Tag: lew rockwell

Waiting for the Collapse: A Liberty Revolution

Atilla Sulker | United States

The world of libertarian thought is far from being insufficient in regards to ideas. Interdisciplinary scholars have emerged all over the world with a vast interest in this doctrine, and have built upon the works of such great scholars as Rothbard and Mises. Rothbard himself was, in fact, an exponent of Mises, and to this day, thousands of great minds continue to carry the torch and bring a plethora of new and fascinating ideas to the conversation.

One could say such ideas are far more dense than those of mainstream thought. They provide a fresh basis for solving various problems in the world, rooted in the old classical liberal tradition of private property. It is from this foundation that so many new ideas have been derived. Whether it is libertarian applications of chaos theory or Walter Block’s privatization of oceans and space, a clear causal link can be seen between such ideas and property rights.

But the main problem in contemporary libertarianism is not the lack of good ideas. There are indeed plenty. It is not even the disunity between so-called “thin” and “thick” libertarians, or any factions for that matter. It is rather the means to the realization of the desired ends. Libertarians today have great ideas for the ideal free society but seem to be lacking when it comes to finding a means to implement such ideas.

How Should Liberty Be Spread?

I have always viewed this area as the hardest to deal with. It is not the development of ideas that is troublesome- it is outreach. Just how do libertarians spread their ideas? How do they do so without tainting their ideas with a populist gloss? To what extent must libertarians work with people from other political leanings? What is the proper outreach model? These are the fundamental questions one will end up asking themselves when trying to solve this dilemma.

There is no doubt that up to this point, libertarianism has grown significantly. What was once seen as a movement for those on the fringes of society now receives significant attention, especially following the presidential campaigns of Ron Paul. A change of heart and mind has occurred in many people already, but beyond this, the leviathan state continues to tighten its grip on our property, and consequently, our liberties.

Trying to get “freedom candidates” elected has been the traditional method that libertarians have been pursuing for so long, whether under the banner of the Libertarian Party, or in the form of electing populist, or libertarian-leaning Republicans. This phenomenon is the heart of why libertarians are struggling to bring forth political change. It is very much evident that the flaw is not necessarily in the efforts espoused by libertarians, but rather in the methodology, i.e., the idea that we can “vote our way to freedom”.

This is a deeply flawed view. While this does not necessarily invalidate the concept of a night watchman state or a decentralized constitutional republic, if it is actually carried out properly, it trumps the idea that the current state of affairs can magically be reversed. Robert Higgs’s ratchet effect theory clearly underscores this phenomenon. The Higgsian doctrine asserts that once a major crisis is over, government will shrink, but never back to the level it was at before the outbreak of the crisis. Hence we are all like the frog waiting in the boiling pot.

Data put out by the IMF shows that before the U.S. committed to being involved in WWI, less than 2 percent of GDP was public spending. After the war, the lowest public spending sunk down to was around 3.6 percent. Following the Great Depression and WWII, public spending came down to a level of about 14 percent, but never got any lower than this. A classic representation of the ratchet effect.

Is Voting Really a Solution?

The question becomes- can we really vote our way to freedom? Have we traveled too far into the void to repeal the leviathan state? The U.S. national debt is already 21 trillion and continues to grow. We have become more than a leviathan state at home, but also an empire abroad. It would be foolish to think that this could be reversed gradually with the stroke of a pen. And electing so-called “freedom candidates” does no good unless elected en masse. Cherry picking certain races to work to elect such candidates has little to no effect on the legislative process.

I had the opportunity to ask Lew Rockwell about this at the Mises Supporters Summit earlier in September. My question was along the lines of this: “Can we vote ourselves to a smaller government via electing “freedom candidates”, or do we need to scrap our government completely and rebuild political society from scratch?”. Upon answering, Rockwell described voting as a “sacrament of the state”, proclaiming that it is not the answer to our freedom. Rockwell then cited Hans Hoppe, stating “the wider the franchise, the more people voting, the less freedom there is.”. He closed off his remarks saying “ as a country, we were far better off when people had their own property… now everybody can vote, we have a leviathan state, and these are not unconnected things.”.

DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University Randall G. Holcombe did an excellent study on the gradual democratization of America, and its drifting away from its roots of constitutional republicanism. Holcombe cited the changes in the electoral college and the growth of populism in the Jacksonian era as the chief causes of the gradual shift to majoritarian rule and consequently, the decline of freedom. It is democracy that relies on voting, and democracy is far from liberty. Democracy has lead to the rise of mass scale, “national pork barrel politics”.

This is not to say that is it fallacious to vote for or support a candidate who may have good qualities. To see voting as a solution to the current state of affairs is an expression of great naïveté, but it can still be used as a tool to numb the pain, so to speak. The role of running for office or getting elected can be used as a bully pulpit position.

Regardless of this, the collapse is imminent. This is not to be an open invitation to further the growth of the empire, however. Where the leviathan state can be curtailed, it ought to be, if the opportunity becomes apparent. But it would be foolish to think the empire could be curtailed to such an extent as to enact a clean repeal.

Collapse as an Opportunity

It is with this mindset that one can begin to deduce a better solution to the problem of realizing libertarian ends. Though it may seem counterintuitive, perhaps the solution is not to vote our way to freedom, but to wait for the eventual collapse. Only then will there be a vacuum for libertarian ideas to be injected into. This vacuum is indeed the best solution, but for libertarians to prevail, they must make sure to fill it when they have the chance.

Spreading the ideas to fill the vacuum is by no means a spontaneous process. It must be done before the vacuum is created. It is the prevailing mindset of the population before the collapse occurs that shall determine how the vacuum will be compensated for. If the mindset preceding the collapse is one of socialism and dicta, then the vacuum will be filled with such. If the mindset preceding the collapse is that of neocolonialism and empire, then the vacuum will become compensated in such a way. In this same way, if the mindset is that of liberty and voluntarism, the restructuring of the political society will occur in favor of such principles.

