I thought this might be of interest to the libertarians here - Page 3 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Classical liberalism. The individual before the state, non-interventionist, free-market based society.
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#14266191
Eran, I hope we can sort out my issues with anarchy in the discussion that follows

Excellent.

Let me start off by saying that I fully understand the rationale behind a libertarian anarchy. It is morally justified by every measure I value.

A good starting point. I think it is futile to convert mainstream people into anarcho-capitalism. I too went through a phase of progressively more radical libertarianism before taking the final plunge into anarchism.

Before analysing the scenarios, let's both acknowledge that all forms of government require wide-spread supporting norms within the population to maintain stability. Most notably, democratic stability is far from assured.

In the US today, for example, there is a virtual consensus over two related points:
1. The Constitution is the fundamental basis for the legitimate use of force in society (most people wouldn't phrase their belief that way - they would say that the Constitution is the fundamental basis for legitimate government, but that amounts to the same thing at the end).
2. The US Supreme Court (USSC) is the ultimate legitimate mechanism for resolving disputes over the interpretation of the Constitution.

Red or blue state, liberals conservatives and most libertarians agree on both those points.

I suggest we make an analogous assumption regarding an anarchic society. I suggest we assume that the vast majority of people agree:
1. The NAP is the fundamental basis for the legitimate use of force in society.
2. Peaceful appeal to respectable arbitrator is the ultimate legitimate mechanism for resolving disputes over the interpretation of the NAP.

Unlike assumptions sometimes made by Marxists, I don't think these assumptions are unrealistic. In the past, people have accepted, for example, the Divine Right of Kings as the basis for ordering society. Surely relying on a Non Aggression Principle and the principle of peaceful resolution of disputes isn't outlandish.

I can envisage three possibilities of protection agencies being involved in disputes:

None of the options you provide is most likely. The most likely by far is that the agencies, as a matter of routine, and without seriously contemplating any alternative,

Compare to the likely behaviour of modern governments when faced with a conflict between their citizens. Would the president of France even contemplate using military power against Germany following a commercial dispute between a French and a German citizen? How about sending French police across the border to arrest a German murderer of a French citizen? Unthinkable.

Reluctance to use force, if anything, would be greater under an-cap, both because the norm of peacefully resolving disputes would be more firmly established, and because the (great) cost of using force wouldn't be externalised to taxpayers, but borne by the agency itself.




Btw, the model I think is most likely would separate police functions into several specialities, taken up by different companies:
1. Deterrence and protection - equivalent to what private security companies do today. Mainly passive, with rare interaction with criminals.
2. Investigation of crimes - equivalent to what a PI might do today; includes identifying criminals and collecting evidence
3. Judgement enforcement - once an arbitrator issued a judgement, force may be required to enforce it. In most cases, no force is required (judgement is normally a restitution payment that can be collected from bank accounts or garnished wages). In some cases, enforcement may include arrest and incarceration.


This model lends itself only rarely to armed conflicts. In the vast majority of cases, the two sides to the dispute (one or both of which are likely to be insurance company) agree on an arbitrator, and then abide by its ruling.

Disputes can only arise when an arbitrator wasn't agreed in advance. The aggrieved party appeals to a judge, noting failed attempts to reach agreement. Both the judge and the enforcement agency need to be very careful, as a wrong judgement would make them liable. They thus take special precaution (which translates to more expensive judgement and enforcement, with the cost applied to the convicted criminal). Conflict with another agency is highly unlikely.



We can now consider the ongoing stability of this model. For example, can an agency stand to profit from "going rogue"? I think it is pretty clear that is not the case. Say an entrepreneurial agency CEO decides to gain clients by advertising an aggressive stance on fighting crime. He would do that by insisting that all criminal cases in which his clients are the victim will be heard in front of a particularly criminal-unfriendly arbitration agency. By advertising that, he reasons, people who are sick of light sentences will flock to his company.

Members of a racial minority group find they are often harassed by agents of said agency. Further, they feel that (1) they are sometimes found wrongly convicted, and (2) even when rightly convicted, sentences are excessive.

Another entrepreneurial agency CEO decides to try and get clients from amongst members of that racial minority group. He recruits clients by advertising that he would insist on arbitrators known to be sensitive to the rights of the accused, and issuing lighter sentences.

A test-case now comes up, with a victim being a customer of the first agency, and the accused (whether guilty or not) being a member of the second agency. In the negotiation between the agencies, a conflict arises as to the identity of the arbitrator. The two sides find no arbitrator acceptable to both.

What's next? Shooting war? Hardly. The cost of a shooting war is enormous.
1. You have to pay your men higher wages to account for the risk
2. You have to take a risk that innocents would be hurt, and you would be liable to paying for the damage
3. With peaceful cooperation being the norm, your reputational damage might be the greatest cost of all.

Further, because your employees do not enjoy immunity (as police officers and soldiers do today), they can be found personally liable for innocent deaths they cause. You mitigate that risk by purchasing third-party insurance policies to cover their liability. But those third-party policies will quickly disappear, or become much more expensive when you gain reputation for aggressive enforcement.


The likely scenario, then, is for each side to nominate an agent, and for the agents to agree on an arbitration firm. The experience of international relations shows that only highly unreasonable leaders fail to be able to agree on arbitration, negotiation or other peaceful avenues for resolving conflicts.

The equivalent of Hitler or Saddam couldn't exist in an an-cap society. He couldn't externalise the cost of war, obtain manpower through conscription or silence opposition using force.

Short of Hitler and Saddam, virtually all international conflicts are resolved peacefully.

Another line of reasoning justifying my position might state that a universal body is necessary to uphold the NAP. If everyone can be guaranteed to be protected, then the NAP is not relatively upheld, across different groups of people, as would be the case in private protection.

I don't understand your point here. The NAP should be considered as the equivalent of the Constitution of society, not equivalent to its detailed laws and regulations. It is the basis upon which legal principles, rules and conventions are built. It is augmented by conventions, common law, explicit contracts, land-lord published rules, etc.

Police protection today is highly uneven. The ideal of equal protection to all has never existed in any society.

If we hold enforcement of the NAP as our highest order, then a situation in which relative enforcement arises (out of an invisible hand) is not acceptable.

The NAP is the fundamental basis for the legitimate use of force. It isn't, however, the most important value in society. I am not sure what you mean by "relative enforcement".

Protection of individuals from aggression is just one good within society. Protecting them from the elements, from sickness and starvation are other goods, possibly more important.

The NAP states that you have a right to be free from aggression. Equivalently, it states that you have a right to use force (or authorise others to use force on your behalf) to enforce your property rights.

The NAP doesn't state that you can use force against innocent third parties, compelling them to help you defend your rights. In other words, the NAP doesn't authorise taxation for the purpose of funding a police force.

I believe that the state's legitimate function is the protection of individuals from aggression, theft, breach of contract, and fraud.

But the state, necessarily and by definition, relies on aggression for its existence.

Any person may legitimately protect himself and others from aggression (which I take to include theft, breach of contract, fraud, pollution, etc.). Any organisation may protect itself, its members and others from aggression. But no organisation may either (1) use aggression to fund such protection, or (2) use aggression to prevent others from offering similar protection.

Even Rand's voluntarily-funded state violates condition 2 above.

Without a state, I believe the upholding the NAP is optional, as communities might arise (through their legitimate use of their justly acquired property) and set rules that violate the NAP.

Violating the NAP is never legitimate. If a person's rights have been violated, that person can appeal to his insurance company, or sell his claim, and expect the issue to be resolved between his representatives and those of the community in question.

If the sentiments of the community are a minority within society, they will find themselves overwhelmed by those enforcing what is considered the legitimate view (i.e. NAP).

If the sentiments of the community become commonplace, a democratic minimal state would adopt them as well, and the NAP will no longer be enforced.

This would be legitimate, of course, as they are using their justly acquired property (e.g: this community does not allow marijuana usage).

Within the justly-acquired property of the community, Marijuana prohibition isn't a violation of the NAP.



This would be legitimate, of course, as they are using their justly acquired property (e.g: this community does not allow marijuana usage). If every community did such things, that would allow the usage of the NAP principle to be twisted.

I believe a minimal state provides a framework to protect individual rights.

If the bulk of society takes the NAP to be its constitutional foundation, a state isn't necessary. If the bulk of society doesn't, a state won't either.
#14266230
Eran wrote:1. There is no country on Earth in which poor and wealthy get the same level of protection.


There are a lot of countries where police protection is very close to being equal for rich and poor people. The difference between the Danish police force and a private company that's primarily interested in protecting its customers and its customers alone should be obvious.

Eran wrote:2. Who ever said "your value as a human being" is determined by the level of police (or police-like) protection you get?


Your life is not (or less so) protected, this means your life is "cheaper" in practice. Society would essentially see poor people as more expandable.

Eran wrote:I expect some level of patrols even with relatively low levels of subscription. Think about these controls from the perspective of the security company. Patrols aren't necessarily very expensive. They show your company's presence. When new customers consider which company to pick, remembering your patrol cars with their logo would be a very important factor in their choice to hire you.


And a freerider problem is born... Since rich people didn't get rich by paying for stuff they can get for free the freerider problem could become a large problem.

Eran wrote:A libertarian society would have a universally recognized constitution (lower-case 'c'), just as, say the UK has one. The libertarian constitution would be broadly based on the NAP. Much like the American Constitution, its interpretation may be disputed at times, but the general principle of using peaceful means to resolve disputes will predominate (for both prudential and principled reasons).


The most respected courts would have de-facto legislative powers, there could be more than one of them but it would all begin to resemble a patchwork of island states (not necessarily by geographical area) rather quickly.

Eran wrote:We have competing courts today - different states, state vs. Federal, American vs. Canadian, etc.


These are demarcated by different governments...

Eran wrote:This is similar to the claim that police forces in today's America can shaft with immunity any person who isn't a voting citizen. As long as they signal that they'll only shaft non-voters, why would voters (who ultimately control the police) mind?


Voting doesn't cost money and it's hard to track who voted, it's not hard to check who has a subscription with a security company.
#14266246
Thanks Eran for always writing detailed and thorough responses.

Speaking to you, is like a Rothbard on steroids! I get to weave through all his literature on a anonymous forum (massive score for me!)

Eran wrote:

None of the options you provide is most likely. The most likely by far is that the agencies, as a matter of routine, and without seriously contemplating any alternative,


I'm not sure what you were saying here?

Compare to the likely behaviour of modern governments when faced with a conflict between their citizens. Would the president of France even contemplate using military power against Germany following a commercial dispute between a French and a German citizen? How about sending French police across the border to arrest a German murderer of a French citizen? Unthinkable.


I agree norms and standards ensure the stability of a system.

Reluctance to use force, if anything, would be greater under an-cap, both because the norm of peacefully resolving disputes would be more firmly established, and because the (great) cost of using force wouldn't be externalised to taxpayers, but borne by the agency itself.


