I was a guest on Jeff Berwick’s Anarchast (ep. 51, 36 min), released today. We discussed anarchy and how such a society might be reached; the basis and origin of law and property rights and its relationship to libertarian principles, and implications for legislation versus law and the legitimacy of intellectual property; also, utilitarianism, legal positivism, scientism, and logical positivism. Description from the Anarchist site below; MP3 download. For more background on IP, see the C4SIF Resources page; on legislation vs. private law, see The (State’s) Corruption of (Private) Law.
Anarchast Ep. 51 with Stephan Kinsella
Jeff Berwick in Acapulco, Mexico, talks with Stephan Kinsella in Houston, Texas
This summer I had the honor of speaking on the Laissez-Faire Books panel at FreedomFest, the annual libertarian mega-event put on by Mark Skousen in Las Vegas. Now the audio of the panel — the theme of which was “Live Better, Live Liberty: The Quest to Get Government Out of Our Lives” — is online:
The lineup for the panel includes:
Robert Murphy, speaking on alternative educational institutions
Wendy McElroy, speaking about her new book, The Art of Being Free
Jeffrey Tucker, on “defying the plan through your own digital civilization”
Jacob Huebert, on private forms of security and dispute-management,
Stefan Molyneux, on “redefining communities of peace and learning,” and
Douglas French, as emcee
If you only have time for part of this two-hour event, then at least be sure to listen to Jeffrey Tucker’s talk. I have already heard from people who have said they found this presentation life-changing, and I understand why. Tucker talks about how we can defeat the state by creating better products through the market, rather than by just following the old think-tank model. He’s putting these ideas to work through LFB, but, as he explains, there is so much more to be done by people who aren’t just selling books or ideas.
The other talks were very well-received, too. First, Robert Murphy talks about one of my favorite topics, the importance of education in the advancement of liberty.
Next, Wendy McElroy offers a taste of her latest book, The Art of Being Free, which is available in paperback and as a free e-book for members of the Laissez-Faire Club. (The talk is great, but you may just want to skip directly to the book and start reading, since that’s what you’ll end up doing anyway.)
For my part, I talk about ways that the market already provides security and dispute-resolution through products such as credit cards, smartphones, and Yelp. When people think about how the market would provide these goods in the absence of government, they tend to look back to ancient examples (e.g. Iceland, Ireland) or speculate about insurance companies funding police and armies — but perhaps the most relevant examples already exist today, right in front of our faces (or in our wallets).
Finally, the inimitable Stefan Molyneux offers his usual clarity and enthusiasm in arguing that we must make the moral case for liberty. I don’t agree with his suggestion that we must only make moral arguments — I think consequentialist arguments may often be a good place to start, as I argue in my foreword to LFB’s new edition of Gary Chartier’s Conscience of an Anarchist. Still, Molyneux is compelling and enjoyable, and if you like his approach, there is of course much more at his site, Freedomain Radio, and in his books, two of which are also available from LFB.
…next to an image of the anarchist emblem, the City of Westminster police’s “counter terrorist focus desk” called for anti-anarchist whistleblowers stating: “Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, and instead promotes a stateless society, or anarchy. Any information relating to anarchists should be reported to your local police.”
The move angered some anarchists who complained that being an anarchist should not imply criminal behaviour. They said they feel unfairly criminalised for holding a set of political beliefs.
This wouldn’t be so worrisome, had the police characterized anarchism in the uninformed and sensationalist fashion still common in mainstream media: that of radically leftist vandals intent on dismantling not just the state but the capitalist infrastructure that in their view props it up. Violent thugs, in other words; the kind who show up at G-20 summits to smash windows and set fires. Yet these people make up a minuscule fraction of anarchists, despite the disproportionate amount of TV time they receive.
Now, however, the police are prepared to view anyone who promotes a stateless society — from old hippies to free-market Rothbardians — as potential criminals, regardless of which values they promote, and what crimes they’ve actually committed. Which, for the vast majority of anarchists, is none at all.
Given their Stasi-like call on citizens to serve as snitches (at least it’s still voluntary…for now), it makes one wonder what the police are truly afraid of: the infrequent real crimes of self-styled “anarchists”; or the growing popularity of the ideas advanced by peaceful radicals — property, prosperity, and the end of the criminal, Leviathan state.
This paper builds on the burgeoning tradition of Aristotelian liberalism. It identifies and critiques a fundamental inequality inherent in the nature of the state and, in particular, the liberal representative-democratic state: namely, an institutionalized inequality in authority. The analysis draws on and synthesizes disparate philosophical and political traditions: Aristotle’s virtue ethics and politics, Locke’s natural rights and idea of equality in authority in the state of nature (sans state of nature), the New Left’s conception of participatory democracy (particularly as described in a number of under-utilized essays by Murray Rothbard and Don Lavoie), and philosophical anarchism. The deleterious consequences of this fundamental institutionalized inequality are explored, including on social justice and economic progress, on individual autonomy, on direct and meaningful civic and political participation, and the creation and maintenance of other artificial inequalities as well as the exacerbation of natural inequalities (economic and others). In the process, the paper briefly sketches a neo-Aristotelian theory of virtue ethics and natural individual rights, for which the principle of equal and total liberty for all is of fundamental political importance. And, finally, a non-statist conception of politics is developed, with politics defined as discourse and deliberation between equals (in authority) in joint pursuit of eudaimonia (flourishing, well-being).
Follow the link above for the pdf and MS Word files as well as discussion of the article on the Libertarian Papers website. You can also download the pdf from my Mises.org Literature archive.
I mentioned Dorothy Day in passing in yesterday’s post. Specifically I named her as part of the Catholic pacifist-anarchist tradition. A couple of readers asked about whether or not Day was actually an anarchist, as they had always heard she was a socialist. I referred one reader to a short article on Day that noted her status as an anarchist, but I didn’t feel that was adequate.
By chance, my wife who is working on an unrelated research project about feminism, happened to pick up some books about Day at the library today. One of the books is The Moral Vision of Dorothy Day: A Feminist Perspective by June E. O’Connor. I thumbed through it and found the following passage, which I think provides a far more satisfying explanation of Day’s views:
Although she preferred the words libertarian, decentralist and personalist to anarchist, Day’s attraction to anarchism was an enduring one. With Peter Maurin and others, most notably Ammon Hennacy and Robert Ludlow, Dorothy Day sought fundamental changes in the structure of society by minimizing the presence and power of the state and by arguing on behalf of personal initiative and responsibility expressed in direct action.
Whether acting alongside of or in spite of Peter Maurin, Dorothy Day believed in the power of the person as the starting point for the good society. Day described anarchism as being “personalist before it’s communitarian: it begins with living a disciplined life, trying to be what you want the other fellow to be.” Day admitted that although one must assume responsibility oneself, the fact is that many others will not. When they do not, one must simply try to understand them, given their sufferings and their backgrounds, and accept them.
…Anarchists are not so much politicians or sociologists as they are moralists; their stand is not so much political and economic as it is spiritual and ethical.
[Well, anarchists aren't politicians at all, but this is still a nice observation about anarchism.]