L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 181, July 8, 2002
WHAT FREEDOMS ARE LEFT?
Response to Critics
Exclusive to TLE
In response to my criticism of right wing anarchy, many assertions were made in letters to TLE, in email sent me, and in an article at TLE. These bear examination and, by way of reply to my various critics, I shall do so here:
Firstly, the assertion that anarchy is a "... natural state, as we both know..." is refuted by all historical evidence. Even in primitive hunter-gatherer societies, forms of government exist. It may or may not be a good thing, but it is an undeniable one. Most right anarchists do not, from my experience, believe that an anarchy has yet existed on this planet. If an example of an anarchy can be given, Iíd be delighted to discuss how it functions. Until then, we are faced with an endless variety of conflicting theories on the day to day details of How It Will Work. Without any basic agreement other than, "If you donít bother me, I wonít have to shoot you," as has been proposed as The One Law of Anarchy, I suggest that anarchists are asking the rest of us to have a whole lot of faith -- in their crackpot theories as well as their allegedly non-aggressive natures.
The next assertion, that the market provides for the security needs of a society is also, contrary to claim, demonstrably false. The example of the Pinkerton Agency, which is proposed as a case of private enterprise "security", is possibly the worst example of a (supposedly) free market providing security for a society. Alan Pinkerton was a despicable individual who was of service to that infamous statist, Abraham Lincoln. The history of Pinkerton's gang of thugs is such an ignoble one that it cries out for sufficient self-government that citizens can protect themselves from such gangs. It's hardly an argument for anarchy.
Moving on to the Brinks Armored Car Company: this one is even more absurd; they provide exceptionally expensive protection to corporations which can afford it. Brinks does not and can not assure the average citizen of protection from burglars, murderers and gangsters. I do not support the idea that only those people who can afford "private security" have a right to the security of their persons and property, anyway.
The Guardian Angels were also proposed as an example of this "free market security". Yet Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, finally confessed to being a fraud himself -- he falsely accused the police of having beaten him when he wanted some free publicity. The idea that the Guardian Angels replaces any police force is, by the bye, refuted by that organisation itself. Much of the concept of the organisation is laudable; the conduct of its founder is reprehensible; the record of its "success" is debatable. It is also not, as far as I know, an example of market anything, however, as its "services" are gratis (or were, the last I heard).
As well, all these "free market" security rackets presently operate in the context of a very powerful state which forces upon them a vast array of regulations which dictate what they may view as a "crime" and what they may or may not do in response to it. In an "AnCap" society, there would be no mechanism for this regulation. What to do, then, if your security agency and mine donít agree that what you or I did was a "crime" against the rights of the other? We dare not have a written legal code or even constitutional agreement for, we are told, this inevitably leads to Soviet style communism, et cetera. Letting them shoot it out is, like almost every right wing anarchist proposal, a blueprint for feudalism. One doesnít have to reside in an ivory tower to realise this, one has only to turn off the television and learn a bit of history.
Another writer talks about Lon Horiuchi and rapists, then is "...left to conclude that Mr Miles believes it is right for force to be initiated against individuals"! Based on what, pray tell?! I oppose rape and the FBI equally and for much the same reasons, and I most assuredly said nothing in my article to indicate otherwise. But this is typical of anarchists; they presuppose things about others based on what they say which is based on nothing at all, then they proceed from there to kick apart their straw man. Typically, too, they equate any and all alternatives to right wing anarchy to statism.
In passing, Iíll point out that my article was not intended to be a "case for limited government"; it was meant to be what it stated it was -- a critique of the concept of rightist anarchy as a possible solution to the problem of statism. Even if all government really were statism, it would still not disqualify anything I said in my article. As most anarchists either can not or will not distinguish between statism and any other possible form or concept of government, I will assist here:
The above comes directly from my Collins Concise dictionary, a product of a (relatively) free market. One should note that this definition does not mention any system in which the theory or practice is one of concentrating those powers elsewhere while severely limiting them in a minute amount of self-government, i.e. libertarianism.
The common assertion that the U.S. Constitution is history's best and/or ultimate test of limited government is anti-historical. The U.S. Constitution was created by those who wished to reverse the multiple-minarchical status of the thirteen colonies at the time of their independence. Besides, the Swiss experiment, which is ongoing, is one of the best tests of limited government in history, if not the very best (arguments can be made for the Icelandic Althing). My assertion is that these two examples are merely (historically- speaking) recent experiments and that the process has just begun. This implies that there are actual historical lessons that can be learnt and applied by people with the patience and ability to do so, and that we have only just begun to experiment in systems of minimal, self- government.
