Saturday, September 8, 2007

Anarchy 101

For a brief introduction to how society without government might function, take a look at the following three articles by one of the greatest libertarian thinkers of our age, Lew Rockwell. I have given brief excerpts from each (emphasis mine).

1. The War the Government Cannot Win

Ludwig von Mises said that the great accomplishment of economists was to draw attention to the extreme limits on the power of government. His point was not merely that government should be limited, but that it is limited by the very structure of reality. It cannot make all people rich by its own initiative. It cannot provide universal housing, literacy, and health. It cannot raise wages across the board. It cannot ban products. Those who seek to accomplish economic ends such as these are choosing the wrong means. That is because there is something more powerful than government: namely economic law.

2. Two Views of Social Order: Conflict or Cooperation (video)

There are two clear and present dangers to liberty in America. One is known as the left, and the other is known as the right. They are dangerous because they seek to use government to mold society into a form they seek, rather than the form that liberty achieves if society is left on its own.

I'm going to assume that the left and the right come to their views sincerely, that their passion for using government is driven by some fear that the absence of government would yield catastrophe. So the burden of my talk today will be to identify and explain the common thread that connects the worldview of the left and the right, and suggest that they are both wrong about the capacity of society, whether it is defined locally or internationally, to manage itself.

3. Interview with Lew Rockwell

LEW ROCKWELL: A libertarian is a person who believes in the absolute right of private property ownership.

JOHNSSON: Your slogan on is Anti-War, Anti-State, Pro-Market; how do you define anti-state?

ROCKWELL: To be anti-state is to hold the intellectual position that there is nothing that society needs that the state can do better than the market. If you hold that view, you are anti-state. So in some ways, to say anti-war, anti-state, and pro-market is to propose redundancies of the same idea. I would defend the anti-state idea in every aspect of human life. The market is better in schools, energy, food, housing, charity, trade, consumer protection, justice, security, and even international relations. I know of no exceptions. The major burden of all the editorial work that I do is to make this point again and again. Does it grow weary? Not in any way. The number one, central, ubiquitous problem of our time and all time is the state. Whenever a criminal band manages to bamboozle the public that it alone should be granted the legal right to aggress on others, there is a problem that needs to be uprooted. The struggle for freedom is precisely this and no other.