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 Post subject: Anarcho-libertarianism (Voluntaryist V Surlethe) PostPosted: 2008-03-14 12:40pm
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The subject of this thread is anarcho-libertarianism: a currently popular term for anarchism, which is in turn defined by Merriam-Webster as:
Quote:
1 : a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups

The chosen combatants are:
  • Voluntaryist, arguing in favour of anarchism
  • Surlethe, arguing against anarchism
The opening statement should be made by Voluntaryist, since he is arguing in favour of changing all of society over to a new and untested system and should therefore explain what benefits this change would bring.

Note: If either participant has a problem with the terms of this opening post and thread, please PM me with your concerns. Do not wrangle over the terms of debate in this thread.

A comment thread has been made available, in the OT forum.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-03-18 05:10am
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First off, I want to say thanks to Surlethe for taking the time to debate me, and thanks to the Star Destroyer Forums and Darth Wong for setting up the debate.

Anarcho-libertarianism, aka Voluntaryism, was noted in Darth's post as being defined thusly by Merriam-Webster:

Quote:
1 : a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups.


I agree with this definition. Now lets look at the definition for government. There are many ways to define it but for the purposes of this debate I propose the following definition:

Quote:
An institution claiming sole authority, a priori, over an area and/or populace.


Next lets look at what Im here to argue:

Quote:
The opening statement should be made by Voluntaryist, since he is arguing in favour of changing all of society over to a new and untested system and should therefore explain what benefits this change would bring.


I will talk a bit about the differences between free market and government, and then I will explain some of the benefits that Voluntaryism brings.

The government claims a priori control and ownership over those it designates as its "citizens." By a priori I mean that government makes a claim that precedes the self-ownership of the individuals it claims to rule over. It coerces its subjects into obeying its will. The vast majority of the time, the threat or promise of force (rather than actual physical force) is all that is needed to get its subjects to obey its will.

Voluntaryism, on the other hand, only recognizes consentual interactions as legitimate, and never sanctions the initiation of force. Within a free market framework, the initiation of force can find no place to hide, and no allowances are made to it.

Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves. Whatever rights of control that group A is given, must be first taken from group B. Voluntaryism applies the same rules to all, while government, through its monopoly, applies beneficial rules to some, and detrimental rules to others.

From regulations to infrastructure to courts to security, no good or service is better provided or traded than in an open competitive voluntary framework. Voluntaryism opens all social services to open competition. And we all know that competition, through supply and demand, enhances efficiency, quality, innovation, and adaptability. In an open market, service providers (businesses, charity groups, etc) stand and fall on their own merits because people only pay them (and thus keep them operating) if they are getting a good value. All sectors of society would have the maximum incentive to prosper, and all the citizens or residents would have the maximum freedom to not only choose where they can best utilize their skills, but also choose what best suits their needs at the greatest efficiency available.

Contrast this with a government system where any number of social services are monopolized (depending in which sectors of society it sticks its nose in), and so many barriers to supply an demand are put in place. Government services are not subject to the checks and balances that a free market has. The law of supply and demand has little or no bearing on what government does and how it does it. People cant choose whether or not they want to pay for the services, or how much of the service they want to pay for. It is given to the people by decree, and the government decides how much money to take from them in exchange for its "services." Functionally this is no different than a protection racket or a crime syndicate. And even if a government intends to do good, this fundamental way in which it operates will cause it to achieve the same undesirable results.

Some people claim, "But Voluntaryism is a utopia!"

On the contrary, it is government that is a utopia. Voluntaryism recognizes that nobody is perfect and provides everyone with equal ability to protect themselves accordingly. But government, on the other hand, believes that some people are inherently better and should be trusted with extra special rights over others in the vain belief that this ruling class will somehow produce superior results. Government is the social theory that has an unrealistic view of humans, not Voluntaryism. Government is the social theory that allows for rampant abuse and the proliferation of evil precisely because it gives to one minority group (the rulers) undue power, control, and ownership over everyone else. Government is the unrealistic utopia, not Voluntaryism.


Some people object, "But what about Democracy? Surely popular voting gives representation!"

No, it gives only the illusion of representation. Democracy is simply a government where the ruling body is the majority opinion of the populace. It is a coercive monopoly ruled by 50% +1 of the people. You still have a monopoly, and you can still (and often do) have up to 50% -1 of the people being oppressed. And the kicker is, if you don’t vote (and therefore decide to not consent to anyone they offer to rule over you), they still claim that you are under their authority. And if the virtue or advantage of democracy is really "representation," then why not go for 100% representation and let every vote truly count through a voluntary framework, where everyone can actually choose and associate how they like. In a voluntary society, the minority gets its own representation too, it isn't stuck with what the majority opinion decided. If representation is truly your aim, an open competition provides far superior representational results than a "tyranny of the majority" style monopoly.

Some people contend, "But in a Voluntary society, anyone can come with bigger guns/bombs and take over! therefore we need government to protect us!" In response I note that not only is this argument flawed, but a voluntary society will have good reason to be quite capable of defending itself:

1. The "bigger guns" argument applies equally to all societies. Surely a state could be taken over or annihilated by a bigger force, therefore this is not an argument that favors one social system over another.
2. Sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always vulnerable to it.
3. In a voluntary society, there will be no dictated a priori restrictions on self-defense. People wont be "declawed" (restricted or prevented from taking defense into their own hands or forming their own defense groups, most especially defending against the very government that rules over them) as they are by government today.
4. Competition will promote innovation and efficiency in defense from aggressors, especially would-be rulers. No thousand dollar toilet seats here.
5. In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them.
6. A voluntary society will be more likely to engage in trade with other societies instead of engaging in saber rattling and posturing. This means it will be less likely to be perceived as a belligerent threat and more likely to be seen as a friend, therefore reducing the risk of some mass invasion or bombardment.

All sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Society is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and more prosperous in a free market framework. People view free and open societies in a friendly light. An enforced monopoly is not the way to conduct or secure any part of society, rather it is the very thing that threatens society.

I think this opening post is long enough (if not too long) so I think its time to let my opponent respond to my claims, and present why he thinks that government is superior to an Anarcho-Libertarian society.



A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
-Lysander Spooner

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-03-22 12:26pm
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Voluntaryist wrote:
Now lets look at the definition for government. There are many ways to define it but for the purposes of this debate I propose the following definition:

Quote:
An institution claiming sole authority, a priori, over an area and/or populace.

Why should we use this definition? Merriam-Webster instead gives:

Quote:
  1. : the act or process of governing; specifically : authoritative direction or control
  2. obsolete : moral conduct or behavior : discretion
    1. : the office, authority, or function of governing
    2. obsolete : the term during which a governing official holds office
  3. : the continuous exercise of authority over and the performance of functions for a political unit : rule
    1. : the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it
    2. : the complex of political institutions, laws, and customs through which the function of governing is carried out
  4. : the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization: as
    1. : the officials comprising the governing body of a political unit and constituting the organization as an active agency
    2. capitalized : the executive branch of the United States federal government
    3. capitalized : a small group of persons holding simultaneously the principal political executive offices of a nation or other political unit and being responsible for the direction and supervision of public affairs: (1): such a group in a parliamentary system constituted by the cabinet or by the ministry (2): administration 4b
  5. : political science

It is clear that definitions (5) and (6), and (5) in particular, describe far more clearly than your homebaked definition the social entity we're debating.

Now, on to the meat of your post.
Quote:
I will talk a bit about the differences between free market and government, and then I will explain some of the benefits that Voluntaryism brings.

You begin with an egregious, strawmanning black-and-white fallacy: lumping all of the many varied forms of government together into a single category, and holding up anarcho-libertarianism in opposition to this one single category. In fact, this overly simplistic -- and hence unrealistic -- view of the world will continue throughout, and provide a foundation for the rest of your post.

Quote:
The government claims a priori control and ownership over those it designates as its "citizens." By a priori I mean that government makes a claim that precedes the self-ownership of the individuals it claims to rule over. It coerces its subjects into obeying its will. The vast majority of the time, the threat or promise of force (rather than actual physical force) is all that is needed to get its subjects to obey its will.

Were your simpleton's view of governments correct and were they hence all monolithic entities cut from the same cloth, this might follow; as it stands, though, this is quite a misleading characterisation of governments in general (and also not in line with the proper definition, though it does seem that your definition is suspiciously tailored to dovetail into this argument; how convenient). It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative; however, because of your black-and-white fallacy, you fail to recognize that different governments make different claims. Governmental limitation of freedom encompasses a whole range, from libertarian to totalitarian.

Quote:
Voluntaryism, on the other hand, only recognizes consentual interactions as legitimate, and never sanctions the initiation of force. Within a free market framework, the initiation of force can find no place to hide, and no allowances are made to it.

What does it even mean to 'recognize' an interaction? Is it like when one country "recognizes" another country as a legitimate government? Or does it mean that voluntaryism only permits consensual interactions? In that case, how does your system enforce that which it does not permit?

Quote:
Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves. Whatever rights of control that group A is given, must be first taken from group B. Voluntaryism applies the same rules to all, while government, through its monopoly, applies beneficial rules to some, and detrimental rules to others.

Bifurcated thinking permeates your arguments: you set up 'government' and claim that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, ignoring that this only occurs in certan types of governments. You are once again collapsing all governments into a single stereotype and knocking down that stereotype. In the meantime, you are making some silly claims about voluntaryism: it is not an organization; how can it apply rules in the first place? Rules are restrictions on activities; lacking a monopoly on force (which you so decry), no rules can exist.

Quote:
From regulations to infrastructure to courts to security, no good or service is better provided or traded than in an open competitive voluntary framework. Voluntaryism opens all social services to open competition. And we all know that competition, through supply and demand, enhances efficiency, quality, innovation, and adaptability. In an open market, service providers (businesses, charity groups, etc) stand and fall on their own merits because people only pay them (and thus keep them operating) if they are getting a good value. All sectors of society would have the maximum incentive to prosper, and all the citizens or residents would have the maximum freedom to not only choose where they can best utilize their skills, but also choose what best suits their needs at the greatest efficiency available.

You'd better provide some good evidence for your chief assertion here: "From regulations to infrastructure to courts to security, no good or service is better provided or traded than in an open competitive voluntary framework." And not just some idealistic handwaving about 'maximum incentive to prosper and maximum freedom to choose at greatest efficiency', but hard evidence from the real world. You also need to explicate and justify the assumptions underlying your worship of the free market. And finally, you must explain how your society deals with market failures.

Quote:
Contrast this with a government system where any number of social services are monopolized (depending in which sectors of society it sticks its nose in), and so many barriers to supply an demand are put in place. Government services are not subject to the checks and balances that a free market has.

Neither are they as subject to the pitfalls of a free market.

Quote:
The law of supply and demand has little or no bearing on what government does and how it does it. People cant choose whether or not they want to pay for the services, or how much of the service they want to pay for. It is given to the people by decree, and the government decides how much money to take from them in exchange for its "services." Functionally this is no different than a protection racket or a crime syndicate.

Once more, we see this black-white thinking rear its ugly head: you lump all governments together. Until you learn to differentiate between different forms of government, a rational evaluation of government service will be impossible for you.

Quote:
And even if a government intends to do good, this fundamental way in which it operates will cause it to achieve the same undesirable results.

I reject this claim. Support it with evidence or an argument.

Quote:
Some people claim, "But Voluntaryism is a utopia!"

On the contrary, it is government that is a utopia. Voluntaryism recognizes that nobody is perfect and provides everyone with equal ability to protect themselves accordingly. But government, on the other hand, believes that some people are inherently better and should be trusted with extra special rights over others in the vain belief that this ruling class will somehow produce superior results. Government is the social theory that has an unrealistic view of humans, not Voluntaryism. Government is the social theory that allows for rampant abuse and the proliferation of evil precisely because it gives to one minority group (the rulers) undue power, control, and ownership over everyone else. Government is the unrealistic utopia, not Voluntaryism.

Again, a display of your fundamental black-and-white fallacy. "Government" is not a social theory with an unrealistic view of humans, because "government" is not a social theory at all. In fact, there are many different theories of government; some are unrealistic utopias; some, though perhaps imperfect, are stable and have worked; and some are absolutely despicable. So unless you deal with each different sort of government in turn, you have no ground upon which to assert that "it is government which is utopia".

However, voluntaryism is not a myriad of social theories; it is a single philosophy. Therefore, when we have established that the fundamental voluntaryist assumptions are false, we will have shown that voluntaryism is indeed an unrealistic utopian vision.

Quote:
Some people object, "But what about Democracy? Surely popular voting gives representation!"

No, it gives only the illusion of representation. Democracy is simply a government where the ruling body is the majority opinion of the populace. It is a coercive monopoly ruled by 50% +1 of the people. You still have a monopoly, and you can still (and often do) have up to 50% -1 of the people being oppressed. And the kicker is, if you don’t vote (and therefore decide to not consent to anyone they offer to rule over you), they still claim that you are under their authority. And if the virtue or advantage of democracy is really "representation," then why not go for 100% representation and let every vote truly count through a voluntary framework, where everyone can actually choose and associate how they like. In a voluntary society, the minority gets its own representation too, it isn't stuck with what the majority opinion decided. If representation is truly your aim, an open competition provides far superior representational results than a "tyranny of the majority" style monopoly.

You misrepresent not only philosophies of government, but philosophies of democracy as well. There is more than one form of democratic government; modern democracies are certainly nothing like the Athenian democracy you seem to think they are; hence, as with different governments, you lump different democracies into the same pile and treat them all as though they're the same thing; because of that fundamental misconception, this argument is worthless.

Quote:
Some people contend, "But in a Voluntary society, anyone can come with bigger guns/bombs and take over! therefore we need government to protect us!"

Interestingly, you erect a strawman in anticipation of a counterargument and then knock it down. The issue is not simply that anyone with "bigger guns/bombs" can take over a voluntaryist society; it is that the only entity in a society which will be able to fund, equip, and train a military is that society's government.

Quote:
In response I note that not only is this argument flawed, but a voluntary society will have good reason to be quite capable of defending itself:

1. The "bigger guns" argument applies equally to all societies. Surely a state could be taken over or annihilated by a bigger force, therefore this is not an argument that favors one social system over another.

But a state will be more capable of defending itself.

Quote:
2. Sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always vulnerable to it.

Complete red herring, and black-and-white strawman to boot. This is supposed to be a defense of the notion that a voluntaryist society will be able to defend itself from outside aggression.

Quote:
3. In a voluntary society, there will be no dictated a priori restrictions on self-defense. People wont be "declawed" (restricted or prevented from taking defense into their own hands or forming their own defense groups, most especially defending against the very government that rules over them) as they are by government today.

Please provide evidence that this will permit the society to effectively defend against outside aggression.

Quote:
4. Competition will promote innovation and efficiency in defense from aggressors, especially would-be rulers. No thousand dollar toilet seats here.

Who will be buying the ultra-expensive military equipment?

Quote:
5. In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them.

Again, this has nothing to do with defense: it is a red herring. But it does rather nicely illustrate the unrealistic assumptions you are making regarding personal conduct.

Quote:
6. A voluntary society will be more likely to engage in trade with other societies instead of engaging in saber rattling and posturing. This means it will be less likely to be perceived as a belligerent threat and more likely to be seen as a friend, therefore reducing the risk of some mass invasion or bombardment.

On the contrary, a voluntaryist society will be too busy warring within itself to trade with other societies.

Quote:
All sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Society is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and more prosperous in a free market framework. People view free and open societies in a friendly light. An enforced monopoly is not the way to conduct or secure any part of society, rather it is the very thing that threatens society.

This is simply a collection of statements with no supporting evidence. Please provide that evidence.

Quote:
I think this opening post is long enough (if not too long) so I think its time to let my opponent respond to my claims, and present why he thinks that government is superior to an Anarcho-Libertarian society.

Given any reasonable model of human behavior, it is impossible to conceive of a stable society where every person acts in his own selfish interests with no overall regulatory agency. This is because every reasonable model of human behavior will take into account short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance, manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding; in short, it will take into account all of the baser facets of human nature. Anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and human behavior; among them are the assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do not naturally stratify socially. Because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible governments, some form of government is always better than no form of government.

Edited because I forgot to finish a sentence.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-03-30 07:02pm
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Surlethe wrote:
Quote:
An institution claiming sole authority, a priori, over an area and/or populace.

Why should we use this definition? Merriam-Webster instead gives:

Quote:
  1. : the act or process of governing; specifically : authoritative direction or control
  2. obsolete : moral conduct or behavior : discretion
    1. : the office, authority, or function of governing
    2. obsolete : the term during which a governing official holds office
  3. : the continuous exercise of authority over and the performance of functions for a political unit : rule
    1. : the organization, machinery, or agency through which a political unit exercises authority and performs functions and which is usually classified according to the distribution of power within it
    2. : the complex of political institutions, laws, and customs through which the function of governing is carried out
  4. : the body of persons that constitutes the governing authority of a political unit or organization: as
    1. : the officials comprising the governing body of a political unit and constituting the organization as an active agency
    2. capitalized : the executive branch of the United States federal government
    3. capitalized : a small group of persons holding simultaneously the principal political executive offices of a nation or other political unit and being responsible for the direction and supervision of public affairs: (1): such a group in a parliamentary system constituted by the cabinet or by the ministry (2): administration 4b
  5. : political science

It is clear that definitions (5) and (6), and (5) in particular, describe far more clearly than your homebaked definition the social entity we're debating.


I actually looked this up in Merriam-Webster myself, and decided instead to describe it in simpler terms and give it more context to the issue we are debating. If you prefer (5) or (6), then I suggest we use (5) and modify it slightly to say
Quote:
the continuous exercise of a priori authority over and the performance of functions for a political unit : rule
(adding "a priori"). This is the context I feel is necessary for the purposes of this debate.

And since you yourself admitted that "It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative," I see no reason for you to object to the "a priori" clarification I proposed.

Quote:
Now, on to the meat of your post.
Quote:
I will talk a bit about the differences between free market and government, and then I will explain some of the benefits that Voluntaryism brings.

You begin with an egregious, strawmanning black-and-white fallacy: lumping all of the many varied forms of government together into a single category, and holding up anarcho-libertarianism in opposition to this one single category. In fact, this overly simplistic -- and hence unrealistic -- view of the world will continue throughout, and provide a foundation for the rest of your post.

Were your simpleton's view of governments correct and were they hence all monolithic entities cut from the same cloth, this might follow; as it stands, though, this is quite a misleading characterisation of governments in general (and also not in line with the proper definition, though it does seem that your definition is suspiciously tailored to dovetail into this argument; how convenient). It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative; however, because of your black-and-white fallacy, you fail to recognize that different governments make different claims. Governmental limitation of freedom encompasses a whole range, from libertarian to totalitarian.

I find your objection suprising, since you 1) already offered a single Merriam-Webster definition of government that lumps all of the varied forms of government together into a single category, and 2) admitted that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative. You are moving the goalposts when you first offer a single definition of government and admit that all governments supersede personal prerogative, then you switch and insist that governments cannot be lumped into a single category and that I cannot use an argument that attacks an attribute that all governments share.

And while different governments certainly have different kinds of claimed authority, I'm not attacking which claims they make that supersede personal prerogative, but the fact that they make any of these kinds of claims at all. Just as an atheist denies all forms of theism, the anarchist

denies all forms of government. And just as the differences between monotheism and polytheism etc. are irrelevant to the atheist's argument, the differences between democracy and monarchy etc. are irrelevant to the anarchist's argument.

Quote:
What does it even mean to 'recognize' an interaction? Is it like when one country "recognizes" another country as a legitimate government? Or does it mean that voluntaryism only permits consensual interactions? In that case, how does your system enforce that which it does not permit?

I mean the latter. And a free market society would enforce what it does not permit in a very similar way to how most of today's countries enforce what they don’t permit: through courts and security services. The difference is that instead of having a government monopoly on these services which everyone must pay for, in a free market society consumers would have a choice in which courts and security services they want to pay to represent them.

Today's world already has private security services and arbitration courts in many fields, and they work just fine. Indeed, the proliferation of private security firms and arbitration courts is a testament to the effectiveness of these private competitive services instead of a tax-funded state monopoly that does the same.

Quote:
Quote:
Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves.

Whatever rights of control that group A is given, must be first taken from group B. Voluntaryism applies the same rules to all, while government, through its monopoly, applies beneficial rules to some, and detrimental rules to others.

Bifurcated thinking permeates your arguments: you set up 'government' and claim that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, ignoring that this only occurs in certan types of governments. You are once again collapsing all governments into a single stereotype and knocking down that stereotype.

You do not seem to be able to make up your mind. Do all governments make some kind of claim that precedes personal prerogative, or don’t they? You’re going back and forth on the issue. And if there is a government that does not make such a claim, what version of government is it?

Quote:
In the meantime, you are making some silly claims about voluntaryism: it is not an organization; how can it apply rules in the first place? Rules are restrictions on activities; lacking a monopoly on force (which you so decry), no rules can exist.

Voluntaryism is a framework in which people are free to enter into, and enforce, contractual obligations. Voluntaryism, as a framework, does not allow for artificial obligations forced onto people's heads that they didn't willingly enter. Of course rules can exist in an anarcho-libertarian society. You yourself most likely conduct your life without government interference most of the time. Did we need some state to force us to debate in this forum, or did we willingly enter into it ourselves? Do you need some state to force you to interact with your friends in real life, or do you and your friends do so willingly without any state mediation? Even in today's world the vast majority of "rules" and methods of interaction between individuals have no overbearing government to force such interactions. Rules can most certainly exist without a government (and better rules at that): you make and use rules in your own life every day without government involvement.

Quote:
You'd better provide some good evidence for your chief assertion here: "From regulations to infrastructure to courts to security, no good or service is better provided or traded than in an open competitive voluntary framework." And not just some idealistic handwaving about 'maximum incentive to prosper and maximum freedom to choose at greatest efficiency', but hard evidence from the real world. You also need to explicate and justify the assumptions underlying your worship of the free market.

Effects follow from principles, so it is quite ludicrous to insist that I not invoke principles in order to show effects. Incentives and cause and effect are principles that are instrumental to any social system, not just a free market one. But to be sure, a free market provides superior incentives to consequently produce the superior effects. One good real world example is the aerospace industry. How did the first flying machine come about? A dictate from some legislator? "I hereby enact into law a mandate that flying machines be created posthaste,"? Of course not. Supply and demand is what set the stage for the creation of the first flying machine. And how did air transportation become accessible and affordable to the common man? Was it competition and supply and demand and the hard work of the engineer, or was it an edict from some king or chancellor that made air travel accessible to the average Joe?

And how does a society become prosperous? Is prosperity legislated, or is it achieved through consentual trade between craftsmen and consumption by consumers of the superior products and services? Can a government just pass a law that says "from now on nobody will be poor but everybody will be wealthy," and then it is so? Ludicrous. Progress comes through productive work and consentual trade, not by the proclamations of rulers.

Quote:
And finally, you must explain how your society deals with market failures.

What is a market failure? Markets don't fail any more than gravity fails or the law of conservation of matter/energy fails.

Quote:
Quote:
Contrast this with a government system where any number of social services are monopolized (depending in which sectors of society it sticks its nose in), and so many barriers to supply an demand are put in place. Government services are not subject to the checks and balances that a free market has.


Neither are they as subject to the pitfalls of a free market.

So you concede that government services are not subject to the checks and balances of a free market? Thank you, that is a rather big concession on your part.

Also, by "pitfalls of a free market" I am assuming you mean the risk of "going out of business" as it were? If so, then I should notify you that the risk of going out of business (pitfall of a free market) is a good thing! It is one of the checks and balances that are so important to progress. That is because if a company provides an inferior product at an inferior value, the consumers should be free to avoid purchasing if they so choose, and consequently the company should be free to succeed or fail by its own merits. And if it has no merits, or inferior merits, it should indeed go bankrupt, and cease conducting business. This is a trait that is similar to evolution, where the more adaptable and the more capable specimens flourish, while the less capable specimens die off.

Of course, a government removes itself from these risks, and therefore sets the stage for an inferior service provider to stick around and even flourish rather than die off. For the consumer has no choice in whether or not to buy the government service, and the government service will get its tax revenue regardless of the inferior quality of its service, and therefore it will not be at risk of the "pitfalls" of the market, and it will not stand or fall according to its own merits. So while a given government entity should have gone belly up long ago and moved aside for other more capable businesses to step in, instead it hangs around like a spectre, and will not die no matter the inadequacy of its product/service, for the consumers have no choice in whether to consume the government's inferior product/service.

The pitfalls of the market, like evolution's natural selection, are vital to the progress of a society. Without the pitfalls of the market, progress is inhibited. And if a given entity is unable to fail by its own merits, then it will instead drag the entire society down with it, for that society cannot rid itself of that inadequate entity nor its inferior product/service. The very mechanism of progress is removed when market forces are removed.

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The law of supply and demand has little or no bearing on what government does and how it does it. People can’t choose whether or not they want to pay for the services, or how much of the service they want to pay for. It is given to the people by decree, and the government decides how much money to take from them in exchange for its "services." Functionally this is no different than a protection racket or a crime syndicate.

Once more, we see this black-white thinking rear its ugly head: you lump all governments together. Until you learn to differentiate between different forms of government, a rational evaluation of government service will be impossible for you.

