22 votes

Does a Capitalist Market Require Government?

Forbes contributor and self-proclaimed Ayn Rand objectivist, Harry Binswanger published an article this Friday's past entitled, "Sorry Libertarian Anarchists, Capitalism Requires Government" in which he posits that the federal government is supreme all others including the several states are subordinate and that Washington must hold a monopoly on violence lest the market be overrun with terrorists, hoodlums, vigilantes, etc.

The genius of the American system is that it limited government, reining it in by a Constitution, with checks and balances and the provision that no law can be passed unless it is “necessary and proper” to the government’s sole purpose: to protect individual rights–to protect them against their violation by physical force.

Thus, even though he admits the US Constitution has failed, there is simply no other way to build a society without the government maintaining a monopoly on force.

Of course, this tired rehash of STATE necessity initiated a fierce conversation as to the substance of Mr. Binswanger, the sincerity of his bona fides, and the usual exchange of sharply tongued barbs.

Shortly thereafter, Gonzo journalist of the Liberty Movement, Christopher Cantwell offered his counter in his signature inflammatory style, "Sorry Fake Libertarians, Capitalism Requires Anarchy" in which he offers a blistering albeit abridged history of the American Republic summarized by stating:

So if your fabled “land of the free” begins with slavery, central banking, debt, insurrection, and jailing reporters, only to lead up to a bloody civil war and full on fiat currency, before moving on to the income tax and modern Federal Reserve system, I’m sorry, but you don’t even know what freedom means.

This divide amongst the various factions is one not likely to subside in the near future, but it does offer us a keen opportunity to reexamine those views, which we hold dear and prefer not to jostle for fear of upsetting our own understanding. My personal preference for engaging in the challenge of ideas and the BIG conversation tends to get the best of me and thus I welcome the debate as more often than not, the intellect emerges more refined from the undertaking.



Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Bear in mind most states came about before

the great equalizer was invented. Your thick necked table wielder wouldn't be able to manage it these days.

Also no one had any ability to spread the idea of freedom without being bludgeoned by said bruiser. Now it is being spread freely.

As a historical and logical fact certainly anarchy has existed in various times and places.

Logically before the thick necked thug comes along there's freedom. Free people must first produce the wealth that made it practical to set yourself up as resident bandit in chief. As a practical matter you can't do it alone. The society has to produce enough to support you and a gang. You have to sleep sometimes. Until then you just have to satisfy yourself with beating your mate.

Historically we know that at times Scotland, Iceland, and the US west, and some Native American tribes were essentially anarchic, just to name a few.

In the 19th century people could, and did, make the argument that chattel slavery has always existed, so it's pointless to try to be rid of it. I don't think that's a good argument.

The state is systematic immorality. Perhaps you're right the evil is too strong to be overcome. But perhaps it's not? I don't see any reason not to try. All that needs to happen is for enough people to wake up and refuse to obey.

The evil depends on the vast majority of people obeying without being physically forced at gunpoint. As soon as that stops it's game over.

Ultimately, people maintain

Ultimately, people maintain governments to defend themselves from other, worse governments.

The existence of nasty governments with huge bombs and fighter jets means that a wealthy people have to incorporate to defend their wealth.

Whatever you want to call that organization that defends the sovereignty of the people living within it, it is still a government.

In a perfect world, with better people, anarchy is the way. In our world, that brought us Genghis Khan, Stalin and Hitler, we've got to band together one way or another. What you want to call that band is semantics.

Author of Shades of Thomas Paine, a common sense blog with a Libertarian slant.

http://shadesofthomaspaine.blogexec.com

Also author of Stick it to the Man!

http://www.amazon.com/Stick-Man-Richard-Moyer/dp/1484036417

In a perfect world with good people we could have governments

Sadly we live in a flawed world where Hitlers, Stalins, Bush's and Obama's exist and gain power.

This is why we cannot have states.

In a free society there would be no centralized power centers for these sociopaths to gain control of.

Saying we need governments to protect us from governments is simply saying we need a slave master to protect us from slave masters.

As a practical matter if the US balkanized we could still keep the US military and fund it from the States. If this happened we'd get into a lot fewer wars. And there's no reason this process couldn't continue to towns, and then individuals.

How many 'conservatives' have wished they could pay their taxes just to the military? I know I have!

Well in a free society they could support the military and only the military as they saw fit.

In a free society, there

In a free society, there would be no centralized powers to gain control of, but people could certainly create one. A "state" is easy to make since it's a fake idea anyway, and if enough people are afraid of you, you're "official".

