Balko On Perfectly Acceptable Government

Radley Balko speaks for libertarians:

“It’s perfectly acceptable for a constitutionally-limited government to act to prevent the outbreak of deadly, highly-communicable diseases. If the bird flu is as lethal and transferable as some have suggested, protection from it amounts to a public good worthy of government attention, provided said attention is proportional to the extent of the threat, transparent, and accountable.”

Translation: It’s perfectly acceptable for the government to put a gun to your head to compel you to participate in collectivist schemes when it will produce a sufficient public good.

But what about all Balko’s caveats you ask? They amount to nothing.

Is this government accountable? Sure, it’s accountable to the voters. How could government be more accountable than that?

Ah, but is our government constitutionally limited? Yup, as much as it can be. There’s a note in the cookie jar that says “We promise to never reach in the cookie jar. Sincerely, We The People”. Now of course the fact that they got the note in the cookie jar in the first place implies they’re going to reach in there whenever they feel the need, but you can’t really improve on the note. It’s as limiting to We The People as any such note could be in principle.

But is the public good produced sufficient? And is the government action proportional and transparent? Well someone has to judge, but who? It can only go back to accountability. The voters judge whether the benefits are sufficient and whether the means are acceptably proportional and transparent.

We pretty much already have everything Balko wants in politics, he just happens to disagree with most voters about the weights to assign to the costs and benefits of government actions. So he spends his life arguing with them about how much of your life should be stolen and what it should be spent on.

And that passes for libertarianism.

Via Beck.

69 thoughts on “Balko On Perfectly Acceptable Government”

  1. If there is a libertarian case to be made for corralling people into jail cells to prevent mass plague death then it still wouldn’t follow that its provision has to be done by a monopoly provider. Although the results wouldn’t be pretty in any case.

  2. Radley lays out how rotten the state is a dealing with hurricanes yet credulously speculates that maybe it can do better with plagues.

    Libertarian movement types need a high tolerance for self-refutation.

  3. Heretyk,

    You’re missing my point. Either government is competent to handle the matter or it isn’t. Balko just got through saying that government isn’t competent to handle a hurricane.

    So how does it follow that the government is going to be able to handle a pandemic? Answer is that it won’t handle that any better than it handles hurricanes. But that answer is embarassing for a libertarian movement type, because it invites a question and a follow-up. The question is “Well, is there anything that government is good for?” (Answer of course being No) and the follow-up is “What are ya, some kind of anarchist?!?”.

    Balko can think at least a move or so ahead and so he cleverly slides in the implication that maybe the government can protect us all from a massive disease outbreak and yet remain “transparent and accountable”.

    As if that weren’t the boldest lie ever told.

    And of course most people are going to just eat that shit up because it’s what they want to hear. Balko’s chosen not to follow the path of Thoreau, but then again most people aren’t philosophers anyway, so Radley can look forward to a long career of peddling transparent foolishness like this.

    For whatever that’s worth.

  4. First: Tax a third party. Obviously.

    Even better: Charge a “protection fee” from the person with the disease before they’re too weak to open their wallets. The business pays for itself then.

  5. Balko can think at least a move or so ahead and so he cleverly slides in the implication that maybe the government can protect us all from a massive disease outbreak and yet remain “transparent and accountable”.

    As if that weren’t the boldest lie ever told.

    Sadly enough, he may actually believe that government could be limited to a few functions and be transparent and accountable. In which case, he isn’t lying, just stupid.

  6. >> i asked what the proper response was, and was never actually given an answer.

    > Take steps to avoid infection. What are you looking for?

    It’s a perfectly valid question. If you were in the habit of thinking like anarchists, instead of pretendedly-privatized statists (that is, Friedmaniacs), you’d know the answer. In a true agora, every square inch of property is privately owned. It is not coercion to forbid access to my property, which may serve secondarily as access to the property of others. You enter and pass only by my permsission. If someone contracts a potentially fatal communicable disease, every life-loving property owner would forbid entry to that person while he was contagious. Different people (and different easement agreements) can differ, but it is hard to imagine that owners of major routes of access would incur the liability of knowingly serving as diseases vectors. Barring intervention by burly Friedmaniacs (bellowing “Liberte! Egalite! Utilite!”), the problem is self-correcting.

  7. Swann’s answer is fine (and fine with Friedmans I’ll wager).

    I was having difficulty believing a reader here could think you can’t protect yourself without aggression and I wanted him to explain why he thought so. Just can’t wrap my head ‘reound the way a lot of people think some days.

  8. Friedman’s pseudo-private cops presume uncontracted easements that they, at least, can traverse without permission. This is already a state, by me. Any club I can’t quit is a state. I have no idea what Friedman would say about communicable diseases, but it’s obvious what Friedmaniacal cops would do. They already do it. And since there is no cost to them for their rampant criminality, they have no reason to behave as non-criminals do.

  9. Why do you keep slyly implying Friedman is a statist and calling people who agree with him “Friedmaniacs”? I don’t think he’s the best libertarian around, but you make him sound like the most vile statist.

  10. What’s the proper response to someone with a highly communicable disease Lopez? How do you protect yourself without initiating force? This is the ultimate negative externality.

    What do you figure the government is going to do to save you from influenza?

  11. > Can you give an example of the rampant criminality to ascribe to DF’s private cops?

    Repeating: “Friedman’s pseudo-private cops presume uncontracted easements that they, at least, can traverse without permission.”

    Do you need more? Involuntary arrest. Trespass. Property seizure. Involuntary trial. Involuntary punishment. Punishment in excess of the original injury. Etc. Friedman is an advocate of retributive justice, which is inherently criminal.

    > Why do you keep slyly implying Friedman is a statist and calling people who agree with him “Friedmaniacs”?

