Anarch as a practical system (was Re: Monopolies)

Arjen Kamphuis (
Tue, 18 Nov 1997 22:46:30 +0100

Anton Sherwood <> wrote
>: Anton Sherwood <> wrote
>: >Experience suggests that if an agency is empowered to override
>: >the choices of the marketplace, it will go far beyond "solving
>: >the problems that the market cannot solve" and extend its power
>: >as far as it can reach.
>Arjen Kamphuis writes (Nov 6)
>: That's not my experience.
>: Because why are so many European governements privatising things like
>: railroads and telecom then? Giving away control over transport &
>: communication to 'the market'? Not the thing power-hungry 'terrocrats'
>: (one of the strangest - and paranoid - terms I've learned on this list)
>: would do.
>Perhaps I exaggerated a bit; but why did they take control over transport
>in the first place?

Well (little private theorising here) in the last century, when railroad
infrastruture was being contstructed, Europe was already a densly populated
area with a complex society. And most country's weren't truly democratic.
States were the only ones capable of undertaking such projects and so they
did. Also in Europe good infrastructure was vital for military reasons. In
the US there was no Royalty in the classic sense and lotsa more room for
anybody with a daring idea. All of this is just an 'educated guess' - maybe
there are historians on the list who can shed a light on this. They
question why states came into existance in the various form they did and
what caused the *differences* is relevant to anyone wishing to obsolete
them, know your enemy and all that ;-)

> [...]
>: If the US had not fought the Cold war (and WW-II) many more people would
>: have died. There was no alternative, you can't coexist with the likes of
>: Stalin and the German guy. You win the war or you get dead/annexated
>: (almost as bad).
>And if we'd let the Georgian and the German beat on each other for
>a few more years, before we intervened? We might have been rid of
>both of them.

Possibly, but the number of citizens killed in that war might very well
have been larger, also you run the risk that one of 'em (say Stalin) wins
and takes over all of Europe. Had the allies been 3 weeks later, Stalin
would have rolled his tanks all the way to the Dutch-German border, or
maybe the Northsea.

> [...]
>: But maybe I still do not fully understand anarchocapitalism. In such
>: a society, without a state of any sort, who makes and upholds laws?
>: or is it every person for him/herself?
>Most law enforcement *is* at the individual level.
>You have locks on your doors, no?

Wiil a lock be enough? The only way to prevent criminals to enter my house
and loot the place (Yes, certain things I own are important to me) would be
to live in a fortress or to have some kind of weapon to discourage them. I
don't much like the first option and the alternative would lead to a
personal arms race between me and anybody that I think might want to hurt
me. I gues you know the argument... I see no way out of this.

I'm not even going to make a long case about such a society being quickly
conquered by a society that didn't abolish the cetralised state (and thus
has a large, heavily equipped army).

As I remember it, groups of people long ago tried to fix this problem by
forming clans and agreeing to not fight among themselves and spare there
energies for any external threat. Soon thereafter they made wall around
their encampments and called it a city. Then someone thought that they
would be even safer if they worked together with another city (of course if
the other city didn't agree battering rams became the tools of the argument
- I agree with you infofar that this is a far cry from perfect, political
solutions seldom are).

I think you'd want to abolish these groups and take your chances whereas
people like Joao Pedro and me what to extend the group to every human on
the planet and take our chances won't turn on us. We're both taking risks
(jump in here Joao, if you feel I'm misinterpreting your posts).

>Theoretical sketches: David Friedman, _The Machinery of Freedom_.
>Practical examples: Bruce Benson, _The Enterprise of Law_.
>Fictional hints: Neil Smith, _Converse and Conflict_;
> Neal Stephenson, _The Diamond Age_.

Thanx! this is most usefull, I'll try to get hold of some copies (and find
the time to read them ;-).

>: How do you go from the present situation to such a system?
>That's the hard part! The important thing is to prepare the culture,
>to teach people that obedience to the State is not the same thing as
>justice; that the State is not something divine and eternal, but a
>creation of imperfect men, which ought to be discarded - not merely
>reformed - when it proves destructive to the purposes for which it is
>generally held to exist.

I guess we agree up to here.

>When enough people understand that, we can
>build parallel institutions, to be ready when the State is weakest.

I just don't see that states in general (altough most of them are rotten to
various extends) are so destructive compared to the expected performance of
alternatives. But maybe we speak from different perspectives and experiences.

>Most "revolutions" simply take the apparatus of the pre-existing State
>and give it new commands - not only because the apparatus is convenient
>to the conquerors, but also because most people can't imagine living
>without their favorite state office (and there's already a supply of
>bureaucrats who know how to run that office!).

This is correct, also: most revolutions aren not 'Spontanious Uprisings' by
'The People' but a planned coup d'etat organised by a small group of
individuals (Example: the takeover by Lenin in 1917, heavily sponsored by
the German war office who wanted to de-stabilize their Russian enemies on
Germany's Eastern front).

>My dream is to build free institutions *beside* the State, in no way
>dependent on it, so that if the State should crumble we'll be no more
>disturbed than if some big corporation - AT&T, let's say - goes out
>of business. (I don't mean to imply *no* disturbance. If AT&T crashes
>millions of people will be inconvenienced for a few weeks, but there
>are other wires.)

Problem remains how you can garuantee in any way that these institutions
don't become the instruments of dictators or some such (without any form of
democratic control). One of the oldest political problems, who will guard
us from our guardians? But I agree that it's always good to have a backups.

This was educational, thank Anton,


Arjen Kamphuis | Learn as if you will live forever. | Live as though you will die tomorrow.