Ferguson Police vs. Rothbard’s idea of peace keepers

For decades I have been decrying the increasingly brutal militarization of the police at all levels in the United States. The latest atrocity to catch the public’s eye is the public murder of an unarmed young black man named Michael Brown in Freguson. Missouri on August 9th, 2014 by uniformed goons of the state.

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If the brutal killing of Michael Brown in cold blood was not enough, the police then started harassing all sorts of other people going about their jobs and lives in innocence. Consider the Washington Post reporter who was arrested in a McDonald’s resturant for being a reporter.

The Huffington Post reported:

The Washington Post uploaded video of its reporter Wesley Lowery being arrested by police in Ferguson, MO on Wednesday night.

Lowery and The Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly were working at a McDonald’s when they were violently assaulted and detained by a SWAT unit before being released.

In the video, a police officer can be heard saying, “Get your stuff, let’s go,” and, “Stop videotaping, let’s grab our stuff and go.”

It is legal to film police activity. Lowery and Reilly were given no concrete reason for their arrest.

Police abuses of power have been common place in this country for ages. The first one I remember in my life was the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago where the police beat people in the streets outside the convention. The police in those days were restrained and professional compared to today’s militarized sociopaths in blue preying on the innocent in all parts of America. As bad as the Chicago police acted, we can all wish for those days of no SWAT teams and no army gear in domestic policing.

Have the police always abused their power? Yes, history teaches that the police have always been prone to abusing the general public. Of course they often pick on the poor and powerless the most as you would expect from sociopath bullies. The main issue to me is the fact that the police are to the state as the edge of the blade is to the knife. The police are the violence that the state intimidates you with.

Some libertarians and “small government” conservatives believe in “minarchism” and claim that the police are needed to “keep the peace” in society. These people have drunk the poison that is the state and let the demon in the door by supporting the violent arm of the state. There is no reason to expect that the police and the “justice” system will ultimately be anything other than a police state. We can find no historical examples of any state that did not ultimately abuse its citizens: at least those seen as “undesirable”. The Germans called them untermensch. Every society has their “subhumans” who are brutalized, and the brutality will spread over time to more and more of the population.

What to do? Murray Rothbard believed that ultimately the answer was no state and no state enforcers. The society would govern itself via mutual, voluntary cooperation. But what about protection you ask? I could point out that you are getting precious little “protection” now. You are just lucky that one of the brutal goons has not noticed you yet.

If all property were really privately owned, then all of the problems of the state police become easily managed. The one who controls the property decides on who to hire to keep the peace on his property. For most it might be the agents of their insurance company and for commercial business it might be “rent-a-cops” hired on contract to provide a safe environment for the customers of the firm. These examples are just fast generalizations and entire books have been written on privatization of protection and law enforcement.

Police in a truly free-market would have a strong incentive to be courteous. They would have a strong incentive to refrain from the force and brutality that is an everyday part of the policing by minions of the state. The private police hired by owners of private property would have a strong incentive to please their clients, friends of their clients, and customers of their clients. A real free-market would reward the most efficient and courteous firms that provide safety and protection.

As I have written before, the police of the state are never your friend. Any “service” they provide you is just happenstance. (or you pay them extra for it) But the real message in all this is that it is the state itself that must go so that mankind can learn to live in peace and to prosper by mutual, voluntary cooperation.

 

 

Private Property in Society

There has been a lot of back and forth lately between libertarian supporters of property rights and those who call themselves libertarian (or even anarchist) who think that no one may “own” anything. And so, this post was born in my mind to address a few aspects of the nature of private property and society.

Is there any social problem which, at its core, is not produced by a disrespect for the inviolability of property interests? Wars, inner-city gang conflicts, environmental pollution, the curricula of government schools, the “war on drugs,” restrictions on free expression, affirmative action programs, monetary inflation, same-sex marriages, realty, eminent domain, taxation, gun control, displaying the “Ten Commandments,” violent crime, rent control, terrorism, government surveillance of telephone and computer communications, zoning laws and urban planning, prayer in schools, government regulation of economic activity, . . . the list goes on and on.

