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What Social Animals Owe to Each Other

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Time to Get Rid of the State?

The practical case for free-market anarchism grows stronger each day. The proliferation of nuclear weapons, which so often is used as a reason for more government power, is actually grounds for abolishing the state altogether. (See this New York Times article, which reports that "atomic officials estimate that as many as 40 more countries have the technical skill, and in some cases the required material, to build a bomb.") As powerful as the U.S. government is, it cannot prevent other governments from obtaining or developing nuclear weapons and it can't prevent their use. The most it can do is reduce the danger by pursuing a noninterventionist foreign policy. But it is not likely to do this in the foreseeable future, and even that wouldn't reduce the danger to near zero.

Free-market anarchism, on the other hand, would necessarily entail a noninterventionist foreign policy, plus it would free up private entrepreneurial innovation to discover and implement methods of protecting us from a nuclear attack and terrorism is general. Decentralization is the key. A big part of this would be the privatization of public -- that is, government-controlled -- property. Nothing is more poorly managed than the government's assets. I'd rather have entrepreneurs than the U.S. government looking for ways to protect us. Not only will the state bureaucracy bungle and corrupt whatever it does, it will violate our liberties in the process. (Habeas corpus is becoming a thing of the past.) It is the very antithesis of what we need now.

For our own safety it's time for free-market anarchists to assume a higher profile. (See the post below about the Center for a Stateless Society.) We uniquely have the solution to the most vexing problem of the day.

Cross-posted at Liberty & Power.


Anonymous said...

The pursuit of a non-interventionist foreign policy by the US is usually countered by "the Hitler example". In public debate this is presented as a kind if "drop dead argument" even by people who are otherwise critical of how actual US foreign policy has been conducted since 1945.

My response is usually to argue that the just war principles would seem to rule against FDR's intervention. Their counter-response is to paint Hitler as an unprecedented evil requiring unprecedented response. Of course we can reply with the "Stalin was worse" argument but that doesn't seem to do the job.

Of late I have been at least trying to mount a rearguard defence of the old isolationists by stating that they weren't 'disproved' or 'repudiated' by WW2. In hindsight it's true that many of their predictions seem incorrect or exaggerated. There has been a growth of state power and rights violations since WW2 but not quite the tyranny many isolationist cassandras imagined.

However the "isolationists disproved" argument neglects the timeline. The Hitler / Soviet pact was broken only 6 months before Pearl Harbor. Had FDR taken America to war before that, Hitler would have had powerful incentives to halt or postpone his campaign against Russia.

If so any US victory over Hitler (or worse a Hitler / Stalin alliance) would have cost America substantially more lives than the 400,000 it did (that is a total WW2 Europe / Pacific figure). As actual victory cost Russia in excess of 10 million uniformed deaths, it is not unreasonable to assume a butcher's bill of this magnitude for America had FDR's desire for 'early entry' come about.

So what if America lost say 3 million men, and born the substantial economic and mobilisation controls a campaign of this order would have represented? The worst nightmares of the isolationists would have been met, or even exceeded.

And, but for the grace of a mere 6 months, it almost happened.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear weapons are the best case for market anarchism. In a mostly anarchist world, they would have never been built. Instead, they were designed to be the ultimate weapon by short-sighted military planners. Foolishly, they thought that they could control their distribution. And now we live in their folly: 8 countries are officially nuclear, 1 is almost certainly nuclear, and a tenth is on the brink.

In an anarchist world, the state subsidies to the research and construction of these weapons wouldn't have existed. Private security agencies wouldn't have the resources to develop it, nor the use or need for it. Wiping out a city where 5% of the people subscribe to your security agency is pretty bad for business.

That leads us to the next question: which terrible technology are foolish military planners building today that will be in uncertain hands tomorrow?

- Josh

Anonymous said...

i think robert heinlein once responded to the issue of "privately owned" nuclear weapons once but pointing out that as they exist, someone has got to control them.

we don't escape from the question of 'how do non-nuke controllers contol the nuke controllers?' whether they are in 'private' or 'public' hands.

Kevin Carson said...

There are some self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist hawks who envision federations of "protection agencies" (perhaps under the umbrella of insurance companies) bombing the shit out of foreign countries deemed a "threat." Pretty atypical, but they exist.