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‘Anarcho-Capitalists’ Seen as Cousins of the ‘Patriot’ Movement

By Leah Nelson on December 12, 2012 - 10:46 am, Posted in Antigovernment, Extremist Propaganda

Back in 1978, when the world was young and “Saturday Night Live” was only in its third season, a young comedian named Steve Martin took to the stage and told his audience how to become millionaires and never pay taxes.

“First … get a million dollars,” he said. “What do [you] say to the tax man when he comes to [your] door and says, ‘You have never paid taxes?’ Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: ‘I forgot!’”

Porter Stansberry, an “investment advisor” with a knack for lining his own pockets, used a slightly different strategy in 2003. When the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) came to his door and accused him of making over a million dollars selling false “inside tips,” the self-aggrandizing financial guru claimed that it was his First Amendment right to tell his subscribers whatever he wanted — even if what he wanted to tell them was, as the SEC put it, “baseless speculation and outright lies.”

The courts disagreed. In 2009, after years of very public litigation, a federal appeals panel upheld the SEC’s charges and fined Stansberry $1.5 million.

Stansberry — who had enjoyed some respect in financial circles and whose First Amendment argument (though not his conduct) was endorsed by respected news outlets who feared the case would set a precedent for punishing the press for publishing incorrect financial analysis — did not take the verdict well.

He did not stop peddling advice — but these days, it’s about more than get-rich-quick schemes. Evidently soured on the government by his brush with the law, Stansberry has turned from scam artist to antigovernment radical, using various Internet publications to mix dubious investment advice with apocalyptic warnings about a coming era of tyranny that will destroy America.

His most recent insight? According to a YouTube video distributed across a multitude of far-right websites and discussed with great seriousness by figures like antigovernment conspiracist Alex Jones, President Obama is planning to overthrown the Constitution, implement socialism, and seize a third term in office.

According to Stansberry, Obama won’t even have to use force to do it. Instead, the president plans to buy his third term with untold profits gained from mining America’s vast shale oil deposits, which will lead to an era of extraordinary prosperity unlike anything America has seen before.

“All of this new wealth,” Stansberry says, “will seem like a gift from the Prophet Muhammad to the administration of Barack Obama.”

And his supporters will eat it up. Once the black gold really starts flowing, Stansberry claims, the president will execute a Hugo Chavez-like power grab, distributing money and favors to friends, cronies, and political allies, who in return will cheer for him in the streets as he seizes an unconstitutional third term — and, possibly, even a fourth — in office. During his reign of terror, Obama will replace America’s market economy with a socialist dictatorship and “punish and tax those who work hard,” using the wealth they create to “buy favors and luxuries for millions of Americans … who have done nothing to earn it.”

America, of course, will be ruined.

Stansberry is not the only ultra-libertarian to promote such ideas. One of his most prominent fellow travelers is Doug Casey, an antigovernment “investment guru” who on Nov. 29 told subscribers to his newsletter that being a taxpayer in America today is analogous to “being a Jew in Germany in the mid-1930’s.”

On the surface, Casey (who often cross-promotes Stansberry’s articles on his various websites and newsletters and who is described by Stansberry as a friend and mentor) seems a cheerful misanthrope, whose breezy manner and self-deprecating wit (he often says Uncle Scrooge McDuck is his hero) is a refreshing change from the pompous grandiosity of his close cousins in the far-right “Patriot” movement.

But scratch that surface and it’s clear that this self-described “anarcho-capitalist,” who in 2009 outlined a plan to privatize a small country and take it public on the New York Stock Exchange, is courting the same audience of government-fearing radicals. Though he puts a fresh face on tired conspiracies and a new spin on old animosities, Casey’s message is the same: The government is your enemy, and if you don’t prepare, it will destroy you.

If you stripped the Patriot movement of its pseudo-legal rhetoric, conspiracist malarkey and allusions to supposed Christian virtue, you’d end up with an ideology much like the one espoused by Stansberry, Casey and their compatriots. Often described as “anarcho-capitalists” or “voluntaryists,” their belief in essence is that government — any government — is by its very nature tyrannical and unnatural. They propose instead an essentially stateless society in which all relationships, economic and otherwise, are voluntary and untaxed. Services like roads and mail delivery would be built and maintained by private entities that would charge market-based fees for those who desired to use them. Government in any recognizable form simply would not exist.

