Libertarian Nightmare

This post is about why the libertarian vision of society scares me shitless.  No offense to Stefan Molyneux, but I truly hope his ideology never becomes reality. 

The Stateless Society Fights Back: Life without a state? Really? Answers to common questions. 

Caging the Devils: The Stateless Society and Violent Crime 

In a stateless society, contracts with DROs are required to maintain any sort of economic life – without DRO representation, citizens are unable to get a job, hire employees, rent a car, buy a house or send their children to school. Any DRO will naturally ensure that its contracts include penalties for violent crimes – so if you steal a car, your DRO has the right to use force against you to get the car back – and probably retrieve financial penalties to boot. 

Call me silly, but this sounds like the worse kind of fascism.  It scares me that someone even thinks this is a good idea.  I’ve been feeling critical of the society we have now which is already a mild form of fascism that some people call corporatism, but the vision outlined here takes it a step further. 

How does this work in practice? Let’s take a test case. Say that you wake up one morning and decide to become a thief. Well, the first thing you have to do is cancel your coverage with your DRO, so that your DRO cannot act against you when you steal. DROs would have clauses allowing you to cancel your coverage, just as insurance companies have now. Thus you would have to notify your DRO that you were dropping coverage. No problem, you’re off their list.

Any homeless person would become the equivalent of an illegal alien.  But in a DRO a homeless illegal alien would automatically be assumed to be a criminal without any legal protections or civil rights.  If you were born outside of a DRO, you may or may not be able to get a contract from a DRO.  Even if you did have a DRO contract, they could drop you at any moment.  Fear would keep everyone in line because no rights would be considered inalienable. 

However, DROs as a whole really need to keep track of people who have opted out of the entire DRO system, since those people have clearly signaled their intention to go rogue, to live off the grid, and commit crimes. Thus if you cancel your DRO insurance, your name goes into a database available to all DROs. If you sign up with another DRO, no problem, your name is taken out. However, if you do not sign up with any other DRO, red flags pop up all over the system.

Not only would a homeless person be both an illegal alien and an assumed criminal, but they would be tracked.  My God, this sounds like capitalistic Stalinism.  The DRO would follow your every move in Big Brother fashion.  A DRO could potentially become so oppressive that cameras would be installed even in houses because all property is owned by the DRO.  Your entire life (work, education, shopping, entertainment) would be controlled by the DRO.  Complete propagandistic control would be possible.  It would be a Communist beauracrat’s wet dream. 

What happens then? Remember – there is no public property in the stateless society. If you’ve gone rogue, where are you going to go? You can’t take a bus – bus companies won’t take rogues, because their DRO will require that they take only DRO-covered passengers, in case of injury or altercation. Want to fill up on gas? No luck, for the same reason. You can try hitchhiking, of course, which might work, but what happens when you get to your destination and try and rent a hotel room? No DRO card, no luck. Want to sleep in the park? Parks are privately owned, so keep moving. Getting hungry? No groceries, no restaurants – no food! What are you going to do? 

All possibility of freedom would be eliminated.  Even if you wanted to escape, there would be no where to escape to.  You could attempt to sign a contract with another DRO.  However, no DRO may want to accept free agents because of their inherent criminal status.  Even if another DRO does accept you, they might be just as or more oppressive than the one you left. 

Obviously, those without DRO representation are going to find it very hard to get around or find anything to eat. But let’s go even further and imagine that, as a rogue, you are somehow able to survive long enough to start trying to steal from people’s houses.

No fuck it would be hard to get around or find anything to eat.  The sub-class of those free of DRO contracts would be forced to seek out black markets or else starve to death. 

Well, the first thing that DROs are going to do is give a reward to anyone who spots you and reports your position (in fact, there will be companies which specialize in just this sort of service). As you walk down a street on your way to rob a house, someone sees you and calls you in. The DRO immediately notifies the street owner (remember, no public property!) who boots you off his street. Are you going to resist the street owner? His DRO will fully support his right to use force to protect his property or life. 

Yep.  There is that Stalinism.  Your neighbors and your family would get payed to spy on you.  The paranoid’s worst nightmare would become reality. 

So you have to get off the street. Where do you go? All the local street owners have been notified of your presence, and refuse you entrance. You can’t go anywhere without trespassing. You are a pariah. No one will help you, or give you food, or shelter you – because if they do, their DRO will boot them or raise their rates, and their name will be entered into a database of people who help rogues. There is literally no place to turn. 

The DRO contract will probably prohibit anyone helping those without contracts.  And if you helped one of these homeless criminals, you’d lose your contract too.  People would just walk past these starving, wretched sub-humans. 

