Why anarchy is a moral issue

I’m having a bit of writers block on my post discussing morality so I figured I’d try to explain why the position of anarchist is essentially a moral issue. The primary moral theory behind anarchism is “It is never good for any person, or group of persons, to INITIATE the use of force.” Government, by it’s very nature must initiate force in some capacity, therefore it is evil. Finally, there is no such thing as a necessary evil in the world.

The idea that it is wrong to initiate force is easy to see in current society. Parents teach their children “Don’t throw the first punch”, and some add “but throw the last.” In some firearms training you’re given the idea that “The bad guy has it easy, he has to draw first and shoot first, the good guy has to draw second and shoot first.” Even the government recognizes this to some degree in that police cannot, in theory, use deadly force except in response to deadly force. Fundamentally this is a widely accepted idea, except when it comes to the idea of government itself.

Imagine if you will a government that is constitutionally forbidden to initiate force. It collects taxes voluntarily, doesn’t start wars, and allows the people to live their lives in peace. Let us suppose that I find the government’s court system to be slow and inefficient, and set up my own system where people can hire my company to investigate crime and gain restitution from the criminal along the lines of an anarchist DRO. In order to remain a government, an not just another DRO, the government would have to stop me through the use of force, thus loosing it’s moral place of not initiating force. So much for that constitution thing.

A necessary evil is a contradiction in terms. Evil, by it’s nature is destructive of life, which is never necessary. Keeping an evil institution, such as government, around is just asking for an evil person to take it over. Even Hitler and Stalin would have been little more than small time thugs if they had not been able to take over the violent, and evil, power of the state. By allowing one evil to survive, no matter how “necessary” it seems to be, is inviting greater evil to take it over and use it.

Ultimately, Anarchy is a state of moral consistency. The non-aggression principle is universally applicable, and already widely accepted, except for government. Government is violent, and therefore evil, by nature. Evil is never necessary, and allowing it to exist only invites more evil. I’ll be discussing morality more over the next few weeks, if I can get over this block.

***Update 9-15***

I wasn’t happy with the way this post ended so I added a bit more in.

Published in: on September 15, 2009 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Anarcho-Fictionalism. Tales of anarchy that might be.

Having hopefully stirred up some interest through my explanations of how anarchy might work, I thought I’d take a short break before delving into the complex world of the moral foundations of anarchy and point out some works of fiction that take place in evolving anarchist society. Many people find it easier to accept strange concepts in story form. This hopefully will stir up some thought around the idea of “Hey, this might work”.

First up I’d like to discuss Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. While Rand herself is not an anarchist, and in fact argues against the idea, the society she describes in part 3 is clearly in a state of anarchy. While this book is massive, and starts a little slow, it’s a great read, and the only book I have ever started over immediately after finishing it. The speech given by her character Francisco d’Anconia is one of the best parts, and reproduced with permission at Capitalism Magazine. This book was a vital part of my path to anarchism and I highly recommend it.

Alongside Night by J. Neil Schulman is the tale of a young man and his difficulties during the transition from government to anarchy. The transition occurs as the  black market grows to the point it overwhelms the government and formerly black market DRO’s are able to enforce their judgments against the former  government when it commits aggressive acts. . The philosophy behind this process is known as agorism. For a better introduction to agorism, which I myself am just beginning to learn, read An Agorist Primer by Samuel Edward Konkin III, also available in PDF form.

The last bit of fiction I’ve encountered is Escape from Terra by Sandy Sandfort, Scott Bieser, and Lee Oaks. This comic covers a anarchist asteroid mining colony and their conflicts with government back on earth. Over 250 strips have been written and the comic updates Monday through Friday. While I don’t agree with all the social structures presented in the comic, the point of anarchy is nobody is the ruler, not even me.

I hope some of these stories might interest you, and perhaps help you better envision a society free of government coercion and violence. While I realize these are just fiction, so was Star Trek and these days we have technology that in some ways surpasses Gene Roddenberry’s vision. Much of it inspired by the adventures of James T. Kirk and crew.