Mr Narvesonís letter I have taken as seriously as he obviously takes dissent from his anarchist faith.
Mr Lopez starts off with a bit of backhanded gratuitous insult. He then proceeds to set up a straw man to knock over, to wit: all government is statism, and the "proof" comes from a "definition" at a site he likes. [Iíll stick with the Collins Concise dictionary. Decide for yourselves which source is more objective and informed about the English language.] He then goes on to say that any government of any kind is, in essence, the same as the "...abundance of government at present," (which abundance, we can at least agree, is a problem). I see no reason to believe this contention, but I grant that if it is accepted, then we all would have to become either anarchists or statists. However, as the premise is false, we are spared this choice of poisons.
So long as we start with the premises that "all government is statist" or "every alternative to statist government has been tried and failed" then we are left with no alternative but the shape-shifting Protean anti-god of right wing anarchy. I reject these anti-historical theses. The American experiment was hijacked by statists between the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America. The discussion of how and where this experiment went astray is an interesting and a lengthy one, but my point here is merely that it did go astray and was not the final word in experiments in self-government. Historically speaking, the experiments have just begun.
The Swiss experiment, which is not perfect either, does, however, offer a more positive experience from which to learn. For instance, the Swiss, with their citizen soldiery, managed to hold off the entire Axis for six years, despite being surrounded by its armies. I somehow doubt that Brinks or Pinkerton would have done as well, or even your bowling league with its cache of various small arms (although of the three Iíd choose the Louisville Lofters). The assertion that people cannot possibly cooperate in their own defence is disproven by the history of the Swiss self-governmentís armed forces.
Again, I will point out that the Swiss experiment isnít perfect, but it isnít over yet, either. Anyway, I am not willing to "trust my security to a for-profit company" as an anarcho-capitalist recently told me that he was so eager to do -- especially as there may be more profit in selling me down the river to a higher bidder. I advocate minimal, self-government, as there may be no "profit" in the defence of my life and property and those of my neighbours, but there is a good reason for it. One thing that people can collectively do is to organise a "well-regulated militia" along the lines of the Swiss Army. Of course, this is the dreaded collectivism, but I donít have a pathological fear of cooperation with my fellow man, and am capable of it when itís necessary, too.
Nowhere did I speak of hope or socialism, so I have no idea what Mr Lopez was on about at that point and therefor cannot reply to it. His claim that "Libertarianism carried to its logical end is anarchism" is based on nothing more than that he says so. I disagree. I say that libertarianism and anarchism are not even heading in the same direction. Anarchy can only lead to such chaos and disempowerment of individuals as to lead to either a quick restoration of statism or a feudal period (which is what most descriptions of How It Will Work amount to anyway) followed by the nation-statism that history proves is the natural outgrowth of feudalism. That is how anarchy can be worse than limited, self-government, Mr Lopez. Thanks for asking.
Mr Paul is quite right that I didnít develop the points made in my final paragraph. They were just undeveloped parting shots, and I should have left them off. It is actually the beginning of a separate article, so I apologise to my readers for that bit of sloppy writing.
As for Freddie Nitzie, I have no respect for any of his crackpot ravings. I have read many of them and find them to be proto-fascism, especially his belief in ubermenschen. If you like ole Freddie, so be it, but donít pretend he has anything to do with the struggle for Liberty for all mankind. We canít all be ubermenschen, you see, and some of us arenít even interested in "evolving" ourselves into one.
Mr Hansonís thesis that it is inevitable that all government become statist is hardly historical for reasons I pointed out above. Itís not the "reason" for anarchists holding their various conflicting positions, either, in my opinion. I doubt that there are too many historians who advocate anarchy, as the better ones donít believe in the inevitability of all kinds of government (both tried and untried) ending up as statism.
I would point out to Mr Hanson that I mentioned in my article that I recognise the fact that itís a wee bit difficult to get two anarchists to agree on anything, but I hardly think that itís "wrong headed" to attempt to summarise the main positions. If you are advocating something as a replacement for the status quo, surely one has the right to ask what the hell it is and how it is supposed to work! I realise that this puts anarchy in a bad light, but that isnít my fault; blame the light if it will make you feel better.