You are still shifting goalposts, and until you figure out whether or not you want to admit that "...all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative," you will continue to shift goalposts, to the detriment of your position I might add.

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And even if a government intends to do good, this fundamental way in which it operates will cause it to achieve the same undesirable results.


I reject this claim. Support it with evidence or an argument.


Well for example we can look at prohibition in the 1920s. Government wanted to stop alcoholism and its associated social ills, so it made alcohol illegal.

The result was that instead of having respectable companies peacefully producing quality booze, it was produced in often inferior qualities and it was distributed through a violent and incredibly destructive black market. Deaths increased, criminals got richer, and all the while alcohol was still readily available! The law did nothing to stop alcoholism, and if anything it only increased the mysterious alluring nature of the drink. The black market through which alcohol was distributed was far too powerful for government to stop, and eventually the law was repealed. Alcohol won the alcohol war. Government lost.

And thousands of innocent (and not so innocent) people paid the price with their livelihoods and their lives. We can, of course, draw many parallels between the alcohol war of the 1920s and the drug war of today. Drugs are winning today's drug war just as alcohol won yesterday's alcohol war. And in both cases, lives are being needlessly lost and criminals are being needlessly empowered and enriched. Taxes are being needlessly squandered on what is obviously an unwinnable war. And all the while, the substance in question (the drugs or alcohol or whatever) is still readily available!

I think it’s pretty obvious that prohibition (of drugs or alcohol or whatever) is a perfect example of a well-meaning government law that ends up having absolutely disastrous effects.

And did you know that many law enforcement personnel actually agree with me on this issue? Just for fun, sometime you should check out the website for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

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Again, a display of your fundamental black-and-white fallacy. "Government" is not a social theory with an unrealistic view of humans, because "government" is not a social theory at all. In fact, there are many different theories of government; some are unrealistic utopias; some, though perhaps imperfect, are stable and have worked; and some are absolutely despicable. So unless you deal with each different sort of government in turn, you have no ground upon which to assert that "it is government which is utopia".

The "utopia" aspect in government is where they assume control over others in a way that precedes personal prerogative, or consent of the individual. And that is something that you earlier claimed that all governments share. Now of course some governments are better off than others. But the ones that are better off are the governments that claim less control over others in a way that precedes their personal prerogative. In other words, "that which governs best is that which governs least," (which is actually a quote from none other than Thomas Paine). Anyway, what is utopian about all forms of government is where they all think that they can take some degree of precedence over personal prerogative, and produce superior effects with it! It is a form of giving one special group of humans an undue amount of power over others, having absolute trust in their imagined superior ability to make decisions, and let them make decisions for others, and expect it to always come out better! There is nothing more utopian than government.

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However, voluntaryism is not a myriad of social theories; it is a single philosophy. Therefore, when we have established that the fundamental voluntaryist assumptions are false, we will have shown that voluntaryism is indeed an unrealistic utopian vision.

I don't see anything in your writing that even attempted to show that "voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups" is false, unrealistic, or utopian. And if you intend to eventually do so, then you’ll also have to explain why the very notions of private property and self-ownership are false, unrealistic, or utopian.

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You misrepresent not only philosophies of government, but philosophies of democracy as well. There is more than one form of democratic government; modern democracies are certainly nothing like the Athenian democracy you seem to think they are; hence, as with different governments, you lump different democracies into the same pile and treat them all as though they're the same thing; because of that fundamental misconception, this argument is worthless.


The type of democracy is unimportant. Whether it’s a direct democracy, a representative legislature type of democracy, or some "Athenia" democracy is irrelevant. The word "democracy" means rule by demographic, which is a mob rule. Different forms of democracy are just different forms of mob rule.

Accordingly, different forms of democracy are just different forms of "tyranny of the majority." Or perhaps you can explain why I'm wrong, and give an example of a form of democracy that is not a monopolistic rule directed by popular sentiment?

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Some people contend, "But in a Voluntary society, anyone can come with bigger guns/bombs and take over! therefore we need government to protect us!"

Interestingly, you erect a strawman in anticipation of a counterargument and then knock it down. The issue is not simply that anyone with "bigger guns/bombs" can take over a voluntaryist society; it is that the only entity in a society which will be able to fund, equip, and train a military is that society's government.

There are numerous private companies (insurance companies for example) that have larger "bottom lines" on their accounting sheets than the budgets of many countries. Logically, this means that there are many private firms that are more capable of funding a defensive system than the governments of many countries can do.

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1. The "bigger guns" argument applies equally to all societies. Surely a state could be taken over or annihilated by a bigger force, therefore this is not an argument that favors one social system over another.

But a state will be more capable of defending itself.

Support your assertion.

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2. Sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always vulnerable to it.

Complete red herring, and black-and-white strawman to boot. This is supposed to be a defense of the notion that a voluntaryist society will be able to defend itself from outside aggression.

I never put an "outside" qualifier on my argument. This is an argument about defense from aggression, not only from some arbitrary "kind" of aggression. Besides, what difference is it really whether you are attacked from within or without?

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3. In a voluntary society, there will be no dictated a priori restrictions on self-defense. People wont be "declawed" (restricted or prevented from taking defense into their own hands or forming their own defense groups, most especially defending against the very government that rules over them) as they are by government today.

Please provide evidence that this will permit the society to effectively defend against outside aggression.

One example: The American colonies effectively defended themselves from the outside aggression of the British Empire because households had guns to defend themselves with.

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4. Competition will promote innovation and efficiency in defense from aggressors, especially would-be rulers. No thousand dollar toilet seats here.

Who will be buying the ultra-expensive military equipment?

Whoever wants to buy it. Taxpayers buy it today, do they not? Consumers will still exist in a voluntary society, and they will buy in to protection companies that will pool the remittances of their customers in order to buy whatever "ultra-expensive military equipment" is necessary for defense.

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5. In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them.

Again, this has nothing to do with defense: it is a red herring. But it does rather nicely illustrate the unrealistic assumptions you are making regarding personal conduct.

Why is it a red herring to point out Stockholm Syndrome in relation to being ruled by others? And why is recognizing and resisting aggression an "unrealistic assumption" about personal conduct? If I were to try to steal money from your pocket right now, is it not perfectly realistic to assume that you yourself would recognize and resist my attempt to steal from you?

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6. A voluntary society will be more likely to engage in trade with other societies instead of engaging in saber rattling and posturing. This means it will be less likely to be perceived as a belligerent threat and more likely to be seen as a friend, therefore reducing the risk of some mass invasion or bombardment.

On the contrary, a voluntaryist society will be too busy warring within itself to trade with other societies.

Oh that’s rich. What is causing all the war today, for example? Free markets, or governments? Do automobile makers slaughter each other, or do government militaries slaughter each other? And take my earlier example about prohibition, where government interference was precisely what caused the USA to be "warring within itself" over alcohol. When government got its nose out of moralizing on booze, the "warring" ceased. Markets operate peacefully when left unmolested by government, as you can clearly see when you buy a bottle of rum today at the store. Compare that to trying to buy a bottle of rum in 1929, when it was illegal (thanks to government), and people killed each other for it.

Can you give me an example of a free market that is or was "warring within itself" and causing blood to flow in the gutters, especially to the point where it was unable to "trade with other societies"?

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All sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Society is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and more prosperous in a free market framework. People view free and open societies in a friendly light. An enforced monopoly is not the way to conduct or secure any part of society, rather it is the very thing that threatens society.

This is simply a collection of statements with no supporting evidence. Please provide that evidence.

South Korea vs. North Korea: SK has a relatively open and competitive private market framework. NK has an all-encompassing state with a monopolized command economy. SK is a relatively privatized society and is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and far more prosperous than its big-government neighbor to the north.

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Given any reasonable model of human behavior, it is impossible to conceive of a stable society where every person acts in his own selfish interests with no overall regulatory agency.

I agree. The problem here is that you don’t realize that a voluntary society provides superior regulation compared to a government. A voluntary society has a fundamental level of regulation that you are overlooking; its has the ultimate "regulatory agency," and that is the consumers, who are the "agency" and who regulate through the act of choosing where they spend their money. A government removes this regulative function completely. It is the government that has inadequate and inferior regulation, precisely because it removes the supply-and-demand and open competition regulatory functions that a free market inherently possesses. And of course, a voluntary society will also have businesses that provide regulatory services, akin to a Consumer Reports business or an auditing business. Regulation is just another service that consumers demand, and it is better to provide regulation services in an open competitive framework than it is to provide them through a monopoly agency.

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This is because every reasonable model of human behavior will take into account short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance, manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding; in short, it will take into account all of the baser facets of human nature.

And when you give a small group of people the power of monopoly, and the power to initiate force over others, you are quite specifically not taking into account the "short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance, manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding" that is inherent in humans. Why give government officials these godlike powers when they are merely humans who have all the imperfect traits you just mentioned?

A voluntary society does not give these kinds of powers to anyone, precisely because a voluntary society recognizes that humans have arrogance, greed, etc and knows that giving people inherent powers over others will lead to disastrous results. Having an open competitive playing field, where everyone has the same inherent powers (self-ownership and self-ownership only), is the best protection from greed and arrogance, etc.

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Anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and human behavior; among them are the assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do not naturally stratify socially. Because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible governments, some form of government is always better than no form of government.

When you talk of social stratification, do you mean it in terms of wealth accumulation or in terms of accumulation of power over others? If the latter, you should know that there is no greater stratification of power over others than to have a government, with rulers (kings, presidents, etc). Government is the ultimate social stratification in terms of power. Furthermore, it is governments that make unreasonable assumptions regarding human behavior, namely that the humans in government wont act human (greed, arrogance, etc).

So far you have shifted goalposts in defining government. You have claimed that anarcho-libertarianism is utopian, but did nothing to support that assertion. You did not directly defend against my explanation of how government itself it utopian. You asserted that voluntary interactions are unrealistic (despite your act of voluntarily debating me), yet did nothing to back up that claim. You also did nothing to support the notion that one being's claims that supersede another's personal prerogative are realistic or just. And you have failed to offer any argument that gives reason why a coercive monopoly is preferable to a consent-based private entity in the provision of a product or service.



A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
-Lysander Spooner

http://www.marketanarchy.com/
http://radicallibertarians.blogspot.com/
http://www.lysanderspooner.org/
http://tolfa.us/

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-09 10:03pm
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Voluntaryist wrote:
I actually looked this up in Merriam-Webster myself, and decided instead to describe it in simpler terms and give it more context to the issue we are debating. If you prefer (5) or (6), then I suggest we use (5) and modify it slightly to say
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the continuous exercise of a priori authority over and the performance of functions for a political unit : rule
(adding "a priori"). This is the context I feel is necessary for the purposes of this debate.

You are essentially asking to alter the dictionary definition; there's no need to do that. Let's just stick with the real meaning in the English language.

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And since you yourself admitted that "It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative," I see no reason for you to object to the "a priori" clarification I proposed.

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Now, on to the meat of your post.
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I will talk a bit about the differences between free market and government, and then I will explain some of the benefits that Voluntaryism brings.

You begin with an egregious, strawmanning black-and-white fallacy: lumping all of the many varied forms of government together into a single category, and holding up anarcho-libertarianism in opposition to this one single category. In fact, this overly simplistic -- and hence unrealistic -- view of the world will continue throughout, and provide a foundation for the rest of your post.

Were your simpleton's view of governments correct and were they hence all monolithic entities cut from the same cloth, this might follow; as it stands, though, this is quite a misleading characterisation of governments in general (and also not in line with the proper definition, though it does seem that your definition is suspiciously tailored to dovetail into this argument; how convenient). It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative; however, because of your black-and-white fallacy, you fail to recognize that different governments make different claims. Governmental limitation of freedom encompasses a whole range, from libertarian to totalitarian.

I find your objection suprising, since you 1) already offered a single Merriam-Webster definition of government that lumps all of the varied forms of government together into a single category, and 2) admitted that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative. You are moving the goalposts when you first offer a single definition of government and admit that all governments supersede personal prerogative, then you switch and insist that governments cannot be lumped into a single category and that I cannot use an argument that attacks an attribute that all governments share.

You seem to be missing the point entirely: governments are indeed a category, but you are treating that category as though every entity within it can be set up in direct opposition to anarcho-libertarianism. You're not attacking an attribute that all governments share; you're treating all governments as though they necessarily exercise that attribute in essentially the same way. Perhaps you're strawmanning most governments, but it certainly seems that you see the world in black and white.

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And while different governments certainly have different kinds of claimed authority, I'm not attacking which claims they make that supersede personal prerogative, but the fact that they make any of these kinds of claims at all. Just as an atheist denies all forms of theism, the anarchist denies all forms of government. And just as the differences between monotheism and polytheism etc. are irrelevant to the atheist's argument, the differences between democracy and monarchy etc. are irrelevant to the anarchist's argument.

This would be all well and good, if this were actually what you were doing. Instead, you come up with lines like, "Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves." You are either treating this with a black-and-white fallacy or you're simply misrepresenting many different forms of governments.

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What does it even mean to 'recognize' an interaction? Is it like when one country "recognizes" another country as a legitimate government? Or does it mean that voluntaryism only permits consensual interactions? In that case, how does your system enforce that which it does not permit?

I mean the latter. And a free market society would enforce what it does not permit in a very similar way to how most of today's countries enforce what they don’t permit: through courts and security services. The difference is that instead of having a government monopoly on these services which everyone must pay for, in a free market society consumers would have a choice in which courts and security services they want to pay to represent them.

Today's world already has private security services and arbitration courts in many fields, and they work just fine. Indeed, the proliferation of private security firms and arbitration courts is a testament to the effectiveness of these private competitive services instead of a tax-funded state monopoly that does the same.

Multiple systems of courts with the same jurisdiction would inevitably offer contradictory rulings; there would be no consistent enforcement of the standards you claim would exist. What would your system do if two people couldn't agree on a court to arbitrate them? Private security forces will contract out to the highest bidder; enforcement would therefore be the domain of the wealthiest individuals in the society. Voluntaryism is broken before it begins: you are creating a plutocracy.

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Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves.

Whatever rights of control that group A is given, must be first taken from group B. Voluntaryism applies the same rules to all, while government, through its monopoly, applies beneficial rules to some, and detrimental rules to others.

Bifurcated thinking permeates your arguments: you set up 'government' and claim that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, ignoring that this only occurs in certan types of governments. You are once again collapsing all governments into a single stereotype and knocking down that stereotype.

You do not seem to be able to make up your mind. Do all governments make some kind of claim that precedes personal prerogative, or don’t they? You’re going back and forth on the issue. And if there is a government that does not make such a claim, what version of government is it?

This is a strawman of what I'm saying. Your claim is essentially that every government system is capricious and dictatorial; this is blatantly false.

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In the meantime, you are making some silly claims about voluntaryism: it is not an organization; how can it apply rules in the first place? Rules are restrictions on activities; lacking a monopoly on force (which you so decry), no rules can exist.

Voluntaryism is a framework in which people are free to enter into, and enforce, contractual obligations. Voluntaryism, as a framework, does not allow for artificial obligations forced onto people's heads that they didn't willingly enter. Of course rules can exist in an anarcho-libertarian society. You yourself most likely conduct your life without government interference most of the time. Did we need some state to force us to debate in this forum, or did we willingly enter into it ourselves? Do you need some state to force you to interact with your friends in real life, or do you and your friends do so willingly without any state mediation? Even in today's world the vast majority of "rules" and methods of interaction between individuals have no overbearing government to force such interactions. Rules can most certainly exist without a government (and better rules at that): you make and use rules in your own life every day without government involvement.

You're right; I should have said, instead, that no consistent enforcement of rules can exist. You propose no mechanism by which a voluntaryist society will be able to enforce the rule that everybody is free to enter into and enforce contractual obligations. In fact, as we've seen above, the society would become plutocratic because the wealthy will be able to consistently outbid the poor in hiring enforcers; different poor people will gravitate to different wealthy patrons, essentially dividing society. It is not inconceivable that internal warfare will exist between these different factions.

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You'd better provide some good evidence for your chief assertion here: "From regulations to infrastructure to courts to security, no good or service is better provided or traded than in an open competitive voluntary framework." And not just some idealistic handwaving about 'maximum incentive to prosper and maximum freedom to choose at greatest efficiency', but hard evidence from the real world. You also need to explicate and justify the assumptions underlying your worship of the free market.

Effects follow from principles, so it is quite ludicrous to insist that I not invoke principles in order to show effects. Incentives and cause and effect are principles that are instrumental to any social system, not just a free market one. But to be sure, a free market provides superior incentives to consequently produce the superior effects.

Effects follow from principles, but you have to make sure that the principles you invoke are actually descriptive in the real world. And, as it happens, the free market is an idealisation of real-world markets. No real market is actually free, and no real market completely adheres to the principles you've laid out here. There are always barriers to entry, there are monopolies, people are never rational, there is always misinformation floating around; I could go on and on, but your assumption that free market is actually a good description of reality is tantamount to admitting that you're hopelessly idealistic in your beliefs. It's like assuming friction doesn't exist because it's convenient to assume frictionless surfaces in a basic physics class.

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One good real world example is the aerospace industry. How did the first flying machine come about? A dictate from some legislator? "I hereby enact into law a mandate that flying machines be created posthaste,"? Of course not. Supply and demand is what set the stage for the creation of the first flying machine. And how did air transportation become accessible and affordable to the common man? Was it competition and supply and demand and the hard work of the engineer, or was it an edict from some king or chancellor that made air travel accessible to the average Joe?

This is an example, not evidence. You're making a global claim; you can't support that with a single example. And I'll bet that, just like you did in the spacefaring example in the HoS, you're completely off-base with the amount of government support the aerospace industry received in its early years.

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And how does a society become prosperous? Is prosperity legislated, or is it achieved through consentual trade between craftsmen and consumption by consumers of the superior products and services? Can a government just pass a law that says "from now on nobody will be poor but everybody will be wealthy," and then it is so? Ludicrous. Progress comes through productive work and consentual trade, not by the proclamations of rulers.

Both. Society becomes prosperous when the government regulates interactions between individuals to prevent being taken advantage of and ensures a basic level of humanitarian existence. It becomes prosperous when governments enforce rights. It becomes prosperous when everybody abides by the same rules and the wealthy cannot wield their influence to increase their wealth at the expense of the general population. You see? I can just as easily throw out propositions with no evidence. Mine happen to be true, of course, but here's the deal: you need to substantiate your position, because the burden of proof is on you. Why do the proclamations of rulers never lead to progress? Why is there a dichotomy between legislation and consensual trade between craftsmen? And abandon this ridiculous strawman of "legislating prosperity"; no reasonable government does that and you know it.

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And finally, you must explain how your society deals with market failures.

What is a market failure? Markets don't fail any more than gravity fails or the law of conservation of matter/energy fails.

"Market failure: a situation in which a market left on its own fails to allocate resources efficiently." Principles of Economics, second edition, by N. Gregory Mankiw.

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Contrast this with a government system where any number of social services are monopolized (depending in which sectors of society it sticks its nose in), and so many barriers to supply an demand are put in place. Government services are not subject to the checks and balances that a free market has.

Neither are they as subject to the pitfalls of a free market.

So you concede that government services are not subject to the checks and balances of a free market? Thank you, that is a rather big concession on your part.

Also, by "pitfalls of a free market" I am assuming you mean the risk of "going out of business" as it were? If so, then I should notify you that the risk of going out of business (pitfall of a free market) is a good thing! It is one of the checks and balances that are so important to progress. That is because if a company provides an inferior product at an inferior value, the consumers should be free to avoid purchasing if they so choose, and consequently the company should be free to succeed or fail by its own merits. And if it has no merits, or inferior merits, it should indeed go bankrupt, and cease conducting business. This is a trait that is similar to evolution, where the more adaptable and the more capable specimens flourish, while the less capable specimens die off.

No, the pitfalls of the free market are the market failures I mentioned above: when the market, in and of itself, fails to efficiently allocate resources. These are almost certainly inevitable, precisely because your absurdly idealistic first principles do not apply effectively to the real world.

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Of course, a government removes itself from these risks, and therefore sets the stage for an inferior service provider to stick around and even flourish rather than die off. For the consumer has no choice in whether or not to buy the government service, and the government service will get its tax revenue regardless of the inferior quality of its service, and therefore it will not be at risk of the "pitfalls" of the market, and it will not stand or fall according to its own merits. So while a given government entity should have gone belly up long ago and moved aside for other more capable businesses to step in, instead it hangs around like a spectre, and will not die no matter the inadequacy of its product/service, for the consumers have no choice in whether to consume the government's inferior product/service.

The pitfalls of the market, like evolution's natural selection, are vital to the progress of a society. Without the pitfalls of the market, progress is inhibited. And if a given entity is unable to fail by its own merits, then it will instead drag the entire society down with it, for that society cannot rid itself of that inadequate entity nor its inferior product/service. The very mechanism of progress is removed when market forces are removed.

Again, we see your black-and-white thinking. Either you have all market forces, or none. In any case, I could point out that progress almost certainly can occur when market forces are removed: consider the exploration of space, which occurred in the absence of market forces. But the key here, I think, is that you don't understand what I mean by the "pitfalls of the free market": as above, these are the inefficiencies which arise from inherent instabilities in the ideal free market system. The fewer the businesses in the market, the higher the barriers to entry; a market which has many businesses to begin with will end up with few businesses because, as you say, the weaker businesses are eliminated and the surviving businesses gobble up those dead businesses' market share. A perfectly free market ultimately results in an oligopoly.

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The law of supply and demand has little or no bearing on what government does and how it does it. People can’t choose whether or not they want to pay for the services, or how much of the service they want to pay for. It is given to the people by decree, and the government decides how much money to take from them in exchange for its "services." Functionally this is no different than a protection racket or a crime syndicate.

Once more, we see this black-white thinking rear its ugly head: you lump all governments together. Until you learn to differentiate between different forms of government, a rational evaluation of government service will be impossible for you.

You are still shifting goalposts, and until you figure out whether or not you want to admit that "...all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative," you will continue to shift goalposts, to the detriment of your position I might add.

That doesn't have anything to do with your black-white fallacy. Your claim above is true for some governments and false for others, but you're assuming that it is true for all governments. In fact, in a system where people can assist in determining the laws (such as the different forms of representative democracy), this is false: people have some say in the sort of services the government offers and how much they pay. And, of course, it's also true that anybody can legally move off the grid, stop paying taxes, and stop using the services that the government offers, which you don't seem to appreciate.

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And even if a government intends to do good, this fundamental way in which it operates will cause it to achieve the same undesirable results.

I reject this claim. Support it with evidence or an argument.


Well for example we can look at prohibition in the 1920s. Government wanted to stop alcoholism and its associated social ills, so it made alcohol illegal.

The result was that instead of having respectable companies peacefully producing quality booze, it was produced in often inferior qualities and it was distributed through a violent and incredibly destructive black market. Deaths increased, criminals got richer, and all the while alcohol was still readily available! The law did nothing to stop alcoholism, and if anything it only increased the mysterious alluring nature of the drink. The black market through which alcohol was distributed was far too powerful for government to stop, and eventually the law was repealed. Alcohol won the alcohol war. Government lost.

And thousands of innocent (and not so innocent) people paid the price with their livelihoods and their lives. We can, of course, draw many parallels between the alcohol war of the 1920s and the drug war of today. Drugs are winning today's drug war just as alcohol won yesterday's alcohol war. And in both cases, lives are being needlessly lost and criminals are being needlessly empowered and enriched. Taxes are being needlessly squandered on what is obviously an unwinnable war. And all the while, the substance in question (the drugs or alcohol or whatever) is still readily available!

I think it’s pretty obvious that prohibition (of drugs or alcohol or whatever) is a perfect example of a well-meaning government law that ends up having absolutely disastrous effects.

And did you know that many law enforcement personnel actually agree with me on this issue? Just for fun, sometime you should check out the website for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Evidence, not examples. There is quite a difference.

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Again, a display of your fundamental black-and-white fallacy. "Government" is not a social theory with an unrealistic view of humans, because "government" is not a social theory at all. In fact, there are many different theories of government; some are unrealistic utopias; some, though perhaps imperfect, are stable and have worked; and some are absolutely despicable. So unless you deal with each different sort of government in turn, you have no ground upon which to assert that "it is government which is utopia".

The "utopia" aspect in government is where they assume control over others in a way that precedes personal prerogative, or consent of the individual. And that is something that you earlier claimed that all governments share. Now of course some governments are better off than others. But the ones that are better off are the governments that claim less control over others in a way that precedes their personal prerogative.

Evidence, please.

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In other words, "that which governs best is that which governs least," (which is actually a quote from none other than Thomas Paine). Anyway, what is utopian about all forms of government is where they all think that they can take some degree of precedence over personal prerogative, and produce superior effects with it! It is a form of giving one special group of humans an undue amount of power over others, having absolute trust in their imagined superior ability to make decisions, and let them make decisions for others, and expect it to always come out better! There is nothing more utopian than government.

Again, the black-and-white strawman fallacy: not all forms of government are as you describe. There are plenty of theories of government which don't trust a special group of humans with such power; that's why most modern forms of government cycle the leadership. That's also why, in some forms of government, there are checks and balances to prevent the leadership from accruing undue power. Your statement is simply a false generalization of despotic oligarchies.

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However, voluntaryism is not a myriad of social theories; it is a single philosophy. Therefore, when we have established that the fundamental voluntaryist assumptions are false, we will have shown that voluntaryism is indeed an unrealistic utopian vision.

I don't see anything in your writing that even attempted to show that "voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups" is false, unrealistic, or utopian. And if you intend to eventually do so, then you’ll also have to explain why the very notions of private property and self-ownership are false, unrealistic, or utopian.

The unrealism is in the consequences of your cute, little, and highly misleading summary of voluntaryism as "voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups." You falsely assume that the idealisation of the free market is always true. You falsely assume that people will act with perfect knowledge and perfect rationalism. You falsely assume that wealth will not correlate to ability to coerce others; you indeed falsely assume that people will simply not stand for coercion. You assume, in fact, that your system will coerce people into not coercing others! There is no question that voluntaryism is an unrealistic utopia.

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You misrepresent not only philosophies of government, but philosophies of democracy as well. There is more than one form of democratic government; modern democracies are certainly nothing like the Athenian democracy you seem to think they are; hence, as with different governments, you lump different democracies into the same pile and treat them all as though they're the same thing; because of that fundamental misconception, this argument is worthless.

The type of democracy is unimportant. Whether it’s a direct democracy, a representative legislature type of democracy, or some "Athenia" democracy is irrelevant. The word "democracy" means rule by demographic, which is a mob rule. Different forms of democracy are just different forms of mob rule.

Accordingly, different forms of democracy are just different forms of "tyranny of the majority." Or perhaps you can explain why I'm wrong, and give an example of a form of democracy that is not a monopolistic rule directed by popular sentiment?

It should be clear to you that your semantic nitpicking is utterly devoid of real meaning; to claim that the roots of a word completely determine its modern meaning is sophistry of the highest order. You have no logic supporting your position.

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Some people contend, "But in a Voluntary society, anyone can come with bigger guns/bombs and take over! therefore we need government to protect us!"

Interestingly, you erect a strawman in anticipation of a counterargument and then knock it down. The issue is not simply that anyone with "bigger guns/bombs" can take over a voluntaryist society; it is that the only entity in a society which will be able to fund, equip, and train a military is that society's government.

There are numerous private companies (insurance companies for example) that have larger "bottom lines" on their accounting sheets than the budgets of many countries. Logically, this means that there are many private firms that are more capable of funding a defensive system than the governments of many countries can do.

So perhaps private companies will fund defensive systems. How do you know they won't use them against their rivals.

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1. The "bigger guns" argument applies equally to all societies. Surely a state could be taken over or annihilated by a bigger force, therefore this is not an argument that favors one social system over another.

But a state will be more capable of defending itself.

Support your assertion.

Because companies which do invest in weaponry will be busy attacking each other.

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2. Sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always vulnerable to it.

Complete red herring, and black-and-white strawman to boot. This is supposed to be a defense of the notion that a voluntaryist society will be able to defend itself from outside aggression.

I never put an "outside" qualifier on my argument. This is an argument about defense from aggression, not only from some arbitrary "kind" of aggression. Besides, what difference is it really whether you are attacked from within or without?

Oh, puh-lease. It is quite obvious from context that you were talking about outside aggression.

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3. In a voluntary society, there will be no dictated a priori restrictions on self-defense. People wont be "declawed" (restricted or prevented from taking defense into their own hands or forming their own defense groups, most especially defending against the very government that rules over them) as they are by government today.

Please provide evidence that this will permit the society to effectively defend against outside aggression.

One example: The American colonies effectively defended themselves from the outside aggression of the British Empire because households had guns to defend themselves with.

As above, examples aren't evidence. And this isn't even a true example; they effectively defended themselves because their government borrowed money to fund a military and brought in military leaders from other countries (which had governments) to train it.

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4. Competition will promote innovation and efficiency in defense from aggressors, especially would-be rulers. No thousand dollar toilet seats here.

Who will be buying the ultra-expensive military equipment?

Whoever wants to buy it. Taxpayers buy it today, do they not? Consumers will still exist in a voluntary society, and they will buy in to protection companies that will pool the remittances of their customers in order to buy whatever "ultra-expensive military equipment" is necessary for defense.

Ah, so only the richest of the rich will be able to purchase the equipment and train people to use it: congratulations, you've just created a plutocracy out of your anarchy.

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5. In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them.

Again, this has nothing to do with defense: it is a red herring. But it does rather nicely illustrate the unrealistic assumptions you are making regarding personal conduct.

Why is it a red herring to point out Stockholm Syndrome in relation to being ruled by others? And why is recognizing and resisting aggression an "unrealistic assumption" about personal conduct? If I were to try to steal money from your pocket right now, is it not perfectly realistic to assume that you yourself would recognize and resist my attempt to steal from you?

It's a red herring because it has nothing to do with outside aggression, which is what you're talking about, backpeddling above aside.

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6. A voluntary society will be more likely to engage in trade with other societies instead of engaging in saber rattling and posturing. This means it will be less likely to be perceived as a belligerent threat and more likely to be seen as a friend, therefore reducing the risk of some mass invasion or bombardment.

On the contrary, a voluntaryist society will be too busy warring within itself to trade with other societies.

Oh that’s rich. What is causing all the war today, for example? Free markets, or governments? Do automobile makers slaughter each other, or do government militaries slaughter each other? And take my earlier example about prohibition, where government interference was precisely what caused the USA to be "warring within itself" over alcohol. When government got its nose out of moralizing on booze, the "warring" ceased. Markets operate peacefully when left unmolested by government, as you can clearly see when you buy a bottle of rum today at the store. Compare that to trying to buy a bottle of rum in 1929, when it was illegal (thanks to government), and people killed each other for it.

Again, free markets versus governments. We're talking about the complete lack of central authority, not just free markets. In a voluntary society, there is no regulation which prevents men from banding together to intimidate and murder their neighbors for their own good. There is no regulation which prevents the rich from accumulating a monopoly on force. Free markets will do nothing to fix this, especially the latter: free markets go to the highest bidder.

I challenge you to construct a realistic voluntary society which does not eventually result in a monopoly on force.

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Can you give me an example of a free market that is or was "warring within itself" and causing blood to flow in the gutters, especially to the point where it was unable to "trade with other societies"?

Sure. Look at Afghanistan or Iraq or Somalia, or any third-world shithole with no good central government.

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All sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Society is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and more prosperous in a free market framework. People view free and open societies in a friendly light. An enforced monopoly is not the way to conduct or secure any part of society, rather it is the very thing that threatens society.

This is simply a collection of statements with no supporting evidence. Please provide that evidence.

South Korea vs. North Korea: SK has a relatively open and competitive private market framework. NK has an all-encompassing state with a monopolized command economy. SK is a relatively privatized society and is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and far more prosperous than its big-government neighbor to the north.

Again, you give an example, not evidence. In particular, it is not clear why all sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Why would natural monopolies operate better? Why is society necessarily more secure when nothing prevents people from banding together to intimidate others? Why does the accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few (as will happen in free markets) lead to a prosperous society?

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Given any reasonable model of human behavior, it is impossible to conceive of a stable society where every person acts in his own selfish interests with no overall regulatory agency.

I agree. The problem here is that you don’t realize that a voluntary society provides superior regulation compared to a government. A voluntary society has a fundamental level of regulation that you are overlooking; its has the ultimate "regulatory agency," and that is the consumers, who are the "agency" and who regulate through the act of choosing where they spend their money. A government removes this regulative function completely. It is the government that has inadequate and inferior regulation, precisely because it removes the supply-and-demand and open competition regulatory functions that a free market inherently possesses. And of course, a voluntary society will also have businesses that provide regulatory services, akin to a Consumer Reports business or an auditing business. Regulation is just another service that consumers demand, and it is better to provide regulation services in an open competitive framework than it is to provide them through a monopoly agency.

Again, you abuse the idealised principles of the free market. You are using an unreasonable model of human behavior by assuming that they have perfect knowledge and perfect rationality.

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This is because every reasonable model of human behavior will take into account short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance, manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding; in short, it will take into account all of the baser facets of human nature.

And when you give a small group of people the power of monopoly, and the power to initiate force over others, you are quite specifically not taking into account the "short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance, manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding" that is inherent in humans. Why give government officials these godlike powers when they are merely humans who have all the imperfect traits you just mentioned?

That depends on the form of government. This is quite a recurring theme: you assume governments are entities with no checks and balances on the rulers, in defiance of the fact that different governments have different levels of self-regulation.

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A voluntary society does not give these kinds of powers to anyone, precisely because a voluntary society recognizes that humans have arrogance, greed, etc and knows that giving people inherent powers over others will lead to disastrous results. Having an open competitive playing field, where everyone has the same inherent powers (self-ownership and self-ownership only), is the best protection from greed and arrogance, etc.

Not so, because people are short-sighted, greedy, arrogant, manipulative, and coercive. It is your job to provide evidence that your claimed regulatory mechanism will prevent the accumulation of power into the hands of a few people, forming a de facto government.

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Anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and human behavior; among them are the assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do not naturally stratify socially. Because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible governments, some form of government is always better than no form of government.

When you talk of social stratification, do you mean it in terms of wealth accumulation or in terms of accumulation of power over others? If the latter, you should know that there is no greater stratification of power over others than to have a government, with rulers (kings, presidents, etc). Government is the ultimate social stratification in terms of power. Furthermore, it is governments that make unreasonable assumptions regarding human behavior, namely that the humans in government wont act human (greed, arrogance, etc).

This is quite the wonderful dodge. Are you conceding that anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and human behavior? Like the assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do not naturally stratify socially? And agreeing with me that because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible governments, some form of government is always better than no form of government? You're explaining that governments aren't perfect; that's all good and well, but completely irrelevant to what I said.

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So far you have shifted goalposts in defining government. You have claimed that anarcho-libertarianism is utopian, but did nothing to support that assertion. You did not directly defend against my explanation of how government itself it utopian. You asserted that voluntary interactions are unrealistic (despite your act of voluntarily debating me), yet did nothing to back up that claim. You also did nothing to support the notion that one being's claims that supersede another's personal prerogative are realistic or just. And you have failed to offer any argument that gives reason why a coercive monopoly is preferable to a consent-based private entity in the provision of a product or service.

This is an amazing strawman. I have stuck to the dictionary definition of government, unlike you. In the very quote above this, I had explained why anarcho-libertarianism is utopian, which you then conveniently ignored. I nowhere asserted that all voluntary interactions are unrealistic (and the fact you think I did shows that you do not completely comprehend my position). You have nowhere shown that voluntaryism is stable and thus won't give rise to infringements on personal prerogative anyway. Finally, you shift the burden of proof: the onus is on you to show why the assumptions behind the free-market idealisation are in fact realistic.

Let us examine your record. You fail to establish the truth of the idealised free market assumptions. You continue to make false general claims about 'government', hastily generalizing from a few systems of government and your simplistic notions about these government systems. You continue to presume the truth of idealised free-market assumptions. You ignore the real-world examples of anarchy, wherein tribalism and warlordism prevail. You attempt to redefine "government" to suit your argument. You've no evidence for your position. You have, in short, no valid argument to support your contention that anarcho-libertarianism produces a superior society.



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

Daily Nugget of Wisdom from Goldman Sachs:
"I say 'keep the change' purely for my own convenience."

"A space shuttle on the back of an aircraft carrier in New York City is perhaps the most American thing you could have without the help of a deep fryer. I'm surprised anyone in the US opposes it." - Gandalf

WARNING: May become overexcited by mathematics or monetary policy.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-16 03:22pm
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From this point on, response times will be limited to three days. It is completely unreasonable to expect to drag out this debate for months, which is how long it's going to take at this rate. So far, with just two rounds in, it's already taken a month. This is beyond ridiculous, and nobody wants to wait another six weeks to reach five rounds.

Voluntaryist, if your post is not up by Saturday, I will declare that you have conceded this debate by failing to be present for it.



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"It's not evil for God to do it. Or for someone to do it at God's command."- Jonathan Boyd on baby-killing

"you guys are fascinated with the use of those "rules of logic" to the extent that you don't really want to discussus anything."- GC

"I do not believe Russian Roulette is a stupid act" - Embracer of Darkness

"Viagra commercials appear to save lives" - tharkûn on US health care.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-20 03:32am
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Darth Wong wrote:
From this point on, response times will be limited to three days. It is completely unreasonable to expect to drag out this debate for months, which is how long it's going to take at this rate. So far, with just two rounds in, it's already taken a month. This is beyond ridiculous, and nobody wants to wait another six weeks to reach five rounds.

Voluntaryist, if your post is not up by Saturday, I will declare that you have conceded this debate by failing to be present for it.

I've been working on my response all Saturday, but its not ready yet. Can I have until the end of Sunday the 20th to post my response, and then we will do the 3 day time limit after that?



A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-20 09:52am
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Voluntaryist wrote:
Darth Wong wrote:
From this point on, response times will be limited to three days. It is completely unreasonable to expect to drag out this debate for months, which is how long it's going to take at this rate. So far, with just two rounds in, it's already taken a month. This is beyond ridiculous, and nobody wants to wait another six weeks to reach five rounds.

Voluntaryist, if your post is not up by Saturday, I will declare that you have conceded this debate by failing to be present for it.

I've been working on my response all Saturday, but its not ready yet. Can I have until the end of Sunday the 20th to post my response, and then we will do the 3 day time limit after that?

OK, you have until the end of today. I just can't believe it took an entire month to get two measly rounds in, and I think all observers agree that it is completely ridiculous for a single debate to last for months.



Image
"It's not evil for God to do it. Or for someone to do it at God's command."- Jonathan Boyd on baby-killing

"you guys are fascinated with the use of those "rules of logic" to the extent that you don't really want to discussus anything."- GC

"I do not believe Russian Roulette is a stupid act" - Embracer of Darkness

"Viagra commercials appear to save lives" - tharkûn on US health care.

http://www.stardestroyer.net/Mike/RantMode/Blurbs.html

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-21 06:41am
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Surlethe wrote:
You are essentially asking to alter the dictionary definition; there's no need to do that. Let's just stick with the real meaning in the

English language.

I am not asking to alter the dictionary at all. I am proposing a definition that has more context for this debate than what the dictionary offers. In formal

debates it is quite common for the opponents to propose and agree on definitions that are not identical word-for-word to what's in the dictionary. Nor did

you give reason why you think that using a definition taken verbatim from the dictionary takes precedence over my proposed clarification, which you even

admitted was true.

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You begin with an egregious, strawmanning black-and-white fallacy: lumping all of the many varied forms of government together

into a single category, and holding up anarcho-libertarianism in opposition to this one single category. In fact, this overly simplistic -- and hence

unrealistic -- view of the world will continue throughout, and provide a foundation for the rest of your post.

Were your simpleton's view of governments correct and were they hence all monolithic entities cut from the same cloth, this might follow; as it stands,

though, this is quite a misleading characterisation of governments in general (and also not in line with the proper definition, though it does seem that your

definition is suspiciously tailored to dovetail into this argument; how convenient). It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede

personal prerogative; however, because of your black-and-white fallacy, you fail to recognize that different governments make different claims. Governmental

limitation of freedom encompasses a whole range, from libertarian to totalitarian.

I find your objection suprising, since you 1) already offered a single Merriam-Webster definition of government that lumps all of the varied forms of

government together into a single category, and 2) admitted that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative. You are moving

the goalposts when you first offer a single definition of government and admit that all governments supersede personal prerogative, then you switch and

insist that governments cannot be lumped into a single category and that I cannot use an argument that attacks an attribute that all governments share.


You seem to be missing the point entirely: governments are indeed a category, but you are treating that category as though every entity within it can be set

up in direct opposition to anarcho-libertarianism. You're not attacking an attribute that all governments share; you're treating all governments as though

they necessarily exercise that attribute in essentially the same way. Perhaps you're strawmanning most governments, but it certainly seems that you see the

world in black and white.


The definition that we agreed on for anarcho-libertarianism is, "a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and

undesirable
and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups." That means that all types of

governments are by definition in opposition to anarcho-libertarianism, even when we use the straight dictionary definition for the word government. The word

anarchy means no rulers, whether its a monarchy or a democracy or theocracy etc. Anarchy is similar to the word atheism, which means the rejection of all

theism, whether its monotheism or polytheism etc. Atheism does not strawman theism when it denies all its forms, nor does anarchy strawman government when it

denies all its forms.

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I mean the latter. And a free market society would enforce what it does not permit in a very similar way to how most of today's countries enforce what they

don’t permit: through courts and security services. The difference is that instead of having a government monopoly on these services which everyone must pay

for, in a free market society consumers would have a choice in which courts and security services they want to pay to represent them.

Today's world already has private security services and arbitration courts in many fields, and they work just fine. Indeed, the proliferation of private

security firms and arbitration courts is a testament to the effectiveness of these private competitive services instead of a tax-funded state monopoly that

does the same.

Multiple systems of courts with the same jurisdiction would inevitably offer contradictory rulings; there would be no consistent enforcement of the standards

you claim would exist. What would your system do if two people couldn't agree on a court to arbitrate them? Private security forces will contract out to

the highest bidder; enforcement would therefore be the domain of the wealthiest individuals in the society. Voluntaryism is broken before it begins: you are

creating a plutocracy.

Multiple systems of courts within the same jurisdiction often exist in governments today, and they often hand down contradictory rulings. What you are

describing is what you already see in the United States courts for example. Neither a government nor a free market can promise completely consistent rulings.

But a free market has the incentive advantage: competition and consumer choice. A court system that has to compete for customers has stronger performance

incentives compared to a court system that has no competition, and whose customer base is guaranteed regardless of its performance. In a government system,

nobody even gets to "agree" on which court arbitrates them; they are forced to use it regardless. But in a free market, people will have the ability to

choose what arbitration court they feel is best for them. If they cant agree on a court, they can settle it through negotiations by attorneys or insurance

companies or something similar. But the market will allow for an agreeable solution to be found, while in a government there is no agreement to be made in

the first place, for you are forced to use their system. Without any choice in the matter the consumer is left far more vulnerable.

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You do not seem to be able to make up your mind. Do all governments make some kind of claim that precedes personal prerogative, or don’t they? You’re going

back and forth on the issue. And if there is a government that does not make such a claim, what version of government is it?

This is a strawman of what I'm saying. Your claim is essentially that every government system is capricious and dictatorial; this is blatantly

false.


So you are now denying that you ever said that all governments make some kind of claim that precedes personal prerogative?

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In the meantime, you are making some silly claims about voluntaryism: it is not an organization; how can it apply rules in the first

place? Rules are restrictions on activities; lacking a monopoly on force (which you so decry), no rules can exist.

Voluntaryism is a framework in which people are free to enter into, and enforce, contractual obligations. Voluntaryism, as a framework, does not allow for

artificial obligations forced onto people's heads that they didn't willingly enter. Of course rules can exist in an anarcho-libertarian society. You yourself

most likely conduct your life without government interference most of the time. Did we need some state to force us to debate in this forum, or did we

willingly enter into it ourselves? Do you need some state to force you to interact with your friends in real life, or do you and your friends do so willingly

without any state mediation? Even in today's world the vast majority of "rules" and methods of interaction between individuals have no overbearing government

to force such interactions. Rules can most certainly exist without a government (and better rules at that): you make and use rules in your own life every day

without government involvement.

You're right; I should have said, instead, that no consistent enforcement of rules can exist. You propose no mechanism by which a voluntaryist

society will be able to enforce the rule that everybody is free to enter into and enforce contractual obligations. In fact, as we've seen above, the society

would become plutocratic because the wealthy will be able to consistently outbid the poor in hiring enforcers; different poor people will gravitate to

different wealthy patrons, essentially dividing society. It is not inconceivable that internal warfare will exist between these different factions.


Free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society. Take for example the war on drugs, and how the illegal drug

market continues to thrive and resist governments' attempts to eliminate it. American consumers are winning the drug war and are therefore successfully

defending their freedom to "enter into and enforce contractual obligations" in it. They did the same thing back in the 20's during prohibition.

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Effects follow from principles, so it is quite ludicrous to insist that I not invoke principles in order to show effects. Incentives and cause and effect are

principles that are instrumental to any social system, not just a free market one. But to be sure, a free market provides superior incentives to

consequently produce the superior effects.

Effects follow from principles, but you have to make sure that the principles you invoke are actually descriptive in the real world.

Do you agree that supply and demand is a principle that is descriptive of the real world?

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And, as it happens, the free market is an idealisation of real-world markets. No real market is actually free, and no real market completely

adheres to the principles you've laid out here. There are always barriers to entry, there are monopolies, people are never rational, there is always

misinformation floating around; I could go on and on, but your assumption that free market is actually a good description of reality is tantamount to

admitting that you're hopelessly idealistic in your beliefs. It's like assuming friction doesn't exist because it's convenient to assume frictionless

surfaces in a basic physics class.

The idealism comes not from the idea of free markets, but from the idea of government. A free market recognizes that people aren't perfect, and it

establishes the proper flexibility and adaptability for protecting against and quickly correcting the errors that do occur. Government, on the other hand, is

an irrational idealization of people and society precisely because it grants a special set of powers to a small group of humans who rule over everyone else,

implying that these rulers know better than you do, that they are the exception to the rule, and that they do not have the same imperfections and limitations

as everyone else.

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One good real world example is the aerospace industry. How did the first flying machine come about? A dictate from some legislator? "I hereby

enact into law a mandate that flying machines be created posthaste,"? Of course not. Supply and demand is what set the stage for the creation of the first

flying machine. And how did air transportation become accessible and affordable to the common man? Was it competition and supply and demand and the hard work

of the engineer, or was it an edict from some king or chancellor that made air travel accessible to the average Joe?

This is an example, not evidence. You're making a global claim; you can't support that with a single example. And I'll bet that, just like you did in the

spacefaring example in the HoS, you're completely off-base with the amount of government support the aerospace industry received in its early years.

The Wright Brothers were the first to achieve powered, sustained flight. They were private citizens and entrepeneurs who developed and built their airplane

on their own. Government wasn't what enabled their pursuit of flight. It was the open, competitive free market and the profit motive that enabled the Wright

Brothers' pursuit and achievement of flight. Government, in fact, relies on the private market to achieve its ends. Government relies on a prosperous

citzenry and market that it can tax, and it relies on that same market to buy products and services from so it can achieve its ends.

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And how does a society become prosperous? Is prosperity legislated, or is it achieved through consentual trade between craftsmen and

consumption by consumers of the superior products and services? Can a government just pass a law that says "from now on nobody will be poor but everybody

will be wealthy," and then it is so? Ludicrous. Progress comes through productive work and consentual trade, not by the proclamations of rulers.

Both. Society becomes prosperous when the government regulates interactions between individuals to prevent being taken advantage of and ensures a

basic level of humanitarian existence. It becomes prosperous when governments enforce rights.

Government violates the very rights it claims to enforce. Extortion, racketeering, theft, murder, false imprisonment, monopolization of services, all these

things government does under the guise of preventing them from happening.

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It becomes prosperous when everybody abides by the same rules and the wealthy cannot wield their influence to increase their wealth at the expense of

the general population.

But the government does not abide by the rules that it applies to everyone else.

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You see? I can just as easily throw out propositions with no evidence. Mine happen to be true, of course, but here's the deal: you need to

substantiate your position, because the burden of proof is on you.


The burden of proof is on me to justify voluntary markets, yes. But my burden to refute government exists here only to the degree that you provide support it

in the first place. You are the one proposing the additional entity: government.

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And abandon this ridiculous strawman of "legislating prosperity"; no reasonable government does that and you know it.


A moment ago you claimed that social progress comes by government regulation and control. So can you explain how that is not "legislating prosperity"?

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And finally, you must explain how your society deals with market failures.

What is a market failure? Markets don't fail any more than gravity fails or the law of conservation of matter/energy fails.

"Market failure: a situation in which a market left on its own fails to allocate resources efficiently." Principles of Economics, second edition, by

N. Gregory Mankiw.

Can you give an example of a market failure?

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That doesn't have anything to do with your black-white fallacy. Your claim above is true for some governments and false for others, but you're assuming that

it is true for all governments. In fact, in a system where people can assist in determining the laws (such as the different forms of representative

democracy), this is false: people have some say in the sort of services the government offers and how much they pay.

A democracy is simply a tyranny of the majority. It is a government monopoly where popular opinion forces itself onto the minority. Democracy is two wolves

and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

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And, of course, it's also true that anybody can legally move off the grid, stop paying taxes, and stop using the services that the government offers,

which you don't seem to appreciate.

If I try to secede my home and land, and stop paying taxes, and stop using state services, I will be attacked by the state. The Browns of New Hampshire are

just one of many examples in which the state imprisoned people who tried to disengage from it. When the American colonies tried to seperate from the British

Empire, they were attacked. When the south tried to seperate from the north in the US Civil War, it was forcibly prevented from doing so. When India tried to

seperate from the British Empire, it was attacked. While many countries today allow their citizens to physically leave the territory, they are not allowed to

keep their own territory and seperate it from the country. And many countries throughout history didn't even let their citizens leave. The USSR and North

Korea are just two examples of countries that retain their citizenry through force.

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And even if a government intends to do good, this fundamental way in which it operates will cause it to achieve the same undesirable

results.

I reject this claim. Support it with evidence or an argument.


Well for example we can look at prohibition in the 1920s. Government wanted to stop alcoholism and its associated social ills, so it made alcohol illegal.

The result was that instead of having respectable companies peacefully producing quality booze, it was produced in often inferior qualities and it was

distributed through a violent and incredibly destructive black market. Deaths increased, criminals got richer, and all the while alcohol was still readily

available! The law did nothing to stop alcoholism, and if anything it only increased the mysterious alluring nature of the drink. The black market through

which alcohol was distributed was far too powerful for government to stop, and eventually the law was repealed. Alcohol won the alcohol war. Government lost.

And thousands of innocent (and not so innocent) people paid the price with their livelihoods and their lives. We can, of course, draw many parallels between

the alcohol war of the 1920s and the drug war of today. Drugs are winning today's drug war just as alcohol won yesterday's alcohol war. And in both cases,

lives are being needlessly lost and criminals are being needlessly empowered and enriched. Taxes are being needlessly squandered on what is obviously an

unwinnable war. And all the while, the substance in question (the drugs or alcohol or whatever) is still readily available!

I think it’s pretty obvious that prohibition (of drugs or alcohol or whatever) is a perfect example of a well-meaning government law that ends up

having absolutely disastrous effects.

And did you know that many law enforcement personnel actually agree with me on this issue? Just for fun, sometime you should check out the website for

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Evidence, not examples. There is quite a difference.


Can you clarify the difference between "evidence" and "examples" in the context of my invoking of prohibition? And can you explain why you presumably count

prohibition as an example and not as evidence?

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Again, a display of your fundamental black-and-white fallacy. "Government" is not a social theory with an unrealistic view of

humans, because "government" is not a social theory at all. In fact, there are many different theories of government; some are unrealistic utopias;

some, though perhaps imperfect, are stable and have worked; and some are absolutely despicable. So unless you deal with each different sort of government in

turn, you have no ground upon which to assert that "it is government which is utopia".

The "utopia" aspect in government is where they assume control over others in a way that precedes personal prerogative, or consent of the individual. And

that is something that you earlier claimed that all governments share. Now of course some governments are better off than others. But the ones that are

better off are the governments that claim less control over others in a way that precedes their personal prerogative.

Evidence, please.

The government of West Germany claimed less control over its citizens than East Germany, and was more successful. Same goes for USA vs USSR, South Korea vs

North Korea, and Hong Kong vs mainland China, to name a few.

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In other words, "that which governs best is that which governs least," (which is actually a quote from none other than Thomas Paine). Anyway,

what is utopian about all forms of government is where they all think that they can take some degree of precedence over personal prerogative, and

produce superior effects with it! It is a form of giving one special group of humans an undue amount of power over others, having absolute trust in their

imagined superior ability to make decisions, and let them make decisions for others, and expect it to always come out better! There is nothing more utopian

than government.

Again, the black-and-white strawman fallacy: not all forms of government are as you describe. There are plenty of theories of government which

don't
trust a special group of humans with such power; that's why most modern forms of government cycle the leadership. That's also why, in some forms

of government, there are checks and balances to prevent the leadership from accruing undue power. Your statement is simply a false generalization of

despotic oligarchies.

Can you please provide evidence of a government that doesn't trust a special group of humans with more power than the rest?

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However, voluntaryism is not a myriad of social theories; it is a single philosophy. Therefore, when we have established that the

fundamental voluntaryist assumptions are false, we will have shown that voluntaryism is indeed an unrealistic utopian vision.

I don't see anything in your writing that even attempted to show that "voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups" is false,

unrealistic, or utopian. And if you intend to eventually do so, then you’ll also have to explain why the very notions of private property and self-ownership

are false, unrealistic, or utopian.

The unrealism is in the consequences of your cute, little, and highly misleading summary of voluntaryism as "voluntary cooperation and free association of

individuals and groups." You falsely assume that the idealisation of the free market is always true. You falsely assume that people will act with perfect

knowledge and perfect rationalism.

No, I do not. It is belief in government that falsely assumes that the rulers will act ideally, and with superior knowledge and rationalism. A free market

actually recognizes the imperfections in people and allows for quick corrections and adjustments and improvements in society through the processes of open

competition and consumer choice.

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You falsely assume that wealth will not correlate to ability to coerce others;

I never claimed that wealth does not correlate with ability to coerce others. But I do contend that government creates a ruling class and gives them the

power to enrich themselves undeservedly as well as coerce others no matter how rich they are.

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you indeed falsely assume that people will simply not stand for coercion. You assume, in fact, that your system will coerce people into not coercing

others!

On the contrary, it is the idea of government that irrationally says that government rulers will not stand for coercion despite the fact that they wield its

power, and that they will coerce people into not coercing others. Voluntaryism has the more realistic approach by not recognizing in any person or group of

people the power to initiate coercion, and instead only recognizing consentual interactions as legitimate. Voluntaryism recognizes that imperfect and evil

people exist, so voluntaryism does not recognize as legitimate any mechanism or system that claims the right to initiate force on others, because evil

people will certainly seek to wield it.


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You misrepresent not only philosophies of government, but philosophies of democracy as well. There is more than one form of democratic

government; modern democracies are certainly nothing like the Athenian democracy you seem to think they are; hence, as with different governments, you lump

different democracies into the same pile and treat them all as though they're the same thing; because of that fundamental misconception, this argument is

worthless.

The type of democracy is unimportant. Whether it’s a direct democracy, a representative legislature type of democracy, or some "Athenia" democracy is

irrelevant. The word "democracy" means rule by demographic, which is a mob rule. Different forms of democracy are just different forms of mob rule.

Accordingly, different forms of democracy are just different forms of "tyranny of the majority." Or perhaps you can explain why I'm wrong, and give an

example of a form of democracy that is not a monopolistic rule directed by popular sentiment?

It should be clear to you that your semantic nitpicking is utterly devoid of real meaning; to claim that the roots of a word completely determine its modern

meaning is sophistry of the highest order. You have no logic supporting your position.

I asked you to explain why I'm wrong and to give an example of a type of democracy that is not a monopoly directed by popular sentiment. Unfortunately, all

you did in response is dodge my request by accusing me of nitpicking semantics, and you didn't even support that accusation either.

Merriam-Webster defines democracy as "1 a: government by the people; especially : rule of the majority." You like dictionary definitions, and this definition

seems very well in line with my own description of democracy. So can we agree on this definition of democracy, and then can you please respond to my request

to give an example of a type of democracy that is not a monopoly directed by popular sentiment?

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Some people contend, "But in a Voluntary society, anyone can come with bigger guns/bombs and take over! therefore we need

government to protect us!"

Interestingly, you erect a strawman in anticipation of a counterargument and then knock it down. The issue is not simply that anyone with "bigger

guns/bombs" can take over a voluntaryist society; it is that the only entity in a society which will be able to fund, equip, and train a military is that

society's government.

There are numerous private companies (insurance companies for example) that have larger "bottom lines" on their accounting sheets than the budgets of many

countries. Logically, this means that there are many private firms that are more capable of funding a defensive system than the governments of many countries

can do.

So perhaps private companies will fund defensive systems. How do you know they won't use them against their rivals.

In neither government nor voluntaryism does there exist a guarantee that someone wont use weapons against another. The point is that governments allow these

weapons only to themelves, while voluntaryism allows for people and groups to acquire the defenses that they deem appropriate for themselves. Governments

"declaw" the populace and facilitates their victimization.

To use an analogy, let's say that there are two neighboring towns: town A and town B. Town A has a ban on all private gun ownership, but town B allows

private gun ownership. And let's say there is a man with a gun and he wants to rob someone, and has a choice to stalk those in town A or town B. He also

knows that town A forbids guns, while town B allows them. Which town would he be more likely to visit to commit armed robbery in?

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1. The "bigger guns" argument applies equally to all societies. Surely a state could be taken over or annihilated by a bigger

force, therefore this is not an argument that favors one social system over another.

But a state will be more capable of defending itself.

Support your assertion.

Because companies which do invest in weaponry will be busy attacking each other.

Actually we see this happening all the time between governments, they are frequently going to war with eachother.

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2. Sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always

vulnerable to it.

Complete red herring, and black-and-white strawman to boot. This is supposed to be a defense of the notion that a voluntaryist society will be able to

defend itself from outside aggression.

I never put an "outside" qualifier on my argument. This is an argument about defense from aggression, not only from some arbitrary "kind" of aggression.

Besides, what difference is it really whether you are attacked from within or without?

Oh, puh-lease. It is quite obvious from context that you were talking about outside aggression.

But you didn't answer my question: what difference is it really whether you are attacked from within or without?

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3. In a voluntary society, there will be no dictated a priori restrictions on self-defense. People wont be "declawed" (restricted

or prevented from taking defense into their own hands or forming their own defense groups, most especially defending against the very government that rules

over them) as they are by government today.

Please provide evidence that this will permit the society to effectively defend against outside aggression.

One example: The American colonies effectively defended themselves from the outside aggression of the British Empire because households had guns to defend

themselves with.

As above, examples aren't evidence. And this isn't even a true example; they effectively defended themselves because their government borrowed money to fund

a military and brought in military leaders from other countries (which had governments) to train it.

The rebels mostly used privately owned weapons and guerrila tactics, and they were British colonists who weren't fighting some foreign aggressor but the

very government that claimed to be protecting and representing them.

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4. Competition will promote innovation and efficiency in defense from aggressors, especially would-be rulers. No thousand dollar

toilet seats here.

Who will be buying the ultra-expensive military equipment?

Whoever wants to buy it. Taxpayers buy it today, do they not? Consumers will still exist in a voluntary society, and they will buy in to protection companies

that will pool the remittances of their customers in order to buy whatever "ultra-expensive military equipment" is necessary for defense.

Ah, so only the richest of the rich will be able to purchase the equipment and train people to use it: congratulations, you've just created a plutocracy out

of your anarchy.

Protection agencies can be similar to insurance agencies where people buy in to a kind of coverage policy. That's hardly out of reach for the common man.

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5. In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist

attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them.

Again, this has nothing to do with defense: it is a red herring. But it does rather nicely illustrate the unrealistic assumptions you are making regarding

personal conduct.

Why is it a red herring to point out Stockholm Syndrome in relation to being ruled by others? And why is recognizing and resisting aggression an "unrealistic

assumption" about personal conduct? If I were to try to steal money from your pocket right now, is it not perfectly realistic to assume that you yourself

would recognize and resist my attempt to steal from you?

It's a red herring because it has nothing to do with outside aggression, which is what you're talking about, backpeddling above aside.

Is my pickpocket scenario above not an example of outside aggression against you?

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6. A voluntary society will be more likely to engage in trade with other societies instead of engaging in saber rattling and

posturing. This means it will be less likely to be perceived as a belligerent threat and more likely to be seen as a friend, therefore reducing the risk of

some mass invasion or bombardment.

On the contrary, a voluntaryist society will be too busy warring within itself to trade with other societies.

Oh that’s rich. What is causing all the war today, for example? Free markets, or governments? Do automobile makers slaughter each other, or do government

militaries slaughter each other? And take my earlier example about prohibition, where government interference was precisely what caused the USA to be

"warring within itself" over alcohol. When government got its nose out of moralizing on booze, the "warring" ceased. Markets operate peacefully when left

unmolested by government, as you can clearly see when you buy a bottle of rum today at the store. Compare that to trying to buy a bottle of rum in 1929, when

it was illegal (thanks to government), and people killed each other for it.

Again, free markets versus governments. We're talking about the complete lack of central authority, not just free markets.

The only "central authority" needed is the principle of self ownership and the law of supply and demand.

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In a voluntary society, there is no regulation which prevents men from banding together to intimidate and murder their neighbors for their own good.


Is there something inherent in government that prevents this?

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There is no regulation which prevents the rich from accumulating a monopoly on force. Free markets will do nothing to fix this, especially the

latter: free markets go to the highest bidder.

Actually, in a free market, people get rich in the first place not by utilizing force but by utilizing consent. And effective, honorable defense agencies

will be better financed because it will have more clients.

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I challenge you to construct a realistic voluntary society which does not eventually result in a monopoly on force.

You mean construct a voluntary society which does not eventually have a government take over?

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Can you give me an example of a free market that is or was "warring within itself" and causing blood to flow in the gutters, especially to the

point where it was unable to "trade with other societies"?

Sure. Look at Afghanistan or Iraq or Somalia, or any third-world shithole with no good central government.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not free market societies, and they are both at war with outside aggressors. Somalia has been improving since its government went

kaput.

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All sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Society is more secure, more socially open, more competitive,

and more prosperous in a free market framework. People view free and open societies in a friendly light. An enforced monopoly is not the way to conduct or

secure any part of society, rather it is the very thing that threatens society.

This is simply a collection of statements with no supporting evidence. Please provide that evidence.

South Korea vs. North Korea: SK has a relatively open and competitive private market framework. NK has an all-encompassing state with a monopolized command

economy. SK is a relatively privatized society and is more secure, more socially open, more competitive, and far more prosperous than its big-government

neighbor to the north.

Again, you give an example, not evidence. In particular, it is not clear why all sectors of society operate better in a free market framework.

Why would natural monopolies operate better? Why is society necessarily more secure when nothing prevents people from banding together to intimidate

others? Why does the accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few (as will happen in free markets) lead to a prosperous society?

Stratification is greater in countries that have more government control and less free market activity. And again can you please explain what you consider to

be the difference between evidence and example, and why you think one is ok to use but not the other?

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This is because every reasonable model of human behavior will take into account short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance,

manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding; in short, it will take into account all of the baser facets of human nature.

And when you give a small group of people the power of monopoly, and the power to initiate force over others, you are quite specifically not taking

into account the "short-sightedness, lack of information, arrogance, manipulativeness, greed, grudge-holding" that is inherent in humans. Why give government

officials these godlike powers when they are merely humans who have all the imperfect traits you just mentioned?

That depends on the form of government. This is quite a recurring theme: you assume governments are entities with no checks and balances on the rulers, in

defiance of the fact that different governments have different levels of self-regulation.

When a government claims ownership or authority over someone in a way that precedes their personal perogative, as you admitted earlier they all do in some

form or another, it is in fact an instance of control without "checks and balances."

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Anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and human behavior; among them are the

assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do not naturally stratify

socially. Because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible governments, some form of government is always

better than no form of government.

When you talk of social stratification, do you mean it in terms of wealth accumulation or in terms of accumulation of power over others? If the latter, you

should know that there is no greater stratification of power over others than to have a government, with rulers (kings, presidents, etc). Government is the

ultimate social stratification in terms of power. Furthermore, it is governments that make unreasonable assumptions regarding human behavior, namely

that the humans in government wont act human (greed, arrogance, etc).

This is quite the wonderful dodge. Are you conceding that anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and

human behavior? Like the assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do

not naturally stratify socially? And agreeing with me that because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible

governments, some form of government is always better than no form of government? You're explaining that governments aren't perfect; that's

all good and well, but completely irrelevant to what I said.

I didn't concede anything of the sort. Where do you think I did that?

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So far you have shifted goalposts in defining government. You have claimed that anarcho-libertarianism is utopian, but did nothing to support that

assertion. You did not directly defend against my explanation of how government itself it utopian. You asserted that voluntary interactions are unrealistic

(despite your act of voluntarily debating me), yet did nothing to back up that claim. You also did nothing to support the notion that one being's claims that

supersede another's personal prerogative are realistic or just. And you have failed to offer any argument that gives reason why a coercive monopoly is

preferable to a consent-based private entity in the provision of a product or service.

This is an amazing strawman. I have stuck to the dictionary definition of government, unlike you. In the very quote above this, I had explained why

anarcho-libertarianism is utopian, which you then conveniently ignored.

I responded directly to your utopianism charge and pointed out, among other things, that government is the utopian model becauses give some people special

powers over others, while voluntaryism does not.
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I nowhere asserted that all voluntary interactions are unrealistic (and the fact you think I did shows that you do not completely comprehend my

position). You have nowhere shown that voluntaryism is stable and thus won't give rise to infringements on personal prerogative anyway. Finally, you shift

the burden of proof: the onus is on you to show why the assumptions behind the free-market idealisation are in fact realistic.

The burden of proof is only on me to support free markets, yes. But the burden of proof is on you to support government, which you aren't doing. You

merely assume government meets the burden. You didn't respond to a number of my requests, so I had to repeat them. You make vague references to "central authority" but you don't try to explain why it is desirable to centralize authority within a ruling class. You also claim that voluntaryism is a bad idea because you think it will result in the very things that government already does, yet you strangely think that government is preferable to voluntaryism anyway.



A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
-Lysander Spooner

http://www.marketanarchy.com/
http://radicallibertarians.blogspot.com/
http://www.lysanderspooner.org/
http://tolfa.us/

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-22 08:36pm
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You ask this several times in your above response, so let's get this clear. You are, of course, expected to provide evidence for all your claims. When a claim is general, you cannot provide a single example as evidence. For example, when you claim that "less government is always better than more government," it is insufficient to find a single example where a nation with a weaker central government is better off than a nation with a stronger central government. In fact, that is an implicit hasty generalization fallacy. So when I tell you that you need evidence, not examples, I'm referring to your tendency to support broad claims with specific examples. Is this clear now?

Voluntaryist wrote:
Surlethe wrote:
You are essentially asking to alter the dictionary definition; there's no need to do that. Let's just stick with the real meaning in the English language.

I am not asking to alter the dictionary at all. I am proposing a definition that has more context for this debate than what the dictionary offers. In formal debates it is quite common for the opponents to propose and agree on definitions that are not identical word-for-word to what's in the dictionary. Nor did you give reason why you think that using a definition taken verbatim from the dictionary takes precedence over my proposed clarification, which you even admitted was true.

As I said, I see no compelling reason to move away from the dictionary definition. You are free to try to establish your 'clarification' on its own terms, but I'm not going to grant it as an assumption even if it is true.

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You seem to be missing the point entirely: governments are indeed a category, but you are treating that category as though every entity within it can be set up in direct opposition to anarcho-libertarianism. You're not attacking an attribute that all governments share; you're treating all governments as though they necessarily exercise that attribute in essentially the same way. Perhaps you're strawmanning most governments, but it certainly seems that you see the world in black and white.


The definition that we agreed on for anarcho-libertarianism is, "a political theory holding all forms of governmental authority to be unnecessary and undesirable and advocating a society based on voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups." That means that all types of governments are by definition in opposition to anarcho-libertarianism, even when we use the straight dictionary definition for the word government. The word anarchy means no rulers, whether its a monarchy or a democracy or theocracy etc. Anarchy is similar to the word atheism, which means the rejection of all theism, whether its monotheism or polytheism etc. Atheism does not strawman theism when it denies all its forms, nor does anarchy strawman government when it denies all its forms.

But the arguments I'm referring to, ones you've been applying to justify the anarcho-libertarian denial of all forms of government, are flawed because they assume that all governments behave in essentially the same way. When you say something like, "the whim of one institution or person reigns over all," assuming this applies to every form of government, you are fallaciously generalizing.

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Multiple systems of courts with the same jurisdiction would inevitably offer contradictory rulings; there would be no consistent enforcement of the standards you claim would exist. What would your system do if two people couldn't agree on a court to arbitrate them? Private security forces will contract out to the highest bidder; enforcement would therefore be the domain of the wealthiest individuals in the society. Voluntaryism is broken before it begins: you are creating a plutocracy.

Multiple systems of courts within the same jurisdiction often exist in governments today, and they often hand down contradictory rulings. What you are describing is what you already see in the United States courts for example. Neither a government nor a free market can promise completely consistent rulings. But a free market has the incentive advantage: competition and consumer choice. A court system that has to compete for customers has stronger performance incentives compared to a court system that has no competition, and whose customer base is guaranteed regardless of its performance. In a government system, nobody even gets to "agree" on which court arbitrates them; they are forced to use it regardless. But in a free market, people will have the ability to choose what arbitration court they feel is best for them. If they cant agree on a court, they can settle it through negotiations by attorneys or insurance companies or something similar. But the market will allow for an agreeable solution to be found, while in a government there is no agreement to be made in the first place, for you are forced to use their system. Without any choice in the matter the consumer is left far more vulnerable.

There you go again, applying your idealized free market assumptions. How do you know the market will allow for an agreeable solution to both? How do you know, in a conflict between a rich man and a poor man, the rich man won't buy out the court system they agree on? How do you know they'll both be able to afford a court system? Why would the free-market court serve a person who can't afford it, anyway? And what mechanism does the free market have to eventually enforce consistency? There's a mechanism set up in the US court system -- it's the appellate courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court.

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This is a strawman of what I'm saying. Your claim is essentially that every government system is capricious and dictatorial; this is blatantly false.

So you are now denying that you ever said that all governments make some kind of claim that precedes personal prerogative?

Are you trying to be dense? You claimed, "Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves." That characterization of all governments is what I am objecting to. Your most recent reply has absolutely nothing to do with what I've been saying.

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You're right; I should have said, instead, that no consistent enforcement of rules can exist. You propose no mechanism by which a voluntaryist society will be able to enforce the rule that everybody is free to enter into and enforce contractual obligations. In fact, as we've seen above, the society would become plutocratic because the wealthy will be able to consistently outbid the poor in hiring enforcers; different poor people will gravitate to different wealthy patrons, essentially dividing society. It is not inconceivable that internal warfare will exist between these different factions.

Free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society. Take for example the war on drugs, and how the illegal drug market continues to thrive and resist governments' attempts to eliminate it. American consumers are winning the drug war and are therefore successfully defending their freedom to "enter into and enforce contractual obligations" in it. They did the same thing back in the 20's during prohibition.

This is completely disconnected from what I wrote. How does "free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society" even remotely begin to address "no consistent enforcement of rules can exist"? How does "free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society" even remotely begin to address "you propose no mechanism by which a voluntaryist society will be able to enforce the rule that everybody is free to enter into and enforce contractual obligations"? How does "free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society" even remotely begin to address "in fact, as we've seen above, the society would become plutocratic because the wealthy will be able to consistently outbid the poor in hiring enforcers"? Your unwillingness to address my point seems to indicate that you are implicitly conceding it.

In addition to being a red herring, and a confusing one at that, your factual claim is actually quite wrong. Free markets can actually eliminate themselves quite handily; take, for example, Standard Oil's cornering of the oil market, or Microsoft's lockhold on the operating systems market. In fact, given the ideal nature of the free market assumptions, it is not unreasonable to conclude that if a free market condition ever exists, it's inherently unstable.

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Effects follow from principles, but you have to make sure that the principles you invoke are actually descriptive in the real world.

Do you agree that supply and demand is a principle that is descriptive of the real world?

No, certainly not to any degree where it is reasonable to apply it in this debate.

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And, as it happens, the free market is an idealisation of real-world markets. No real market is actually free, and no real market completely adheres to the principles you've laid out here. There are always barriers to entry, there are monopolies, people are never rational, there is always misinformation floating around; I could go on and on, but your assumption that free market is actually a good description of reality is tantamount to admitting that you're hopelessly idealistic in your beliefs. It's like assuming friction doesn't exist because it's convenient to assume frictionless surfaces in a basic physics class.

The idealism comes not from the idea of free markets, but from the idea of government. A free market recognizes that people aren't perfect, and it establishes the proper flexibility and adaptability for protecting against and quickly correcting the errors that do occur. Government, on the other hand, is an irrational idealization of people and society precisely because it grants a special set of powers to a small group of humans who rule over everyone else, implying that these rulers know better than you do, that they are the exception to the rule, and that they do not have the same imperfections and limitations as everyone else.

I'm seriously starting to think that you're simply not reading what I'm writing. I said that "the free market is an idealisation of real-world markets." You reply by saying, "the idealism comes not from the idea of free markets, but from the idea of government," and then follow it up with simple declarative statements with no supporting evidence at all. Are you in Kindergarten or something? There's no way you can seriously think that paragraph even comes near rebutting my point.

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This is an example, not evidence. You're making a global claim; you can't support that with a single example. And I'll bet that, just like you did in the spacefaring example in the HoS, you're completely off-base with the amount of government support the aerospace industry received in its early years.

The Wright Brothers were the first to achieve powered, sustained flight. They were private citizens and entrepeneurs who developed and built their airplane on their own. Government wasn't what enabled their pursuit of flight. It was the open, competitive free market and the profit motive that enabled the Wright Brothers' pursuit and achievement of flight. Government, in fact, relies on the private market to achieve its ends. Government relies on a prosperous citzenry and market that it can tax, and it relies on that same market to buy products and services from so it can achieve its ends.

See what I wrote at the beginning of this post regarding evidence and examples.

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And how does a society become prosperous? Is prosperity legislated, or is it achieved through consentual trade between craftsmen and consumption by consumers of the superior products and services? Can a government just pass a law that says "from now on nobody will be poor but everybody will be wealthy," and then it is so? Ludicrous. Progress comes through productive work and consentual trade, not by the proclamations of rulers.

Both. Society becomes prosperous when the government regulates interactions between individuals to prevent being taken advantage of and ensures a basic level of humanitarian existence. It becomes prosperous when governments enforce rights.

Government violates the very rights it claims to enforce. Extortion, racketeering, theft, murder, false imprisonment, monopolization of services, all these things government does under the guise of preventing them from happening.