Published in: on September 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm  Comments (1)  

But what about…

Always when such a radical new social order as anarchism is proposed there are questions as to how certain vital services will be performed. The most common of these, at least for anarchy, are roads, schools, poverty and pollution. Certain criminal acts are also regularly brought up such as child abuse, domestic abuse, and one I like to call “The Lex Luthor Problem”. Lets examine these problems and see if any kind of solution can be found.

The first question when trying to determine how any service could be provided is to ask “Who gains the most by the availability of this service?” In the case of roads, I can think of several groups that gain from roads: automobile manufacturers, postal carriers, housing developers, and businesses. Automotive manufacturers want the car to be the first choice of the consumer to get from here to there. They would have a huge interest in roads existing, for without them their product is useless. The postal companies need long haul roads to carry the mail. Housing developers can’t sell a house if there is no way to get there. Finally, any business that does not have a road leading to it will not have any customers. Because these roads are the property of a company that can be sued if the road is unsafe, the owners have a real interest in keeping the road as safe as possible. These private roads don’t have to have tolls as the cost of the road can be built into the cost of a new car, a letter, the house when sold, or the goods of the business. There may also be competing roads with tolls, ad supported roads where the road owner sells billboard space on the highway, communities could take up donations to repair roads in the community, and I’m sure many more possibilities exist. Roads are a vital service and have been for 5000 years. I’m sure they can be run privately, at a lower cost, and with greater service by the free market.

It might seem that schools are a trickier problem than roads, but again the market can, and does, provide. Private schools, once freed from state regulation, will flourish, and compete on the ability of the school to educate the students. Without state licensing of teachers, the schools can hire teachers based only on their ability to teach, and without state mandated tenure, get rid of teachers who don’t teach well. This will drive costs down and results up. Further, there will be no restrictions on parents teaching their own children, so we can expect to see the homeschooling movement grow rapidly, especially as the elimination of tax burdens and inflation allows one parent to stay home while the other works. Even more important, the Internet is a vast resource with nearly infinite possibilities for self study. Stefan Molyneux calls himself an Internet Philosopher, and offers his efforts at teaching logic and reasoning free online for anybody who wishes to learn. Wikipedia currently houses very nearly the sum total of human knowledge, researched, referenced, and best of all, free to the public. I foresee internet academies offering huge course selections and charging for certifications becoming quite popular. All manner of learning can take place when men are free to do so in the manner that best suits them.

The poor are an interesting issue. Without the minimum wage laws imposed by the government any person can get any job at whatever wage is mutually agreeable, so unemployment is all but eliminated for those who want to work. Without government subsidies people who want money for nothing will have to go to charities every time they need more money. Most charities will provide not only the immediate needs of the poor person, but aid in finding work, after all the charity wants to get the expense of supporting the person off the balance sheet. Without government restrictions on starting a business, the entrepreneurial amongst the poor can quickly start up a business doing whatever it is they think will make money. There is the argument that people won’t give to charity without the government to force them to, so let’s examine that. The United States, and most western countries are, or claim to be, democracies. If a majority of the people in a democracy support the current program of giving money to the poor, then in an anarchy they will also support it and give money to charity. If the majority of people don’t want the government to give money to the poor, and they do anyway, you can hardly call it a democracy. Seeing as people still give to charity in a democracy, they must want the poor to get money, so they would hardly stop if the government went away. In fact charitable giving is likely to be higher because the people have more money that previously would have been taxed. So not only would there be less need for charity, the charity would be better funded. The poor win both ways and will soon not be poor anymore. There will still be people at the low end of the income curve but I imagine that their lot in life would still be a lot better than it is today.

Pollution is ultimately property damage. Having already discussed how a DRO works I’m sure that it’s easy to see how pollution can be dealt with after it happens. The DRO would also have an interest in preventing pollution. If a company pollutes it is directly liable for all the damage it causes, so the company’s own insurance company would demand pollution controls before offering liability insurance. If a company chooses not to install pollution controls, or carry liability insurance, and then pollutes, it will find itself at the end of a VERY expensive lawsuit, so even without insurance it would have an interest in preventing pollution. Plus, without the government red tape and EPA regulations and paperwork, the pollution controls can be installed cheaper, easier, and more efficiently. Certainly cheaper than paying the damages.

