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Anarchy vs. Minarchy Debate

MrBrooks
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8/3/2012 5:48:29 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Interesting stuff; I especially liked the part where the one guy made the argument that we need to achieve minarchy before anarchy. I agree 100% with that sentiment and think that anarchists and minarchists should unite in achieving a minarchy, because it is in the best interests of both to do so.
Wallstreetatheist
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8/3/2012 10:03:16 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 5:40:02 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Meh.

Do you object to anything in specific?
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Wallstreetatheist
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8/3/2012 10:08:56 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 5:48:29 PM, MrBrooks wrote:
Interesting stuff; I especially liked the part where the one guy made the argument that we need to achieve minarchy before anarchy. I agree 100% with that sentiment and think that anarchists and minarchists should unite in achieving a minarchy, because it is in the best interests of both to do so.

The counter argument is that minarchy always leads to tyranny. Minarchy creates a situation for a massive explosion in wealth and prosperity. The state sees this as a potential gold mine, and increases taxes and economic controls to gain revenue. This attracts people who wish to exert their will over others through the gun. As a consequence, the state grows into an oppressive force, which retards civilization.

Some would argue that minarchism is per se an evil force, because it violates the non-agression principle and the functions it does fulfill would be fulfilled with less waste and inefficiency on the free market.
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Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 10:16:05 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 10:03:16 PM, Wallstreetatheist wrote:
At 8/3/2012 5:40:02 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Meh.

Do you object to anything in specific?

Having this debate bores me, because minarchists are like "Well, we should just have a government that acts this way", and the Mises-y anarchists are like "No, man, leave it to the private defense agencies."

I have a better plan. Let's have a government that only does good things! I mean, if it never does that, well, I don't have to support it, because I only advocate good government.

Waaaaaaaaaaaait a minute...
MrBrooks
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8/3/2012 10:17:25 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
The counter argument is that minarchy always leads to tyranny. Minarchy creates a situation for a massive explosion in wealth and prosperity. The state sees this as a potential gold mine, and increases taxes and economic controls to gain revenue. This attracts people who wish to exert their will over others through the gun. As a consequence, the state grows into an oppressive force, which retards civilization.

Some would argue that minarchism is per se an evil force, because it violates the non-agression principle and the functions it does fulfill would be fulfilled with less waste and inefficiency on the free market.

Anarchy is immoral, because it makes the non-agression principle optional. National defense, court systems, and protection from criminals would not be anymore effective if they were privatized, because privatized versions would all be undermined by the free rider problem.

Minarchy would last if we armed as many individuals as we possibly can, and wrote a constitution that specifically limited exactly what the government could do.
Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 10:46:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 10:17:25 PM, MrBrooks wrote:
The counter argument is that minarchy always leads to tyranny. Minarchy creates a situation for a massive explosion in wealth and prosperity. The state sees this as a potential gold mine, and increases taxes and economic controls to gain revenue. This attracts people who wish to exert their will over others through the gun. As a consequence, the state grows into an oppressive force, which retards civilization.

Some would argue that minarchism is per se an evil force, because it violates the non-agression principle and the functions it does fulfill would be fulfilled with less waste and inefficiency on the free market.

Anarchy is immoral, because it makes the non-agression principle optional.

Nonviolence is always optional. That's why defense of any kind, from states to private contractors to guys sitting in their houses with shotguns, exist in the first place.

National defense, court systems, and protection from criminals would not be anymore effective if they were privatized, because privatized versions would all be undermined by the free rider problem.

I don't think you're qualified to assert that A) the structure of anarchist societies would be homogeneous enough to generalize about (e.g., "Anarchism would have private defense companies"), or that B) defense in any specific anarchist society would function a specific way. The whole point of anarchism is that nobody plans it, and that there are a multiplicity of possible outcomes, the labor of the actualization of which is divided and left to networks of individuals. Maybe there will be some companies. Maybe people will defend themselves against criminals. Maybe networks of neighborhoods or whatever will watch each others' backs. Maybe the socio-philosophical climate that would warm people up to anarchism will substantially mitigate the causes and incidences of crime. I mean, hell--to get the kind of philosophical rethinking required for your limited government thing, people are probably chill enough to get by without a central authority. Point is, it's not up to us to plan--it's only necessary to prove that anarchy, structurally speaking, > statism. And, in basically all of the literature comparing decentralization to centralization in terms of outputs/efficiency/responsiveness to local needs, well... I'll take attentive street-level networks to almost-entirely opaque central power any day.