Crane Brinton’s great work, The Anatomy of Revolution, underscores the causal connection between political change and prevailing ideas. In his book, Brinton compares the development of a revolution to that of a fever. He lays down four stages: 1. Incubation; 2. Symptomatic; 3. Crisis; 4. Convalescence. The incubation stage is that of underlying causes coming into contact with the political apparatus. The symptomatic stage is that of political struggle becoming observable and evident. The crisis stage is the breaking point, i.e., the collapse of the empire. And the convalescence stage is the recovery from the crisis.

The model does not necessarily have to be violent. It can be assessed and applied in such a way that it may be able to guide a peaceful revolution of ideas. We are well past the first stage and are in stage two. The problems associated with the leviathan state are very much evident now. The breaking point will be the collapse, but for libertarian ends to be properly realized, libertarian ideas must become more widespread first. The prevailing attitude of the public will ultimately determine what will happen following the crisis stage.

The 1917 Russian Revolution and the 1910 Mexican Revolution well exemplify the prevailing passions of the public determining the course of political society. It was the prevailing attitudes of the Russian public which lead to the crisis of the February and October Revolutions. As Lew Rockwell explains: “The Russian war itself was funded through money creation… the inflation affected every last person and inspired massive unrest that led to the triumph of Communism.”.

Ron Paul delivered some excellent remarks in regards to this issue at the September Mises Supporters Summit. “I just don’t think that the answer is in Congress and voting”, asserted Paul. “I don’t believe we’re gonna have, all of a sudden, an influx of libertarian-minded people”. “I think there’s gonna be a collapse. I don’t think we’re gonna transition out of this”. “It all depends on the education and changing people’s minds”.

Preparing for the Collapse

To wait for the collapse and expect change all of a sudden would be naively foolish. The second part, the education aspect, is integral. For if the prevailing attitude of the public is not changed, no political change can be expected. This is why organizations like the Mises Institute which focus on education rather than public policy are very important to the success of the libertarian movement. The prevailing attitude must become one of free markets and voluntarism before the collapse occurs. And as of now, it is beginning to lean towards socialism and economic interventionism. This is why libertarians must walk away from the political box for good and focus on education. They must shed light on the injustices of the leviathan state and the destruction the Federal Reserve is inflicting. They must underscore the lack of economic calculation under socialism as exposed by Mises. They must underscore the causal link between empire and socialism at home.

At the September Mises Summit, I had the honor to meet Louis Carabini, founder of Monex Precious Metals. Carabini released his new book Liberty, Dicta, and Force very recently. It is indeed a masterpiece. A truly “red pilling book”, so to speak, it connects the libertarian conscience to our daily acts of volition and voluntarism, and to the workings of the human mind. What the book fundamentally asserts is that it is foolish to have faith in the political process. All politics does is turn us against each other when in our everyday lives, we get along mighty fine. When government is factored into the equation, using force against each other is justified. In our personal lives, we would never justify using force against our neighbors, even if it were for benevolent causes.

It is perhaps the abandonment of the political process that will end, or at least significantly relieve the “thick-thin” libertarian debate. Personal views will simply be personal views, not horizons for political change. Libertarians will be able to unite under the banner of voluntaryism and leave personal beliefs to themselves.

Only when the prevailing attitude of the public yearns for liberty and when libertarians abandon the political box will there be hope for the liberty movement. Only then will the human will be set free.


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3 Times Anarcho-Capitalist Private Law Has Worked

By Mason Mohon | @mohonofficial

Everything is scarce. Time, space, human bodies, and all resources are limited. For each of them, there is a finite amount. Because of this finite amount, there are bound to be conflicts over who gets to use what. There will be conflict over who gets to use a piece of land or use a resource.

The greatest way to avoid this widespread conflict is a system of norms that aim to reduce conflict. A societally accepted private property norm that ensures that I own my body and my property can help in avoiding conflict. If the people in my community agree that my house is mine and my body is mine, they recognize that they are not allowed to enter without my permission or use my resources without my consent.

A system of widely accepted private property norms is what allows for peace to prevail. But what if the community does not accept these norms? It does not matter that I am the first user of a piece of property if nobody recognizes it as mine. If one is able to trample my property and steal my belongings without society caring, property doesn’t matter and peace it out of the question.

This is the problem that people often see with Anarcho-Capitalism. They believe that because there is no monopolized enforcer of property rights, then there is no chance at peace. Violence will prevail and a Hobbesian hell will ensue. Even libertarians have this problem with Anarcho-Capitalism. They think that property rights and individual freedom are important, but they do not believe that it is a sustainable model without a government minorly infringing on rights so as to provide protection.

The question must be posed, then: could private law work? Could we ensure that there is enforcement for property rights without a state? The theory behind this is well established, but even then it is hard to buy because the layman does not see examples of its success in the real world. We do not have exposure to private law, so we don’t think that it is possible for it to exist. The aim of this article is to establish the theory and then to look at how the theory has manifested in the real world.

The Economics of Private Law

First, we must ask the question of why bother? Why should we care about the private production of law and defense in the first place? Can we not just remain with the status quo? Libertarians, and especially Anarcho-Capitalists, respond with a resounding “no”. The status quo, especially in America, is unacceptable. The United States overtaxes and has a plethora of regulations that hold bad economic freedom and productivity. On top of that, we have various laws in the United States that trample on basic civil liberties, from the War on Drugs to the mass surveillance state. In addition to the economic and social lack of freedom, America has become an empire that reaches its talons across the Earth. We pillage smaller countries under the guise of counter-terrorism so as to satisfy our own interests.