Again, I don't disagree here. What you're saying is all commonsense and of course I see the logic.

My point was that certain geographical locations would be dominated by a particular protection service, and thus competing agencies would leave the area and operate only in areas where they have a large market share, to avoid disputes and build up a solid client base. I think it is unreasonable to forecast agencies competing within small areas, as bread companies compete in small areas. I do not think protection is a service that is comparable to any other [government] service.


This model lends itself only rarely to armed conflicts. In the vast majority of cases, the two sides to the dispute (one or both of which are likely to be insurance company) agree on an arbitrator, and then abide by its ruling.


Again, you're probably right. But my point was that this arbitrator would become the state, as certain arbitrators will be more reputable. The geographical concentration of private protection agencies, coupled with respected arbitrators in these locations, creates something very much resembling a state. It becomes a governing body that is not voluntary, like a state. I agree the members could boycott the company if it did something unfavorable, or someone could still start a competing one, but with a respected arbitrator (a network of respected courts) and one dominant protection agency evolves a body resembling a state, which the people would respect, because it would enact favorable policies and laws (or else it would not exist). This is, in my eyes, inevitable.

Say an entrepreneurial agency CEO decides to gain clients by advertising an aggressive stance on fighting crime. He would do that by insisting that all criminal cases in which his clients are the victim will be heard in front of a particularly criminal-unfriendly arbitration agency. By advertising that, he reasons, people who are sick of light sentences will flock to his company.

Members of a racial minority group find they are often harassed by agents of said agency. Further, they feel that (1) they are sometimes found wrongly convicted, and (2) even when rightly convicted, sentences are excessive.

Another entrepreneurial agency CEO decides to try and get clients from amongst members of that racial minority group. He recruits clients by advertising that he would insist on arbitrators known to be sensitive to the rights of the accused, and issuing lighter sentences.



This is an excellent example. It follows nicely from my thesis. Certain areas would want certain things enforced (a community favoring laws that enact harsh penalties for burglary, for example). Thus, the firm offering this will become dominant in that geographical location.

Another, let's say Christian community valuing rehabilitation might favor a legal system valuing rehabilitation which they would fund voluntarily. Thus an agency and court system offering this would centralize its power in this community.

Now let's extrapolate the resulting situation: communities would adhere to a set of rules, put in place by one dominant legal system and enforced by a dominant protection agency. This body of governance very much resembles a state, despite being kept alive by voluntary actions.

Over time, with values ever evolving, one dominant protection agency and legal system would be valued by the majority of society, and this legal system and certain protection agency enforcing its rules would be used by the majority of people, except for perhaps minority communities like the Christian one mentioned. This arising body of governance, which came about unintentionally, simply due to market processes, is now the government of the region, settling disputes, setting laws, and enforcing these laws. Its credibility and general-acceptance would make starting a new, different legal code very difficult.


I don't understand your point here. The NAP should be considered as the equivalent of the Constitution of society, not equivalent to its detailed laws and regulations. It is the basis upon which legal principles, rules and conventions are built. It is augmented by conventions, common law, explicit contracts, land-lord published rules, etc.


My point was private law and the use of people's justly acquired property to set laws could undermine the foundation of the NAP. A small state that enforces the NAP dodges this problem (although this model, of course, has problems of its own) by making sure the NAP is universally accepted - forcing people to accept it.

Police protection today is highly uneven. The ideal of equal protection to all has never existed in any society.


Although I agree, I believe, under a society valuing a principle of nonaggression, everyone should be protected from aggression. This is a foundation of such a society - making sure everyone, regardless of wealth, creed, skin color or religion, is protected from aggression.

Of course this is quite idealistic. But with this the only function of the state, the state would be more motivated to try and deliver this ideal as accurately as possible.

The NAP is the fundamental basis for the legitimate use of force. It isn't, however, the most important value in society. I am not sure what you mean by "relative enforcement".


By relative enforcement I mean the fact that private protection agencies and courts would be of a higher quality for some people, thus protection from aggression would not be equal for everyone.

Protection of individuals from aggression is just one good within society. Protecting them from the elements, from sickness and starvation are other goods, possibly more important.


But protection from aggression, being held as the highest fundamental of society, would mean people were equal before the law. If a rich man threatens one of his menial labor employees by saying to him, "Give me a sex-sandwich with your wife and daughter or you're outta-here!", is the employee equipped to handle the situation. The threat of unemployment is too greater risk to him, so he allows this disgusting act. If protection was available to everyone, he could sort the situation out. In this example, the employee's bank account determined his worth before the law.


The NAP doesn't state that you can use force against innocent third parties, compelling them to help you defend your rights. In other words, the NAP doesn't authorise taxation for the purpose of funding a police force.


I advocate a land-value-tax. I agree with much of geolibertarianism. So your objection is not a problem for my beliefs, as the position that all natural resources – most importantly land – are common assets to which all individuals have an equal right to access; therefore, individuals must pay rent to the community if they claim land as their private property.

Thus government's only concern, enforcing the NAP, would be funded by this tax.

Feel free to present your objection (morally) to that principle.

But the state, necessarily and by definition, relies on aggression for its existence.


I accept this.

My support for the [limited/minimalist] state does not rely on a denial of its aggressive nature. It stems from its 1) inevitability and 2) a geolibertarian stance on natural resources.


Violating the NAP is never legitimate. If a person's rights have been violated, that person can appeal to his insurance company, or sell his claim, and expect the issue to be resolved between his representatives and those of the community in question.


I think I have found a hole in your reasoning.

If violating the NAP is never legitimate, and private courts (and protection agencies to enforce its laws) are supposed to frame their laws adhering to the NAP, then what would stop a court and [private protection] service enforcing its laws from gaining mass popularity (plus the combination of landlord-like rules using justly acquired property) and setting laws that violate the NAP, but due to the company's mass popularity, nothing can be done i.e: a government. If an entire, extended group of communities, supports prohibition of marijuana, and various landlords use their property to prohibit its usage, then what stops a court being set up to ban marijuana, and then protection agencies enforcing this (arresting those violating the rule)? Of course, the protection agency would be popular as let's say this group of communities was conservative. The rule of banned marijuana would be respected. Now let's say I am born into this community and want to smoke marijuana, and I am aggressed against by being arrested. There's nothing I can do as for miles and miles north, east, west and south from my location it is acknowledged that marijuana is immoral and violates the agreed upon code of law.

In a minarchy, such a situation is impossible.


Within the justly-acquired property of the community, Marijuana prohibition isn't a violation of the NAP.


Correct, but a code of law and confluence of protection agencies, would effectively make marijuana illegal, if the vast majority wanted this (e.g: "I'm only doing business with court A, they prohibit marijuana and I am scared of the substance as it destroys communities). Thus landlords react (they want business!) by advertising marijuana-free communities.

If the bulk of society takes the NAP to be its constitutional foundation, a state isn't necessary. If the bulk of society doesn't, a state won't either.


If the bulk of society wants to prohibit marijuana, it can be [successfully] prohibited using justly acquired property, coupled with a [distorted] code of law that prohibits it, coupled with protection agencies looking for business (and thus enforcing this code of law).

If you smoke marijuana and are arrested, you're a small fish in a large pond; you are a prisoner, you have been aggressed against, yet it was all legitimate as that was the prevailing code of law.
#14266261
Husky wrote:If violating the NAP is never legitimate, and private courts (and protection agencies to enforce its laws) are supposed to frame their laws adhering to the NAP, then what would stop a court and [private protection] service enforcing its laws from gaining mass popularity (plus the combination of landlord-like rules using justly acquired property) and setting laws that violate the NAP, but due to the company's mass popularity, nothing can be done i.e: a government. If an entire, extended group of communities, supports prohibition of marijuana, and various landlords use their property to prohibit its usage, then what stops a court being set up to ban marijuana, and then protection agencies enforcing this (arresting those violating the rule)? Of course, the protection agency would be popular as let's say this group of communities was conservative. The rule of banned marijuana would be respected. Now let's say I am born into this community and want to smoke marijuana, and I am aggressed against by being arrested. There's nothing I can do as for miles and miles north, east, west and south from my location it is acknowledged that marijuana is immoral and violates the agreed upon code of law.


Why stop at marijuana prohibition? They could literally require you to eat shit or give away your kidney, as long as it's in a contract that you signed out of desperation. Hell, you could take in hungry orphans and have a rule that any kid who gets food and shelter under your roof owes you $1 billion, binding these orphans into debt slavery for the rest of their lives. An evil billionaire who owns the roads around a housing block could decide not to the people out of their housing block and he could block food shipments to them as well. Societal condemnation would be the only thing guarding against this and we know from history that that's not very comforting.

Eran wrote:If the bulk of society takes the NAP to be its constitutional foundation, a state isn't necessary. If the bulk of society doesn't, a state won't either.


If 70% of society agrees with the NAP and 30% doesn't Libertopia will crumble while a state can easily uphold a law that has 70% support.
#14266507
There are a lot of countries where police protection is very close to being equal for rich and poor people. The difference between the Danish police force and a private company that's primarily interested in protecting its customers and its customers alone should be obvious.

I should hope so. A private company is actually motivated in an effective way to do a great job protecting its customers. Their survival as a firm depends on doing an excellent job. They need to survive in a competitive field in which others are trying to beat them by providing even better service at lower prices.

The Danish police, on the other hand, enjoy job security. As long as they don't mess up too much, they have nothing to worry about. Police officers are much more concerned about keeping their political masters happy than the citizens they are supposed to protect.

I don't know much about the Danish police (though I expect it is amongst the best government police forces in the world), but if American and British police forces are any guide (and those are far from being the worst in the world), poor people, especially racial minority and immigrants, receive very different treatment than mainstream, middle-classed whites. Not to mention the protection afforded the wealthy and well-connected.

If you are wealthy and white, you have little concern under either private or public police protection regimes. If you are an immigrant, minority or poor, and feel you are getting inadequate protection (or worse - positive harassment) from government police forces - there is nothing you can do. But under private agency regime, you can either group together with your neighbours, or purchase protection from one of several firms competing for your business and thus answerable to you.

Your life is not (or less so) protected, this means your life is "cheaper" in practice. Society would essentially see poor people as more expandable.

Not so much. First, what does it mean that your life is protected? I live in a little village in Kent. There are zero police patrols in my village. The nearest police station is 10 minutes away, though other emergency services often take 15-20 minutes to get here. Does that mean that my life isn't protected, and is thus "cheaper"? Of course not. If I was murdered, my murderers would be sought, and, if caught and convicted, punished severely.

The same principle holds under private security. If a poor person is murdered, his murderers are just as guilty, and suffer just as much of a punishment as those of a wealthier person. At least in theory. And in libertarian legal theory. In the practical world of government rule, the life of a wealthy person is indeed worth more to society than that of a poorer person.

And a freerider problem is born... Since rich people didn't get rich by paying for stuff they can get for free the freerider problem could become a large problem.

First, there is little freeriding here. Sure, some criminals might be deterred by a patrol car. But the main service of the patrol car is to quickly respond to customer calls. And they won't respond to calls from non-paying residents. Since you don't get anywhere near the full benefit without paying, freeriding problem is minimal.

Further, the freerider problem is vastly overstated. We encounter freerider situations all the time. I freeride on other people's TripAdvisor comments. I enjoy and benefit from them, but rarely write one of my own. Same holds for Amazon. Commercial TV involves massive freeriding, as people enjoy programming without necessarily purchasing the products being advertised. Businesses deal with freeriders all the time, and manage.

Finally, if you are concerned about freeriding, look no further than the political system you support. In a democracy, we all freeride the voting choices of others. You "enjoy" the benefit of a democratically elected government even if you don't bother voting. In fact, welfare society is one HUGE freeriding operation, with millions of people living at the expense of taxpayers.

The most respected courts would have de-facto legislative powers, there could be more than one of them but it would all begin to resemble a patchwork of island states (not necessarily by geographical area) rather quickly.

The most respected courts become and stay "most respected" because they rule in line with the sentiments and priorities of society. That is the essence of judge-discovered law (as opposed to judge-made law) of Common Law tradition.

Compare a respected court to a respected dictionary. Would you say that, say, the Oxford English Dictionary "sets" the English language? Of course not. It is an authoritative source on the meaning of words precisely (and only as long as) it defines words in line with their general usage.

There is some resemblance between the benefits of citizenship (in the sense of expecting your government's protection) and those of being a customer of a criminal insurance company. In my favourite model, your insurance company effectively wraps you in a legal bubble of legal rules and procedures to which you agreed as a customer. Effectively, you get the legal environment (e.g. criminal procedures, burden of proof, rules of evidence, etc.) that you pay for.

The key difference between these insurance companies and ordinary governments is the voluntary nature of the relationship, and the ease of switching companies, compared with the coerced nature of government rule, and the great expense of switching countries.

These are demarcated by different governments...

True, but with a lot of overlapping interests. More and more so in a globalizing world.

Voting doesn't cost money and it's hard to track who voted, it's not hard to check who has a subscription with a security company.

It is fairly easy to determine who is going to be politically weak. Pick any dark-skinned person not wearing a suit. Especially if they are not native English speakers.

Husky wrote:Thanks Eran for always writing detailed and thorough responses.

Speaking to you, is like a Rothbard on steroids! I get to weave through all his literature on a anonymous forum (massive score for me!)

Thanks. Having me mentioned in the same sentence as Rothbard is a great complement.

I'm not sure what you were saying here?

Protection agencies aren't in the business of fighting each other, any more than police forces are today. You don't often hear of police forces belonging to two different American towns having a shoot-out, do you?

Protection agencies (again, I prefer a split between private security and enforcement agencies) are in the business of fighting criminals, not each other.

My point was that certain geographical locations would be dominated by a particular protection service, and thus competing agencies would leave the area and operate only in areas where they have a large market share, to avoid disputes and build up a solid client base.

I really don't see why. Consider our society. Most people are law-abiding. There are conflicts between law-abiding people (say boundary disputes between neighbours, or contract disputes), but those are easily handled through arbitration.

A small minority of people are violent criminals. In a libertarian society, those could much more easily be excluded from law-abiding society. For example, streets are private, and street owners can refuse entry to people of suspect character.

Conflict between armed agencies are thus highly unlikely. A firm could never make money defending criminals - that's just too expensive. In fact, one of the best deterrences within a free society is the difficulty for a professional criminal of getting criminal insurance (or protection).

Within the range of services related to property rights protection, most aren't geographically-sensitive. An insurance company can easily handle matters on a nation-wide basis, with regional offices and local branches, just as banks (and insurance companies) do today.

The AAA in the US (or AA in Britain) offer nation-wide coverage by depending (in whole or in part) on local mechanics. A criminal insurance company could similarly rely on either local service providers for first-response, or franchise the business.

Some rural communities might only have access to one company (just as some rural communities only have access to one supermarket today). But in larger towns, not to mention suburbs and cities, multiple providers would be available.

But my point was that this arbitrator would become the state, as certain arbitrators will be more reputable.

That doesn't make them a state, for several reasons. First, arbitrators are passive. They do not initiate action - they have to wait for action to come to them. Is the US Supreme Court the most powerful branch of government? Sure, their decisions are obeyed by all. But very few people would suggest that the USSC is more powerful than the President.

Second, the arbitration field is always open to competition. There may only be a small number of firms at the national/appeal level, but there is a large number of firms hoping to get in on the action, trying to win market share, ready to take the place of any national firm which starts losing its reputation.

Finally, and, from my perspective, most relevant, government is always, by definition, an aggressor. Even if you could fund government without taxes, by its very nature, government will use aggressive force against competitors. If it didn't, we wouldn't call it "government".

An arbitration court, even if it is the only one in the land, is not using any aggressive force. That makes it legitimate in a way that government could never be.

I agree the members could boycott the company if it did something unfavorable, or someone could still start a competing one, but with a respected arbitrator (a network of respected courts) and one dominant protection agency evolves a body resembling a state, which the people would respect, because it would enact favorable policies and laws (or else it would not exist).

Courts don't need to be boycotted. Their business model relies on both sides to a conflict agreeing to their adjudication.

Let's look at your scenario. Assume that in a given area, one insurance company and one respected arbitrator dominate. The insurance company tends to insist on using that one arbitrator, and since that arbitrator is well-respected, people tend to agree.

As long as the arbitrator faithfully follows the NAP, no aggression is legitimised. All aggression is correctly judged to be criminal, and enforcement agencies following opinions issued by the arbitrator get as humanly possible to maintaining a just society.

So far so good.

We start worrying when the collusion between insurance company, enforcement agencies and arbitrator starts to deviate from NAP. Say the arbitrator rules in favour of an enforcement agency that violated the rights of innocent people. Those people feel aggrieved. They take their business to another insurance company, albeit a small one (at least in that area). That insurance company refuses to accept the corrupt arbitrator. Newspaper stories emerge, exposing the corruption. The public may not be convinced that the trusted agency is indeed corrupt, but the stories are enough to make demands for a different arbitrator credible.

In a test-case, an out-of-town arbitrator is consulted, and finds that the local respected arbitrator was indeed corrupt. Very quickly, that arbitrator loses business. Competitors come in and offer their services, repeatedly making use of the test-case to promote themselves at the expense of that arbitrator.

Worst case scenario is that the local enforcement agency, in collusion with the corrupt arbitrator, refuses to enforce contradictory opinions. They are sued, and either cooperate (and are found guilty by out-of-town arbitrator) or exposed for the non-cooperating, rogue agency that they are. Either way, the public quickly realises this is a rogue agency. Those aggrieved appeal to out-of-town agencies. Judgements are issued against the agency, but also against its employees. Their bank accounts are frozen. Services might be terminated. The insurance company that provides employees of the rogue agency with liability insurance cancels the policies. Employees, fearing that they would be considered criminals themselves, leave in droves. Shareholders see the value of their stock plummet. The CEO is fired. A new age begins.

Thus, the firm offering this will become dominant in that geographical location.

Indeed. But only as long as its actions are deemed legitimate by the greater society. As soon as they stop being deemed legitimate, forces from the rest of society can be brought to bear upon them.

Now let's extrapolate the resulting situation: communities would adhere to a set of rules, put in place by one dominant legal system and enforced by a dominant protection agency. This body of governance very much resembles a state, despite being kept alive by voluntary actions.

It has certain characteristics of a state - uniform legal convention within a given geographical area, enforced by one agency. But so what? It would different from a state in the morally-relevant sense. It doesn't engage in aggression.

In fact, if people so choose, a region can have many state-like attributes. Beyond uniform law enforced by a single agency, it can also have uniform currency (issued by a dominant bank), uniform set of holidays (adopted by convention), dominant language, uniform school system (provided by a dominant school chain), uniform health-care provider, and even a flag and anthem, celebrated during the annual "Freedom Day" commemorating independence from government rule.

Each of those separately, not to mention all of them in combination, can be viewed as government-like. I have no problem with that. As long as none of those dominant organizations engages in aggression..

As soon as they do, their victims can appeal to arbitration and then enforcement from outside the region. If the region is powerful enough to repel the forces of the rest of society, the situation cannot be helped, but wouldn't have been any better under government. Even if the rest of society is governed by a disciplined minarchy, the region could effectively declare its independence.

If the region isn't powerful enough, forces from the rest of society could intervene on behalf of those aggrieved parties.


My point was private law and the use of people's justly acquired property to set laws could undermine the foundation of the NAP. A small state that enforces the NAP dodges this problem (although this model, of course, has problems of its own) by making sure the NAP is universally accepted - forcing people to accept it.

I don't understand your point. If the bulk of society accepts the NAP, effective mechanisms exist to punish and deter violators. If some people violate the NAP, enforcers from the rest of society will force them to comply. If the bulk of society doesn't accept the NAP, a democratically-elected government won't safeguard it either.

If your government isn't democratic, there is no mechanism for ensuring that its leaders will continue to respect the NAP, especially when it isn't in their interests to do so.


You seem to be engaging in the nirvana fallacy, whereby government operations are assume to be perfect (or, at least, well-intentioned), while private operations are treated with suspicion. If you applied the same standard of scepticism to both private and public enforcement mechanisms, I think you will see that the private ones come up ahead every time.

By relative enforcement I mean the fact that private protection agencies and courts would be of a higher quality for some people, thus protection from aggression would not be equal for everyone.

Indeed. The key normative principle of libertarianism is that people have a right to protect themselves. Not that they have a right to expect others to protect them.

Protection is, has and will never be equal. People care about themselves more than they care about others. Always had, always will. Thus people are willing to pay for more protection for themselves than for others. Wealthier people can afford better protection. If not from government police, than from private security or personal body guards.

Would you prefer a system in which private security is prohibited (like private medicine in Canada used to be) to bring everybody to a lowest common denominator? If not, you accept different levels of protection for different people.

The best government can do is (claim to) guarantee a minimal level of protection for everybody. But that can easily be accomplished through a combination of charitable donations, mutual aid, and the effects of being able to sell your claim to others.

If a rich man threatens one of his menial labor employees by saying to him, "Give me a sex-sandwich with your wife and daughter or you're outta-here!", is the employee equipped to handle the situation. The threat of unemployment is too greater risk to him, so he allows this disgusting act. If protection was available to everyone, he could sort the situation out. In this example, the employee's bank account determined his worth before the law.