There are 3 major categories of child abuse we need to look at, physical, sexual, and emotional. First is physical abuse, beating the child, usually by the parents, but occasionally by a hired caregiver. The easy answer, is that the child could press charges for assault against the parent. That in itself is too simple, as a child may not know of his right to do so, but the right does exist. Second, concerned neighbors, doctors, teachers, or other people who become aware of the abuse could file on the child’s behalf. Finally, a child is a human being, and has the same rights as any other person. The child could certainly leave an intolerable situation, and if the child is able to express such a desire and function in the world at large the arbitrators could hardly force a child to return to a situation the child does not want to be in without becoming liable in part for the abuse themselves. While investigation would of course occur when the parents report the child missing, the child is a sovereign individual and cannot be forced to return to their parents. Sexual abuse is a bit harder to define, as what really matters is rational consent. If Alex, a 12 year old, is able to form a rational consent to sexual activity, does so, and then has consensual sex with Jessie, a 30 year old, it is a case of consensual sex, and outside parties have no business getting involved in it. I know this sound frightening and extreme, so let’s examine what we mean by rational consent. For Alex to make a rational decision, Alex must be reasonably aware of the potential consequences of the act, including pregnancy, disease, and social consequences such as shunning of both Alex and Jessie. If Alex is of the opinion that the sex is consensual, and never brings charges against Jessie in arbitration, then the sex is consensual. If Alex is tricked or deceived about the consequences and later bring charges against Jessie, Alex must show that the deception occurred, but would likely be awarded damages if Alex can do so. If Sidney discovers the goings on and brings charges on Jessie in Alex’s name Jessie and Alex would need to establish that Alex consented rationally, thus removing any liability for Jessie, and perhaps offering the chance for Jessie to file charges for libel against Sidney. This kind of system also has no cases where a 17 year old takes nude pictures of themselves and is charged with creating child pornography, or the 17 year old and their 18 year old significant other who have sex the day after the 18 year old’s birthday and the 18 year old winds up on a sex offender list for the rest of their life, even though last week the sex was perfectly legal. The last major category of abuse is emotional. In my opinion this consists of manipulating the emotions of the child in such a way that they are unable to function in the world as adults. Telling a child they have no value and destroying their self esteem before it can even begin to build is just much emotional abuse as handing the child everything on a silver platter and convincing them that the world owes them whatever they want. Neither child is able to support themselves in the real world, and could quite likely force parents to provide for the therapy that helps the child realize this and begin to function. Again prevention beats cure so schools, insurance companies and other interested parties could call in arbitration if they have some evidence of such abuse. It could be the case that schools provide in house psychological counseling for students who want to take advantage of it. In addition because of all these incentives not to abuse in the first place the cycle of abuse where an abused child grows to be an abusive parent  might often be broken, ending the abuse of the next generation before it even starts.

All of the above arguments  on child abuse apply equally well to domestic abuse so I wont repeat them here. In addition, the fact that the state doesn’t control marriage or divorce would make it easier for a person to get away from an abusive spouse. Also a restraining order could be backed up with a security guard at the insurance companies, and eventually the abusive spouses expense.

That leaves us with “The Lex Luthor Problem”, which is basically that a person with massive financial resources could offer a threat to a large number of people if they don’t do something for him. This takes many forms from a power company charging exorbitant rates, a road builder buying up all the land around a community and charging massive tolls to cross, and even a rich individual finding some way to contaminate all the worlds water supply and extort people for the antidote (How one person might be able to contaminate a resource that covers over 70% of the Earths surface I don’t know). In the case of the power company, home based generators running on natural gas would quickly become VERY popular, as would home solar power. New, competing power companies would build lines as quickly as possible, Research into Wireless Electric transmission is going on today and might be the end of this problem. How about the road builder charging the exorbitant rates? He would have immediate problems with smugglers, blockade runners and other individuals crossing without paying, and would have difficulty in gaining the “debts” through arbitration. Also, anybody who came to an investor or potential employee with this business plan would be laughed at, so it’s unlikely the road could even be started. As to our Super Villain with the contaminated water, can you say “rain collection”? Many people, faced with the problem of the tap water being contaminated would collect all the water from their roofs into barrels and boil it for drinking. Desalination plants would work overtime to desalinate enough water to meet the needs of the population, and make a huge profit to boot. The water that had already been bottled, or that was in protected reservoirs would be sold as the market demanded. Multiple chemical companies would pour massive amounts of money into finding an antidote. There is no way this plan could work at all. I hope I’ve shown that the market could deal with “Lex Luthor” quite handily, and I didn’t even get into what the DRO’s would do.