As Lew Rockwell explains:

[T]he reason we focus on these issues in the first place is that we realize the State cannot be reformed. The State is a monopolist of aggressive violence and a massive wealth-transfer mechanism, and it is doing precisely what is in its nature to do. The utopian dream of “limited government” cannot be realized, since government has no interest in remaining limited. A smaller version of what we have now, while preferable, cannot be a stable, long-term solution. So we need to conceive of how we could live without the State or its parasitism at all.

The state cannot exist without monopolizing on violence and using it. To engage in any project, it must first take money from the population at the threat of force. From the very beginning, this is a moral atrocity. Because of this failure to live peacefully from the get-go, humanity needs to look for an alternative to state control. Because of this, we will explore the ideas of some libertarian economists and legal theorists who have explored possible alternatives.

Robert Murphy and Privatizing Law

Robert Murphy, also known as Bob, is a senior fellow at the Mises Institute who has been researching the ins and outs of private law for years. He believes that the market system could provide a system of law and order far better than a government can. Year after year he has given a lecture at the libertarian youth conference, Mises University, titled “The Market for Security.”

Of course, not all of the ins-and-outs of a market system of private law can be covered by a 40-minute lecture, so that is why he wrote his book Chaos Theory, which is a collection of essays that focus on private law and defense.

Within a private law society, contracts would dictate the bounds of a relationship between two people. An employer would make employees sign that they would not steal company assets, and embedded within the contract would be the stipulation that if they did steal, their method of repayment would be determined by a pre-determined arbitrator.

Unfair arbitrators would be discriminated against because firms and individuals that embedded them into their contracts would lose business. The fairest and nonbiased arbitrators would win out in the end due to competition on the free market.

Murphy then continues to explain the utility of insurance companies in the realm of arbitration:

It would be the same way with all torts and crimes under the system I’ve described. An insurance company would act as a guarantor (or co-signer) of a client’s contracts with various firms. Just as a bank uses experts to take depositors’ money and efficiently allocate it to borrowers, so too would the experts at the insurance company determine the risk of a certain client (i.e., the likelihood he or she would violate contracts by stealing or killing) and charge an appropriate premium. Thus, other firms wouldn’t have to keep tabs on all of their customers and employees; the firms’ only responsibility would be to make sure everyone they dealt with carried a policy with a reputable insurance agency.

A system of insurance agencies would ensure that the victims of violations of property rights would be immediately compensated. In the status quo, justice is a matter of placing people in a cage, which does nothing to help the victims. According to libertarians, though, justice is a matter of compensation. A thief should have to return the stolen goods and compensate the victim for lost time and psychological distress. A murderer should be forced to pay an inordinate sum of money to the family of the victim.

People would be far less likely to engage in business dealings with someone who has not paid insurance premiums. They would be skeptical of the fact that this person is not ready to pay for any damages to property that they engage in. Robert then goes into many of the objections and questions that people have about such a system, which I will not cover in this article. The intention of this section was to outline what Murphy’s prediction of a system of private law would look like. The answers to his objections are in Chaos Theory, which is linked for free both above and here. Chances are if you have a disagreement with this system, he has addressed it.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe and Property Insurance

Hans-Hermann Hoppe, in his book Democracy: The God That Failed, described that he believes that defense of property is the same as insurance. He cites past thinkers such as Rothbard, Molinari, and the Tannehills as evidence that he is not alone in this stance. All of these libertarian theoreticians have posited such a theory, which gives it credibility and a literature base that makes it worth considering.

Economically, it makes the most sense for insurance companies to take charge of protection of property. An individual pays a premium to the insurance agency, and in exchange, the company will protect the individual assets of the customer. The customer is incentivized to be nonaggressive and take their own precautions when it comes to self-defense. The installation of security or a firearms training course could possibly lower the premiums. A track record of harassing defenseless people and inciting conflict would raise one’s rates or possibly have them removed from the system altogether.

Like any other business, the insurance company must serve its consumers. Once a dues-paying consumer’s property is damaged/stolen, the company would be contractually obligated to find the perpetrator and compell them to compensate the victim. The company would want to do this in the most efficient and easy way possible, while still ensuring that they get their job done. Security cameras would become popular because of the possible insurance premium bonus. An insurance company that is slow at its job or did it in a costly manner would lose business to competitors.

Insurance companies seek to turn a profit, so they would incentivize customers to take every precaution possible so as to not have their property stolen, invaded, or damaged. This is because whenever damages occur, the customer costs the company resources in terms of investigation time and the manpower to take back compensation. Because of this, insurance premium bonuses may be procured for anyone who takes various safety precautions.

If a situation arose where the insurance company was attempting to collect damages from a perpetrator who claimed that they are not the violator, and that perpetrator is insured by another agency, what happens? Would a war between two insurance companies occur? Of course not, because war is costly. It is a budgetary black hole that only government wastes its time and resources on. Instead, the insurance agencies would go to a third party – an arbitrator. They would agree to one with a track record of not being biased, thus ensuring a constantly improving quality of arbitration. Arbitration agencies that were found to have secret ties to a certain insurance agency, or even ruled in favor of a certain agency suspiciously often, would go out of business because of suspicion or outright discovery of fraud.

Hoppe goes on to cover a few more of the intricacies of such a system, but above I have detailed the bare bones of the system and shown what would probably happen in a couple of situations based on economic incentives. Hans Hoppe’s system is one that incentivizes responsibility, quick justice, and perfectibility in law.

David Friedman and Private Arbitration Enforcement

In David Friedman’s book The Machinery of Freedom, he describes what he sees as the market solution to the problem of property enforcement. The core problem that he sees with private arbitrators (when compared to government courts) is their lack of ability to enforce a decision if one of the clients decides that they will not abide by the ruling.

