46 votes

DEBATE: Larken Rose vs Atty. Tom Willcutts, Moderated by Richard Grove, TragedyAndHope.com

An actual debate! Voluntaryism vs. Constitutional Minarchism. The Illegitimacy of the very concept of "autho-ra-teh!"

Larken Rose vs. Tom Willcutts (History... Debate on "Authority" and "Government")


YouTube Channel: TragedyandHopeMag

Published on Mar 7, 2013

History... So It Doesn't Repeat: A debate on the concepts of "authority", "government", and the "state", featuring author Larken Rose vs. Tom Willcutts (attorney for www.TragedyAndHope.com).

After the debate, visit www.LarkenRose.com to learn more about "The Most Dangerous Superstition".

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What a Joke!

Worst debate I have ever seen.
The mediator teamed up against the logical one.
Larken is a jackass he has no idea what he is talking about.
If you do not want governmental authority you will have no authority; everyone will steal from you, no one will respect your property rights, and you will become a slave to the cartel.
good luck bitch.

Kent A Davis

Larken is disassociated from society.

I am glad to be benefiting from the petro dollar!
I am proud to be an American!
I still believe in the United States.
If the United States gives up their global authority and power we will be oppressed!

Kent A Davis

Who on this site is going

Who on this site is going crazy deleting posts? Two of my comments here were deleted.

Excellent debate!

I think that it's fantastic that so much discussion is being had about what role should government play. After all, the choice is ours if we want it.

The debate is not about the role...

government should play, the debate is about whether government should exist, or should we just return to the unrestrained law of the jungle, a.k.a., anarcho-barbarism.

http://www.dailypaul.com/277342 (Rand Paul: One person can make a difference)
http://www.StandUpForYourRights.me/?p=1264 (Fast and Furious hearing)

Something always made me think....

...that this is one reason Gary Johnson AND Ron Paul couldn't remain in the debates.

Two libertarians debating are some of the greatest debates. Would y'all classify voluntarism as a form of libertarianism?

I'm a serial entrepreneur and liberty activist from Texas!


To answer your question; kind

To answer your question; kind of. Libertarians technically believe in a small government; Voluntaryists, Market-Anarchists, Anarcho-Capitalists do not believe in any government ie State. Government is different than voluntary groupings or organizations. What follows next is based of an explanation from another DP member in another comment on another post, I liked it, and modified it, so here it is:

A voluntary organization will not take your property(money) without your permission, and if you don't agree to give-up your property, the voluntary organization will not take your liberty(jail you), and if you resist being imprisoned because you refused to allow the voluntary organization take your money, the voluntary organization will not take your life(kill you); government which was created to protect your life, liberty, and property does and will do all of this. To prove it, one need only think of what would happen if one quit paying their taxes, and then what would happen if one refused to go to court, and then what would happen if one refused apprehension by the police.

The term Anarcho-Capitalist, which is almost or basically the same as Voluntaryist, was created in the 1970s by Murray Rothbard the founder of the Libertarian party; however, the modern Libertarian Party now wants to write 'good' laws instead of repeal 'bad' laws. A 'true' Constitutionalist seems more like a small el libertarian than the Libertarian party does; however, there are very few 'true' Constitutionalists, so it would seem.

Voluntaryists/Anarcho-Capitalists believe that government by its very nature of being, is Force and therefore everything it does violates the NAP by initiating force by its very existence.

I hope I answered your question somewhere in their.

Got an hour in

Haven't finished... The "Moderator" annoyed me. Wasn't a "moderator" at all, more like a third person in the debate; not very professional.

While Larken is a great mind, and on a purely philosophical level you can't argue against a Utopian ideal. However, I don't believe there to be a practical application.
One thing I'd note that wasn't mentioned (at least in the first hour) is that voluntarism was a core component of our initial formation.
The states voluntarily joined the union, and were free to leave it if they pleased...until Lincoln gave the big middle finger to that idea.
Extremely limited and restrained forms of government are still a better practical course. And boy can I think of quite a few ways to limit the power of government.

"If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." -- James Madison

It's reality now

The utopia that Larken is describing is what we have right now today, except with an added gigantic gang of parasites called government that's ruining everything.

If you the take government away, organizational structures (of the voluntary kind) will emerge to deal with all the issues of security, etc.

It's kind of like BitCoins, the lack of regulations have allowed it grow exponentially. The market will eventually provide tools, wallets, software to battle-harden the security of your bitcoins. Note it didn't need government regulations.


Best post and discussion I've seen on the DP in a long time. Respectful and thought provoking. Thanks for posting and thanks to everyone taking part in this discussion.

Will be back for more after work. Wonderful...

NOTE: I am not advocating violence in any way. The content of the post is for intellectual, theoretical, and philosophical discussion. FEDS, please don't come to my house.