In the end it comes down to commitment, whether you really, really care if you are totally free. Too many people are willing to pay into a protection racket, and that's a shame. The Afghan tribes have shown that all it takes is an iron will and an old rifle to remain independent to whatever extent they see fit, which in their case consists of tribal government.

Author of Shades of Thomas Paine, a common sense blog with a Libertarian slant.

http://shadesofthomaspaine.blogexec.com

Also author of Stick it to the Man!

http://www.amazon.com/Stick-Man-Richard-Moyer/dp/1484036417

Not at all

The is no such thing as "totally free". It's not commitment to that.

It's recognizing how much more free men have been and could be again. We live in a suffrance state. Everything you want to do you have to have permission. It wasn't always this way. It doesn't need to be this way.

I'd count it a win if we had a Constitutional Republic again. But there's no reason to suppose even if we won that fight, that the country wouldn't end up in the same place again.

Slavery was ubiquitous until it wasn't. There's no reason to suppose the ultra slavery of statism couldn't suffer the same fate. Sure someone could try to invent a state again, just like someone could try to chain a slave today. I don't think it would work though.

Agreed.

We don't need, and are worse off because of, 99.9% of the rules on the books.

Author of Shades of Thomas Paine, a common sense blog with a Libertarian slant.

http://shadesofthomaspaine.blogexec.com

Also author of Stick it to the Man!

http://www.amazon.com/Stick-Man-Richard-Moyer/dp/1484036417

No, in fact capitalism can't exist with government

Call it what you will, but in a technical sense if you are socializing the cost of protecting your property onto others, it's not true capitalism.

Why should the people with less have to pay to protect the property of the people with more? In any case as we see, once the power to protect the property of the rich exists, it seems pretty clear it always becomes used to in fact steal property.

In a free society people would pay for the protection they need. Protection would be cheaper and better because provision of the service would not be a monopoly.

There would be courts and police. But the police would know who the boss is, literally, and anyone who contracted with them would have agreed to the protection and the rules (laws) and the court system and the fees.

The poor would be far fewer in number but they would benefit from the protection as an externality of paying customers and also many people would simply DIY.

One must face the simple reality that government does not protect property. You know if something is stolen the police will never return it. The government instead violates property rights all the time. It taxes, fines, fees, transfers, regulates, siezes, eminent domains, zones, licenses, etc etc.

The government is a violation of proerty rights.

But if I am able to socialize

But if I am able to socialize the cost of protecting my property on to others, good for me! In the marketplace, I have found a way to protect my property at the cost of others! That is competition.

In the system you purport, I cannot imagine how the "the bosses" don't become the people with the greatest ability to bribe the policeman.

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:

Overview: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/my-plan-for-reducin...

Specific cuts; defense spending: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/more-detailed-look-a

How do you socialize the cost

How do you socialize the cost of anything on me without a government? Your comment is confused.

In fact it will be the poor in your neighborhood who will benefit from the externalities of your protection. The patrol car driving by helps everyone, even non customers.

There won't be any bribing. There's nothing to bribe. You're paying for the protection you want. You won't have any ability to leverage the wealth of your neighbors to your benefit, which is all the government is about.

Bribery means paying someone to have greater access to public resources that everyone has to pay for. There will be no public resources. You might pay the service for extra protection say a 'deluxe plan', with double the patrols or whatnot, but the firm will offer that protection to anyone who wants to pay. That's not a 'bribe'.

I'm not 'bribing' Amazon by having Amazon Prime.

What if you were, to say, pay

What if you were, to say, pay Amazon prime a lot of money so that they don't deliver to a business competitor of yours, who needs Amazon's products to survive?

In terms of the security world, this would be mob boss 1 paying the security team to violate its contract with someone who that mob boss 1 can partake in theft.

People sometimes forget that government has arisen precisely due to the above concerns....it always happens, people get angry, and come up with government as the solution. Then that government gets corrupt, people get angry, revolutions happen...it is all cyclical, and it is all part of the market.

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:

Overview: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/my-plan-for-reducin...

Specific cuts; defense spending: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/more-detailed-look-a

Gordon takes down Binswanger

Oh, how I love me some David Gordon.

http://www.lewrockwell.com/lrc-blog/binswanger-on-anarchism/

"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut

I think the nation needs

I think the nation needs small, localized court systems or arbitors. Id prefer these be privite in nature so when they become corrupt, you can vote them out of existance with your wallet.

Same is true for defense.

To me this is another issue made dirty in language. Remove all titles and what is a government? Its a group of humans who set out to accomplish a set number of goals.

What is a company? Its a group of humans who set out to accomplish a set number of goals.