In each such instance, conflicts are created and maintained by government policies and practices that forcibly deprive a property owner of decision making control over something he or she owns. Whether the ownership interest is in oneself, or in those external resources that a person requires in order to promote his or her interests or to otherwise express one’s purpose in life, the state is inevitably at war with property owners. ~ Law Prof. Butler Shaffer

One of the problems that arise is that most people don’t understand the definition of ownership in the first place. Ownership means that you have total control over the use of a thing. You may use it, give it away, leave it to whomever you choose when you die, or exercise control over the property for any other purpose. In this meaning of ownership we see that every state that has ever existed was socialistic to some degree or the other.  No matter what form the state’s government took, the state claimed the rightful authority to control the individual’s property anytime it saw fit to do so.

The communist system is based on the premise that the state owns all productive assets and that there is no private ownership at all. Other socialist systems nationalized only certain tools of production and communication, at least openly, but all socialist systems asserted the right of the state to take anything at any time from any subject under its rule. Fascism is a socialistic system in which title to property remains in private hands, but control is exercised by the state and always remember that control is ownership. In reality, the modern U.S. is not all that unlike the fascist systems of the past.

The question of how property is to be owned and controlled and who has this control is the most fundamental question we must address because the answer tells us whether the state owns us and we are slaves, or if we own ourselves as free men and women. We hear many claims that the communist regimes of the U.S.S.R. were the polar opposite of the fascist Nazi regime and most people do think of these two regimes as polar opposites;  but they were exactly the same in that the state claimed total control over the lives and property of every single subject within its geographic borders. Both systems thought that no one could exist outside of the state. These two states were both extreme examples of the totalitarian state — modern real world examples of dystopia.

All political systems are wars against the private ownership of property but most desire to hide that fact and so build up myths that make it appear like the people are able to “own” property and personal items. The state does this by excluding property rights from almost every political argument or policy. For example, if a company pollutes a river and thus harms people downstream, the company will face sanctions for breaking the law of the state and harming the environment, but in a just society it would be the owners of property downstream that would bring suit against the company for damages to their righfully owned property.

Ludwig von Mises once wrote that private ownership of the means of production is the fundamental institution of the market economy. He wrote that private ownership was the institution that characterizes the market economy and if it was absent then there could be no question of a market economy. The U.S. is a country that pretends to be a market economy but, in fact, is a crony-capitalist or corporatist economy.

We could go down a list of “social” problems and see that each one is easily solved if there is private ownership of all things, but becomes intractable if the matter rests in the hands of the state. One of the most important examples is the difference between a crime committed against a victim like murder, rape, assault and so forth and a “victim-less crime” like drug use, prostitution, gambling and so on.  Victim-less crimes are an assault against the property rights and liberty of the people. I have every right in the world to bet my money on a pony if I chose to do so. The criminalization of any voluntary action is a violation of individual property interests.

Should prayer be taught in schools? What about the new Common Core State Standards for Math and Language? If there were no government schools and all education was a private mater then there would be no controversy at all. It would be a matter of the family’s choice on how and were to have their children educated.

We should all know about the economic problem often called “the tragedy of the commons” were “public” property is mismanaged and overused while private property is maintained and used as wisely as the owner can. The state can not manage anything as well as the highly interested private owner can, nor can the minions of the state even have access to the vast array of information that is available. What over 300 million Americans know by daily observation and experience is not available to a relatively small, finite bureaucracy in the capital.

Individual liberty and social order are the two sides of the same coin. Individual liberty can not give rise to the voluntary and mutually beneficial division of labor that leads to social order and stability without the basis of private property.  If “everyone owns a thing” then in reality no one owns it, but in fact the criminal gang called the state does. The modern Americans who call themselves “liberal” (but are anything but that) love to claim that they are working for “social justice” by using the state to impose their vision upon the rest of us by force, fraud and intimidation. In reality, they are just making all of use poorer than we would otherwise be as they make themselves feel good. As the wag once said, it is easy to be very generous with other people’s money.