Technically, a minarchy won't help your employee either. The rich man hasn't engaged in aggression. But let's analyse the situation. The employer is under no obligation to provide employment. The employee is working for that employer because that is the best option available to him.

Remember "Indecent Proposal"? People have their price. There are very few sex acts that I would refuse to engage in for sufficiently-high compensation. I believe the same holds for many people. The value of employment to your employee, for him to accept, must not just be higher than any alternative, but also higher than the sum of that alternative employment and the cash amount he would normally charge for a "sex sandwich". Before the demand, he was a lucky guy indeed to have such great employment offered him! After the offer, he isn't quite as lucky. But he can always leave. By not leaving, he is indicating that the employment, together with the cost of the "sex sandwich" to him and his family, is still greater than any alternative open to him.

In practice, of course, a man known for making such offers will quickly acquire the animosity of his employees, and probably society at large. There is a reason we outlaw such acts today - most people find them morally unacceptable. A man won't stay a profitable employer by engaging in behaviour considered outrageous by most members of society.

Feel free to present your objection (morally) to that principle.

Gladly. First, even if government was voluntarily-funded, it would still be guilty of aggression by virtue of prohibiting competitors.

Rather than seeing a state emerge by an "invisible hand", why don't we use the invisible hand in the opposite direction? Start with your minarchy, but make the rule that enforcement agencies, so long as they abide by the NAP, can operate freely. Combine that with prohibition on taxes, and, if society values a single trusted enforcer, you can have an effective government (as discussed above) without NAP violations.

So as not to break the continuity, I will continue to address the main topic of this post, and will get back to land-value-tax at the bottom.

If violating the NAP is never legitimate, and private courts (and protection agencies to enforce its laws) are supposed to frame their laws adhering to the NAP, then what would stop a court and [private protection] service enforcing its laws from gaining mass popularity (plus the combination of landlord-like rules using justly acquired property) and setting laws that violate the NAP, but due to the company's mass popularity, nothing can be done i.e: a government.

I have started by stating that an anarchy can only be stable if the NAP is broadly accepted. If it isn't, as in the example you give, in which an NAP-violating agency enjoys broad popular support, anarchy is doomed. But then so is a minarchy. And a constitutional democracy. Each of those is based on certain constitutional restrictions on the powers of government. And none of those restrictions can survive a popular will to the contrary.

In a minarchy, such a situation is impossible.

Only if you believe that the minarchy can be operated by angels, immune from popular influence.

Otherwise, your minarchy relies on land-value-tax. But what if an income tax becomes very popular? What will stop your government from adopting it?

If the population under the minarchy supports banning Marijuana, what would stop the leaders of the minarchy from enforcing anti-Marijuana policies?

Correct, but a code of law and confluence of protection agencies, would effectively make marijuana illegal, if the vast majority wanted this (e.g: "I'm only doing business with court A, they prohibit marijuana and I am scared of the substance as it destroys communities). Thus landlords react (they want business!) by advertising marijuana-free communities.

I don't understand your point. Is it that (legitimate) Marijuana prohibition can be very wide-spread, or that legitimate Marijuana prohibition will, if sufficiently popular, become illegitimate prohibition?

If it is the former, I would say, so what? This isn't a bug - it is a feature. Because while I have no problem with Marijuana use, there are other activities which, while not technically aggression, are undesired. Cruelty to animals, for example. Having a mechanism that allows society to effectively "enforce" wide-spread ethical views is a good thing. Most critics of libertarianism use the supposed absence of such mechanism as an argument against us.

If it is the latter, my previous answers hold. If a desire to violate the NAP becomes sufficiently popular, it would be adopted by a minarchy as well. In fact, assuming your minarchy is a democracy (is it?), it is enough that 51% of the population wish to violate the NAP (say through illegitimate Marijuana prohibition) for the law to pass. In an anarchy, it would take much more than 51% to achieve similar blanket prohibition.

If the bulk of society wants to prohibit marijuana, it can be [successfully] prohibited using justly acquired property, coupled with a [distorted] code of law that prohibits it, coupled with protection agencies looking for business (and thus enforcing this code of law).

If you smoke marijuana and are arrested, you're a small fish in a large pond; you are a prisoner, you have been aggressed against, yet it was all legitimate as that was the prevailing code of law.

Under the same conditions ("the bulk of society wants to prohibit Marijuana"), what's to stop a minarchy from doing just that?


Poelmo wrote:They could literally require you to eat shit or give away your kidney, as long as it's in a contract that you signed out of desperation.

Surely the problem then isn't what they can are cannot require you to do, but the fact that you found yourself in such a desperate state as to agree to either of those, right?

Let's not take our eyes off the ball. If people are desperate, giving them more options to resolve their desperation is a good thing, not a bad thing. A better alternative is to keep people out of desperation. For example, by dismantling the vast array of costs, restrictions and outright prohibitions on various ways of making a living.

Hell, you could take in hungry orphans and have a rule that any kid who gets food and shelter under your roof owes you $1 billion, binding these orphans into debt slavery for the rest of their lives.

For most libertarians (and thus for dominant arbitration firms under a libertarian society), that wouldn't be allowed. The contract won't be enforced. Plus, no wealthy society has ever lacked facilities for providing decent care for orphans.

An evil billionaire who owns the roads around a housing block could decide not to the people out of their housing block and he could block food shipments to them as well. Societal condemnation would be the only thing guarding against this and we know from history that that's not very comforting.

1. Not true. No housing block would ever be populated without contractually-guaranteed access rights.
2. The problem is much worse today. An evil billionaire can easily buy the city council, and get them to evict all the residents of the housing block. Heck, [url]it happens all the time[/url]


If 70% of society agrees with the NAP and 30% doesn't Libertopia will crumble while a state can easily uphold a law that has 70% support.

No state can survive if 30% of the people believe its government to be illegitimate. Watch Egypt today.

You are confusing the NAP with ordinary laws, over which disputes can easily arise. Instead, you should think of the NAP as the Constitution.

While many people objected to the Constitution when it was first proposed, the fraction of Americans who believe government based on the Constitution is illegitimate is tiny indeed.

They may have radically differing ideas about what the Constitution means, but as long as they agree on how such differences are legitimately resolved (US Supreme Court decisions), such disagreement do not bring about the downfall of society.

The same would hold in a libertarian society. People may have differing ideas about what the NAP implies in specific situations. But as long as they agree on how to legitimately resolve such conflicts (e.g. by appealing to a mutually-agreeable arbitrator), society's stability is not at risk.




Land Tax
Husky, if you made it thus far, here is my opinion on land tax.

First, as taxes go, land value tax is relatively economically benign. If we had to have a tax, land value tax would be at the top of my list.

My objections to the tax are both pragmatic and principled.

Pragmatically, land value tax is hard to assess, and enforcing it requires the creation of an intrusive bureaucracy (albeit not nearly as bad as that required to collect income tax or even property tax).

Land value tax also deters investments in homesteading new land. Other things being equal, I'd invest more in exploring for ways of making economic use of unimproved land if I know I will enjoy its full fruits, rather than being taxed.

Finally, LVT also creates perverse incentives. The value of (unimproved) land I own depends on the presence of attractive facilities in my neighbourhood. As an owner concerned about the tax, I have incentive to deter others from moving near me, stores opening up, schools being established, etc.


As a matter of principle, LVT is unwarranted. Unimproved land isn't owned by humanity - it is unowned. If I find a corner of the world in which no other person has previously had any interest, and put the time, money, effort and risk into improving it to the point that it is economically productive (homesteading it, in other words), by what right do YOU or anybody else take part of the value I created?

You could argue that you are only taxing the unimproved value, but while the value of the unimproved land was zero before I identified it, once identified and developed, even as unimproved land it had acquired value.
#14266513
Eran wrote:In the US today, for example, there is a virtual consensus over two related points:
1. The Constitution is the fundamental basis for the legitimate use of force in society (most people wouldn't phrase their belief that way - they would say that the Constitution is the fundamental basis for legitimate government, but that amounts to the same thing at the end).
Utterly, utterly untrue. No one gives a fuck toss about the Constitution. Both left and right wilfully misinterpret it. Americans happily fought one civil war, with both sides paying lip service to the Constitution. The American Constitution is worthless garbage and its about time we started recognising this. In fact its worse than worthless becuse it actual encourages conflict as it encourage slef righteousness among disputants.

2. The US Supreme Court (USSC) is the ultimate legitimate mechanism for resolving disputes over the interpretation of the Constitution.
Again a worse than worthless institution. It didn't stop the last civil war and it wouldn't stop a future one. But you're certainly right in your analogy with the NAP.
#14266521
rich wrote:No one gives a fuck toss about the Constitution. Both left and right wilfully misinterpret it.

I didn't say anybody cares about the Constitution. Read carefully. What I said is that everybody accepts the Constitution as the legitimate basis for government. That is why both left and right bother misinterpreting it.

Again a worse than worthless institution. It didn't stop the last civil war and it wouldn't stop a future one. But you're certainly right in your analogy with the NAP.

Again, this isn't my point. The vast majority of Americans (today, in distinction to the eve of the Civil War) do agree that the USSC is the ultimate arbitrator of Constitutional interpretation, even when they vehemently disagree with its conclusions, as is the case, for example, with most pro-lifers.
#14266540
If a rich man threatens one of his menial labor employees by saying to him, "Give me a sex-sandwich with your wife and daughter or you're outta-here!", is the employee equipped to handle the situation. The threat of unemployment is too greater risk to him, so he allows this disgusting act. If protection was available to everyone, he could sort the situation out. In this example, the employee's bank account determined his worth before the law.
Technically, a minarchy won't help your employee either. The rich man hasn't engaged in aggression.
Hence the NAP licenses the exploitation.

But let's analyse the situation. The employer is under no obligation to provide employment. The employee is working for that employer because that is the best option available to him.

Remember "Indecent Proposal"? People have their price. There are very few sex acts that I would refuse to engage in for sufficiently-high compensation. I believe the same holds for many people. The value of employment to your employee, for him to accept, must not just be higher than any alternative, but also higher than the sum of that alternative employment and the cash amount he would normally charge for a "sex sandwich". Before the demand, he was a lucky guy indeed to have such great employment offered him! After the offer, he isn't quite as lucky. But he can always leave. By not leaving, he is indicating that the employment, together with the cost of the "sex sandwich" to him and his family, is still greater than any alternative open to him.
Do you seriously imagine that "analyses the situation" ?

In practice, of course, a man known for making such offers will quickly acquire the animosity of his employees, and probably society at large. There is a reason we outlaw such acts today - most people find them morally unacceptable. A man won't stay a profitable employer by engaging in behaviour considered outrageous by most members of society.
We don't outlaw such acts today, we reserve the right to outlaw such contracts regardless of whether anyone "engaged in aggression". Exactly what Libertarianism/NAP seeks to reverse - indeed it proposes to enforce them.
#14266557
Eran wrote:[...]Protection agencies (again, I prefer a split between private security and enforcement agencies) are in the business of fighting criminals, not each other.[...]


