January 28, 2013 at 1:03 am #19086mike012Participant
Would love to get a hold of this book in ebook format, but can’t find it for sale anywhere. Only paperback and very expensive hard cover. Can you help Professor Casey?January 28, 2013 at 5:24 am #19087
It doesn’t look as if the published is planning an e-version anytime soon. The best place to go for the paperback is The Book Depository [http://www.bookdepository.com/Libertarian-Anarchy-Gerard-Casey/9781441144676] which usually offers a discount and ships anywhere in the world free.
I hope you can get your hands on a copy soon and that when you do that you find the effort worthwhile!January 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm #19088
after reading the book I have a question about organizing the army (aka national defense). David Friedman called this “the hard problem” in his Machinery of Freedom. What’s your take on this, you seem to have avoided addressing this question (or I missed that part on the first read)?
To be more specific. Let’s imagine some people get enthusiastic after reading your book and decide to abolish their own state and organize libertarian anarchy paradise. Then, a neighboring state notices this new state-less territory and of course immediately moves on to incorporate it into itself.
How shall state-free people react to it? Will they be able to protect themselves against the trained army of the neighboring state?
Will it not be that whoever decides to abolish their own state, will be left exposed to an (even a quite peaceful and purely formal) takeover by another state? Is keeping a state apparatus of defense the only protection against other states? Or not so?
If a state is a wolf, and if every nook and cranny of the planet is filled with roaming and ever-hungry wolves, how can one have a piece of land with no wolves, unless one has its own wolf that barks: “hey brother-wolves, this particular territory is mine, stay away”?January 30, 2013 at 4:29 am #19089
On p. 10 of the book, I wrote: “I am painfully aware that there are many issues of importance I will not have touched on in the book. You will probably find the phrase ‘But what about…?’ forming in your head from time to time as you read. I can only plead in extenuation that in a book of such modest proportions I have had to be extremely selective in my choice of topics.” Since practical issues have been treated by such as Friedman (and, of course, Rothbard) and others, I concentrated more or less completely on the theoretical issues.
The problem you raise is a very important one and one that David Friedman makes a valiant effort to address. It is something I am thinking about at the moment, if somewhat obliquely, in the context of my next book project, which will concern itself with the relationship between freedom and authority.
In brief, however, here is what I think.
In a condition of terminal anarchy where there are no states, there will be no specific problem of national defence. However, unless and until that condition is reached, there will be a problem of how individuals or groups of individuals can defend themselves against aggression by remnant states
In anarchy, it will most likely be the case that defence against individual aggression will be provided by specialist agencies. This much is standard. However, not only would it be likely that defence agencies would have cooperative arrangements for the solution of individual disputes, it is not inconceivable that they could offer as a service the organisation of defence against group aggression, utilising effectively a militia strategy. By this I mean that in the extraordinary situation where a whole area or a whole group of communities is under attack, the people themselves would function as a defence force. Having your protection agencies provide the officering would then allow such a force to be effectively mobilised.
This idea is not pure speculation. It is, more or less, the historical situation that the Swiss cantons found themselves, surrounded as they were by the Austrian Empire, France, and some German states. The Swiss army is organised for purely defensive purposes. Every Swiss man of an appropriate age has a duty to be prepared to defend the whole and the organisational structure is light. The Swiss strategy might be described as ‘the hedgehog’, an animal that is unpleasant to eat and spiky and it has been remarkably successful.
These remarks are cursory and I’m sure that you will have no problem thinking up scenarios that might prove difficult to deal with. However, Getting from here (statism) to there (anarchism) throws up a whole raft of transition problems. My inclination at the moment is to think that a Proudhonian federalist solution of gradual dissolution is probably the best practical way forward but I haven’t fully thought these matters through and my views might change as I do more research.January 30, 2013 at 7:19 am #19090
Thank you for the answer Mr. Casey, I’ll think and read about it some more and maybe post an opinion here. It seems to me that this question has to be resolved, or very seriously addressed, in one way or another.
