Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Debate Over?

As I see it (and as others have said before), the debate over anarchism is actually over among libertarians. Anyone who does not want a single world government is an anarchist at least at the international level. He or she apparently believes that individual governments, despite having differing legal systems, can be counted on to get along most of the time without going to war with each other (a la Hobbes), trading and otherwise cooperating instead. (If they didn't believe this, they should favor world government, or -- same thing -- an American empire.) Yet that in essence is the anarchist argument; it just hasn't been extended to the individual level yet. Free-market anarchists believe that individuals, despite having differing legal systems, can be counted on to get along most of the time without going to war with each other (a la Hobbes), trading and otherwise cooperating instead.

The internationalist anarchist may respond to the individualist anarchist by saying that we can trust governments to behave more or less constructively in an anarchist setting, but we can't trust individuals to do so. This argument is precisely upside down. There is far more reason to believe that individuals, deprived of the power of taxation and the mystique of the state, would get along than that governments would. After all, governments can socialize their costs thanks to taxation, while individuals can't. That creates perverse incentives for governments.

So isn't the debate merely about which level of anarchism is appropriate, rather than the validity of the anarchist principle itself? It reminds me of the old joke in which a woman tells a man that while she would sleep with him for a million dollars, she certainly would not sleep with him for fifty. "What do you think I am?" she asks. To which he replies: "We've already established what you are, miss. Now we're only haggling over the price."

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.

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