The Fear of the State Reply

1CBDB358-F736-4AC7-A8BE-4F9E8B6DFEF1Most research shows that we live in a far more peaceful time than previous periods in human history. It’s a complicated topic with a lot of incomplete data for a massively huge period of examination, but the current conventional wisdom follows from Dr. Pinker’s study of the long decline in violence, “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” I agree with Pinker’s specific argument that violence has declined generally, and Pinker does save for a break from the typical 10 o’clock news run about how you might get stabbed to death by some Sureños while walking to your car at night.

Interestingly, Pinker’s research identifies the rise of the modern State as one of the main reasons for the overall decline in violence. He sees the State as a gift of peace to the “species’ existence” because it centralizes the previous packs of punishers into a monopoly on violence where punishment becomes central management controlled by a super centralized State.

More…

Neither Statism Nor Corporatism Reply

A big debate exists between “free market” conservatives and libertarians, and leftists, socialists, progressives, etc. over “Who is worse? Governments or corporations?”

I am somewhere between the Marxists and the Libertarians on this. I agree with Libertarians that states have powers that private institutions typically do not have, like raising mass armies through conscription and taxes, police, prisons, capital punishment, nuclear weapons,etc. Even the largest, scummiest corporations like Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Microsoft, Pepsi, etc. do not have that kind of power generally. However, corporations have power that normal “private institutions” do not have. Amazon is not the same thing as a Star Wars Fan Club.

Corporations do not have the direct coercive powers of states, like the power of arrest and incarceration, but they do have the means of economic compulsion. The choice of whether or not to eat, have a roof over your head, or have healthcare is not on the level of whether to go to the Baptist or Methodist church, or join a chess club or the Cub Scouts. Corporations and banks are the economic arm of the state. The two can’t be separated as easily as both leftists and rightists seem to believe. The president, Congress, courts, state and city governments, corporations, banks, military, police, prison, media, educational system, NGOs, think tanks, foundations,etc are all part of the same ruling class/power elite apparatus.

Again, both leftists and rightists seem to miss this point, which demonstrates, IMO, a serious lack of knowledge and education about how “our system” actually works. My first year sociology students are more informed about this after reading the chapter on political sociology in the textbook and listening to my lecture on the topic (assuming they are in class, awake, sober and paying attention which is an awfully big and generally unreasonable assumption) than many seemingly serious political thinkers are.

Without the laws protecting the currency monopoly, we would not have the loansharking operations known as banks in their present form. Without eminent domain, transportation subsidies, and a range of other things, superstores like Wal-Fart would not be able to undercut local business on the level they do. Without transportation subsidies eo-commerce firms like Amazon would not be able to undercut conventional book sellers as easily. Without military protection of Coke’s and Pepsi’s mining operation in Latin America and Africa, they would have been expropriated by locals decades ago. Without intellectual property law, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and Microsoft would be toast. Without imperialist, mercantilist “free trade” being imposed on the developing word, not to mention subsidies to agribusiness plantations, the fast food giants like McDonald’s would be less able to compete with local farmers and traditional restaurants. There are many other examples but the point has been made.

The State: History’s Greatest Scam Reply

One of the most successful scams in history is the way that states and ruling classes have been able to persuade ordinary people that their own overlords are their friends rather than their enemies. The truth is that if you’re an American, the American state is your worst enemy, not some foreign state. If you’re British, the British state is your worst enemy. If you’re Chinese, the Chinese state is your worst enemy. If you’re Russian, the Russian state is your worst enemy. There might be rare historical exceptions to this (the occupation of surrounding nations by the Third Reich and USSR in the 20th century is an obvious example), but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. There can also be situations where a foreign state is more your friend than your own state. Vietnam’s liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge in 1979 is an obvious example. Herman Goering got it right:

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

— Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

I have long believed that the most important political questions is actually a matter of social psychology. Why are people so susceptible to the promptings of authority figures, leaders, and groupthink? There have been some interesting studies on this (Milgram, Zimbardo, Asch, Jones, etc). As Arthur Koesler said:

“…a series of fundamental misconceptions…which prevented (man) from learning the lessons of the past, and…now put his survival in question. The first of these..is putting the blame for man’s predicament on his selfishness, greed, etc.; in a word, on the aggressive, self-assertive tendencies of the individual…I would like to suggest that the integrative tendencies of the individual are incomparably more dangerous than his self-assertive tendencies.”

