A few quotes and comments

Sometimes life gets in the way of my writing and posting here on my little blog in the backwaters of the internet. At the end of the year I happen to be off work on Christmas vacation and so I have a chance to do some scribbling. I though I would share a few quotes today. I have not done that here in some time. Today, I would like to share a few randomly selected items in no particular order or importance.

I have long maintained that the State is the greatest source of evil in our world. Mr. Knapp asks a pertinent question:

“Is it to the benefit of humankind to exist in, and be driven in all collective action by, perpetual and pervasive fear? The answer to that question is also the answer to the question of whether or not we need — or, indeed, can tolerate the continued existence of — the state.” ~ Thomas L. Knapp

The question of why more people can’t see that the state is a gang of thieves writ large and continue to think that we need the state is a mystery since all history shows that all states will abuse their own people and start wars with other nation-states. Why do people not see this. One reason may be that the have been trained to think like slaves and think of themselves as helpless to do anything without the state’s blessings.

“Helpless people take orders well, they don’t have minds of their own, they are predictable, they won’t surprise corporations or governments with resistance to the newest product craze, the newest genetic patent — or by armed revolution. Helpless people can be counted on to despise independent citizens and hence they act as a fifth column in opposition to social change in the direction of personal sovereignty.” ~ John Taylor Gatto

How does the state keep people so slave-like and helpless? The state has many minions that live off the populous and butter their bread by protecting the villains in charge. The mainstream media in all its forms has always been a willing partner to the state and is perhaps its most important propaganda arm. (if not the public schools)

“The ‘mainstream’ media simply can’t be trusted. That’s why newspapers are losing circulation at a rapid clip, and television news is fading in importance. It’s not the Internet that’s killing off the sainted mandarins of the “mainstream” – it’s their role as transmission belts for official propaganda, whether it be from the government or the partisan opposition. They’re shills, and everybody knows it.” ~ Justin Raimondo

On Twitter I seem to have many friends who tend to think that an answer lies in “more and better” politicians of whatever type they prefer. Some think voting libertarian will help, or voting Republican, or even voting in more Democrats. Well, I can’t understand how they think voting will help since voting in politicians got us to the place we are at now. It boggles my mind.

“There’s no policy change that’s going to save us. There’s no election that’s going to put a halt to the onslaught of tyranny. It’s here already – this country has changed for the worse and will continue to change for the worse. There is now a division between the citizenry and the state. When that state is used as a tool against me, there is no longer any reason why I should owe any allegiance to that state.” ~ Nick Monahan

Some people call for “limited government” like Don Cooper does in the following quote, but there is a problem with that idea. The U.S. started with a very, very limited government under the Articles of Confederation but we have moved toward ever more power in the central government ever since. And the “states rights” crowd forgets that your state government is no saint either. For my money, only the total anarchy of Murry N. Rothbard will do the trick in the long run.

“It would seem though that the only way to ensure lack of government intervention is to limit government. Since even such a clearly written document as our constitution isn’t able to invoke the necessary integrity and morality in our federal civil servants, it’s clear that the only solution is to limit the federal government to nothing and allow the states to govern and trade amongst themselves and with other economic agents.” ~ Don Cooper

We now have warrantless wiretapping, no-knock home invasions by the police, widespread spying on innocent citizens by the state, suppression of information under the cover of “state secrets”, torture, continual imperialist wars and much much more all paid for by taxes stolen from the public at the point of a gun. America’s permanent “shadow government” – the military-intelligence-corporate apparatus” is well funded by your money.

“Don’t think “Taxation is theft” is merely a libertarian bumper sticker. No amount of spin, slant, cant, parsing, philosophizing or any other wordplay can turn government-imposed taxation into a voluntary activity.” ~ Garry Reed

Garry Reed is right. No service or product of any kind should be provided at the barrel of a gun. There can be no exceptions unless you think people have no rights to not be the victim of aggression. It does not matter what lie the state uses as a cover for their theft no what “good deeds” they claim they will use the stolen money for. It’s time to stop the excuses and the real thieves and murderers who are politicians, government bureaucrats, and all the other minions of the state. It’s time to do away with them forever.



What you owe to the state


What do you owe to the United States of America just because you were born here and are a citizen?

“Nobody is born with a mandatory obligation to invisible lines on a map. Our fundamental obligation is to ourselves, our families, and the people that we choose to let into our circles…not to a piece of dirt that’s controlled by mob-installed bureaucrats.” ~ Simon Black

The biggest problem with any state is that it is the one institution that we allow a most peculiar exemption from all of the moral laws that guide us in our dealings with one another. We all know that the world is a very complex place with billions of people reacting to each other every day. We can not predict all of the ramifications of our various actions and so we have moral rules to guide us all. We have a deep sense of what is right and what is fair as we observe individuals dealing with one another in their daily affairs. Do I have any right to impose my will on my neighbor, who is doing me no harm?  Of course not! And my neighbor has no right to do me harm as long as I do not aggress against him — not even if he joins with a majority and passes a law that says he may do so.

The state is not some magical entity but it is simply an organization of individual human beings. There is no reason to believe that “the end justifies the means” for the state when it is morally wrong for the single individual or for non-state groups. If we set out to do things “for the greater good” believing that the ends justify the means, then we may realize to our horror that we have ushered in great evils. Recall that the definition of “ironic evil” is the evil that good men do as they try their best to do good. It is a law of nature and a close cousin of “the law of unintended consequences”.

The state is nothing more than a group of men and women running a criminal monopoly that uses force, fraud, and coercion to make everyone else to buy services from them. Even if they are correct and their old document that you or I never signed, called the Constitution, gives them permission to rob and brutalize the population, does that give them to moral right to do so? Of course not. They have a monopoly on interpreting and applying the constitution which they claim is a contract, but I never agreed to that contract and there is no impartial court to go to with contractual disputes anyway.They enforce the constitution with bullets.

Ideas are the motive power that produces human progress (or lack of same) and shapes the world. Ideas are more powerful than armies. This is why the state spends so much effort propagandizing us to get us to believe they have some rightful monopoly on the use of force and that only the minions of the state can decide what everyone must do, say, and think. Government employees think they are an elite class; above everyone else. Their wishes and opinions become the law while our wishes become crimes without prior approval by the state. The laws of the state are a club to beat the population and not a shield of protection. As long as the American people continue to believe in the idea that their most formidable enemies are terrorists from distant lands or other countries rather than their own government here at home they will continue to lose freedom and wealth to the very entity they so wrongly believe exists for their protection.

Historically criminality was seen to mean that both intent and at least one victim was required, but today criminality means whatever the minions of the state say is not allowed. We all have a clear idea of what it means when one party commits aggression against another’s person or property and that is easy for everyone to understand, but no one can keep up with the millions of capricious and conflicting rules and regulation of the state. The state’s millions of rules and regulations means that each of us is a criminal in some way and the state could use some aspect of its millions of regulations to trip us up any time government minions choose to do so.

There is no state rule, regulation or economic calculus that can replace each individual’s plans for his daily needs and desires. The man left to freely make is own decisions is the best man for that task and there are no free men without self-ownership. The state is the largest stumbling block to the people’s welfare that there has ever been, so why do we think we owe anything other than our animosity to the very group who does us the most damage?

What do I owe the criminal state? Nothing, other than a lasting hatred for its uncountably many crimes against men, women, and children.

The State versus Governance

The anarcho-capitalist or voluntaryist movement has been growing significantly over the last several years. There are many and varied reasons for that growth, and the anti-government speeches by Ron Paul during his nomination run were one of the many, many drivers of that growth. But I think we could do a better job of explaining anarchy.

One of the problems that gets in the way of many people understanding our position is that they confuse the ‘State’ with ‘governance’ or with ‘government’. As I have mentioned many times in the past, there is no one that I know of that wants total chaos. We all want there to be good ‘governance’. I want there to be a ‘government’ of individuals all cooperating with each other in a voluntary manner. There are many social clubs that have bylaws and methods of organizing their affairs in a voluntary way. All churches in this era are totally voluntary and yet have strict organizational principles. In other words, all nation-states are governments but not all government (or governance) is a state.

In a market anarchy there would be governance. The governance of the market anarchy would be by our peers though social and commercial ostracism and/or acceptance. Many people have written about societies that would be governed by competing courts and common law along with defense/security agencies and insurance agencies. These things would help us at the margin were the natural cooperative nature of man would break down and disputes arise, but mostly society arises by humans cooperating to make mutually beneficial trades that enrich our lives.

Of course business is governed by the customer satisfaction, supply and demand, the price signal, profit and loss, and the commercial ostracism of reputation, credit ratings, boycotts and so on. As individuals pursue their rational self interest in a free market there are costs for not being willing to abide by the prevailing group idea of how individuals should act. If you are unwilling to stand behind your product or service then the market can be brutal in punishing you for your lack of caring about your customers. In other words, there are many ways that a decentralized society can organize without a nation-state ramming its dictates down your throat.

Anarchism does not mean ‘no government’ but rather it means ‘no state’. The state is defined as that entity with the monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given geographical region. In a purely free market capitalist society there would be no coersive authority ruling over you and all social and commercial relationships would be strictly voluntary. If you had an employer, he would not your ruler but only the other side of a mutually agreed upon bargain.

Voluntarism or market anarchy is the only moral, practical and workable way to abolish the State and maintain our modern industrialized civilization. Not just maintain our society but to maximize liberty, justice, prosperity, and harmony far beyond what we have seen so far in any nation-state.

For most anarchists the conflation of ‘government’ and ‘the State’ is probably more semantic than anything and does not get in the way of our understanding each other, but for most non-anarchists this conflating of ‘the state’ with an ordered society can destroy any chance of understanding what we are saying to them. We end up talking past each other.

The mini-archists and statists are correct that there would be chaos if by ‘no state’ we mean no governance at all. But ‘no governance’ is almost impossible in human society. We even see society assert itself in one of the many  failed-state situations like Somalia. The drive of man to make his life better by cooperation with others drives us to cooperate without the need for coercion. The rejection of the nation-state and its violent, brutal coercion does not mean the rejection of voluntary authority or self-governance, but rather the very opposite.

Voluntarists or market anarchists do not advocate rejection of voluntary, private governing rules, nor do we think they would be rejected absent the State. Justice, moral behavior, and prosperity would be maximized by mutual cooperation unhindered by the coersive interference of the nation-state and its parasite class. I think that we anarcho-capitalists and voluntaryists could do a much better job of communicating that we advocate a well ordered, voluntary society and not some version of the movie ‘Mad Max’.

The ‘government’ we reject is the nation-State government that Proudhon railed against:

“To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.” — Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

There is a large difference between the brutal, coersive state government that we all know and the voluntary governance that we wish ruled our society.

State, Government, Governance, and Anarchy

Today let us look at the difference between violent political rule under a centralized state and governance in civil society. The Anarcho-capitalist or Voluntaryism movement has been growing significantly over the last few years. There are many reasons for that growth, but I think mainly it is that the idea of liberty sells well; but we could be more clear on a few things. For example, many people have trouble grasping anarchy because they are conflating ‘the State’, ‘government’ and ‘governance’. These things are not all exactly the same thing. If we don’t all use the words properly then we risk ‘talking past each other’. Obviously, if you talk to someone and they think that the absence of The State is the absence of any social order, or governance, then they can only envision a “Mad Max” type situation.

We must drive home the reality that all “States” are governments, but not all government requires the State. Some of my voluntaryist friends go so far as to insist that we use the word ‘governance’ rather than ‘government’ for the social organization in an anarchy situation and they have good reasons for that. The primary reason is that the word “government” comes with tons of bad baggage. I still tend to call the entity that governs, no matter if it is a state or not, by the name “government”.

In an anarcho-capitalist society, there would still be governance. Let me type that out one more time: in an anarcho-capitalist society there would be governance. What makes anarcho-capitalism “anarchy” is the absence of the monopoly on the legitimate use of force in a given territorial area by “the State” but, never the less, even without the State there will still be governance.  We envision governance by your peers through social and commercial means. There will be ostracism and acceptance, traditions, and all the other aspects of civil society that one sees throughout history.

Anacho-capitalists foresee governance of social behavior, disputes, and justice by competing courts along with defense and security agencies. These private agencies will help ensure protection though the recognition and respect of the individual’s property rights. Businesses and commerce will be regulated or governed through the totally free market which involves supply and demand, the price signal, profit and loss, competition, and customer satisfaction. There will, no doubt, be commercial ostracism via credit ratings, boycotting, reputation, and so forth. There will be risk management and socialization of that risk through insurance agencies unencumbered by State mandates. We see self-government through the individuals’ pursuit of their rational, subjective self-interest. Yes, we see them having to bear the responsibility of their own actions through the decentralized accountability systems arising out of the market.