I'll give you credit here. Your argument arguing that its unlikely large defense services would concentrate power in large cities was sound.

That doesn't make them a state, for several reasons. First, arbitrators are passive. They do not initiate action - they have to wait for action to come to them.


True, but if they are so reputable that every single protection agency refers to them to solve disputes, they are like a state in every way, except for no aggression. My problem with this, as illustrated already, is that a [minimal] state would make enforcing the NAP compulsory, and would not allow an arbitrator and protection service offering policies that violate the NAP to gain popularity.

Second, the arbitration field is always open to competition.


I just think that if an arbitrator employed a favorable legal code to the public, and became so well-respected and maintained sound policies, it would be unreasonable to assume a competing company could ouster the dominant arbitrator from its throne.

It has certain characteristics of a state - uniform legal convention within a given geographical area, enforced by one agency. But so what? It would different from a state in the morally-relevant sense. It doesn't engage in aggression.


Agreed. Although as expressed previously, if it enforced principles that society favored, but that violated the NAP, nothing could be done. Starting a competing service that adheres to the NAP is not going to gain support as the vast majority of society wanted certain rules that violated the NAP.

In fact, if people so choose, a region can have many state-like attributes. Beyond uniform law enforced by a single agency, it can also have uniform currency (issued by a dominant bank), uniform set of holidays (adopted by convention), dominant language, uniform school system (provided by a dominant school chain), uniform health-care provider, and even a flag and anthem, celebrated during the annual "Freedom Day" commemorating independence from government rule.

Each of those separately, not to mention all of them in combination, can be viewed as government-like. I have no problem with that. As long as none of those dominant organizations engages in aggression..


This is an excellent example to illustrate my point. This scenario pretty much resembles a nation of some sorts (albeit on a smaller scale). Because its arbitration and enforcement services would listen to the public, it could enact laws violating the NAP, e.g Marijuana prohibition, and then collude with landlords etc to make sure its enforced.

If the bulk of society accepts the NAP, effective mechanisms exist to punish and deter violators. If some people violate the NAP, enforcers from the rest of society will force them to comply. If the bulk of society doesn't accept the NAP, a democratically-elected government won't safeguard it either.


Not everyone is ever going to accept the NAP. I think that would be a nirvana fallacy. Some conservatives will always want to control people's actions.

You seem to be engaging in the nirvana fallacy, whereby government operations are assume to be perfect (or, at least, well-intentioned), while private operations are treated with suspicion. If you applied the same standard of scepticism to both private and public enforcement mechanisms, I think you will see that the private ones come up ahead every time.


Government will never be perfect - entirely true. But with a state implemented, with a constitution built around the NAP, then circumstances as listed above could not happen.

Indeed. The key normative principle of libertarianism is that people have a right to protect themselves. Not that they have a right to expect others to protect them.


If they have the right, but not the means, then what is the point of having the right?

Protection is, has and will never be equal. People care about themselves more than they care about others. Always had, always will. Thus people are willing to pay for more protection for themselves than for others. Wealthier people can afford better protection. If not from government police, than from private security or personal body guards.


But if we want to build a society on the fundamental principle that aggression is illegitimate, then protection should be given to everyone from aggression.

The best government can do is (claim to) guarantee a minimal level of protection for everybody. But that can easily be accomplished through a combination of charitable donations, mutual aid, and the effects of being able to sell your claim to others.


I disagree here. Not everyone has the means to protect their right to be free from aggression.

Rather than seeing a state emerge by an "invisible hand", why don't we use the invisible hand in the opposite direction? Start with your minarchy, but make the rule that enforcement agencies, so long as they abide by the NAP, can operate freely. Combine that with prohibition on taxes, and, if society values a single trusted enforcer, you can have an effective government (as discussed above) without NAP violations.


My problem here is, are the enforcement agencies going to abide by the NAP, and what checks and balances will make sure they do? As mentioned, the marijuana prohibition example seems to escape this.

I have started by stating that an anarchy can only be stable if the NAP is broadly accepted.


But that is truly unrealistic! People will always have beliefs they want to implement that violate the NAP! And courts and enforcement agencies, running as businesses, will gain support by implementing favorable policies, despite violating the NAP.

In a minarchy, people's beliefs on how others must run their lives could not be put in place.

Only if you believe that the minarchy can be operated by angels, immune from popular influence.

Otherwise, your minarchy relies on land-value-tax. But what if an income tax becomes very popular? What will stop your government from adopting it?

If the population under the minarchy supports banning Marijuana, what would stop the leaders of the minarchy from enforcing anti-Marijuana policies?


The model I had in mind, was to base the minarchy off of a constitution prohibiting all forms of aggression.

I don't understand your point. Is it that (legitimate) Marijuana prohibition can be very wide-spread, or that legitimate Marijuana prohibition will, if sufficiently popular, become illegitimate prohibition?


My problem is the latter.

If a desire to violate the NAP becomes sufficiently popular, it would be adopted by a minarchy as well


Not if a clause in the minarchy's constitution prevented such a thing to happen.

Under the same conditions ("the bulk of society wants to prohibit Marijuana"), what's to stop a minarchy from doing just that?


Again, a state based on nonaggression could prevent such a thing from happening; an anarchy has no way of preventing such a thing (Marijuana prohibition) from happening.

Land Tax
Husky, if you made it thus far, here is my opinion on land tax.

First, as taxes go, land value tax is relatively economically benign. If we had to have a tax, land value tax would be at the top of my list.

My objections to the tax are both pragmatic and principled.

Pragmatically, land value tax is hard to assess, and enforcing it requires the creation of an intrusive bureaucracy (albeit not nearly as bad as that required to collect income tax or even property tax).

Land value tax also deters investments in homesteading new land. Other things being equal, I'd invest more in exploring for ways of making economic use of unimproved land if I know I will enjoy its full fruits, rather than being taxed.


Regarding the assessment, I am sure that, considering the government's bureaucracy would be so greatly reduced, the government could employ a trio of third party arbitrators to assess the land. I don't think that would be an issue.

Regarding the deterrence of investment: can you elaborate a bit more?
#14266569
Hence the NAP licenses the exploitation.

Please define "exploitation"

We don't outlaw such acts today, we reserve the right to outlaw such contracts regardless of whether anyone "engaged in aggression". Exactly what Libertarianism/NAP seeks to reverse - indeed it proposes to enforce them.

I know. And your point is?

By disallowing (or refraining from enforcing) such contracts, you are reducing the range of options available to desperate people, precisely when, in their desperation, they need as many options as possible.

You are not helping the people you think you are.

Husky wrote:True, but if they are so reputable that every single protection agency refers to them to solve disputes, they are like a state in every way, except for no aggression.

But you see, the only reason I object governments is aggression. Something which is like a state in every way, except for no aggression is, in my book, legitimate.

I just think that if an arbitrator employed a favourable legal code to the public, and became so well-respected and maintained sound policies, it would be unreasonable to assume a competing company could ouster the dominant arbitrator from its throne.

By the same token, a minarchist government which employed a favourable legal code to the public, even if that legal code deviates from the NAP, will successfully win elections.

At the end of the day, NAP enforcement, whether under minarchy or anarchy, depends on public support for the NAP. Without it, neither system works. With it, anarchy works, while minarchy necessarily requires at least a minimal amount of aggression.

Not everyone is ever going to accept the NAP. I think that would be a nirvana fallacy. Some conservatives will always want to control people's actions.

First, I don't need everyone to accept NAP. Just the bulk of society. Second, some conservatives surely would like to impose their religion on others. Yet they accept the US Constitution (including the First Amendment).

But with a state implemented, with a constitution built around the NAP, then circumstances as listed above could not happen.
...
The model I had in mind, was to base the minarchy off of a constitution prohibiting all forms of aggression.

Constitutions can be changed, both explicitly and through interpretation. At the end of the day, if the public doesn't support the NAP, no government will long persist in enforcing it. Observe how quickly the US Government managed to ignore the First Amendment.

On the contrary - since government officials stand to gain the most from breakdown of NAP (since the breakdown invariably has the form of allowing government aggression, not private aggression), the presence of government will expedite the breakdown of NAP.

In addition, if government violates its own Constitution, who would stop it? Countless governments around the world are based on noble-sounding constitutions which are routinely ignored. A Constitution is only worth the paper it is written on if it enjoys broad popular support such that violating it becomes politically impractical.

Your NAP-like minarchic constitution will similarly operate only as long as the public supports it. The scenario whereby the public loses its support for NAP, and under which an anarchy will cease being NAP-respecting would also see a minarchic government violating its NAP-like constitution with impunity.

If they have the right, but not the means, then what is the point of having the right?

The right means, amongst other things, that victims of aggression can sell their restitution rights to others. That means that if you have a viable claim (even a claim that is only viable when in the hands of professional, resource-rich organisations), you can get paid for that claim and, in turn, a professional organisation will pursue your attacker (because as owners of the claim, they are now motivated to do so).

No need for means to enjoy your right to enforce your rights.

But if we want to build a society on the fundamental principle that aggression is illegitimate, then protection should be given to everyone from aggression.

It would be self-defeating to give people protection from aggression at the cost of aggressing against innocent third parties by requiring them to fund said protection.

I disagree here. Not everyone has the means to protect their right to be free from aggression.

See my comment above regarding the consequences of making claims transferable.

My problem here is, are the enforcement agencies going to abide by the NAP, and what checks and balances will make sure they do?

Enforcement agencies are much more likely to abide by NAP, as they would be checked by each other. Government, on the other hand, having a monopoly over the use of force, will not fear any opposing force. All government needs to worry about (at best) is popular will. But we already agreed that if popular will is pro-NAP, an anarchy will work. If popular will allows exceptions to the NAP, a government will be the first to take advantage, encourage and promote such exceptions - to its benefit.

Regarding the assessment, I am sure that, considering the government's bureaucracy would be so greatly reduced, the government could employ a trio of third party arbitrators to assess the land. I don't think that would be an issue.

That's not easy. Assessment of property value today is based on sales prices. But assessment of unimproved land value is difficult given that in certain areas, unimproved land is rarely if ever sold.

Regarding the deterrence of investment: can you elaborate a bit more?

Sure. A mining company is interested in exploring the Australian Outback for minerals. It is interested in a completely uninhabited and unimproved area. Exploring for minerals involves great financial expense with no guarantee of success. To engage in the activity, the company weighs costs and risks against potential gain.

In a regime with Land Value Tax (LVT), the potential gain is reduced by the amount of tax to be charged.

