A response to Rafal Smigrodzki, Part 1

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Sun Dec 23 2001 - 12:35:05 MST

From: "Technotranscendence" <neptune@mars.superlink.net>

 The title suggests that this would only
happen under democracy. I submit -- in agreement with Hoppe -- it
happens under all forms of government, though some forms, on average,
grow slower than others. <snip>

### Yes, this is correct.

> Yet, it is not an argument against the government as such,
> merely an argument against the government in its present form.

Not actually. I submit that institutionalized coercive actions -- the
defining element of government -- externalize costs in a way that almost
makes it much more likely for government to grow at the expense of
society as well as for programs to grow in no relation to their actual

### Institutionalized coercive action is not restricted to the government.
Enforcement of informal contracts (as in loan sharking) is also coercive and
sometimes well organized.

Could you provide more details on the externalization of costs due to gov't


My argument is basically this. Reason and force in society are
opposites. If you use force, then you subjugate reason.

### Sometimes you have to use force to subjugate evil (an invading army),
and to extract payment for services rendered (demand taxes for the support
of a defensive army)

I don't think so. It's pretty clear in most situations what it means.
There may be borderline cases, but these are typically solved through
examining matters more closely AND do not bring social interaction to a
grinding halt. For example, if I get the door of a restaurant, say, at
the same time as someone else, we don't shoot it out to see who gets to
go in first.:)

### A couple guys with machine guns sit down in a mountain pass (which they
claim to own by inheritance from their ancestors). They say they will shoot
anybody trying to trespass, unless he pays a toll. I don't want to pay. They
cannot produce a valid title to the land. I ask them politely to leave, they
refuse and threaten to shoot me. I retreat, take a sniper's rifle and kill
them all.

Who initiated violence?


I would admit that in cases where coercion arises, one can and often
must use retaliatory coercion, but this is hardly what you mean. Also,
it doesn't even go outside of libertarian thought. For instance, crime,
such as theft or assault is obviously coercive. However, do we need a
government -- i.e., a legal monopoly on the use of force -- to retaliate
against or prevent crime? Hardly.

### Are you able to point to historical examples of societies where a
non-monopoly system of coercive actions allowed effective control of crime?

And how about examples of pluralistic systems of defense against external


I also don't think this is what you have in mind. Your scenario of an agrarian planet that evolves from a free market to an strict oligarchy is something entirely different, BUT it involves the upper classes basically taking over an existing government. I.e., you've already made a monopoly on the use of legal force, so anyone or group who wants power over society -- for whatever reason, e.g., self-defense, social engineering, pure powerlust... -- only has to capture that institution.

### By clever engineering you can make it pretty difficult to capture this institution. A demarchy would be my way of approaching the problem.

The upper classes *will* form a goverment if there is none (examples - just name a country or city) (counterexamples?)


This doesn't mean that anarchocapitalism or variants of libertarian anarchism will never evolve into states. Obviously, the times/places in history that have approached pure free markets in economics and politics (e.g., the American West, Ancient Iceland, and so forth) eventually evolved into societies with governments. However, the process takes longer. I also believe we can learn from these examples to create better institutions -- not perfect ones, but ones that can makes statism much less likely than in the past.

### It's interesting that you mention these examples of the ungoverned. Both were transiently existing (=unstable?) societies, built by settlers escaping states with increasing central powers (Norway united by King Harald, or whatever his name was), or escaping population pressure. Both came from warlike cultures, worshipping military prowess, well armed but without significant external forces to contend with (American Indians were subjugated with the help of the government, so you could say that the American West was for from an anarchy - it was crucially dependent on external sources of military protection and human resources). Hardly the usual kind of circumstances, and very transient. As soon as the settlers settled in, built homes and businesses, a government evolved. Is it a parasite on the healthy chaos, or is it a prerequisite for further development?

Just a rhetoric question.

But I agree that institutions need to be formed to prevent the unbridled growth of government, acting as a system of checks on its power.

------- She's not mine.:) Also, I find her arguments in this area (and in others) too abstract and often stacked to be of much use. It seems to me she lays out a good foundation for anarchism, then she backs away from it because she wants limited government. No doubt, some of this is due to her times and to her experience in the Soviet Union. This doesn't completely throw out her arguments against anarchism, but they are sophomoric. (Her main one being that anarchism = choas. Her more specialized critique of anarchocapitalism is that she believe competing protection agencies would violently battle it out whenever they disagreed on who coerced whom.)

### Won't they? (historic counterexamples?)


> Governments (starting at the village chief level) are an unavoidable > element in the development of civilization, emerging spontaneously, > like eusociality, or herd behaviors, allowing coordinated activities > and expanding the abilities of the society as a whole. I sincerely > doubt you could give me an example of an ungoverned society > achieving anything significant, especially survival among governed > ones.

This is a point of contention and merely asserting what you believe does not prove it.

### Until you give an example disproving my belief, I will persist in it - presence of innumerable examples supporting my claim is enough for me, Popperian epistemology notwithstanding.


In fact, spontaneous orders evolve all around us. Even before there can be a government, there has to be a huge degree of coordination.

### No, all you need is having a stick bigger than the your neighbors have.


I don't Vinge intended it to be read that way either. His short story "The Ungoverned" and his commentary on it leads me to believe he think anarchocapitalism is a very delicate situation likely to turn into statism when the first social crisis hits. I disagree here, but I do think anarchocapitalism, in order to work, would have to be thoroughgoing and not halfbaked. You can't have things like centralized government control in one area and none in another.

### Who will pay for the eradication of all goverments everywhere? What good is a system that can so easily be destabilized by "unenlightened" neighbors?


Also, since Vinge wrote _The Peace War_, a lot of work has been done in the field of libertarian anarchism. The number of books examining the topic has mushroomed and historical and theoretical research has advanced significantly. Just to mention one, Bruce L. Benson's 1990 book _Enterprise of Law: Justice without the State_ relies on a lot of recent (for 1990:) research that just wasn't around in the 1960s and 1970s when Rothbard and a few others were already make the case for anarchocapitalism. Even Hoppe's model of anarchocapitalism and his praxeological analysis of government, though he relies on a lot of scholarship from the 19th and early 20th century, is something very new -- with a long gestation period from the mid-1980s.

What I'm trying to get across here is the theory is advancing as it embraces more criticisms and evidence.

### I am sorry, I haven't read the books you mention. Maybe that's why I persist in my ways ;-) Can you perhaps briefly summarize their specific arguments?

----- I don't think anyone on this list would admit to taking a dogmatic position. Dogmatism is always a label attached to the other person's views.:)

### Touche! Sorry, just a slip into the adversarial argumentation mode.


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