Anarchism does not mean no governance but rather it means no State. In a purely capitalist, free market society you would have no coercive authority over you as there is no State to impose its violence and brutality upon you. Instead all social and commercial relationships would be private, peaceful, and voluntary. If you seek employment, your employer would not be your ruler since you can leave at any time and look elsewhere. You grocery store would not rule you as you could go down the street to a competitor. No group can lobby for a law against smoking pot as there would be no coersive state for enforcement, but there could be areas of private property where no smoking of any kind would be allowed. (my house for example) In short, all commercial and social relationships would be voluntary.

Anarcho-capitalism (also called market anarchy) or Voluntaryism is the only moral, practical and workable way to abolish the State and maximize human prosperity, liberty and justice. Humanity would live in far greater abundance and with far superior technology than it would under any form of State rule.

For many anarchists the conflation of ‘government’ and ‘the State’ is probably more stylistic than anything, but to those who don’t understand anarchy we do them a disservice by continually saying that we want to eliminate all government when we mean we want to eliminate the Monopoly State. We have to remember that for many non-anarchists different perceptions of what we mean are leading to problems in understanding and we end up talking past each other.


If a non-anarchist understands the concept of ‘no government’ as no rules, no governance, and no society then we can see why they would be horrified at our political philosophy. I would be too! There would be chaos and misery — a Mad Max world. But anarcho-capitalists do not advocate rejection of governance and society, nor do we think an ordered society would be absent if the State did not exist; rather we see justice, moral behavior, and prosperity would be maximized in the absence of the State by the governance arising via mutual voluntary cooperation.

I think anarcho-capitalists, voluntaryists, market anarchists, and especially myself could do a  better job of communicating our ideas of what a market anarchy would look like to those we are trying to inform. Then, maybe, many more people would be open to discussing our ideas.

Self-Ownership, where do you stand?

Over the years, most people that I have talked to in real life have always been the sort of people that believed individuals own their own bodies, even if they don’t know exactly what all the implications of that belief might be. This instinctual feeling seems to be an inborn belief with many (most?) humans that is stamped on our very soul at birth. If one stops and thinks if over, he will see that we can, like Murray Rothbard, start with the single proposition, that we all own ourselves, and expanded that insight into a full blown political philosophy. We can began with “slavery is always wrong” which is just another way of stating that we own ourselves and end up with full blown libertarianism. There are those that disagree of course, there always are.

While most would grant self-ownership as a self-evident axiom, I once read a post by Daniel Krawisz where he argued that “self ownership” was not a moral absolute as far as he was concerned:

Among libertarians, self-ownership is generally held to be a moral absolute. Under this view, it is not permitted ever that one person may be owned by someone else, even if he should attempt to sell his body voluntarily. The nonaggression principle and the self-ownership principle may be seen as equivalent or one may be seen as a consequence of another. However, none of these is correct; while the principle of nonaggression is a priori, the principle of self-ownership is not, and it is therefore impossible that there could be a logical relationship between them.

I fail to see how he got so quickly from self-ownership to one can not sell himself if he wanted to under libertarian philosophy without so much as a paragraph of discussion, but there you have it. I once read that people would sell their future labor for a certain period of time for the price of passage from Britain to the ‘new world’. There is an example of men “selling their body” is it not?  Anyway, he goes on to assert that “self-ownership” can not be a universal principle since there might be space aliens who have more than one body, or more than one mind. I figure a guy has lost it when an appeal to weird space aliens is need to make a point.

The concept of a body is only an interpretation we make of a particular configuration of matter which a person feels more directly in control of than other things, and while this interpretation ordinarily makes sense for humans, for other imaginable beings it may not.

On the other hand, most libertarian writers I have read agree that self-ownership is a basic axiom of our philosophy. Michael Rozeff writes:

Libertarianism builds upon the self-ownership axiom. But why is self-ownership right (and just)? How do we justify the self-ownership axiom?

Rothbard stated the self-ownership axiom in this way: “…the basic axiom of libertarian political theory holds that every man is a self-owner, having absolute jurisdiction over his own body. In effect, this means that no one else may justly invade, or aggress against, another’s person.”

Block states the non-aggression axiom as follows: “It is illicit to initiate or threaten invasive violence against a man or his legitimately owned property.” More loosely, Thomas Jefferson argued that all men by their nature have the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

These several wordings amount to the same thing. To have self-ownership is to be able to make one’s own choices in all spheres of one’s life. Self-ownership amounts to an undiluted right to one’s life and the liberty to pursue one’s happiness. If one has complete self-ownership, then one is not being aggressed upon. And if one (or one’s property) is not being aggressed upon, then one is free to pursue one’s own interests and one owns oneself. Therefore, as Rothbard says, the non-aggression axiom is equivalent to the self-ownership axiom.