Minarchy would last if we armed as many individuals as we possibly can, and wrote a constitution that specifically limited exactly what the government could do.

"If government officials were good and honest, then government would produce good outcomes; therefore, government officials should be good and honest."

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Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 10:51:36 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At the very least, you have to default to anarchism over statism a priori because of its superior incentives. Even if you think there's a risk of collapse or a return to states or whatever, you default to statelessness. And then you focus all your activist energy on making it work, rather than pretending to be a central planner who wields his hypothetical state like a magic wand.

Abra ca-we ought to just have a good government that stays limited and has good people running it all the time and is transparent and doesn't try to oppress us and is for some reason "completely different this time" from its violent historical counterparts, because political theory is as simple as positing some norm to which imaginary social engineering is added so that I get the theoretical outcome I want.

Shazam!
MrBrooks
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8/3/2012 11:05:47 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Nonviolence is always optional. That's why defense of any kind, from states to private contractors to guys sitting in their houses with shotguns, exist in the first place.

If you have a single state that operates by a single set of rules, which in the case of a night watchman state would be by the non-aggression principle, then you have a central authority that will only commit violence legally in self-defence. Individuals would also be held to the same standard, where they would only be legally permitted to commit violent acts in self-defense and in defense of others.

In an anarchist society those rules do not apply, because there are no rules. That is why an anarchist society is immoral, because might makes right in that type of society.

I don't think you're qualified to assert that A) the structure of anarchist societies would be homogeneous enough to generalize about (e.g., "Anarchism would have private defense companies"), or that B) defense in any specific anarchist society would function a specific way. The whole point of anarchism is that nobody plans it, and that there are a multiplicity of possible outcomes, the labor of the actualization of which is divided and left to networks of individuals. Maybe there will be some companies. Maybe people will defend themselves against criminals. Maybe networks of neighborhoods or whatever will watch each others' backs. Maybe the socio-philosophical climate that would warm people up to anarchism will substantially mitigate the causes and incidences of crime. I mean, hell--to get the kind of philosophical rethinking required for your limited government thing, people are probably chill enough to get by without a central authority. Point is, it's not up to us to plan--it's only necessary to prove that anarchy, structurally speaking, > statism. And, in basically all of the literature comparing decentralization to centralization in terms of outputs/efficiency/responsiveness to local needs, well... I'll take attentive street-level networks to almost-entirely opaque central power any day.

I don't think you understand the point I was trying to make here. In a minarchist society we pay taxes to fund the military, police and fire departments, and the justice system. In an anarchist society we wouldn't pay taxes at all, but would instead pay for insurance and protection from foreign nations and criminals.

The problem with this is that we'd pay on an individual basis, so why would anyone that isn't living on the border of a hostile nation pay for military protection? Why would anyone that lives in a nice neighborhood pay for police protection? How is a society supposed to protect itself from standing professional armies when only the people on the border are going to pay for protection?

An anarchist society does not exist in a vacuum, centralized governments are still going to exist.

"If government officials were good and honest, then government would produce good outcomes; therefore, government officials should be good and honest."

Hence why we arm as many citizens as we can and why we decentralize control of the military, giving military power and assets back to the states. An armed citizenry adds another barrier for a centralized government to seize more power.

Furthermore, in a minarchist society a key political value must be rule of law. That value combined with a constitution that gives very specific powers to the government will curb the influence and power of the government, so long as the citizenry remains vigilant.
MrBrooks
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8/3/2012 11:10:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 10:51:36 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At the very least, you have to default to anarchism over statism a priori because of its superior incentives. Even if you think there's a risk of collapse or a return to states or whatever, you default to statelessness. And then you focus all your activist energy on making it work, rather than pretending to be a central planner who wields his hypothetical state like a magic wand.

Abra ca-we ought to just have a good government that stays limited and has good people running it all the time and is transparent and doesn't try to oppress us and is for some reason "completely different this time" from its violent historical counterparts, because political theory is as simple as positing some norm to which imaginary social engineering is added so that I get the theoretical outcome I want.

Shazam!

As you said, anarchy has a good chance of returning to statism. Anarchy is more likely to lead to the emergence of oppersive states though, where a minarchy is more likely to remain a democratic form of government if it does move away from minarchy.

Also, in a minarchy we can set up greater barriers for the state. We can have written constitutions, decentralized powers (states rights,) and seperation of powers. You can't have such things in an anarchy, because there is no recognized national authority, so there can be no written code that everyone-including the government- has to live by.
Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 11:25:37 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 11:05:47 PM, MrBrooks wrote:
Nonviolence is always optional. That's why defense of any kind, from states to private contractors to guys sitting in their houses with shotguns, exist in the first place.