6a00d83452719d69e2014e86055c29970d-800wiWe have the situation were there are “things” and “land” on this earth that have economic value because people need or desire them. We have far more needs and desires than we do things, so there must be some way to balance out the needs and desires of the many — a hard task for anyone or any group to do. The way to do it is to let the free market and private property sort out the needs and desires via the free economy where the price signal will properly ration these “things”. It is only through the peaceful market rather than by the force of the state’s guns that we may achieve the maximum peace, prosperity, and pleasure in this world.

If you find someone who claims to be an “anarchist” or a “libertarian” who is against private ownership, then you have found one who is deluded or untruthful. There is no freedom without private ownership of property. Maximum liberty is when there is no state at all and all property is in the hands of individuals or groups of individuals.

Authentic Liberalism

So what is “liberalism” to the average American? I bet most people would say a “liberal” is a Democratic Party voter who favors gun control, abortion, wealth redistribution, compulsory public education, government control of almost everything in life, gay rights, belief that human economic activity endangers life on the planet, and so on with a large laundry list of “causes”. Most people would also say that an American “liberal” is the opposite of an American “conservative”. “Liberals” in the U.S. also love to call themselves “progressive”.

Outside of the U.S. there is a different view of what it means to be a “liberal”.  Outside America “liberalism” is quite distinct from the modern American definition. Liberalism overseas is in the tradition of Adam Smith, John Locke, and Frédéric Bastiat. Ralph Raico once wrote a wonderful description of the classical liberal tradition which is still close to just “liberalism” is some countries but the very opposite of “liberalism” in the U.S.

Classical Liberalism, or “liberalism” outside the U.S., is the political creed of those who favor liberty over the state, practice peace rather than war, and believe that the laissez-faire market, property rights and voluntary cooperation is the foundation of a just society. They see nothing wrong with wealth accumulation as long as it was accumulated  by the peaceful and productive means of voluntary free exchange and not the political means of plunder and government privilege.

Well informed readers will recognize that Classical Liberalism is the forerunner of the modern libertarian movement. There are a few modern Americans who self-identify as “liberals” who still claim the legacy of Classical Liberalism for themselves in spite of the fact that classical liberalism is the direct opposite of the state-worshiping “liberalism” of modern America. The classical liberals believe in individual liberty, distrust government, and believe in decentralization and the self-organizing effectiveness of society. In short, my friends, the very opposite of today’s Democratic Party Liberals who favor tax and spend with total control of our lives by the central government.

I once wrote “I want the term “liberal” back!” and I still do. After all, modern American Liberalism is totally inconsistent with the traditions of classical liberalism and modern libertarianism. The modern “liberal-left” talks about humanitarianism and putting people above profits but they favor the iron fist of government domination over the voluntary cooperation of free individuals. People just don’t do what the modern liberal totalitarians think they should do!  Now these statists will usually try to obscure the fact fact they favor total government control by claiming that they do not favor state violence and besides that we all are ruled by government with our consent.  (I never gave my “consent”, did you?)

The state is God to the American liberal-progressive mindset while the libertarian (classical liberal) is not looking for a Utopia on earth but just the maximization of freedom, progress, happiness, and material well being through voluntary cooperation.

The American left-liberal joins the American conservative in being soft on the police state and the imperial war machine. Oh, each side will often decry the other’s wars but nothing changes as one side gets power and the other loses. A change in administration in D.C. often does nothing to end foreign wars but rather we often see a renewed fierceness in foreign aggressions with a change in administration. And both the “liberals” and the “conservatives” love the militarized police since the police is to the state as the edge is to the knife.

The classical liberal tradition needs to re-claim the term “liberal” if we can, but more important than terms is the fact we need to recapture the philosophy of the classical liberals. That would be a wonderful first step towards ending the present police state and world empire that is the U.S. After that, perhaps we can move on to overcoming any State rule at all.

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The constitution and our rights

I have tweeted the following Lysander Spooner quote to friends on Twitter (in modified form due to length) on many occasions. It may be one of his all time best quotes.