Where do they differ? The company must please its customers and produce a product the public wishes to purchase or else it dies. The government does not need to please the public, nor produce anything. Further it doesn't need profit since its paychecks are taken by force, willing or unwilling. This ability to use force makes it attractive to companies who want special advantages over competitors in the market.

Competition makes EVERYTHING better. Why does this philosophy somehow stop applying when it comes to justice and defense?

Excellent post and thank you

Excellent post and thank you for saving me from having to do the typing!

"In reality, the Constitution itself is incapable of achieving what we would like in limiting government power, no matter how well written."

~ Ron Paul, End the Fed

Thanks for this post, Allison. This is great.

My take:
Does a capitalist market require a government? - NO
Does a capitalist market require the rule of law? - YES
Does establishment of the rule of law require a government? - NO

"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut

Wouldn't the societal establishment of rule of law

and its enforcement constitute a sort of government, of the people, by the people, and for the people, deriving its power from the consent of the governed?

Author of Shades of Thomas Paine, a common sense blog with a Libertarian slant.

http://shadesofthomaspaine.blogexec.com

Also author of Stick it to the Man!

http://www.amazon.com/Stick-Man-Richard-Moyer/dp/1484036417

depends on what we mean by government

If, by government, we mean an organization with a monopoly on the socially accepted use of force within a certain geographic area, then no, not necessarily.

"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut

I am reading Tragedy and Hope

and learned that over the centuries there are all kinds of Capitalism. There is Financial Capitalism - Bankers, Industrial Capitalism - Industry and Monopoly Capitalism - BIG Business.

In the beginning WARLORDS governed a country, OUTSIDERS stir up the local people to rise up against the Warlords only to be replaced by people who promoted the OUTSIDE interests. It seems to be repeated over and over and over through out the centuries.

I also learned many of the countries have had close relations with all of the above and no where does the common man have any input other than joining the military which protects the above.

Countries main players in Government are the Political Class - Military Class - Financial Class - Banks and Industrial Class - Industry.

I also learned that Capitalism came out of liberalism and that Anarchists first showed up in Russia during the Revolution.

I also learned that Industry HATES Competition and banksters.

Banksters love GOLD because it keeps down prices, deflation.

Industry hated gold because they wanted prices to inflate for more profit.

I'm still reading and there is so much to know it is hard for me to remember it all. I bought the book at a garage sale, it has about 1200 pages, very interesting book.

I think the US is currently run by a Military Industrial Complex, Banksters, and a very WEAK Government class who only do and profit doing what they are told. IMO

I believe Anarchy is being promoted in order to usher in a International Force of Control.

In conclusion, I have no idea how people could have any control other than possibly always USING CASH, SHOP LOCAL SMALL BUSINESS & FARMERS and avoiding the industries that promote propaganda such as movies and music. IMO

Will the top players Military Industry and Bankster clash for control, curious times we live?

"We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and feel with our touch, but we understand with our hearts."

Oh! there you go bringing class into it...

Men created a ruling class and an oppressed class. How about the liberty class room?

Should Quigley have titled his book Vanity and Hope.

I'll bet Rothbard even could make Lew Rockwell laugh.

Why did the idea of liberty fuel Rothbard's enthusiasm.

Rothbard studied enough history to know that people were rotten. Especially when they call themselves the State.

Like the weather, tyrants are a force of nature. Like tonight's cold, we will protect ourselves today and be otherwise productive on the morrow.

When their economy crashes and their authority crumbles. Dr Paul wonders what will fill the vacuum.

Will it be Liberty, Justice and Privacy?

As for me I borrowed the Box set of Laura Ingall's works. I've read 4 of 8 and am having fun. They just moved to Silver lake in the Dakotas to work on J.P. Hill's railroad.

We are so well-to-do beyond their imaginings. It's given me pause.

If we just help ourselves and produce extra to trade, we might weather the weather.

Free includes debt-free!

Anarchist, Atheist, Asshole ;-)

Never heard of Chris Cantwell before, liked his article though, some one new to listen to.

BTW- There was no govt in Galt's Gulch

Ayn Rand addressed this issue directly

In a Q&A from http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ar_libertari...

Q: Why is the lack of government in Galt’s Gulch (in Atlas Shrugged) any different from anarchy, which you object to?

AR: Galt’s Gulch is not a society; it’s a private estate. It’s owned by one man who carefully selected the people admitted. Even then, they had a judge as an arbitrator, if anything came up; only nothing came up among them, because they shared the same philosophy. But if you had a society in which all shared in one philosophy, but without a government, that would be dreadful. Galt’s Gulch probably consisted of about, optimistically, a thousand people who represented the top geniuses of the world. They agreed on fundamentals, but they would never be in total agreement. They didn’t need a government because if they had disagreements, they could resolve them rationally.