Both Mises and Hayek seemed not to be believers in a good anarchy being practical, and as D. Friedman said that difference of opinion between Milton and him was that one thought it might work but probably can’t while other thought the opposite. All these extremely bright (and largely well meaning) people are like a dark cloud hovering above the whole idea… why wouldn’t Mises be more explicit and say clearly why he thought some state remainder is necessary? Anyway, this national defense question maybe the watershed.. for one to make a final opinion on the matter.January 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm #19091bnhinchmanMember
hayek_novice, I think Mr. Casey brings up a great point about looking to historical examples of success, and one I can think of is the militia of early America under the Articles of Confederation. Technically, we did not have a standing army; the colonies organized an army for the war, and under the Articles, this was a standard operating procedure: states were sovereign and had no standing armies, but once a state was attacked, the states would band together and defeat the force. I should clarify I’m only going by memory of having read the Articles. I remember one, huge difference between the federalists and the anti-federalists was the notion of a standing army, so from my understanding there was not one until 1789ish with the advent of the U.S. Constitution and resignation of the Articles.
I say taking this into consideration as well as the lack of success of the Minerva Project (which was a Libertarian island that had no weapons and was easily taken over by a neighboring territory), a plan must be taken into consideration, and the voluntary organization of an entire force to nullify or defeat a legitimate threat should be on everyone’s minds first and foremost after proclaiming the territory as being anarcho-capitalist. Perhaps a voluntary confederation-like plan, where neighbors can help neighbors in Bastiat’s fashion (whereby a group of individuals can certainly band together to preserve other individuals’ natural rights of life, liberty and property), would be best.
Interestingly enough, I do not consider myself an AnCap, but I think considerably about the possibility, and this is the best suggestion I have. Weapons and organized use of them should most certainly be ready to make use of at all times as unfortunately, as you put, there will no doubt be neighboring territories who will think it easy to swoop in and claim a new territory, thereby expanding Big Brother’s reign.February 1, 2013 at 12:27 am #19092
Hmm, I at the moment have trouble answering the following simple question: why did American colonists self-organize and start the war in the first place? British were not killing anyone, nor forcing anyone to become or stop being British – they mostly wanted to get their taxes, just like with any State of today.
Why would a rational adult choose to go to a war and bear a tremendous risk (of death or, even worse, horrific mutilation) for what? To get a tax break?? I know it’s a silly question, but right now I’m stuck on it.
Relevant for this thread – if a neighboring State tries a “gentle” takeover of an anarchic territory, by simply saying – we are here just to collect some taxes and that’s mostly it, then what incentive would anarchists have to fight and maybe lose their lives… it seems they would need to value their anarchy very dearly. Regular soldiers (conscripts of a State) do not need to value much of anything, many of them fight because they are forced to.
In the softest case, a libertarian State might want to extend its territory to include a neighboring libertarian anarchy territory. (If you think that the libertarian State would not do that – than what exactly is its territory and how they got it? How can any State see an empty area next to it and not extend itself into it? Obviously a State will always care for its geographic size and try to expand – otherwise it could just as well shrink to zero size.) Would then anarchists still risk their lives to fight the libertarian army that wants to introduce only a minimal coercion of no taxes and just the requirement to serve in its army?
I’m still searching for a way to express my doubts more clearly. There should be some simplistic point of view, some better theoretical modeling, from which to ask the right questions.February 1, 2013 at 8:26 am #19093
“Why did American colonists self-organize and start the war in the first place? British were not killing anyone, nor forcing anyone to become or stop being British – they mostly wanted to get their taxes, just like with any State of today.”
Many colonists were opposed to the break with Britain and still others were indifferent. The treatment of the loyalists (so-called) hardly bears scrutiny.
“Why would a rational adult choose to go to a war and bear a tremendous risk (of death or, even worse, horrific mutilation) for what? To get a tax break?? I know it’s a silly question, but right now I’m stuck on it.”
It’s not a silly question. Rightly or wrongly, some of the colonists regarded the imposition of taxes upon them which they had no say over as a form of tyranny. It is ironic that the so-called Whiskey Rebellion was an outbreak of tax resistance against the new Federal state!