In some respects, Casey and Stansberry’s rhetoric sounds like laissez-faire capitalism taken to its logical extreme. But Casey, Stansberry, and similar ideologues espouse beliefs that are even further out than that.

Mainstream conservatives often allege that the balance between states’ rights and federal power has tipped too far towards the latter, with the federal government exercising powers the framers of the Constitution never dreamed of. But Casey actually believes that the Constitution itself “was essentially a coup.”

Explaining this assertion in the same Nov. 29 newsletter in which he compared being an American taxpayer to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, Casey said: “[T]he delegates to what we now call the Constitutional Convention were not empowered to replace the existing government — only to improve upon the Articles of Confederation between the then-independent states. The framers of the Constitution drafted it with the notion of a national government already in place.”

They “calmed fears of loss of state sovereignty by calling the new government the ‘United States of America’ – a verbal sleight of hand that worked for over half a century. Then the southern states decided to exercise what these words imply, their right to leave the union … and the wrong side won.”

In other words, as Casey sees things, the Constitution and its built-in plan for a national government caused the Civil War.

“I’ve always suspected that U.S. and world history would be different – and better – if those delegates had done as they were told and just smoothed over the rough spots in the Articles rather than replaced them with the Constitution,” Casey explained in an April 2012 article. “Greater independence among the states could have led to more innovation, and I doubt there would have been the unpleasantness of 1861-’65. People with differing ethical values and economic interests would not have been forced to obey the same laws.”

Translation: Confederate partisans — people whose “ethical values and economic interests” included buying, selling, beating, raping and killing other human beings whose skin color happened to be different from their own — were unjustly stopped by overweening federal power that was built into the Constitution from Day One as part of a long-acting stealth coup to steal power from the states.

This is one place where Casey and portions of the Patriot crowd very definitely part ways.

Patriot ideologues tend to revere the Constitution — at least up to the 14th Amendment — as an almost divinely inspired document, and talk about the founding fathers as near-infallible prophets. In some ways, Casey’s pseudo-history of the United States is the political inverse of the one promoted by Christian pseudo-historian David Barton, who contends that the American Revolution was fought to free slaves and that the founding fathers “already had the entire debate on creation and evolution” and chose creationism. Casey, who once described Santa Claus as “God on training wheels” and who jokes about saying grace to Crom, the fictional deity featured in Conan the Barbarian, would not likely get along well with Barton.

Yet in a Venn diagram of antigovernment extremists, Barton is one of the few who would fall clearly outside of the overlap between Casey- and Stansberry-style anarcho-capitalism and Patriot ideology.

The areas of overlap, particularly with the radical “sovereign citizens” movement, are significant – and not unknown to adherents of anarcho-capitalism, or “voluntaryism,” as it is called by some. Carl Watner, who has been publishing a newsletter called “The Voluntaryist” since 1982 and who appears to be the godfather of Casey and Stansberry’s hyper-antigovernment ideology, grapples with many of the same issues that sovereign citizens do.

In a 1994 article titled “Un-Licensed, Un-Numbered, Un-Taxed,” Watner wrote approvingly of what he called “conscientious objectors” (sovereign citizens, as readers of this blog would call them) “who prefer to remain individuals rather than embrace a statist system which licenses, numbers and taxes them in hundreds of ways.”

Watner’s essay focused on the “Embassy of Heaven,” an Oregon-based sovereign citizen group and church that sells fake passports and licenses for so-called “Ambassadors of Heaven.” As Watner explains it, members of the “Embassy” consider themselves to be residents of Heaven and subjects of Christ – and like ambassadors from anywhere, they reason, they are entitled to live within the United States without being subject to its jurisdiction.

Voluntaryists and sovereign citizens are not identical. One difference Watner identified between his approach and that of the Embassy of Heaven “is that the church relies upon the Christian religion as its bulwark in resisting the State.”

Not all sovereign citizens belong to an organization like the Embassy of Heaven, but many do carry licenses identifying them as members of nonexistent nations – a concept Watner does not approve of, as it suggests that people properly ought to carry identification in the first place.