But project a society of millions, in which there is every kind of viewpoint, every kind of brain, every kind of morality—and no government. That’s the Middle Ages, your no-government society. Man was left at the mercy of bandits, because without government, every criminally inclined individual resorts to force, and every morally inclined individual is helpless. Government is an absolute necessity if individual rights are to be protected, because you don’t leave force at the arbitrary whim of other individuals. Libertarian anarchism is pure whim worship, because what they refuse to recognize is the need of objectivity among men—particularly men of different views. And it’s good that people within a nation should have different views, provided we respect each other’s rights.

No one can guard rights, except a government under objective laws. What if McGovern had his gang of policemen, and Nixon had his, and instead of campaigning they fought in the streets? This has happened throughout history. Rational men are not afraid of government. In a proper society, a rational man doesn’t have to know the government exists, because the laws are clear and he never breaks them. [FHF 72]

She apparently did not like libertarians or anarchists.

the need for objectivity among men?

bwahahahaha......

Here are some definitions from the Lucifer's Lexicon:

Objective, adj. In accord with the subjective feelings, opinions, or prejudices of an Objectivist.

Limited Government, n. Limited robbery, limited slavery, and limited murder. Partialitarianism. Aynarchy.

"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut

This:

"Aynarchy"

Was damn good! :)

This is the sum of minarchist philosophy:

"But project a society of millions, in which there is every kind of viewpoint, every kind of brain, every kind of morality—and no government. That’s the Middle Ages, your no-government society. Man was left at the mercy of bandits, because without government, every criminally inclined individual resorts to force, and every morally inclined individual is helpless. Government is an absolute necessity if individual rights are to be protected, because you don’t leave force at the arbitrary whim of other individuals."

Give us a king to lead us and protect us like the other nations. The morality of force in the land of minarchy is because we are afraid of everyone else we ought to monopolize force ... despite that our eyes and ears used in the course of our every day lives tell us most people do not resort to force and there is no legitimate reason to live in fear ... we still think it is a good and moral idea to appoint a king and monopolize the use of force.

Does it need to be government?

Just like a football game needs referees, business also needs a mechanism to prevent abuses. That's a reason we have laws and regulations, the problem is the corruption of money in government causes cronyism in the process.
Self regulation is a possibility, but industries seldom are willing to all agree and there is no real enforcement provision.

Rather than have the federal government in this role, maybe this is a place for state and local government as the founders planned.
In any case, when money can buy influence in laws and regulations the problems won't be solved.

There is an obstacle to being government-less

in that where there is prosperity, there is motivation to take it by force. So, yes, gangs would be a constant threat. And just how motivated will people be to form defense-only squads to resist them? I'm thinking there's a point where you can have enough prosperity that you can have a bigger prize to take, which is a bigger prize to lose and capitulating to the gangs a little to not risk losing it in a conflict would be a temptation. The capitulation would give the gang more power, even legitimacy, then that gang could grow to the verge of being a government.

There would have to be a deep and nearly universal value in society to resist the growth of gangs, to hold the line against them even unto death as a matter of principal. Are people vigilant enough to do that?

I'm not arguing for a government to exist as a matter of it being the best thing, but wondering if human nature has enough vigilance and fortitude to resist the emergence of one for generations upon generations. Look how quickly the Whiskey Rebellion failed. There is a lot of motivation for a parasite to go where there is prosperity and when there is a risk of losing everything when trying to shake off the parasite, somewhere down the line someone will not be vigilant enough to keep up the fight and the parasite will grow.

Defend Liberty!

Remember This?

"You can't have capitalism without regulation."--Mitt Romney

___________________________________________________________________________
"Bipartisan: both parties acting in concert to put both of their hands in your pocket."-Rothbard

Cyril's picture

In the defense of Mr. Romney, I would argue he isn't a competent

In the defense of Mr. Romney, I would argue he isn't a competent capitalist.

Instead, he is a competent crony capitalist.

The same difference as between pure cane sugar and artificial sweeteners which taste like crap.

E.g., I remember this, too:

http://www.dailypaul.com/257821

Youtube link now unavailable, I know.

"Oh, surprise, surprise."

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.

http://Laissez-Faire.Me/Liberty

"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

Nay!

Sire :)

Anarchists have yet to

Anarchists have yet to provide me with any theory, even an unlikely one, of how anarchism is physically possible.

I am not gonna do the work for you

Have you read the relevant articles and books?

"It may be a hundred years before a computer beats humans at Go - maybe even longer. If a reasonably intelligent person learned to play Go, in a few months he could beat all existing computer programs." - Piet Hut