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Author Topic: Actual Problems with AnCap  (Read 4556 times)
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September 10, 2012, 02:37:51 AM
 #1

1) Such a society may have difficulty organizing in the face of an external threat.
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September 10, 2012, 03:02:16 AM
 #2

A relatively realistic, albeit fictional account of an AnCap society resisting an external threat can be found here.

But I agree that unless such a contingency is planned for, it would be a problem. Which is why it would be planned for.

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September 10, 2012, 03:05:47 AM
 #3

1) Such a society may have difficulty organizing in the face of an external threat.
Every problem in an AnCap society is an opportunity for someone to find a solution to that problem. And even every solution is an opportunity for someone to come up with a cheaper solution. If you think an AnCap society wouldn't be able to organize to expend real resources on preparation for a threat that might not materialize, I would just point out that no known society is immune to that problem. But the general solution is to get as rich, prosperous, and technologically advanced as possible and hope that will make any problems, expected or not, easier to solve.

If you look at the relationship of governments to each other in our world, it's somewhat like an AnCap society. There isn't really any "super government" that rules them. And the UN and similar organizations are voluntary associations among those countries that can be abandoned by their members at any time. There isn't really any socially-accepted world policeman with any kind of monopoly and countries use both their economic and military might, both through threats and actions, to 'persuade' each other. The analogy isn't perfect, but it does give you an idea of how these kinds of things might go both wrong and right in an AnCap society.

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September 10, 2012, 02:26:58 PM
 #4

1) Such a society may have difficulty organizing in the face of an external threat.
Iraq faced a significant external threat in the form of a vastly militarily superior enemy with virtually unlimited resources.

Was government-organized defense more effective or was spontaneously-organized resistance more effective at preventing this external enemy from achieving its goals?
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September 10, 2012, 02:32:25 PM
 #5

1) Such a society may have difficulty organizing in the face of an external threat.
Iraq faced a significant external threat in the form of a vastly militarily superior enemy with virtually unlimited resources.

Was government-organized defense more effective or was spontaneously-organized resistance more effective at preventing this external enemy from achieving its goals?
Great example. What's interesting about this example is that part of the reason the resistance was so effective was that it didn't have a command and control structure that could be seized. If you had to capture an AnCap society house by house, that would be a daunting task compared to just seizing the government of an already-conquered people.

Plus, it might not matter too much to people who rules them. If people don't see much difference between the two governments, then does it really matter that you were conquered. On the other hand, any conquering force would be a profound loss of freedom to an AnCap society. So there's more motive to defend. (For example, would Greek people care if France took them over? Maybe out of pride, but as a practical matter, there wouldn't be much difference.)

I don't know what "national defense" would look like in an AnCap society. But I have no reason to think it would be particularly difficult to come up with a way to do it.

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September 10, 2012, 02:42:31 PM
 #6

The notion that disorganized resistance is more costly to fight than an army is accepted doctrine taught to military officers.

The objection that we need government for national defense is just bizarre grasping at straws. The teachings of the government's own war colleges contradict this.
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September 10, 2012, 03:44:37 PM
 #7

Their simplistic moral code of "non-coercion" seems rooted more in religion rather than on rational thought. Maybe I'm wrong and it's just what the US needs right now, so that even the simplest minds can do good rather than evil, but these "two legs bad. Four legs good!" type mantras worry me. As the Animal Farm cautionary tale taught us, such slogans can easily be turned upside down, and hence, the revolution turns full-circle.
Yes, exactly! Don't advocate what is right because it's too easy for someone to turn it upside down.

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September 10, 2012, 05:34:39 PM
 #8

1) Such a society may have difficulty organizing in the face of an external threat.

Would this not be solved by insurance?  If you live in Florida, your house insurance is probably higher due to hurricane risks.  When a hurricane hits, the insurance covers damages or goes bankrupt.  Not really much different now except that the government may kick in help, so you'd lose that safety net.  But hopefully, you have insurance & choose a reputable company.

Same could be done for defense.  You could purchase defense insurance.  It may be more expensive if you live near the border.  This insurance would pay for a patrolling submarine or F18.  Maybe setup SAM sites.  If there's a threat to insured persons/property, defense mechanisms could be activated.  Competing defense insurance companies could even collaborate to mark friendly aircraft to prevent friendly fire.  The rainy day fund could pay for more defense or to pay for damages.  If it went bankrupt or never had insurance, you could pay dues to a private army to protect you.  Lots of options.  Even competing options that could work together.

In general, AnCap removes a lot of those non-natural threats.  Not enough people willing to pay large sums for large armies when they can purchase nice cars, TVs, food, houses, etc.  Unfortunately w/ fiat currencies, we don't really get that choice right now.  And our countries can pretty much start fights w/ anyone without our consent.

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September 10, 2012, 11:45:45 PM
 #9

Just the naive idealism, it seems.

2) Their hope that finance-based market forces can establish a new social equilibrium for the foundations of a civilised society. They don't seem to realise that a new equilibrium for things like education and healthcare could take decades to develop. Unless existing foundations are carefully maintained in the meantime, a whole generation of people could be compromised with severe, possibly dangerous gaps in their upbringing and/or health.


Decades? why would it take so long? I think that once you remove the burdens of the state (which are enormous), we will have such services provided with higher quality and lower cost quickly filling the void. They will take time to mature, but will be superior, even in their infancy.

You don't seem to realise the inherent inefficiency in a violence based system, which is not accountable to the consumer. I don't accept the premise that we have an equilibrium now.
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September 15, 2012, 07:13:44 PM
 #10

1) Such a society may have difficulty organizing in the face of an external threat.
Iraq faced a significant external threat in the form of a vastly militarily superior enemy with virtually unlimited resources.

Was government-organized defense more effective or was spontaneously-organized resistance more effective at preventing this external enemy from achieving its goals?

Really good point.

I guess a counter-argument would be what if that organized resistance never..well..organized?

People could simply not be willing to risk their lives entirely for the better quality of life they had before the invasion/occupation.

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September 15, 2012, 08:47:44 PM
 #11

I guess a counter-argument would be what if that organized resistance never..well..organized?

People could simply not be willing to risk their lives entirely for the better quality of life they had before the invasion/occupation.
Why is that a problem?

If the entire population of a country decides that an invasion isn't worth resisting, that's their choice and it should be respected. Why should they be forced to fund defense if they don't actually want it?
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September 15, 2012, 10:56:33 PM
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There are a variety of actual problems with AnCap, if only because there are actual problems with all political systems. Here's one off the top of my head. (and I didn't write this, James A. Hammerton did; the essay is really about libertarianism in general, but it applies. Anyway, it's from here: http://web.archive.org/web/20010407063531/http://www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~james/politics/libcrit.txt )

"I will now discuss a consequence of the `freedom as absence of coercion'
position which makes it sit uneasily with libertarian ideology. If we
take this definition of freedom then the amount of freedom a person has is
the extent to which they can act without being coerced to do (or not to do)
something against their will. In a libertarian society you cannot
(legitimately) do anything with another's property if they don't want you to,
so your only _guaranteed_ freedom is determined by the amount of property you
have. This has the consequence that someone with no property has no
guaranteed freedom, and that the more property you have, the greater your
guaranteed freedom. In other words a distribution of property is a
distribution of freedom, as the libertarians _themselves_ define it.
Thus, taking this definition of freedom, and a belief in the free market
together, the libertarians are saying that the best way of promoting freedom
is to allow some people to have more of it than others, even when this leads
to some having very little or even none (as I believe is quite likely in a
free market). I don't think that this is what libertarians want, I think
they want everyone to have a sphere of equal guaranteed freedom, but a free
market does not give everyone such a sphere, and does not guarantee anyone
any freedom at all."

Also, on the subject of defense: Private defense firms could band together and establish oppressive mini-police states with little fear of reprisal. Considering that the "let's dominate those bitches and kick their fuckin' asses!" mentality is common among military personnel everywhere (this mentality is really just part of some people's innate nature, and these people are often drawn to the military), this doesn't seem too outlandish. Note that in Africa--where governments are so impotent that, for all practical purpose, they function quite a bit like anarcho-capitalist societies--military coups are rather common.

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September 15, 2012, 11:21:13 PM
 #13

Seems like a group of people with 0.001% of military power will be a lot more civilized and strive to avoid conflict than a group with 10% or 60%.

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September 15, 2012, 11:36:15 PM
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"... In a libertarian society you cannot
(legitimately) do anything with another's property if they don't want you to,
so your only _guaranteed_ freedom is determined by the amount of property you
have. This has the consequence that someone with no property has no
guaranteed freedom, and that the more property you have, the greater your
guaranteed freedom. In other words a distribution of property is a
distribution of freedom, as the libertarians _themselves_ define it.
Thus, taking this definition of freedom, and a belief in the free market
together, the libertarians are saying that the best way of promoting freedom
is to allow some people to have more of it than others, even when this leads
to some having very little or even none (as I believe is quite likely in a
free market). ..."
This strikes me as somewhat bizarre. If someone advocates that women should be free to do what they wish with their bodies, are they then arguing that fat women should have more freedom than thin women since they have more body to what they wish with? The way freedom is being measured in this argument is incoherent, IMO.

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September 16, 2012, 09:07:40 AM
 #15

looks very coherent to me and your analogy is totally off.
owned land directly translates into land you can do wantever you want on. size obsiously matters.
 owned functional entities translate into stuff that goes the way you want it to. say for example when you own the local swimming pool, you are free to ban whatever customers you don't want. so you are swimming with exactly the people you want to swim with, while everybody else only has the freedom to swim with the people YOU like or don't swim at all. and if you want to slide, it has a slide. you own the supermarket and choose what people eat. unless you get so absolutely weird that they boycott you. but within reasonable boundaries, you can influence the way the society works while people owning less can not. obviously you have more freedom.

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September 16, 2012, 09:26:57 AM
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looks very coherent to me and your analogy is totally off.
owned land directly translates into land you can do wantever you want on. size obsiously matters.
 owned functional entities translate into stuff that goes the way you want it to. say for example when you own the local swimming pool, you are free to ban whatever customers you don't want. so you are swimming with exactly the people you want to swim with, while everybody else only has the freedom to swim with the people YOU like or don't swim at all. and if you want to slide, it has a slide. you own the supermarket and choose what people eat. unless you get so absolutely weird that they boycott you. but within reasonable boundaries, you can influence the way the society works while people owning less can not. obviously you have more freedom.

...no.

While yes, if you own a swimming pool, you get to decide who can swim there, you don't get to decide who can swim in the other pools in town, and owning a supermarket doesn't mean you get to decide what people eat. For one thing, as with the pools, competition means there are other supermarkets to choose from, and if there's a demand for a particular food item, someone is going to provide it. You can only choose what people can buy from you, not from the other supermarkets. For another, if you sell things nobody wants, nobody will buy it. Since nobody buys it, you lose money. Lose enough money, and someone else is in control of that supermarket.

So, since you can't influence the way society works by owning something, where is this extra freedom you speak of?

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September 16, 2012, 09:54:47 AM
 #17

...no.

While yes, if you own a swimming pool, you get to decide who can swim there, you don't get to decide who can swim in the other pools in town, and owning a supermarket doesn't mean you get to decide what people eat. For one thing, as with the pools, competition means there are other supermarkets to choose from, and if there's a demand for a particular food item, someone is going to provide it. You can only choose what people can buy from you, not from the other supermarkets. For another, if you sell things nobody wants, nobody will buy it. Since nobody buys it, you lose money. Lose enough money, and someone else is in control of that supermarket.

So, since you can't influence the way society works by owning something, where is this extra freedom you speak of?

- maybe there is only one supermarket in the vincinity
- you could own all supermarkets
- maybe all supermarkets belong to people of the same group, religion or whatever

all those cases are possible and pretty common actually.
rich people shape society right now. what makes you think that gets any less in a society with even less restrictions to what you are allowed to do with your property?

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September 16, 2012, 11:12:48 AM
 #18

...no.

While yes, if you own a swimming pool, you get to decide who can swim there, you don't get to decide who can swim in the other pools in town, and owning a supermarket doesn't mean you get to decide what people eat. For one thing, as with the pools, competition means there are other supermarkets to choose from, and if there's a demand for a particular food item, someone is going to provide it. You can only choose what people can buy from you, not from the other supermarkets. For another, if you sell things nobody wants, nobody will buy it. Since nobody buys it, you lose money. Lose enough money, and someone else is in control of that supermarket.

So, since you can't influence the way society works by owning something, where is this extra freedom you speak of?

- maybe there is only one supermarket in the vincinity
- you could own all supermarkets
- maybe all supermarkets belong to people of the same group, religion or whatever

all those cases are possible and pretty common actually.
rich people shape society right now. what makes you think that gets any less in a society with even less restrictions to what you are allowed to do with your property?

In my city, there are 3 Wal-Marts, a United, a Target, an Aldi, and a half-dozen to a dozen smaller markets. A nearby small town has two supermarkets, and two convenience stores. For things that they don't carry, the residents come here to purchase them. Even those three Wal-Marts carry different things, and different combinations of things.(Because they primarily serve different communities.)
I'm not even going to dignify the other two "possibilities" with an answer, the idea that every supermarket could or would be owned by the same monopoly individual or group is ridiculous.

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September 16, 2012, 12:44:32 PM
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- maybe there is only one supermarket in the vincinity
- you could own all supermarkets
- maybe all supermarkets belong to people of the same group, religion or whatever

all those cases are possible and pretty common actually.
rich people shape society right now. what makes you think that gets any less in a society with even less restrictions to what you are allowed to do with your property?

In my city, there are 3 Wal-Marts, a United, a Target, an Aldi, and a half-dozen to a dozen smaller markets. A nearby small town has two supermarkets, and two convenience stores. For things that they don't carry, the residents come here to purchase them. Even those three Wal-Marts carry different things, and different combinations of things.(Because they primarily serve different communities.)
I'm not even going to dignify the other two "possibilities" with an answer, the idea that every supermarket could or would be owned by the same monopoly individual or group is ridiculous.

That ridiculous scenario is part of everyday life in Australia. They have a duopoly run by Coles and Woolworths, who are pretty well known for running various anti-competitive rackets. For example, one thing they did a couple of years ago was to sell milk at a loss, attempting to drive nearby convenience stores out of business. Of course there were laws against that sort of behaviour, but it was played out as 'competition' between the big two and nothing was done. Similarly, Rupert Murdoch/News Corp owns around 70% of the newspaper market there.

OK... so you're complaining about... cheap milk? And who reads newspapers anymore?

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September 16, 2012, 03:25:14 PM
 #20

Seems like a group of people with 0.001% of military power will be a lot more civilized and strive to avoid conflict than a group with 10% or 60%.


This well may be the case, in at least some cases. It's hard to speculate on what an AnCap society might look like, and on what the proportion of soldiers would need to be, because no modern, developed nation has ever become AnCap. And btw, what makes you so sure that 0.001% of the population would be enough for security, assuming that's what you mean by that number (unclear post, btw)? Nazi Germany would have steamrolled a nation with such small defenses. And there have been many instances throughout history when a military has invaded a neighboring rival nation, and even though the invaders were only an infinitesimal fraction of the population being invaded, they still managed to keep them under total control. Well-trained, well-equipped soldiers just seem to have a knack for this. And sure, some AnCap citizens might have guns and stuff, but a lot of the citizens will be either unfit for or unwilling to do battle (children, olds, infirms, etc.), and besides, it's hard to take out an armored tank with a Glock pistol. In other words: It doesn't always take a lot of soldiers to take over a large population, so you'd better hope that your local defense agencies don't decide that it'd be fun to use that old-school gang tactic of enforcing a "protection tax" on every business in the area--and if you don't pay it, well, those "bad guys that we're protecting you from" (read: defense agency thugs disguised as common hooligans) are gonna bust your kneecaps with a crowbar! Also, as a side note: I just imagined Columbus, OH using its local army to invade Ann Arbor, MI, after one of the totally biased football referees blew a call in favor of the Wolverines. Implausible example, I know, but it's food for thought/extrapolation....

I should hasten to add that this is all hypothetical. I'm not saying that an AnCap society would necessarily become a police state. But it *could*, and if that happened, it'd qualify as an "actual problem." Also, another thought: Let's say that a cabal of private defense agencies took over Tallahassee, FL. Would Miami do anything to help, or would that be an unethical use of force?

And to return to the Iraq example: Sure, the insurgents did a pretty good job of defending themselves, all things considered, but the insurgents sure as hell weren't living the "good life of freedom" either (constantly hunted, hiding all the time, etc.). And the unique nature of that war--the (stupid) attempt by the US to try to "compassionately liberate" them by harming as few civilians as possible--isn't always how war goes. If the US wanted to nuke the fuck out of Iraq and take all the oil, it most certainly could. Don't get me wrong, I've been protesting the Iraq war since before it even started, but it stands as evidence that humans, while perhaps less stupid, cruel and violent than they once were (see that recent Steven Pinker book), they are still very capable of stupidity, cruelty and violence, and on epic scales. Will there be a Cold War II? Maybe, maybe not, but I wouldn't bank on it not happening, especially if you live in a society where there are lots of natural resources and other goodies to plunder, like the good ol' US of A. An AnCap society would have to find a way to prepare for this possibility (also, note that the Manhattan Project was basically a gov't program). Maybe it could, maybe it couldn't. All we can do is speculate.



This strikes me as somewhat bizarre. If someone advocates that women should be free to do what they wish with their bodies, are they then arguing that fat women should have more freedom than thin women since they have more body to what they wish with? The way freedom is being measured in this argument is incoherent, IMO.

Yeah, it is sorta like that, and it's also not an incoherent argument. In fact, your example aligns with it perfectly. The big difference is that your example doesn't address the broader implications. Yes, those women's bodies are their own private property with which they can do what they wish, and the ownership of one's own body is certainly integral to AnCap. But having your own private body is a given; everyone is born with that. Owning extra-bodily private property, on the other hand (e.g., land, business, belongings, etc.), is not a birthright--or rather, it is a birthright for some, but not for others, which skews the playing field from the get-go. This, I would contend, can in some cases (not all, of course) lead to an "actual problem."

Put another way: We're all born with our own bodies, but our freedom to exercise our bodies' capacities is severely limited if we don't own any extra-bodily private property that we have personal totalitarian control over; that's why Hammerton says that we are only truly free to the precise extent that we can reign supreme over our private property (the cornerstone of AnCap). Of course, part of the reason for one's lack of ownership might be laziness or ineptitude, which is within one's sphere of control (or, well, laziness certainly is). However, if we're born to parents that never acquired property and who can't afford to help out financially, we begin our adult lives stuck wandering through everyone else's property (i.e., everyone else's Micro-Totalitarian "property states"). Sure, we might be able to use our smarts/ambition to take some shit over and get our own property, but this is never a given, and even if it were, those who were born into lots of private property get a 10-mile head start in the proverbial marathon: you can run as hard as you want, but you still may not catch up with them, even if you're really fast. And unless you catch up and own some property, you are at the whims of everyone else. And yes, of course, people will let you use their property if they're generous or can make money from your usage/patronage of it, but their freedom will be far greater than yours, because they have the freedom to set the rules, and you don't. Examples: Pullman, IL in the 1800s, or a landlord who won't let you have pets or paint the walls, or a restaurant that won't serve you if you're black (and if it's a small town with only one restaurant, and you lack transportation, that'd really suck). And yes, you could always "vote with your feet" and leave Pullman Town or choose a different apartment or town, but it's not always that easy in reality (e.g., I don't consider "You can work in a sweatshop for 10 cents a day with a boss who rapes/beats you every morning, or you can starve to death in the streets" to be a real "choice"). And even if it were easy, you'd still have less freedom than the "owning class."

Research studies have been conducted that demonstrate the cause(s) of financial success in the USA (which is obviously not AnCap, but its mostly Cap, and I'd be willing to bet, for reasons I could explain if you wish, that these findings would be even more skewed in an AnCap society):

- Is willingness to work hard the best predictor of success? Answer: Nope, not really.

- Are academic success and SAT scores the best predictors? Nope, not those either.

- Well, pray tell, what is the best predictor? Answer: The wealth of the parents that you, luckily or not, happened to be a child of. That's why we have things like Pell grants, which do indeed "steal" from the affluent, but are aimed at (partially) leveling the playing field for the next generation.

And again, this is not to say that AnCap is entirely flawed. All political systems are flawed in some way. But it is to say that it doesn't always distribute freedom perfectly efficiently. Undoubtedly, there many are people out there who are smarter, more talented, and more ambitious than Tagg Romney, but they're not yet able to fully exercise their freedom through property ownership. And even if they do, few will ever attain the freedom-level of Tagg. Why? because Tagg got a lucky roll of the dice, which has nothing to to with actual merit. For every "rags to riches" story, there probably 10 (or 100, or 1000) "rags to more rags" stories, and many of these people busted their asses their whole life but were still beholden to the whims of property owners.

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