But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.

~ Lysander Spooner

And to think that Spooner never lived to see the age of Obama and the NSA!

Lysander-Spooner-Quotes-5One of the most disappointing things in political discourse is to hear so many claim that the constitution if followed “as it was written” would “guarantee our rights”. This is almost as bad as those who think that the American constitution grants us our rights in the first place.

I believe in natural rights as did Murray Rothbard. We have certain rights that are inherent due to our humanity, and they can be summed up by simply saying we have the right not to be the victim of aggression. We might argue a bit over what, exactly, those inherent human rights are and how best to enforce said rights, but we must believe that natural rights predate the state and its constitution or we are believing in “rights” that are really just privileges bestowed by the state at its whim. After all,  if men can bestow “rights”, then they are not rights at all, because they can just as easily be taken away.

The right to life and liberty in our time is most often threatened by the state — the very institution that so many think is supposed to protect our right to life and liberty. They think that if only we would just “follow the constitution” that everything would be just fine again in this country. But how does one expect the state to be constrained by a piece of paper that it enforces itself? Has it ever really followed the constitution in all matters? Have all men and women in the USA ever been protected from the state?

Ron Paul did run a magnificent campaign for the nomination of the GOP by calling for the nation to follow the constitution in countless matters where the state is presently not following the constitution. In doing so, he was calling for an end to our overseas empire, and end to the drug war, and a drastic downsizing of the central government of the US. For this he was attacked and marginalized on many occasions by the “leaders” of our nation-state.

The simple fact is that the U.S. constitution is not a document that will “protect our rights” even if we follow it as it was written. After all, consider this part from the constitution:

Article 1; Section 8

1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

2: To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

3: To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

4: To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

5: To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

6: To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

7: To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

8: To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

9: To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

10: To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

11: To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

13: To provide and maintain a Navy;

14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

15: To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

16: To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

17: To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;–And

18: To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

That part by itself puts lie to the belief that the constitution limits the power of government.

But the main problem is that the constitution in no way supports the non-aggression principle. The NAP says that we may never comment aggression against someone who has not first attacked us. We may never use force, fraud, or intimidation against the innocent to get what we want and yet the U.S. constitution authorizes just that.

If we ever are to live in peace and prosperity, free from the coersive force, fraud, and theft of the state then we must come up with a system that does not have as its very foundation the monopoly use of force to control the population. One would think that is obvious to even the most dense and propagandized person in the country.

We must work to create a voluntary society where men are free to interact with each other in voluntary cooperation; and the U.S. Constitution is a roadblock to that goal not a pathway to it. Stop worshiping the constitution, it is not worthy of veneration.

Market Anarchism

I find that many people that I know on social media call themselves “libertarian” and yet seem to miss the whole point of the thing. To be a libertarian means that you reject the coersive aggression into the lives of the people by the entity called “The State” that claims a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within its geographical boundaries. In other words, a libertarian is a “live and let live” kind of person who thinks voluntary cooperation among people is the standard we should strive for.

What is a libertarian? From the Mises Wiki we see:

Libertarianism is a political philosophy[1] that views respect for individual choice and individual liberty[2] as the foundation of the ideal society, and therefore seeks to minimize or abolish the coercive actions of the State as that is the entity that is generally identified as the most powerful coercive force in society.[3][4] Broadly speaking, libertarianism focuses on the rights of the individual to act in complete accordance with his or her own subjective values,[5] and argues that the coercive actions of the State are often (or even always) an impediment to the efficient realization of one’s desires and values.[6][7] Libertarians also maintain that what is immoral for the individual must necessarily be immoral for all state agents, and that the state should not be above the natural law.[8][9] The extent to which government is necessary is evaluated by libertarian moral philosophers from a variety of perspectives.[10][11]

The “libertarian” label is now used since the “liberal” of “Classical Liberalism” came to mean the opposite of liberty after the socialists started calling themselves “liberal” decades ago. If one looks at the liberals of the 18th and 19th century he will see where the libertarians came from; their heritage. I once saw a writer claim that it all boils down to the assertion that all libertarians believe in the Non-Aggression Principle. I think that is a fair litmus test, after all, the only way to minimize coercive actions in society is to try to make everyone adhere to the non-aggression principle.

There has developed over time the notion that the very nature of the state prevents the state from being able to follow the non-aggression principle and therefore we must reject it. That leaves anarchism which is defined as having no monopoly ruler. So very many then ask us, “what in the world happens then”? They think that gangs of roving bands will rape, rob, and pillage the people of every town. What force will keep the peace?

There are various labels for the nature of the society that we envision, but “market anarchy” is as good as any and some say it is better than most. It is the doctrine that the legislative, adjudicative, and protective functions should be entirely turned over to the voluntary, consensual forces of a market society. These functions are now unjustly and inefficiently monopolized by the brutal, coercive, aggressive State. The term “market” turns a lot of people off as they are trained to hear “Wall Street Banksters” when they hear “market”. But here we just use the term “market” as in “free market” to mean the voluntary exchange of goods and services among willing trading partners free of coersive intervention.

Marketa

Market Anarchy can be defined as “the doctrine that all forms of government are unnecessary, oppressive, and undesirable and should be abolished.” In its essence anarchism is a negative in that it holds that the state (some say “government”) is evil and should be abolished. Other than this doctrine it would be difficult to list the many various beliefs that all anarchists hold. What will come after the state is defeated could take many different forms and there have been various groups predict or advocate various ideas.

Anarchists see a common thread behind most of mankind’s problems, namely the state. After all, we saw a hundred million people murdered by various governments around the world during th 20th century. This is an endless historical pattern. The state arises and then the rulers and their minions live by looting and enslaving the population. These ruling classes have tended to use their ill-gotten gains to build armies and then wage wars for various reasons … mostly false ones. Even when not at war with some other state a nation’s government is continually looting the people and making their lives poorer than they otherwise would have been.

Market anarchy has been more broadly known as “anarcho-capitalism” and I use the two terms as synonyms. Market anarchists believe that in an anarchist society people would expand private property to encompass the entire social realm. While no anarcho-capitalist has ever denied the right of people to voluntarily pool their private property and form cooperatives, jointly owned land, worker-owned firms, or communes — they believe that these attempts at private socialism will fail as they always have in the past.  Market anarchist see private property as the bedrock of an anarchist society. They also believe that several property, including business organizations like corporations, are not only perfectly legitimate but likely to be the predominant form of economic organization under anarchism. Market anarchists generally place little value on equality, believing that inequalities in income and wealth are not only perfectly legitimate, so long as the means of getting the wealth was legitimate under the non-aggression principle, but are the natural consequence of human freedom. They believe that different people have different beliefs, habits, talents, and desires — there are vast natural differences among people.

Many people such as Benjamin Tucker, Lysander Spooner, Murray Rothbard, Butler Shaffer, Bob Murphy, and Walter Block have written about the free market’s ability to provide legal and protection services as all market anarchists believe. Most of the recent prominent market anarchy (or anarcho-capitalist) writers have been academic economists and have tried to spell out the workings of their preferred society in rather great detail but the simple message is that the state’s government is now abusing you to a great extent and that only by eliminating the state may we live in peace, prosperity, and voluntary cooperation.

The bedrock of freedom and liberty is the right to own and control property. If the state or the collective can tell you what you can and cannot do within the privacy of your home then you are not free nor do you really own your home since “ownership” means control over the use and disposition of a thing. At the present time government agents of the state can invade your home by breaking down your doors, kill your dog, tear up the house, and terrorize your family all at their whim. What, you still think the 4th amendment means anything? Your property belongs to the state and so do you yourself. The state owns you: you are enslaved.

Market anarchists can not tell you exactly how a world without a monopoly on force and brutality called the state would look like; but we can tell you that it would be vastly better than the evil we are living under today.

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. ~H. L. Mencken

Withdraw your support of the state.