He explains that all arbitration agencies would be forced by the market to remain completely honest. In the status quo of government courts, the incentive for honesty is shaky. A publicly appointed judge may rule in favor of those he likes and against those he does not. Along with the fact that many judges are appointed to life terms, the system insulates him from the consequences of his actions because regardless of what he does taxpayer dollars will flow into his pocket. Private arbitration agencies, on the other hand, are subject to the sovereignty of the consumer. Word of a dishonest arbitrator would spread quickly, and the arbitrator would go out of business.

There are two ways in which Friedman explains that a private arbitrator could ensure that clients would abide by its decision. The first is a contract in which both clients pay a sum that equals the highest possible damages. The arbitration agency holds onto this to ensure that both parties abide by the ruling. Once the ruling is made, the money is paid back to the rightful owners, with any damages paid out in addition. The arbitration agency takes a cut for their services.

The second method is a system of credit ratings. Client firms that enter arbitration would have a credit score. Client firms that fail to abide by the ruling would then be subject to a blacklist, meaning that they do not know how to play fair. Other firms and individuals would be very skeptical of firms with low credit ratings that have ended up on the blacklist. This would cause dishonest and cheating firms to lose clients and customers, ultimately resulting in financial demise.

The Empirics of Private Law

A true market lacks any central planning. It is the culmination of many individual actors seeking to satisfy demand in order to make a profit. This process leads to a plurality of products in each area of the economy, and in a completely free market society, this would also mean that there is a plurality in the types of defense goods produced. This plurality is also indicated by the fact that none of the theoretical standpoints that have been showcased above have been in 100% agreement.

All of the above economists have disclamed at one point or another that the market is unpredictable. The economists cannot predict the future, and they realize that. Because they cannot, they only attempt to draw rough sketches. They have pencil drawings of what Anarcho-Capitalist law and order could look like. The market, though, has given us a few complex paintings, which have shown us that this anarcho-capitalist system of governance is viable.

The Technology Age

The advent of the internet has allowed for an entire space to be carved out independent of the control of the state. This example is not as much of a historical account as the other real-world examples. This means it is more subject to skepticism than the other examples, which are purely historical. That is why this example is first: so that we may save the best for last.

The internet is not a physical place. The act of traveling through the internet is very distinct from traveling in the real world. The digital realm has properties completely alien to our present reality, but that does not mean that it isn’t real. It especially does not mean that it is not important and that there is no value in it. People can own property on the internet (and this is not limited to intellectual property). The site you have that is run by a server is yours, even if it just exists on the internet. Digital payment processes, although they are rooted in real-world offices, take place in the digital space.

Exchanges can be made online. Contracts can be secured. Confidential information can be sent back and forth between individuals or groups. Because of the vast amount of value that can be gained from a digital world, there is a risk that it may go wrong. Malicious individuals may take advantage of the non-physicality of it and violate the rights of others for their own personal gain. Hackers may breach digital walls to get to information or wealth. On top of all of this, the internet itself is independent of any governmental boundaries. This means that it needs to find its own methods to enforce its own property norms.

PayPal’s system of arbitration is one way in which the internet has managed to resolve conflicts between parties in a way that results in the rightful owners ending the day with their money. This is especially important because the internet allows for the possibility of anonymity. Because of this, companies (such as PayPal) will verify identities so as to keep clients honest with one another. In addition, what is to stop a PayPal user from claiming that a legitimate transaction was fraudulent and avoiding payment for a deal?

This is why PayPal has developed its own form of private dispute resolution. First, PayPal lets the clients see if they can resolve the conflict independently. If they prove incapable, PayPal itself will step in and resolve the conflict on behalf of the clients. They will open up their own investigation and make a ruling. This allows for fair payments to prevail and cheaters to be excluded from the system, thus ensuring the rightful owners keep their money.

The development of blockchain technology allows the internet to go even further in its insurance of fairness. Bitcoin’s birth came with a technology that removed the need for trust from the equation altogether, thus removing the need for identity independent of the blockchain. A completely decentralized ledger prohibits anyone from faking a blockchain system. In addition, it prohibits a strongman from climbing to the top and taking advantage of people. Digital systems that run on blockchain are experiencing the anarchy of the online world at its full force. It does not require leaders, coercion of any kind, or even trust.

The Chieftans of Iceland

Iceland was settled by Norwegians in 870 AD, and in 930 the Icelanders held an assembly to agree on the common law of the land. Their law was the same as Norway’s, with one exception: they did not feel that they needed a king. Instead, the Icelandic system was organized around chieftains.

Originally, these chieftains were entrepreneurs who would establish local temples. These local temples were the rights of the chieftain, and they were also private property. The chieftain had the authority to sell, lend, or inherit this property. It was voluntarily attained and voluntarily maintained.

According to David Friedman, these chieftains, through their estates, would protect the property of those who voluntarily submitted to their authority. Law would be determined through suits between people belonging to different chieftains’ estates. The subjects, known as thingmen, were not citizens, though. Their obligations to the chieftains were only what was mutually agreed upon.

The “government” of Iceland during this time had one government employee – the lawspeaker. This lawspeaker would preside over the law and give legal advice, but did not dictate what the law was and how it should work. He was elected through popular vote.

When one sued another, the defending party, if found guilty, would have to abide by the decision. If they refused, they would be socially ostracized and physically removed. If they further refused to leave after violating the law of the land, the victim could exact revenge without consequences.

One objection to this system would be that a strongman could defend himself properly and avoid having to ever pay damages, but the system had a solution to this too. A claim on damages was property, though. If one was not sufficiently powerful to take down the violator, they could sell the right to the damages. Thus, they are compensated, and a more powerful party now has a profit motive to exact justice.

But how long did it last? Longer than the United States has. As Friedman explains,

These extraordinary institutions survived for over three hundred years, and the society in which they survived appears to have been in many ways an attractive one.