“Whereas the Church says its members are not residents of the state, thus escaping its jurisdiction, the voluntaryist says that the state should have no jurisdiction over any one at all,” he wrote. “The state is a coercive institution, completely at odds with the moral laws that decry thievery, slavery and murder. Evil in any form should not be legitimized, so the voluntaryist refuses to grant validity to the state’s claim of jurisdiction, even over residents.”

Still, he managed to find common ground with the “conscientious objectors” of the Embassy of Heaven: “Voluntaryists believe in challenging the state head-on, yet they and other conscientious objectors share a common philosophical insight with the members of the church: might does not make right. The state rests on might: therefore it should be rejected.”

The Embassy of Heaven, therefore, “will then receive our praise for living by the voluntary principle, even if we do not choose to personally endorse it by becoming a member.”

Today, Casey, Stansberry, and other like-minded ideologues continue Watner’s tradition of conceding overlaps between themselves and Patriots, even as clear disparities exists. The two ideologies do appeal to much the same audience – and sometimes, their representatives share the same stage.

At 2012’s “FreedomFest,” for instance, Casey was listed as a keynote speaker together with a plethora of Patriot bigwigs, including Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News personality and 9-11 “truther” who thinks the government was behind the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and G. Edward Griffin, co-author of a popular Fed-bashing tome called The Creature from Jekyll Island. FreedomFest was organized by Mark Skousen, a friend of Patriot ringmaster Glenn Beck and nephew of the late W. Cleon Skousen, a hugely influential figure in Patriot conspiracist circles.

And at “Libertopia 2012,” Casey was a listed speaker along with Larken Rose, a blogger who made news in 2011 with an post titled, “When Should You Shoot a Cop?” which proposed that it is acceptable to kill law enforcement officers if you perceive them to be violating your constitutional rights. Also featured at Libertopia was Ryan William Nohea Garcia, an “ambassador” for the ultra-libertarian SeaSteading Institute, which envisions building custom floating countries in international waters.

Stansberry also has shared platforms with Patriot nabobs. For years, he was a financial columnist for WorldNetDaily, a Patriot-leaning online publication with a theocratic bent that specializes in antigovernment conspiracy theories, end-times prophecy and revisionist histories of the Civil War. And this November, he appeared on the “Alex Jones Show” to promote his prediction about Obama’s supposed secret plan to run for a third term. The same episode featured commentary from Edwin Vieira, a Patriot grandee and militia supporter who in 2005 called for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, saying that the conservative jurist’s opinion striking down an anti-sodomy statute “upholds Marxist, Leninist, satanic principles drawn from foreign law.” Also appearing was Lew Rockwell, a libertarian commentator and blogger with a long history of promoting neo-secessionism and other extreme-right ideologies.

The Patriot movement is noteworthy for its followers’ forceful assertion of the right to bear arms, and form private militias willing to face down tyrannical government forces when the time comes. In contrast, Casey, Stansberry, and their sympathizers make a lot of noise about opposing violence, stressing the need to bring about their desired revolution through education and activism.

But in a 2011 essay titled “The Corruption of America,” Stansberry began to sing a very different tune. “The nation will soon face a choice between heading down the path toward fascism … or turning back the power of government and restoring the limited Republic that was our birthright,” he wrote. “What gives me confidence for the future? Gun sales, for one thing. U.S. citizens legally own around 270 million firearms – around 88 guns per 100 citizens (including children) today. That’s a hard population to police without its consent.”

Sounding very much like his Patriot cousins-in-arms — and very little like a proponent of nonviolent resistance — he continued: “[I]f the government attempts to take our guns … my opinion would change immediately. … But that’s one right the Supreme Court has been strengthening recently.”

“It gives me hope,” Stansberry said, “that most people in America still understand that the right to bear arms has little to do with protecting ourselves from crime and everything to do with protecting ourselves from government.”

  • Gregory

    Perhaps Joel is actually a Maoist, since he seems to be suggesting that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.

  • Aron

    Erika,

    I must admit, a real-life version of Grand Theft Auto would be quite spectacular: the ability to commit any crime with near impunity is a very interesting concept.

    Also, in one of the games there were jet packs. And dammit, it’s the future already; I want my jet pack!!!