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It becomes prosperous when everybody abides by the same rules and the wealthy cannot wield their influence to increase their wealth at the expense of the general population.

But the government does not abide by the rules that it applies to everyone else.

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You see? I can just as easily throw out propositions with no evidence. Mine happen to be true, of course, but here's the deal: you need to substantiate your position, because the burden of proof is on you.


The burden of proof is on me to justify voluntary markets, yes. But my burden to refute government exists here only to the degree that you provide support it in the first place. You are the one proposing the additional entity: government.

Not so. Because you are arguing the positive claim, the burden of proof is on you to establish that your claims about governments are true.

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A moment ago you claimed that social progress comes by government regulation and control. So can you explain how that is not "legislating prosperity"?

What part of "both" did you not understand? Perhaps I should explain to suit your simplistic mindset: by "both", I meant that progress and prosperity comes about by a combination of regulation and market distribution to maximize the social benefits of markets while minimizing the social costs.

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Can you give an example of a market failure?

Certainly. Global warming, peak oil, pollution, overfishing, monopolies, to name a few.

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That doesn't have anything to do with your black-white fallacy. Your claim above is true for some governments and false for others, but you're assuming that it is true for all governments. In fact, in a system where people can assist in determining the laws (such as the different forms of representative democracy), this is false: people have some say in the sort of services the government offers and how much they pay.

A democracy is simply a tyranny of the majority. It is a government monopoly where popular opinion forces itself onto the minority. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

Did you even read what I wrote? This is a red herring that also, incidentally, seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the word "democracy".

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And, of course, it's also true that anybody can legally move off the grid, stop paying taxes, and stop using the services that the government offers, which you don't seem to appreciate.

If I try to secede my home and land, and stop paying taxes, and stop using state services, I will be attacked by the state. The Browns of New Hampshire are just one of many examples in which the state imprisoned people who tried to disengage from it. When the American colonies tried to seperate from the British Empire, they were attacked. When the south tried to seperate from the north in the US Civil War, it was forcibly prevented from doing so. When India tried to seperate from the British Empire, it was attacked. While many countries today allow their citizens to physically leave the territory, they are not allowed to keep their own territory and seperate it from the country. And many countries throughout history didn't even let their citizens leave. The USSR and North Korea are just two examples of countries that retain their citizenry through force.

Why would you want to keep your home and land? You acquired them with the help of society; if you keep them, you keep your ties and obligations to society.

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Evidence, not examples. There is quite a difference.


Can you clarify the difference between "evidence" and "examples" in the context of my invoking of prohibition? And can you explain why you presumably count prohibition as an example and not as evidence?

See the top of this post. Your claim was general: "And even if a government intends to do good, this fundamental way in which it operates will cause it to achieve the same undesirable results." You supported it with a single example.

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The government of West Germany claimed less control over its citizens than East Germany, and was more successful. Same goes for USA vs USSR, South Korea vs North Korea, and Hong Kong vs mainland China, to name a few.

But the government of Somalia claims less control over its citizens than the government of the US, and it is less successful. The various central European tribes had no really strong central government, while Rome had quite a powerful central government, and Rome was far more successful. The Aztecs had a stronger central government than the surrounding tribes, and they were more successful. The Soviet Union and United States had stronger central control over their economies during World War II than Germany, and Germany lost. These counterexamples show that it's possible to go both ways, which implies that there is a balance point to seek between central control and personal freedom, rather than a mindless march to one extreme.

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Again, the black-and-white strawman fallacy: not all forms of government are as you describe. There are plenty of theories of government which don't trust a special group of humans with such power; that's why most modern forms of government cycle the leadership. That's also why, in some forms of government, there are checks and balances to prevent the leadership from accruing undue power. Your statement is simply a false generalization of despotic oligarchies.

Can you please provide evidence of a government that doesn't trust a special group of humans with more power than the rest?

This begs a subtle strawman. My claim is that there are governments which don't trust a special group with undue power. These systems have checks and balances built into the structure of the government in order to keep them stable. DO you deny that they don't exist?

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The unrealism is in the consequences of your cute, little, and highly misleading summary of voluntaryism as "voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups." You falsely assume that the idealisation of the free market is always true. You falsely assume that people will act with perfect knowledge and perfect rationalism.

No, I do not. It is belief in government that falsely assumes that the rulers will act ideally, and with superior knowledge and rationalism. A free market actually recognizes the imperfections in people and allows for quick corrections and adjustments and improvements in society through the processes of open competition and consumer choice.

Why, because you say so? You have no evidence for this, and you cannot rebut my arguments with unverified claims.

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You falsely assume that wealth will not correlate to ability to coerce others;

I never claimed that wealth does not correlate with ability to coerce others. But I do contend that government creates a ruling class and gives them the power to enrich themselves undeservedly as well as coerce others no matter how rich they are.

If wealth correlates to the ability to coerce others, then, because some people will inevitably become wealthy in a voluntaryist system, you have shown that coercion by the wealthy is not at all a distinguishing factor between an anarchist society and a society with government. But in a society with government, at the very least the possibility of regulating this plutocratic tendency exists.

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you indeed falsely assume that people will simply not stand for coercion. You assume, in fact, that your system will coerce people into not coercing others!

On the contrary, it is the idea of government that irrationally says that government rulers will not stand for coercion despite the fact that they wield its power, and that they will coerce people into not coercing others. Voluntaryism has the more realistic approach by not recognizing in any person or group of people the power to initiate coercion, and instead only recognizing consentual interactions as legitimate. Voluntaryism recognizes that imperfect and evil people exist, so voluntaryism does not recognize as legitimate any mechanism or system that claims the right to initiate force on others, because evil people will certainly seek to wield it.

Voluntaryism is not an entity that is capable of recognizing anything. You're probably trying to say that there are regulatory mechanisms implicit in the lack of central authority which will enforce only consensual interactions, force people not to use force, and coerce people into not coercing others. Of course, my response will be: provide your evidence. So far, we have only your say-so, and given how successful governments have been (and how unsuccessful anarchies have been -- so unsuccessful, in fact, that no successful ones exist or have ever existed in the history of the world!) any reasonable person is inclined to doubt your say-so.

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It should be clear to you that your semantic nitpicking is utterly devoid of real meaning; to claim that the roots of a word completely determine its modern meaning is sophistry of the highest order. You have no logic supporting your position.

I asked you to explain why I'm wrong and to give an example of a type of democracy that is not a monopoly directed by popular sentiment. Unfortunately, all you did in response is dodge my request by accusing me of nitpicking semantics, and you didn't even support that accusation either.

Merriam-Webster defines democracy as "1 a: government by the people; especially : rule of the majority." You like dictionary definitions, and this definition seems very well in line with my own description of democracy. So can we agree on this definition of democracy, and then can you please respond to my request to give an example of a type of democracy that is not a monopoly directed by popular sentiment?

Your own description of democracy is limited to a pure democracy of the type Athens had (hence the descriptor "Athenian democracy"). Merriam-Webster's definition does not limit democracies to mob rule, as you would like to think; any government by the people suffices. Which means that, as an example, a modern representative democracy, either parliamentary or American, will serve as an example of government not entirely directed by popular sentiment.

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There are numerous private companies (insurance companies for example) that have larger "bottom lines" on their accounting sheets than the budgets of many countries. Logically, this means that there are many private firms that are more capable of funding a defensive system than the governments of many countries can do.

So perhaps private companies will fund defensive systems. How do you know they won't use them against their rivals.

In neither government nor voluntaryism does there exist a guarantee that someone wont use weapons against another. The point is that governments allow these weapons only to themelves, while voluntaryism allows for people and groups to acquire the defenses that they deem appropriate for themselves. Governments "declaw" the populace and facilitates their victimization.

To use an analogy, let's say that there are two neighboring towns: town A and town B. Town A has a ban on all private gun ownership, but town B allows private gun ownership. And let's say there is a man with a gun and he wants to rob someone, and has a choice to stalk those in town A or town B. He also knows that town A forbids guns, while town B allows them. Which town would he be more likely to visit to commit armed robbery in?

There is no guarantee that weapons won't be used against anyone else, but in a governed society there is an incentive against trying to take control of the society, or parts of it, with those weapons. If City-State A has a strong central government, a competent police force, and a decent military while City-State B is voluntaryist, everyone has guns, there's no government, no regulation, no military, and no laws, where would a potential mobster prefer to set up shop? City-State B, obviously. After establishing himself as a successful businessman and earning a reputation for philanthropy, kindness, and fair-handednes while all the time building up his business empire by buying out his rivals, sealing his business deals behind closed doors with threats of force, building up a network of informants to keep tabs on rivals and bring him information, and retaining with his wealth armed thugs, he will essentially control the city.

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Because companies which do invest in weaponry will be busy attacking each other.

Actually we see this happening all the time between governments, they are frequently going to war with each other.

Because there's no government over them to stop them from doing so.

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Oh, puh-lease. It is quite obvious from context that you were talking about outside aggression.

But you didn't answer my question: what difference is it really whether you are attacked from within or without?

Red herring. Stay on topic, please.

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The rebels mostly used privately owned weapons and guerrila tactics, and they were British colonists who weren't fighting some foreign aggressor but the very government that claimed to be protecting and representing them.

See the beginning of this post regarding evidence and examples, and try to stay on topic. Remember, I challenged you to provide evidence that so-called "declawing" always makes countries better able to defend themselves from outside aggression. Regarding your example, see this and this in the comment thread regarding your falsehoods about the Revolutionary War; if you'd like to continue this tangent, I'm more than happy to oblige in the History forum.

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Protection agencies can be similar to insurance agencies where people buy in to a kind of coverage policy. That's hardly out of reach for the common man.

Prove that any single common man -- or any group of common men -- won't be outbid by a wealthy man, or group of wealthy men. The rich will exercise an effective monopoly on force by dint of being able to simply buy up the protection or buy out the protection agencies.

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It's a red herring because it has nothing to do with outside aggression, which is what you're talking about, backpeddling above aside.

Is my pickpocket scenario above not an example of outside aggression against you?

Let's take a closer look at this.

Your claim: "In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them."

My response: "[This] does rather nicely illustrate the unrealistic assumptions you are making regarding personal conduct."

Your defense: "If I were to try to steal money from your pocket right now, is it not perfectly realistic to assume that you yourself would recognize and resist my attempt to steal from you?"

Perhaps instead of saying that your assumption was unrealistic, I should have asked you for evidence. I thought they amounted to the same thing; apparently you didn't see them the same way I did. So, let's try this: provide evidence for your initial assertion. Evidence, not examples.

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Again, free markets versus governments. We're talking about the complete lack of central authority, not just free markets.

The only "central authority" needed is the principle of self ownership and the law of supply and demand.

Complete nonresponse to my point, and unevidenced, without any supporting argument, to boot. Here's a summary of this exchange:

ME: "A voluntaryist society will be warring within itself."
YOU: "No, free markets never cause war. In fact, interference in free markets causes war! Here's an example ..."
ME: "We're talking about central authority, not free markets."
YOU: "The only 'central authority' society needs are the invisible hand and no government."

Do you honestly not see the complete logical disconnect between the third and fourth lines?

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In a voluntary society, there is no regulation which prevents men from banding together to intimidate and murder their neighbors for their own good.

Is there something inherent in government that prevents this?

Depends on the system of government. Most use their force to coerce people into not doing banding together to intimidate and murder their neighbors. On the other hand, there is absolutely no regulation in a voluntaryist society which would prevent this.

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There is no regulation which prevents the rich from accumulating a monopoly on force. Free markets will do nothing to fix this, especially the latter: free markets go to the highest bidder.

Actually, in a free market, people get rich in the first place not by utilizing force but by utilizing consent. And effective, honorable defense agencies will be better financed because it will have more clients.

Provide evidence. It seems like you're making incredibly idealistic assumptions again.

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I challenge you to construct a realistic voluntary society which does not eventually result in a monopoly on force.

You mean construct a voluntary society which does not eventually have a government take over?

That is precisely what I mean.

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Can you give me an example of a free market that is or was "warring within itself" and causing blood to flow in the gutters, especially to the point where it was unable to "trade with other societies"?

Sure. Look at Afghanistan or Iraq or Somalia, or any third-world shithole with no good central government.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not free market societies, and they are both at war with outside aggressors. Somalia has been improving since its government went kaput.

Iraq and Afghanistan, especially the latter, are societies with no central authority. Therefore, with no central governments to poke their noses into the economy, one would think that there would be free markets there. As far as your claim about Somalia goes, I'm calling bullshit. You'd better have some good evidence for that.

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Again, you give an example, not evidence. In particular, it is not clear why all sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Why would natural monopolies operate better? Why is society necessarily more secure when nothing prevents people from banding together to intimidate others? Why does the accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few (as will happen in free markets) lead to a prosperous society?

Stratification is greater in countries that have more government control and less free market activity. And again can you please explain what you consider to be the difference between evidence and example, and why you think one is ok to use but not the other?

See the top of this post. Provide evidence that stratification -- economic and social -- is necessarily greater in countries that have more control and less free market activity, instead of maximizing and minimizing at various balance points in the spectrum.

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That depends on the form of government. This is quite a recurring theme: you assume governments are entities with no checks and balances on the rulers, in defiance of the fact that different governments have different levels of self-regulation.

When a government claims ownership or authority over someone in a way that precedes their personal perogative, as you admitted earlier they all do in some form or another, it is in fact an instance of control without "checks and balances."

Why? Because you say so?

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This is quite the wonderful dodge. Are you conceding that anarcho-libertarianism makes certain unreasonable assumptions regarding the free market and human behavior? Like the assumption that barriers to market entry will not exist, that humans will act in the collective best interest, and that humans do not naturally stratify socially? And agreeing with me that because of the unrealistic idealism of voluntaryism, in choosing between different possible governments, some form of government is always better than no form of government? You're explaining that governments aren't perfect; that's all good and well, but completely irrelevant to what I said.

I didn't concede anything of the sort. Where do you think I did that?

What part of "that's completely irrelevant to what I said" did you not understand? You chose not to address my point; may I take that as a concession of the point?

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I responded directly to your utopianism charge and pointed out, among other things, that government is the utopian model becauses give some people special powers over others, while voluntaryism does not.

And I pointed out that voluntaryism is the utopian model because it assumes the idealistic and therefore unrealistic free market principles.

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I nowhere asserted that all voluntary interactions are unrealistic (and the fact you think I did shows that you do not completely comprehend my position). You have nowhere shown that voluntaryism is stable and thus won't give rise to infringements on personal prerogative anyway. Finally, you shift the burden of proof: the onus is on you to show why the assumptions behind the free-market idealisation are in fact realistic.

The burden of proof is only on me to support free markets, yes. But the burden of proof is on you to support government, which you aren't doing. You merely assume government meets the burden. You didn't respond to a number of my requests, so I had to repeat them. You make vague references to "central authority" but you don't try to explain why it is desirable to centralize authority within a ruling class. You also claim that voluntaryism is a bad idea because you think it will result in the very things that government already does, yet you strangely think that government is preferable to voluntaryism anyway.

Because I recognize that an anarchist society will always develop a government of some sort, I support governments because that is what I will get anyway. This is a realistic, pragmatic outlook, unlike your pie-in-the-sky approach, which makes literally incredible assumptions. And because the burden of proof to support anarcho-libertarianism is on you, I don't need to support "government". But if you insist, look around at Western society; the proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and even if it's not perfect, there are forms of government that work at maintaining a stable society. That's my evidence: five thousand years of governments in this world. Some of them worked better than others, but they all more or less maintained an effective society. You, on the other hand, haven't a shred of evidence to support your assertion that your untested, untried, and untrue philosophy, which incorporates only the simplest view of economics and human interactions, can come anywhere near the track record of the various governments of civilization. You haven't the faintest idea of what a real anarchy looks like. Your assumptions have no empirical evidence, your logic is sorely flawed, and the claims you propose to defend balance precariously above an abyss, for your argument lacks a foundation.

Edited a couple of times for tags and clarification, because I hit "submit" instead of "preview".



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

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"I say 'keep the change' purely for my own convenience."

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-26 08:02am
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Joined: 2008-03-05 01:42am
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Surlethe wrote:
You ask this several times in your above response, so let's get this clear. You are, of course, expected to provide evidence for all your claims. When a claim is general, you cannot provide a single example as evidence. For example, when you claim that "less government is always better than more government," it is insufficient to find a single example where a nation with a weaker central government is better off than a nation with a stronger central government. In fact, that is an implicit hasty generalization fallacy. So when I tell you that you need evidence, not examples, I'm referring to your tendency to support broad claims with specific examples. Is this clear now?

In the above example, if I am to say that less government is better than more, and you ask for evidence, if I provide a chain of logic or series of principles, it seems that you would again assert that this would be unsupported. You have told me what you consider not to be evidence, but you have not clarified what you do consider to be evidence in this case. And you also have not justified your implied contention that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive.

Also, if this is how you are going to insist I support my claims, then I will have to apply the same to you. Examples of governments won’t count as evidence that government is necessary, or even preferable.

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As I said, I see no compelling reason to move away from the dictionary definition. You are free to try to establish your 'clarification' on its own terms, but I'm not going to grant it as an assumption even if it is true.

I earlier pointed out when you admitted that all governments have some degree of authority that precedes personal prerogative, and that this admission by you is a compelling reason to allow my clarification in the definition. Yet you are acting like a broken record and ignoring my point entirely. Will you please address this directly, and explain why your admission that all governments precede personal prerogative to some degree is, in your view, no reason to allow my “a priori” clarification?

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But the arguments I'm referring to, ones you've been applying to justify the anarcho-libertarian denial of all forms of government, are flawed because they assume that all governments behave in essentially the same way. When you say something like, "the whim of one institution or person reigns over all," assuming this applies to every form of government, you are fallaciously generalizing.

You are being a broken record. You have already made the claim that I am fallaciously generalizing, and I responded directly to your charge by pointing out your admission that all governments do precede personal prerogative (this is the trait that they all share, and the trait to which I object).

Stop repeating the same empty claim and instead please support it with evidence, and show exactly how not all governments to some degree make the a priori claim of authority over others. It will be especially interesting to see considering your earlier concession that all governments posses this trait.


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There you go again, applying your idealized free market assumptions. How do you know the market will allow for an agreeable solution to both? How do you know, in a conflict between a rich man and a poor man, the rich man won't buy out the court system they agree on? How do you know they'll both be able to afford a court system? Why would the free-market court serve a person who can't afford it, anyway? And what mechanism does the free market have to eventually enforce consistency? There's a mechanism set up in the US court system -- it's the appellate courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court.

There you go again, applying your idealized central authority assumptions. How do you know the government will allow for an agreeable solution to both? How do you know, in a conflict between a private citizen and a government body, the government body won't manipulate the court to its desire? How do you know they'll both be able to find an agreeable court system? And what mechanism does the central authority have to eventually enforce consistency? Your mention of the US court system is a terrible example, because as I noted, it is rife with inconsistent rulings and contradictory judgments; it is constantly overturning the rulings of other courts within the same system and people from all sides of the US opinion spectrum decry its unsatisfactory results.

There is a mechanism set up in the free market: it’s the principle of self-determination applied through the law of supply and demand and the framework of an open and competitive market. The poorly run courts will be free to go bankrupt because of the lack of customers, while the well run courts will be free to become profitable and prevalent because of the ample supply of customers. The US court has no such system in place that leaves it exposed to any consequences of its actions. No matter what the quality (or lack thereof) of the US courts and their services rendered, their customer base, and the court’s continued existence, is guaranteed.

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You claimed, "Government claims that the whim of one institution or person reigns over all, but Voluntaryism recognizes that everyone reigns over themselves." That characterization of all governments is what I am objecting to. Your most recent reply has absolutely nothing to do with what I've been saying.

You seem to forget your own previous statement. What I said is perfectly in line with your earlier admission that “It is true that all governments make some claims that supersede personal prerogative…”

If government makes a claim that precedes personal prerogative, then it is logical for me to point out that government claims that the whim of one institution of person (the governments legislative body or ruler) reigns over all.

So please stop dodging, and answer my question: Are you now denying that you ever said that all governments make some kind of claim that precedes personal prerogative?

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You're right; I should have said, instead, that no consistent enforcement of rules can exist. You propose no mechanism by which a voluntaryist society will be able to enforce the rule that everybody is free to enter into and enforce contractual obligations. In fact, as we've seen above, the society would become plutocratic because the wealthy will be able to consistently outbid the poor in hiring enforcers; different poor people will gravitate to different wealthy patrons, essentially dividing society. It is not inconceivable that internal warfare will exist between these different factions.

Free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society. Take for example the war on drugs, and how the illegal drug market continues to thrive and resist governments' attempts to eliminate it. American consumers are winning the drug war and are therefore successfully defending their freedom to "enter into and enforce contractual obligations" in it. They did the same thing back in the 20's during prohibition.

This is completely disconnected from what I wrote. How does "free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society" even remotely begin to address "no consistent enforcement of rules can exist"? How does "free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society" even remotely begin to address "you propose no mechanism by which a voluntaryist society will be able to enforce the rule that everybody is free to enter into and enforce contractual obligations"? How does "free markets are notoriously hard to eliminate once they have been established in a society" even remotely begin to address "in fact, as we've seen above, the society would become plutocratic because the wealthy will be able to consistently outbid the poor in hiring enforcers"? Your unwillingness to address my point seems to indicate that you are implicitly conceding it.


This was a mis-pasted paragraph. I pasted it in the wrong section in my Sunday night rush to finish my reply. So allow me here to properly address your charge.

Consistent enforcement of rules in a free market is provided by the will of the consumer base and their purchasing/subscription decisions. A competitive market allows for a consistent application of the needs and wants of the consumers because they will be free to choose those things they want, and ignore the things they don’t. If the consumer base consistently wants X, they will, through the free market, be best able to pursue and attain X. The better service providers will prosper while the inferior ones will go bankrupt, and the consistency standard for X (quality of product, fairness of arbitration, etc) will be maintained and improved through the competitive forces of the market and consumer choice.

With an enforced monopoly, like government, these market forces do not exist to maintain consistency in the services provided to the consumers. Except, perhaps, for the consistent enrichment of the ruling class and their ability to manipulate the system to their own benefit and the detriment of those not in power.

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In addition to being a red herring, and a confusing one at that, your factual claim is actually quite wrong. Free markets can actually eliminate themselves quite handily; take, for example, Standard Oil's cornering of the oil market, or Microsoft's lockhold on the operating systems market. In fact, given the ideal nature of the free market assumptions, it is not unreasonable to conclude that if a free market condition ever exists, it's inherently unstable.

Those are examples, not evidence. But that aside, the examples you provided are not examples of the free market eliminating itself at all. Let’s start with Standard Oil:

Standard Oil was broken up in 1911 by New Jersey on the grounds of monopolization. While it is true that Standard’s business practices were somewhat anti-competitive, the truth is that SO had no monopoly on the market at all, especially not in 1911. Standard Oil’s actual market share had declined in the decade leading up to the antitrust case (it was at 67% in 1907). There were at least 137 competitors at the time (including Shell, Gulf, Texaco, etc). Also during the decade preceding the trial, there was an increase in market supply and a decrease in prices, which indicates the opposite of a monopoly on the market. Between 1869 and 1911, for instance, petroleum dropped from 30 cents a gallon to 6 cents a gallon. That’s an indicator of increased, not decreased, competition.

And Microsoft is an even worse example to cite. Microsoft has less than a 50% penetration rate on business server operating systems, and its personal computer operating system penetration is dropping like a stone as of late. The reason? The market. It was not the government nor an antitrust case that allowed free OSes like linux to proliferate; it was the freedom of consumer choice. Competitors were free to make their own competing products, in this case open source OSes and distribs like red hat and ubuntu, and distribute them freely.

Even more telling is the recent Vista release and its market effects. Microsoft, while not a monopoly, is a big player in the market, and its release of Vista is well known to be a major disappointment. Well thanks to the free market, the lack of quality in Microsoft’s latest Os, Vista, allowed competitors to increase their market share. Linux distribs and apple computers and other alternatives are becoming more commonplace than ever. If anything, Microsoft is an example of how a company will rise or fall based on the quality of its product, not an example of how a company can corner a market through its sheer size and pay no heed to the quality of its product.

But there is another related issue about monopolies that I should bring up, and that is the governments concession that monopolies are bad. The US Government has the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which is designed to break up monopolies under the premise that they are bad for consumers. Here comes the internal contradiction about government: it admits that monopolies are bad, and strives to stop them, but it does not look into the mirror at any point in this process. If government is right when it claims that monopolies are bad (and it is right in this case), then doesn’t that mean that a government, which is a monopoly, is also bad for consumers?

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Do you agree that supply and demand is a principle that is descriptive of the real world?

No, certainly not to any degree where it is reasonable to apply it in this debate.

And why do you not believe that the law of supply and demand has any application to the real world in the context of this debate?

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The idealism comes not from the idea of free markets, but from the idea of government. A free market recognizes that people aren't perfect, and it establishes the proper flexibility and adaptability for protecting against and quickly correcting the errors that do occur. Government, on the other hand, is an irrational idealization of people and society precisely because it grants a special set of powers to a small group of humans who rule over everyone else, implying that these rulers know better than you do, that they are the exception to the rule, and that they do not have the same imperfections and limitations as everyone else.