This system was superior to ours for two reasons. The first is that it did not begin with state coercion so as to fund the methods of law enforcement. This meant that the enforcement of property through a sovereign was done in an ethically superior way. The state of affairs in Iceland was better than ours, ethically speaking.

Furthermore, it was decentralized. In the contemporary United States, the law is decided based on the popular vote of those in the House and Senate. The standards set by said law are arbitrary. One can call in as many experts as they want, but the end result will ultimately be detached from real experience. Decentralized law (like that of Iceland) on the other hand is developed as the sum of many cases over time. The judges and jury can decide on what is reasonably justified in the more difficult cases. This provides a solution to the oft-cited criticisms against libertarianism that forces the Non-Aggression Principle into justifying quite awful things (as seen by the previously popular “AnCap Memes”).

Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is a very small principality nestled in the mountains of Europe. It neighbors Austria and Switzerland and is only 25 kilometers long. Its population is just under 40 thousand, but it is also the richest per capita country in the world. It seems like a nice little place with nothing too notable. But what sets Liechtenstein really apart from the rest of the world is its governmental style. Prince Hans-Adam, the current monarch, says the following towards the beginning of his book The State in the Third Millenium:

I would like to set out in this book the reasons why the traditional state as a monopoly enterprise not only is an inefficient enterprise with a poor price-performance ratio, but even more importantly, becomes more of a danger for humanity the longer it exists.

Liechtenstein is in anarchy. The reigning government is barely a government at all because it does not fit the minimum standards of what a government actually is. It is not a monopolist on the territory that it owns and it is not a monopolist on the production of defense. Every single town and household in the country has the right to secede. At the same time, it is legal to create a defense company that competes with the government’s production of defense. There is, however, no demand for non-governmental protection because the de-monopolized state does such a great job of it.

The country has a monarchical government, yet it has many democratic elements. There is a parliament with 25 members, yet the prince has the authority to either dissolve the parliament or veto their decisions. At the same time, popular referendums also keep the monarchy in check. The prince has no power to veto a referendum to dissolve completely the princely house.

Liechtenstein is probably the freest place on earth and is also one of the wealthiest. One may object that their system could not be implemented on the scale of the United States, but why keep it on such a scale? The monarchy of Liechtenstein operates in a way analogous to a business. Businesses have to grow and find their right size. They have to push their boundaries amidst competitors doing the same thing. The U.S. doesn’t need to turn into Liechtenstein, it needs to dissolve into many Liechtensteins.

* * *

Anarcho-capitalism is usually not taken seriously because of the supposed lack of solutions to the question of defense. This is what makes the difference between an anarchist and a statist. This article hopes to serve as both a theoretical first step and a proof of concept for the private production of defense. The first half discusses competing theories, each of which the reader can look deeper into, while the second half looks at the real world manifestations. Using the information that has been supplied here, the reader should be primed to engage in extensive research down the right avenues.


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The 7 Most Important Schools of Libertarian Thought

Jack Parkos | United States

When people think of libertarians, they often tend to think “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” or “a Republican who likes weed”. However, neither of these statements are fully true. The libertarian philosophy actually goes very deep; in fact, there are several factions of different libertarian schools of thought. The libertarian ideology is far more intellectually diverse than American conservatives and liberals. Below are some of the different major schools of libertarian thought. Though many more exist, these seven best capture the wide array of beliefs.

Classical Liberalism

Classical liberalism is one of the earliest schools of libertarian thought. Originating in the philosophy of John Locke, classical liberalism holds that all men are born with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property and that the sole purpose of government is to protect those rights. The Declaration of Independence is an echo of classical liberal thought, as many of America’s Founding Father’s were classical liberals. Generally, they place emphasis on natural law, republicanism, and skepticism; many classical liberals are firm believers in the U.S. Constitution.

Key classical liberal figures include:

  • John Locke
  • Thomas Paine
  • Many of America’s Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington

Anarcho-capitalism

Anarcho-capitalists base their philosophy on the moral principle called the “Non-aggression Principle” (NAP). The basis of the NAP is that people do not have the right to initiate force against others. On the contrary, the only acceptable use of force is in self-defense. They also believe that the mere existence of the state violates the NAP, as it acquires all its income through coercive means (taxation). Thus, they believe that no government should exist. Instead, they believe that voluntary communities and private entities should fill the government’s role.

Key anarcho-capitalist figures include:

  • Murray Rothbard
  • Hans Hermann Hoppe
  • David Friedman

Minarchism

Minarchism basically falls in between anarcho-capitalism and classical liberalism. It holds many similar beliefs to anarcho-capitalism but criticizes the idea of a lack of government. Minarchists believe that the free market can cover almost all government programs. However, they maintain that a minimalist government is necessary for the protection of rights. Minarchists typically believe, with some variation, that government should be limited to a “Night-watchman State” consisting of police, military, and courts. Robert Nozick, author of “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” argued that out of anarcho-capitalism, minarchism would naturally arise, as monopolized private police and courts would form a “state” of sorts.

Key minarchists include:

  • Robert Nozick
  • Friedrich Hayek
  • Ludvig Von Mises

Objectivism

Objectivism is a philosophy that author Ayn Rand outlines in her books “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead”. To begin with, objectivism is an extreme Laissez-faire capitalist belief with huge emphasis on individualism. Rand believed that man was best off serving his own self interest and should not need to help out the needy. In addition, it describes the pursuit of one’s own happiness as life’s most important goal. Accordingly, she, like many objectivists, rejected selflessness and altruism as an inefficient direction of resources.

