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What do you call yourself?

Libertarian, Anarchist, Minarchist, Anarcho-capitalist, Sovereign Citizen, Constitutionalist, etc.??

It seems since we are all about individualism, that labels don't stick or we are constantly coming up with new ones so we don't get lumped in with someone we don't like. I would prefer to be called a libertarian because it's so simple. It all hinges on the non-aggresion principle, and its easy to look at everything through that lens. But the word libertarian has been so bastardized by the media and the Tea Party its hard to get a conversation going and declare your political ideals. So what do you say?

Edit 7/27: Wow thanks for all the comments. I couldn't have imagined a better response.

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hold on

So you think we should design a non-aggressive monopoly in dispute resolution, that prohibits any competition to it. And the reason is because you feel that a free market in dispute resolution might become a state. But what you want to design is a state, and it's also aggressive, because it needs to prohibit competition.

So you want a state in order to reduce the chances that a free market will create a state.

No, that's not what I'm saying

A monopoly DRO will emerge even if none of the DROs behave aggressively. A DRO does not need to use aggression to get or keep a monopoly. The reason:

DROs will often find themselves on opposite sides of a dispute: i.e. one will rule one way, the other will rule another way. Two contradictory rulings cannot be enforced, so which DRO enforces its ruling? In the absence of an established appeals process or court of final appeals: the one that can. The one that is strong enough to enforce its ruling. What happens to the other DRO, the one which is not strong enough to enforce its ruling? It can't compete. The DRO capable of enforcing its rulings necessarily prevents its competitors from enforcing theirs. It becomes a monopoly "in a fit of absent mindedness," as it were. It doesn't need to actively "prohibit competition." It just needs to be able to enforce its own rulings, no matter which other DROs issue contrary rulings - and provided its rulings are just, it is not aggressing by enforcing them.

I'm saying we'll get a non-aggressive monopoly no matter what. If we create a free market in dispute resolution and let it unfold, who knows how the non-aggressive monopoly that emerges will be structured. Whereas, if we design a non-aggressive monopoly and start with that, we can control its structure. Structure matters. How the monopoly is structured as an organization will largely determined whether and/or how fast it evolves into a state (which is what we want to avoid).

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Predictions, predictions

… so which DRO enforces its ruling?...the one that is strong enough…

In order for the strong DRO to win, it must be stronger than all the other DROs combined. Let’s assume that it is stronger than all of its competitors – why is this DRO so strong? It’s strong because of its customers. Its customers support it and it has many customers which indicates that the mentality of the DRO rulings reflect the mentality of its customers. But isn’t using force against all other competitive DROs expensive? In order to win, this strong DRO has to use a lot of violence. This is expensive for the customers and many customers will unsubscribe and find cheaper DROs who are more efficient and not crazed with violence and power. So in the end the free market will eliminate any imbalance and any monopoly that might arise and prevent a state from forming.

Whereas, if we design a non-aggressive monopoly and start with that, we can control its structure.

You can start with any structure you want but the customers will change the structure very quickly because the consumer is king.

Three Points

1. I suggest reading the blog post that I linked to earlier. It addresses many of the points you're raising. It would save us time and effort.

2. I'm not saying it has to be one DRO stronger than the rest. It might be three DROs stronger than the other two, or five stronger than the other seven, makes no difference at all. The point is, the strongest DRO, or partnership of DROs, wins the dispute - who wins the dispute is not decided by prices or other economic factors, it's about whose armed goons can enforce their employer's ruling despite the resistance of the other company's armed goons. And, ultimately, the strongest DRO will get a monopoly (or the strongest partnership of DROs will get a cartel).

3. As to violence being expensive, that's true. But saying a DRO won't use violence because its expensive is wrong, it's like saying Blackwater won't use violence because it's expensive - they're in a violent business. The dispute resolution business is inherently violent. Providing the service requires the use of violence. How does one enforce a ruling against someone who doesn't want to accept it without using violence? ...A violent DRO is not a power-hungry or evil DRO, it's just a DRO. All DROs must be violent to some extent.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

strong vs. fair

I read your article. You're making the assumption that consumers want a DRO that: (1) will rule in their favor, and (2) is strong enough to enforce its judgment.

This is not what consumers want. They want a fair ruling because they don't know which side of the ruling they will be on someday.

The most fair and most efficient DRO will get the consumers.

The strongest DRO will go out of business because they will cease to be funded when their customers leave.

Fair according to whom?

The reason there's a dispute in the first place is that the disputants disagree as to what's fair. So I don't know what you mean by fair.

Anyway, the important point is that no consumer will hire a judge unless he thinks there's a decent chance of the ruling being enforced - no matter how favorable or "fair" he expects that ruling to be, it's of no use whatsoever unless it's enforceable.