    I’m not implying anything. Friedmania is statism. David Freidman looked at the words “monopoly on force” and decided that the problem was the “monopoly.” In fact, the problem is institutionalized coercive after-the-fact dispute resolution, which Friedman procedes to replicate to the last tittle and jot. Friedmania is statism.

    We come back to where I entered this thread: I don’t see any evidence of anyone thinking like an anarchist and not just a privatized statist. Kennedy denies this, but he can’t identify a crime when I deliberately point it out.

    > I don’t think he’s the best libertarian around, but you make him sound like the most vile statist.

    He’s theories will never be enacted. But if they were, they would be the opening move in the next reversion to rampant statism, just as 1776 was the first step to our present morasss. By refusing to identify justice, seeking simply to rationalize our current injustice system in the garb of pretend-Capitalism, David Friedman betrays what immediate possibility there is for a true and permanent change in human behavior.

    In fact, in the long run, it makes no difference. Someday we will all do better–but someday is a long way off.

  12. In fact, in the long run, it makes no difference. Someday we will all do better–but someday is a long way off.

    I suppose I don’t need to tell you of all people what happens in the long run. :)

  13. Repeating: “Friedman’s pseudo-private cops presume uncontracted easements that they, at least, can traverse without permission.”

    Like American forces in Iraq?

    “Do you need more? Involuntary arrest. Trespass. Property seizure. Involuntary trial. Involuntary punishment. Punishment in excess of the original injury. Etc. Friedman is an advocate of retributive justice, which is inherently criminal.”

    Even you favor this kind of “rampant criminality” when necessary, right?

  14. Not every entry onto property requires easements or prior agreements. This has never been the law of property, nor should it be.

  15. > Like American forces in Iraq?

    John, about half the time you behave like a grown-up, and I respect that. The rest of the time you act just like this big-baby communists you pretend to abhor. This remark would be specious, except that it’s accidentally true: Friedmania is criminal in exactly the same essential ways that statism is criminal. Hence, Friedmania is statism. By your own admission, no less.

    > Even you favor this kind of “rampant criminality” when necessary, right?

    I am opposed to the use of force except where not to act with force would result in an even worse injury. This is not righteous behavior in my estimation–where right and wrong is measured in terms of subsequent damage to the ego of the person acting. It is simply less wrong than the alternative. It is arguable whether or not the War on Terror is such a case, but your continued resort to it is certainly the lifeboat fallacy.

    Moreover, my entire corpus is available on line. There is no need to pretend to have questions about what I think in order to mischaracterize it. You can quote from the original sources, contending with my arguments as you dare.

    > Not every entry onto property requires easements or prior agreements. This has never been the law of property, nor should it be.

    You’ll have to clarify that one. Under what circumstances are you willing to welcome forceful trespass onto your property by armed thugs? Do you claim that this willingness–here hypotesized and almost certainly specious, as it would be an attribute only of a very strange sexual fetish–is univeral to humankind, that no one, ever, should own his property by absolute right, with an absolute right to repel all intruders? Is this what you think Anarchism is?

    Is that what others here hope for, an idealized condition where cops can break into your home ar any time, without notice, coercing your person and confiscating your things? If so, stand down. You’re already there.

  16. > I suppose I don’t need to tell you of all people what happens in the long run.

    In the long run, human beings will live forever, except as they behave foolishly. Stupid people–and some innocent victims–will perish. The rest of us will be very, very civilized.

    Caesar said to be civilized is to be effeminized, but the proper expression of the idea is to be risk-averse. Hotheads die. May they rest in peace, since they never learned to live that way. The rest of us stand a fair chance to live so long that we will die only by choice.

    This is not part of my political philosophy, by the way, just an acknowledgement of the realities of the biological sciences.

    So, to answer you: Keynes was wrong. In the long run, we are all alive. In addition to learning how to think as Anarchists, we need to learn how to take the long view on everything.

  17. Not every entry onto property requires easements or prior agreements. This has never been the law of property, nor should it be.

    I think Holmes is referring to those cases where assessing the boundaries of property and the intent of the owner are difficult. For example, if I have a tool shed 50 feet from the nearest wall of my house, is it trespassing to stand midway between them at 25 feet? Or consider the act of walking up to someone’s door to knock on it – some people would approve of it, but some wouldn’t. Typically however there are no signs that tell you that; you just have to guess what their intent is.

  18. David Friedman and John Kennedy, et inifintely alia, have never thought about crime and justice in reality, preferring instead to copy the mistakes of everyone who preceded them in outrageous error. Should you like to discover justice as it actually relates to the real behavior of free moral agents, go here. It’s barely an introduction, but the links will take you as far as you dare to go.

  19. >> Not every entry onto property requires easements or prior agreements. This has never been the law of property, nor should it be.

    > I think Holmes is referring to those cases where assessing the boundaries of property and the intent of the owner are difficult. For example, if I have a tool shed 50 feet from the nearest wall of my house, is it trespassing to stand midway between them at 25 feet? Or consider the act of walking up to someone’s door to knock on it – some people would approve of it, but some wouldn’t. Typically however there are no signs that tell you that; you just have to guess what their intent is.

    If this is what Holmes meant, then, first, it doesn’t matter, and second, it has nothing to do with what we’re talking about. Innocent trespass has nothing to do with cops breaking into your house, either to arrest you or to quarantine you. Even so, it is absurd to think that we are going to undergo a radical, revolutionary change to become an Anarcho-Capitalist utopia and yet people are going to be just as stupid about their property as they are right now. These discussions–and Friedmnania as a mental condition–always work from the demented premise that everything will be completely different by being exactly the same. This is untrue.

    How will an interloper get to your shed without your permission? Only by crossing hundreds of other properties without permission. He will get to your shed only if that is where you do embalmings or cremations.