Key figures in the Objectivist movement include:

  • Ayn Rand
  • Leonard Peikoff

Bleeding Heart Libertarianism

Bleeding Heart Libertarians can be considered more “moderate” libertarians. In some cases, they are associated with the libertarian left. The official site for bleeding heart libertarians says they believe in “free markets and social justice“. Bleeding Heart Libertarians tend to believe in social equality and egalitarianism. They often still believe in social safety nets and a welfare state, and fall on the progressive side on social issues.

Arguably, the most famous bleeding heart libertarian is Gary Johnson. Much of the moderate side of the Libertarian Party also falls under this category.

Libertarian Socialism

Libertarian socialism is a form of left libertarianism. Typically, it is a form of Marxist theory that believes in social liberties and limited to no government. However, they also support a voluntary sharing of resources in a communal way. They also tend to oppose the power of strong corporations and hierarchies. Libertarian socialists often believe capitalism to be a tyrannical force and compare the “economic” elite to the state. As a result, they believe in ending authoritarianism and bringing in systems of direct democracy (sometimes unanimous) that distribute wealth more evenly.

This mode of thought draws much criticism from most other branches of libertarianism. Conversely, many libertarian socialists firmly believe themselves to be the only true libertarians. This partly dates back to the origin of anarchism and libertarianism in 19th-century Europe as a term to describe the left.

Key libertarian socialists include:

  • Emma Goldman
  • Peter Kropotkin
  • Noam Chomsky

Paleolibertarianism

Paleolibertarians believe that while the state should be limited or abolished, society should still hold culturally conservative views. Paleolibertarians are thus very supportive of Western and American culture and are concerned about threats to it.

The paleolibertarian movement began in the 1990’s as a coalition of paleolibertarians and paleoconservatives that Rothbard (above) and paleoconservative presidential candidate Pat Buchanan formed. Basically, the goal was to stop interventionism, globalism, and social democracy.

Paleolibertarians usually oppose mass immigration and foreign wars. Many more radical paleolibertarians may consider themselves “Hoppeans”, following the anarcho-capitalist philosophy of Hans Hermann Hoppe.

Key paleolibertarians include:

  • Murray Rothbard
  • Lew Rockwell
  • Hans Hermann Hoppe
  • Ron Paul
  • Tom Woods

The movement, of course, is even more diverse than this. Countless versions of libertarian thought exist within it, and it would take ages to explain them all. Without a doubt, the area of thought is rich with diversity and variation. No two libertarians are alike, but all have one thing in common: a desire to live free.


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Five Great Freedom Books

By Atilla Sulker | United States

By dipping his or her toes into libertarianism, one can find how extensive and comprehensive the literature is. The assortment is indeed full of fresh, fertile ideas comprising of a significant range of perspectives. But it is not just merely the genius of these ideas that makes the collection so comprehensive- it is also the passion behind the libertarian movement that has lead to continuing debate and the bettering of ideas within the movement.

Go visit the Rothbard library for yourself and you will see not just a mere library, but a cultural center, a true marvel. Books on economics, history, philosophy, anthropology, you name it. Rothbard was truly an interdisciplinary genius who devoted his life to reading and writing, hence the vastness of his contributions to libertarian academia.

I am but a budding enthusiast in the liberty movement, and of the massive number of books out there, I have only read a small portion of them. Here, in no particular order, are five books I have read that I think are very worthwhile reads. Some of these books are relatively popular and some were even written by bestselling authors, while others are more obscure and overlooked. Some focus on philosophy, others on economics.

  1. Liberty Defined by Ron Paul

Liberty Defined was the second freedom book that I read, after reading Rand Paul’s Taking a Stand. The book is organized in a very convenient fashion. One doesn’t need to read the book in order. Paul goes through 50 different topics, dedicating a chapter to each, all organized in alphabetical order. The book is a comprehensive treatise on Ron Paul’s positions on various issues, as the book indexes Paul’s position on the issues by chapter. I read the book in order the first time, but the second time, I flipped to random chapters as this can be easily done without throwing off the reader. The reader can quite literally flip to any chapter and become enlightened.

Most chapters are relatively short, but provide a concise account of each topic. Issues discussed include bipartisanship, Zionism, democracy, immigration, global warming, Keynesianism, and many more. This is also the book that introduced me to Austrian economics and the Mises Institute, as there is a chapter dedicated to Austrian economics. Any time there is an issue in the news, or if there is an issue in which you need to prime yourself, pick up the book and find the relevant chapter.

2. Theory and History by Ludwig Von Mises

Theory and History is a very interesting book to say the least and according to Dr. David Gordon, it is one of the easiest Mises books to read. The book is an epistemological and methodological treatise and outlines the praxeological method that ought to be used in the social sciences. Praxeology is the science of human action, with the chief premise being that humans engage in purposeful behavior.

The book sharply rebukes mainstream “scientific” methods of studying economics and establishes the premise that the social sciences differ greatly from the natural sciences in the sense that the social sciences study human action. Human action is entirely unpredictable and hence can not be predicted to the extent that events in the realm of the natural sciences can be predicted. Mises establishes the premise of methodological dualism, which asserts that the method used in the social sciences must be different from the method used in the natural sciences. Mises also discusses history and takes apart the Marxist interpretation of history. He puts emphasis on the free will and takes down such fallacious doctrines as materialism, determinism, and positivism.

3. Defending the Undefendable by Walter Block

Defending the Undefendable is one of those rare books that really gives the reader a mind blowing, mind changing experience. The book essentially does what is says it will do- it defends the undefendable. Block begins by establishing the non- aggression principle and uses this to guide the reader through the rest of the book. The book can actually be very convincing to non-libertarians, providing that the reader is to a degree sympathetic to the NAP, or at the very least has an open mind.