–Arthur Koestler

Hobbes had it backward. The problem is not how to control the assertive human ego, but how to overcome the overdeveloped human tendency towards subservience, obedience, and gullibility to scams perpetrated by power elites.

MISES UK Conference 2018 – Libertarian Toryism, Dr Sean Gabb Reply

Though ultimately about the future, this will also be a speech that dwells on the past. The first past event that I wish to discuss is what happened in June 2017. When I stood down as Director of the Libertarian Alliance, I was asked if I had taken leave of my senses. I was not visibly broken down by age and ill health. I had evidently not run out of things to say. Why, then, was I steeping aside in favour of a young man who was nearly forty years my junior?…

An Indian city run entirely by corporations hasn’t had a functioning government for 40 years Reply

By Chris Weller

Business Insider

gurgaon 2006

Gurgaon, India is a city where normal functions of a local government do not apply — because there is hardly any government at all.

Instead, private corporations dominate the city, offering sewage removal systems, firefighting services, health care, and education.

“The interesting thing about Gurgaon is that because there was a market for it, anywhere the government was lacking, the private sector came in and they provided the service,” says Shruti Rajagopalan, an assistant professor in economics at Purchase College, State University of New York

As locals have discovered, however, that doesn’t always mean Gurgaon is paradise.

Gurgaon had a population of approximately 173,000 in 2001. Today, it’s nearing 1 million, with residents living in garbage-strewn shanties and luxury high-rises.

Can A Libertarian Society Provide National Defense? 3

A former military officer weighs in.

By Zack Sorenson

Libertarian Institute

A recent Tom Woods podcast featured a debate about whether the free market can provide for national defense.

Arguing that libertarian society can offer defense “services”, Bob Murphy relies on the idea of insurance paying the costs of defense.

Arguing that a monopoly state should offer these services, Todd Lewis points out numerous historical examples in which government organized national defense is seemingly necessary.

I dislike this kind of discussion in general.  My feeling is that there shouldn’t be such a thing as any kind of organized, politically driven, violence.  The idea of private armies is as horrifying as the idea of a giant state army.  However, this issue is obviously relevant, and worth addressing.  I’m just going to address different issues in no particular order.

First, Todd Lewis mentions the Sengoku Jidai (“feudal” Japan), and also the Roman civil war between Marius and Sulla.  He argues that these are examples of “private” defense, where mercenaries for hire end up fighting brutal wars that devastated each country.  I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about.

READ MORE

Murphy 1, Shoguns 0 Reply

A specialist on Japanese military history weighs in on the Lewis-Murphy debate on private defense services.

Regarding my recent debate on the Tom Woods Show with Todd Lewis–regarding private defense–I got the following email (permission to reprint):

Dr. Murphy,

Following your recent debate with Todd Lewis I felt motivated to write the following based on my experience of living in Japan and studying its martial history for over 24 years.

Best regards,


Tim Haffner

==============================​​

Why Japan’s Sengoku period does not support monopoly security provision and actually makes the case for the private production of defense:

1. Feudal Japan was a peasant-based agrarian economy overseen by samurai landlords enforcing law and securing territory, ostensibly at least, on behalf of the emperor. Controlling land and the agriculture products yielded from the peasant farmers was essential to power. Taxation and trade were denominated in units of rice bushels. Modes of production, means of commerce, and centers of power have changed significantly since that time. One must be careful and selective when comparing pre-industrial revolution societies with modern theories of political-economy.