BTW, under this scenario, is the tax based on the value of the land before it was known to contain valuable minerals, or on the value once that fact is known?
#14267048
Hence the NAP licenses the exploitation.
Eran wrote:Please define "exploitation"
Taking advantage of others' circumstances in morally reprehensible ways. Such as in the scenario in question where, as you say : "the rich man hasn't engaged in aggression." Yes, we know Libertarianism says it's all fine and dandy as long as no one raises a hand. That's why hardly anyone would peacefully co-operate with it.

I know. And your point is?
That Libertarianism/NAP licenses taking advantage of others' circumstances in morally reprehensible ways.

Worse, it proposes to enforce it where the desperate party has signed a contract, as you apparently admit.

By disallowing (or refraining from enforcing) such contracts, you are reducing the range of options available to desperate people, precisely when, in their desperation, they need as many options as possible.

You are not helping the people you think you are.
On the contrary, the idea is to make sure no one's desperate in the first place. In the scenario in question, the rich man threatens his menial with desperate circumstances because his contract is enforceable. It wouldn't happen in a world with a safety net where such contracts are deemed unconscionable.

It's not me helping anyone, it's people helping themselves by making common decency law.
#14267108
Taking advantage of others' circumstances in morally reprehensible ways.

Is there an objective standard for "morally reprehensible ways", or is it entirely a matter of personal taste?

That Libertarianism/NAP licenses taking advantage of others' circumstances in morally reprehensible ways.


THe NAP merely states that it is wrong to use force against people, even if they behaved in morally reprehensible ways. Note, btw, that constitutional democracy equally licenses taking advantage of other's circumstances in morally reprehensible ways. There is no general law against taking advantage of other's circumstances in morally reprehensible ways. Only in illegal ways. And the law can never keep up with the various morally-reprehensible ways that people can treat each other.

Having said that, nothing in the NAP or libertarianism in general says that people ought to be indifferent or take no action against those who behave in morally reprehensible ways. On the contrary - libertarian literature is very clear in calling for various forms of action against morally-offensive behaviour.

The only difference is that libertarians do not permit the initiation of force in such cases.

Worse, it proposes to enforce it where the desperate party has signed a contract, as you apparently admit.

Actually, it is very much in the interests of the desperate party that such contracts are enforced. If such contracts weren't enforced, the offer which the desperate party found to its advantage wouldn't have been made in the first place.

Your attitude condemns people in desperation to a worst lot than they would be in under a libertarian regime.

On the contrary, the idea is to make sure no one's desperate in the first place.

That's absolutely fine. I would love to live in a society in which nobody is desperate.

But to the extent that our efforts to make sure nobody is desperate fail, what then? Should we prohibit those desperate people from taking actions they judge to be in their own interests?
#14267396
Eran wrote:Is there an objective standard for "morally reprehensible ways", or is it entirely a matter of personal taste?
(see below)

THe NAP merely states that it is wrong to use force against people, even if they behaved in morally reprehensible ways. Note, btw, that constitutional democracy equally licenses taking advantage of other's circumstances in morally reprehensible ways. There is no general law against taking advantage of other's circumstances in morally reprehensible ways. Only in illegal ways. And the law can never keep up with the various morally-reprehensible ways that people can treat each other.

Having said that, nothing in the NAP or libertarianism in general says that people ought to be indifferent or take no action against those who behave in morally reprehensible ways. On the contrary - libertarian literature is very clear in calling for various forms of action against morally-offensive behaviour. (see above)

The only difference is that libertarians do not permit the initiation of force in such cases.
So, because law can't cover all eventualities, we should legitimise and enforce exploitation ..and this is a recipe for peaceful cooperation?

Over my dead body.

Actually, it is very much in the interests of the desperate party that such contracts are enforced. If such contracts weren't enforced, the offer which the desperate party found to its advantage wouldn't have been made in the first place.

Your attitude condemns people in desperation to a worst lot than they would be in under a libertarian regime.
On the contrary, legitimising and enforcing exploitation incentivises imposing desperate circumstances in the first place, as per the scenario in question. I believe I addressed this in my previous answer before you edited it out and repeated your assertion.

That's absolutely fine. I would love to live in a society in which nobody is desperate.

But to the extent that our efforts to make sure nobody is desperate fail, what then? Should we prohibit those desperate people from taking actions they judge to be in their own interests?
No, but since said actions typically involve prohibiting exploitation, prohibiting actions they judge to be in their interests is exactly what Libertarianism proposes.
#14267474
Sorry for the long delay Eran, haven't had time to write up a proper response, lectures at uni etc

Eran wrote:But you see, the only reason I object governments is aggression. Something which is like a state in every way, except for no aggression is, in my book, legitimate.


Fair enough, you are consistent in your position,, I'll give you that. But just to clarify, if a small town had one dominant agency, one legal system provider, one arbitrator, one bank and a single currency, a single schooling system a flag and anthem and any other nuances of a state, it would be all legitimate and acceptable, provided it was all voluntary? My problem with this is that it might be voluntary and without aggression, but there is almost invisible aggression - what I mean is that if you tried to compete with any of the dominant companies you would undeniably fail. it's like the situation would be an invisible state, it would be a state in reality but uncoercive on paper. so what is the real difference in reality between a state and this system? on paper the one is coercive, the other not, but in reality they are both states

By the same token, a minarchist government which employed a favourable legal code to the public, even if that legal code deviates from the NAP, will successfully win elections.


How about a clause preventing such a situation arising? Similar to clauses that prevent the U.S president from committing certain acts?

At the end of the day, NAP enforcement, whether under minarchy or anarchy, depends on public support for the NAP.


The anarchy depends on public support for the NAP, the minarchy forces people to accept the NAP, surely? An anarchy could deviate from the NAP much easier than a minarchy could.

Eran, going back to that small 'state' situation where it is a voluntary system yet is a state in reality - don't you see such a situation arising and then subsequently transforming into an official state? that's what I meant by an invisible hand

Without it, neither system works. With it, anarchy works, while minarchy necessarily requires at least a minimal amount of aggression.


But with it, an isolated legal system in an isolated town could easily deviate from the NAP with public support. Even if 80% of the public supports the NAP, certain areas will reject it and comply with a non-NAP legal system. In a minarchy, everyone has to, by official law, accept the NAP.

First, I don't need everyone to accept NAP. Just the bulk of society.


As mentioned, the bulk of society could accept it, but that would not prevent certain areas rejecting it. Also, how do you plan to make the bulk of society accept it. We have seen people reject it flat-out on this forum, even surprisingly so.

Constitutions can be changed, both explicitly and through interpretation. At the end of the day, if the public doesn't support the NAP, no government will long persist in enforcing it. Observe how quickly the US Government managed to ignore the First Amendment.


I think you have got a good point here, but the point easily swings and goes against you, just as it does to my argument.

If popularists manage to popularize a system deviating from the NAP, they could implement a non-NAP legal system easier than if a NAP-based-minarchy could through interpretation.

Your NAP-like minarchic constitution will similarly operate only as long as the public supports it. The scenario whereby the public loses its support for NAP, and under which an anarchy will cease being NAP-respecting would also see a minarchic government violating its NAP-like constitution with impunity.


Again, this goes against you too. An anarchy that no longer supports the NAP will deviate to some (most likely terrible) system, at the hands of popularists. Imagine a Nazi like charismatic leader managing to rally up society from an anarchy into a fascist regime. With public support anything is possible.

The right means, amongst other things, that victims of aggression can sell their restitution rights to others. That means that if you have a viable claim (even a claim that is only viable when in the hands of professional, resource-rich organisations), you can get paid for that claim and, in turn, a professional organisation will pursue your attacker (because as owners of the claim, they are now motivated to do so).

No need for means to enjoy your right to enforce your rights.


Fair enough point about selling restitution rights. Can I ask, how does that system work in a bit more detail?

It would be self-defeating to give people protection from aggression at the cost of aggressing against innocent third parties by requiring them to fund said protection.


I know your flat out rejection of the geolibertarian, georgian tax, but hypothetically speaking, don't you think such a system would be better, where protection is guaranteed?

I am at a cross-roads - ideology vs reality. I want a society with no aggression, not a society where some people are not immune from aggression

Enforcement agencies are much more likely to abide by NAP, as they would be checked by each other.


Enforcement agencies' following of the NAP, as we have established, would be governed by public support. if the public don't want the NAP, they won't provide services catering to it,.

That's not easy. Assessment of property value today is based on sales prices. But assessment of unimproved land value is difficult given that in certain areas, unimproved land is rarely if ever sold.


I suppose the LVT is not a flawless proposal. I liked its sound as it does not distort and dilute situations like other taxes.

I figured out a scenario where I can fully agree with you and 'embrace' anarchism. It stems from my wanting of a voluntary society.

we can essentially compromise. some communities could have a police force run on LTV taxes, to live their you must pay the tax, essentially. so it is voluntary, but functions as a minarchy, with 'state' police forces and courts, but you have the freedom to start a competing service, yet no one would support you in practice due to the communities founding on supporting a certain police force. so basically a voluntary minarchy. you can have the option not to pay LTV taxes, but then you do not get access to the community funded police force and people can chose to not do business with you.

if i can also add here: quite a lot of my libertarianism is based on an idealistic utopian style of thinking. i have at points thought 'is libertarianism realistic' can it be pragmatically implemented with no violence?
#14267732
So, because law can't cover all eventualities, we should legitimise and enforce exploitation ..and this is a recipe for peaceful cooperation?

Rule of law means that written rules rather than your, or anybody else's moral intuition regarding what is or isn't "reprehensible" determines when force may legitimately be used.

Under any legal regime, be it democracy or libertarian anarchy, some people would be desperate, and some actions would be both legal and considered "reprehensible". Any legal regime is obliged to enforce legal contracts, even when you and I deem them to have been based on reprehensible morality.

Your efforts to suggest that libertarianism is somehow unusual are wrong.

A better claim against libertarianism is that the system it suggests lacks an institutional guarantee against desperation. The argument is that under government safety net, no person would ever find themselves so desperate as to require accepting a morally reprehensible offer of help.

Husky wrote:if a small town had one dominant agency, one legal system provider, one arbitrator, one bank and a single currency, a single schooling system a flag and anthem and any other nuances of a state, it would be all legitimate and acceptable, provided it was all voluntary?

Yes.

My problem with this is that it might be voluntary and without aggression, but there is almost invisible aggression - what I mean is that if you tried to compete with any of the dominant companies you would undeniably fail.

I don't understand what you mean by "invisible aggression". Do you mean threat of aggression?

The reason you would fail is presumably because the people prefer their current service providers over what you are offering them. If that is the case, what is your concern?

so what is the real difference in reality between a state and this system? on paper the one is coercive, the other not, but in reality they are both states

But the coercion (precisely - aggression, i.e. the initiation of force or the threat thereof) is precisely what is wrong with government. There is nothing inherently wrong with a flag or an anthem. There is nothing inherently wrong with a group of people choosing to obey a leader, or to utilise the services of a single firm for adjudicating their disputes.