Mr Bussjaeger starts his article with an objection to my calling anarchocapitalists right wing anarchists. This, of course, is a great diversion from the actual points I made in the article. So far, none of my critics are too eager to discuss those.
Then comes his straw man; Miles is an ivory tower snob who looks down on the honest, hard working man of the soil who is so busy et cetera. I never mentioned Mr Bussjaeger in my article, nor his work. I spoke of the disdain for "practicality" with which some right anarchists greet my requests for some practical details on How It Will Work. Some few come up with some ideas on this topic, and are either quickly shot down by their fellow AnCaps or else immediately bogged down in interminable debates.
I used television watcher as an insult? It is an insult, and you donít have to be an intellectual to realise that telly addiction is not the best sign of People With An Alternative To The Status Quo. I repeat that you cannot spend hours a day being brainwashed by the stateís glass tit and be the kind of great thinker who can set up an entire functioning society minus any kind of government at all. Surely Mr Bussjaeger can grasp this concept. And now, back to Star Trek, the Next Generation...
I would be surprised if the New Merriam-Webster actually says that "government is a subset of the state"; it sounds to me like an assertion that Mr Bussjaeger tacked onto the dictionary definition. Either way, I donít agree with that assertion, at least not in the sense of The State which we debate here.
The standard straw man that The State As It Now Exists Is Bad, Therefor All Government Is Bad and we donít want to hear about any alternatives or learning from past experience, et cetera, is a tired old ploy. I donít accept that the police as now constituted in the USA, for example, are the only kind of police force possible. Hell, they donít even (usually) go about armed in the UK, and that is hardly a libertarian society, so alternatives must be possible. This fact one would not realise to read Mr Bussjaegerís Quixotic attack on the dragon-like straw policemen. For the record; the cops never "saved my butt" either, but then neither did Allan Pinkerton.
"Voluntary citizenís associations" were not governments?! That assertion is ridiculous. Apparently, government means, as Humpty Dumpty said, "...just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less." The sheriffs they hired sound an awful lot like cops, too, and with the power to initiate violent force, you can bet. But this is apparently an example of anarchy in action. Curiouser and curiouser...
"Maybe Mr Miles never heard of mercenaries"?! This is a serious proposal for securing property and person?! Apparently Mr Bussjaeger never heard what the bastards did! I notice that he also doesnít see the historical epoch of predatory mercenary gangs (employed by feudal states) which constantly changed sides as that very same era which did lead directly to nationalism and the imperial state. However, that is precisely what feudalism does, and that is why I point out that right wing anarchy would most likely bring about the restoration of the state: the few descriptions of How It Will Work which one manages to wrest from these great thinkers are invariably definitions of proto- feudalism.
We hear from such as Mr Bussjaeger about the alleged inevitability of the failure of proposals not yet tried and experiments not yet finished, but the sure and established historical road to statism is his "solution" to the problem thereof!? Curiouser and curiouser and curiouser!
That he doesnít know that self-professed anarcho-capitalists have endorsed voting for the likes of Pim Fortuyn does not change the fact that they have. [My article was not based on what Mr Bussjaeger is or is not aware of, anyway.] One of these AnCaps even endorsed George W. Bush for the presidency of the USA. In a debate on the topic, I was informed that it is okay to vote for rightists like Fortuyn because they are "going in the same direction" as anarcho-capitalists. One can feign shock at being called a right winger or one can endorse such positions, but not both, please.
Finally, I have been called, in email and at various sites, a liar, a slanderer, a bastard and a victim of demonic possession. I have told no lies, mentioned nobodyís name in my article, and even avoided mentioning the site to which I referred as I was more interested in debating the foolish ideas of the anarcho-capitalists than their foolish personalities. (I also donít feel obligated to promote anybodyís site, although I let them all know where my article would be printed.) The quality of the anarchistsí response(s) to my article is a far bigger indictment of their ideas than was the article itself. By the way, my exorcist informs me that I am "clean" now, and my mama says that, "While he is a nasty little shit, heís not a bastard." [Thanks Mama; donít expect me to show up at your next parole hearing, you old bat.]
All of my criticsí diversions, disingenuous denials and
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