Let me ask you this: why are there no private judges today in the US? By judges I mean people who render decisions *and* enforce them. It's not illegal for me to build a courthouse, buy a robe, call myself Judge NowOrNever, and start advertizing for customers. No G-men will break down my door if I try to do this. So why doesn't anyone do this? Because everyone knows I can't enforce my ruling, since whoever is on the losing end of my ruling can appeal to a government court, and that I cannot possibly compete with the strength behind the government court. I the private judge have no customers because I cannot enforce my rulings, and everyone knows this.

P.S. Thanks for reading my essay. It's still a work in progress so I really appreciate any feedback. :-)

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

The judges will be hired

The judges will be hired prior to the dispute. People will have contracts with DROs just like they have car insurance - before anything happens. They will contract with DROs who have a reputation of being fair (whatever they believe fair means to them).

The reason they will not contract with a DRO that bullies everyone around and doesn't follow the NAP, is because they don't know which side the DRO will take if they need them in the future. Two feuding parties might belong to the same DRO.

P.S. In the second sentence of your essay - "there is no state, and there is a large number of privately owned firms" - I think it should read "there are a large number".

Addressing each of your paragraphs in order...

1. People might subscribe to a judge, or they might pay a judge only when they use them - there's no way to know in advance. But you're right that if they did subscribe, they would be more concerned about "fairness" (if by that you mean not being noticeably biased toward either defendants or plaintiffs), since customers wouldn't know in advance whether they'll be seeing the judge as a plaintiff or defendant.

But this is not a rebuttal to my point (that customers will hire judges capable of enforcing their decisions), because (1) being fair and being capable of enforcing your decisions are not mutually exclusive, and (2) no matter how fair you are, you will still have no customers unless you can enforce those fair rulings.

2. Being strong enough to enforce your own ruling and doing so does not entail being a bully or violating the NAP.

3. Even though it sounds funny, I'm pretty sure "is" is grammatically correct, since "number" is singular.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."


Let's say DRO-1 made a ruling in favor of its client, the plaintiff, and the defendant was a client of DRO-2. If DRO-2 is much stronger than 1, then DRO-1 is prevented from enforcing its ruling.

But what if the original ruling of DRO-1 were fair (according to what the majority of customers think "fair" is -- hopefully as close to the NAP as possible).

Now what happens to the reputation of DRO-2? The customers don’t care about strength as much as they care about fairness. They won't support DRO-2 because they know that they can be screwed by their own DRO. Don't forget, a customer of DRO-2 can be sued by another customer of DRO-2.

People don't only want results (strength), they want fairness as well as strength. And much of the strength or weakness of a DRO comes from its customers support, or lack of support, because the consumer is king.

If a DRO...

...routinely makes egregious rulings, then I'm sure its reputation and business will suffer, sure. But not every disagreement between DROs is going to involve one DRO making an egregious ruling. There can and frequently will be disagreements between good and fair libertarian DROs. Even if all DROs adhere strictly to the same libertarian legal principles, there will be disagreements about the facts of the case, and disagreements about how to apply the law (e.g. as in the case of homesteading, whose "first use" principle is notoriously open to interpretation).

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

more scenarios

What if two DROs are equally strong, then both will exist and no monopoly will form.

Or what if one DRO is very strong and the other 20 are weak, but the 20 combined are stronger than the strong DRO? That DRO will never get a monopoly if the 20 work together.

First, for a monopoly to form

First, for a monopoly to form all that's needed is for there to be disagreements between DROs of unequal strength *sometimes.* Not every dispute has to be that way.

Secondly, if the 20 are working together consistently, and thereby dominate the other(s), then they're a cartel. QED.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Ive made this point hundreds

Ive made this point hundreds of times, so glad to see an actual anarchist on this site cop to it. If you read the material and assume that coercion in any form is unacceptable then you must adhere to this view. The problem is that anarchists here are so desperate to not have their system look almost indistinguishable from the system they are replacing. Rothbard himself more or less admits this.

Ventura 2012

What frustrates me...

...about my fellow ancaps is their tendency to think about private law as just another sector in the free market - but it isn't, because the free market already presupposes law enforcement, and law enforcement is inherently violent, not voluntary (so how can it be part of a *free* market?).

The conventional ancapism is based on a crude analogy: free market works in X, Y, and Z...so why not law? In my experience, that's really about the extent of the depth of their thinking, I hate to say it. Even Rothbard and his epigones don't get into any deeper analysis.

The basic idea of a stateless society is sound, but ancapism as presently constituted, i.e. based on the impossible idea of polycentric law, is not.

P.S. I might add, if this problem would be recognized by ancaps, there is a hugely fruitful area to be explored. We could finally develop the praxeology of involuntary interaction that Mises was talking about.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Of course, you must have VERY

Of course, you must have VERY stable legal systems enforced by credible entities before you can have capitalism. One need only look at the breakdown of the Roman Empire into anarchism to see what resulted:feudalism. There is zero historical evidence to suggest that this would not be the case.

