Thursday, March 30, 2006

The "Non-Libertarian FAQ"

I have taken a long time to examine critically the claims on a statist FAQ. In this entry I want to briefly examine another such FAQ, this time openly anti-libertarian, the "Non-Libertarian FAQ". I will not examine most of the FAQ, since many of these points are corollaries or address specifically American arguments. But I want to look at how Mike Huben defends standard statist lies like the "social contract" or taxation.

(NOTE : if you want to read a longer and more detailed rebuttal of this FAQ, see Some Responses to Mike Huben's A Non-Libertarian FAQ, by anarchist economist David Friedman)


The foremost defenders of our freedoms and rights, which libertarians prefer you overlook, are our governments. National defense, police, courts, registries of deeds, public defenders, (...), etc. all are government efforts that work towards defending freedoms and rights.


Actually, most libertarians would agree with what he's saying here, so I'm not sure what his point is. As the anarchist kind of libertarian, my position is quite otherwise. I see absolutely no reason to accept the ridiculous claim that government has our best interests in mind. True, government does protect our basic rights through the police and the courts, but only because it would lose credibility were it to stop doing so.

Even the police and the courts, like any other government system, still serve a purely utilitarian function : to serve the interests of the ruling class. Only the rich and powerful get "justice".


There are several explicit means by which people make the social contract with government. The commonest is when your parents choose your residency and/or citizenship after your birth. In that case, your parents or guardians are contracting for you, exercising their power of custody. No further explicit action is required on your part to continue the agreement, and you may end it at any time by departing and renouncing your citizenship.

(...)

Take [libertarians] to a restaurant and see if they think it ethical to walk out without paying because they didn't sign anything. (...) The restaurant gets to set the price and the method of contract so that even your presence creates a debt. What is a libertarian going to do about that?


Here we have the standard statist rationalization of trying to associate governments with peaceful enterprises like restaurants. As far as I know, I was not born into a restaurant, and restaurants do not extort half of my income by force !

The fact is that being controlled by one's parents into residing in this or that territory does not a contract make. To recycle Huben's stupid example, if I kidnap someone and force them to eat at a certain restaurant, that person is not under the obligation of paying. He or she did not get there of their own free will.

Renouncing one's citizenship is not the equivalent of the end of a contract. Unless you leave for the high seas or the Arctic circle, you're not going to be able to live without government. So to associate the two is delusional.


The key difference is who owns what. The Mafia doesn't own anything to contract about. The landowner owns the land (in a limited sense.) And the (...) government owns rights to govern its territory.


This is once again a very silly rationalization. The government has no legitimate claim on any territory. It grabs territory by force, just like gangs fight each other over territory. There is no "right" in the "might" of government.


[T]here are no working examples of libertarian cities, states, or nations.


Actually, that is a bald-faced lie. The standard example that libertarians give is Hong Kong pre-Chinese repossession. Examples of orderly and stable anarchies in history include medieval Iceland and medieval Ireland, the Papuans, Labrador pre-1730, and pre-Alfred Anglo-Saxon England.


(...) "Might makes ability to make something", Right or Wrong. You can't even try for Right until you have Might to back it up in the real world. That's the reason that some real governments have survived and all utopian governments that have tried to abolish force have failed.


Even though this primitive FAQ seems to have no philosophy in it, this is a good indication of Huben's moral rationale for supporting coercion and violence. He believes that morality is enforced by the gun. How incongruous is that ? How can any knowledge, which can only be attained by free minds and free individuals, be imposed by the force of arms ? Whoever has such might, will inevitably desire to mold society for his own ends, not in the name of any truth. This is the basic fallacy of statism.


Like most other non-pacifistic belief systems, libertarians want to initiate force for what they identify as their interests and call it righteous retaliation, and use the big lie technique to define everything else as evil "initiation of force". They support the initial force that has already taken place in the formation of the system of property, and wish to continue to use force to perpetuate it and make it more rigid.


I am a libertarian (in the general sense that I want less government - zero, to be more precise) and I do not "support the initial force that has already taken place in the formation of the system of property". I also do not wish to "use force to perpetuate it". Rights of property are extensions of one's right of action. So how can such rights entail force ? When is force needed ? Blank.

Slaveholders use force against their slaves in order to keep them from having wealth and become independent. Free people do not need to use force to respect each other's freedom and property (some people, of course, will use force in any context).


As I told creationists who wondered why I bothered, it's interesting to me to study unusual beliefs for the same reason it's interesting for doctors to study pathologies. You don't have to catch a disease to be able to understand it, fight it, or vaccinate against it.


Wow. I didn't know the desire to stop the exploitation of the masses by ruling classes was a disease that needed vaccination. No one told the people who wrote the Magna Carta, I guess.

What do I think of Mike Huben after this ? I'm afraid I have to copy him on that one. I think he is no different than a Creationist. He shares the passion of the irrational fanatic, and he also shares their corruption of rationality and their willful ignorance of the facts. You can post on his blog if you want to tell him exactly what you think of his silly dictatorial belief system.