So, really, what incentive is there to turn to a life of crime? Working for a living – and being protected by a DRO – pays really well. Going off the grid and becoming a rogue pits the entire weight of the combined DRO system against you – and, even if you do manage to survive their scrutiny and steal something, it has probably been voice-encoded or protected in some other manner against unauthorized re-use. But let’s suppose that you somehow bypass all of that, and do manage to steal, where are you going to sell your stolen goods? You’re not protected by a DRO, so who will buy from you, knowing they have no recourse if something goes wrong? And besides, anyone who interacts with you will get a substantial reward for reporting your location – and, if they deal with you, will be dropped from the DRO system. 

All property would be tracked, but would the DRO stop there? Of course not.  The DRO would implant all people with tracking chips.  With the advance of technology, they could do all kinds of things with brainwashing and neural manipulation.  Your very body would be the property of the DRO.  Trying to escape the DRO would involve having to steal your own body. 

Will there be underground markets? No – where would they operate? People need a place to live, cars to rent, clothes to buy, groceries to eat. No DRO means no participation in economic life. 

The homeless illegal alien criminals would be forced to create underground markets or else they’d die.  If those underground markets were destroyed by the DROs, the starving sub-class would revolt.  The DRO is just a capitalistic version of feudalism.  Each DRO would be an anarcho-fiefdom.  People created democratic states in the first place to escape the oppressive rule of feudal lords.  Why would we want to create a new feudal society? 

I’m painting a dark vision.  I am a pessimist afterall.  A DRO theoretically could work out as this guy thinks, but it seems improbable considering the real world historical examples of mining towns that were the perfect example of oppressive anarcho-capitalism.  And I’m certainly not alone in my doubts: 

  – COMMENTS (from above quoted article) – 

Matt: “In a stateless society, contracts with DROs are required to maintain any sort of economic life – without DRO representation, citizens are unable to get a job, hire employees, rent a car, buy a house or send their children to school.” WTF! You just replaced oppressive government with oppressive corporate rule. If you can’t get a job, hire employees, or rent a car, etc. without their permission how is this anywhere close to a voluntary society? 

Edward: I am with Matt on this one. I have listened to many of your podcasts and been in and out of here for a while but upon hearing this madness I just dont know anymore. How can you insure the type of people drawn to your DRO organizations arent the same as those who are now on our government and law enforcement/military rosters. This whole arangement to me if far more dangerous that what is currently going on. DRO is the absolute authority on my ability to be alive! What if I want off your DRO grid and do my own farming and build a house myself? Well I cant! I cant own property or a house because Im not DRO covered!!! So “crime” is my only option if i want to live without the DRO coverage!?!?! I say “crime” because according to this system i am now a rouge (criminal) even though I had a peaceful nonviolent nature and I just wanted to exist on my own. The crime here is? 

masonkiller: Matt, Edward, there is a difference. If both of you don’t like a certain DRO or the way it’s running, then you have the option to break your contract. Therefore, voluntary. In our government, they have the same powers, only you didn’t sign anything. You HAVE to be in the system, you can’t say you don’t want to. Though I have other fears with DRO’s. How could you prevent one that had enough funding and owned it’s own bank or was in cahoots with a corrupt bank from coercing people into signing contracts with force and, in turn, creating a new government? 

Me: I agree with Matt and Edward completely. Stefen is a very well intentioned and educated guy, and I fully appreciated his video on The Myth of the Free Market. However, the system suggested here is so inorganic and structured by a left brain thinker that it denies people the ability to exist without attachment to a system that enslaves them. I’d suggest Arno Gruen’s book, The Insanity of Normality to give a more complete version of why people commit crimes. Furthermore, I believe you’d see the err in this system by realizing it still functions as a dominator in a larger context. I don’t think that this system really factors in and analyzes human behavior and motives. Only by addresses the underlying issues of a humans instincts and desires and their response to forced compliance within any system can you truly offer a better solution to the worlds issues. This isn’t necessarily better or worse just different. There is a great video on youtube that comments succinctly on this idea. I will post it as soon as i find it, but it basically shows the cycle from anarchy to democracy to fascism etc. just being a constant loop. I would suggest that the only way out of that cycle would be remove the leveraging device – money. More difficult to put into effect than to say, yes, but with usury being imbedded in the current monetary system through Interest, Inflation and Income tax, you can never get away from oppression. To say that you propose a stateless society is just slight of hand. Maybe you don’t intend it, but the idea of having DRO is the state. Peace 

  

To be fair, the following video is the same guy defending himself against the charge of being naive. 

