Eek! Blood in the streets!" and nothing I say dispels that image.

it seems to me that the concept behind a state, written constitution, written laws (codes) with (codified, ergo artificial) consequences, is that the interactions of real flesh-and-blood people can and should be reduced to a formula.
You could be right, but I wonder how many people who emotionally cling to the idea of a benevolent state do so because they agree (consciously or not) with that concept.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 22, 2010, 05:51:17 pm
To say that a state is necessary, first you have to say what result you want that it's necessary for.

That's encompassed in the axioms.

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About starting one -- if it takes a lot of violence to get rid of the government, and you can't be sure what you'll get afterward, then I'd support it if the government is a lot worse than the usual. But unless a solid majority of the citizens are ready for AnCap that probably isn't what you'll get, instead you'll take pot luck for a new government. And if a solid majority is ready for AnCap you might get it without a violent revolution.

By and large, most individuals are apathetic when it comes to government, as long as it isn't interfering too much with how they think they want to live.  Apathy generally favors the status quo, since change takes effort.  I am opposed to any significant violence in getting rid of government, since that tends to fall into the classic tyrant pattern; I certainly accept that a small amount might be necessary in some circumstances.  This isn't based on ethics, but on pragmatism -- I'm generally willing to grant amnesty to former government folks if it will get them out of the way efficiently.

However, the threat of violence may be useful; while I don't encourage it myself (nor have much power to influence those who would threaten it), I recognize that there are those who will do so.  They may be useful as an incentive for practicing statists to "negotiate surrender" with those who do not threaten it; this would follow the basic pattern engaged in by US Statists in dealing with those associated with Martin Luther King and to avoid the perceived threat of violence from those associated with Malcolm X.

Generally, I think the best option is to leverage the general apathy by simply convincing large numbers that the State does not really exist; rather it is a mass hallucination or illusion which, once folks cease to believe in it, ceases to exist.  Of course there is a real organization underneath the illusion, consisting of con artists and thugs attempting to perpetuate it.  I think of it as analogous to the classic Star Trek episode "And the Children Shall Lead" where attorney Melvin Belli played an alien who presented the illusion of being a "good angel", but when that belief was shattered, there remained an evil, manipulative, and very real (but far less powerful) creature.  A good friend of mine, Richard Boddie, prefers the more modern metaphor of the Matrix with the same idea.

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RA Heinlein mentioned something he called "rational anarchism". If you don't recognize the authority of the state, you can live as an anarchist even though there's a state extorting money from you and threatening you with police etc. You oppose them when it seems worth it. You let them impose on you -- without conceding their right to do so, only their power -- when it isn't worth the fight.

I have held this view for many years, and have not been able to counter it, although I picked it up from Harry Browne in How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World (well before his forray into politics).  It dovetails nicely with the "Government is Illusion" meme I propose as well.

NeitherRuleNorBeRuled on September 22, 2010, 05:54:00 pm
can anyone recommend one or more "superior" defenses for the necessity of the State? 

There are several arguments for the state (and responses to them) in Section II of Anarchy and the Law: The Political Economy of Choice edited by Edward P. Stringham.  [...]  I assume that the editors tried to include "superior" pro-state arguments, but I didn't find any of them persuasive.

Thanks, Brugle; this is exactly the sort of response I was looking for.