Rights vs. Powers

Larken refers to powers as rights, never a good idea to hold. Govt. relies on powers to do what they do, rightly or wrongly, not rights. Only People have rights, govt. retains powers.

Other than this disagreement I like Larken's position.

You don't quite get it.

Government's power derives from its perceived legitimacy. People believe that "government" has a moral right to rule us, and that we have a moral duty to obey their orders & threats ("laws"). If all government had going for it were firepower, people would regard it as a criminal gang, and would regard resistance to it as morally proper. They would esteem "lawbreakers," instead of despising them. That's what keeps government in business, and that, incidentally, is the reason that government schools are the key to the whole "government" racket -- they indoctrinate us with the superstition of government's "right to rule."

You should read his book:

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Those "powers" are only

Those "powers" are only powers because they are accepted by people. That is why the subject of 12 year indoctrination centers was discussed. Larken spoke about that at length.

Lawyer offered the observation regarding government as a tool

... just like a gun. If we were to dismantle the government, the best organized organizations will come out on top. Some will go on to abuse that power and others won't.

We can see this reality played out in families and even activist groups.

If we had no government tomorrow, I think I would attempt to join a group and organize. Why would i do that?

A ruler is not a tool.

Government is NOT a tool. Government is a RULER. And once you accept its authority, YOU are ITS tool, not the other way around. The key to government's power to abuse us is not its military might or the quality of its organization -- it is the legitimacy which its citizens believe it to have. The best organized criminal gang is just a gang -- and a well armed citizenry should not have any great difficulty raising a militia to deal with such, and no moral compunction about doing so.

Absent government, most people concerned about the danger posed by violent gangs most likely WOULD organize local militias, the same way they would organize volunteer fire departments. That is probably the sort of group you would organize, yes? And a good thing. There's nothing wrong with being organized -- it's initiating force against peaceful people that's a bad thing. A militia is not a government, just a bunch of folks exercising the right of self-defense that each of us possesses.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Just because you raise a militia

... doesn't mean it's going to be successful. Perhaps, a well organized militia can be successful.

So...again, organization would be key. Why is organizing so useful? What type of organizational setup is best for an orderly and peaceful society?

Would a criminal gang be a militia in a sense?... organized against the rule of prevailing government?

Militias and "organization"

1. If a militia isn't big or well enough armed to handle a big gang (or an invading government army, same difference), they might make mutual-defense pacts with other militias to improve their chances. Or maybe not. Maybe the good guys lose sometimes. Life isn't fair. The invaders might conquer, rape, loot and enslave the community.

But that's equally true if the community is ruled by a "government," isn't it? The only difference is, if the community already has a "government," they're ALREADY enslaved. So what's your point?

2. "Organization" comes in different flavors. Free men use the "voluntary cooperation & trade" flavor. Government subjects use the "do-as-you're-told-or-else" flavor. Everyone to their own taste. If you like "orderly," maybe the Nazi flavor would suit you? If you prefer "peaceful" or "free," the "government" flavors aren't so great.

3. Could a criminal gang be a militia? Well, "criminal" is what government calls anyone who doesn't follow their orders. So simply labeling people "criminals" doesn't necessarily mean they're doing anything morally wrong. Gangs that sell "illegal" products and services to willing customers without using fraud or coercion are "criminals" only in a legal sense, not a moral sense. An "illegal" militia that functioned according to the Non-Aggression Principle would deserve our respect and support. On the other hand, a militia that initiates force against innocent people (trying to emulate a government) doesn't deserve to be called a "militia" at all -- they're just another gang. Or "government," same difference.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

I have more questions than points

Perhaps, we need to distinguish between Big G government and small g government?

Big G means what we have now... a bloated, abusive and criminal enterprise.
small g means a set of rules or tenants that facilitate organization and trade.

As an aside, from what I gather, the etymology of "gov" comes from ancient India. The name of the temple where gold was exchanged for cows was called... (I will have to hunt it down again), the name started with the root word 'Gov'. Govinda is one of the names of Lord Krishna referring to his occupation as a cowherd. In Persian, the word for cow is 'Gov'. The cows were kept in stalls beneath the temple.

Incidentally, this is where the concept of "interest" came into play. For example, when someone sold cows to the temple for gold to be used for some sort of venture. When the person returned to repurchase the cows, any calves born in the duration belonged to the temple.

You said, "... if the community already has a "government," they're ALREADY enslaved. Beth Noveck: Demand a more open-source government So what's your point?"

At this stage, I have more questions than points. I'm watching TED talks regarding the subject of government.

Clay Shirky: How the Internet will (one day) transform government

Beth Noveck: Demand a more open-source government

Jennifer Pahlka: Coding a better government

Heather Brooke: My battle to expose government corruption

Jennifer Pahlka - What Millennials Have to Teach Us About Civics


I have been using Linux open source operating system for well over 6 years. It's BETTER than Mac and Windows and it's FREE.