I'm seriously starting to think that you're simply not reading what I'm writing. I said that "the free market is an idealisation of real-world markets." You reply by saying, "the idealism comes not from the idea of free markets, but from the idea of government," and then follow it up with simple declarative statements with no supporting evidence at all. Are you in Kindergarten or something? There's no way you can seriously think that paragraph even comes near rebutting my point.

My point went right over your head, and since you couldn’t understand it, you resorted to petty insults, trying to disguise your confusion. You charged that a free market is an idealization of a real world market. I responded by pointing out with support that idealization is found in the belief in government, and not in the belief in free markets. Despite your protest, I did support my claim about the idealization found in government when I said “Government, on the other hand, is an irrational idealization of people and society precisely because it grants a special set of powers to a small group of humans who rule over everyone else, implying that these rulers know better than you do, that they are the exception to the rule, and that they do not have the same imperfections and limitations as everyone else.”

You, on the other hand, said that free markets are an idealization of real world markets and you didn’t back it up. Should I now ask if you are in kindergarten?

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See what I wrote at the beginning of this post regarding evidence and examples.

Interesting that you think it is proper to list examples such as Standard Oil and Microsoft, but you think it is improper for me to list examples such as the Wright Brothers. You are using a double standard: heads you win, tails I lose. Just to remind you, you have told me what you consider not to be evidence, but you have not clarified what you do consider to be evidence, and you have not justified your implied contention that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive.

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Not so. Because you are arguing the positive claim, the burden of proof is on you to establish that your claims about governments are true.

We are both arguing positive claims. I am advocating free markets without government, and you are advocating government with (I believe) some possible free markets. Do you deny that the advocating of government is a positive claim? Im wondering if you know the difference between positive and negative claims.

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A moment ago you claimed that social progress comes by government regulation and control. So can you explain how that is not "legislating prosperity"?

What part of "both" did you not understand? Perhaps I should explain to suit your simplistic mindset: by "both", I meant that progress and prosperity comes about by a combination of regulation and market distribution to maximize the social benefits of markets while minimizing the social costs.


I understand “both” better than you do it seems. Both means that you claim that social progress comes both through government regulation and market activity. So what part of “both” do you not understand? If you are going to maintain that prosperity comes, in part, through governments, then don’t insult me when I point out that you are in essence, claiming that government can legislate prosperity.

Quit ducking the charge and respond directly: if you really do agree with me that government cannot legislate prosperity, then reconcile this with your other claim that “progress and prosperity comes about by a combination of [government] regulation and market distribution”

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Can you give an example of a market failure?

Certainly. Global warming, peak oil, pollution, overfishing, monopolies, to name a few.

Give specifics, not empty and broad examples. In what ways are these (Global warming, peak oil, pollution, overfishing, monopolies) market failures? I can just as emptily assert that these are all examples of government failures if I were to use the standard of argumentation that you are using.

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That doesn't have anything to do with your black-white fallacy. Your claim above is true for some governments and false for others, but you're assuming that it is true for all governments. In fact, in a system where people can assist in determining the laws (such as the different forms of representative democracy), this is false: people have some say in the sort of services the government offers and how much they pay.

A democracy is simply a tyranny of the majority. It is a government monopoly where popular opinion forces itself onto the minority. Democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner.

Did you even read what I wrote? This is a red herring that also, incidentally, seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the word "democracy".

Yes I did read what you wrote. Did you even comprehend what I wrote in reply? It seems not. I invoked the “democracy is simply a tyranny of the majority” argument in response to your claim that “people have some say in the sort of services the government offers and how much they pay.”

Obviously, you don’t understand what tyranny of the majority means, nor do you understand that in a democratic monopoly, the only choice anyone has is the consent of the majority opinion at the expense and oppression of the minority opinion. Oh well, I can point out these things to you but I can’t force you to understand them.

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And, of course, it's also true that anybody can legally move off the grid, stop paying taxes, and stop using the services that the government offers, which you don't seem to appreciate.

If I try to secede my home and land, and stop paying taxes, and stop using state services, I will be attacked by the state. The Browns of New Hampshire are just one of many examples in which the state imprisoned people who tried to disengage from it. When the American colonies tried to seperate from the British Empire, they were attacked. When the south tried to seperate from the north in the US Civil War, it was forcibly prevented from doing so. When India tried to seperate from the British Empire, it was attacked. While many countries today allow their citizens to physically leave the territory, they are not allowed to keep their own territory and seperate it from the country. And many countries throughout history didn't even let their citizens leave. The USSR and North Korea are just two examples of countries that retain their citizenry through force.

Why would you want to keep your home and land? You acquired them with the help of society; if you keep them, you keep your ties and obligations to society.

You are confusing entities. “society” is not “government.” Having society help me acquire a house (banks, employers, etc) is not the same as having a government handing me a house at the cost of some victimized taxpayers. And you fundamentally misunderstand the nature of a consentual interaction. If society helps me achieve prosperity through the availability of products and services and jobs, then society is also being helped in return through my productive work and profitable consumption. No debt is owed by me to society just because I interacted with it in a mutually consentual way, because consentual trades result in all involved parties being better off.

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The government of West Germany claimed less control over its citizens than East Germany, and was more successful. Same goes for USA vs USSR, South Korea vs North Korea, and Hong Kong vs mainland China, to name a few.

But the government of Somalia claims less control over its citizens than the government of the US, and it is less successful. The various central European tribes had no really strong central government, while Rome had quite a powerful central government, and Rome was far more successful. The Aztecs had a stronger central government than the surrounding tribes, and they were more successful. The Soviet Union and United States had stronger central control over their economies during World War II than Germany, and Germany lost. These counterexamples show that it's possible to go both ways, which implies that there is a balance point to seek between central control and personal freedom, rather than a mindless march to one extreme.

Somalia’s current state of misery is due to a history of totalitarianism. That regime only collapsed about a decade ago, and Somalia has been improving since then. Somalia didn’t come to a state of misery at all from the free market, but from a lack of it, and its slowly pulling itself up from the bottom of the heap, finally, now that the government is out of the way.

The United States did not have more control whatsoever over its economy than Germany did during WWII. Do you understand the nature of National Socialism and the way it operates its economy compared to the relatively free market the US? Germany had far more control over its banking system, pricing and wage system, production decisions, war materiel design, etc than the US did. And while the USSR beat the snot out of the Nazis, it lost many more soldiers and suffered far heavier losses and had inferior equipment compared to the Nazis. The Russians in fact got lots of their best war supplies from the US, and if it wasn’t for the support from its free-market allies, the USSR would have likely been overrun by the Nazis.

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This begs a subtle strawman. My claim is that there are governments which don't trust a special group with undue power. These systems have checks and balances built into the structure of the government in order to keep them stable. DO you deny that they don't exist?

I do deny that there exists checks and balances that keeps governments from attaining undue power, yes. The problem here is that you and I disagree on what undue power is. Why don’t you offer a definition of what you consider to be “undue power”? Ive already offered my definition: I believe that undue power is power of control over another that precedes their personal prerogative. In other words, the violation of consent.

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The unrealism is in the consequences of your cute, little, and highly misleading summary of voluntaryism as "voluntary cooperation and free association of individuals and groups." You falsely assume that the idealisation of the free market is always true. You falsely assume that people will act with perfect knowledge and perfect rationalism.

No, I do not. It is belief in government that falsely assumes that the rulers will act ideally, and with superior knowledge and rationalism. A free market actually recognizes the imperfections in people and allows for quick corrections and adjustments and improvements in society through the processes of open competition and consumer choice.

Why, because you say so? You have no evidence for this, and you cannot rebut my arguments with unverified claims.

There is plenty of evidence for this, and it lies in within the very logic and premises of government itself. Does government hold that the ruling class will perform in the interests of the nonruling class or not? Does government hold that the ruling class will make better decisions for the nonruling class than they will for themselves or not? How does government justify itself if not through the premise that the ruling class will make better decisions than individuals who are left to their own minds?

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You falsely assume that wealth will not correlate to ability to coerce others;

I never claimed that wealth does not correlate with ability to coerce others. But I do contend that government creates a ruling class and gives them the power to enrich themselves undeservedly as well as coerce others no matter how rich they are.

If wealth correlates to the ability to coerce others, then, because some people will inevitably become wealthy in a voluntaryist system, you have shown that coercion by the wealthy is not at all a distinguishing factor between an anarchist society and a society with government. But in a society with government, at the very least the possibility of regulating this plutocratic tendency exists.

Coercion through wealth is not nearly as dangerous as coercion through a priori claimed authority by the ruling class. In a voluntary society, wealth will be a sign of skill – of merit, rather than in government where wealth is a sign of the power of rule over others. Wealth is primarily an effect, not a cause, of power, and power of skill and productive work, unlike power of rule, is not something to fear or discourage.

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you indeed falsely assume that people will simply not stand for coercion. You assume, in fact, that your system will coerce people into not coercing others!

On the contrary, it is the idea of government that irrationally says that government rulers will not stand for coercion despite the fact that they wield its power, and that they will coerce people into not coercing others. Voluntaryism has the more realistic approach by not recognizing in any person or group of people the power to initiate coercion, and instead only recognizing consentual interactions as legitimate. Voluntaryism recognizes that imperfect and evil people exist, so voluntaryism does not recognize as legitimate any mechanism or system that claims the right to initiate force on others, because evil people will certainly seek to wield it.

Voluntaryism is not an entity that is capable of recognizing anything. You're probably trying to say that there are regulatory mechanisms implicit in the lack of central authority which will enforce only consensual interactions, force people not to use force, and coerce people into not coercing others. Of course, my response will be: provide your evidence. So far, we have only your say-so, and given how successful governments have been (and how unsuccessful anarchies have been -- so unsuccessful, in fact, that no successful ones exist or have ever existed in the history of the world!) any reasonable person is inclined to doubt your say-so.

Voluntaryism as a philosophy is relatively new and has only been promoted since around the 18th century or so. And only since Spooner, Mises, Rothbard, and the like have these ideas gained any popularity. In terms of society, voluntaryism is a very new and largely untested idea in terms of being implemented throughout a society in all service sectors. But the concepts of free trade and individual consent are not new, and they are time tested, and they are known to be effective in allowing people the ability to achieve prosperity. The United States, as imperfect as it is, was founded on ideas of freedom and self-ownership that had not been implemented in other societies of the 1700s. The United States’ success and prosperity compared to other nations is due to its allowances in individual sovereignty and open competition, not in monopolistic government regulation or state-run economic segments.

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It should be clear to you that your semantic nitpicking is utterly devoid of real meaning; to claim that the roots of a word completely determine its modern meaning is sophistry of the highest order. You have no logic supporting your position.

I asked you to explain why I'm wrong and to give an example of a type of democracy that is not a monopoly directed by popular sentiment. Unfortunately, all you did in response is dodge my request by accusing me of nitpicking semantics, and you didn't even support that accusation either.

Merriam-Webster defines democracy as "1 a: government by the people; especially : rule of the majority." You like dictionary definitions, and this definition seems very well in line with my own description of democracy. So can we agree on this definition of democracy, and then can you please respond to my request to give an example of a type of democracy that is not a monopoly directed by popular sentiment?

Your own description of democracy is limited to a pure democracy of the type Athens had (hence the descriptor "Athenian democracy"). Merriam-Webster's definition does not limit democracies to mob rule, as you would like to think; any government by the people suffices. Which means that, as an example, a modern representative democracy, either parliamentary or American, will serve as an example of government not entirely directed by popular sentiment.

I said majority rule, not mob rule. Don’t strawman me, and instead address my charge that democracy is majority rule. Regardless, whether the government is a pure democracy, a representative democracy, or a dictatorship has no bearing on my overall charge against government as a coercive ruling class. But I find your ducking and dodging over the definition of democracy to be rather odd. And what does it matter to you whether a democracy is Athenian or American anyway? Does either one of these types of democracies excuse itself from the charge that it is a majority rule at the oppression of the minority? And if you think so, can you please support that assertion?

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Because companies which do invest in weaponry will be busy attacking each other.

Actually we see this happening all the time between governments, they are frequently going to war with each other.

Because there's no government over them to stop them from doing so.

How many layers of government do you want then? A government to govern governments? And then another government to govern that? Turtles, all the way down (I hope youre familiar with that phrase!)

And if a series of governments needs another government to control it, then it seems that the fundamental claim of government being able to regulate society properly and allow peace and prosperity is rather hollow. What good are governments for societies prosperity if they always war with eachother? And why, then, do private companies not kill eachother in the streets as well? War is a hallmark of governments interacting, not private companies interacting.

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Oh, puh-lease. It is quite obvious from context that you were talking about outside aggression.

But you didn't answer my question: what difference is it really whether you are attacked from within or without?

Red herring. Stay on topic, please.

I am staying on topic. You dodged my question by falsely accusing me of talking exclusively about outside aggression. I was not. I was referring to any aggression regardless of its origin. So to stay on topic would be for me to stand by this point. A red herring in this case would be to shift goalposts and try to make disclaimers about inside and outside aggression.

So stop dodging the issue. I stated that “Sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always
vulnerable to it.” There is no within or without qualifier in there, and if you took the context to mean without and not within then that is your fault, not mine. I said “victimized by it and vulnerable to it” with the “it” being the coercive monopoly that you “sanction and enact.”

If you disagree that sanctioning and enacting a coercive monopoly does not protect you from its force, but makes you victimized by it and always vulnerable to it, then on what grounds do you disagree?

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The rebels mostly used privately owned weapons and guerrila tactics, and they were British colonists who weren't fighting some foreign aggressor but the very government that claimed to be protecting and representing them.

See the beginning of this post regarding evidence and examples, and try to stay on topic. Remember, I challenged you to provide evidence that so-called "declawing" always makes countries better able to defend themselves from outside aggression. Regarding your example, see this and this in the comment thread regarding your falsehoods about the Revolutionary War; if you'd like to continue this tangent, I'm more than happy to oblige in the History forum.

One debate at a time for now. Im curious to know why you think that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive, as well as why you feel it is proper for you to give examples, as you have been doing, but its not ok for me to do the same?

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Protection agencies can be similar to insurance agencies where people buy in to a kind of coverage policy. That's hardly out of reach for the common man.

Prove that any single common man -- or any group of common men -- won't be outbid by a wealthy man, or group of wealthy men. The rich will exercise an effective monopoly on force by dint of being able to simply buy up the protection or buy out the protection agencies.


As long as there are consumers offering to buy a service or product, then there will be someone who is willing to sell it to them. If a rich person buys up all the protection agencies, yet there remains more numerous (but less rich individually) consumers who want to purchase these services as well, then there will be new protection companies to sell it to them or existing ones will expand to sell it to them as well. Demand stimulates supply. You can’t simply buy up all the supply of a given service and leave demand for the service still within the market, and not expect more service providers to appear to fulfill that demand.

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It's a red herring because it has nothing to do with outside aggression, which is what you're talking about, backpeddling above aside.

Is my pickpocket scenario above not an example of outside aggression against you?

Let's take a closer look at this.

Your claim: "In a society where people operating along free association principles, they will be far more likely to recognize and resist attempts at coercion and far less likely to sanction them."

My response: "[This] does rather nicely illustrate the unrealistic assumptions you are making regarding personal conduct."

Your defense: "If I were to try to steal money from your pocket right now, is it not perfectly realistic to assume that you yourself would recognize and resist my attempt to steal from you?"

Perhaps instead of saying that your assumption was unrealistic, I should have asked you for evidence. I thought they amounted to the same thing; apparently you didn't see them the same way I did. So, let's try this: provide evidence for your initial assertion. Evidence, not examples.

In this instance, how does one provide evidence for a prediction of behavior without providing a scenario (example) where such a prediction can be tested? The claim I made in this instance calls for the type of evidence that is an example or a scenario. This highlights the fact that examples and evidence are not mutually exclusive, despite your claims to the contrary.

So just answer the question already. You have been dodging almost every question I present to you and it is slowing the progress of this debate. If I were to try to steal money from your pocket right now, is it not perfectly realistic to assume that you yourself would recognize and resist my attempt to steal from you?

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Again, free markets versus governments. We're talking about the complete lack of central authority, not just free markets.

The only "central authority" needed is the principle of self ownership and the law of supply and demand.

Complete nonresponse to my point, and unevidenced, without any supporting argument, to boot. Here's a summary of this exchange:

ME: "A voluntaryist society will be warring within itself."
YOU: "No, free markets never cause war. In fact, interference in free markets causes war! Here's an example ..."
ME: "We're talking about central authority, not free markets."
YOU: "The only 'central authority' society needs are the invisible hand and no government."

You are trying to deny that the will of a consumer base is categorically a central authority, which is logically absurd. If all decision making is retained by the consumer base, then logically it follows perfectly that the consumer base would be the central authority, and they would exercise this authority through the mechanism of supply and demand in a free market framework.

It is a perfectly relevant response and it logically follows the concept of authority, and it shows that the “authority” would be “centralized” within the consumer base. Your inability to understand it is not my problem.

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In a voluntary society, there is no regulation which prevents men from banding together to intimidate and murder their neighbors for their own good.

Is there something inherent in government that prevents this?

Depends on the system of government. Most use their force to coerce people into not doing banding together to intimidate and murder their neighbors. On the other hand, there is absolutely no regulation in a voluntaryist society which would prevent this.

Except of course for the regulatory power of the consumer base and their purchasing choices, which you, for the purpose of defending your position, will surely continue to ignore and deny even exists.

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There is no regulation which prevents the rich from accumulating a monopoly on force. Free markets will do nothing to fix this, especially the latter: free markets go to the highest bidder.

Actually, in a free market, people get rich in the first place not by utilizing force but by utilizing consent. And effective, honorable defense agencies will be better financed because it will have more clients.

Provide evidence. It seems like you're making incredibly idealistic assumptions again.

Quit projecting. I am not the one advocating a monopoly of force as a means to prevent monopolies of force to arise.

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I challenge you to construct a realistic voluntary society which does not eventually result in a monopoly on force.

You mean construct a voluntary society which does not eventually have a government take over?

That is precisely what I mean.

That is easy to construct mentally, but takes lots of typing to explain. Ill try to shorten it down quite a bit, although it will be oversimplified. Free markets and competition improve efficiency, as well as allow for the consumers to pursue the level of defensive capability that they deem sufficient. Consumers will be free to defend their open markets from takeovers by monopolies and governments through both economic and physical means. A declawed population is a vulnerable one, but a well defended population is a dangerous one to start a fight with. Combine this with the improved efficiency of the markets, and a free society will get more “bang for the buck” in their defensive system investments than will a governmental one. It stacks the odds in favor of the free society.

Now, Surlethe, can you in turn construct a realistic governmental society which could not eventually have another government take over?

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Sure. Look at Afghanistan or Iraq or Somalia, or any third-world shithole with no good central government.

Iraq and Afghanistan are not free market societies, and they are both at war with outside aggressors. Somalia has been improving since its government went kaput.

Iraq and Afghanistan, especially the latter, are societies with no central authority. Therefore, with no central governments to poke their noses into the economy, one would think that there would be free markets there. As far as your claim about Somalia goes, I'm calling bullshit. You'd better have some good evidence for that.


Iraq and Afghanistan both have central authorities and have had them for quite some time. The authorities have changed hands, but are still there. Do you deny that Iraq has a government? Do you deny that Afghanistan has a government? Here is a link from GPF that talks all about Iraq’s new government:
http://globalpolicy.igc.org/security/is ... nindex.htm
And here is a link that talks all about Afghanistan’s new government:
http://www.afghan-web.com/politics/

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Again, you give an example, not evidence. In particular, it is not clear why all sectors of society operate better in a free market framework. Why would natural monopolies operate better? Why is society necessarily more secure when nothing prevents people from banding together to intimidate others? Why does the accumulation of wealth into the hands of a few (as will happen in free markets) lead to a prosperous society?

Stratification is greater in countries that have more government control and less free market activity. And again can you please explain what you consider to be the difference between evidence and example, and why you think one is ok to use but not the other?

See the top of this post. Provide evidence that stratification -- economic and social -- is necessarily greater in countries that have more control and less free market activity, instead of maximizing and minimizing at various balance points in the spectrum.

Well I could provide plenty of examples, but you hate those. The reason that more government results in more stratification is because the more government you have, the more you have an authority that precedes personal prerogative. The greatest inequality you can have is not just a simple difference in wealth, but that of an authority that precedes personal prerogative, aka slave vs. master. Governments claim control over individuals in a way that precedes self-ownership, and therefore precedes the individual’s ability to attain wealth through hard, honest work. When you have a ruling class that overrules the consent of their subjects, that ruling class has a power that trumps the mere economic power of the wealthy. Wealth does not necessarily result in control of another’s self-determination, but government power does.

I would be happy to provide examples to support my reasoning here, but I have a hunch that you will object to me doing so regardless of whether or not you justify your implication that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive.

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When a government claims ownership or authority over someone in a way that precedes their personal perogative, as you admitted earlier they all do in some form or another, it is in fact an instance of control without "checks and balances."

Why? Because you say so?

No, because it logically follows. If entity X has a priori authority over person Y, then entity X is not necessarily susceptible to any checks or balances from person Y, because entity X has a level of control that precedes person Y’s consent. In other words, entity X’s decisions about person Y need not be affected by person Y’s input.


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I didn't concede anything of the sort. Where do you think I did that?
What part of "that's completely irrelevant to what I said" did you not understand? You chose not to address my point; may I take that as a concession of the point?

I understand it perfectly, but I disagree with it, and Im not conceding anything here. You charged anarcho-libertarianism with making unreasonable assumptions about free markets, as well as unreasonable assumptions about human behavior. But you did not support these claims at all. I responded directly to your unsupported assertions about stratification and human behavior by pointing out that, “there is no greater stratification of power over others than to have a government, with rulers (kings, presidents, etc). Government is the ultimate social stratification in terms of power. Furthermore, it is governments that make unreasonable assumptions regarding human behavior, namely that the humans in government wont act human (greed, arrogance, etc).”

At this point, rather than respond directly, you fallaciously claimed that I was dodging and you also tried to sneak concessions from me. Then when I asked for you to support your claims, you didn’t support them but simply repeated them like a broken record. Are you going to back up any of your claims, or are you going to just keep throwing them out unsupported?

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I responded directly to your utopianism charge and pointed out, among other things, that government is the utopian model becauses give some people special powers over others, while voluntaryism does not.

And I pointed out that voluntaryism is the utopian model because it assumes the idealistic and therefore unrealistic free market principles.

Yes, I know. You are repeating yourself, but you are not supporting your assertion. I responded to you by pointing out that government, not voluntaryism, is utopian because it gives the ruling class special powers over everyone else, while voluntaryism does not. I supported my assertion. You have ignored the support I gave for my argument and you simply repeated your unsupported claim like a broken record.
Can you please explain why a free market, which only legitimizes consentual interactions, and affirms the sovereignty of the individual, is utopian? Don’t just claim it, but explain why?

And can you please explain why government is not utopian even though it gives the ruling class power over others in the idealized expectation that it will act in the best interests of society?

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The burden of proof is only on me to support free markets, yes. But the burden of proof is on you to support government, which you aren't doing. You merely assume government meets the burden. You didn't respond to a number of my requests, so I had to repeat them. You make vague references to "central authority" but you don't try to explain why it is desirable to centralize authority within a ruling class. You also claim that voluntaryism is a bad idea because you think it will result in the very things that government already does, yet you strangely think that government is preferable to voluntaryism anyway.

Because I recognize that an anarchist society will always develop a government of some sort, I support governments because that is what I will get anyway.

Even if we assume that a voluntary society will develop a government, that in itself is no reason to support government.

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This is a realistic, pragmatic outlook, unlike your pie-in-the-sky approach, which makes literally incredible assumptions.

I am only advocating self-determination. There is nothing “incredible” about it. On the contrary, it is you who is advocating a ruling class with the “incredible assumption” that said ruling class will, through the power to violate the consent of others, act within the best interests of everyone and produce superior results than if they were allowed to make those decisions for themselves.

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And because the burden of proof to support anarcho-libertarianism is on you, I don't need to support "government".

Again you are repeating yourself like a broken record. The burden of proof is on me to support free markets, but you have the burden of proof to support government. They are both positive claims, and therefore they both have the burden of proof. Don’t you know the difference between positive and negative claims?

Please specify whether or not you agree that the burden of proof applies to positive, and not negative, claims. And please specify whether or not you agree that government, like free markets, is a positive claim.

Quote:
But if you insist, look around at Western society; the proof, as they say, is in the pudding, and even if it's not perfect, there are forms of government that work at maintaining a stable society. That's my evidence: five thousand years of governments in this world. Some of them worked better than others, but they all more or less maintained an effective society.

According to your standard, those are examples, not evidence. Yet I am happy to accept your examples, and submit an example of my own: that which governs best is that which governs least. Why was the US able to bankrupt the USSR and not the other way around? The US was richer because of free markets. Why do South Koreans enjoy a much higher standard of living than their North Korean counterparts? Because SK embraces free markets more than NK does? Why is it that when Germany was divided, the West Germans were much better off than the East Germans? Because WG embraced free markets more than EG did. Why does Japan have the lowest stratification and one of the highest per capita incomes of any nation in the world? Because it embraced free markets. And on and on and on.