    I was unfair to Holmes in one respect: He speaks of what has “never been the law of property”–and this doesn’t matter at all. Practically speaking, there has never yet been a law of property. Property has always been owned subject to the whims of the local mafia of superior firepower. Whether or not there will ever be a just law of property is yet to be determined. But, if there is, such a law would never countenance a righteous entry onto another person’s property without “easements or prior agreements.” This doesn’t mean that a trepass would be necessarily actionable–which in my court would mean materially injurious. But neither does it mean it would ever be just.

    My property is mine. You use it only by my permission. Does anyone here wish to take the contrary position?

    If not, then getting back to the actual point, neither ordinary cops nor Friedmanical Rent-A-Cops can justly undertake the sine qua non function of their jobs, criminal trespass to arrest, confiscate–or quarantine.

    I would welcome short note of concession of this painfully obvious point from Kennedy, Holmes and the other contributors to NT.

  20. still, great avoidance.. what should be done in libertopia without initiating force?

    uh… what would the government do?

    this is avoiding the question completely.

    disease isn’t stopped by some property border, especially if it’s communicable by air. my point is the state would initiate force, and you can’t give me an alternative that wouldn’t.

  21. This remark would be specious, except that it’s accidentally true: Friedmania is criminal in exactly the same essential ways that statism is criminal. Hence, Friedmania is statism. By your own admission, no less.

    Hence, those who carry out the War On Terror are criminals. By your own admission, no less.

    (You’ll allow that their crimes possibly prevent future crimes that might be larger from occuring. Maybe.)

  22. The right to property is a bundle of rights centring around the right to exclude. That right to exclude is not unlimited, nor has it ever been, nor should it ever be.

    One limit to the right of exclusion is using exclusion as a shield for wrongs. You’re trying to use the shield of property as a sword to attack others. That won’t wash.

  23. Kennedy: Stop wasting my time. I told you two years ago that all war is crime. Your ass is now fully exposed. Either pull up your drawers or get lost.

    Holmes: Why would I volunteer to let you invade my property, coerce my person, confiscate my things? Why would you–or anyone–volunteer for such abuse? It really doesn’t matter what you read in a book of classical liberal political philosophy–a defense of statist criminality. The question is: How would you hope to put together a polity composed entirely of volunteers when you insist that you must be able to do what no sane one of them would volunteer to permit you to do?

    Is this really that hard for you to understand? Statism and Friedmanical Freelance Statism require people to endure abuses they would never volunteer to abide. The things you want to do can only be done by a state–by an insuperable mafia of superior firepower. As soon as you acknowledge that you have no right to push other people around, you have to learn to resolve disputes non-coercively. If you’re actually interested in learning political philosophy–as against rationalizations for criminal gangs–you need to rethink everything.

    Repeating:

    My property is mine. You use it only by my permission. Does anyone here wish to take the contrary position?

    If not, then getting back to the actual point, neither ordinary cops nor Friedmanical Rent-A-Cops can justly undertake the sine qua non function of their jobs, criminal trespass to arrest, confiscate–or quarantine.

    I would welcome short note of concession of this painfully obvious point from Kennedy, Holmes and the other contributors to NT.

  24. You cannot use your rights as a shield for your wrongs. This isn’t about permission, this is about where property rights end.

  25. >>If not, then getting back to the actual point, neither ordinary cops nor Friedmanical Rent-A-Cops can justly undertake the sine qua non function of their jobs, criminal trespass to arrest, confiscate–or quarantine.

    Ok, let me make SURE I get this straight:

    Hiring Rent-A-Cops to shoot people who wander onto your property without permission is ok.

    Sending Rent-A-Cops onto other peoples property without the permission of the property owner is not ok.

    Assuming I have this right, I have some observations/questions:

    1. I gather that the correct approach to “somebody stole my stuff and now its on their land” is to cause the thief to be ostracised by ruining their reputation, thus making theft unprofitable/suicidal. I’m all down with this. This requires constructing a ROBUST and SCALABLE reputation system, which might be tricky.

    2. Say some bastard kidnaps my woman and puts her in a dungeon on his property. Is it ok for me to assemble a raiding party to spring him out? Note this would involve trespassing AT LEAST over the property of the kidnapper.

  26. It’s pretty strange that Swann claims that “all war is criminal” yet writes positively of folks like Rice and Bush who are, according to his analysis, criminal masterminds.

    Even assuming that every charge Greg lays against Friedman is true, it’s obvious that DDF’s not even in the same league as career politicos or their War On Terror.

    Greg, have you since repudiated your former kind words you had for the present administration and their Terror War? If not, how do you square all of that with what you’ve had to say in this thread?

    If you can reconcile the two, couldn’t Friedman just use that defense of his vision as well?

  27. It’s pretty strange that Swann claims that “all war is criminal” yet writes positively of folks like Rice and Bush who are, according to his analysis, criminal masterminds.

    That’s partly why I haven’t read Swann’s website in awhile; libertarians with glaring contradictions on their front pages make me a little wary, especially it involves turning a blind eye to career politicos to save us from Red China or whatever. And making wild biblical references to Cain and Abel doesn’t help it either.

    If not, then getting back to the actual point, neither ordinary cops nor Friedmanical Rent-A-Cops can justly undertake the sine qua non function of their jobs, criminal trespass to arrest, confiscate–or quarantine.

    I would welcome short note of concession of this painfully obvious point from Kennedy, Holmes and the other contributors to NT.

    Depends on what exactly their function is. I can concede that it’s wrong to violate private property – the problem arises in those situations that property is violated, or when identifying property is difficult. I haven’t read Friedman, but I know he’s an ancap and supports some regime of private defense agencies. You claim to be an anarchist; what, then, is your view of private defense agencies, and why is it more libertarian than Friedman’s? I don’t think any libertarian can logically support a political order where A can steal from B with impunity and then magically be safe from any consequences by hiding in his living room. As Holmes has pointed out that seems to be what you’re doing. Is he wrong?