10 comments:

Francois Tremblay said...

I apologize for closing this comment section by accident. Here it is.

Andrew Greve said...

"They [libertarians] support the initial force that has already taken place in the formation of the system of property, and wish to continue to use force to perpetuate it and make it more rigid."

so i guess this guy is a communist, not a facist, since he said that property is theft?

how would a facist respond to the above quote?

Gekko said...

Sorry this way after the fact but I've just found your blog.

One of the arguments I often come up against when discussing this stuff is that states 'own' their countries. As such, following all the rules of anarchist contractual propertarianism, we should have no problems with the owner setting the rules for what happens on their property and if we don't like it we are free to leave (assuming of course that one is).
Two questions:
1) Do you agree this in principle?
2) How does one deny that govt 'owns' the territiorial land area called the country? They occupy and control it and defend it against theft. Even taking it back to initial appropriation argumetns you have the problem that it is impossible to trace valid ownership back very far and in the absence of a competing claim to ownership the govt will claim validity of it's ownership.

Aaron Kinney said...

One of the arguments I often come up against when discussing this stuff is that states 'own' their countries.

A state cannot own private property anymore than freedom can own a gun. And even if they could, the property that these states claim to own was not legitimately obtained in the first place.

As such, following all the rules of anarchist contractual propertarianism, we should have no problems with the owner setting the rules for what happens on their property and if we don't like it we are free to leave (assuming of course that one is).

Of course.

Two questions:
1) Do you agree this in principle?


Of course, as long as the "person" (not state) legitimately "owns" the property, and does not force anyone to use his property or services (like the state does).

2) How does one deny that govt 'owns' the territiorial land area called the country?

Governments down own shit or buy shit. They are abstract ideas that people hide behind in order to help them coerce and steal and control others without their consent.

They occupy and control it and defend it against theft.

States do not do any of these things.

Even taking it back to initial appropriation argumetns you have the problem that it is impossible to trace valid ownership back very far and in the absence of a competing claim to ownership the govt will claim validity of it's ownership.

Governments dont claim anything; they dont exist. Humans claim things, and humans who pose as "government" representatives are simply thieves.

Governments dont own property anymore than a mafia or gang "owns" a turf.

If a government owns a nation, then I guess that humans cant own anything then, can they? its already owned by government! So much for homeownership. Thats just a pipe dream. So much for you owning your car, or even your own body. government controls and owns it all, including you.

Now, can you talk to government? can you see it? can you see the "Governments" signature on a "contract"?

No. These things are all people pretending to be representatives of some imaginary allegedly higher ideal, all in order to steal and leech off society.

Gekko said...

Hey Aaron - thanks for the quick reply

"A state cannot own private property anymore than freedom can own a gun."
Yes I agree. However I'm assuming here that joint ownership of property is possible, so a group of people can agree amongst themselves to have equal property rights to a resource. While this does not translate directly to the situation under discussion (since in our state-based legal systems abstract entities are recognised) it is effectively the closest I can come to describing what I mean by the group of people that calls itself the government holding and exercising that right to property, and in such a way that the people I discuss this with who don't hold my individualist anarchist views can understand.

"And even if they could, the property that these states claim to own was not legitimately obtained in the first place."
Yes, hence my point about initial appropriation.

"If a government owns a nation, then I guess that humans cant own anything then, can they? its already owned by government! So much for homeownership. Thats just a pipe dream. So much for you owning your car, or even your own body. government controls and owns it all, including you. "
Well yes, this is effectively the argument I am faced with by many statists, with the difference that they claim the group of humans that call themselves the govt already owns the land area called the nation and hence why rights to do pretty much anything on that property must stem from that group of owners that calls itself the state. And that no we don't own our houses in the sense that you or I would understand it - their claimed reality is effectively a lease or subordinated property rights from that group of 'true' owners. This is the point of my question to your blog. In an attempt to rebut this from a property rights angle I am coming up against problems convincing them that the govt doesn't 'own' everything (again sidesteppig the strict abstract entity thing by assuming govt is an identifiable group of people).

Aaron Kinney said...

Gekko,

Hey Aaron - thanks for the quick reply

I recently set my blogger thingy so that I get email notices when comments are left. That way I can respond to questions and such :)

"A state cannot own private property anymore than freedom can own a gun."

Yes I agree. However I'm assuming here that joint ownership of property is possible, so a group of people can agree amongst themselves to have equal property rights to a resource. While this does not translate directly to the situation under discussion (since in our state-based legal systems abstract entities are recognised) it is effectively the closest I can come to describing what I mean by the group of people that calls itself the government holding and exercising that right to property, and in such a way that the people I discuss this with who don't hold my individualist anarchist views can understand.


Good point, and I was expecting this type of response. But you see, there is a difference between a private organization (like a corporation) and an organization that claims to represent the public good, and does so in a coercive monopolous fashion (the state).

The state claims to BE the people, in a sense. And they do so through coercive means. A state will tax YOU, while claiming that it represents YOu and everyone ELSE around you, even if YOU dont agree to the tax.