  • Erika

    Joel, honey, the only thing which firearms make equal is the ability to kill someone in a fit of anger. Or to shoot an unarmed person by mistake. Or to shoot people for fun. Resorting to the gun removes any opportunity for a peaceful resolution and is a one way ticket to prison or the cemetary.

    The fact is that outside of the few people who still engage in subsidence hunting, the main reason why people have guns is due to insecurity – almost always male insecurity. Basing policy on a macho fantasy of being able to buy toughness is stupid.

    The fact is that real men (and women) can solve their disputes without resorting to violence – little boys however turn to guns because that gives them the fantasy of being real men. If they lack other reasons to feel like men, at least they can have their very phallicly shaped subistute hidden away hoping that some punk makes their day and then giving them the excuse to shoot someone. You gun people care nothing about self defense – all you want is the ability to kill someone. Killing someone doesn’t make you big and strong – a weak little child can kill someone if you give them a loaded weapon (and depressingly enough that has happened many times) However, you gun nuts reveal yourself by being all too eager to shoot people as a first and only resort. Your little macho fantasy of wanting to play your school yard cowboy games with real guns and live ammunition shows what you really are – simply scared little boys who dream of living out the worst action movie cliches without thinking of the consequences.

    The fact is that there will always be someone out there with a bigger gun. Once you accept that, sweetie, maybe you can leave your personal insecurity out of policymaking and leave the rest of us alone.

    In fact, if you are so insecure that you feel the need to have a gun to leave the home, do us all a favor and stay at home. It doesn’t matter how many guns you an-caps have, you are still a bunch of whiny insecure little boys who seem way too eager to have the freedom to be able to shoot anyone you want to.

    In fact, the more you anarchist capitalists post the more it is clear that about the only freedom you really care about is your freedom to decide who lives and who dies. Apparently simply voting Republican and killing people by denying poor people health care or eliminating workplace safety laws is not enough for you. You want to take a more active approach in killing the less fortunate.

    Maybe if you little boys would stop hiding under your bed and try to find girlfriends you’d realize how stupid your little boy fantasy really is. You an-caps are almost as ridiculous as the men’s rights movement losers – infact, i’m betting that there is quite a lot of overlap – after all, in an an-cap society rape would be legal.

    Some freedom there in the anarchy-capitalistic world – the freedom to be raped and killed by some little boy who is looking to turn the entire world into a real life version of Grand Theft Auto.

  • Reynardine

    The kind of people who come here and keep iterating and reiterating, or maybe idiating and re-idiating, the same talking points without ever responding to the answers they claim to be demanding, should not be surprised when they are regarded as being (a) tiresome; (b) in bad faith.

  • http://www.brinkofbedlam.com Chris Cantwell

    More garbage from the SPLC. Why am I not surprised? You people endorse so much violence by the state, then act like you’re the peaceful ones.

    Ancaps simply believe they should be able to do as they see fit so long as they harm none. For this, you label them violent extremists who need to be stopped.

    Anyone who believes in non aggression, is necessarily an anarcho capitalist, because once initiatory violence is eliminated from the list of options, the only things left are reason, free trade, and voluntary interaction.

    I don’t expect hard core, state dependent slaves like yourselves to change your minds because of a comment on your hateful post, but I do hope some of your readers will notice that we’ve advocated nothing but peaceful and voluntary interactions, while you advocate nothing but government force.

    You are the hate group, SPLC. Not the ancaps.

  • GrayCat

    There is no room for reason as long as minds are certain of their conclusions beyond all reasonable doubt.

    I used to be skeptical that there were people who would not even consider another point of view, who would vilify someone just for considering a contrary point of view, and who would unquestioningly use violence to force the holder of a contrary view to conform to their wishes. It just seemed unreasonable that there could be such people.

    Well, this site has certainly taught me that there really are those people.

    Why? Who is qualified to rule others?

  • brutus

    It seems rather counter-intuitive to me, that the people who advocate peaceful, mutually-voluntary social cooperation should be considered as the “extremists,” whereas the people who believe that one group of people have a legitimate right to impose arbitrary compulsions & restrictions on the rest of society, under the threat of overwhelming deadly force, are apparently not so extreme.
    Weird.

  • http://blog.resisttyranny.com Sean

    Being anti- anything is a failure of the imagination. However, being pro-liberty and pro-republic is really important, more-so than being a government apologist.

    Our founding fathers understood that government is force, and as such will compel you to do almost anything they deem “appropriate”. This is the primary reason for the constitution, its provisions, and the amendments. As a nation we must stand together and not let the government take our natural rights away from us.

    Our constitution is all about limiting government, and what they can do. The state is a machine, and machines just grind and grind until they get the desired outcome. As free-thinking and unique people we need to fight against all forms of tyranny, foreign and domestic. Unfortunately, throughout history tyranny at home always seems to be worse than abroad.

    Reading about, and understanding history is very important to know that governments that take power away from its citizens will invariably become tyrannical. Prevent such actions, read a book and then go back for another one.

  • Joel Otto

    In an unarmed society, those who are bigger, stronger, more aggressive, more violent, or capable of getting that type of person to work for them can control smaller, weaker, or more isolated people. Men tend to be bigger, stronger, and more aggressive than women. Until about 100 or so years ago, when guns became more affordable and accessible, women were practically chattel in many situations.

    Wyoming, a frontier state where firearm ownership was common for both men and women, was the first state to incorporate women’s suffrage. A 100 lb woman with a revolver needs to be taken very seriously by a 250 lb man. Guns shift the balance of power.

    Domestic violence is a separate issue. Both men and women are victims.

    I am not a financial supporter of the SPLC because while their stated goals are laudable, their methods are largely counterproductive. Supporting oppressive government action to counter oppressive government action is a hit-or-miss proposition at best.

  • some guy

    “@Erika, the small producers of food I was mentioning did not include the major meatpacking firms, but still, I’d love to see our anarco-capitalists explain what government regulation created those monopolies.”

    I’m not on anarcho-capitalist (I consider myself to be left-wing), but I think there’s actually a strong argument to be made that a lot of the regulations from the so-called “progressive era” that modern liberals love so much were actually internal tendencies of capital and as such were not some kind of victory foisted upon capital. One of the main examples of this tendency was the legislation regarding meat inspection, which the packing companies had actually lobbied for decades prior to Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. They were interested in this legislation because tainted meat scandals had left them vulnerable from competition by Argentina and Europe.

    Have you heard of or read “The Triumph of Conservatism” by Gabriel Kolko? He talks about this extensively in the book, as well as other issues. His argument is essentially that there was a huge difference in the late 19th century/early 20th century between the propaganda of big business (which loved to portray monopoly as a rationalizing force in an irrational marketplace) and reality, which was that there was an effect of demonopolization during this time period due to low-cost startups which benefited from state law and a lack of regulation. And as such many of the laws from the “progressive era” were designed to drive competition under with regulation. It is ironic that this era is today seen as an attack on monopoly power when essentially it was monopoly power in the form of the House of Morgan etc which drove a lot of it.

    (Kolko himself is hardly an anarcho-capitalist, though, he was part of the “new left” and praised Paul Mattick in the book. Marx too, although a large section of the book is dedicated to a critique of Marx’s theory of the state, although Kolko mentions that the concept of the state as “the executive body of the ruling class” is probably Marx’s strongest statement on the matter.)

    I don’t really get the assertion of one poster that because “anarcho-capitalism” is a “radical” idea that automatically justifies scorn and derision. I think AC is dumb as hell, but there was a time period in which being an advocacy for democratic republicanism meant that you were a “radical” too, so…not to mention the “radical Republicans”, etc.

  • Shepard Humphries

    Leah, you have discredited what was once viewed as a reasonable organization. For the most part, your tone and content was mocking, disrespectful and illogical. For thinking individuals to take the SPLC seriously, they must see that you are combating bad people with mean hearts that pose some danger to innocent people. Wacko conspiracy theorists, students of government’s constitutions and peace-lovers like voluntaryists do not fit that mold. The KKK, the Islamophobes , the gay-bashes? Yes. Attacking voluntarists with such enormous prejudice is like attacking a rabbit when there are plenty of wolves to be fought. I am an extremist in regards to my fidelity to my life partner and to my frequency of stopping to assist stranded motorists, but is all extremism bad? Is it bad to be extremely dedicated to stopping violent racists?

