Libertarian Paradise 🔗 1453783014
So, Robert Wenzel decided to shake the hornets' nest to pump up his SEO, and cover for his lack? of praxeological understanding. This time, he decided to discuss "punishment in a libertarian society". In particular, he has managed to get a vocal critic (firstname.lastname@example.org), who himself is either fuzzy-headed, playing dumb (I hope), or simply unaware of the answers to his questions. I believe these comments to be instrumental to understanding this issue, so let us examine them in detail.
The authority of the property owner, you say, is total.
Wenzel's critic is making a valid point here; no person's authority over anything is total at any time. The Native Americans and Palestinians can tell you all about that. Your authority over what occurs on your property (and others property) is equivalent to your ability to defend it against reprisal or aggression (or to overcome others' defenses). This is one place where David Friedman has an edge over some libertarians; considering authority over property absolute is as ridiculous as Keynesian econometric modelling. Truly easement free property exists only in fantasy, just like neoclassical models.
Mind you authority is not "rights"; though when one thinks of "rights" you realize the perfect rebuttal to Wenzel's position; the rebuttal comes from Mr. Libertarian himself, Walter Block, in his 'evictionism' argument about abortion. If it is possible to eject trespassing fetuses and so forth nonviolently, then it is illegitimate to do so violently. In the case of the dying mother, it is not possible, so abortion is legitimate. In the case of the profligate mother and the inconvenient baby, it is illegitimate, as nonviolent alternatives exist (wait some months).
Apply this to the 'Murder Tresspasser/Thief' argument. It is not legitimate to murder a child who is taking your apple and obviously is defenceless against your reposession of the apple, etc. It is legitimate to slay the child if he shot at you when discovered pilfering, and you could not reasonably disarm/capture him to effect it's immediate cessation. The deliberate de-escalation of situations is one of the key pillars of libertarian theory, but an unstated one by many.
My personal conception of libertarianism is as such:
- Private Property, like locks in a software system, are the only way to sanely share resources over time without corrupting the underlying resource into uselesness.
- The Non-Aggression Principle - Do not initiate force against others' property, unless yours has already been aggressed upon by said other.
- The Non-Escalation Principle - When aggressed upon, never use more force upon the aggressor than is warranted to prevent future aggression.
It is fair to say that a Private Property Society won't protect you against terrorism and crime, or guarantee you charity or healthcare either.
This is the whole of the discussion right here, as I believe this is the root of Wenzel's misunderstanding. Lack of a formal state can be better, the same as, or worse than a state-run environment. Belief that the "system" men live under is even mutable is a common fallacy amongst newly minted libertarians. No, it is like Doug Casey has noted; there are only two rules: "do as thou wilt, but be prepared for the consequences". This is the only reality.
You live in anarchy right now; the state is simply another affectation much like private mafiosi call themselves "legitimate businessmen".
Now, will people be less apt to get shammed by mafiosi were these legitimacy myths not floating about? Likely, and this would probably lead to a better society, regardless of what we call it (Private Property Society, etc).
However, we will always be plagued by some particular ignorances and superstition; this is an inescapable part of the human condition. Busybodies with wrong ideas will always be dangerous. So are the Jerks and Parasites staffing the state and filling the ranks of the 'urban primitives'. This will always be so.
The true state of society is what traction good ideas have versus foolishness; and by that measure, for all it's warts, the USA is still on top. We don't have more NAP advocates and Misesians here than elsewhere for no reason at all. It's because of the intellectual captial and traditions established by the hard work of our ancestors.
Given time, this too shall change. The real fight is to make sure we do not regress into foolishness, wherever and however that might occur. As many Misesians note, the Whig view of intellectual history is false. Our intellectual climate can and does regress frequently. Our capital conditions and standards of living would be soon to follow.
I challenged you [Robert Wenzel] previously to admit that under your idea of libertarian punishment it would be permissible to molest children as a libertarian punishment, but you dodged it by saying child molestation would not happen in a Private Property Society. It is obvious why you would not concede this point - because upon concession any non-degenerate person would reject your idea of a Private Property Society. Time to go back to the drawing board.
Going "back to the drawing board" with regard to punishment in a libertarian society would consist of this: Realizing that punishment is merely another praxeological action. It is done not for any non-existent superstition such as justice, the rule of law, or even vengeance. It is done because they preferred to act in such a fashion at the time and with the information at hand; e.g. "I could get away with it." Crazies under anarchy or the state will engage in such foolishness at an undiminished rate, until the situation dissuades them from such. If a criminal organization such as the state can suppress such behavior, it is not a stretch to assume a private organization would be as capable (or incapable) as well.
Punishment as a concept is useless; Darrow's "resist not evil" should have convinced most Libertarians of that long ago. Look to the myriad legal codes of history; you will find a striving to reduce conflict, justice be damned. At the end of the day, a bad peace is better than the best war. This is why libertarians still pay protection money to the empire, despite decrying it as evil.
To arrive at a consistent worldview, one must simplify. Doing so you will realize concepts such as punishment, justice, "rule of law", and vengeance are of little use. Figuring out what concepts, ideas and actions do and do not escalate aggression is more useful to followers of the "nonaggression principle" as a path to a better future. To Wenzel's credit, this is a point he touches on; staying away from the aggressive and thereby not needing court services and restitution in the first place is always better. The battle not fought is the greatest victory.
So, the path to personal freedom is clear, and do-able right now through wisdom and intelligence (Harry Browne was big on this -- see "living free in an unfree world"). However, "freedom for the masses" is much more likely to come simply by technology; this should come as no surprise, considering that capital accumulation has been the only thing capable of lifting the masses out of privation in the first place. Similarly, the path out of privation in the past was always available to the wise and intelligent (create capital), much like the path to freedom is available now.
Suppose we came up with either of the three following innovations, and they were cheap and widely available:
- Uninterceptable, undecipherable to 3rdparty communications, such as would be effected by quantum entanglement + encryption. This dovetails into teleportation, as information = energy = matter.
- Effective invisibility devices, and shields against waves and particles of varying forms (invisibility is a 'special case' of force fields).
- Man-portable open-source armaments capable of smashing most offensive military equipment, including ICBMs. This is the closest to reality; note what the Afghanis have pulled off in the last 15 years with clones of Soviet Junk. Rapid Fabrication tech is also rapidly making arms control for such things impossible. Just wait until you see the first open source heat seeking missile or railgun.
Even with the masses freed by technology bad ideas, busybodies, lackwits and reprobates will still exist. We will not have a perfect world, just a better one; one where foolishness is much, much harder to get away with. To Wenzel's credit, I think this is more-or-less what he was trying to get across about a free society.
Note that this is the magic of voulntary cooperation summed up; free competition in goods and ideas winnows out the bad and exalts the good. Ideas and products evolve like the organisms that make them. Whether they go in the direction that empowers and frees humanity or warps us into one of the many other failures haunting our planet is entirely up to us. Fighting this natural evolution with the 'unnatural selection' of coercion simply results in ideas, products, services and people that are inbred or deformed at worst and stagnant at best.
This is why the market is called "The invisible hand". It truly is "god's law", in that it is the final court to which there is no appeal. All attempts to frustrate it is merely Canute screaming at the waves. This is also why I do not advocate activism; evil/stupid is self-liquidating. The structure of reality guarantees that -- the only question is when and whether you get wiped out by said liquidation (or go short bad ideas, and ride to the top).
It is worth noting that even in an environment where unnatural selection is the norm, hybrid vigor *still* creates hardier creatures than otherwise. So, even if you are surrounded by Authoritarian busybodies or corrupt parasites, do not succumb to the urge to believe in the prevailing foolishness. Recognizing the truth will always make you stronger and freer than the rest; and without your example the others will never know better.
Wenzel is beginning to come around. It is possible he's been 'playing dumb' the entire time, which would be consistent with his drama-generating SEO tactics so far. That said, he's still not articulating things as clearly as will be necessary to dismiss his critics.