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Anarchy vs. limited government - Block vs. Helfeld

Anarchy vs. limited government - Block vs. Helfeld


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Jan Helfeld's picture


1. First of all, I am not saying that all these negative consequences I ascribe to anarchism are only possible, I think they are probable. The probable consequences: increasing crime because there are individuals not protected by a defence agencies that used to be protected by the state i.e. more easy victims; incentivizing the acquisition of military hardware by criminal gangs to increase their pool of potential victims( something they do not do it now because it makes no sense for them now) , an arms race between criminal gangs and defence agencies, as well as foreign tyrants that would attempt to rob and extort the weakest of us , i.e., those that could not deter their aggression; an increase in the possibility of civil war inside United States because all conflicts between defensive agencies with armies have this potential outcome - something that is not true today, even under our mixed system.
I have explained the premises that lead me to these conclusions, I would like to know which ones Block disputes. If two defense agencies fight that is a mini war here in the United States. Some of these wars will draw in other defense agencies , increasing the scope of the war and have collateral damage that would make life miserable in your city. You don't need too many of them for things to be horrible.
The premises for my conclusion that there would be an increase in criminality are: there will always be people that choose predation, they prefer to pick on the weakest links- victims, there are individuals not protected by a defense agencies that used to be protected by the state i.e more easy victims. Thus, more crime.
Premises for the conclusion that criminal gangs would be incentivized to buy military hardware.
With a central government there is no incentive for criminal gangs to acquire tanks, guided missiles, or drones, because that just makes it easier for them to be caught and they do not increase their pool of victims. However, once the state is removed every investment in military hardware increases the amount of potential victims. Block did not explain why that this investment would be unwise on their part. On the face of it, a small investment in guided missiles would increase the potential for extortion enormously. More and more people would just have to give in to the demand of extortion.
The same logic applies to foreign tyrants and criminals. I think your chances protecting your liberty and property are greater by socially organizing with people that are willing to pay for such an important service and commit to this legally in the form of a limited government.
In the debate, each of us has a right to define what we consider optimal social organization, Block argued that no government was the optimum, I argued that limited government was the optimum. Each of us has to live with the likely consequences of setting up that structure, including the possibilities of deviating from it to some degree. The deviations from limited government I criticize and try to change, but by and large I consider the American experiment a great success (compared to any previously existing anarchist model), providing a great life for me, most Americans and I suspect for Block as well. Contrary to anarchists , I don't consider it a failure because we have strayed from the model to some degree.

The deviations from Block's model, we didn't even get into!

Our horrible civil war, was one such case of a deviation from the principles of limited government, which depend on the consent of the governed and the recognition that if there is a fundamental difference regarding social organization there should be a procedure to secede peacefully, like I have suggested and offered the anarchists and none of them seem to be interested in it. They appear to have no interest to move to an anarchist zone within the United States and then secede.

2. The more security agencies there are , the more probability there will be more conflicts; and one of the parties will resort to physical force to enforce their view of what is right. If there is no law of the land that applies to everyone, then on top of all disputes we now have we will also have disputes about what the law should be on every issue , criminal law, civil law,, criminal procedure, civil procedure , inheritance law , tort law , penalties , etc. This will also increase the amount of disputes and conflicts, regardless of whether many agencies refer conflicts to arbitration. It also increases the uncertainty of what the law is, which makes business and investment, less likely.
I describe those hunter gatherer societies of the first million years that had no government as anarchy because I view the lack of government as the essential characteristic for anarchism. The point was that there was very little progress during that period, nor was there much progress or a great civilization in the Icelandic anarchist experiment or the Somali anarchist experiment. In fact, all of these had very high levels of predation and poverty. Compare that with the American limited government experiment. It is night and day.

Government was instrumental in the increased progress; for example, irrigation canals, generals laws like the Roman law and reduction of internal military conflicts, because there was a monopoly of major force in the government.

3. It is difficult to predict exactly what kind of defense agencies there would be under anarchy and how they would operate, and what plans they would offer to their customers , but it is probable that there will be a variety of plans and kinds of defense agencies, some of which would not refer all matters to arbitration, some would be simply alliances of people that feel close and share values, even bad values like white power groups, black power groups, Muslims that believe in sharia law and want to apply it, pedophiles that want to protect each and form alliances, security agencies that advertise better judges and their outcomes in home judicial practice/better than the arbitration, criminal gangs that just want to protect each other and practice predation etc. If they have sufficient military power, nobody will mess with them.
Which ones would go broke and how long it would take them to go broke is difficult to predict, but Block seems to think he knows.