If you have a single state that operates by a single set of rules, which in the case of a night watchman state would be by the non-aggression principle, then you have a central authority that will only commit violence legally in self-defence.

Like I said, you're treating the state like a magic wand. You don't get to control it and set constraints on its behavior. You're just saying "If we have a monopoly that operates on good rules and behaves nicely and doesn't deviate from the specific initial conditions that I specify, things will be fine." It's the same tired "we should just reform" argument that real statists give. It's basically "good government is good, and if it doesn't become or remain a night watchman, then I don't support it because I only want a night watchman state."

It would be equally true to say "Hurricanes shouldn't hit New Orleans"--okay, sure. But the reason we don't philosophize about meteorological events is because we don't get to unilaterally control weather patterns or the direction of storms. So, just saying "we should have a good government that operates how I want, and things will be good, empirical data about the behavior of states be damned!"

Individuals would also be held to the same standard, where they would only be legally permitted to commit violent acts in self-defense and in defense of others.

Actually, you don't know what would happen. If you can fiat initial conditions to get whatever outcome you want, then it's deuces wild, because I can just make counterarguments in which I assume whatever parameters I want, making political theory useless. I mean, maybe it's true that "governments should enforce libertarian outcomes by XYZ mechanisms" or whatever--but it's also true that "hurricanes shouldn't hit New Orleans". The only reason you let the statism thing fly is because, for some reason, you attribute a high probability to getting what you want, as you want it, even though you're subcontracting to a monopoly.

Out of curiosity, how many times do states have to screw up before you tell them to go f*ck themselves? How many people have to be killed, oppressed, subjugated, regulated, and extorted before you give up on "Good government is good, so I don't have to apologize for bad government"?

In an anarchist society those rules do not apply, because there are no rules. That is why an anarchist society is immoral, because might makes right in that type of society.

"There are no rules"

Legal functions are not centralized. You don't have the luxury of inferring chaos and death all over the place, particularly when people who study networks, complexity, public administration, etc. take decentralization seriously.

I don't think you're qualified to assert that A) the structure of anarchist societies would be homogeneous enough to generalize about (e.g., "Anarchism would have private defense companies"), or that B) defense in any specific anarchist society would function a specific way. The whole point of anarchism is that nobody plans it, and that there are a multiplicity of possible outcomes, the labor of the actualization of which is divided and left to networks of individuals. Maybe there will be some companies. Maybe people will defend themselves against criminals. Maybe networks of neighborhoods or whatever will watch each others' backs. Maybe the socio-philosophical climate that would warm people up to anarchism will substantially mitigate the causes and incidences of crime. I mean, hell--to get the kind of philosophical rethinking required for your limited government thing, people are probably chill enough to get by without a central authority. Point is, it's not up to us to plan--it's only necessary to prove that anarchy, structurally speaking, > statism. And, in basically all of the literature comparing decentralization to centralization in terms of outputs/efficiency/responsiveness to local needs, well... I'll take attentive street-level networks to almost-entirely opaque central power any day.

I don't think you understand the point I was trying to make here.

K. Let's see, then.

In a minarchist society we pay taxes to fund the military, police and fire departments, and the justice system.

K. I'm assuming that you're assuming that there "just is" a political, legal, and social structure that prohibits state growth, assumption of new powers, oppressive or extralegal activity, all the other nasty stuff politicians and bureaucrats do, etc.?

In an anarchist society we wouldn't pay taxes at all, but would instead pay for insurance and protection from foreign nations and criminals.

"In an anarchist society, we would..."

Like I said, you don't have the luxury of making assumptions about the homogeneity of anarchist societies, how individuals in those societies deal with specific problems, or how interactions between groups would take place. Anarchism gets rid of central planners, so stop pretending that you get to plan anarchism and its institutions the same way you plan and constrain your hypothetical state.

The problem with this is that we'd pay on an individual basis, so why would anyone that isn't living on the border of a hostile nation pay for military protection? Why would anyone that lives in a nice neighborhood pay for police protection? How is a society supposed to protect itself from standing professional armies when only the people on the border are going to pay for protection?

I dunno what they would do or how they would handle defense. But I also don't know how the airline industry works. I know nothing about how to build planes, how to operate them, how to secure airports, how to conduct their international business, how to be an air traffic controller, or any of that. I also don't know how defense will work in any community, much less whether it will be similar between communities. I mean, hell, there are plenty of tiny countries which barely even have a military, but exist anyway and aren't taken over by foreign powers just for kicks. But hey, if you want to persist in the notion that geopolitics is like RISK, go ahead.

Point is, it's not my job to plan anyone's defense, nor would I be intellectually honest if I tried. The fact that you're ultra-uncreative doesn't mean anarchism doesn't work--it just means that there are epistemic limitations to level-of-detail investigations, and that division of labor is nice to have.

An anarchist society does not exist in a vacuum, centralized governments are still going to exist.

K.

"If government officials were good and honest, then government would produce good outcomes; therefore, government officials should be good and honest."

Hence why we arm as many citizens as we can and why we decentralize control of the military, giving military power and assets back to the states. An armed citizenry adds another barrier for a centralized government to seize more power.

So, it's okay to decentralize and individuate defense in your hypothetical minarchist world, but not in a world that's defined by complete decentralization?

Furthermore, in a minarchist society a key political value must be rule of law.

"Furthermore, in a good-government society, government must only do good things, or I won't support it."

That value combined with a constitution that gives very specific powers to the government will curb the influence and power of the government, so long as the citizenry remains vigilant.

Back to just fiatting initial conditions to give you the outcome you want.
Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 11:31:42 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 11:10:44 PM, MrBrooks wrote:
At 8/3/2012 10:51:36 PM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At the very least, you have to default to anarchism over statism a priori because of its superior incentives. Even if you think there's a risk of collapse or a return to states or whatever, you default to statelessness. And then you focus all your activist energy on making it work, rather than pretending to be a central planner who wields his hypothetical state like a magic wand.

Abra ca-we ought to just have a good government that stays limited and has good people running it all the time and is transparent and doesn't try to oppress us and is for some reason "completely different this time" from its violent historical counterparts, because political theory is as simple as positing some norm to which imaginary social engineering is added so that I get the theoretical outcome I want.

Shazam!

As you said, anarchy has a good chance of returning to statism.

I didn't say that. I said, even if you believe that, you default to anarchism.

Anarchy is more likely to lead to the emergence of oppersive states though,

Why? Because you're assuming conditions that would produce that outcome, or...?

where a minarchy is more likely to remain a democratic form of government if it does move away from minarchy.

Why? Because your hypothetical design says so?

Also, in a minarchy we can set up greater barriers for the state. We can have written constitutions, decentralized powers (states rights,) and seperation of powers. You can't have such things in an anarchy, because there is no recognized national authority, so there can be no written code that everyone-including the government- has to live by.

We could...
We can...
We should just...
If only... then...
What if...

Is "it's logically possible" your only argument? You're just saying "it could and should happen". You're not actually accounting for probabilities, or comparative incentives, or even for how states have overwhelmingly operated in practice (which is contrary to what you want). You're just making up stuff and saying "it should happen, and people should act this way". Hate to break it to you, but sabotaging political theory by batting around no-limits hypotheticals cheapens and ruins the opportunity for meaningful discourse.
MrBrooks
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8/3/2012 11:33:16 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Your whole argument is, "all states are bad, and the alternative-which is no state at all-is preferred, but I can't tell you exactly how that alternative would work and what the consequences of it would be." You are guilty of the same thing you accuse me of; blind optimism.
Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 11:39:57 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 11:33:16 PM, MrBrooks wrote:
Your whole argument is, "all states are bad, and the alternative-which is no state at all-is preferred, but I can't tell you exactly how that alternative would work and what the consequences of it would be."

My argument is that anarchism/decentralization should be our default preference, rather than statism/centralization. A society without a central authority, almost definitionally, can't be planned. What this means is that all these discussions like "How does anarchism do X", "What if X happens", etc. are meaningless and irrelevant, because you get bogged down in infinite minutiae/red herrings. It just goes "problem-->solution-->P(S)-->S(P(S))-->P(S(P(S)))--> ad infinitum.

So, I don't have to discuss specific outcomes--in other words, I don't have to lay out for you the entire anarchist legal system, because that's completely opposite the point of getting rid of directed living. All I need to do is a structural-philosophical comparison of states vs. not-states, demonstrate that the latter is preferable, and it doesn't matter what the specific worlds look like, because, on balance, anarchism--even if it fails or screws up sometimes--are statistically more likely to produce outcomes superior to those you'd get with states.

You are guilty of the same thing you accuse me of; blind optimism.