The only thing that is wrong with government is its inherent aggression. Remove the aggression, and you are left with a legitimate system.

How about a clause preventing such a situation arising? Similar to clauses that prevent the U.S president from committing certain acts?

The US Constitution already had a clause, very explicitly and in simple terms prohibiting Congress from abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. It was adopted in 1791. Seven years later, in 1798, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. To quote:

1798 Alien and Sedition Act wrote:That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.


A clearer violation of the First Amendment within the decade it was enacted cannot be imagined. (An ironic example of the political opportunism behind the act is that while both Congress and the President are therein protected, the Vice President isn't).

And as you know, the express intention of the Constitution to create a Federal government of limited powers is routinely ignored by decades of jurisprudence.

Written constitutions can never do more than temporarily forestall increases in government power supported by society.

The anarchy depends on public support for the NAP, the minarchy forces people to accept the NAP, surely? An anarchy could deviate from the NAP much easier than a minarchy could.

...

If popularists manage to popularize a system deviating from the NAP, they could implement a non-NAP legal system easier than if a NAP-based-minarchy could through interpretation.

No, it is the other way around. Consider the concept of "checks and balances". In an anarchy, there is naturally a plurality of legally co-equal organisations, none of which has an interest in arming any of the others with excessive powers.

In a minarchy, on the other hand, one organisation is already equipped with a monopoly over the legitimate use of force. That organisation (the government) is naturally interested in expanding the scope of its legitimate action.

In practice, the first stage would be to identify government actions that, while technically aggressive, enjoy broad public support. Say the diversion of the armed forces to help victims of a natural disaster. Given that soldiers are already there, paid for by taxes, and that the victims of the natural disaster are viewed with sympathy, who could resist their being afforded assistance at taxpayer expense?

Next, a dedicated army unit would be created, specialising in helping victims of natural disasters. IT would next be argued that requiring certain building codes would, in the long term, help reduce the expenses associated with rescuing victims, already accepted as a legitimate government function.

I could go on, but you understand my point. Once you legitimised the use of taxes to fund one set of public services (protection), it is always easy to gradually expand the scope of what those taxes may pay for.


Eran, going back to that small 'state' situation where it is a voluntary system yet is a state in reality - don't you see such a situation arising and then subsequently transforming into an official state? that's what I meant by an invisible hand

There is nothing "invisible" about actors within your small community initiating force against a peaceful competitor.

Imagine we were discussing the prospect of government monopolising food distribution. You could start by pointing out the plausibility of a small community in which only one grocery store sells food to the population, and only one trucking company delivering food to that store. That state of affairs can arise naturally, and involves no coercion.

Does that in any way suggest to you that a state monopoly over food distribution and sales can emerge by an "invisible hand"?


Keep in mind - force using organisations within an anarchy aren't like government police, enforcing arbitrary legislative decrees. They are inherently passive, like the judiciary is today. They mind their own business unless and until a dispute arises involving property right violations. When that happens, attempts are made to resolve the dispute peacefully, with all the weight of public opinion, expectations and economic rationality behind such peaceful avenues.

Only in the unlikely event that the dispute cannot be resolved peacefully would armed men get involved.

As mentioned, the bulk of society could accept it, but that would not prevent certain areas rejecting it.

Rejection of NAP within a small area means that within that area there are victims of aggression. Those victims can appeal to right-protection organisations outside the area for help. They can subscribe to insurance companies operating outside the area, or sell their restitution rights.

Those on the outside would have (1) financial interest, (2) overwhelming force, and (3) the moral support of the rest of society. They are at least as likely to act against that local aggression as would be government actors.

Also, how do you plan to make the bulk of society accept it. We have seen people reject it flat-out on this forum, even surprisingly so.

I wish I knew. I am not optimistic in the short-term. The best hope is for a spectacularly successful test-case (perhaps a Free City or Seasteading project).

Can I ask, how does that system work in a bit more detail?

It is fairly straightforward. You would enter into a contract with an insurance company/legal firm whereby you assign to them your right to restitution derived from a particular event of right violation.

This assignment would be an automatic component of your insurance contract in the event that the insurance company pays you compensation, but can also be done on a standalone basis.

In many cases, a clause in that assignment contract would oblige you to cooperate with the prosecution of your right violator, and hold you liable if the representations you made turn out to be proven false.

Once you assigned your rights, the firm purchasing them is legally entitled to sue your right violator in your stead. They acquire all the rights you had in that regard. They are a professional organisation, experienced and equipped to pursue such violators. They may have their own investigative arm, or outsource that function to a dedicated Private Investigation firm. Once the perpetrator has been identified and sufficient evidence collected, they can serve the criminal with a restitution request. The criminal can pay (and thus save any further expenses due to them), or can challenge either his guilt or the amount assessed.

If the criminal is himself insured, the two insurance companies negotiate between them. The insurance company of the criminal may acknowledge his guilt and pay the amount immediately, or both companies could engage their normal arbitration firm.

Once an opinion has been issued, it would be presented to the criminal, with the expectation that payment is made.

Only if the criminal refuses to cooperate with the written opinion would the need for using force arise. In all likelihood, dedicated firms would then engage in extraction of payment, similar to today's collection or re-possession agencies.

Finally and as a last resort, violent or habitual criminals may have to be physically confined.


I want a society with no aggression, not a society where some people are not immune from aggression.

It would be a bad idea to base a society of no aggression on institutionalised aggression.

we can essentially compromise. some communities could have a police force run on LTV taxes, to live their you must pay the tax, essentially. so it is voluntary, but functions as a minarchy, with 'state' police forces and courts, but you have the freedom to start a competing service, yet no one would support you in practice due to the communities founding on supporting a certain police force. so basically a voluntary minarchy. you can have the option not to pay LTV taxes, but then you do not get access to the community funded police force and people can chose to not do business with you.

That can certainly work. Any significant move towards libertarianism is likely to begin with a private community (such as a Free City or a Seasteading project), naturally conducive to your suggestion.

I can propose other mechanisms for gradual transition. Imagine, for example, a functioning minarchy. Which functions must be provided by government? Dispute resolution, for example, can most often proceed using private arbitrators, as long as both side agree. Passive property protection can be handled by private security firms. We already have experience with private companies engaged in debt collection and re-possessions, even "bounty hunting".

So even many of the "law-and-order" government functions can demonstrably be privatised.

That leaves (1) courts to handle uncooperative suspects, (2) armed force of last resort.

Once a legal procedure for handling uncooperative suspects has been determined, why not allow private firms to provide that service, as long as they fall under the ultimate supervision of a government court? With that in mind, the government judiciary could shrink to a Supreme Court only.

Similarly, most policing functions can be privatised, as long as the central government retains the ultimate force to compel private police forces to obey the Supreme Court. This is similar to the US today, in which states and towns have their own armed forces, subject to intervention by Federal forces (typically federalised national guard, but potentially the army).

You could, for example, condition the right to use force upon a credible commitment to obey decisions of the Supreme Court. At the end of the day, this is all we have now - local police, state police, national reserve, even regular armed forces could all, in theory, operate independently. All we have to ensure federal supremacy is the broad commitment to obey legitimate court decisions.

Ultimately, I have concluded, you could shrink your minarchy to an ultra-minimal government comprised exclusively of a final court of appeal. Enjoying broad esteem (as the USSC does today), that final court of appeal would be the last defender of the NAP.

In fact, it is possible to see a situation in which the authority of that one single court is so broadly voluntarily accepted that, as if by "invisible hand", the government comprised of that one lone court transitions into a proper anarchy...



So far, I have played "on the defensive", trying to demonstrate that an anarchy is as stable in its defence of the NAP as any government. Let me spend a few lines illustrating the many advantages of an anarchy.

We both recognise that a system based on voluntary interactions, free entry, competition and free market is superior to one based on coercion and monopoly. The superiority isn't only ethical. It is also practical. A free market has several important advantages:
1. A plurality of service offerings allows different people to get what they want.
2. A competitive system promotes efficiency, lower prices and improved quality
3. A competitive and pluralistic system allows and encourages innovation and change
4. Market mechanisms (and only those) can determine the correct level of expenditure and other trade-offs associated with right protection.

In fact, the long-term superiority of a competitive, free-entry market in the provision of a service is so overwhelming, that would quickly and easily overcome any income-based access differences. We can all agree that food is very important. Do you really think that poor people would eat better under a soviet-like system of government monopoly over food production and distribution, compared with a free market solution?

I'd be happy to go into detail. In some scenarios (including my favourite insurance-dominated one), even questions such as the trade-off between false positive (innocents being convicted) and false negatives (guilty going free) associated with legal procedures and protections can be determined on an individual basis, through a price-discovery mechanism within a free market.
#14267733
So, because law can't cover all eventualities, we should legitimise and enforce exploitation ..and this is a recipe for peaceful cooperation?

Rule of law means that written rules rather than your, or anybody else's moral intuition regarding what is or isn't "reprehensible" determines when force may legitimately be used.

Under any legal regime, be it democracy or libertarian anarchy, some people would be desperate, and some actions would be both legal and considered "reprehensible". Any legal regime is obliged to enforce legal contracts, even when you and I deem them to have been based on reprehensible morality.

Your efforts to suggest that libertarianism is somehow unusual are wrong.

A better claim against libertarianism is that the system it suggests lacks an institutional guarantee against desperation. The argument is that under government safety net, no person would ever find themselves so desperate as to require accepting a morally reprehensible offer of help.

Husky wrote:if a small town had one dominant agency, one legal system provider, one arbitrator, one bank and a single currency, a single schooling system a flag and anthem and any other nuances of a state, it would be all legitimate and acceptable, provided it was all voluntary?

Yes.

My problem with this is that it might be voluntary and without aggression, but there is almost invisible aggression - what I mean is that if you tried to compete with any of the dominant companies you would undeniably fail.

I don't understand what you mean by "invisible aggression". Do you mean threat of aggression?

The reason you would fail is presumably because the people prefer their current service providers over what you are offering them. If that is the case, what is your concern?

so what is the real difference in reality between a state and this system? on paper the one is coercive, the other not, but in reality they are both states

But the coercion (precisely - aggression, i.e. the initiation of force or the threat thereof) is precisely what is wrong with government. There is nothing inherently wrong with a flag or an anthem. There is nothing inherently wrong with a group of people choosing to obey a leader, or to utilise the services of a single firm for adjudicating their disputes.

The only thing that is wrong with government is its inherent aggression. Remove the aggression, and you are left with a legitimate system.

How about a clause preventing such a situation arising? Similar to clauses that prevent the U.S president from committing certain acts?

The US Constitution already had a clause, very explicitly and in simple terms prohibiting Congress from abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. It was adopted in 1791. Seven years later, in 1798, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts. To quote:

1798 Alien and Sedition Act wrote:That if any person shall write, print, utter or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either house of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either house of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States, or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the constitution of the United States, or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act, or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.