I think anarchists have addressed the polycentric law issue demonstrably enough: it won't exist. You will have Hoppe style communities that enforce their own laws on members of their jurisdiction. Think of Greek City-States(uh oh, there's that "state" word again) or Feudal estates.

Ventura 2012

Would you define "state"?


"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Whatever it is the anarchists

Whatever it is the anarchists hate so much. I guess it's mainly replacing broad legislation interpreted by courts or bureaucrats for common law and contract law deciding everything.

Ventura 2012

There are three positions in this debate

Yours, mine, and the Rothbardian ancaps' - let me try to compare them.

The ancaps usually define the state as a territorial monopoly in the provision of law and security (or something to that effect). Note that the word aggression is not in that definition; it's taken for granted that a monopoly can only exist if it uses aggression against the competition. As a result of this assumption, ancaps are hostile to monopoly itself (where they should only be hostile to monopoly if it's aggressive), hence their support for polycentric law.

You and I agree that monopoly will emerge from polycentric law, but we draw very different conclusions from this.

You implicitly agree with the ancap view that monopoly = state, and since polycentric law will yield monopoly, you then dismiss ancapism as a failure on its own term (and you would be right to do so if monopoly really did = state).

Whereas I say: polycentric law will lead to monopoly, but monopoly =/= state. Only an aggressive monopoly is a state, and a monopoly DRO does not have to be aggressive. The ancaps are wrong in saying that a monopoly can only exist by employing aggression against it's competitors. Rather, a monopoly can only exist by using *violence* against it's competitors. As limelemon pointed out, aggression =/= violence. And the point I keep reiterating is that a DRO *must* use violence to enforce its rulings (including violence against competitors if they resist the enforcement of its rulings), so a monopoly is inevitable, but this violence is not aggression if the rulings being enforced are just.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

The real 3 positions:

1. Actual anarchist thinkers like you that understand that polycentric law will not exist any more than it does today(Rothbard included).

2. Minarchist like me that understand the same and therefore don't really see the need to go towards anarchy.

3. Anarchists on this site like limelemon that are the most misinformed, unread anarchist I've ever seen that literally think everyone in a town gets to hire different courts and police lol.

I don't agree that a monopoly equals a state, I just think that it is substantially similar to a state.

Here is Rothbard on "covenant communities":

"With every locale and neighborhood owned by private firms, corporations, or contractual communities, true diversity would reign, in accordance with the preferences of each community. Some neighborhoods would be ethnically or economically diverse, while others would be ethnically or economically homogeneous. Some localities would permit pornography or prostitution or drugs or abortion, others would prohibit any or all of them. The prohibitions would not be state imposed, but would simply be requirements for residence or use of some person’s or community’s land area."

and then

"n a country, or a world, of totally private property, including streets, and private contractual neighborhoods consisting of property-owners, these owners can make any sort of neighborhood-contracts they wish. In practice, then, the country would be a truly “gorgeous mosaic,” … ranging from rowdy Greenwich Village-type contractual neighborhoods, to socially conservative homogeneous WASP neighborhoods. Remember that all deeds and covenants would once again be totally legal and enforceable, with no meddling government restrictions upon them. So that considering the drug question, if a proprietary neighborhood contracted that no one would use drugs, and Jones violated the contract and used them, he fellow community-contractors could simply enforce the contract and kick him out. Or, since no advance contract can allow for all conceivable circumstances, suppose that Smith became so personally obnoxious that his fellow neighborhood-owners wanted him ejected. They would then have to buy him out—-probably on terms set contractually in advance in accordance with some “obnoxious” clause."

This is pretty much my view of the best-case-scenario Ancap society. Basically a corporate locality where majority rules(majority of dollars or votes) and if you don't like it you can't live there.

Ventura 2012

Couple Points

1. Re the homeowners association (HOA) idea...it's still polycentric law. What happens when a member of one HOA has a dispute with a member of another HOA? Who decides the outcome of the dispute? Or, for that matter, when a member of an HOA has a dispute with another member of the same HOA, loses the dispute, doesn't like the result, and appeals to an outside organization? You'll end up with (sometimes violent) conflict between HOAs over who decides the outcome of the dispute, just as you would between DROs. And so you'll end up with one or another HOA having a monopoly in dispute resolution.

2. Ancaps claim that a minarchist government can only exist if it uses aggression to keep out competitors. Most minarchists accept this critique and say "well, yea, but ancapism is impossible, so minimizing aggression with minarchism is the best we can do." Both are wrong, and for the same reason: they think aggression is necessary to maintain a monopol in dispute resolution services - it isn't.