The difference? What's the difference between a few thousand paid programmers working in secret, on segments of code in a highly compartmentalized environment OR millions of programmers donating their time and expertize, co-operating in the open, sharing knowledge for the purpose of building better operating systems ----- including 1000's and 1000's of excellent open source applications and programs.

The Law Merchant

Your idea of "small g government" approximates the lex mercatoria or "Law Merchant," a system of stateless laws that made (and still operates today) international trade possible:

In the eleventh century Europeans discovered agricultural improvements that could sustain a larger population. The growing population increasingly migrated to urban areas. In these cities a new class of merchants was born. Merchants across Europe were separated by language, distance, and local law. To facilitate trade, they needed a common set of commercial rules. Out of that need the Law Merchant was born.

The Law Merchant was a purely informal body of law. It developed out of merchants’ international commercial customs and shared legal notions. Roman law (the ius gentium) provided many of these notions, which merchants modified to meet their special needs, as Bruce L. Benson pointed out in “The Spontaneous Evolution of Commercial Law” (Southern Economic Journal, 1989.)

In its early days the Law Merchant relied entirely on private adjudication and enforcement. Merchants conducted much of early international trade at fairs throughout Europe. At these fairs local authorities performed regular activities, such as preventing violence, but they didn’t normally adjudicate disputes between international traders.

Nor did authorities enforce the terms of private commercial contracts. International merchants formed their own courts for this purpose and applied their own law to these cases. Merchants’ courts came to be called “dusty feet courts” because of the condition of merchants’ shoes as they busily traveled between commercial fairs. In these courts merchants acted as judges, deciding the disputes of fellow traders on the basis of shared customs. Merchant courts enforced their decisions privately by threatening noncompliant traders with a loss of reputation and merchant-community ostracism. - from "The Law Merchant and International Trade" by Peter T. Leeson & Daniel J. Smith

There IS spontaneous order, and law, without Government. The word "government," however, should not be applied to such rules, any more than the pure bloody evil of the Inquisition should be used to characterize Christianity.

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...

Why open source Gov wont

Why open source Gov wont work. For one, those whom you are watching are all pusching for Direct Democracy; which will only allow the biggest crooks to even get near government.

Secondly, even if it was a volunteer-type opensource government, there would be a huge problem. Government officials -by the very existence of government- have an ability to control or influence many individuals simultaneously -this is the Power which peopel talk of in regards to government power. Just because someon volunteers doesn't mean they are necessarily good natured or imperviouse to the corruptive nature of governments power. Our original government segments were barely if ever in session. The office holders had to have a 'real' job besides their office -we see how that turned out, don't we?

People create government to do the immoral, unethical, and 'evil' acts which people want done, but they don't want to do those acts themselves. If government is created to do immoral, unethical, and 'evil' acts, then how can it be anything other than, immoral, unethical, and 'evil?' Also, what does it say about the people who advocate for the existence of government?

the only thing I advocate...

At the moment, the only thing I advocate is pay attention to chemtrails - today we had a perfectly sunny day with fluffy clouds and by late afternoon, a chemical dome was in place obscuring the sky and sun.

I am not attached to government. I do believe at the time the founding fathers were advocating small government - corporations could only have a 20 year charter.

We need to reduce the size of government, corporations and the military. How do we go about doing this?

I want a government just big enough to have the ability to enforce the NUMBER ONE RULE - NO BIG CORPORATIONS, EVER.

Direct democracy could be functional only when the people are well informed. But then again, imagine what we could have had going presently, if only the people were well informed.

I believe different States

I believe different States had their own Corporation Charter, but anyway, as you've pointed out government didn't do its job of keeping to that. The government allowing corporations to exist si the worse thing ever -you will not get a complaint from me about the evils of those mega corporations. However, the government which you advocate for is what empowers those very same corporations, by creating legeslation beneficial to those corporations which paid for the legaslation -and you can bet your A$$ that it is not the small business man or even a start-up company paying for that stuff.

Without government, the Corporations wouldn't be able to limit competition, by having extremely high start-up and operating costs which are imposed on most businesses by regulations passed by either Congress or a Federal Agency.

Without the benefit of a controlled market -like they have now- profits are not able to be predicted and most of the big investers would get out. They would have a hard time controlling the market even with the big profits and market share, without government; but by taking away government, the market share and profits go away also, they(the Corporations) would never be able to maintain their quasi-monopoly and their main investors would leave in search of profits.

Direct democracy always props-up the worst of all options. For Direct Democracy to work -as in, for it to select the very best person for the job- the total number of candidates would have to be nearly half the size of the total eligable voting population; this way the best possible choice could receive the largest number of votes.

I entertained this

same problem below in the comments.