Recently I was arguing about government with a family friend, and at one point he claimed that I was government myself! What he meant was that I am part of the state since the state is the people.

Now, I cannot choose to associate with this "company" or not. It is a monopoly that not only corners the maarket that its in, but it forces you to buy the product and retain membership in it. This is not a "legal" entity in that its existence is not consentually justified, nor are its earnings, nor anything else that comprises it. A true company or legal entity is one that will exist by consent of its members, and through the mutually consentual interactions it performs with other entities, biological or legal.

When a representative of the government arrests you for not paying a tax that you didnt promise to pay in the first place, then you are not interacting legitimately with a legal entity or a business. You are merely being brutally violated by a real live human criminal, who is violating you under false, make believe pretenses.

If you do not consent to an interaction, then that interaction is not a business deal. It is a crime. It is an attack. Businesses conduct business. Humans commit crime.

What happens if a company "breaks the law"? Does the company go to jail? NO! Human being go to jail. Look at Enron. Enron is not serving time. The flesh and blood human masterminds of the white collar crime are in jail.

"And even if they could, the property that these states claim to own was not legitimately obtained in the first place."

Yes, hence my point about initial appropriation.


Yes. But tell me this: when a criminals assets are seized, is it wrong to auction them off to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to some sort of retribution or good cause? A private charity?

How else would one dispose of criminally owned essential services? You wouldnt blow up the public utilities plant for crying out loud! You would privatize it.

"If a government owns a nation, then I guess that humans cant own anything then, can they? its already owned by government! So much for homeownership. Thats just a pipe dream. So much for you owning your car, or even your own body. government controls and owns it all, including you. "

Well yes, this is effectively the argument I am faced with by many statists, with the difference that they claim the group of humans that call themselves the govt already owns the land area called the nation and hence why rights to do pretty much anything on that property must stem from that group of owners that calls itself the state. And that no we don't own our houses in the sense that you or I would understand it - their claimed reality is effectively a lease or subordinated property rights from that group of 'true' owners. This is the point of my question to your blog. In an attempt to rebut this from a property rights angle I am coming up against problems convincing them that the govt doesn't 'own' everything (again sidesteppig the strict abstract entity thing by assuming govt is an identifiable group of people).


Ive heard this argument many times too. Its ironic really, that they seriously advocate this and dont see the fallacy.

Well here is the nailer on that one:

If we dont own the property, then neither can government. Government, as mentioned above, is comprised of people, and we are people. So if people cant own property, than neither can government. Without people, there is no government. Its like not seeing the forest for the trees here.

Besides, if government is "the people" then dont you own the land already? If I am to be declared "the state" by a family friend, then shouldnt I start excercising my ownership of everything?

And if we cannot own property, then how did the government get it in the first place? This type of fallacy is known as special pleading, where one unjustifiably assumes a set of attributes for his side while simultanously denying these same attributes, in principle, to his opponents side.

If you are debating a statist, and they give you an argument that you dont immediately have an answer for, you need to be able to think on your feet quickly. You need to be able to examine their claim carefully in your head, and identify and evaluate the entities and principles and the logic within the statement, and point out its flaws and rearrange it to be consistent, and present it to him, all within an incredibly short amount of time. It helps to practice by playing devils advocate with yourself in your free time. What I mean is trying to defeat your own arguments, like playing chess by yourself.

Of course, you are also welcome to hang out at this blog and assault me with questions and criticisms, and I will defend myself to the best of my ability, and youll learn more about this ideology in the process :)

Gekko said...

Hey Aaron

Thanks for the ideas. I'm letting them sink in - the collective abstraction trap is all too easy to fall into and it looks like that is a big part of where I was going wrong.

"Of course, you are also welcome to hang out at this blog"
Thanks - you're on my daily list of visits. Good voluntarist and ancap sites are hard to find.

"and assault me with questions and criticisms, and I will defend myself to the best of my ability, and youll learn more about this ideology in the process"
Cool - I'm sure I'll have plenty.

Aaron Kinney said...

Gekko,

Thanks for the ideas. I'm letting them sink in - the collective abstraction trap is all too easy to fall into and it looks like that is a big part of where I was going wrong.

Oh yea I know the feeling. I was such a hard core statist and patriot my whole life, that when I finally DID understand the MA framework, and realized it was correct, it still took me 4 or 5 months to "admit" it to myself, know what I mean?

"Of course, you are also welcome to hang out at this blog"
Thanks - you're on my daily list of visits. Good voluntarist and ancap sites are hard to find.

"and assault me with questions and criticisms, and I will defend myself to the best of my ability, and youll learn more about this ideology in the process"
Cool - I'm sure I'll have plenty.


Right on! This blog could use more comments and reader participation :)

Anonymous said...

you really dont understand the libertarian position.

Aaron Kinney said...

Re: Anonymous Oct 20th, 2007,

you really dont understand the libertarian position.

you really dont know how to support an assertion.