Once the reader considers the NAP, they will be able to understand how Block is able to defend these supposedly vile roles in society. One will see that Block puts heavy emphasis on the concept of voluntary exchange to advance his thesis. For example, in the first chapter titled “The Prostitute”, Block states that prostitution demonstrates a voluntary exchange of fees for sexual services. Reading this one chapter completely changed my perspective of prostitution, though I am still adamantly against prostitution personally.

Anyone who correctly understands the NAP and the concept of voluntary exchange will see that prostitution is actually just a peaceful exchange, just like any other exchange. The beauty of Block’s argument is that he maintains that one can be against prostitution, yet be in support of legalizing it. This is a very important point, and Block’s characterization of prostitution as an exchange helps to advance this point. Among other “evils” that Block defends include the inheritor, the stripminer, the pimp, the drug addict, and the blackmailer.

4. The Case Against the Fed by Murray N. Rothbard

The Case Against the Fed was one of the last books written by Murray Rothbard. It is by far the best take down of the Federal Reserve that I have ever seen, especially considering its mere brevity (at only 158 pages). Take for example End the Fed by Ron Paul. This is also a great book and a sharp rebuke of the Fed, but even this book doesn’t take down the Fed in the same concise, step by step fashion in which Rothbard does. This is a key factor regarding the uniqueness of Rothbard’s book. It is very step by step and makes sure the reader understands the fundamentals before advancing to the topic of the Fed.

Rothbard starts by explaining exchange, loans, and counterfeiting, then begins to advance this and applies it to fractional reserve banking. Towards the middle of the book, Rothbard digresses and begins to talk about the history of the Fed and the competing interests that led to its formation. Towards the end of the book, he beautifully wraps up his thesis and explains how the Fed inflates money.

One will also notice that Rothbard uses a lot of diagrams to represent bank transactions. In this way the reader will see that he is crystal clear with his explanation, and if anything is confusing, it is the concept rather than Rothbard (This is what sets Rothbard apart from Mises, but this should not discourage you from reading the brilliant works of Mises). For this reason, Rothbard makes an excellent choice for someone who is a novice, and this book is a must for anyone who wants to understand central banking.

5. Reassessing the Presidency by John V. Denson and others

Reassessing the Presidency is just the book we in need in this day in age with the growing power of the president and the indoctrination of people into worshiping big government. The book features many essays written by many great libertarian scholars including Joseph Salerno, Thomas DiLorenzo, Thomas Woods, Ralph Raico, and David Gordon among others. These essays take down the fallacious praise given to many American presidents by mainstream historians.

With the infamous libertarian Alabama Judge John Denson as the editor, the collection contains scorching essays on numerous topics including Abraham Lincoln and mercantilism, the abuse of antitrust legislation, and the origins of the American empire. If there is one chapter that I must single out as the most impactful for me, it is the chapter on the electoral college by Randall G. Holcombe. Reading this chapter was one of those mind blowing moments. The thesis is that the American republic was not meant to be a democracy and senators were not meant to be directly elected. This is very important as the 17th amendment, which allows the direct election of senators, has led to steady growth in government. For a more in depth analysis of this topic, read Holcombe’s book From Liberty to Democracy.

Additionally, Reassessing the Presidency also examines some presidents from a more positive view, these presidents including Martin Van Buren and Grover Cleveland. Nonetheless, even when examining libertarian leaning presidents, the authors do not hesitate to acknowledge any of the shortcomings of the presidents. The book starts with a chapter on rating presidents from a libertarian perspective and conveniently ends with a chapter on the impossibility of limited government by Hans-Herman Hoppe. The book is long at 791 pages, but it is nonetheless a very rewarding experience, sharply rebuking mainstream views of the presidency. I would suggest the writing of a second volume which incorporates recent presidents (as this book was written in 2001), as well as presidents that have not been given significant attention within this work.

There are many great books on liberty out there and this list is just a very small sample. I think that some of these works in this list are very overlooked including Theory and History, The Case Against the Fed, and Reassessing the Presidency, so I hope that I have provided you with some further reading. I think all these books are very much standouts and deserve more attention. I now leave you with a list of other great books:

  • The Revolution: A Manifesto by Ron Paul
  • Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman
  • The Betrayal of the American Right by Murray Rothbard
  • The Myth of National Defense by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and others
  • Crony Capitalism in America by Hunter Lewis
  • Speaking of Liberty by Lew Rockwell
  • I Chose Liberty by Walter Block
  • Principles of Economics by Carl Menger

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The Washington Post is Wrong; Libertarians are NOT Similar to the Alt-Right

By Mason Mohon | USA

The mainstream media has continued its seemingly eternal attack on the political philosophy of freedom and individualism, and this time, it is almost laughable.

On Tuesday, the Washington Post published an article by John Ganz titled “Libertarians have more in common with the alt-right than they want you to think”. John Ganz himself is an executive editor at Genius.com, a website that is solely based around music. With his background in music behind him, he seems to think he is ready to tie the defense of liberty to the hateful ideologies of the far right.

But enough on the author, let us look what he actually has said in an attack on the good kind of liberalism.

Ron Paul and Racism?

The first thing a reader of the article sees is an image of Ron Paul, captioned with an accusation of racist rhetoric. After a summary of the events in Charlottesville, Ganz goes in on this, connecting Murray Rothbard to Lew Rockwell, who he claims wrote ” a series of virulently racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic newsletters on behalf of Ron Paul.”

This part of the article seemed to be attempting to link Ron Paul to racism and homophobia. Dr. Paul has been linked to a controversy regarding these letters for decades, yet assailants of him have always been ignorant of the truth.

First, they are commonly taken out of context, such as the quote used in the Washington Post article which was as follows:

I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in [Washington] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal,

This may seem like a blatant show of libertarian racism, but that is because the full quote was not expressed.

Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.

It takes very little thought to recognize that what he meant was that the laughable D.C. criminal justice system had been criminalizing black people by their own standards, not that the black community was inherently criminal.