I'd really like someone to propose an reasoned rebuttal of it, as it's a claim I'm really curious about and one I see as a flaw in this logic.

I'll take a shot.

See my reply to the comment above. If you're REALLY curious, though, read Larken's book:

Recommended reading: The Most Dangerous Superstition, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Dangerous-Superstition-Larken-Ros...



NOTE: I am not advocating violence in any way. The content of the post is for intellectual, theoretical, and philosophical discussion. FEDS, please don't come to my house.

Larken makes 100% sense.

Only expected to watch a minute or two, ended up watching the whole thing.

Larken Rose made total sense.

The constitution is invalid as it delegates powers to the government the people never had. It's a contradiction and thus invalid. Ironically, it's fundamentally no different than a banker lending money they never had. It's all psychological error and it only works because people play along with it (until it all crashes).

The reality is that government isn't real, people just pretend it is (kind of like fiat money).

I think the ruling class must know all these things and understand the philosophy. They must've figured out that merely assuming the position of power is enough to gain power (by the submission of the ruled). It doesn't make real, it's just a psychological trick.

Voluntaryism would imply

Voluntaryism would imply spontaneous order operating at its maximum capacity, wherever voluntaryism was actually functioning, which can out-organize any centralized authority.

Central authority does not have the organizational power to establish a better society than spontaneous order.

Well said


The creation, production and fair exchange of values is the business of evolving consciousness, love and life.--Craig Johnson

I didn't get to finish the video yet

(about 35 minutes into it).

Sorry if this post doesn't make much sense, it's 2 am, I've had a much rougher than normal week, and I'm nearly asleep at the keyboard.

However there are some things people here can feel free to down vote and ridicule me on as I take the devil's advocate position, but I'd like to discuss these more and get answers from you all.

One thing I really didn't care for was the moderator. To say that this was a true debate is a joke, the moderator was just another arm for Larken's position which in all honesty kind of made me sympathize more for the lawyers position. The lawyer also wasn't very articulate in expressing his points and it was sort of a struggle to get through.

There is a question that I feel I wish Larken had a better answer for, that I'm quite curious about as well. That is he tends to think that if you strip away Government in totality, that authoritarians will just seise to exist. I think the Min-archist makes a good case that what's to stop organizations and those that already have established wealth from not assuming a role of power. He makes the concern about corporations, and corporations needing the state to run roughshod over others. So abolishing the state will reduce this? I don't think I agree with that premise, what's to stop them from just negating that method? Under the context of our current societal structure I think yes any thug who wants in on tyranny conducts their ways from behind the curtains of Government, but who's to say if you abolished that system that it would merely just disappear (as if Government is the only thing perpetuating tyrants to exercising their power)?

I totally agree with Larken with his argument mirroring Bastiat's that the concept/nature of Government is nothing more than a justification to carry out what we would deem immoral and unjust, and in this it's a complete perversion and contradiction towards our way of life. I guess I just question whether or not if people could actually recondition themselves to break this mode of thought that has prevailed for thousands of years now, hell as long as human civilization as a "civil" society has been known. I'm a big proponent of Lao Tzu, and he's perhaps one of the last leading examples (along with Confucious) to live in an era of true anarchy. There was no Government, well there was the start of it, but as he said. Instead of War lords running roughshod over the land, people want to replace it with Government that does the same. I guess the only positive is that at least your living in a state of honesty, People aren't living under some false pretense of things truly being different under some sort of ordering regime.

I guess it comes down to being a proponent on either side of your take on the human condition. Maybe I'm speaking a bit Hobbesian, or Machiavellian write now, but it seems that it's an inherent part of many human beings to want to do bad unless they are truly guided otherwise.

I'll add on this post tomorrow, I'm beyond exhausted right now, I'm not even sure if anything I wrote is comprehendable.

"So abolishing the state will

"So abolishing the state will reduce this?"

Will organizations and bad people still exist? Yes. Will they be able to control things or you. No.

Think of it like a free market. You choose where and with whom you do business with. If that organization has a bad rap then you go somewhere else. Bad organizations will not last long at all in a voluntaryist society because they can't be propped up and forced on anyone, you must choose that abuse for it to be a problem, which obviously no one will.

They have power because the State gives them that power. Use Wal-Mart as an example. They have very cheap prices because of how low they pay their employees and the many regulations and taxation that favor them. If you get rid of the State that fixes those regulations then they'd have to either pay their employees even less than before to keep cheap prices or jump the prices up to normal or even higher prices to make their profit. So, they would either lose employees that quit and go to a higher paying job and risk understaffing or lose customers to other companies due to price hikes. They would no longer have a monopoly on cheap prices. The local shop down the block, without regulations and taxes would then be able to drop their own prices and get those customers. That example is the same with any and every big company with any product.

Don't underestimate a true free market :)