4. Voters do not have to be ignorant of political issues or candidates. Nor is necessarily irrational for them to spend some time in making these decisions that effect their freedom, property and every aspect of their life. In fact it is quite rational to do so and responsible citizens within the context of their lives should allocate some time to this value. Not only to vote correctly, but to influence how other people vote and think, and thus affect the social organization in which they live, i.e., their society. One of the reasons we do the correct thing is to serve as an example to others, and thus influence their actions as well. This is one such case when assuming some social responsibility helps improve your chances of having your individual rights respected. It is not just the issues and candidates, it's also the principles.
I spent time discussing political issues, including whether anarchism is the optimal system to affect the out come. If I didn't think I could affect the outcome I would not do it. I act with purpose. Some of these purposes are indirect like I mentioned above.
The anarchist movement is draining the energy of the people that are fighting for freedom and limited government today in this country. It is the logical consequence of accepting anarchism. Don't run for office, don't vote, don't discuss any public policy because they're all wrong because they are all enacted by government and government is ëvil". They are shirking their social responsibility, and if the government becomes even more unlimited, with more infringements on our individual rights, they will have to take their part of the blame. I on the other hand, can rest with a good conscience because I'm doing everything I can to prevent more infringements of our rights. I expose the flaws and contradictions in the flawed public policies, politicians and journalists. You can see my interviews on YouTube/Jan Helfeld and make up your own mind about my contribution.

Jan Helfeld


I'm a fan! I appreciate all your efforts to educate and get people thinking.

"I'm Ron Paul." - Ron Paul

Natural Law versus Deception as an art form?

These trolls are inspired to either lie outright or parrot worn lies that ought to be known better in a Natural law sense?

Stupid is a virtue?



If you believe the rule of law is indiscriminate and absolute, why do you need a predatory state to enforce it? especially if you have already conceded that it is legitimate to enforce the law without the help of the state?


The Myth of the Rule of Law

With Tom Woods. In the event you missed it:


allegory - ˈalɪg(ə)ri/ - noun - 1. a story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one.

It's funny

I pointed that article written by Hasnas out to Jan maybe two weeks ago. He dismissed it as post-modernist nonsense.

Jan is a lawyer, and so he deifies the rule of law as something sacred and objective. The reality is that he lives in a faery tale land. He needs to stop pretending that the rule of law is just and will somehow protect us from tyranny(see: I dunno, the last 225 years of American history?)


there is the practical issue of WHICH laws to implement

there is the practical issue of WHICH laws to implement and enforce.

The defense would be mandatory and force would be used to collect the money for defense- with a option to opt out.

At some point that system would get unwieldy- would all government services be mandatory and require force to extract payment for those services?
Would like to hear Jan's response.

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Jan seems convinced that his stance is principled.

I don't believe it is. It may be pragmatic or utilitarian, but it is not principled by any means. Jan's system relies on a predatory institution, whose job it is to enforce laws that it itself regards with impunity.

Jan advocates for a monarchists state that protects liberties it doesn't respect.


exactly it is pragmatic

not principled.

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Right. Now a debate might well be worth having

And as Dr. Block said it is a horse race, although I believe a strong case could be made that it is more utilitarian to have a stateless society, as evidence by the out performance of the state by private security companies, private arbiters, reputation based retailers, etc... as well as history of common and tort law, civil litigation, and civil dispute arbitration, and finally from a theoretical economic perspective using Austrian economics as a foundation.

Leaving the debate aside(which I am willing to concede cannot be won either way), and especially as a huge fan of Jan's work, I am thoroughly disgusted by his position. He claims to ground himself in principle and constantly attacks people for taking positions that are contrary to their own ethical premises. Jan refuses to acknowledge that he is doing the same thing here and has completely undermined his credibility with me.

Not to mention, he makes piss poor, under developed, and easily refuted arguments for why a stateless society could not exist, and refuses to at least attempt to see the logic in the counter arguments.

Bill3 should be having these debates. He is alot less immature, makes a much better argument, listens to the counter arguments and has no pretense about principle.


Jan Helfeld's picture

Did you see my debate with Walter Block?

Did you see my debate with Walter Block?

Jan Helfeld

yes it was posted here

I think that one and the one with Larkin Rose pretty much exhausted all the points. Well done.

I have one question- You said that there are base services that government should provide- mostly defense and courts- and that if people did not want to participate they can go somewhere else and not be forced to pay for and accept these services.

What happens as happens now, the government expands and people don't want to pay for the increased "services" will they be forced to pay for the services or outcast to the Gulch colony? Or can they opt in to some services and opt out of others?

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Jan Helfeld's picture

Epic debate

Epic debate

Jan Helfeld