There is good and bad in everyone...

The worst problem with anarcho-capitalism, or Marxism, and other such ideological solutions to the problem of human existence, is that they mistakenly assign the blame for evil in the world to an institution, rather than to the human heart. If only we got rid of "the state" or "the capitalists," everything would be fine. (If one were Christian, one might say they ignore that fact that we are fallen creatures: this same insight can easily be stated in another metaphysical framework if one prefers.)

When I brought up the example of the British East India Company to illustrate how badly a "private security agency" could behave, my anarchist friends of course popped blood vessels in their foreheads, noting (quite correctly) that they were a trading monopoly. But familiarize yourself with the history of the relationship between the British Crown and the British East India Company: you will find that the British East India Company was frequently being held in check by the Crown. In other words, the evidence is that they would've been behaving far worse if they hadn't had a government watching over them! Or contemplate this: at the same time that "private enterprise" was greedily engaged in the slave trade, the British government, to its own disadvantage, was banning it, and for decades spent money enforcing that ban. ("Stolen money!" my anarchist friends will shout. OK, but even if we grant that, it had already been stolen, and could have been spent on lavish government parties instead.)

Of course I don't make the mistake of thinking that there is no evil in government, and no good in private enterprise. That would just be the anarcho-capitalist mistake in reverse, wouldn't it? To quote Paul and Stevie, "There is good and bad in everyone."

UPDATE: I should note that, of course, not every person who is an anarcho-capitalist fits the above mistake. But as soon as you see someone talking about the "evil" state, and repeatedly noting every bad thing a cop does while never noting any good thing a cop does, you can be pretty sure they have made it.

7 comments:

  1. I'd say the mistake with any ideology is related to the extent to which it ascribes blame for evil to ANY single thing, or posits a utopia if that thing (or even many things) are remedied.

    I'm an anarchist not because I think eliminating the state will bring about a perfect society but because:

    1) I expect that it would bring about a better society; and

    2) I doubt that it could bring about a worse one.

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  2. "Of course I don't make the mistake of thinking that there is no evil in government, and no good in private enterprise. That would just be the anarcho-capitalist mistake in reverse, wouldn't it?"

    No I don't think that you make that “reverse” mistake. However I do think you make the other reverse mistake of thinking that anarcho capitalists think that all evil and problems come from the state. Hence ascribing to them a view of oversimplification, while the one you have is well belanced and realistic. This mistake I think is done on both sides.

    Both sides think that, given the human heart as it is, a certain institutional set up maximizes well-being and is the only one morally justifiable for whatever reasons. I really don’t think that it serves anything if we try to generally paint the view of either side as narrow minded naïve view of the world. Guys like you and many or most anarcho capitalists have studied tons of literature and thought hard about it over years, and therefore didn’t develop their views of the world easily. It would be good to respect that by not acting as if they are just mindlessly following a new fad.

    Please note: I didn’t mention pump priming or anything related.

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    1. "However I do think you make the other reverse mistake of thinking that anarcho capitalists think that all evil and problems come from the state. "

      See my update: many of them essentially think that. I will admit not 100%.

      "I didn’t mention pump priming..."

      ?

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    2. I am sure quite no one believes that we would suddenly live in the land of milk and honey. And your post above doesn't address some ancap copy cats but anarcho capitalism as a whole in its strongest interpretation. Or would you think your criticism above applies to Bob M. or David F. as well?

      BTW: I mean how often do you criticize the government? You don’t seem to be quite balanced to me either. You merely criticize libertarianism for the most part, although I think that in truth you are agreeing much more with them than with the average democratic or republican voting citizen, even if you don’t like to admit it.

      Again, you think the government with its monopoly of force is important to keep piece and public order, while ancaps think that is a fallacy. I would love if people would just debate the issue instead of trying to argue how (much more) generally stupid, narrow minded or biased people of the other side of the debate are or whatever other character flaw they should have. That is character assassination or/and looking for easy targets. I am sure there are many easy targets on all sides of the debate, but that doesn't get us any further.

      “?”

      http://consultingbyrpm.com/blog/2013/12/the-real-flaw-in-williamsons-inflation-argument.html#comment-96398
      ;)

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    3. "I would love if people would just debate the issue"
      No, skylien: reasoning with ideologues is impossible. One has to crack the ideological shell. This was discovered by Socrates 2400 years ago.

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    4. What ideologues did Socrates refuse to reason with?

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    5. http://voegelinview.com/ev/gorgias_and_pathos.html

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