The economic content of (full) self-ownership for every person is that an individual may make any desired choices as long as he does not initiate or threaten violence against another person or his legitimately held property.

A good deal of philosophical discovery comes from understanding the economic laws that the Austrian School of economics has shown us. The Austrian methods include a priori knowledge, deduction from basic axioms like a Geometry proof, and understanding of human nature and its subjective valuation of situations. The Austrian School has informed us that society will be much more wealthy and contented if it allows each individual to do as the individual thinks best for himself, as long as that individual does not aggress against anyone else. That is the economic argument, but the moral argument has always tended to say more to me than the economic one. I am not saying the economic argument is not important as it surely is, but just that my soul tends to listen to the moral argument.

Murray Rothbard once asked if a man does not own himself, just who does? Would anyone argue for a man X owning a man Y simply by force or intimidation? Would anyone argue for slavery? Of course not. But if a man does not own himself and some other man does not, then the only possibility left is that the collective owns us all. We all own each other to the same degree. My, oh my, but that is an interesting possibility. That means I need to get 100 percent agreement on each action I take. Wait, I can’t get agreement because I would need prior agreement to just go ask for agreement! Oh hell, my head hurts now.

There is no way to have 100 per cent co-ownership. There is no moral argument at all for ownership of humans by other humans — slavery is a horror. There is only self-ownership as a realistic ethical possibility. We would all recognize that except that admitting that position leads to the full corpus of libertarian thought and some people just can’t go there.

For example, if each man is a self-owner then no one may take any of his property or make demands on his time or labor without the free-will agreement of the individual. Hence, taxation is simply immoral and wrong. And please, don’t hand me that old saw about taxes being part of some “social contract” that was forced upon us all at birth — that is just another way of saying the collective owns me.

There is no way to justify the state’s claim to a monopoly on the legal system either. A free self-owning man should not be forced to use the state’s system but rather pick and choose from competing legal services systems. In fact, if you get down to the matter we may have a State or we may have self ownership but we can’t have both. The reason is the state asserts that it ultimately owns you, or at least part of you. Hence you can’t own yourself 100 percent if the State owns a portion.


Where do you stand? Will you seek self-ownership and be an enemy of the state? Or will you acquiesce and concede a portion of your soul to the state? I concluded long ago that the state is illegitimate.

The moment one realizes that the State itself is illegitimate he then is obligated to consider how society should be constituted. The fact is that without the monopoly coercion of the state society would find its own path as millions upon millions of people interact with each other to the benefit of all. That my friends, odd as it sounds, scares some people. They want guarantees on how it would all work out. Some seem to think that staying in the arms of the tyrannical state beats hell out of the unknown. How do we get like that? How can we not say that even the unknown beats hell out of the state? The state that killed over 200 million people in the 20th century alone and is simply a gang of thieves writ large is obviously the enemy of mankind and needs to be tossed on the garbage heap of history.

Don’t you think it is time to reject the legitimacy of the state? Past time really.

Anarchy, Miniarchy, Panarchy, Society, and the Individual

On a day that I was far too busy to join in very much, several Twitter friends were discussing the differences between anarchy and miniarchy. One comment led me to cite a Mike Rozeff essay on Panarchy. That led to even more discussion. I noticed along the way that the definition of a few terms kept getting in the way. There were those who felt their definition of a given term was set in stone and handed down to Moses on the mountain top. When discussing things it is always good when people have the same definition of various terms, but you can not depend on that happening so we all need to make sure we define our terms so that others can tell what we really mean by our statements.


We all know that “anarchy” simply means the absence of a “State” and not the “chaos” that the statists like to conflate with the term. We anarchists, especially market anarchists, believe that a well ordered society will arise by itself without any ruling body using force, intimidation, or coercion. Hence, we reject the “State”. But what is this “State” that we reject?

Murray Rothbard once defined the State as:

… Let me say from the beginning that I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state.

He then went on to explain why, under that working definition of “The State”, he had to reject the State no matter if it were large or small:

On the other hand, I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual. Anarchists oppose the state because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.