Nah, I don't think it "just will work". I think it will require effort, and I think, currently, it requires a big philosophical rethinking to get people comfortable with the idea of statelessness. People are really heavily conditioned, and get ultra-scared when you suggest taking away their political security blanket. They take statism as a given, and are literally so incapable of counterfactual thinking that they can't imagine a world without centralized power structures.
MrBrooks
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8/3/2012 11:42:13 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Why? Because you're assuming conditions that would produce that outcome, or...?

Because anarchy essentially hits the reset button, removing all governmental institutions and reverting to a stateless society. Look at Somalia, an anarchist society where pockets of oppresive "governments" are already forming and fighting each other for control.

Why? Because your hypothetical design says so?

No, because historical examples show that although small governments tend to become bigger, they tend to become bigger at a slower rate than if the government were to collapse and leave a power vacuum. The United States started as a minarchy, and it took nearly two-hundred years for the federal government to attain as much power as it currently has.
Cody_Franklin
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8/3/2012 11:53:39 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/3/2012 11:42:13 PM, MrBrooks wrote:
Why? Because you're assuming conditions that would produce that outcome, or...?

Because anarchy essentially hits the reset button, removing all governmental institutions and reverting to a stateless society.

It doesn't "hit the reset button". It just means that there's one less violent, territorial monopoly out there to work with. It's not like we magically lose the entire private sector and the skills they have. It's like "Who will build the roads?" Well, construction workers and asphalt companies will probably f*cking do it, but they won't be administered by municipal bureaucrats during the process.

Also, since methodology is just as important, if not more so, that decontextualized outcomes, you don't get to say "We're just gonna remove governmental institutions". It's not like we just get up one day to find government gone. Like I said, the language of central planning sucks bad, and your way of walking the road to anarchism mucks everything up by approaching it wrong.

Look at Somalia, an anarchist society where pockets of oppresive "governments" are already forming and fighting each other for control.

Seriously? You're going to drop Somalia? Y'all never learn, I guess. But, whatever. I'll see your sh*tty example and raise you a) the historical casualty record of states, b) the difference between "failed state" and "anarchism", c) false comparison--you would have to compare individual regions between anarchism and statism. US + state vs. US - state; Somalia + state vs. Somalia - state (even though the Somalis have a government and a bunch of international derps trying to administrate and control stuff).

How come I have to defend "bad anarchy", but you just get to disavow all the bad stuff states do by saying "I don't support that, and I want this specific brand of minarchism"? Why can't I just say "I don't support Somalia, and only want good anarchy"?

Why? Because your hypothetical design says so?

No, because historical examples show that although small governments tend to become bigger, they tend to become bigger at a slower rate than if the government were to collapse and leave a power vacuum.

Okay? So, "non-failed" states are better than failed states. So what?

The United States started as a minarchy, and it took nearly two-hundred years for the federal government to attain as much power as it currently has.

That isn't a particularly long time. And I mean, if you want to go back in time to look at casualty rates, I'm sure I can find plenty of awful atrocities and corruptions from the 1800s. Hell, I could probably find them when we were still colonial. In fact, compared to other modern states, who've been around a hell of a lot longer than we have, we're not doing so hot.
MrBrooks
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8/4/2012 12:06:55 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Somalia is one of the few modern examples of an anarchist system, so of course it is going to be dropped. Like I said earlier, anarchist systems do not live in a vacuum and external forces are likely to get involved in an anarchist society. I will concede that Somalia's standard of living has gone up since the government collapsed, but that society is in a constant state of war.

You seem to want to argue for a system, but you don't want to define that system beyond the fact that it is a system where no single entity has a monopoly over the use of force. While it is true that you cannot plan out society or predict how a particular society will come into existence, you have to be prepared to defend the viability of the society.

I could say that communism is morally just, because everyone will be equal and everyone will control everything in society, and thus in theory, everyone will be prosperous. Is that system viable though?-no, history has proved that communism is not a successful system.

Would I like to live in a society without a state, where I'm free to do what I please? Of course, but the question is if that system is viable or not. If it isn't viable, then how can it possibly be superior to the alternative, which is a state?
MrBrooks
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8/4/2012 12:09:27 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 8/4/2012 12:07:00 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
Gotta go to bed, dug. But link this thread to my profile so I don't forget about it--I'm super-interested in moving this forward, but I've got work in the morning.

I've got two weeks of training to look forward to, so I unfortunately will not be able to participate any further. Good discussion though.