A DRO can get and jeep a monopoly simply by being strong enough to enforce its rulings regardless of what anyone else has to say, and if those rulings are just, then it is not aggressing by doing this. It excludes competitors naturally in the course of business, with violence, yes, but not with aggression.

What a non-aggressive DRO amounts to is a minarchist government sans the aggression which ancaps and minarchists alike typically think it requires. That is my ideal. I much prefer a well-designed minarchist government like this to...who knows what might emerge from conflicts between firms/DROs/HOAs in a polycentric law situation.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

1. Rothbard is saying that as

1. Rothbard is saying that as a condition to living in a certain community you must submit to the laws and court system of that community. So there will be one code and one court system. There will not be an outside appeal unless one is granted to you.

2. I agree with you except I don't think anarchism is desirable. I don't think its impossible, that would be saying Feudal Europe, Bushmen of Calihari or Ancient Ireland and Israel were "impossible". They actually existed.

We know that the DRO firms would be subject to the whims of the American consumer, that should scare the shit out of us right there lol.

Ventura 2012

1. That's assuming the

1. That's assuming the communities respect one another's jurisdictions, which, unless they're all members of some larger organization, I see no reason for them to do.

2. What I'm advocating is nothing like those examples. I'm talking about a government: officials, elections, a constitution, nightwatchmen functions, etc. My vision is probably much like yours in substance. It's anarchistic only in the sense that this government is not a state. A state is an aggressive monopoly DRO. This government is a non-aggressive monopoly DRO (and I've already explained how I think a monopoly DRO can maintain it's monopoly without using aggression).

Originally I called myself an ancap who rejects the possibility of polycentric law. I could just as rightly call myself a minarchist who believes in the possibility of non-aggressive government.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

1. That's true, but of course

1. That's true, but of course that is true of any disagreement between two jurisdictions today, particularly international disagreements. So it is not a problem unique to anarchy. Like the Feudal estate, the anarchic community will likely be large enough to sustain human life(by having a coercive jurisdiction large enough to enforce some level of contract law). By coercive I mean that you cannot enter or buy property in the jurisdiction without submitting to the DRO agency that runs the jurisdiction. My guess is at a minimum they would be the size of a city in practice(best case scenario).

2.Yes I'm very well aware, my point is that --->I<--- am not a minarchist that believes anarchy is impossible. I just don't find it desirable, certainly not on the margin.

3. Check out Rothbard: http://www.lewrockwell.com/1970/01/murray-n-rothbard/liberta...

"In practice, this means taking the
largely libertarian common law, and correcting it by the use of
man’s reason, before enshrining it as a permanently fixed libertarian
code or constitution."

Ventura 2012

1. As you say, disagreements

1. As you say, disagreements between sovereigns are much more problematic (likely to lead to conflict and instability) than disagreements between entities within the same sovereign (the reason being that legitimacy matters, and entities within the same sovereign generally recognize the legitimacy of the structure of which they're both part). And that was my point. For the HOA arrangement to work, they need to be in some kind of confederation or association, with a rule-based mechanism for settling disputes between them. There's no guarantee they'll honor these rules, but they're more likely to avoid conflict with them than without them. And if the HOAs are part of a lager organization, then it becomes something like what I'm advocating: a highly decentralized (non-aggressive) government.

2. Gotcha

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Are you saying that Lew

Are you saying that Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, Walter Block, et al. are all misguided, and if they knew better they would stop advocating ancap and get people to support minarchism through campaigning and voting?

Keep in mind....

Aside from Molinari, ancapism was created by Rothbard and is only about 50 years old; all ancap thought since then has been fully in Rothbard's shadow, and has not progressed one iota from where Rothbard left it. It's a young idea. It would be a shame if it became dogma before it became mature. So, yes, IMO they're wrong - and you should at least consider the possibility that they're wrong.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

So what's the advantage of

So what's the advantage of knowing that a free market in law will lead to a non-aggressive monopoly? How does that help?

Option A. Start with a free

Option A. Start with a free market in law, end up with a monopoly.

Option B. Start with a monopoly.

Either way we get a monopoly.

So what's the difference?

**Not all monopolies are equal**

We want a non-aggressive monopoly structured in such a way that it is likely to remain non-aggressive over time; we don't want it evolving into a state do we? So either we can deliberately design such an organization (as I want), or we can throw the dice with a free market in law and hope such an organization emerges.

The structural factors I'm talking about are things like separation of powers, decentralization, written constitutions, etc.

"Alas! I believe in the virtue of birds. And it only takes a feather for me to die laughing."

Tom Woods has more or less

Tom Woods has more or less done this already(he told me via email). But yes, I think they are misguided, you can go ahead and add every anarchist thinker ever born to the list.

Ventura 2012

You once told me that

You once told me that constitutional government is easier to sell than anarchism. I agree. But do you think we can ever get to the point where enough people will understand economics so that they will support limited government so that there can be change?