“If a neighboring State tries a “gentle” takeover of an anarchic territory, by simply saying – we are here just to collect some taxes and that’s mostly it, then what incentive would anarchists have to fight and maybe lose their lives… it seems they would need to value their anarchy very dearly. Regular soldiers (conscripts of a State) do not need to value much of anything, many of them fight because they are forced to.”
The Roman Empire was largely concerned with collecting taxes from conquered territories. Broadly speaking, once the taxes were paid, the Romans weren’t too concerned about matters of religion or local government. Of course, if the taxes are not forthcoming then violence is used to extract them – nothing gentle about that.June 30, 2013 at 9:37 pm #19094sukotsh2Member
Dr casey, I recently finished reading Henry Hazlitts , Foundations of Morality. I am a 45 year old male physician in Northern NJ and one of my good friends is a philosophy professor. He and I have gone back and forth about various topics over the years. Recently I had an exchange with him concerning this issue about mr Snowden and the NSA. I was arguing that privacy is just an extension of our rights to person and property.
I asked him this:
Have U been following this snowden thing at all
> >>>The thing that bothers me is that so many people who work in
> the intelligence community have been brainwashed to thing that a
> massive surveillance state will somehow protect us. It’s a
> complete fallacy
> >>>All it does is waste resources that could be used making life
> better for everyone
and he replied:
Yes, I’ve been following this stuff, to an extent. Maybe your
> claim is correct; however, I’m of the mind to reserve judgment
> simply because I don’t believe that any of the facts are clear.
> I’m not comfortable jumping to such a conclusion as yours based
> simply on an ideological perspective
Then I answered:
Lookup some of the stuf snowden actually said about what he and
> the NSA actually doing and able to do
> >I think it’s very clear that We increasingly find our selves in
> a fascist police surveillance state
> >How is human liberty considered an ideology
—-and he continues:
> The stuff that Snowden claimed, and the actual facts and
> capabilities of what can be done, may not correspond to each
> other. Hence, I’ll reserve my skepticism for a while longer
> before passing any judgment.
> Let me ask you this: is privacy a sufficient and/or necessary
> necessary condition for democracy? Does the lack of privacy
> necessarily entail fascism (or any political -ism per se, other
> than exhibitionism)? This is a different kind of argument, one
> that I’ve not heard articulated before. If you wish to say that
> lack of privacy serves as a type of coercion, you’ll need to
> explain how that works (and you’ll probably end up sounding like
> Foucault on this!), and you’ll certainly tread on some of the
> capitalist principles you’ve been espousing, for the
> consequences of such a claim will directly apply to how
> businesses function in our technological 21st century.
> As to how liberty can be an ideology, that’s plainly obvious:
> every ideology has components. These interrelated ideas are not
> identical with each other. In holding a political position, one
> is necessarily adhering to some form of ideology (theoretical,
> principled or metaphysical framework). In this sense, any
> appeal to liberty and/or freedom is an appeal to a component of
> an ideological position, therefore every claim to liberty is
> ideological upon pain of unintelligibility
Then I try to defend myself:
The concept of privacy is just another aspect of individual human rights. If we are to agree that individuals have a right to be secure in their bodies and possessions then those who would commit acts of aggression against person and property are violating the privacy of the individual.
In no way am I treading on capitalist principles. In fact capitalism holds the individuals right to private ownership of his own resources in the highest regard. Thats the whole point of capitalism. To the extent that you look around you and think that somehow modern 21st century “capitalism” is violating the privacy of individuals is the extent to which capitalism has been corrupted and hobbled by state power. For instance who is it that coerced google and verizon and the others to surrender their customers records? the state!
Who is it that forces banks under threat of penalty to spy on their customers in the name of anti-terrorism measures? the state
What organisation basically forces people to divulge every private personal aspect of their financial existence under threat of jail? the IRS…the state.
Modern capitalism would under normal moral circumstances strive to ensure the privacy and anonymity of its customers and clients and in fact the profitability and ultimate success of companies would hinge on their reputation to protect this privacy. Individuals would only consent VOLUNTARILY to having personal info divulged in explicit contractual ways that were understood and agreed upon. And anyone would have the right to refuse to let a company divulge information. Failure to protect a customers privacy would be a breach of contract and therefore a crime.