 

My response to this video is that my own criticism of naivette still stands.  Stef misunderstands.  His naivette isn’t in his criticism of the present system but in his proposal of his own system.  Stef admits in this video that his utopian society is improbable (which I was glad to see him admit).  His argument is that it’s improbability doesn’t matter.  He states that all advances have come from those who attempted the improbable and so we should continue to strive for the improbable.  He believes his idealized society is “the right thing to do”. 

I think his admitting the improbability of his own ideal still can support the critics.  The people who strove for the improbable did so because they believed it to be probable.  If Stef doesn’t believe it’s even probable, then why risk everything for most likely gaining no benefit.  Considering past examples, not only is his utopia improbable but that his utopia will turn into fascism is highly probable.  We should consider all possibilities including the negative possibilities.  His idealism is noble and his moralizing is righteous, but that doesn’t change my assessment. 

Let me share another video that shows the personal context.  

Stef is obviously angry and sad.  The way he expresses himself here seems to imply he has suffered himself in some way.  His response to suffering has been to commit his life to his ideal. 

Derrick Jensen talks about this (and I think Stef would agree to an extent).  We are all victims in this society.  There are two common responses.  Either the victim becomes a victimizer or becomes a defender of victims… and, I would add, that it’s easy for the defender of victims to become just another victimizer (which is how popular revolts sometimes lead to dictatorships).  Stef idealizes free choice, but ideals have a way of becoming distorted when they’re implemented in reality.  Stef hasn’t explained why his ideal will be the first ideal in history not to end in more oppression, violence, and suffering. 

I sympathize with his emotion, but I fear his utopianism.  I respect his devoted idealism, but his bright and shining utopia casts a dark shadow. 

 – – –  

To end on a humorous note, let me offer an example of a normal day in your local DRO corporatocracy: 

Little Johnny comes home from the company-owned school.  His mommy brings him cookies and milk bought from the company-owned store. 

“How was your day, Johnny?” 

“Mommy, I learned today that Coca-Cola tastes better than Pepsi. In science class, we did a blind taste test. One kid said Pepsi tasted better and he didn’t get a gold star. I got a gold star because the teacher said I was a good company kid.” 

“That’s nice, dear.”

9 thoughts on “Libertarian Nightmare

    • Actually, anarcho-capitalists are on the far rightwing of fiscal conservatism. They are conservative libertarians who want to entirely dismantle the government. They tend to equate liberals with the federal government.

      There are liberal anarchists such as Noam Chomsky, but they’re not proponents of capitalism. I don’t know the details of how a liberal anarchist society would function. It would be interesting to compare the conservative and liberal versions.

      There is one main difference I see.

      Anarcho-capitalists want to replace the democratic state government with a privately owned capitalist government. In theory, there would be many anarcho-capitalist governments that would compete for customers and so people could choose which government they wanted to be a citizen of.

      Anarcho-socialists want to replace representative democracy with direct democracy and replace our present big business capitalism with an economic system that functioned on the local level.

      Basically, anarcho-capitalists want a pure meritocracy and anarcho-socialists want pure egalitarianism.

  1. > The DRO would follow your every move in Big Brother fashion. A DRO could potentially become so oppressive that cameras would be installed even in houses because all property is owned by the DRO. Your entire life (work, education, shopping, entertainment) would be controlled by the DRO.

    I think you may have misunderstood. The proposal is that there would be more than one DRO and you would be free to switch between them, similar to how you can currently get insurance from a variety of providers today. So if you don’t like the policies of one DRO, you would switch to another. So of course, if a DRO demanded to install cameras in my house, I would switch to another. So no DRO would demand that.

    My health insurance company might benefit from installing cameras in my house in order to track my health risks more accurately. But I would not want a health insurance contract with a company that did that.

    You might want to talk this over with an anarcho-capitalist in person to make sure you see the proposal as they do.

    • I don’t think I’ve misunderstood, but I’m always correcting my understanding with new info.

      Yes, technically, you can switch between DROs. Then again, technically, you often can switch citizenship between countries. Many Americans have gone abroad and become citizens in other countries. I’ve even personally known of some people who have chosen to live off the grid. There is no guarantee that a DRO (privatized government) would offer more freedom and protection than a government as we have which is a republic and a representative democracy. I would assume that DROs would have restrictions on switching between DROs just as there are restrictions on switching citizenship.

      I’ve discussed this with many anarcho-capitalists. I agree that the ideal of a DRO is wonderful, but the ideals of most things are wonderful. The difference is that the anarcho-capitalist believes in the ideal and I’m critical of all ideals.

  2. ” Call me silly, but this sounds like the worse kind of fascism. It scares me that someone even thinks this is a good idea. I’ve been feeling critical of the society we have now which is already a mild form of fascism that some people call corporatism, but the vision outlined here takes it a step further”

    A couple of things.

    First of all, it doesn’t matter what it “sounds like”. Only what it actually is and it is not a form of fascism. Fascism is a centrist statist idealogy. Molyneux is an anarchist so sorry it isn’t fascism buddy. And this doesn’t take corporatism a “step further”. It gets rid of the state and therefore corporatism as well. So how can it be a “step further” than corporatism. It’s more like a couple million steps against it. Not a progression of it.

    “Any homeless person would become the equivalent of an illegal alien. But in a DRO a homeless illegal alien would automatically be assumed to be a criminal without any legal protections or civil rights. If you were born outside of a DRO, you may or may not be able to get a contract from a DRO. Even if you did have a DRO contract, they could drop you at any moment. Fear would keep everyone in line because no rights would be considered inalienable. ”

    Homeless people are not all theifs so no they are not going to be assumed to be criminals dude. I’m sorry I honestly have no clue what you were thinking when you typed that. And why would DRO’s go out and jail/kill protential customers just because they are outsiders who recently moved into town? That doesn’t make any sense does it. Why would people contract with a DRO that treated outsiders like shit? And no DRO’s would not “drop people at any moment”. That doesn’t make economic sense. No one would want to contract with an arbitrary DRO that doesn’t want to keep its end of the bargain. Also, just because you don’t have contractually guaranteed protection doesn’t mean everyone in the society is going to treat you like shit. Most of the time NOTHING is protecting you. Someone can bust into your house either to steal your stuff or kill you or your familty and 99% of the time there is nothing you could of done to stop it. So quit whining about how DRO’s aren’t going to protect homeless people as good as the government AS THOUGH THE GOVERNMENT IS EVEN PROTECTING THEM RIGHT NOW!!!! Also, going off the grid is not the same thing as going off the grid and becoming a theif. You do understand that there can be more than one database? One database for homeless people and the other for suspected theifs? You’re arguements are strawman plain and simple and they show a complete lack of imagination.

    “All possibility of freedom would be eliminated. Even if you wanted to escape, there would be no where to escape to. You could attempt to sign a contract with another DRO. However, no DRO may want to accept free agents because of their inherent criminal status. Even if another DRO does accept you, they might be just as or more oppressive than the one you left.”

    If a DRO had the power to disallow other free agents that obviously that wouldn’t be a “DRO”. That would just be a government dude. Obviously he’s talking abut a society where government is not assumed to have any power and where polycentric law is preferred. If a society is okay with one DRO outlawing other free agents well then clearly that society didn’t care too much about anarchy now did it?

    “No fuck it would be hard to get around or find anything to eat. The sub-class of those free of DRO contracts would be forced to seek out black markets or else starve to death. ”

    No fuck it. Why can’t they just get a job? Every society has a little bit of force dude. Complaining about the rigidity of a system is not arguement in and of itself.

    “Yep. There is that Stalinism. Your neighbors and your family would get payed to spy on you. The paranoid’s worst nightmare would become reality.”

    First of all, Molyneux was talking about theifs and criminals. Not people who just merely went off the grid. Second, it is not “Stalinism”. Oh boy here we go again with the adjective slinging. We’re talking about a society of polycentric law. We’re talking about 1984 dude. So enough with the “paranoid’s worst nighmare” crap. And even if this society of Molyneux’s imagination is as rigid as it sounds that STILL isn’t an arguement in and of itself. Just slinging a couple of derogatory adjectives is not an arguement.

    “The DRO contract will probably prohibit anyone helping those without contracts. And if you helped one of these homeless criminals, you’d lose your contract too. People would just walk past these starving, wretched sub-humans.”

    Why can’t these people just get a job already?

    “All property would be tracked, but would the DRO stop there? Of course not. The DRO would implant all people with tracking chips. With the advance of technology, they could do all kinds of things with brainwashing and neural manipulation. Your very body would be the property of the DRO. Trying to escape the DRO would involve having to steal your own body.”

    Complete conspiracist mantra. I mean either society is concerned about the privacy effects of RFID or they are not. If they are not then why on earth would you want a government in control of the RFID chips instead of a polycentric order of DRO’s? Either way we go. RFID chips or no RFID chips you still will want a polycentric order rather than having a single central authority making all the rules. Why would you want one ruler when you can have a bunch of weaker ones?

    “The homeless illegal alien criminals would be forced to create underground markets or else they’d die. If those underground markets were destroyed by the DROs, the starving sub-class would revolt. The DRO is just a capitalistic version of feudalism. Each DRO would be an anarcho-fiefdom. People created democratic states in the first place to escape the oppressive rule of feudal lords. Why would we want to create a new feudal society?

    I’m painting a dark vision. I am a pessimist afterall. A DRO theoretically could work out as this guy thinks, but it seems improbable considering the real world historical examples of mining towns that were the perfect example of oppressive anarcho-capitalism. And I’m certainly not alone in my doubts:”

    Last time, why can’t these homeless people just get a job already? Form a black market or starve are not the only choices these people can make dude. You’re just artificially limitting the choices of people to make a BS point And you complete ignore the possibility of charity. No person would contract with a DRO that disallowed the use of charity on homeless people of good standing. It’s only the ones of bad standing that will get ostrasized. Again, your arguements about how homeless people would be fucked are complete strawman aruements.

    And people who throw around the word “fuedalism” usually are pretty full of shit. Were talking about private polycentric law. We’re not talking about single overlords having central control over a whole civilization dude. You equations of “anarcho-fuedalism” are just BS plain and simple. And the Mining Towns were owned by robber barons who accumulated property in a statist property system. So no they are not examples of anarcho-capitalism dude.

    “Yes, technically, you can switch between DROs. Then again, technically, you often can switch citizenship between countries.”

    BS comparison and circular reasoning. First of all, you automatically assuming the legitamacy state’s property claims. Second, you’re assuming DRO’s acccumalate property the same way state’s do. They don’t. One gains it property through Rothbardian homesteading and the other just simple asserted the authority of its property rights. over a whole country.

    • Name the difference between a privately owned and controlled town and a “state.” Because enquiring minds really want to know.

      And “DROs” are no different from fiefdoms. Certain people will work with certain DROs. I don’t see how that gives you any more “freedom.”

      It’s bad enough we have dozens of different credit cards. Are we to serve dozens of different “citizens” as well? What would the cost be of doing business with people of each of the different DROs? Would one be able to use predatory business practices to drive the others out of business? Once a DRO monopoly is established, how, using the “free market,” do you brake it? Are you familiar with “de facto standards?” Have you heard of the “Hayes Compatible Modem?” How about the “IBM Compatible Computer?”

      Why are all the good games made for consoles or for Windows PCs, in spite of Linux’s growing popularity?

      Capitalism has all kinds of flaws. People make products for the biggest consumer base, for example. Therefore, He Who Has The Most People, Wins. This creates a problem with the DROs.

      DRO X has become absurdly popular. It starts paying people to abandon their original DRO and to join it. This creates an even bigger number of people who are in the DRO. The DRO could also be fairly libertarian in it’s outlook, drawing even MORE people to the DRO.

      The other DROs begin losing business. At first, they lose business through the crazy offerings of the predatory DRO. They can’t afford to pay people to join them. But as more people join the predatory DRO, it begins to cut off it’s customers from using or providing services to customers of other DROs.

      Cutting off users of other DROs sounds like a problem initially, but once a certain market share has been established through predatory business practices, this becomes something most people who use the DRO will tolerate since most people are already a part of the DRO so it simply does not effect them.

      The bulk of the remaining DROs go out of business. The ones that remain operate in niche markets that the primary DRO has no interest in. If the predatory DRO wanted those markets, it would run what’s left of it’s competition out of business.

      The predatory DRO, now holding the vast market share, tightens it’s grip over it’s members and becomes downright awful to them. People would run away, but there’s no other DRO to go to. Those that do exist are used by “smugglers and rogues,” and often the other DROs, due to the nature of the predatory DRO’s business practices, would have gone underground.

      So now you have a ruthless DRO running virtually everything except a small black market of DROs. And if you’re caught working with one of the black market DROs, you lose your access to everything else the predatory DRO covers.

      This is the equivalent of living in a cabin in the woods when you’re a computer game and cellphone addict. This becomes something unthinkable for most people, so they just live with the tyrannical DRO.

      Furthermore, if the DRO owns land and is a combined DRO and LANDLORD, the problem is only compounded further. What regulation do you have that would indicate a DRO could not own land?

      So your argument fails. I don’t have to read it all to know that.

      • Sadly, criticizing anarcho-capitalism is all too easy. Their arguments are so pathetic that I almost feel guilty ripping them apart. But ultimately I just get bored with anarcho-capitalists because they lack any deep insight or analysis. It’s the same answers to everything.

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