READ MORE

The Republic Was Never Supposed to Be Forever Reply

By Bradley J. Birzer

The American Conservative

As I write this second part of the series, the origins of the rise of the modern nation state, our own nation state looks—financially—nothing short of pathetic. At the end of 2017, the federal government’s official estimate for deficit spending is $666 billion. For all kinds of reasons, this is a really scary number, and not just because it causes one to think of the mark of St. John’s envisioned beast. Rrroawr!  $666 billion is a number so terribly large that it is difficult for any of us—even those of us not suffering from innumeracy or apocalyptic dread—to comprehend. And, of course, this is just the recorded and admitted deficit spending for one year. That is, it accounts for those things the government admits to, on the books and on budget.

According to the U.S. Debt Clock, we’re at nearly $21 trillion in debt, and the number increases so quickly that seizures might very well result. As the number made my stomach turn, I thought, perhaps the site should come with a warning akin to those found on PS4 and Xbox games. That’s all we need, right?  Another law and another regulation.

As Tom Woods and all sensible economists have recently claimed, the United States of America is simply insolvent. The only shocking thing is that no one in the mainstream media or financial institutions seems to care.

READ MORE

 

The Exit Principle Reply

If the objective of pan-anarchism/anarcho-pluralism is the replacement of states with societies organized on the basis of decentralized, voluntary associations, then a question that arises involves the issue of what kinds criteria individual communities would have to meet of qualify as legitimate voluntary associations of these kinds. The Startup Societies Foundation offers a pretty good set of standards, all of which are rooted in the “exit principle,” i.e the right to leave if you don’t like what people around you are doing.

  1. No democide.
  2. No arbitrary laws.
  3. No impossible cost to exit.
  4. No surveillance for blackmail.
  5. No psychological control without freedom of speech.
  6. No torture.
  7. No ignoring sovereignty.
  8. No fraud.
  9. No red market economy.
  10. No aggressive military action.

Click here to learn more about these ten rules.

No Kings, No Feudal Lords Reply

This a a great cartoon in the sense that is parodies the reflexive sentiments of “conservatives” in the vein of FOX News fans and “dittoheads,” who echo Ayn Rand’s claim that “big business is the most persecuted minority,” or Cool Hand Luke’s quip that, “Them poor ole bosses need all the help they can get.” But it also regrettably falls prey to the “progressive” sentiment that the king is some mythical figure that will save the peasants from the aristocrats.

No automatic alt text available.

That nearly all political factions, from far left to far right, buy into the false dichotomy of “big business vs. big government” indicates how appallingly ignorant most people are of basic principles of political economy. Thinkers such as Pierre Joseph Proudhon and Joseph De Jacque had these questions figured out in the early to mid nineteenth century, and these same ideas have been expounded upon again and again by subsequent thinkers as diverse as Henry George, William Appleman Williams, C. Wright Mills, James Burnham, Murray Rothbard, William Domhoff, and Christopher Lasch. Yet modern leftists and rightists are still wanting to fight the “kings vs. aristocrats” battle. And people think the neo-Confederates or religious right are retrograde!

When will people, including most so-called “radicals,” realize that the political class is the modern equivalent of the king, and his ministers and knights, while the plutocrats are the new aristocrats with the mass corporations being the new manorial systems, with the media and the educational system serving the modern equivalent of the Church?

Return of the city-state Reply

By Jamie Bartlett

If you’d been born 1,500 years ago in southern Europe, you’d have been convinced that the Roman empire would last forever. It had, after all, been around for 1,000 years. And yet, following a period of economic and military decline, it fell apart. By 476 CE it was gone. To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime.

We are just as deluded that our model of living in ‘countries’ is inevitable and eternal. Yes, there are dictatorships and democracies, but the whole world is made up of nation-states. This means a blend of ‘nation’ (people with common attributes and characteristics) and ‘state’ (an organised political system with sovereignty over a defined space, with borders agreed by other nation-states). Try to imagine a world without countries – you can’t. Our sense of who we are, our loyalties, our rights and obligations, are bound up in them.

