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Rothbard and Hoppe vs. The Zombie Apocalypse

Suppose a tremendous cataclysm rocked the Earth, and conditions were such that the amount of food and fuel resources remaining were only enough to feed a small fraction of the people on the globe.

Imagine yourself in such a world. Moments after this realization hits you and begins to sink in. You consider your family, loved ones, your wife and children, and yourself. You realize everyone else is in the same boat.

The things you love in this world, those are you ultimate ends. Yourself, your children, continuing to live, avoiding death and misery.

Let's be honest. We would all do one of two things.

Some of us would choose to renounce life, to accept our death philosophically and try to have a quick end. We would bow out of the commencing bloodbath gracefully, retaining our civilized poise and balance. A luxury, of course, not open to those with children to look after.

The rest of us? We would tear each other to pieces to get that food and fuel to feed ourselves and our immediate loved ones, and we would do unspeakable things to avoid death, misery, and annihilation.

No concept or idea of right, wrong, Rights, ethics, or any other obstacle would be sufficient to keep us from filling our hungry bellies.

Perhaps there are taboos so strong that many or most of us would still not break. We might forbear doing some things that have long been horrific to the human mind, such as cannibalism. Or maybe not.

Beyond that, we would do anything to continue to exist. And in doing so, to continue the species. There is a certain logic to it, no?

Not all the natural rights or argumentation ethics in the world would stop us from using every means available to secure to ourselves and our closest loved ones a place in that ten percent of survivors.


This simple thought experiment should make it clear in what world rights, ethics and law have meaning. The conditions on which all of our social cooperation and lawful behavior rest - their utility to us as individuals and small units - are not guaranteed conditions. They are just conditions, not laws. Why try to deny it?

Social cooperation and submission to a law for the resolution of conflict are based on their utility. Cultures which engage in cooperation, division of labor, public law and economic activity were selected in an evolutionary process, just as the human species itself was selected for its ability to engage in extended social cooperation and ultimately economic activity - division of labor. Law and custom of some kind proceeded every step of the way to make that possible.

We live in society and respect others not because of natural rights or argumentation ethics, but because there is greater utility or greater advantage to our own interests in doing so. Society, social cooperation, division of labor, and peaceful conflict resolution are better for most of us than engaging in the tactics described in the above scenario.

Our ultimate ends and loves in this world remain the same: our lives, our loved ones, our children, and the absence of an empty belly.

Without the conditions that make social cooperation and lawful conflict resolution more advantageous to us, we would abandon them to continue the struggle for our personal existence and our subjective goals by other means.


Mises: 1
Hayek: 1
Rothbard: 0
Hoppe: 0

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Who was John Boyd?

How many defenders of Liberty are misdirected during their short lives?


You gave us 2 choices and forgot the third:

Hypthetically, why couldn't we just rebuild, Bill?

I guess what I'm asking, more in detail, is why do you think a "majority" of people (you use "people" in a general sense, which isn't fair because everyone is different and will react differently)
will just go either one of two ways?

If you don't know your rights, you don't have any.


Watch it.

One Second After.
Read it.

There is no scenario that could ever happen in which rights would no longer apply.

Let's take a zombie apocalypse scenario. Sure, you'll have unprepared fools who go about looting. You'll also have unprepared fools who realize the error they committed, who band together and attempt to survive. Killing someone who is not harming you is STILL WRONG. Morals are absolute and don't change.

This is getting sooooo old, BILL3

First, I saw the title and knew immediately it was one of your strawman posts.

Second, your argument, that because rights can be violated, therefore rights do not exist, assumes some kind of weird Platonism that I do not get. It's like saying that if I get a wrong answer to a math problem, math doesn't exist. Rights tell us how we should behave, not how we will behave.

Third, you keep assuming that anarchists and natural rights libertarians are opposed to the rule of law. Anarchists are not opposed to laws and law enforcement. Stop putting up this poor, beat up strawman.

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

Wrong again

You could just have said "Hunger Games" to get your point across. You type way too much.

Your scenario, like the Hunger Games, is one which is purposely designed to make people behave immorally, in fact encourages it. Yet some of the participants go to great lengths to avoid violating anyone elses rights. None of that has anything whatsoever to do with civil rights 'granted' by government. The government in fact wants them to be immoral.

In your scenario as in the Hunger Games some people would even prefer to die than violate someone else, like Peeta.

In real life we see self sacrifice the world over.

Why? There is no state sanction relevant at the point of laying down your life.

Without the conditions that make social cooperation and lawful conflict resolution more advantageous to us, we would abandon them to continue the struggle for our personal existence and our subjective goals by other means. - a BILL3

Quite the contrary. The reason people usually avoid conflict is because social cooperation is itself inherently advantageous to humanity. This is due to the benefit of division of labor to life, and the fact your genes know this. Your nature knows this. People avoid your scenario because it will result in gene death. Your genes care about being passed on and they don't always need you to be alive to do so. Your love of family isn't taught. It's because your family carries your DNA.

This is the evolutionists perspective. Theists have an entire different explanation for morality and rights. They believe they come from God. I can't even say that is wrong.

Either way they do exist.

Laws are either consonant with nature or they are not. When they are not they are destructive of life and capital. When they are not, they function to allow some predators to collect rent from society.

In believing your morality can be determined by other men you are good livestock.

The claims I made in my post

The claims I made in my post were very simple and very limited. You did not address any of them.

Perhaps they're not worth addressing,

at least in the way you have them laid out.