I hope I’ve shown that the market can provide these services, and deal with the criminal problems brought up that seem to fall outside a DRO’s ability. Roads, Schools, Charity and Pollution Control, are all vital, and no doubt can be provided by a free market. Abuse, both of children and adults is vastly reduced, while legal extremes are eliminated, and Super Villains don’t stand a chance. The market is a powerful force, and left to its own devices, can provide anything for which there is a demand. Roads, Schools, Charity, Justice, Safety: these things are desired by all people, such a demand will surely be met by an unhampered market.

Published in: on September 6, 2009 at 11:37 pm  Comments (1)  

Help, Help, I’m Being Repressed

One of the most common questions when the subject of DRO’s comes up is what prevents a DRO from becoming another government. The simple answer is that other, competing, DRO’s would. Further, no DRO who couldn’t provide their customers with adequate guarantee that they aren’t secretly amassing weapons and preparing to become a government would never have enough customers to even begin business. Thirdly the high cost of violence, both in terms of finding people who are willing and able to use it, and in the cost of paying enough of them to begin the process of taxation is a huge barrier to overcome. Even if all this fails the DRO system itself would turn on such corrupt DRO’s and drive them out of the government business. All in all converting a DRO into a government would be a difficult and expensive proposition, not likely to succeed in the best of conditions.

The first, and probably largest of the barriers to a DRO becoming a government is the huge volume of competition in the DRO market. In order to become a government a DRO would first have to have near monopoly over a given area. To achieve this they would have to drive out all competition fairly. To do that they would have to work VERY hard to offer the very best service and support to a degree that everybody wants to use them over any other possibility. Never in the history of the working of a free market has any one organization achieved that kind of market dominance without the support of a government in place. I find it impossible to believe that if government was removed, and with it the barriers to compete, that suddenly a company could achieve this kind of result when no company could achieve it when the government raised artificial barriers.

The next step to dispelling the myth that a DRO could grow into a coercive government is to remember that a DRO is fundamentally a business. Businesses have customers who have to be satisfied. If the customers fear that a DRO could grow into a coercive government they would not do business with that DRO. Thus any DRO that wishes to do business must, in order to gain customers, assure those customers that the DRO itself won’t grow into a government. This could be done by means of regular inspections of all DRO properties by a 3rd party, looking for black helicopters, secret armies and what have you. A thorough examination of a DRO’s accounting records could be made available upon request of any potential or actual customer, or simply posted to the companies website for the public to review. Customer protection companies could be started by those with concerns who would examine DRO’s for governmental tendencies and provide the reports for sale. I’m sure more options would be provided by the DRO’s in an effort to gain customers. Any DRO which was shown to be forming a government would quickly loose all its customer base and soon be bankrupt.

Violence is expensive. Most people, in their day to day lives don’t encounter it at all. Fewer still are trained to deliver it effectively. The natural course of the market when facing a scarce resource is to raise the price. If a DRO wanted to create a violent force to extract money from people as taxes they would have to hire the violent people to do it with. This is a hugely expensive proposition as a large number of people would be needed to enforce taxation. furthermore as the DRO hires more and more violent individuals the supply of violent individuals goes down, driving the price up, thus making the whole problem worse. This is not to mention the liability issues of having a large group of violent individuals in your employ before you are ready to spring your government on the population at large.