So the only group that claims the absolute authority to essentially violate the privacy of an individual at any time without their consent is the state.
So a properly functioning moral capitalist society would honor individuals right to economic and personal privacy above all else
A modern democracy on the other hand is essentially a MOB in which the dominant political party gets to force and coerce and expropriate the minority into surrendering all their rights. This is why democracy is something to be feared and guarded against. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner: thats a modern democracy.
For a modern democracy to work there CANNOT be any privacy: (your framing the question wrong—your assumption is incorrect about the nature of a modern democracy) The politically dominant MOB has to be able to expropriate the “wealthy” or whatever group is their political target at the moment. Their weapon is state coercion and threat of violence. A modern “democracy” is really not even a democracy b/c there really is no choice by the population or the majority. In fact what this entity is that we have is really like a fascist corporatist state. ANd the utter lack of privacy we have and that is getting worse every day is a necessity for this type of political system to work. The citizens in order to be cowed and threatened into submission have to feel naked and threatened before the state. Hence the utter fear of IRS audits, the naked body scanners at airports, , mandatory tax “assessments” ,
Caesar wants you naked and cowering before the state.
Lack of privacy is not a “type” of coercion. It is naked violence.
You are once again misunderstanding the very idea and purpose of capitalism and confusing state power with a private voluntary market system.
In the book I just fininshed by Hazlit about morality he discussing the honoring of privacy as a principle that tends to be most conducive to mutual peaceful cooperation among individual in society. He describes it as a means to achieve justice.
and then the last and most recent reply by my friend:
By Jove, you missed the point completely. Let me ask again: is privacy needed or sufficient for democracy? If so, as you seem to believe in your appeal to the sanctity of property rights–as if people can be property at all!?–then all the information that these big IT businesses have gathered is essentially undemocratic. But according to your line of thinking, that would be ok, because it is a business who is acquiring info. about their customers and creating marketing profiles in order for efficiency and profits. Yet somehow, that is not an invasion of privacy or coercive in any manner…? Explicitly, these businesses aim to make money, but implicitly who really knows what they’re doing. And then you apply this double standard to the gov’t alone, claiming that they are only explicitly trying to protect lives–and businesses, by the way–yet secretly they’re really trying to get us and coerce us into compliance with their nefarious schemes. There is just a fundamental inconsistency in thinking along these lines, and that’s why I constantly accuse you of resorting to ideology in your explanatory attempts.
Consider the following scenario: if we were to eliminate gov’t, in fact, let’s eliminate all gov’ts everywhere at every level (the true anarchist wet dream), then we would be left with many businesses going about their business of making money. Business is a cut-throat world. Profits are all important. Without any external institutions to keep businesses in line (no coercive institutions with no gov’ts), then businesses will do what they want and need to in order to protect their business. In that environment, do you seriously believe that business will NOT revert to using coercive tactics to ensure their profitability? Corporate wars will be the most likely outcome…and we’ll do it to ourselves all over again, just under different “ideological” banners. Maybe we’ll be lucky and end up with the world of first “Rollerball” film…with Jonathan E (James Caan) for president! I’d vote for him.
…But if not (to my first question above), then we could have a democracy without privacy. This doesn’t necessarily entail the denial of private property. It might actually guarantee it: if everyone would know what you lay claim to, and any violation of your property could be immediately recognized by members of society, and the appropriate measures and protections could be enacted to protect your stuff. In other words, eliminate privacy and guarantee property ownership. Go figure.
I haven’t read Hazlitt’s book, but I’ve taught utilitarianism and ethics often enough, and written about them as well, to know that there are some fundamental problems with relying solely not just on a utilitarian framework, but any particular ethical framework. Phenomenological speaking, people tend to use multiple frameworks in their ethical (and political) decision making and/or post-hoc evaluation of their or others actions. So utility is just one piece of the puzzle, not THE (final) solution. (As a side note: you can use any ethical theory to justify the same action as ethical; likewise, there ways to justify completely unethical actions with any given ethical theory. The principle of utility is notorious for this, e.g., the life boat example.)
So you see Dr casey the comment about “profits” and corporate wars. Its amazing to me the extent to which intelligent supposedly education people have been inculcated with these essentially Marxist ideas that profits are violent and “cut-throat” and that there would be private wars …. I’ve tried to explained that this would almost certainly not happen b/c wars are not profitable.
I would be very interested to hear your and others in the Liberty Classroom’s take on this discussion
Michael FleischerJuly 1, 2013 at 5:55 am #19095
Dear Dr Fleischer,
That’s a lot of material! You’re lucky to have someone willing and able to converse with you so extensively.
Let me see if I can address some issues.
Your interlocutor writes:
“Consider the following scenario: if we were to eliminate gov’t, in fact, let’s eliminate all gov’ts everywhere at every level (the true anarchist wet dream), then we would be left with many businesses going about their business of making money. Business is a cut-throat world. Profits are all important. Without any external institutions to keep businesses in line (no coercive institutions with no gov’ts), then businesses will do what they want and need to in order to protect their business. In that environment, do you seriously believe that business will NOT revert to using coercive tactics to ensure their profitability? Corporate wars will be the most likely outcome…and we’ll do it to ourselves all over again, just under different “ideological” banners. Maybe we’ll be lucky and end up with the world of first “Rollerball” film…with Jonathan E (James Caan) for president! I’d vote for him.”
This objection seems to me to be independent of the overall issue of privacy. It amounts to the well-worn Hobbesian point that without an ‘external’ coercive government, predation will be the natural outcome of social interaction and so we need a coercive government. It’s possible to have an argument on this point (ini fact, that’s what libertarians spend a lot of their time doing!) but the argument on privacy can only be fruitfully discussed once we decide which paradigm [libertarian/non-libertarian] we’re operating with. Trying to do everything at once is likely to lead to confusing and to correspondents talking past each other.
So, to privacy.
From a libertarian perspective, does one have a right to privacy? Like many other issue, it depends on what one takes privacy to be. Does it amount to having a right to have others not know things about you? If this is so, it’s hard to see how this can be justified on libertarian principles. Where’s the aggression in someone’s knowing that I work in a particular place or what my name is or the colour of my hair?
If someone looks in through my window from the public road and sees me watching television when I should be at work, this is unpleasant but the answer is simple: draw your curtains or lower your blinds. If someone puts a listening device or a camera on my property without my consent, then they’ve violated my property rights and from a libertarian I should have redress against.
If I have a contactual relationship with a person or institution and a constitutive element of that relationship is that information obtained during that relationship is not to be revealed to anyone else, then, if it is, we have a breach of contract.
Much of what has been revealed in the Snowden disclosures (if true) would appear to be, from a libertarian perspective, property violations and so, from a libertarian perspective, illegal.
Come back to me if your discussion turns up any more interesting points.
GCJuly 1, 2013 at 9:37 pm #19096sukotsh2Member
thank you DR casey for answering. Yes I am lucky to have such a good friend as this individual. He is a philo prof and someone I’ve known well since 1986. He is not entirely convinced of the libertarian and anarcho- capitalist perspective.
And the point is well taken ultimately in a anarcho capitalist world what in fact would stop corporations from asserting territorial monopolies and waging violent warfare against one another.?July 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm #19097jerry3643Member
Mikefly, if you don’t mind me throwing my two cents in here in regard to your last question?
First, a corporation would not technically exist in an an-cap situation because corporations are businesses with special government protections, and as I’m sure you are well aware, they get granted favors at the expense of tax payers and their competition in many cases.
However that doesn’t mean that here wouldn’t be large and successful businesses. So what would stop them from arming up and taking over their competition? The cost of doing war is expensive. Would you voluntarily support a company that took up arms? What would happen to their overhead and thus the price of their goods or services? Wouldn’t this cause customers to take their business elsewhere? How many of their employees would risk their lives for such a thing? When a state wages war it’s citizens have no choice but to fund it’s war efforts and in many cases no choice but to fight.
So a company starting a war would certainly lose employees, public support, and have increased overhead.
Admittedly such a thing is still technically possible despite the draw backs I mentioned. But let me ask you this. Is the risk of getting cancer in the future an excuse to not rid yourself of the cancer you have now?
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