News

Loading...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dear Ancaps: That There Horse Has to Go in Front of the Cart!

When I write posts like this one, often someone responds by saying: "But, that post doesn't refute anarcho-capitalism at all!" (Ancaps love to talk in terms of proof and refutation, as if politics were geometry, but that's a topic for another post.)

Of course it doesn't. That's not what I'm attempting to do. My only goal in these posts is to show the silliness of a certain way of arguing that I see to often from ancaps. When I note that ancaps are willing to employ violence in defense of their preferred social order, just like everyone but pacifists are, I often meet the comeback: "But using violence to defend private property is vastly different than using it to tax people!"

Well, exactly: the difference is not that ancaps abjure violence while Marxists or democrats are all for it: no, the difference is that ancaps feel that those of other political persuasions are willing to use violence in unjustified way, while they will only employ it when it is actually called for.

So that's the real locus of the argument: "When is it OK to coerce others?" Framing the distinction as a matter of being for or against coercion is a red herring. The ancap thinks it is fine to threaten violence to keep hikers from wandering across his land, but not to save the earth from an asteroid. But once you put it that way, it becomes pretty clear why ancaps often prefer to frame the argument as "I'm peaceful, but you're violent!"

10 comments:

  1. I could have sworn that the entire purpose of libertarianism was to determine the justified use of force. That the libertarian determination of this is based upon both an individualist perspective, as well as natural rights (rights that can be derived from correct reasoning). The distinction between your asteroid and the hiker is that the hiker is aggressing upon the property of the owner, thus the owner is justified in countering aggression with aggression. Meanwhile, those innocents who have their property stolen from them in the asteroid example did nothing to deserve such theft (you cannot blame an inanimate object), not only are left in fear of being obliterated by an asteroid, but they are being robbed by their fellow man in the process (you would have us believe that their failure to allow themselves to be victims of theft would be synonymous with aggression. It is not).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I could have sworn that the entire purpose of libertarianism was to determine the justified use of force."

      Joe, look carefully above: did I ever say or even imply that no libertarian ever addresses the real question? No, all I said was that I often encounter people arguing as if this question needed no answer.

      As for the rest of your post, I am well aware of the cranky use libertarians make of terms like "aggression" and "innocent," thank you.

      Delete
    2. I was actually making the quoted statement in response to your question, "when is it OK to coerce others?" So, I think that I was correct in stating it the way that I did.

      Next, I like that you call it cranky to hold principles that are absolute and without double-standards. If theft is wrong, it is always wrong and in all cases, simple as that. Stealing from people to possibly "save" the Earth certainly doesn't change the theft dynamic. Also, you're making this claim as if saving the earth *is* possible and is a foregone conclusion, which most certainly isn't the case.

      As somewhat of an aside, I don't think that theft of property would be necessary if an asteroid was heading toward Earth, I think that most people would cooperate voluntarily (i.e. the solution would be market-driven). I also do not believe that we would have much recourse if such a thing were to happen.

      Delete
    3. Also, just to be clear: in the hiker example, the initiation of aggression is being countered by aggression, whereas in the asteroid example, almost everybody is getting double-screwed (both from the asteroid and their fellow man).

      If anything, I would say that the best method to economically solve the asteroid problem would most surely be by voluntary means. In fact, I would be inclined to say that in the event of such a catastrophic possibility (annihilation), that it is my belief that this is the time that an absolutely free market becomes paramountly important. I think that without it, humanity would surely die. But with it, we actually have a slim chance.

      Delete
    4. "Next, I like that you call it cranky to hold principles that are absolute and without double-standards. If theft is wrong, it is always wrong and in all cases, simple as that."

      Joe, Joe, Joe: I hold one of the following two positions. Please tell me which you think it is:

      1) Taxation is a form of theft, but sometimes theft is OK.

      2) Taxation is not a form of theft.

      Delete
    5. Note 2:

      "Also, you're making this claim as if saving the earth *is* possible and is a foregone conclusion, which most certainly isn't the case."

      This is a thought experiment. You don't get to alter the conditions! ("There probably isn't an asteroid anyway!")

      Delete
    6. I know what position you hold with regard to taxation. It's wrong! In fact, that was the double-standard that I was alluding to.

      Your thought experiment assumes something that is not known to be possible, let alone able to be accomplished. In other words, it's crap.

      I know, you 'Won't Back Down'. ;)

      Delete
    7. "I know what position you hold with regard to taxation. It's wrong!"

      I know you think it is wrong. I am asking if you think it is #1 or #2.

      Delete
    8. If you're asking me what I think your position is, then I will go with #2.

      Delete
  2. I am late to the party. I think Gene is rather for #1. It is not a double standard he wants to employ. It is a matter of degree. The ends justify the tax so to say, which of course makes it quite arbitrary, or wrapped differently a point of meticulous weighing of pros and cons. That is what makes one a consequentialist, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete