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.”

Anarcho-Capitalism & Stateless Society

I’ve been watching some videos on the Youtube channel Freedomain Radio. The guy who makes the video I guess is in favor of an anarcho-capitalist stateless society… which basically just seems like an extreme version of conservative libertarianism (a government so small it’s non-existent).  I got involved in a discussion in the comments of the first video and so listened to the second video to understand his perspective on stateless society.

(As an aside, I found the ending of the first video amusing.  The guy stared into the camera trying to look stern, and it reminded me of my friends dad when we were kids.  My friend’s dad would shuffle into the room… shoulders slumped and belly sticking out… and, trying to look mean, he’d grumble, “Who drank my pop? Someone owes me 50 cents.”  It was, to say the least, hard to keep a straight face.  That was my emotional response to the righteous moralizing of the guy in the video.)

I’m truly perplexed why someone can be so critical of the government and yet have blind faith in capitalism.  This kind of libertarian talks about the ‘free market’ as almost a religious ideal.  In the entire history of civilization, a stateless free market has never existed on the largescale.  I added “on the largescale” because I believe such a thing might be possible on the smallscale such as in an isolated intentional community or in an isolated hunter-gatherer tribe.  I agree with Derrick Jensen that largescale modern civilization inevitably leads to oppression… or all the evidence points to this being an inevitability since there are no couter-examples that weren’t quickly crushed.

The only way to create a stateless society would be to overthrow every government which would lead to mass famine and death.  During this process, a group of people worldwide would have to systematically destroy all technology and all infrastructure.  The survivors would return to either the lifestyle of small agrarian villages or hunter-gatherer tribes.  Then and only then might a free market stateless society exist.

I actually agree with many of the criticisms pro-capitalist libertarians have of government.  My only difference is that I don’t look to scapegoat a single group.  The entire system is the problem.  If US citizens overthrew their state returning to a simpler localized governance, then some other state government (Russia or China) would conquer our then defenseless citizenry and impose a new state.  Or another possibility is that, if all government regulation and protection was dismantled, the transnational corporations would either create a new government in place of the old or make themselves into a new privatized fascist government.

This seems obvious to me.  The problem isn’t in some external force or institution.  The problem is human nature itself or rather human nature gone awry because of the problematic nature of modern society in general.  Humans simply aren’t evolved for such unnatural conditions.  If we want to elicit the moral impulses of the human species, we have to re-create the natural conditions under which human nature evolved.

The reason I felt drawn into debating the anarcho-capitalists in the comment section is that some of them seemed fairly intelligent.  They’re perfectly logical people and even are capable of supporting their arguments with evidence, but their vision of a stateless society seems like just another utopia.  Why do they believe so strongly in something that has never existed?  How is that any different than religious faith?

The guy who makes the videos does have some other videos that are quite insightful about human nature (which I wrote about in my post Victimization: Culture & Education).  He is cynical about our present society which he blames on the government, but he is idealistic about human nature.  He thinks that if the external constraints were removed and the psychological shackles were overcome, then people would manifest their inherent morality and there would be peace on earth… or something like that.  His criticisms are righteous and I agree with them to a large extent.  

However, I’m not sure why he thinks capitalism is the natural state of the human species.  If he just stopped at where his evidence-based criticism ends, then his argument would be reasonable; but he wants to go beyond the mere evidence.  I find myself annoyed whenever I’m confronted by self-certainty that verges on that of the True Believer.  Even though he is a bit too intelligent and rational to be an unabashed True Believer, he comes awfully close to it.  History is filled with True Believers who overthrew the oppressive government only to put in place a new government that was just as oppressive.

So, I took all of this seriously and wanted to learn more.  I visited a website one person recommended (Ludwig Von Mises Institute).  The person thought I couldn’t possibly disagree with him once I properly informed myself.  I didn’t take insult.  It’s possible that I could be completely wrong.  I looked around the website, read a few articles and watched a video.  It turned out not to be anything I hadn’t seen before.  It was just the typical ideas one hears from libertarians and anarchists.  As for libertarianism, I prefer Noam Chomsky… who was mentioned some on the Mises website.  These conservative anarcho-capitalists, of course, were of mixed opinion about Chomsky’s libertarian socialism.  Their criticisms of him wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before.  Chomsky is closer to my position in being critical of both state power and capitalist power.

I watched some other Youtube videos on ‘stateless society’.  The following video interested me just because of the comment section where I noticed some criticisms that were in line with Derrick Jensen’s thinking.

There was one commenter who caught my attention: mcc1789.  His criticisms went to the heart of the matter and no other commenter even attempted to refute his argument.

Ok, but what about vertical oligopolies and monopolies, as MettaliarYanto says in his response? Also, what prevents a “monopoly of force in a given area” your definition of the state?

“[I]f one starts a private town, on land whose acquisition did not and does not violate the Lockean proviso [of non-aggression], persons who chose to move there or later remain there would have no right to a say in how the town was run, unless it was granted to them by the decision procedures for the town which the owner had established.” [Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, p. 270] Is that not such a monopoly, i.e. state, if private?
 
Is that not such a monopoly, i.e. state, if private? Contracts that employees signed could have provisions forbidding strikes, organizing, etc., agreeing to pay for police, courts, doctors, stores and militaries hired by the employer.
 
Company towns had every feature which anarcho-capitalists propose, private police, courts, military, etc. Company rules were law. Buying at the company store was required by their contracts. If they sturck or formed a union, they were fired and evicted instantly. The contracts were entered voluntarily, in your sense. Since rights can be waived, exactly what stops this? The British East India Co. was its own state, ruling for centuries. Same with King Leopold’s Congo, run by his corporation.
 
“Each mining camp was a feudal dominion, with the company acting as lord and master. Every camp had a marshal, a law enforcement officer paid by the company. The ‘laws’ were the company’s rules. Curfews were imposed, ‘suspicious’ strangers were not allowed to visit the homes, the company store had a monopoly on goods sold in the camp.
 
The doctor was a company doctor, the schoolteachers hired by the company . . . Political power in Colorado rested in the hands of those who held economic power. This meant that the authority of Colorado Fuel & Iron and other mine operators was virtually supreme . . . Company officials were appointed as election judges. Company-dominated coroners and judges prevented injured employees from collecting damages.” [The Colorado Coal Strike, 1913-14, pp. 9-11]

Derrick Jensen uses the exact same argument with similar examples in his book The Culture of Make Believe.  I was happy someone went to the effort of typing up such perfect quotes.  I was feeling too lazy to do it myself.

As the commenter clearly points out, anarcho-capitalism has already existed in the towns owned by mining companies.  The problem isn’t in creating a privatized government.  That is easy to do if there is no strong state government to regulate against it.  The obvious failure is that this leads to fascism and not freedom.