A clearer violation of the First Amendment within the decade it was enacted cannot be imagined. (An ironic example of the political opportunism behind the act is that while both Congress and the President are therein protected, the Vice President isn't).

And as you know, the express intention of the Constitution to create a Federal government of limited powers is routinely ignored by decades of jurisprudence.

Written constitutions can never do more than temporarily forestall increases in government power supported by society.

The anarchy depends on public support for the NAP, the minarchy forces people to accept the NAP, surely? An anarchy could deviate from the NAP much easier than a minarchy could.

...

If popularists manage to popularize a system deviating from the NAP, they could implement a non-NAP legal system easier than if a NAP-based-minarchy could through interpretation.

No, it is the other way around. Consider the concept of "checks and balances". In an anarchy, there is naturally a plurality of legally co-equal organisations, none of which has an interest in arming any of the others with excessive powers.

In a minarchy, on the other hand, one organisation is already equipped with a monopoly over the legitimate use of force. That organisation (the government) is naturally interested in expanding the scope of its legitimate action.

In practice, the first stage would be to identify government actions that, while technically aggressive, enjoy broad public support. Say the diversion of the armed forces to help victims of a natural disaster. Given that soldiers are already there, paid for by taxes, and that the victims of the natural disaster are viewed with sympathy, who could resist their being afforded assistance at taxpayer expense?

Next, a dedicated army unit would be created, specialising in helping victims of natural disasters. IT would next be argued that requiring certain building codes would, in the long term, help reduce the expenses associated with rescuing victims, already accepted as a legitimate government function.

I could go on, but you understand my point. Once you legitimised the use of taxes to fund one set of public services (protection), it is always easy to gradually expand the scope of what those taxes may pay for.


Eran, going back to that small 'state' situation where it is a voluntary system yet is a state in reality - don't you see such a situation arising and then subsequently transforming into an official state? that's what I meant by an invisible hand

There is nothing "invisible" about actors within your small community initiating force against a peaceful competitor.

Imagine we were discussing the prospect of government monopolising food distribution. You could start by pointing out the plausibility of a small community in which only one grocery store sells food to the population, and only one trucking company delivering food to that store. That state of affairs can arise naturally, and involves no coercion.

Does that in any way suggest to you that a state monopoly over food distribution and sales can emerge by an "invisible hand"?


Keep in mind - force using organisations within an anarchy aren't like government police, enforcing arbitrary legislative decrees. They are inherently passive, like the judiciary is today. They mind their own business unless and until a dispute arises involving property right violations. When that happens, attempts are made to resolve the dispute peacefully, with all the weight of public opinion, expectations and economic rationality behind such peaceful avenues.

Only in the unlikely event that the dispute cannot be resolved peacefully would armed men get involved.

As mentioned, the bulk of society could accept it, but that would not prevent certain areas rejecting it.

Rejection of NAP within a small area means that within that area there are victims of aggression. Those victims can appeal to right-protection organisations outside the area for help. They can subscribe to insurance companies operating outside the area, or sell their restitution rights.

Those on the outside would have (1) financial interest, (2) overwhelming force, and (3) the moral support of the rest of society. They are at least as likely to act against that local aggression as would be government actors.

Also, how do you plan to make the bulk of society accept it. We have seen people reject it flat-out on this forum, even surprisingly so.

I wish I knew. I am not optimistic in the short-term. The best hope is for a spectacularly successful test-case (perhaps a Free City or Seasteading project).

Can I ask, how does that system work in a bit more detail?

It is fairly straightforward. You would enter into a contract with an insurance company/legal firm whereby you assign to them your right to restitution derived from a particular event of right violation.

This assignment would be an automatic component of your insurance contract in the event that the insurance company pays you compensation, but can also be done on a standalone basis.

In many cases, a clause in that assignment contract would oblige you to cooperate with the prosecution of your right violator, and hold you liable if the representations you made turn out to be proven false.

Once you assigned your rights, the firm purchasing them is legally entitled to sue your right violator in your stead. They acquire all the rights you had in that regard. They are a professional organisation, experienced and equipped to pursue such violators. They may have their own investigative arm, or outsource that function to a dedicated Private Investigation firm. Once the perpetrator has been identified and sufficient evidence collected, they can serve the criminal with a restitution request. The criminal can pay (and thus save any further expenses due to them), or can challenge either his guilt or the amount assessed.

If the criminal is himself insured, the two insurance companies negotiate between them. The insurance company of the criminal may acknowledge his guilt and pay the amount immediately, or both companies could engage their normal arbitration firm.

Once an opinion has been issued, it would be presented to the criminal, with the expectation that payment is made.

Only if the criminal refuses to cooperate with the written opinion would the need for using force arise. In all likelihood, dedicated firms would then engage in extraction of payment, similar to today's collection or re-possession agencies.

Finally and as a last resort, violent or habitual criminals may have to be physically confined.


I want a society with no aggression, not a society where some people are not immune from aggression.

It would be a bad idea to base a society of no aggression on institutionalised aggression.

we can essentially compromise. some communities could have a police force run on LTV taxes, to live their you must pay the tax, essentially. so it is voluntary, but functions as a minarchy, with 'state' police forces and courts, but you have the freedom to start a competing service, yet no one would support you in practice due to the communities founding on supporting a certain police force. so basically a voluntary minarchy. you can have the option not to pay LTV taxes, but then you do not get access to the community funded police force and people can chose to not do business with you.

That can certainly work. Any significant move towards libertarianism is likely to begin with a private community (such as a Free City or a Seasteading project), naturally conducive to your suggestion.

I can propose other mechanisms for gradual transition. Imagine, for example, a functioning minarchy. Which functions must be provided by government? Dispute resolution, for example, can most often proceed using private arbitrators, as long as both side agree. Passive property protection can be handled by private security firms. We already have experience with private companies engaged in debt collection and re-possessions, even "bounty hunting".

So even many of the "law-and-order" government functions can demonstrably be privatised.

That leaves (1) courts to handle uncooperative suspects, (2) armed force of last resort.

Once a legal procedure for handling uncooperative suspects has been determined, why not allow private firms to provide that service, as long as they fall under the ultimate supervision of a government court? With that in mind, the government judiciary could shrink to a Supreme Court only.

Similarly, most policing functions can be privatised, as long as the central government retains the ultimate force to compel private police forces to obey the Supreme Court. This is similar to the US today, in which states and towns have their own armed forces, subject to intervention by Federal forces (typically federalised national guard, but potentially the army).

You could, for example, condition the right to use force upon a credible commitment to obey decisions of the Supreme Court. At the end of the day, this is all we have now - local police, state police, national reserve, even regular armed forces could all, in theory, operate independently. All we have to ensure federal supremacy is the broad commitment to obey legitimate court decisions.

Ultimately, I have concluded, you could shrink your minarchy to an ultra-minimal government comprised exclusively of a final court of appeal. Enjoying broad esteem (as the USSC does today), that final court of appeal would be the last defender of the NAP.

In fact, it is possible to see a situation in which the authority of that one single court is so broadly voluntarily accepted that, as if by "invisible hand", the government comprised of that one lone court transitions into a proper anarchy...



So far, I have played "on the defensive", trying to demonstrate that an anarchy is as stable in its defence of the NAP as any government. Let me spend a few lines illustrating the many advantages of an anarchy.

We both recognise that a system based on voluntary interactions, free entry, competition and free market is superior to one based on coercion and monopoly. The superiority isn't only ethical. It is also practical. A free market has several important advantages:
1. A plurality of service offerings allows different people to get what they want.
2. A competitive system promotes efficiency, lower prices and improved quality
3. A competitive and pluralistic system allows and encourages innovation and change
4. Market mechanisms (and only those) can determine the correct level of expenditure and other trade-offs associated with right protection.

In fact, the long-term superiority of a competitive, free-entry market in the provision of a service is so overwhelming, that would quickly and easily overcome any income-based access differences. We can all agree that food is very important. Do you really think that poor people would eat better under a soviet-like system of government monopoly over food production and distribution, compared with a free market solution?

I'd be happy to go into detail. In some scenarios (including my favourite insurance-dominated one), even questions such as the trade-off between false positive (innocents being convicted) and false negatives (guilty going free) associated with legal procedures and protections can be determined on an individual basis, through a price-discovery mechanism within a free market.
#14267771
So, because law can't cover all eventualities, we should legitimise and enforce exploitation ..and this is a recipe for peaceful cooperation?
Eran wrote:Rule of law means that written rules rather than your, or anybody else's moral intuition regarding what is or isn't "reprehensible" determines when force may legitimately be used.

Under any legal regime, be it democracy or libertarian anarchy, some people would be desperate, and some actions would be both legal and considered "reprehensible". Any legal regime is obliged to enforce legal contracts, even when you and I deem them to have been based on reprehensible morality.

Your efforts to suggest that libertarianism is somehow unusual are wrong.

A better claim against libertarianism is that the system it suggests lacks an institutional guarantee against desperation. The argument is that under government safety net, no person would ever find themselves so desperate as to require accepting a morally reprehensible offer of help.

No, the argument - to which I see no counterargument here - is that, while a safety net might sometimes fail, Libertarianism is indeed unique in saying the exploitation is fine and dandy and should be enforced if the abuser can produce a contract. Worse (as you've edited out several times now), it will tend to incentivise imposition of desperate circumstances - as per the scenario in question.
#14267804
If desperation exists, it is in the interests of those in desperate needs that they have the widest range of options available to them.

Outlawing or making unenforceable arrangements that the desperate person desires, but which you disapprove of, doesn't help that person.

As for your point regarding "imposition of desperate circumstances", libertarianism is the best system for avoiding such scenarios. By removing the most potent source of such imposition, namely a monopoly government, inevitably subject to influence by powerful members of society.
#14268254
Eran wrote:If desperation exists, it is in the interests of those in desperate needs that they have the widest range of options available to them.

Outlawing or making unenforceable arrangements that the desperate person desires, but which you disapprove of, doesn't help that person.
Then why does Libertarianism propose to do exactly that? What people opt for is a social safety net and law that deems such contracts unconscionable. Exactly what Libertarianism disapproves of and wants to deny them.

As for your point regarding "imposition of desperate circumstances", libertarianism is the best system for avoiding such scenarios. By removing the most potent source of such imposition, namely a monopoly government, inevitably subject to influence by powerful members of society.
Yeah, that kind of silly talk works with Libertarians but not anyone else.
#14268261
Then why does Libertarianism propose to do exactly that?

Libertarianism proposes to remove all obstacles to voluntary, peaceful activities, whether autonomous or cooperative.

The social safety net is, at best, a scheme for forcibly extracting resources from one group of people to transfer to another group. In practice, it is a huge scam whereby people pay money to government only to get a fraction of that money back.

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