Quote:
You, on the other hand, haven't a shred of evidence to support your assertion that your untested, untried, and untrue philosophy, which incorporates only the simplest view of economics and human interactions, can come anywhere near the track record of the various governments of civilization. You haven't the faintest idea of what a real anarchy looks like. Your assumptions have no empirical evidence, your logic is sorely flawed, and the claims you propose to defend balance precariously above an abyss, for your argument lacks a foundation.


You keep dismissing my examples as if they do not count as evidence, but then you offer your own examples as if they are evidence, and you have so far refused to explain why you think that evidence and examples are mutually exclusive.

You assert that central authority is preferable to no central authority, and yet when I point out that in a voluntary society the consumer base would act as a “central authority,” you ignore it altogether.

You shift goalposts on the topic of democracy, and you act as if an Athenian-style democracy and a US-style democracy do not both fall under the same umbrella. While I provide a dictionary definition of “democracy,” you continue to shift goalposts, refusing to agree with any definition of democracy whatsoever in the hopes of dodging my challenges.

You have offered startlingly little support for government, and you insist that despite it being a positive claim, government does not have any burden of proof. Furthermore you concede that some level of market activity is necessary or at least desirable, yet you simultaneously deny every claim I make about the market. Strange that you would allow for some degree of market activity when you attack it so viciously on every level. It seems you are fighting everything I say just to be contrary, and not in the interest of determining truth.

You claim that a society based on consentual interactions is utopian, but you don’t specify why, and when I reply by pointing out that not the market but the idea of the ruling class (government) is utopian, you dodge me and insult me and repeat yourself like a broken record, totally ignoring the content of my response.



A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
-Lysander Spooner

http://www.marketanarchy.com/
http://radicallibertarians.blogspot.com/
http://www.lysanderspooner.org/
http://tolfa.us/

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-04-29 01:22am
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And now, for something completely different!

I've grown bored with these incredibly long and time-consuming point-by-point rebuttals, and since it's started to devolve into "NO U!!1" territory regarding the details, I thought I'd take this chance to step back, look at the big picture, and refocus the debate. So I'm eschewing a point-by-point reply in order to draw attention to the fatal flaws in the proposed anarcho-libertarian system, lest they be lost in the walls of quotes and text.

First, we really need to get the issue of examples and evidence out of the way. I am not, as you so fondly point out several times, implicitly contending that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive, and it only betrays your ignorance of basic logic. There are two sorts of claims: universal and existential. You cannot support a universal claim with examples; you can only illustrate it. This is because just pulling an example or two from a hat doesn't mean that your claim is always true (or near enough always). To evidence the truth of a universal claim (e.g., to show that for every government, X is true), you need to survey all instances of the claim. Meanwhile, to support an existential claim, you need only one example. The catch here is that the negation of a universal claim is always an existential claim, and vice-versa. Therefore, to rebut a universal claim, you need only provide an example. Hopefully, this clears things up.

Now, there are several key assumptions your argument makes. The first, and most important, regards the free market. You assert, essentially, that in the absence of oversight, all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market. Every claim you make regarding the superiority of anarcho-libertarianism to systems with governments relies upon the assumption that the free market "does it better" than any sort of government; you rebut every point regarding the possible failings of anarcho-libertarianism with an appeal to the free market. There are, of course, big problems with this key assumption.

Note that it is a universal claim: as above, you cannot support it with mere examples -- and remember: the onus is on YOU to support this assertion, not only because the agreed-upon burden of proof is with you to support anarcho-libertarianism, but also because it is an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. As expected, you have provided no evidence whatsoever that your belief in free marketism is actually justified.

Even a priori, without examining even a basic economic textbook, there is certainly plenty of reason to suspect that the free market assumption you have applied is certainly not an accurate description of reality. They're simple; the real world is not. They're simple because they're idealized; they assume perfect information and rationality on the part of all operators, an arbitrarily large number of competing firms all relatively the same size, not to mention a complete lack of barriers to entry in the market. Trying to describe a single real-world market, let alone an entire society, by assuming that the idealized free market principles apply is like trying to describe a complex system of blocks and pulleys (let alone an entire sailing ship!) by assuming that there is no friction, the ropes are massless, the weights are point-masses, the wood is incompressible and perfectly uniform, etc. The results you get will be neat and idealized, but they will be nowhere close to the reality you're dealing with. It's like trying to build a society assuming the idealized free market principles hold in every interaction is like trying to build a car assuming that the metals are perfect, gasoline combusts perfectly, engine efficiency is 100%, friction doesn't exist, and the roadway is uniformly smooth: it will crash and burn as soon as you start it.

Undoubtly, you will respond to this attack on your assumption by saying, "No, it is government that is hopelessly idealistic, by assuming that creating a ruling class of leaders will automatically improve society," or something along those lines. When you respond that way, you will only be demonstrating that you do not truly understand the point I just made: it is not your job to attack governments; it is your job to support anarcho-libertarianism. Your previous posts in this thread demonstrate that you seem to think employing the "I am rubber, you are glue" debate tactic to smear all governments with a broad brush somehow support your contention that anarcho-libertarianism is superior to all those governments.

Finally, as I pointed out, the free market assumptions do not always lead to an efficient distribution of resources. These are known as "market failures". They include externalities to the market and the accumulation of market power, as well as well-known examples like the tragedy of the commons. So not only can we determine without prior examination that free marketism is idealistic, we have that the free market, even given the assumptions it makes does not by itself always efficiently distribute resources!

By the way, for a tragedy of the commons, since you so vehemently want an example of a market failure, check out the demise of the Newfoundland cod fishery. No individual incentive existed for fishermen to stop pulling cod out of the water, so they fished until practically no cod were left. In fact, there's been a moratorium on fishing for more than 15 years, and the cod fisheries are still only at 1% of their 1977 capacity.

Next, let's check out your claims regarding governments. You've been treating my agreement that all governments require an abrogation of personal choice as a concession that all governments rule despotically, by whim, creating ruling classes (or mob rule -- you can't seem to settle your mind on whether all governments have a minority ruling class or whether some of them are just mobs preying on minorities). No reasonable observer agrees with you, of course; you're guilty of taking what I've said and distorting it into something that's almost unrecognizable through a hasty generalization fallacy. Some governments are as you say, but some are not, because setting limits on freedom of behavior does not necessitate mob rule, or the creation of a ruling class, or that the government which sets those limits will set them capriciously and arbitrarily.

Meanwhile, you haven't taken any steps to dispel the claim that a pure free marketist society will ultimately result in the creation of a wealthy elite. What you disagree with is that this wealthy elite will, in effect, become a plutocracy by dint of outbidding their rivals for the security companies you propose will exist. When I above pointed this out, you immediately leapt to the defense, using ... the assumption that no barriers to entry will exist in the free market. Now, to a reasonable person, it's perfectly obvious that the plutarchy will use its monopoly on force to prevent the rise of competitors (as you so ironically point out that governments do), in effect becoming a government.

Now, we need to take a look at your habit of taking my claims and turning them upside-down. I alluded to this above as the "I am rubber, you are glue" style of argument: I say something, and you repeat it right back at me with 'government' replacing 'anarcho-libertarianism'. But when you do this, you are essentially ignoring the point I'm making about anarcho-libertarianism. Even if you are correct in presuming that the logic is the same on both sides, you are not succeeding in meeting the burden of proof that this debate has put upon you. Your job is to support the contention that anarcho-libertarianism should replace the current systems of government, not to show that current governments are imperfect; you're not doing any wonders for your case when you try to turn the discussion to the merits of governments.

You see, at the end of the day, as I said in the conclusion of my previous post, anarchism will always move toward developing a government, generally through the plutocratic mechanism I outlined above. A monopoly on force will accrue and those who hold the monopoly will become the de facto government. In supporting systems of government, I have the luxury of picking and choosing to advocate the government that I feel will do the best job; that is a luxury which you do not possess. The plutocracy inherent in an anarcho-libertarian system is hardly, I think, the best government, but it's the government that you're implicitly advocating here. Open your eyes and see the light: you're going to have to deal with a government anyway, so you might as well shoot for the best government that can be made instead of trying to transform society into a hopelessly idealistic dream which will shortly revert to a government anyway.



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

Daily Nugget of Wisdom from Goldman Sachs:
"I say 'keep the change' purely for my own convenience."

"A space shuttle on the back of an aircraft carrier in New York City is perhaps the most American thing you could have without the help of a deep fryer. I'm surprised anyone in the US opposes it." - Gandalf

WARNING: May become overexcited by mathematics or monetary policy.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-05-02 07:15pm
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Surlethe wrote:
And now, for something completely different!

I've grown bored with these incredibly long and time-consuming point-by-point rebuttals, and since it's started to devolve into "NO U!!1" territory regarding the details, I thought I'd take this chance to step back, look at the big picture, and refocus the debate. So I'm eschewing a point-by-point reply in order to draw attention to the fatal flaws in the proposed anarcho-libertarian system, lest they be lost in the walls of quotes and text.

First, we really need to get the issue of examples and evidence out of the way. I am not, as you so fondly point out several times, implicitly contending that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive, and it only betrays your ignorance of basic logic. There are two sorts of claims: universal and existential. You cannot support a universal claim with examples; you can only illustrate it.


You are pushing back the question: Does “illustrating” a universal principle with examples count as supporting evidence, or not?

Quote:
This is because just pulling an example or two from a hat doesn't mean that your claim is always true (or near enough always). To evidence the truth of a universal claim (e.g., to show that for every government, X is true), you need to survey all instances of the claim. Meanwhile, to support an existential claim, you need only one example. The catch here is that the negation of a universal claim is always an existential claim, and vice-versa. Therefore, to rebut a universal claim, you need only provide an example. Hopefully, this clears things up.


Fair enough. But this would apply to both sides of the debate, would it not? And what of logical reasoning? We both know that absence of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean evidence of absence, and even with our incomplete knowledge of the universe, we are able to proclaim and follow universal rules all the time through logical reasoning. From physics to philosophy, universal principles are replete. You, Surlethe, are trying to hard to avoid granting me any points or conceding any of my claims, no matter how small, and you kindof painted yourself into a corner there. Even now you are still, for the most part, pushing back my questions without answering them.

Quote:
Now, there are several key assumptions your argument makes. The first, and most important, regards the free market. You assert, essentially, that in the absence of oversight, all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market.


Surlethe, this is a strawman. I’ve noted repeatedly that a free market does not create any “absence of oversight” and that, in fact, competition and consumer choice act as kinds of oversights, along with the fact that in a free market there is plenty of room to develop oversighting bodies that people will pay for to obtain their services. We see private oversight agencies all the time in today’s world. From consumer protection agencies to insurance companies to auditors and security companies, oversight is everywhere in a free market.

If anything, there would be more oversight without a government, not less. When the state gets involved, the oversight is reduced to the most powerful player in the system. In a democracy, the oversight comes only from the majority opinion, or its representatives, and the minority opinion gets crushed. In a state, the regulatory mechanisms of consumer choice and competition are absent.

Quote:
Every claim you make regarding the superiority of anarcho-libertarianism to systems with governments relies upon the assumption that the free market "does it better" than any sort of government; you rebut every point regarding the possible failings of anarcho-libertarianism with an appeal to the free market. There are, of course, big problems with this key assumption.

Note that it is a universal claim: as above, you cannot support it with mere examples -- and remember: the onus is on YOU to support this assertion, not only because the agreed-upon burden of proof is with you to support anarcho-libertarianism, but also because it is an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. As expected, you have provided no evidence whatsoever that your belief in free marketism is actually justified.


The universal claim that I make is that progress, prosperity, and morality all come through mutually consentual interactions, aka free association. Government claims otherwise. You, Surlethe, in defending government, hold that progress, prosperity, and morality can come about through the initiation of force against others, and in greater amount than consent-based society can provide.

And what is this talk about burden of proof? I manned up and admitted that the free market has a burden, but I don’t yet see where you admit that government has a burden of its own.

Quote:
Even a priori, without examining even a basic economic textbook, there is certainly plenty of reason to suspect that the free market assumption you have applied is certainly not an accurate description of reality. They're simple; the real world is not.


My claims are universal principles. Does the real world not work in universal principles? I think its obvious that principles are everywhere in the real world, and if one wants to determine optimal actions, they better well figure out what those principles are. Conservation of matter/energy? Cause and Effect? Mathematics? Good and evil? Are these things not based on principles? Are they not relevant to the real world?

Quote:
They're simple because they're idealized; they assume perfect information and rationality on the part of all operators, an arbitrarily large number of competing firms all relatively the same size, not to mention a complete lack of barriers to entry in the market. Trying to describe a single real-world market, let alone an entire society, by assuming that the idealized free market principles apply is like trying to describe a complex system of blocks and pulleys (let alone an entire sailing ship!) by assuming that there is no friction, the ropes are massless, the weights are point-masses, the wood is incompressible and perfectly uniform, etc. The results you get will be neat and idealized, but they will be nowhere close to the reality you're dealing with. It's like trying to build a society assuming the idealized free market principles hold in every interaction is like trying to build a car assuming that the metals are perfect, gasoline combusts perfectly, engine efficiency is 100%, friction doesn't exist, and the roadway is uniformly smooth: it will crash and burn as soon as you start it.


If, for the sake of argument, I were to assume that this charge against anarcho-libertarianism is true, then what makes you think it would not also be applied to your side? What makes you think that a government run by men who control the fate of all their subjects would not also be susceptible to the problems you describe, if not even more so?

The truth is that imperfect information and imperfect men and imperfect resources are a fact in any social system. From a complete commune to a total lazziez-faire society, you will always, always have the imperfect pulleys and frayed ropes and uneven woods (to use your analogy again). Humans are not perfect, resources are not perfect, information is not perfect, and none of it ever will be.

I am not claiming that the pulleys and woods and ropes are perfect. I have from the very beginning been pointing out the opposite in fact: that there is always imperfection and there will always be evil people somewhere in society. What I have been arguing, however, is that a free market, through its decentralization of decision making and the risk it allows to businesses aka competition (through the loss of customer base) allows for quicker identification of, and correction of, the analogous problems you describe above.

You, Surlethe, are invoking the problem of evil/imperfection argument as applied to social systems. But you have it backwards; the evil/imperfection argument is actually an argument against government:

“If people are basically good, then there is no need for government. If people are basically bad, then government, being comprised of people, will also be bad, and therefore not be necessary.”

Quote:
Undoubtly, you will respond to this attack on your assumption by saying, "No, it is government that is hopelessly idealistic, by assuming that creating a ruling class of leaders will automatically improve society," or something along those lines. When you respond that way, you will only be demonstrating that you do not truly understand the point I just made: it is not your job to attack governments; it is your job to support anarcho-libertarianism.


Surlethe, you seem to not understand that I am doing both. I am spending plenty of time supporting free markets, especially with all your objections to it that I respond to. Additionally, you already conceded (to some degree) the effectiveness of free markets when in a previous post you said that you think that a good society is one with some free market and some government. Is that not already a concession by you that free markets, in some significant degree, are a viable and even preferable method of social organization?

Quote:
Your previous posts in this thread demonstrate that you seem to think employing the "I am rubber, you are glue" debate tactic to smear all governments with a broad brush somehow support your contention that anarcho-libertarianism is superior to all those governments.


I know that the “I am rubber you are glue” response (as is common from anarchists) gets annoying to those who advocate the state. But the reason for that is because statists often project, or accuse anarchy of causing the very thing that government already caused. Excuse me for borrowing a Bible story, but they point out the splinter in their opponents eye, and see not the beam in their own. Take for example those who advocate communal land reform in farming. They bitch and moan about how some big rich farm owners make too much money, and there isn’t enough food to go around because there are indeed some people hungry in the streets, and the plow swingers themselves are too poor. So they advocate communal land reform. Then what happens? The government fat-cats get all the profits, the food production drops, farmers leave the communes or get imprisoned or killed, and mass starvation occurs. In china, in the USSR, in North Korea, in Cuba, and now in Zimbabwe, the same pattern happened over and over. Yet the statists kept whining that the free market approach to farming was utopian! I mean, talk about a classic example of the beam in the eye! And all the while, these people who wanted to see Mao and Kim Il Sung implement their grand reforms, stand there bitching that the lazziez-faire people use the “I’m rubber you’re glue” tactic too much. But in the end, the free market farmers and communities are better fed and make more money, while the communal farming communities end up poor, starving, and imprisoned or executed.

Quote:
Finally, as I pointed out, the free market assumptions do not always lead to an efficient distribution of resources. These are known as "market failures". They include externalities to the market and the accumulation of market power, as well as well-known examples like the tragedy of the commons. So not only can we determine without prior examination that free marketism is idealistic, we have that the free market, even given the assumptions it makes does not by itself always efficiently distribute resources!


This is nothing new. I already conceded many posts ago that there are no guarantees in any social system. The free market model cannot guarantee a perfect distribution of resources, just as the state model cannot guarantee it. Surely, in any system, stupid, lazy, or evil people can fuck it up (and do). Again, you wield an argument that applies equally to both our positions: “people can make mistakes and ruin it!” Of course they can!

The difference is that in a competitive and open system, there exist superior means of identifying and correcting mistakes. If someone provides a sucky product, or works like a lazy ass, he will be susceptible to the dissatisfaction of his customers, who will take their business elsewhere. Bankruptcy (or insolvency) is a powerful correctional tool that you will find in spades in a free market. But this risk of failure is largely detached or fouht against in a state system. Because no matter how much the state’s product sucks, the customers must continue to buy it. Even if they are able to vote in different state workers every few years, they still have to buy the same product from the same agency: the monopoly of the state.

So failure of business is not a market failure per se, but a market function. Bankruptcy is an important part of the market and the competitive process. Trying to remove the ability for an agency to fail via the state’s taxation and guaranteed-customer framework does nothing to actually protect a society from inefficient resource distribution, but rather it only exacerbates the inefficient distribution and compounds it and delays the inevitable correction.



Quote:
By the way, for a tragedy of the commons, since you so vehemently want an example of a market failure, check out the demise of the Newfoundland cod fishery. No individual incentive existed for fishermen to stop pulling cod out of the water, so they fished until practically no cod were left. In fact, there's been a moratorium on fishing for more than 15 years, and the cod fisheries are still only at 1% of their 1977 capacity.


A tragedy of the commons situation, like the one above, is a result of unregulated access to a finite resource. If the fishing areas were privately owned, then they would in fact be regulated. The owner of the ocean territory would charge for fishing permits and set catch limits that would protect his supply of fish so that it would not be over harvested and as a result he would be able to reap continued profits from having a renewable and regulated supply of fish to sell to the catchers. This is similar to the logging industry, where privately owned forests are the best maintained, and the tree replanting is conducted by the loggers themselves.

And what of farms? Do farmers, who privately own their soil, allow their crops to be over harvested to the point of extinction? Or do the farmers invest time and money in regeneration of crops? And what of fish farms? Do privately run fish farms allow their fish to be harvested to obliteration, or do they replenish their stock?

In a market, the financial interest of the resource owner/manager is the proper incentive for him to ensure a replenishable and/or maintainable supply of the given resource.

In the cod moratorium example above, the fish stock got so low because the oceans were not privately owned and not adequately regulated. Only when the government finally imposed limits on fishing (or an outright ban), which should have been enacted far sooner, did the fish stock start to recover. The Canadian cod debacle is an example of government management of a finite resource being insufficient to maintain an adequate supply of the resource. It is an example of how the lack of private ownership of a resource resulted in a lack of regulation and led to its overuse.

Hint: that’s why “tragedy of the commons” has the word “commons” in it. It is a problem for “communal” systems, where something is publicly owned and not privately owned.

Quote:
Next, let's check out your claims regarding governments. You've been treating my agreement that all governments require an abrogation of personal choice as a concession that all governments rule despotically, by whim, creating ruling classes (or mob rule -- you can't seem to settle your mind on whether all governments have a minority ruling class or whether some of them are just mobs preying on minorities). No reasonable observer agrees with you, of course; you're guilty of taking what I've said and distorting it into something that's almost unrecognizable through a hasty generalization fallacy. Some governments are as you say, but some are not, because setting limits on freedom of behavior does not necessitate mob rule, or the creation of a ruling class, or that the government which sets those limits will set them capriciously and arbitrarily.


It is true that different governments claim different levels of authority on their subjects. But what dies not differ between these governments is that they all claim to have the power to grant or restrict certain liberties and freedoms as they see fit. All governments operate on the (believed) a priori principle that they have final say on you and what you can or cannot do, and anything they forbid themselves to exercise control over is from the kindness of their hearts, not because of some concession that they never had the right to control that thing in the first place.

Quote:
Meanwhile, you haven't taken any steps to dispel the claim that a pure free marketist society will ultimately result in the creation of a wealthy elite. What you disagree with is that this wealthy elite will, in effect, become a plutocracy by dint of outbidding their rivals for the security companies you propose will exist. When I above pointed this out, you immediately leapt to the defense, using ... the assumption that no barriers to entry will exist in the free market. Now, to a reasonable person, it's perfectly obvious that the plutarchy will use its monopoly on force to prevent the rise of competitors (as you so ironically point out that governments do), in effect becoming a government.


But in response to this I pointed out that, absent of Stockholm syndrome, consumers who are used to having choice over a given product or service will fight any attempts to monopolize it. If people are used to a certain kind of freedom or self-determination, trying to remove it by force will only result in that consumer base taking up arms in response, and usually winning. How many times throughout history has (sorry, another Bible reference) David felled Goliath?

And I also pointed out that advocating government for fear of a government forming in its absence, is no argument for the legitimacy of government. Its like advocating the murder of everyone lest they somehow become murderers. It is a defeatist argument: “Hey, we are all running the risk of being enslaved, so let’s just find a slave master to prevent that from happening.”

I still haven’t seen a response to this.

Quote:
Now, we need to take a look at your habit of taking my claims and turning them upside-down. I alluded to this above as the "I am rubber, you are glue" style of argument: I say something, and you repeat it right back at me with 'government' replacing 'anarcho-libertarianism'. But when you do this, you are essentially ignoring the point I'm making about anarcho-libertarianism. Even if you are correct in presuming that the logic is the same on both sides, you are not succeeding in meeting the burden of proof that this debate has put upon you. Your job is to support the contention that anarcho-libertarianism should replace the current systems of government, not to show that current governments are imperfect; you're not doing any wonders for your case when you try to turn the discussion to the merits of governments.

You see, at the end of the day, as I said in the conclusion of my previous post, anarchism will always move toward developing a government, generally through the plutocratic mechanism I outlined above. A monopoly on force will accrue and those who hold the monopoly will become the de facto government. In supporting systems of government, I have the luxury of picking and choosing to advocate the government that I feel will do the best job; that is a luxury which you do not possess. The plutocracy inherent in an anarcho-libertarian system is hardly, I think, the best government, but it's the government that you're implicitly advocating here. Open your eyes and see the light: you're going to have to deal with a government anyway, so you might as well shoot for the best government that can be made instead of trying to transform society into a hopelessly idealistic dream which will shortly revert to a government anyway.


Why then, Surlethe, have we not already seen this occur in portions of the economy where free market already exists? In the automotive industry? In the airline industry? In the ISP market? In the food industry? The insurance industry? There are more competitors in each of these market sectors than there were 30 years ago. Even though mergers and buyouts make the headlines, there are even higher amounts of startups that don’t make those headlines.

Awhile back, the US government got its nose out of the airline industry (more or less) in what it ironically called “deregulation.” Statist fearmongers promised that it would result in higher prices, less choice, and worse service. The opposite happened. Since “deregulation” of the airline industry, air travel has become cheaper, safer, and more players have emerged on the field. We see this pattern regularly whenever any monopoly gets its nose out of a given sector.

The monopoly fear is certainly common among statists when confronted with free market, but it is not typically shown to be true. Monopolies are usually enforced through propaganda and mental conditioning, like religion. Once people are woken up and realize they don’t need it, the monopolies tend to go away (as does religion once a society wakes up to atheism). People are conditioned into thinking that a given monopoly is necessary because otherwise chaos will result or some worse monopoly will take its place, but this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people think that they need a monopoly, they will develop one. But if people realize that they only need to retain their own self-determination, and not subject themselves to the will of some other decision making body, then they tend to prevent monopolies from establishing themselves.

Why has the auto industry not turned into a monopoly? Why no monopolies in the airline industry, or the food industry, or the video game industry, or the insurance industry? Because competition works better, the consumers get to choose where to spend their money (and tend to spend it on more than one producer), and because when competition sags, product quality sags as well and thus provides more incentive for a new competitor to sprout up and “do it better.”


The internet is also a prime example of competition and how monopolies can’t get a foothold. On the ‘net, the service provider count is going ever skyward. Web hosting services are provided by more and more different companies every day. Small time bloggers can now compete with big money news organizations, and those giants of information are finding that the open framework of the internet lossens, not tightens, their grip on their service sector. The internet is an open competitive framework, and it is the new #1 hotbed of competition and demonopolization in the world.