"... conditions ... are not guaranteed conditions. They are just conditions, not laws. Why try to deny it?"

Nobody would try to deny that. There's nothing to deny. With whom are you arguing? An imaginary adversary in your head? Your conscience?

There's nothing really to deny about any of your "claims" after that either. As a matter of fact it reads as something akin to Rothbard.

Your "scorecard" is more than arcane, more than your secret bit of nonsense. It's actually quite bizarre. If there are differences in your mind among the four people listed regarding your scenario, you have entirely failed to point them out. You may just as well have listed George Bush, Robin Williams, Michael Nystrom, and Carl Sagan for what your scorecard is worth, and scored them all sevens. Why sevens? I don't know, it's random. You've left no key to unlock your secret scoring scheme either. Yes, it lacks meaning to everyone but you. Your headline is even less related to your scenario than the scorecard. Not only did you not mention zombies in your scenario, injecting an "undead" factor into the mess does nothing to promote insight toward potential differences between Hoppe, Hayek and the like.

I get the distinct impression that you posted this in attempt to argue something with someone. I'd help you out with that, but I can't seem to latch onto anything particularly contentious.

yeah well when you hack the

yeah well when you hack the quote to pieces like an angry Rwandan, it loses context.

"The conditions on which all of our social cooperation and lawful behavior rest - their utility to us as individuals and small units - are not guaranteed conditions. They are just conditions, not laws. Why try to deny it?"

everyone who posits natural rights and other moral sentiments as the basis for social order would disagree strenuously with the idea tat they're dependent on a context of mutual advantage. if they are, than the argument from rights becomes kind of superfluous (in addition to being untrue). what good are supposed absolute rights if they do not apply just in those situations in which they're needed - the absence of mutual advantage and utility?

to pretend there's no fundamental conflict between the conceptions of social order put forward by mises and hayek vs. those of rothbard or hoppe, (all four have differences), is absurd. although ayn rand was not an anarchist, she also belongs in the "invent arbitrary basis for supposed natural laws and surround oneself with cult like adherents and brook no dissent" category.

simple logic

Adjectives and prepositional phrases add color, emphasis, and potential points of tangent, but the core of logic flows through nouns and verbs. I would have been more complete by also removing the word "just" from your quote, as it is unnecessary in [and ultimately distracting from] seeing your core logic. It doesn't really matter what you wrote, how many words, what tangents you followed, absurdities indulged, analogies employed, etcetera. Your question at the end clearly refers to the sentence before it. Your entire paragraph boiled down to that one sentence. Translating that sentence into core logic reads...

Conditions are conditions, not laws.

I can't think of a person on the planet who would try to deny that claim let alone attempt addressing it for any reason.

Therefore your question "Why try to deny it?" remains utterly rhetorical. I am being quite liberal in my use of 'rhetorical' here, as a more conservative use might deny, stating the obvious so elaborately, as means of persuasion.

Let me sum up the essential logic of your entire paragraph with an analogy...

A hot summer day is not body temperature.

or to make it easier to equate...
A hot summer day is just a another day, not body temperature.

or hey, let's go nuts with it...
Hot summer days and cold winter days, they are just days, not vital signs of human health.

Why try to deny it?

I'm going to slightly tweak

I'm going to slightly tweak the quote.

"...The conditions on which all of our social cooperation and lawful behavior rest [is] their utility to us as individuals and small units [therefore, not rights, ethics, or other objective, universal or natural basis].... [These] are not guaranteed conditions. They are just conditions, not laws."

Maybe this re-phrasing will give you a better feeling for the statement, and see how it is not at all a tautology. I am saying that social cooperation and respect for others' person and property -- including the conception of rights in society -- are conditional. Not natural, immutable, inalienable, eternal, god-given.

The scenario I outlined was constructed to show that in the absence of specific conditions -- those in which it serves the advantage of all to refrain from using force and fraud, doing so would not only be disadvantageous but in fact suicidal and murderous toward one's own children. To act in accord with NAP in such conditions would be harmful to oneself and ones loved ones. Therefore, it is conditional, not natural.

The scenario was very basic: resources sufficient to maintain only one out of ten people. Respecting either "rights" or "laws" or other normative moral behaviors, operating in normal conditions, would not lead to one's advantage or the mutual utility of all. Only those who used fraud and force to get that 10% for themselves and their families could survive.

This should show clearly that human nature and human interests in such special conditions would opt for violence. And it would be hard to argue morally with doing so, because morality has to come in second place to existence for most people. Without such basic survival instinct or preference, our species probably wouldn't be here.

To argue that most people would continue to refrain from force or fraud when force and fraud alone could provide survival for a fraction of people would be to gravely misjudge human nature.

To say that despite this, they OUGHT to choose death in order to refrain from force or fraud, and sacrifice their children, is to unmask your morality as favoring death as a positive goal. To say morality comes before survival would be a bold leap into moral chaos. Denying one's own needs to feed others, the life of an ascetic, not defending one's self, would all seem to follow from such a moral claim.

Once you accept that people will generally choose violence, force and fraud over death, you realize that social cooperation in the legal and market order derives from utility, not immutable human nature, reason, or moral law independent of condition, circumstance, time or place.

Cooperation over violent conflict springs from utility, and expanded via the selection of cultures that have used such modes of behavior most successfully. Not because there are immutable, God-given rights, or rights inherently recognized by human nature from reasoning them out. Not because reason discovered moral principles.

If you still cannot see the point here, I won't go on further, and will allow you the last word.