The last big hurdle to a DRO becoming a general government is the DRO system itself. If DRO A aggresses against it’s own customers only it is going to loose a lot of customers fast. If they aggress against the customers of DRO B then DRO B is going to file charges against DRO A and use the full economic power of the DRO system to isolate the DRO and its employees from the rest of society.The DRO would be likely to find itself without power, water, Internet and other outside services. It’s employees would be unable to buy food because the grocery doesn’t want to deal with such violent people. The owners of roads would hire guards to remove the DRO’s employees from their roads. The DRO would be hounded into the wilderness unless it underwent arbitration and made restitution for the damage it caused. In the end the DRO would be unable to conduct regular business, much less expand into the realm of governance.

I hope I have dispelled the idea that a DRO could become a government itself. Competing DRO’s would be a huge obstacle to overcome. Customers would desert in droves any DRO which was showing governmental tendencies. The high cost of violence makes such a course financially difficult. Finally the DRO system itself would destroy and DRO that tried. As a last note, if people whom fear anarchy are worried that one group could grow to control all political power, perhaps they should look at getting rid of the group that has it already before worrying about theoretical groups in the future.

Published in: on September 4, 2009 at 10:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dispute Resolution Organizations, What they are and how they work.

It seems to me that if I’m going to propose the elimination of government I should make an attempt to present a method for society to organize itself so as to protect individuals from the criminals of the world. The usual method among anarchists, at least that I’ve read, is the concept of a Dispute Resolution Organization (DRO). A DRO, as I envision it, is a cross between an insurance company, private arbiter, security guard company, and private investigator. They may be one company, or several working together according to contracts and customer demand. The basic process involves a customer hiring a DRO to insure them and their property against theft, property damage, assault, murder, and other problems initiated by others. In the event that the customer is damaged in some way the insurance policy will pay the customer the agreed upon coverage. The DRO would then investigate the damage to find the responsible party to claim restitution. The high level of competition and general good business interests would encourage businesses to act in a fair and reasonable manner.

So how would a DRO be organized? While I can’t say for sure I can present a few ideas. First off while I think the idea of a large, unified DRO is possible, housing insurance, investigation, enforcement, and arbitration all under one roof, such a company is unlikely . Opening a competitor in any portion of the business consists mostly of having the ability and desire to compete, and hanging out a sign. As I see it the customer hires the insurance company and when the insurance is needed the insurance company would hire an investigator from many competing investigators both individuals and in larger companies. When the investigator determines who caused the particular problem they provide that information to an arbiter who then issues a summons to the responsible party. The responsible party then appears before the arbiter, or a different, mutually agreeable arbiter, and the case is decided. The responsible party is then ordered to pay compensation to the insurance company for the money paid to the original customer. In the event the responsible party is unwilling to come before an arbiter the insurance company, or the arbiter could hire an enforcement agent to forcibly bring the responsible party in, though this comes with the risk of having the wrong man and having to pay compensation for assault and/or kidnapping, and thus would only be likely in the event of particularly violent crimes and/or absolute certainty. The enforcement agent has an interest in using minimal force to apprehend the individual for much the same reason.

Now we have our customer, an ordinary man of ordinary means, who wants protection against crime. The natural response to a unknown risk with potentially disastrous results is to take out insurance against the risk, so our customer would call various insurance companies and take out a policy protecting him from criminal acts. These are not the huge mega-corps of today, but mostly smaller, independent companies. After all, without government to require an insurance license anybody with a modest amount of capital, some salesmanship, and a good business model can open up shop right away. This fierce competition would drive down prices and drive up service in insurance just as it does in any other market segment. Any insurance adjuster, even today, will tell you that it is cheaper to prevent problems than to fix them. The saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is as true now as ever. This gives the insurance company a strong incentive to prevent crime in the first place. They may install security alarms, outside cameras and lights, re-enforced doors and windows, or whatever other technology is shown to prevent theft. They would actively encourage customers to be able to defend themselves, recommending self defense classes of all sorts, from firearms training, to jujitsu to reduce assault and robbery in the street. They may even go so far as to hire security guards when the cost/risk shows it to be worthwhile.