These ideas as outlined by Rothbard are exactly why I reject the very idea of “The State“. Our miniarchy friends think that there are reasons to trade “some” liberty to a “small” State in order to receive “law and order” or to be protected from invasion by outsiders. This is a bargain with the devil that has always, in all places, yielded a strong, domineering State. The individual is always swallowed up in the collective any time we institute the State.

However, there is the idea out there that “The State” is not the same concept as “a government” even though the two terms have been conflated for centuries by statists to mean exactly the same thing. I can certainly understand how a state worshiper would want to tell us that without the State there is no way to govern society and hence chaos would ensue. But what is “to govern” really? One definition of “to govern” means “to exercise a directing or restraining influence over” as in “the motives governing a decision.” It was in using the term “government” as opposed to “The State” that led to much back and forth in the Twitter discussion. I often use ‘government’ as a synonym of ‘The State’ but in reality one can have a volunteer government in a social club or so forth without coming close to Rothbard’s definition of the State. So we must be careful and not reject people’s ideas if they use “government” or even “socialism” in ways that differ from our own conceptions. I’ll try to do that in this post.

How are the rights of the individual to be protected in society? I have read some people who claim that the individual has no inherent rights at all and that only the collective can confer any ‘rights’. One “progressive” insisted that only the majority could offer “rights” to individuals! That is granting privileges and not rights. If you don’t think there are any human rights to protect then I would advice you stop reading here as we can not communicate. But if you do see that man has ‘rights’ then the question is: “how do we protect these rights?” How can men and women order a society in which the individual is protected?

One idea to protect the rights of all is to do away with the state and let individual people form voluntary associations with each other to interact in voluntary ways. We often just say that this is the laissez-faire free-market in action. People will institute rules, traditions, precedents, taboos, and other ways of ordering society if they but have a chance to do so. In an ironic way this was the idea behind “Democracy”, except that Democracy always ends up being the tyranny of the majority and leads to what you see in the USA as I write this. Real democracy is when the individual “votes” with her purchases in the free market.

The philosophy of voluntarism has been covered many times and in many places, so I’ll skip talking about how different groups of people would specifically order their affairs given the freedom to do so, except to say that we don’t really know how they would do it. In the absence of the Modern Nation-State we would see many different experiments in social ordering. And that, my friends, brings me to the idea of Panarchy.

Panarchy has been defined as:

“PANARCHY: The realization of as many different and autonomous communities as are wanted by volunteers for themselves, all non-territorially coexisting, side by side and intermingled, as their members are, in the same territory or even world-wide and yet separated from each other by personal laws, administrations and jurisdiction, as different churches are or ought to be.”

Under this definition of Panarchy we see that choosing a “governing body” would be just like choosing friends on Twitter or in real life. In the same way we choose to join, or not join, a club or church we could chose to join a given “government”. Because of my habit of using “government” to mean “the State” I would like to come up with a different word other than “government” but the best I could come up with on short notice was “regimen” and that strikes my ears oddly. Perhaps a Túath would be better suited for our purposes since that is what the anarchist Irish called their voluntary governing associations for centuries.

So, if there were many “governments” (Túaths) all of which were voluntary associations that had no right or power to force people to be their members I could pick and choose at my will. This would lead to a free market situation where these associations might survive or might not. Let us be clear here, the idea of Panarchy depends on the understanding that members may be from anyplace and they join just like I pick a cell-phone company. They may also leave the association at any time subject to the contract that one makes with the group. (early exit surcharges?)

If you can see that one ought to be able to join any governing association that one wants to, or not join, then you can see that all of today’s States and Governments are not legitimate. There is no way for me to reject the US Government and choose some Rothbardian association to be my “government” and my “nation” — or to join no group at all. Hence the USA stole my right to do so at my very birth. In this matter we see yet again that the State as defined by Rothbard is illegitimate.

In certain ways we can see that the governments of today are the operation arms of the various States. These governments take on differing forms but all deny the people the right to join any other governing body that they freely choose to unless the person flees the territory of the first state and moves to another. Some have said this is like waking up one morning to find that you have been made a member of the “Church of the USA” against your will and you can not leave the Church unless you leave the country.

In a Panarchy one could choose to join with any group of people and their governing association or to choose not to join any of them. Since the exact location where you live is immaterial to this choice there would be many, many “governments” to choose from and competitive market forces would arise to control them. Because people could exit or enter any governing association freely there would be a strong system of checks and balances provided by the market itself as people made free-will, voluntary decisions about which outfit to be a member of.

So far, I tend to view “Panarchy” pretty much as I do my concept of market anarchy itself. It is very Rothbardian to agree that all people have the right to form whatever voluntary associations that they choose to. Many have written that there would arise private business concerns that would offer legal and protection services to people in any modern  anarchy. In many respects, the “governing associations” of Panarchy and the protection services businesses of market anarchy are not so very different other than in name.

Panarchy does have the semantic advantage of offering people “many governments and not just one!” I have talked with people who know that the US Empire is evil and taking away all their rights but they believe there must be government. So, I can tell them that if government is so great, there should be lots of them competing for the allegiance of the people. That seems to me to be a nice introduction to anarchy in certain cases.

Panarchy is an interesting idea.

But who will protect me?

In a thread at a political site, I asked a question something like, “How can you keep supporting government given the record of government tyranny and abuse?” The answer came back from someone who likes to be known as “liberal rob”:

Because I don’t want to live in an anarchy, where I’ll be one of the first victims of someone deciding it’s easier to kill me and take my stuff than to make it himself.

This complaint in one form or another is frequently seen. There have been generations of propaganda claiming that the state is absolutely necessary that has convinced many, if not most, people that only the state can protect them from armed goons that would run wild and take their stuff without the uniformed state employed goons taking their stuff as they pretend to stop those horrible private criminals. An academic study of the 20th century showed that governments murdered about 200 million of their own citizens during that period of time. This is protection?

The typical person has to be moved from believing there must be a large and powerful government to the position more typical of the “minarchist” libertarian. They then will still believe that without a State to protect private property, everyone would run around looting each other and total chaos would ensue in the absence of the State; but at least they will see that the State needs to be constrained to just preforming the job of protection of the citizens. That would get a person to the stage where they would stop believing in the welfare-warfare state. Once someone sees that the state should be used only for the protection of property rights then we may have a discussion with the person on why the State is needed at all. Most folks need someone to show them how anarchy could protect the life, limb and property of the masses from roaming gangs of thugs in the absence of state employed police and the state court system.


I like to start my defense of anarchy from the moral augment using the non-aggression principle which tells us that it is simply wrong to initiate violence against people who have harmed no one by their actions. If a person does not commit aggression against anyone else or anyone else’s property then he should not suffer aggression himself. This “golden rule” has been at the heart of morality in all major moral systems throughout history. Now the State claims that it must use force and intimidation to protect you and your property. The State claims that it must initiate violence to keep violence from happening.  So when a person supports even “limited government”  they are  supporting the initiation of violence as a means of organizing society. I also like to point out that there have been many places where there was anarchy that worked or there was near anarchy that worked. My favorite is the anarchy of Ireland.

There are those who want to argue for anarchy from consequentialism and these people typically ignore any kind of philosophical moral judgment about the initiation of violence used in ruling the masses or in the collection of taxes. These people do not want to discuss the immorality of the theft called taxes or the lack of morality in the initiation of violence. They tend to look purely at the outcomes of various actions to determine what the best course of action should be for humans. For example, the Austrian School of Economics favors market anarchy for purely consequentialist reasons. They believe that anytime they analyze the behavior of markets that state action always brings about a less positive outcome than if there was no state interference. This is not to say that economists of the Austrian school don’t also look at the morality of the state from their own personal viewpoints, but as economists they tend to believe that their work should be value free.

But once we have established in our minds that the best government is that government that governs the least, we then need to look at the argument that there is no way to keep a government small and weak. Once you cede the monopoly of legitimate use of force and the right to raise taxes against the will of the taxed, you have given that entity all it needs to become a tyranny over time.

So we need to argue that free markets can provide a superior service for the protection of liberty and property rights as opposed to the State.

Robert Murphy’s essays and his book get to the heart of how private defense forces would be organized at the local and national levels.  He shows that there is no need for a State to defend against external States since private markets can accomplish this task without the violence of taxation. He also shows that the private law would be far better as well. I have written on the topic of private and common law systems as well, and one essay is here.

So in the end, we see that It is simply immoral to initiate violence against the innocent, and that includes all forms of taxation. We know from the Austrian School that the initiation of violence never leads to superior economic outcomes. Once the initiation of violence is accepted by the public as a means of organizing government as in the miniarch position there is no way to stop the government from growing ever more powerful and tyrannical. And so, it is inescapable that private markets lead to superior safety, service, quality, and value in all things including private law and defense services.