29) Call me an abolitionist, please

Dear Everyone;

By chance Lew Rockwell has an article in what will be Wednesday posting of an article about : Give Anarchy a Chance:

Ron Getty
SF LIbertarian


                                 Raskin’s Wager
by Max Raskin
by Max Raskin
Pascal’s Wager is an argument created by Blaise Pascal with the goal of offering a reason to believe in God to people who don’t necessarily buy into the theological proofs. Pascal argues that regardless of whether God exists, it is better for us to "bet" on his existence because the benefits of such belief outweigh the costs of being proven incorrect. If you believe in God, and he exists, then you get to go to heaven; if you believe in God, and he doesn’t exist, who cares? You’re not there to know about it. If you don’t believe in God, and he does exist, then you got some splainin to do; finally, if you don’t believe in God, and he doesn’t exist, congrats…it’s too bad you’re dead!
Now this argument has some pretty big holes in it, but I don’t plan on plugging them up; instead I am going to apply roughly the same argument towards something very near and dear to my heart: anarchy. Unlike believing in God there is no eternal reward or punishment for adopting anarchy, it only seeks to improve your daily lives. We ought to "bet" on anarchy that the costs of its failure will be far surpassed by the benefits of its successful adoption. The reason why my wager will be more sound than Pascal’s is because you don’t have to make any lasting commitment to anarchy if you can prove it wrong. If you believe in God, you must believe in him for the duration of your life for the wager to payoff, whereas the minute you disprove anarchy, or the experiment fails, you can revert back to your middle-of-the-road libertarianism.
Just as Pascal’s Wager did not seek to prove the existence of God, I am not seeking to prove why anarcho-capitalism is the best system of "political" organization. I am seeking to prove why people should give anarchy the chance of succeeding. Once again, this is not going to be a definite vindication of anarchy. Instead, this is going to be directed towards on-the-fence libertarian minarchists who are looking for an argument to believe in anarchy. If one is seeking the best political philosophy, then it is best to "bet" on free market capitalism because if it is adopted, then there is more to gain than there is to lose.
Give us a Chance
Looking at this historically, we find that most political philosophies have had their chance and, not surprisingly, have failed miserably. Socialism, communism, fascism, monarchy, theocracy, autocracy, aristocracy, oligopoly, and even classical liberalism have all had their chances. The one group notoriously absent from the list is anarchy.
Never mind the fact that Ludwig von Mises proved that socialism was impossible because of its inherently inability to make rational economic calculations, society gave communism a shot. What happened? Nothing more than death and destruction on a truly unfathomable level. If we look at the construction of human society as one great experiment (which is not the way to prove something to be correct), then we can surmise that, given communism’s historic failures, it is probably not a success. What other political philosophies have been given a go?
Famously, America was founded on the principles of limited government and is the closest that the world has ever come to free market anarchism. Many minarchists want to return our country back to its Constitutional roots, but therein lies the problem. Anarchists are quick to point out that the Founding Fathers did their best to try and create a system of government that would protect private property and be limited to the Lockean role of protecting life, liberty, and property.
We anarchists realize that trying to have the government protect your rights is like trying to have the fox guard the henhouse. No matter how noble the fox is, eventually either he, or his children, will succumb to the power and start to eat the hens. This is simply the nature of government—it tends increase its power with no regard for its Constitutional limits. The problem with minarchy is that it thinks men are angels. It believes that because one group of men, i.e. the Founders, was pretty decent guys, that all of the future rulers will have that respect for property and liberty. The reason why this doesn’t work is because the rulers of future generations were not brought up with the Revolutionary rhetoric and therefore, are not genuinely dedicated to these principles.
So the minarchists have had their turn, and have failed. Now it would only be fair to let the other boys play.
Because this paper is directed at minimal state libertarians, there is not need to discuss the advantages of a free market, but briefly we must examine the claimed benefits to be gained in anarchy. Anarcho-capitalists have posited that if the state were to be abolished, private companies would be able to satisfy consumer demand much more efficiently. Without a monopoly on security and defense, as the minarchists want, competition would deliver companies that are the best at providing security at low costs and high quality. Also, in the absence of an organization that has the ability to legally steal (read: tax), money that would have otherwise been tied up in wasteful government spending (a redundancy if there ever was one), could be put to much better use. Anarchists have often been called utopians, but such blithe dismissal of their ideas fails to recognize that they are far from utopian, and instead have a philosophy that relates directly to the real world. They
understand that we live in a world of scarcity, and that the best, albeit not perfect, system humans have to deal with scarcity is through capitalism, i.e. private ownership of all property. If society was arranged in this manner, then not only would lives be longer, but they would be more pleasurable, with a greater array of goods and services open to people.
Now let us consider what would happen if anarcho-capitalism did not work out. Well according to many social contract theorists, a government would emerge rather quickly from the "chaos" and we would be right back to square one. The reason why many minarchists, like Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand, say that anarchy would never work is because private companies would basically assume the role of the state. Well, what’s the harm in trying? If it is really true that society would eventually end up forming a government, then what’s the harm in just trying? The temporary period of chaos?
The fact is that in all political upheavals there have been periods of chaos, but this surely is not a reason to acquiesce to tyranny and oppression. There seems to be a double standard for anarchism; no one questions the American Revolutionaries’ agitating of the existing social structure, yet everyone questions the anarchists’ desire to. Could you imagine Thomas Jefferson saying that because the Revolutionary War would be a tough one, it is not worth fighting? That they should pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, so long as they don’t make a ruckus? Of course not.
All political movements recognize that it will take some time before any benefits of their system will be realized. So, the losses for anarchy, if it does not succeed, is that it will be just like any other political system, and society has shown that it is capable of overcoming the worst of political designs. The point is that society survives and life will go on.
Through a brief cost-benefit analysis of adopting anarchy, we find that it has a great potential to deliver with risks that are no different than any other political change in history. Most libertarian minarchists have seriously considered the intellectual arguments of anarchy, so instead of defaulting their position on minarchy and waiting to be proven incorrect by the anarchists, the burden should be on the minarchists to show the rest of us why implementing their system won’t fail, as it has in all countries that it has been tried in. Default on anarchy until proven otherwise.
Libertarians of all persuasions unite! You have nothing to lose but your states.
December 19, 2006
Max Raskin [send him mail] goes to high school in New Jersey.