Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Market Anarchist on: non-violence and peace

The topics of non-violence and peace are intimately associated with market anarchy. One term commonly used by market anarchists is NAP - Non-Aggression Principle - which states :

No one has the right, under any circumstances, to initiate force against another human being, nor to delegate its initiation.
L. Neil Smith
This is all well and good, and even most statists agree that violence and force are bad things (only that politicians are somehow immune from this universal moral principle). but there are a lot of pacifist, emotionalist, starry-eyed people muddling an already complicated and touchy issue. So there is a lot of things to untangle here.

The first issue is that of free will. I think that collectivism has instilled the idea that people can be inherently evil (which, except in extremely limited cases, is just not true). An integral part of collectivist belief system is that man is somehow degraded or corrupted. Statists always try to make us believe that people do "bad things" without any good reason. But this is nonsense. People don't do things without reason.

The first premise we have to start with is : only individuals can harbour peaceful or violent intentions, not parties, cities or countries. You can't have peace at a social, national or international level without individual peace. And governments of all stripes exploit the lack of commitment to peace on the individual's part as an avenue to use propaganda and gain support for wars. Simply expressed : if everyone valued peace, then there would be no war. It must be the case, therefore, that most people do not value peace, but rather security, conformity or historical determinism.

The notion of a "just war" that has anything to do with government is an absurdity, and the notion of a "just war" in general is a purely theoretical construct, at least from our experience of history. At best, and I'm not saying this is sufficient justification, war can be justified from a pragmatic standpoint as an extension of an economic struggle.

The second premise is that people always act in their perceived self-interest. If you don't start from that point, then, as I said before, you will find human behaviour inexplicable, and might come to the conclusion that people are inherently evil, which is mostly nonsense. People who participate in, or support, wars are not inherently evil, they are participating in a system which they think they should perpetuate for their own self-interest. The same applies to the Nazi gassers, the American who has a yellow ribbon on his car, Haliburton, and army generals.

While war is its most prominent expression, violence is a much more extensive subject. We are here of course talking about criminality, of the grave kind and the more banal kind. There is also the issue of social warfare, discussed in previous entries, which, while not violent per se, encourages violence by isolating people from the greater society and implanting the belief in religious, class or race conflict.

So the important questions are : how does the democratic incentive system make war and violence in people's perceived self-interest, and whether market anarchy can solve these problems.

Because it is an exclusive tool of the state, war is an easier phenomenon to analyze than crime. It is also easy to figure out its roots in modern society - wars are waged because its instigators (governments) do not have to suffer through them or cover their costs. Rather, they can burden the masses with more taxes, drafts and tremendous propaganda in order to get the flesh and financial resources needed for wars.

Wars are also fought over what is seen as illegitimate government. Here it is the monopolous power of government which is at fault. People do not go to war over how bad Adidas shoes are (for example) : they buy shoes from someone else. We don't have that luxury with force, which is always monopolized by one person or a group of people. If you don't like said monopoly, the only way for you to become a competing agent of force is to go to war.

Market anarchy is therefore supremely able to destroy the motives and means for war. Since those who wage war would have to pay for it and persuade others to fight with them, and other people would see as suspicious any organization who tries to accumulate that much power, any warmonger would have his work cut out for him. And there would be no reason for people to feel trapped in a monopoly of power, since it would no longer exist. People would be free to start their own agencies or courts, and live the way they desire.

Crime is a more complex issue, and I really have no intention of detailing it, if only because I don't have the expertise to do so. However, there are a few things I can say about it :

* The least productive and free a society is, the more incentive there is for crime. This is once again simple self-interest - if honest work provides very little incentive, then crime comes up as an alternative. So a market anarchy, by being more prosperous, reduces these incentives.

* A lot of crime is caused by black markets, which are once again a government invention and probably would not exist in a market anarchy (or at least be drastically reduced).

* A better security market and ending gun control would lower the expectations of criminals. No one commits a crime thinking he'll get caught or shot at.

I realize these are somewhat superficial points, but they represent a large part of criminality. The moral roots of crime also need to be examined. While I don't think it would be that easy, I think that living in a society where peaceful cooperation, instead of social warfare, is the norm would present a moral example to all individuals to follow.


Brandon said...

I think your stuff is a bit too set in stone....the world doesn't operate on definites...and neither is human nature definite or singularly definable in anyway. We live in contradiction...

Adi said...

Good points, Franc, that's a nice succint way to express them.

Brandon, do you mind expanding on that. Don't humans respond to incentives? What sort of contradictions do we live in?

Francois Tremblay said...

To be nice about this, brandon, you either didn't read my article or are talking out of your ass. If anything, you sound like you're agreeing with me while trying to disagree with me.

Brandon said...

Not all incentives...no I don't believe so...in a perfect capitalistic world we would, but no I don't think so. Perhaps the word I want is not contradiction---we live in Paradox.