A man is none the less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years.
-Lysander Spooner

http://www.marketanarchy.com/
http://radicallibertarians.blogspot.com/
http://www.lysanderspooner.org/
http://tolfa.us/

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-05-05 09:54pm
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Voluntaryist, at the end of the day, the issue boils down to empiricism: you claim that free market conditions always exist, but you have not in any way, shape, or form supported that assumption. You simply state it over and over again, ad nauseam, crying that it is a universal principle, or that it is true because you say so. And while doing so, you have so spectacularly failed to provide compelling evidence for these assumptions that I almost don't need to point it out. All of the corrective mechanisms you have so elaborately constructed rely on this single set of assumptions. All of the benefits that your proposed society would bring rely on this single set of assumptions. Every grandiose claim regarding your utopian society relies on this single set of assumptions. Did I mention that you have utterly failed in supporting this single set of assumptions?

Because of your hopelessly idealistic set of assumptions, the anarchist society you propose is inherently unstable. Even if we grant you somehow a perfect starting point, with many firms competing freely in every market, your society will eventually become a collection of oligopolies, as the firms which are marginally better at competing gobble up the competition. These firms will erect barriers to entry into the markets, buying up any startups or intimidating them out of business. Moreover, wealth and hence power will ultimately be concentrated in the hands of the owners of these lucky corporations; they will use that wealth and power in order to advance their wealth and power further at the expense of their workers. Your society will have become plutocratic, with a despotic government of the type that you so despise. This is the inevitable outcome of an anarchic society, Voluntaryist; it is not defeatist to propose this, it is realistic. Better to find and use a government which is bound to respect the citizenry and operate within a framework of laws than to find a government through this method.


Voluntaryist wrote:
Surlethe wrote:
And now, for something completely different!

I've grown bored with these incredibly long and time-consuming point-by-point rebuttals, and since it's started to devolve into "NO U!!1" territory regarding the details, I thought I'd take this chance to step back, look at the big picture, and refocus the debate. So I'm eschewing a point-by-point reply in order to draw attention to the fatal flaws in the proposed anarcho-libertarian system, lest they be lost in the walls of quotes and text.

First, we really need to get the issue of examples and evidence out of the way. I am not, as you so fondly point out several times, implicitly contending that examples and evidence are mutually exclusive, and it only betrays your ignorance of basic logic. There are two sorts of claims: universal and existential. You cannot support a universal claim with examples; you can only illustrate it.


You are pushing back the question: Does “illustrating” a universal principle with examples count as supporting evidence, or not?

Did you read what I wrote? You cannot support a universal claim with examples.

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This is because just pulling an example or two from a hat doesn't mean that your claim is always true (or near enough always). To evidence the truth of a universal claim (e.g., to show that for every government, X is true), you need to survey all instances of the claim. Meanwhile, to support an existential claim, you need only one example. The catch here is that the negation of a universal claim is always an existential claim, and vice-versa. Therefore, to rebut a universal claim, you need only provide an example. Hopefully, this clears things up.


Fair enough. But this would apply to both sides of the debate, would it not? And what of logical reasoning? We both know that absence of evidence doesn’t necessarily mean evidence of absence, and even with our incomplete knowledge of the universe, we are able to proclaim and follow universal rules all the time through logical reasoning. From physics to philosophy, universal principles are replete. You, Surlethe, are trying to hard to avoid granting me any points or conceding any of my claims, no matter how small, and you kind of painted yourself into a corner there. Even now you are still, for the most part, pushing back my questions without answering them.

Your understanding of science is, quite bluntly, broken. Absence of evidence is indeed evidence of absence, and in science we attempt to model the universe. Some models are more accurate than others, and some models are just plain idealistic, like your inane free-marketism.

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Now, there are several key assumptions your argument makes. The first, and most important, regards the free market. You assert, essentially, that in the absence of oversight, all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market.


Surlethe, this is a strawman. I’ve noted repeatedly that a free market does not create any “absence of oversight” and that, in fact, competition and consumer choice act as kinds of oversights, along with the fact that in a free market there is plenty of room to develop oversighting bodies that people will pay for to obtain their services. We see private oversight agencies all the time in today’s world. From consumer protection agencies to insurance companies to auditors and security companies, oversight is everywhere in a free market.

If anything, there would be more oversight without a government, not less. When the state gets involved, the oversight is reduced to the most powerful player in the system. In a democracy, the oversight comes only from the majority opinion, or its representatives, and the minority opinion gets crushed. In a state, the regulatory mechanisms of consumer choice and competition are absent.

Did you read what I wrote? You are assuming that all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market. The oversight you have proclaimed is, by your own declaration, a consequence of the mechanisms of the free market: you are assuming that all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market. I am challenging that assumption. Do I need to repeat it for you? YOU ARE ASSUMING ALL INTERACTIONS WILL SATISFY THE ASSUMPTIONS ECONOMISTS MAKE REGARDING THE FREE MARKET.

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Every claim you make regarding the superiority of anarcho-libertarianism to systems with governments relies upon the assumption that the free market "does it better" than any sort of government; you rebut every point regarding the possible failings of anarcho-libertarianism with an appeal to the free market. There are, of course, big problems with this key assumption.

Note that it is a universal claim: as above, you cannot support it with mere examples -- and remember: the onus is on YOU to support this assertion, not only because the agreed-upon burden of proof is with you to support anarcho-libertarianism, but also because it is an extraordinary claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. As expected, you have provided no evidence whatsoever that your belief in free marketism is actually justified.


The universal claim that I make is that progress, prosperity, and morality all come through mutually consentual interactions, aka free association. Government claims otherwise. You, Surlethe, in defending government, hold that progress, prosperity, and morality can come about through the initiation of force against others, and in greater amount than consent-based society can provide.

No, the fundamental universal claim you are making is that ALL INTERACTIONS WILL SATISFY THE ASSUMPTIONS ECONOMISTS MAKE REGARDING THE FREE MARKET. It is a universal claim you have failed to evidence.

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Even a priori, without examining even a basic economic textbook, there is certainly plenty of reason to suspect that the free market assumption you have applied is certainly not an accurate description of reality. They're simple; the real world is not.


My claims are universal principles. Does the real world not work in universal principles? I think its obvious that principles are everywhere in the real world, and if one wants to determine optimal actions, they better well figure out what those principles are. Conservation of matter/energy? Cause and Effect? Mathematics? Good and evil? Are these things not based on principles? Are they not relevant to the real world?

And here we have the heart of your arrogance. "My claims are universal principles", you declare. This is a textbook circular logic fallacy, because that is the very claim I am contesting. YOU ARE ASSUMING ALL INTERACTIONS WILL SATISFY THE ASSUMPTIONS ECONOMISTS MAKE REGARDING THE FREE MARKET, and how do you defend that assumption? By declaring it a universal principle! In other words, you are defending your assumption that all interactions will satisfy free-marketist assumptions by asserting that ... all interactions satisfy free-marketist assumptions!

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They're simple because they're idealized; they assume perfect information and rationality on the part of all operators, an arbitrarily large number of competing firms all relatively the same size, not to mention a complete lack of barriers to entry in the market. Trying to describe a single real-world market, let alone an entire society, by assuming that the idealized free market principles apply is like trying to describe a complex system of blocks and pulleys (let alone an entire sailing ship!) by assuming that there is no friction, the ropes are massless, the weights are point-masses, the wood is incompressible and perfectly uniform, etc. The results you get will be neat and idealized, but they will be nowhere close to the reality you're dealing with. It's like trying to build a society assuming the idealized free market principles hold in every interaction is like trying to build a car assuming that the metals are perfect, gasoline combusts perfectly, engine efficiency is 100%, friction doesn't exist, and the roadway is uniformly smooth: it will crash and burn as soon as you start it.


If, for the sake of argument, I were to assume that this charge against anarcho-libertarianism is true, then what makes you think it would not also be applied to your side? What makes you think that a government run by men who control the fate of all their subjects would not also be susceptible to the problems you describe, if not even more so?

The truth is that imperfect information and imperfect men and imperfect resources are a fact in any social system. From a complete commune to a total lazziez-faire society, you will always, always have the imperfect pulleys and frayed ropes and uneven woods (to use your analogy again). Humans are not perfect, resources are not perfect, information is not perfect, and none of it ever will be.

I am not claiming that the pulleys and woods and ropes are perfect. I have from the very beginning been pointing out the opposite in fact: that there is always imperfection and there will always be evil people somewhere in society. What I have been arguing, however, is that a free market, through its decentralization of decision making and the risk it allows to businesses aka competition (through the loss of customer base) allows for quicker identification of, and correction of, the analogous problems you describe above.

Have you understood any of what I've written above? Did you really comprehend my analogy? You are applying YOUR ASSUMPTION THAT ALL INTERACTIONS WILL SATISFY THE ASSUMPTIONS ECONOMISTS MAKE REGARDING THE FREE MARKET I feel forced to repeat myself: the assumption that all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market is idealistic, and one that simply does not adequately describe the real world. The entire point of the analogy was to illustrate this claim.

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You, Surlethe, are invoking the problem of evil/imperfection argument as applied to social systems. But you have it backwards; the evil/imperfection argument is actually an argument against government:

“If people are basically good, then there is no need for government. If people are basically bad, then government, being comprised of people, will also be bad, and therefore not be necessary.”

Nobody is arguing that governments are perfect, but at least they're realistic in the assumptions they make about people. Of course, you're going to come back with the typical "I am rubber, you are glue" argument by asserting some ridiculous combination strawman and bald-faced lie, like saying "No, it is government that makes unrealistic assumptions because it assumes that people will be put in power and work in the best interests of society instead of their own best interests", when that has happened time and time again in governments the world round! You need only to look up and you will find governments that, though imperfect, work far better than the despotic plutocracy into which your anarchy would evolve.

This doesn't even begin to mention the absurd bifurcation your meaningless little quote indulges in -- it completely ignores the possibility that government, even if bad, is better than no government.

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Undoubtly, you will respond to this attack on your assumption by saying, "No, it is government that is hopelessly idealistic, by assuming that creating a ruling class of leaders will automatically improve society," or something along those lines. When you respond that way, you will only be demonstrating that you do not truly understand the point I just made: it is not your job to attack governments; it is your job to support anarcho-libertarianism.


Surlethe, you seem to not understand that I am doing both. I am spending plenty of time supporting free markets, especially with all your objections to it that I respond to. Additionally, you already conceded (to some degree) the effectiveness of free markets when in a previous post you said that you think that a good society is one with some free market and some government. Is that not already a concession by you that free markets, in some significant degree, are a viable and even preferable method of social organization?

Only in your black-and-white world is that a concession to your point of view. In fact, I do agree that free markets are a viable and, indeed, often preferable method of distributing resources. But I also recognize that free markets require constant government oversight and regulation to ensure that they remain free and fair. I also recognize that free markets sometimes do not distribute resources in a manner which is socially beneficial, and thus require government intervention to correct. Finally, I recognize that free markets are inherently myopic and prone to inefficiently distributing resources, as well as drastic corrections which cause undue social harm; government needs to look out for the common good, which free markets most definitely do not have in mind.

In short, I recognize both the benefits and the limitations of relatively unregulated markets. You, on the other hand, have a child's view of the free market. A child will have a single piece of chocolate and think, "This is great! If one is so good, one hundred must be even better!" Even so do you recognize the benefits of the unregulated marketplace and think, "If an unregulated market is good here, it must be good everywhere!" Your view lacks perspective and balance; it is quite literally childish.

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Your previous posts in this thread demonstrate that you seem to think employing the "I am rubber, you are glue" debate tactic to smear all governments with a broad brush somehow support your contention that anarcho-libertarianism is superior to all those governments.


I know that the “I am rubber you are glue” response (as is common from anarchists) gets annoying to those who advocate the state. But the reason for that is because statists often project, or accuse anarchy of causing the very thing that government already caused. Excuse me for borrowing a Bible story, but they point out the splinter in their opponents eye, and see not the beam in their own. Take for example those who advocate communal land reform in farming. They bitch and moan about how some big rich farm owners make too much money, and there isn’t enough food to go around because there are indeed some people hungry in the streets, and the plow swingers themselves are too poor. So they advocate communal land reform. Then what happens? The government fat-cats get all the profits, the food production drops, farmers leave the communes or get imprisoned or killed, and mass starvation occurs. In china, in the USSR, in North Korea, in Cuba, and now in Zimbabwe, the same pattern happened over and over. Yet the statists kept whining that the free market approach to farming was utopian! I mean, talk about a classic example of the beam in the eye! And all the while, these people who wanted to see Mao and Kim Il Sung implement their grand reforms, stand there bitching that the lazziez-faire people use the “I’m rubber you’re glue” tactic too much. But in the end, the free market farmers and communities are better fed and make more money, while the communal farming communities end up poor, starving, and imprisoned or executed.

All of this has nothing to do with the fact that you are using the "rubber, glue" tactic as a way to avoid answering my points. That's rich, given that you continually accuse me of "pushing back questions", as though I'm somehow beating a hasty retreat before the advance of your free-marketist ideas instead of kicking your ass ten ways to Sunday.

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Finally, as I pointed out, the free market assumptions do not always lead to an efficient distribution of resources. These are known as "market failures". They include externalities to the market and the accumulation of market power, as well as well-known examples like the tragedy of the commons. So not only can we determine without prior examination that free marketism is idealistic, we have that the free market, even given the assumptions it makes does not by itself always efficiently distribute resources!


This is nothing new. I already conceded many posts ago that there are no guarantees in any social system. The free market model cannot guarantee a perfect distribution of resources, just as the state model cannot guarantee it. Surely, in any system, stupid, lazy, or evil people can fuck it up (and do). Again, you wield an argument that applies equally to both our positions: “people can make mistakes and ruin it!” Of course they can!

The difference is that in a competitive and open system, there exist superior means of identifying and correcting mistakes. If someone provides a sucky product, or works like a lazy ass, he will be susceptible to the dissatisfaction of his customers, who will take their business elsewhere. Bankruptcy (or insolvency) is a powerful correctional tool that you will find in spades in a free market. But this risk of failure is largely detached or fouht against in a state system. Because no matter how much the state’s product sucks, the customers must continue to buy it. Even if they are able to vote in different state workers every few years, they still have to buy the same product from the same agency: the monopoly of the state.

So failure of business is not a market failure per se, but a market function. Bankruptcy is an important part of the market and the competitive process. Trying to remove the ability for an agency to fail via the state’s taxation and guaranteed-customer framework does nothing to actually protect a society from inefficient resource distribution, but rather it only exacerbates the inefficient distribution and compounds it and delays the inevitable correction.

You honestly do not understand, do you? You think I'm referring to particular businesses? I'm not; I'm referring to the entire market. The corrective mechanism does not fix this inefficiency. That's why it's called a MARKET failure.

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By the way, for a tragedy of the commons, since you so vehemently want an example of a market failure, check out the demise of the Newfoundland cod fishery. No individual incentive existed for fishermen to stop pulling cod out of the water, so they fished until practically no cod were left. In fact, there's been a moratorium on fishing for more than 15 years, and the cod fisheries are still only at 1% of their 1977 capacity.


A tragedy of the commons situation, like the one above, is a result of unregulated access to a finite resource. If the fishing areas were privately owned, then they would in fact be regulated. The owner of the ocean territory would charge for fishing permits and set catch limits that would protect his supply of fish so that it would not be over harvested and as a result he would be able to reap continued profits from having a renewable and regulated supply of fish to sell to the catchers. This is similar to the logging industry, where privately owned forests are the best maintained, and the tree replanting is conducted by the loggers themselves.

And what of farms? Do farmers, who privately own their soil, allow their crops to be over harvested to the point of extinction? Or do the farmers invest time and money in regeneration of crops? And what of fish farms? Do privately run fish farms allow their fish to be harvested to obliteration, or do they replenish their stock?

In a market, the financial interest of the resource owner/manager is the proper incentive for him to ensure a replenishable and/or maintainable supply of the given resource.

In the cod moratorium example above, the fish stock got so low because the oceans were not privately owned and not adequately regulated. Only when the government finally imposed limits on fishing (or an outright ban), which should have been enacted far sooner, did the fish stock start to recover. The Canadian cod debacle is an example of government management of a finite resource being insufficient to maintain an adequate supply of the resource. It is an example of how the lack of private ownership of a resource resulted in a lack of regulation and led to its overuse.

Hint: that’s why “tragedy of the commons” has the word “commons” in it. It is a problem for “communal” systems, where something is publicly owned and not privately owned.

There are, in fact, some goods that are publicly owned, like air or water. That's because it's practically impossible for them to be privately owned. But nonetheless, you are right: the Canadian cod debacle is an example of lack of regulation, which led to overuse. Except that because private ownership of the seas is impossible, it was the lack of government regulation which led to the disaster.

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Next, let's check out your claims regarding governments. You've been treating my agreement that all governments require an abrogation of personal choice as a concession that all governments rule despotically, by whim, creating ruling classes (or mob rule -- you can't seem to settle your mind on whether all governments have a minority ruling class or whether some of them are just mobs preying on minorities). No reasonable observer agrees with you, of course; you're guilty of taking what I've said and distorting it into something that's almost unrecognizable through a hasty generalization fallacy. Some governments are as you say, but some are not, because setting limits on freedom of behavior does not necessitate mob rule, or the creation of a ruling class, or that the government which sets those limits will set them capriciously and arbitrarily.


It is true that different governments claim different levels of authority on their subjects. But what dies not differ between these governments is that they all claim to have the power to grant or restrict certain liberties and freedoms as they see fit. All governments operate on the (believed) a priori principle that they have final say on you and what you can or cannot do, and anything they forbid themselves to exercise control over is from the kindness of their hearts, not because of some concession that they never had the right to control that thing in the first place.

I am becoming convinced that you are being intentionally dishonest, because nobody could be dense enough to seriously propose that every single form of government limits itself only by the kindness of its heart. This is so false that it's painfully obvious, and leads me to speculate why you don't recognize why your claim is wrong. Do you honestly have no conception of law?

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Meanwhile, you haven't taken any steps to dispel the claim that a pure free marketist society will ultimately result in the creation of a wealthy elite. What you disagree with is that this wealthy elite will, in effect, become a plutocracy by dint of outbidding their rivals for the security companies you propose will exist. When I above pointed this out, you immediately leapt to the defense, using ... the assumption that no barriers to entry will exist in the free market. Now, to a reasonable person, it's perfectly obvious that the plutarchy will use its monopoly on force to prevent the rise of competitors (as you so ironically point out that governments do), in effect becoming a government.


But in response to this I pointed out that, absent of Stockholm syndrome, consumers who are used to having choice over a given product or service will fight any attempts to monopolize it. If people are used to a certain kind of freedom or self-determination, trying to remove it by force will only result in that consumer base taking up arms in response, and usually winning. How many times throughout history has (sorry, another Bible reference) David felled Goliath?

"Usually winning"? That's such a load of bullshit. Such an uprising would result in a massacre of untrained civilians by professional thugs, like the Warsaw Rebellion, or the Jewish Uprising against the Roman Empire, or Tiananmen Square. But even more devastating to your position: how did governments arise in the first place? If they're the evil monopoly on force you so claim, then why didn't people rise up to fight them before they arose, when people possessed self-determination. If that is inherent to the free market, why didn't it happen? Perhaps, you might say, the ideas of free-marketism didn't arise until about one hundred fifty years ago -- but then your principles of the free market are hardly universal. After all, it's not like F=ma only after 1687.

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And I also pointed out that advocating government for fear of a government forming in its absence, is no argument for the legitimacy of government. Its like advocating the murder of everyone lest they somehow become murderers. It is a defeatist argument: “Hey, we are all running the risk of being enslaved, so let’s just find a slave master to prevent that from happening.”

I still haven’t seen a response to this.

Hey, there's your hasty generalization again. Are you stupid or intentionally dishonest? All governments are slave masters now?

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Now, we need to take a look at your habit of taking my claims and turning them upside-down. I alluded to this above as the "I am rubber, you are glue" style of argument: I say something, and you repeat it right back at me with 'government' replacing 'anarcho-libertarianism'. But when you do this, you are essentially ignoring the point I'm making about anarcho-libertarianism. Even if you are correct in presuming that the logic is the same on both sides, you are not succeeding in meeting the burden of proof that this debate has put upon you. Your job is to support the contention that anarcho-libertarianism should replace the current systems of government, not to show that current governments are imperfect; you're not doing any wonders for your case when you try to turn the discussion to the merits of governments.

You see, at the end of the day, as I said in the conclusion of my previous post, anarchism will always move toward developing a government, generally through the plutocratic mechanism I outlined above. A monopoly on force will accrue and those who hold the monopoly will become the de facto government. In supporting systems of government, I have the luxury of picking and choosing to advocate the government that I feel will do the best job; that is a luxury which you do not possess. The plutocracy inherent in an anarcho-libertarian system is hardly, I think, the best government, but it's the government that you're implicitly advocating here. Open your eyes and see the light: you're going to have to deal with a government anyway, so you might as well shoot for the best government that can be made instead of trying to transform society into a hopelessly idealistic dream which will shortly revert to a government anyway.


Why then, Surlethe, have we not already seen this occur in portions of the economy where free market already exists? In the automotive industry? In the airline industry? In the ISP market? In the food industry? The insurance industry? There are more competitors in each of these market sectors than there were 30 years ago. Even though mergers and buyouts make the headlines, there are even higher amounts of startups that don’t make those headlines.

Because the government regulates them! Anti-trust regulation is still in effect across the economy, which is why monopolies haven't formed.

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Awhile back, the US government got its nose out of the airline industry (more or less) in what it ironically called “deregulation.” Statist fearmongers promised that it would result in higher prices, less choice, and worse service. The opposite happened. Since “deregulation” of the airline industry, air travel has become cheaper, safer, and more players have emerged on the field. We see this pattern regularly whenever any monopoly gets its nose out of a given sector.

Oh puh-lease, airline travel remained heavily government-subsidized. Your general claim is a load of steaming horseshit -- this pattern will show up with results like the rampant oligopolies and monopolies of the Gilded Age, when the government pretty much took its nose out the economy? When the government stuck its nose back into the economy during the early 1900s, it was BREAKING UP monopolies and trusts. That's the result of deregulation: a wave of mergers, moving slowly and inexorably toward monopoly.

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The monopoly fear is certainly common among statists when confronted with free market, but it is not typically shown to be true. Monopolies are usually enforced through propaganda and mental conditioning, like religion. Once people are woken up and realize they don’t need it, the monopolies tend to go away (as does religion once a society wakes up to atheism). People are conditioned into thinking that a given monopoly is necessary because otherwise chaos will result or some worse monopoly will take its place, but this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people think that they need a monopoly, they will develop one. But if people realize that they only need to retain their own self-determination, and not subject themselves to the will of some other decision making body, then they tend to prevent monopolies from establishing themselves.

You are dead wrong. Monopolies are not enforced through propaganda and mental conditioning; they are enforced through high barriers to market entry and economies of scale. Unless the government forces a monopoly to break up or relent, there is nothing anybody can do to challenge it.

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Why has the auto industry not turned into a monopoly? Why no monopolies in the airline industry, or the food industry, or the video game industry, or the insurance industry? Because competition works better, the consumers get to choose where to spend their money (and tend to spend it on more than one producer), and because when competition sags, product quality sags as well and thus provides more incentive for a new competitor to sprout up and “do it better.”

Why are there no barriers to entry, as there inevitably are in real life? Oh, right -- you are assuming that all interactions will satisfy the assumptions economists make regarding the free market.

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The internet is also a prime example of competition and how monopolies can’t get a foothold. On the ‘net, the service provider count is going ever skyward. Web hosting services are provided by more and more different companies every day. Small time bloggers can now compete with big money news organizations, and those giants of information are finding that the open framework of the internet lossens, not tightens, their grip on their service sector. The internet is an open competitive framework, and it is the new #1 hotbed of competition and demonopolization in the world.

You mean the internet, which was created by the government? Which is still protected under the aegis of antitrust legislation? And even so, large web corporations are consistently merging -- Yahoo just narrowly escaped being bought by Microsoft yesterday. How many upstart search engines are challenging the giants? Now that the field is full, where are the startups? It seems the internet is not as free of a market as you might think.



"... alas, too many people think consistency the hobgoblin of little minds." -Publius

Daily Nugget of Wisdom from Goldman Sachs:
"I say 'keep the change' purely for my own convenience."

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WARNING: May become overexcited by mathematics or monetary policy.

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2008-05-05 10:29pm
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And with that, this debate is closed at five rounds, with five statements by each participant. And Voluntaryist ends it the same way he began: by simply declaring his core beliefs to be "truths" and hence immune to any demand for supporting evidence. Methinks he will have a fine career ahead of him as an evangelist preacher, if he ever decides to turn from worshipping "the market" to worshipping God.

By the way, the following must stand as one of the dumbest statements ever made:
Voluntaryist wrote:
Monopolies are usually enforced through propaganda and mental conditioning, like religion. Once people are woken up and realize they don’t need it, the monopolies tend to go away.

I'm old enough to remember the Bell monopoly, and it needed neither propaganda or mental conditioning to perpetuate itself. In fact, many consumers hated it, yet it still required unprecedented interference from the government in order to break that monopoly, up to and including court orders for Bell to let competing telephone companies access their privately owned lines and switches. I have lost count of the number of times Surlethe (and others) tried to explain the concept of "barriers to entry" to Voluntaryist, without any recognition whatsoever on his part.



For a time, I considered sparing your wretched little planet Cybertron.
But now, you shall witnesss ... its dismemberment!

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