Which is all rather odd, since they’re not really that old. Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was a sprawl of empires, unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travellers crossed without checks or passports. As industrialisation made societies more complex, large centralised bureaucracies grew up to manage them. Those governments best able to unify their regions, store records, and coordinate action (especially war) grew more powerful vis-à-vis their neighbours. Revolutions – especially in the United States (1776) and France (1789) – helped to create the idea of a commonly defined ‘national interest’, while improved communications unified language, culture and identity. Imperialistic expansion spread the nation-state model worldwide, and by the middle of the 20th century it was the only game in town. There are now 193 nation-states ruling the world.

But the nation-state with its borders, centralised governments, common people and sovereign authority is increasingly out of step with the world. And as Karl Marx observed, if you change the dominant mode of production that underpins a society, the social and political structure will change too.

READ MORE

Why I left libertarianism: An ethical critique of a limited ideology 1

A critique of anarcho-capitalism/right-libertarianism from a left-anarchist/libertarian socialist perspective.

By Will Moyer

Salon

I considered myself a libertarian for at least 10 years. The first time I heard the term was in 2000, watching Harry Browne in the third-party presidential debates. I knew next to nothing of libertarian philosophy, but the little I did understand, I identified with. My high school held a mock presidential election and I hung up “vote for Harry Browne” posters and encouraged my friends to write him in on their ballots. It was the first and last time I would participate in any kind of political campaign.

When I turned 18, I registered to vote with the Libertarian Party, despite my parents’ warning that I would lose the chance to influence primary elections. I was also aligning myself with a third party, and everyone knows third parties don’t win elections.

I never voted for a Libertarian presidential candidate. In fact, I don’t think I ever voted for any presidential candidate. There is a chance I sent in an absentee ballot from college voting for George W. Bush, but I can’t remember if I ever actually mailed the thing. Either way, I missed out on the great American ritual of walking into a booth, scribbling on a piece of paper and throwing it in a glorified trash bin.

I moved further and further toward what I considered true libertarianism, eschewing the capital “L” and politics in general. I read Rand and Rothbard and Mises, scoured countless articles and listened to hundreds of podcasts. I understood libertarian philosophy. I remember the moment when I realized anarchism was the only legitimate conclusion. It was like Bertrand Russell’s “Great God in Boots!” moment. Only mine was committed by a nobody… and also not wrong.

READ MORE

Growing the Numbers of Pan-Anarchists: Reflections on Propaganda Techniques 2

About 20 years ago, I began to formulate ideas for the development of what I now call a “third wave” anarchist movement, with the “first wave” being the era of classical anarchism from the 19th and early 20th century, and the “second wave” being the forms of anarchism that have their roots in the New Left from the 1960s. The intention was that this “third wave” would embrace and honor the two previous waves, but would differ from earlier forms of anarchism in that it would lack the Marxist-influenced class determinism of much of the first wave, and it would also lack the emphasis on cultural politics found among the second wave. Instead, the third wave would be specifically oriented towards attacking the emerging global capitalist “Empire” critiqued by thinkers such as Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, and its various component parts.

More…

Are Startup Societies the Way Forward? Reply

An interesting conference on startup societies is coming up next month at Georgetown University. Get the details here. Startup societies may be a way to develop the infrastructure that is needed for a broader pan-secessionist action against central governments and the global corporatocracy. Anarchist and other radical organizations develop into intentional communities, which then develop into startup societies, which then develop into regional secession movements, with infrastructure, political organizations, media, militias, etc. of their own.

——————————-

Startup Societies Foundation does not endorse any ideology or ideal society. We believe that there must be a multiplicity of options to test, from private cities and SEZs to collectivized communes. Their success depends on empirical evidence. In order to apply the scientific method to societies, we must have a large sample size

What is a startup society? Here are some examples.