Suppose that despite the best efforts of both the customer and the insurance company our customer gets robbed. His first act will be to file a claim with his insurance provider. The insurer would immediately send an investigator to the customers home to determine the extent of the damage, what items are stolen and how much the insurance company owes the customer in terms of  actual damage, pain and suffering, and lost time. If the customer is not satisfied he may take the insurance company to an arbiter to press for further awards. The insurance company would then investigate the crime scene using the best available forensic technology. Remember they have an interest in catching the thief, both to claim restitution for the money they paid to the customer, and to prevent the thief from robbing another customer. As soon as the investigation is complete the insurance company would likely hire a contractor to repair the damage, and install replacements for the stolen property, or they may leave this up to the customer, depending on the terms of the insurance policy. With the investigation complete at the customers home the insurance company would pay whatever damages remain after the repair or replacement of the property. This may include some form of victim counseling, payment for the time the customer spends involved in the investigation, and an advance on other restitution/reparations that an arbiter would likely assign. The customer is no longer needed for any further proceedings and may go about his business.

Now the insurance company will use the information gathered in the investigation to determine the thief who robbed our customer above. Once they have a suspect they will bring the evidence before an arbiter and request that the accused thief be summoned before the arbiter to resolve the dispute. An innocent man accused would have an interest in appearing to clear his name, and would likely be compensated for his time, trouble, and legal fees. A guilty man may try to avoid the arbiter, but this would not be the wise course of action. The arbiter is likely to order the thief to pay restitution, investigation costs, and the cost of the arbiter, undergo career training, and perhaps psychological treatment. A payment plan for the restitution and other costs would be worked out and if unique items were stolen their return or purchasers name would be expected. If the thief runs, the arbiter could try the thief in absentia and simply place the restitution demands on the thief’s credit report with a note that the thief refused to participate in arbitration. This kind of notation on a credit report would be economically crippling. Nobody would make a loan to a man who neither pays nor takes the time to dispute a debt. Nobody would enter into a contract for rent with a person who doesn’t follow the results of arbitration. Things could even go so far as nobody allowing a person who refuses to pay legitimate debts or enter arbitration to refute their validity to enter their property. Further, if the thief himself has a insurance agent against theft he may find himself contractually obligated to penalties for stealing by his insurance policy including asset forfeitures to cover his arbitrated debts. At this point the thief is left with few choices. Either go out into the wilderness and make due without society, stay exclusively on his own property and be completely self sufficient, or enter arbitration and attempt to settle the matter. Upon entering arbitration most of the restrictions on the thief’s movements and activities would be removed and he could attempt to conduct himself in society.

The last option for a DRO is enforcement agents hired to bring a reluctant individual in. These well armed agents would be hired in situations where direct force is needed to prevent further crimes. The use of direct force such as this comes with many risks. If an individual is innocent and an enforcement agent takes them before an arbiter by force it is kidnapping and full restitution would be required by the innocent parties arbiter. Such restitution would more than likely be charged to both the enforcement agent and the agency hiring it. If a guilty individual is brought in by an enforcement agent and the force used is excessive the enforcement agent would be liable for damages. Because of the extreme risk brought on by the use of enforcement agents it is highly unlikely that they would be used often. The high risks such agencies would take would cause them to carry expensive insurance policies, the cost of which would be passed on to their customer, usually an arbitration company. This same risk would cause them to be very cautious about the contracts they accepted and further drive up their price. The high cost and high risk involved in the use of force would make it an option of last resort.

Overall the DRO system provides everything that a person could want in protective services. His loss is covered should he be the victim of a crime. The investigating party has a vested interest in actually catching the criminal. The criminal even has an interest in showing up for arbitration and following the arbitrators decision. Innocent or mistreated parties can hire a different arbitrator, unrelated to the first, to re-examine the case and gain restitution for unjust rulings. While force remains an option, it is expensive, risky and thus unlikely to be used. As the power of the free market works the most effective system will win out, eventually leading to lower crime overall.

Published in: on September 2, 2009 at 10:31 pm  Comments (3)