  28. Just so everyone knows (everyone being Stefan mainly), the blog software ignores italics markup tags that span across paragraphs. Except, ha ha, it works on the “preview” page. If you want it to work for real, every paragraph needs its own tags.

    [Ironically, I originally suggested blockquote tags, which have proceeded to fuck up every post underneath.]

  29. Holmes: You cannot use your rights as a shield for your wrongs. This isn’t about permission, this is about where property rights end.

    Yet, again: Why would anyone volunteer to let you define where their property rights end? You can have cops or you can have a voluntary society, but you cannot have a society of masochists who volunteer to let you abuse them. Are you being deliberately pig-headed or are you just dull-witted? This is an obvious point, and your sanctimonious assertions do nothing to change it.

    BTW, “your rights as a shield for your wrongs” is a definition swap–you are conflating unrelated concepts as opposites. This is a stupid Objectivist trick. Rand pulled this stunt all the time. But “your rights” in this context already implies a state. Do you see why? If you–or your gang or even a majority of the like-minded–define my rights, then you are asserting an inequality among people: Some are rights-definers and some are consigned to being the rights-defined. This is a Third-Thing argument, demonstrably false, but your resort to it betrays how little you understand anarchy and how much you are wed to statist ideas.

  30. “I told you two years ago that all war is crime.”

    I’m not apt forget a thing like that. I’m pointing out that you’re for crime when necessary. So it’s not much of a criticism when you call something a crime.

  31. Just so everyone knows (everyone being Stefan mainly), the blog software ignores italics markup tags that span across paragraphs.

    That’s funny, for me the preview and the post look the same in firefox…

  32. I would welcome short note of concession of this painfully obvious point from Kennedy, Holmes and the other contributors to NT.

    When I trespass I violate your rights, yet there are circumstances when it is reasonable for me to do so. For instance if I have good reason to believe you are threatening me then I may reasonably take action which I later learn is trespass because you are in fact innocent. In that case I have indeed violated your rights, yet I have not acted unreasonably if I acted in good faith with good judgment. Then I owe restitution.

  33. Madison: > Hiring Rent-A-Cops to shoot people who wander onto your property without permission is ok.

    Certainly not. I made a point of saying that I would not find against a trespasser who had not caused a material injury. Crime is injury. Even in a case where you must respond forcefully to injury in real-time, if your response is disproportionate to the original injury, I would find against you for that excess. This is the point at which pretend-anarchists usually get vary manly about who-the-hell they can kill-at-will, but justice is in fact easy to discover: What would you want to have happen if the tables were turned?

    > Sending Rent-A-Cops onto other peoples property without the permission of the property owner is not ok.

    See how easy this is? Is it okay with you for the cops to break down your door and frog-march you to the precinct house, taking your possessions as ‘evidence’? Don’t hem and haw about circumstances. When it happens, you won’t have any say about the circumstances. Is it okay with you? If not, then we understand perfectly why this is never right, regardless of what someone is presumed to have done.

    > Assuming I have this right, I have some observations/questions:

    Wrong on both, but okay.

    > 1. I gather that the correct approach to “somebody stole my stuff and now its on their land” is to cause the thief to be ostracized by ruining their reputation, thus making theft unprofitable/suicidal. I’m all down with this. This requires constructing a ROBUST and SCALABLE reputation system, which might be tricky.

    No, again, you’re mistaken. First, it’s wrong to presume that injury is intended. Most injuries are unintentional, but policing other people’s intentions is really none of your business, is it? And I made a point of describing how a particular kind of non-coercive dispute resolution would work: “In a true agora, every square inch of property is privately owned. It is not coercion to forbid access to my property, which may serve secondarily as access to the property of others.” In the case of someone who has been judged after-the-fact to have caused a material injury and who will not make restitution for it, he would lose all freedom of movement along with all access to the trading medium.

    This is me from my place, expanding on my remarks above about a truly anarchist response to a communicable disease:>> Market Anarchists, Anarcho-Capitalists, Agorists–you name us–spend an inordinate amount of time pondering crime. This is the origin of Friedmania, how to deal with crime without official cops–while looking and acting just exactly like official cops. But the underlying issue is almost identical, as is the solution. People who injure others and don’t make good on the injury have would no access to other people’s property–at least not people serious about good behavior. In addition, they have would no access to the trading medium, hence to the marketplace itself.

    >> The would-be Anarchists crave an angry evil-smoting god, but they don’t need one. If the majority of people are well-behaved, the few bad actors will either starve to death at home or run away. They may try to shoot their way out, but this will prove to be a diminishing return, as it were.

    >> A coercive after-the-fact dispute resolution system is unjust, whether it is a true state or the fake Friedmaniacal kind. But it also is unnecessary. Everything the Friedmaniacs want to do would be done better, faster and cheaper by non-coercive means. But that’s a Utilitarian argument, where the defense for Anarchism and Capitalism is moral: We do not use force except in real-time self-defense because other people’s lives, time, bodies and property are not ours to dispose of.

    And because coercion is self-destructive, I might add.

    As to this–“a ROBUST and SCALABLE reputation system”–it already exists in the form of the credit-reporting system. There is nothing I propose that could not have been done in 1776 instead of this mess we made of things.

    > 2. Say some bastard kidnaps my woman and puts her in a dungeon on his property. Is it ok for me to assemble a raiding party to spring him out? Note this would involve trespassing AT LEAST over the property of the kidnapper.

    Do you think you are prevented by nature from doing this now? You are not. Here’s a thought, though: What if you’re mistaken? What if you get the wrong house? What if she just left you and you can’t face facts? Who’s the bad guy now?

    In any case, the issue is not trespass. The issue is the ontological nature of human beings. It is not possible to control the purposive behavior of another human being, and it is epistemologically and morally wrong to try to do so. The moral wrong is extensive, but the primary and essential fault is in the damage one does to one’s own ego by coercive behavior. You certainly have the capacity to rescue your kidnapped wife. And you would certainly be justified in doing so, if the facts were as you report them: To fail to act forcefully would result in worse injury. But even then your use of force would have permanent unhappy consequences for your ego. The net subtraction might be smaller than if you had failed to act, but it would still be a subtraction. Crime is involuntary social contact resulting in a material injury, so your action is surely criminal. I would not find against if your response was proportionate to the crime done to you and to your wife. But the fact that a bad man did a bad thing does not make him not-a-man, nor does it make you Batman. Facts are facts, and political philosophy, until now, has been a means of avoiding facts.

    This is the point at which pretend-libertarians–so much in love with their fantasy lives as Batman that that they must cling to the very chains that bind them–put on outsized displays of the havoc they’ve already wreaked upon their souls, and I am genuinely sorry that I am a catalyst for this kind of behavior. It makes nothing better, but it makes them even worse, which is sad. But the kind of damage to the ego I’m talking about would happen even without intentional coercion, even without a purposive act on your part. I wrote about this in A canticle for Kathleen Sullivan, about the irreparable harm occasioned by simply observing a tragedy. It were well that people were honest enough to admit the truth of this, since each one of us lives constantly with the same sorts of torments, but this again is usually too much for pretend-libertarians in love with lies.

    I don’t know you, and I’ll assume the best of you, but from my point of view, all of these are silly and obvious resorts. My entire body of work is available on-line, easily searched. If you really have questions are not simply looking to (fail to) score points, you can read what I’ve written.

  34. > you’re for crime when necessary

    You’re for crime when it’s not necessary. You and Friedman and Rand and Officer Friendly are for continuous violations of the sovereignty of human beings for no reason you can even name. You’re a life-long congenital criminal–or criminal-wannabe-pretend, thank heavens. You’ve never thought about any of this, and it takes all your cranial capacity to keep from thinking about it.

    Yet again, you can’t do the things that you and Rand and Friedman and Officer Friendly want to do in a society composed entirely of volunteers. As much as you might want to invade your neighbor’s house, you don’t want him invading yours. Because you don’t, you won’t consent to the possibility, no matter how remote it might seem. Hence, the crime you long to commit requires a state, and you are a statist.

  35. This one was funny:

    Kennedy: > When I trespass I violate your rights, yet there are circumstances when it is reasonable for me to do so. For instance if I have good reason to believe you are threatening me then I may reasonably take action which I later learn is trespass because you are in fact innocent. In that case I have indeed violated your rights, yet I have not acted unreasonably if I acted in good faith with good judgment. Then I owe restitution.

    Whenever outraged pretend-anarchists need a hypothetical bad guy, he’s always a slavering kidnapping rapist of barely-ripe teenage girls. But when Kennedy wants to show how sweet the police can be, he tiptoes over the lawn, straightening each blade of grass as he goes.

    > I later learn is trespass

    How is it not trespass either way? If you have no right to pass, you have no right to pass. You didn’t conjure up the right by imagining that you were injured, did you? That would be a social contract, right, an imaginary unilateral license to commit crimes?

    > In that case I have indeed violated your rights

    Same point. I don’t lose my right to be secure in my home and my person because you imagined you were in peril, do I?

    > Then I owe restitution.

    Awfully big of you. What if somebody died? It’s happened, with cops who didn’t straighten the grass but who did scream a lot. Better yet, what if you died? Colonel Colt is a light sleeper. I wouldn’t call that justice, but, brother, you asked for it.

    I find it amazing that would-be anarchists are so pig-headed on this point. Lopez’s favorite short story is all about why no one would volunteer to live in the company of cops, Rent-A-Cops, wannabe-cops or other rationalization-addicted vigilantes.

    In fact, you started with the truth:

    > When I trespass I violate your rights

    Think it through.

  36. > Does the fact that the crimes you favor require states make you a statist?

    In fact they don’t. States are the only way the job can be done for now, because we’ve insisted on encysting ourselves with them. As I’ve written at considerable length, the actual war on terror is cultural, and it is hardly–or not even–begun. FWIW, in a Janioist agora, terrorism would be all but impossible and without efficacy in any case.

    I’m the only anarchist you’ve ever known, John. I’ll be dead someday, and you will have squandered a remarkable opportunity.

  37. >>I don’t know you, and I’ll assume the best of you, but from my point of view, all of these are silly and obvious resorts.

    Here’s a fundamental problem: At least 60% of the people hanging around this corner of the blogosphere are serious people of genius intelligence with a sincere interest in advancing human understanding and human freedom. If these people fail to understand stuff that you consider obvious and silly, there are several possibilities:

    1. Your readers are being idiots, at least temporarily. This brings up the real question of how to make them less stupid so that the knowledge can be transmitted.

    2. You’ve made a mistake in your reasoning.

    3. You’re reasoning is correct, but your theories haven’t been simplified to the point where they can be easily grasped by others.

    4. The culture/language has been poisoned with misinformation to the point where effective communication about the topic at hand is very difficult.

    Let us work together to overcome these difficulties.

    >>If you really have questions are not simply looking to (fail to) score points, you can read what I’ve written.

    I’ve been looking at the stuff with some interest over the past several days, and will continue to do so. My comments on this matter represent a sincere interest in understanding that which you are trying to communicate. I’ve suggested that other friends of mine look at your stuff as well in an attempt to learn from it. Scoring points is of no interest to me.

    >>”In a true agora, every square inch of property is privately owned. It is not coercion to forbid access to my property, which may serve secondarily as access to the property of others.”

    Then it is not coercion for my hired guards to gun down those who attempt to enter my property without my permission.

    >>It is not possible to control the purposive behavior of another human being, and it is epistemologically and morally wrong to try to do so.

    Hmm. Seems that if you beat someone hard enough, they will usually do what you want. That doesn’t make it RIGHT, but it does make it possible.

    >>You and Friedman and Rand and Officer Friendly are for continuous violations of the sovereignty of human beings for no reason you can even name. You’re a life-long congenital criminal–or criminal-wannabe-pretend, thank heavens.

    Friedman and JTK sincerely want to decrease the amount of stealing and killing that go on. I’m having trouble understanding how you would believe otherwise. It may be reasonable to claim that Friedman’s plans might have the EFFECT of increasing the amount of stealing and killing, but that’s not their INTENT.

    >>You’ve never thought about any of this, and it takes all your cranial capacity to keep from thinking about it.

    No, Swann, I’m afraid he has. JTK may be mistaken sometimes, but he is not an idiot.

  38. Madison: > Hmm. Seems that if you beat someone hard enough, they will usually do what you want. That doesn’t make it RIGHT, but it does make it possible.

    This is completely factually incorrect. All purposive human behavior is caused by the will of the actor. You cannot cause another person to take a purposive action. No matter how dreadfully you beat your victim, he can always refuse to act. If you can grasp this one simple fact you will understand why all of political philosophy has been specious, void of meaning. Century after century, we act toward human beings as they are not and we achieve nothing but tragedy. My argument is about acting upon things as they really are…

    I’ll leave the rest of this for now. If you pursue this link and the links leading from it, I will provide every answer I have to your questions.

  39. 1. Swann: Hence, the crime you long to commit requires a state, and you are a statist.

    2. Kennedy: Does the fact that the crimes you favor require states make you a statist?

    3. Swann: In fact they don’t. States are the only way the job can be done for now…

    Thus states are required now to commit the crimes you favor now. Nothing else will do: Now.

    …because we’ve insisted on encysting ourselves with them.

    No, *we* have not.

    You have flatly contradicted the standard you just applied to me. I could have disputed your point on several other grounds, but flat contradiction suffices to demonstrate you’re not making sense.

  40. Madison: > Hmm. Seems that if you beat someone hard enough, they will usually do what you want. That doesn’t make it RIGHT, but it does make it possible.

    Swann: This is completely factually incorrect. All purposive human behavior is caused by the will of the actor. You cannot cause another person to take a purposive action.

    Well usually people use the word “cause” to denote an event or condition which brings about an effect. So in a sense Madison is correct that you can “cause” someone to do something by beating them up (sorta like how I “cause” the clerk to sell me shoes by giving him money). But Swann is also correct in a sense; he’s saying something like if A contributes to B and B contributes to C then A doesn’t “really” contribute to C, only B does (where B = human agency) since its effects can only really be felt through B. The confusion seems to lie in distiguishing what “really” causes something, which I’m not sure there is a good answer for, since in general C may have multiple causes and all of them of varying importance.

    His exact claim was “The issue is the ontological nature of human beings. It is not possible to control the purposive behavior of another human being, and it is epistemologically and morally wrong to try to do so.”

    It is true that human agency isn’t something that can be manipulated directly (telepathy machines, anyone?). However, statists recognize the truth that you can get the same result by threatening to beat people up, and historically this seems to have worked out pretty well. I guess the moral claim lurking around here is the Kantian means-for-ends principle, namely that it’s wrong to treat people as means rather than ends.

  41. The best thing for the hypothetical Kennedy to do would be to just break into the hypothetical kidnapper’s house when the dude’s at the store and change the locks.

    Because in an Agora, theft terminates property rights.

    Whatever. I’m not among T.J.’s genius 60%, but then again I don’t need much book learnin’ or native talent to know the whiff of bullshit when it hits my nose.

    Savagery does not make sense. The proto-savagery called statesmanship does not make sense. What makes sense is the renunciation of savagery, the renunciation of “might makes right”.

    Except sometimes savagery makes a fuckload of sense:

    The objective the United States seeks in making war with Iraq is not any of those that have been imputed, whether by supporters or opponents of the war. The objective is to scare the hell out of the world, generally, and Islam in particular. By means of a minimal effort at wreaking maximum havoc upon Iraq in a very short span of time, the United States will demonstrate to her enemies and allies alike that she is not only the pre-eminent world power, she is in fact an inconquerable power.

    So statism and savagery are bad, but sometimes good. It’s like, like this thing, y’know?

    Please understand: I am normally opposed to the underlying philosophy of this war–‘Teach ’em a lesson!’–even though virtually all Libertarians are normally for it. The reason I am for it here is that Cain is correct: A demonstration of invincibility is the only strategy that will work against Abel–who is anti-rationality-by-choice.

    Muslim militants: anti-rational-by-choice. Car thieves: *not* anti-rational-by-choice. Duh.

    But wait:

    You’ve never thought about any of this, and it takes all your cranial capacity to keep from thinking about it.

    Kennedy’s anti-rational-by-choice, too!

  42. Because in an Agora, theft terminates property rights.

    Or in other words there isn’t any such thing as “property” at all…

    This reminds me of a really funny Monty Python sketch where a guy is trying to seduce this girl in his living room, when a weird guy wraps on the door, wanders right in, and starts making himself a drink. All the while the man is trying to get him to leave, but then more people start showing up, until the first guy decides to shoot the owner and they all have a good laugh while the girl is horrified. To me this seems to summarize perfectly the problems with variants of socialism that are against property. I never thought something a libertarian said would remind me of it.

  43. Why would anyone volunteer to let you define where their property rights end?

    It’s not about volunteering, it’s simply about where property rights end. You cannot use your rights as a sword. It’s that simple.

  44. I’m willing to agree that NT’s contributors are at least 60% of a genius, taken all together.

    If you are interested in the argument of property L0p#z attempts to parody, go here. After you read the extract, you’ll know why L0p#z didn’t dare cite the original text.

    Holmes: > It’s not about volunteering, it’s simply about where property rights end. You cannot use your rights as a sword. It’s that simple.

    This is simply solipsism. You haven’t defended this argument, but, even if you had, it’s not incumbent upon anyone else to agree with it. Among volunteers–which means people who have an innate and irrevocable right to disagree with you no matter how huffy you get–you would have to do better. You can only hope to ram this down the throats of innocents with a state–which is exactly where I left you the last time you made this empty assertion.

  45. I don’t have much problem with that excerpt Greg, except that while property rights can become unsalvagable after theft it is not theft which terminates them. You also seem to say you’re entitled to recover your loss from the thief, but you may not use deadly force unless your life is directly threatened. A gang breaks into your house. They don’t directly threaten your life, they just sit around watching TV, raiding the fridge and making long distance phone calls. They do not threaten you with any direct bodily harm, they’re just going to live off you as parasites as long as it pays. How are you going to get rid of them without deadly force?

    And you’re still left with the problem that you consider some crimes desirable: One should not commit crimes, except when one should.

  46. >>How are you going to get rid of them without deadly force?

    Well, I could always goose them with stun guns, duct-tape them upside-down naked to trees outside my house, then cover them with shaving cream. When they recovered and their friends cut them down, they might be too weirded out to give me further trouble.

    That’s why I’ve long been a proponent of better stun gun technology. It would make the task of repelling insects — street hooligans, the police, my ex-girlfriend, etc. — so much less messy.

  47. Well, I’m inching towards the ranks of the Nameless.

    As for The Citation I Dare Not Name, it doesn’t exactly put me in my place. Statism and savagery are bad, but sometimes good.

    Still.

    What differentiates the Terror War from any other Crime? Answer is it’s “the only strategy that will work”.

    Who decides and how?

    Seems to me that it’s pretty hard to proceed logically from a premise that one ought not commit Crimes to the conclusion that one ought to sometimes commit crimes. It’s akin to Ayn Rand’s endorsement of limited (ha, ha) government – a flat contradiction of everything that supposedly led to the conclusion.

    In fact it’s interesting to note that both Swannarchy and Objectivism fall apart in the same spot: where philisophical abstracts meet an imperfect world.

    Rand wanted a government solely dedicated to protecting men’s rights. Problem is that such a thing isn’t possible and even if it was, what do you do about someone who doesn’t want to pay for the thing? Answer was she made some noise about how a government could be funded by voluntary means (all of which was just silly) and posited a terrible alternative, that a lack of a government would mean All Against All.

    Swann wants a War On Terror. Problem is that that necessarily means committing what he terms Crimes on a massive scale. He’s learned a trick from Rand though and doesn’t pretend that a voluntary Terror War is possible, he just proceeds straight to the terrible consequences of not waging a Terror War. That’s a better strategy because it’s hard to argue for or against possible future consequences. He can prophecize doom and destruction, only stayed by this “Just And Libertarian War”, and there isn’t anything to say except come up with your own prophecy that you pluck out of some dark and personal place. Prophecy vs. prophecy isn’t going to get anywhere, so it’s a stalemate.

    A problem with Swann’s argument is this: why stop here? Swann’s implicitly accepting that individuals are fodder for his Terror War (Think not? How are you gonna pay for it?). So now that we’ve dispensed with individualism (solely due to expediency, natch) and we’re cheering on mass collectivized violence (only due to the dire circumstances, really), why stop here? What does Swann say to the next person who comes along with a doom-and-gloom forecast who wants to conscript him into a War On Whatever?

    Another problem with The War Against Terror in general is that its defenders expect the government to conduct the Terror War in a manner utterly unlike every other affair the government undertakes:

    If all goes as planned–as I surmise it to be planned–Wahabi/Qutbist Islam will be discredited and Islam will return to a self-satisfied navel-contemplation.

    Swann doesn’t trust the government to build public transit right but displays a Balkoesque level of credulity in trusting it to be able to centrally plan a successful Terror War.

    The logical conclusion from all of this is that Swann wants the Terror War and is going to support it come hell or high water or rational argumentation.

  48. It’s not a PERFECT solution, it’s just less messy than blowing the intruders away with guns under many circumstances. Besides, with good stun weaponry, you always have the OPTION of cracking their skulls with bats once they are unconscious. More options are good.

  49. > I don’t have much problem with that excerpt Greg, except that while property rights can become unsalvagable after theft it is not theft which terminates them.

    Gee, perfesser, thanks for the correction. I guess this slid past you:

    “We said that you own your property to the exact extent you can defend it.”

    It’s from the immediately preceding section, so I guess it’s all my fault, like all your other thoughtless errors.

    > You also seem to say you’re entitled to recover your loss from the thief, but you may not use deadly force unless your life is directly threatened.

    I said nothing of the kind. What you may do is an ontological fact, not subject to dispute. You can kill anyone you want whenever you want. Shall I commend you for having consistently refrained from murder for half a century, even though you’re always talking about it? In any case, political philosophy is concerned with what one ought to do, not with what one is capable of doing.

    As I keep pointing out to Holmes, who seems to be on the verge of a full-on tantrum, what I am doing, at least, is describing the type of behavior that would have to commonly obtain for there to be a successful and enduring polity composed entirely of volunteers–the stateless society you claim to want but have absolutely no idea how to achieve. (This of course has nothing at all to do with the War on Terror, as any idiot can understand–proving beyond all doubt that you are not just any idiot.)

    (Incidentally, John, one of your common errors, perhaps an artifact of your renounced Christianity, is that you want for ethics to be proscriptive, when in fact ethics is prescriptive. If you want to stay married–a polity of volunteers–you normally should not beat your wife. Does this mean there could never be a circumstance where beating your wife might be justified–might be the less-unhappy of two unhappy outcomes? If you are driving away from a tornado and your wife, in hysterics, tries to seize the wheel, you are well advised to knock her out. If she doesn’t thank you later for your foresight, divorce her–she’s even less sane than you are.)

    Good behavior is usually pretty easy to find: How would you want the other party to behave toward you if the tables were turned? So when you tell me that you want to break into my house because you suspect–incorrectly in fact–that I stole your camera, this is not terribly interesting to me. The intelligent question to ask is how would you want me to behave toward you if I have erroniously assumed you are hoarding my camera?

    The answer to the second question is the standard of behavior that would have to obtain for an all-volunteer polity to persist. Even if you all agreeed–and you might, given that NT contributors seem to be at least 60% retarded–to a mutual home-invasion compact, you would all quit the club as soon as you saw the consequences of your foolish agreement.

    Can’t quit? Any club you can’t quit is a state. The answer to the first question–how should I behave with respect to him?–is always the same as the answer to the second question–how do I want him to behave toward me? If the answers are different, you will not achieve a society of volunteers. They will quit in droves until you amass enough weapons to forbid their escape. Meet the new boss…

    Now I realize I’ve asked a question of you, John Kennedy, and it it’s normally more important for you to collect high-fives from your posse of 60% retards than to concede the obvious, but I’m up one whole point for the day. I’m feeling lucky.

    Inlookers: I wrote Janio at a Point in January and February of 1988. It was intended to be the epilogue of a novel I’ve not yet written–and by now may never write–so it’s tougher to work with than it needs to be. If I were re-writing it now, I would do it as straight non-fiction philosophy, but there is almost nothing that I would change in the philosophy itself.

    At the time that I wrote it, I assumed that the time-frame for practical expression of the ideas in the book was on the order of 500 years. This is whay I don’t get exercised that people don’t understand it. The book reasons very cogently about all the monkey-wiring that is our legacy from Abel–and from the beasts Abel yearns to mimic. I don’t expect for people to understand it, unless they have a very strong commitment to stop behaving as beasts. But given advances in bio-technology, we may have to learn how to behave with true civility much sooner than I anticipated. That would be a blessing beyond measure.

    I can tell by my own traffic that there are a lot of people following this particular thread. If you want to understand how to build a true anarchy, rather than a semi-privatized and evanescent state-analogue, Janio at a Point is the place to begin. I hope I am not the last word on actual anarchy, but I am most assuredly the first.

    I’m off to Las Vegas for the weekend. The pokers rooms are crawling with 60% retards, and it turns out they all owe me money. I’m going to collect it–non-coercively, of course. Happy Thanksgiving!

  50. I almost get the impression from the extracts above that Swann is misunderstanding what it means to steal something; the idea seems to be that if A steals something from B and then C buys the item from A then somehow C gets legitimate title to the object. But I think it’s invalid to say C has legitimate title to the object, because C is in fact engaging in a rights-violation, albeit unknowingly.

    One way of looking at it is to realize that when a thief takes something from you he is still aggresing against you even if he’s no longer in your immediate vicinity. Roderick Long I think explained this by saying that people have “spheres of authority” that surround them, and that by taking something I own, you are actively trespassing into my sphere of authority merely by retaining the stolen good, and thus I have the right to retrieve it from you as surely as if the robbery were taking place in my house, two feet away from me, right now. So saying that C can legitimately acquire the property from B is akin to saying one burglar can trade the stolen loot to his partner back at the crime house, who can then trade it back to him; the thief thereby comes to legitimately own it, which is ludicrous.

    In short, Swann seems able to recognize property when it’s within a 10-foot radius or so of the owner, but not otherwise, which seems pretty curious.

  51. We said that you own your property to the exact extent you can defend it.

    This destroys the concept of property, reducing it to possession.

    Does this mean there could never be a circumstance where beating your wife might be justified–might be the less-unhappy of two unhappy outcomes?

    Unhappiness might be inevitable in some circumstance but evil is not. Crimes are not justified. An act is a crime precicsely because it cannot be justified. It is conceivable in principle that beating my wife could be justified, but in that case it wouldn’t be a crime. A beating (or a bombing) can in principle be justified; a crime cannot.

    It’s not your endorsement of the war that’s the point here, it’s your endorsement of crime. To err in identifying evil is one thing, to identify it and advocate it is another, and more troubling.

  52. The intelligent question to ask is how would you want me to behave toward you if I have erroneously assumed you are hoarding my camera?

    I’d want you to act reasonably in good faith. You could have good reason to conclude I had stolen your camera and yet be wrong. In that case I would not find it unreasonable for you to move to recover from me what you think I’ve stolen.

    In so doing if you trespass against me, but can then satisfy me that you acted reasonably in good faith then I will have no objection to your behavior.

    Suppose you had seen my identical twin (whom you had no idea existed) swipe your camera and put it in his pocket. He eludes you but moments later you find me instead wearing similar clothes. It would be reasonable, though wrong, for you to conclude that I stole your camera and that it’s in my pocket. It would be reasonable for you to search me for it, though in fact you’d be violating my rights because I didn’t steal your camera. But you could easily satisfy me later that you’d acted reasonably and in good faith. That’s all I want from you.

  53. This of course has nothing at all to do with the War on Terror, as any idiot can understand…

    Your writings on the Terror War have nothing at all to do with the rest of your philosophy?

    That’s true enough in one sense.

  54. Also, while we’re taking time out to pick on Swann I’d like to add a small ad hominem in response to one of his own:

    I’m the only anarchist you’ve ever known, John. I’ll be dead someday, and you will have squandered a remarkable opportunity.

    This sounds like an attempt to define away your opponent’s argument, sometimes called a “no true-scotsman” type argument. In this case Swann says he’s the only “real” anarchist around, something which anarcho-socialists like to do as well in debating anarcho-capitalists. But Rothbard, Hoppe, Spooner, Tucker, Molinari, etc were anarchists, as well as Bakunin, Tolstoy, Proudhon, etc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *