Friday, January 21, 2011
A Point in Favor of Anarcho-Libertarianism
A few months ago I debated David Friedman about the plausibility of his system anarcho-libertarian private companies providing all functions of government including law enforcement and courts. My argument against him then was that a necessary element of government is that it is unchallengeable in its basic legitimacy. I may dislike a specific result, but I do not have the option of simply exchanging my government like I would an insurance company, which is precisely what Friedman's system would do. Another of the major issues I have been discussing is that of the necessity of "de-citizenship" trials. Since citizenship is based on a social contract, it is necessary that everyone accept the social contract. The burden of proof should on every person to make the case that they accept the social contract. If there is any doubt about a person's acceptance then that person can and should be stripped of citizenship and placed outside the social contract. This could even apply to entire groups such as Jews. It recently occurred to me that, while a formal government, and particularly one operating on the principles of modern liberalism, might have some difficulty putting these principles into practice, a private insurance style government, like the one advocated for by Friedman, would be able to handle this quite effectively.
As I mentioned previously, one of the weaknesses of modern political thought is that it approaches the social contract as something given and not as something earned. In the extreme, this leads to modern liberal notions of an ever expanding field of rights in which every desire is transformed into a right. The reason for this is that if one does not have a sense that every right in the social contract given must be paid for in kind then one has no reason to not think of everything as a write and demand it, particularly when you take into account the assumption that every other faction in society is doing the same. For example, a gay rights advocate might hesitate to demand the right of homosexuals to blackmail the rest of society into not doing anything that might hurt their feelings if they knew that the price for this was that Evangelical Christians were to be given those same "rights" to ban gay speech "hurtful" to them. Yes everyone might have the right to life, liberty and property in some sort of theoretical moral sense, but the only way they could ever actualize those rights is if they were under the jurisdiction of some sort of government with a social contract, demanding that the government protect those rights. The price that must be paid for these rights is staggering. It means giving the government the right to kill you, imprison you and confiscate your property as long as it can claim that it is acting to protect the rights of the members of society at large.
There is a clear advantage in making every person earn their way into the social contract, mainly that it keeps everyone honest. It would make it that cheating the social contract would actually require some effort. One would actually have to watch one's thoughts and actions to make sure they complied with the spirit of the social contract. Also formalizing the social contract would stop it from turning into a magic goodie bag with which to demand anything. Modern liberal thought, by definition is incapable of this and even libertarian thought would require some arguing for.
Abolish all traditional public government and leave everyone to sign up for a private insurance style government and the problem is instantly solved. Every person would have to convince their prospective company that they are not a liability and can be trusted to live by the agreed upon social contract. Since the bureaucrats would also be members of the same company they would be conscious of the need to not let just anyone in, but only one who would actually benefit the other members. Keep in mind that any downgrade in the company will cause members to defect in mass to another company waiting to offer a better deal. The established companies could easily come to a recognition of each other, limiting the need for warfare. What we would be left with is a two-tiered system. On the top would be those with memberships in one of the companies and then there would be everyone else, who can be shot, enslaved or imprisoned at will. The fact that these people are unable to negotiate a deal with anyone would suggest that they are either too irrational or too dangerous to be trusted and best eliminated for the benefit of those with company membership.
Not that I support anarcho-libertarianism, but this seems to be a strong point in its favor worth taking into consideration.