Thursday, April 25, 2013

What Is the Market?

One reason why anarchists and minarchists are arguing at cross-purposes is the failure to understand what the (free) market is and how it works. Let me explain. 

What is a market? A market is a place where people exchange goods and services. 

What is free? Free means free from initiatory force. 

What then is a free market? A free market is a place where people exchange goods and services voluntarily. 

The state claims a coercive monopoly on the provision of certain goods, i.e., defense and justice. The state claims only it is qualified to provide them. 

Anarchists hold that the market will provide these goods better, cheaper, and more humanely, like it provides all other goods in that fashion. Minarchists claim that for a free market to exist, it needs to be created and protected by a preexisting limited government, but they cannot explain how such a limited government could come into or remain in existence. 

This apparent contradiction is best explained in a model. Let's assume there's a world that contains three individuals: Alice, Benito, and Carl. 

The three of them go to the market to trade. Alice is more intelligent than Benito and Carl. Therefore, her products are more advanced and more valuable to every one of them. 

Because she is more intelligent, Alice has made a pistol for her self-defense. Benito and Carl have only slingshots, as they don't know how to build anything more advanced. 

Now, the archist argument is that that market is not free, because Alice has got a gun, but the other two haven't. Alice can force the other two to trade on terms that they would not agree to if they were on equal terms in firepower. Therefore, archists claim that the three of them have to set up a government, which will somehow administer the gun, i.e. the use of force, objectively. 

Yet, governments do not exist independently of individuals. Governments consist of individuals. 

So in our market, Alice, Benito, and Carl establish a government and have a democratic vote on whom to use the gun against. I bet you can imagine what happens next. 

Right, Benito and Carl gang up on Alice and vote to point the gun at her and expropriate her superior products from her, so they get for free what they could barely have afforded in a hypothetically truly free market, where no one can threaten to use force against their trading partners. 

This is precisely what has happened in our world. The minarchist solution is to plead with Benito and Carl for one of them to side with Alice. 

They promise Benito and Carl that if they let Alice go with her tools now, she will come back with even more and better products, and everyone will be better off. But Benito and Carl only care about free stuff now. 

Then the minarchists explain to Benito and Carl that it is immoral to steal Alice's stuff, even if they steal by way of democratic government. But Benito and Carl only care about free stuff now. 

Besides, they have rationalized their crimes, so that they can go on looting, but still face themselves in a mirror. Benito makes himself believe that democratic government is holy and can do whatever it wants. Carl makes himself believe that Alice didn't really create her goods, but just found them somewhere, so she doesn't really have a right to them. 

So in the real world you only have two options: Alice keeps her gun and makes the rules for everyone, or Benito and Carl vote on what rules to make and enforce at the point of the gun they could never have created. The market cannot and should not be free as in "Everyone has the same firepower" or "No one should be able to threaten the use of force against trading partners." The market can only be free in terms and to the extent of "Everyone gets to keep the guns he can manufacture to defend himself with." This way, the most intelligent have the most firepower, and initiatory force and injustice is thus minimized as much as humanly possible. 

Sure, it's not ideal to have the intelligent and productive make all the rules, for to be intelligent and productive does not necessarily mean to be moral and just. But it sure beats the current situation, where the stupid and unproductive gang up into a majority and force their superstitions on their betters and loot from them. 

For a representative government to work, the majority would have to be intelligent and productive, instead of stupid and unproductive. Given that it isn't, there are only two ways to establish civilization on this planet. 

Either you adopt Anarcho-Capitalism straight, where the rules are made by corporations, where the richer shareholders have more votes. Or you have to go back to "anarchy light," i.e. the system the Founding Fathers established, with census suffrage, where the rich got more votes than the poor, so the latter could not outvote the former to loot from them. ("Anarchy light" because it attempted to replicate the results of Anarcho-Capitalism without fully going there, without recognizing individual sovereignty.) 

But if you go that far, you may just as well go the whole nine yards to Anarcho-Capitalism. But then, you can bury your head in the sand like the minarchists and hope that someday some miracle will happen and establish a market where no one has more firepower than anyone else. 

The funny thing is that the minarchists (or at least the objectivists) are vociferously opposed to a world government. I.e., they abhor the state of nature among individuals, but they are adamant that the state of nature be preserved among nations. 

But in logic, if it is wrong for individuals to live by the law of the strongest (which means the most intelligent, as conflicts are no longer decided by bare fists and brute muscle), then it is wrong for nations, too. So if you want a government to rule individuals, you have to want a world government to rule nation states. 

What we have right now between nations is the Alice, Benito, and Carl state of nature described in the beginning. Alice, the US, the most rational — or rather the least irrational — nation, rules as she sees fit, and Benito and Carl, or the socialist slave states of Europe and the theocratic states of Islam, want to disarm her via the UN. 

Which means that archists, minarchists, and objectivists have no argument on their side but the status quo. We need world anarchy, or the world government will democratically vote to disarm the US and annihilate Israel. But we cannot have individual anarchy, because it's never been fully tried and is scary. The archists are afraid of change and can only resort to "discussions" along the lines of "La, la, la, I'm not listening to this." 

Prove me wrong and try to prove me wrong. If you can. Otherwise I hope those government boots you're licking at least taste good. 

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