Sunday, June 01, 2008

Anarcho-Capitalism: A Floating Abstraction?

This gentleman makes a pretty good point here:

I should add that, as far as I understand, if Objectivists claim that anarcho-capitalism is a floating abstraction, they mean that anarcho-capitalism can't exist in reality. Objectivists believe that any attempt at establishing anarcho-capitalism will result in society collapsing and a worse, fascist or communist, government taking over.

Coincidentally, that's why they call anarcho-capitalists "socialists." Of course, that smear takes such a stretch of sophistry that every Objectivist who uses it immediately catapults themselves out of the realm of rational discussion. It's like calling Objectivists "religious fanatics" because any attempt at establishing atheism will result in society collapsing and a worse, more fundamentalist, faith taking over.

In any event, in this piece he demolishes the Objectivist standard sophistries on anarcho-capitalism pretty nicely.

Of course, as theology is a discipline without subject matter, Objectivist (or any other) criticism of anarcho-capitalism is a debate without evidence. There simply has never been any fully free society in the known history of the world, so any speculation on how such a society would look like is necessarily quite academic.

As for what little evidence there is, I suggest studying articles on the Old West like "An American Experiment in Anarcho-Capitalism: The Not So Wild, Wild West" and Murray Rothbard's "The Origins of Individualist Anarchism in America," particularly the section on the history of Pennsylvania.

As for Objectivists, Objectivism is The House that Rand Built. Ayn Rand in turn had lived through the Russian Revolution and apparently didn't enjoy that flavor of lawlessness (little wonder). Looks like she could not conceive of the fact that other flavors of lawlessness are possible, that the problem with the Russian Revolution was not a lack of law, but a lack of reason.

Same is true for another example Objectivists like to drag in, Somalia. It's in fact evidence taken out of context. The problem in Somalia isn't a lack of government, but a lack of civilization. (For the racists and PC idiots out there: That has nothing to do with race, but with growing up under a backward, tribalist culture.)

Those clans there are simply so hell-bent on exterminating each other that no flavor of archy or anarchy could stop them. If Somalia is evidence against anarchy, it's evidence against archy in spades: The government of the most powerful country in the world, the US, tried to establish law and order there and got its ass kicked pretty badly.

Government constitutes no substitute for civilization. For more evidence, look at most other African countries, for example the kleptocracy in Zimbabwe and the crime rates of South Africa.

If the majority of the people don't accept the non-aggression principle (explicitly or, if they don't quite understand it, at least implicitly) government can stop them from raping and murdering each other as little as a private agency could under those circumstances. It's like in one of those zombie movies.


XOmniverse said...

I enjoyed the post. Thanks for the links. :)

Alex said...

You're welcome. Glad you liked the post. :)