Furthermore, Dr. Paul is not responsible for these newsletters. No doubt, Ganz blamed Rockwell for their writing, but he is still making the attempt to smear the libertarian icon as a bigot when he is clearly not, as shown by the article’s own photo caption. A full story of Paul’s responses to the newsletter controversy can be found here.

The strategy of racial signaling practiced by Lew Rockwell was a bad and ineffective practice that has not been used to a serious extent ever since, and the actions of Rockwell provide no ground to accuse Dr. Paul or libertarianism as a whole of any kind of racism.

Lastly, on the subject of Ron Paul’s leanings on the idea of race, I would strongly suggest reading his manifesto The Revolution, which makes abundantly clear that Paul views racism as a form of collectivism and on the antithesis of libertarian values of individualism. Seeing as that it is merely six dollars on Amazon, I am amazed that John Ganz did not take the liberty of purchasing it for himself so he would at least be somewhat educated on the people he was trying to attack.

Murray Rothbard, David Duke, and Populism

Let us not forget that Murray Rothbard’s parents were Jewish immigrants to the United States that came from Poland and Russia. With this knowledge, shouting that Rothbard was a Nazi or fascist sympathizer in any light can only be seen as ignorant and a result of not looking deep into the background of the Austrian economist.

Ganz’s biggest attack on Rothbard himself seemed to be about his essay, Right-Wing Populism, which was published in January of 1992, that most notably provides reflections on the presidential run of David Duke and advocates for the abolition of race-based laws, along with an “America First” idea.

On David Duke, Rothbard himself was a descendant of two Jews and by no means a white supremacist. Rather, he praised the ideas of racial equality for all that Duke actually advocated for, along with David Duke’s more libertarian-leaning economic policies.

Rothbard goes on to critique affirmative action and race-based quotas, along with the remnants of the civil rights movement’s legal impact. Affirmative action is essentially telling people of certain races that they aren’t as good as their white peers so they need a boost. Affirmative action is engaging in its own racism while attempting to pursue nobility by meeting ‘race quotas’ which judge people based on the color of skin, rather than the content of heart and mind. No doubt Rothbard was against these things, as would be the case of any other sensible person.

The legal results of the civil rights movement have been the enforcement of anti-discrimination laws, which should not exist. Owner of private property should be able to choose who has access to that private property, however bigoted their reasons may be.

Moreover, Ganz attempts to give Murray Rothbard a Trumpian tie, merely because they both use the series of words “America First.” The writer claims Rothbard was advocating for “economic nationalism,” something President Trump has been notorious for, while Trump’s form of nationalism is collectivism, which is in stark contrast to Rothbard’s criticism of providing foreign aid to other countries. Why wouldn’t he oppose this foreign aid, when it amounts to nothing more than creating dependent countries while problems still arise here in the United States.

Ganz’s criticisms of Murray Rothbard are poorly founded and barely backed and should be disregarded.

Hoppe, Segregation, Private Property and White Nationalism

The article continues by discussing the Property and Freedom Society founded by Hans-Hermann Hoppe and how various white nationalists have been invited to speak there. Hans-Hermann Hoppe himself is not a supporter of racism and has been against the growing issue of right-wing authoritarianism and fascism in the U.S. since before it was a major issue, and he does not represent the liberty movement as a whole.

The article brings up three people who have spoken at the Property and Freedom Society: Richard Spencer, Jared Taylor, and Peter Brimelow. Richard Spencer himself is by no means a libertarian, stating that he is against most right wingers and a supporter of socialism in this youtube video. People do not like Spencer, especially libertarians. He was accused of being brain dead in an article by popular Anarcho-Capitalist site Liberty Hangout.

Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow are not libertarians either. They are both white nationalists, and this sort of ethnic identity is a cancerous form of collectivism that should be put down and shunned by libertarians. Consider this that shunning. They are not libertarian and should not be used to represent libertarians in any capacity.

After the attempt to connect libertarians to white nationalists, Ganz now brings up how Hoppe is in support of segregation by owners of private property, as he should be. Nobody is obligated to let anyone on their property, and the state shouldn’t force them to. if a neighborhood does not want to provide housing for a particular race for whatever reason, they reserve every right to do so. Market forces provide the disadvantage of a competing neighborhood offering to house without bigotry that would result in monetary loss for the racist one. The state should not be in the business of making sure we aren’t racist, as I mentioned before when mentioning the Civil Rights movement.

Hoppe’s statement from his book “Democracy: The God that Failed” is also criticized. It portrays people that do not understand very basic human action as barely human or not human at all, but Ganz takes the quote out of context and eliminates the reasoning. It is found on page 173 of the book and can be read here.

The Meaning of Libertarianism

John Ganz’s final criticism is supported by a confusion between mainstream libertarianism and Randian objectivism. He accuses libertarians of basing their ideology off of self-interest that ultimately leads to collectivist racism, but this is wrong. Libertarianism is the belief that everyone has nature (or God) given rights, and nobody has rights that infringe on anyone else’s. These rights are life, body, and property.

I would like to conclude first by saying that John Ganz has no idea what he is talking about when he discusses what it means to be libertarian, and second with a Murray Rothbard quote.

My own basic perspective on the history of man…is to place central importance on the great conflict which is eternally waged between Liberty and Power… I see the liberty of the individual not only as a great moral good in itself (or, with Lord Acton, as the highest political good), but also as the necessary condition for the flowering of all the other goods that mankind cherishes: moral virtue, civilization, the arts and sciences, economic prosperity. Out of liberty, then, stem the glories of civilized life.


For further libertarian offense against the alt-right, I suggest the following article by Jeffrey Tucker:

https://fee.org/articles/five-differences-between-the-alt-right-and-libertarians/