    I can’t use a few government enthusiasts like Mao & Hitler to PROVE all government employees are bad. (Basic logic). Overall (80%), we voluntaryists are easygoing folks. We love listening to lectures, we love debating and we love social science. We are addicted to logic and reason and our two biggest conclusions for a preferred way of life are; 1)Keep your word & 2)Don’t initiate violence against anyone. Simplistic? Perhaps, but it is a pretty darn good moral foundation, isn’t it? If you have a few hundred hours, we would love to respectfully and logically debate with you, hoping that we both learn from our conversations. :)

    We are VERY much UNlike the Right in almost every way, as a matter of fact, our closest cousins are probably Liberals. Unlike the Conservatives, we are not very passionate about various constitutions or technicalities like capitalized words. We think Patriotism is stupid and we think the Patriot Act was stupid. Like a rabbit, we seek only to live our lives without “being messed with.” If you chase a rabbit through the woods and put your hand in their den-hole, yep, you might get bitten. I suggest that chasing us, or a rabbit that has not harmed you or anyone else, is unfair – we did nothing to deserve being chased! We pay our debts, stick to our word, create jobs, don’t harm folks and are good neighbors.

    I am offended by this hit piece. We don’t hate, we are peace-loving folks! I can’t speak for folks on the Right, but bee stings kill more people in a year than bona fide voluntaryists do in a decade. One of Carl Watner’s favorite philosophers is Gandhi. We would love to have a respectful dialog with you and discuss why we think there are better options for organizing society than governments. We might be wrong, but might YOU also perhaps maybe possibly be wrong? Only through respectful logical dialog backed up by evidence can we know.

    Now, are there a minority (20%) of those claiming to be voluntaryists that are knuckleheads? Absolutely! Much like people with straight hair or those with 5 fingers on each hand, some individuals claiming to be part of any group do do bad things. I would further add that Leah and I also do bad things sometimes. I bet we both try to minimize those bad things and be as good as we can. Some average people have some excellent ideas and some bad ideas. Leah and her supervisor obviously have the right to focus on people rather than ideas to make THEIR point, but I don’t want to defend Larken or Barrack or Leah or that wacko Alex Jones! If Leah or Alex says something, let’s examine THAT THING, not make a fallacious ad hominem attack. They have both made some inaccurate claims and probably some true claims, it isn’t about them. Just because some bad homosexual advocate some years ago molested a child does not mean that the other 99.999% of homosexuals do that bad thing. That is crazy and prejudiced.

    I have invited you to find a thoughtful voluntaryist with which to have a spirited, logical debate. I suggest Joel Otto, me, or Carl Watner. I think you will find us enjoyable to chat with, but really, that is less important than the validity of our ideas, right? :) Your unfair and inaccurate article is an embarrassment to the SPLC, as is a comment a few before this one that asked for the defense of a claim, then insults the unknown response by saying, “…this should be entertaining…”

    While we can certainly be described as philosophically radical (Radical: A person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform.), we are far from the Right and we are far from being hateful. I ask that you investigate our philosophy objectively, count the victims left in our wake (if you can find any) and then offer an apology and remove us from the position beside truly ugly hate groups on your site.

  • GDWilliams

    Wow! That’s an awful lot of reading on a topic of some interest to me, having studied rather intently the underlying psychological profile that leads to a particular sociopolitical stance. And its worth noting that the expected variations in experience and cognitive development are found among persons who identify as far-left communists, anarchists, on through socialists, social democrats, as well as right-wingers whose beliefs in social dominance arise from their sense of self-interest given they are members of the aristocracy, or receive benefits of that system they wouldn’t in an egalitarian society.
    But there is a sociopolitical group that supports and promotes the beliefs and values of a right-wing elite despite no benefit to them or the larger economic class they fit in. Indeed, despite rather blatant evidence of being abused by the ruling elite, they seem to double-down in their support of their abusers in a manner one researcher likened to those who experience a brutal hazing by the group they aspire to become, suddenly showing even more loyalty and submission than before their mistreatment.
    That sociopolitical group is of course self-identified “right-wing conservatives”. If one browses the psych journal literature it will immediately become apparent that the it isn’t just the one seemingly irrational tendency that attracts so much attention and curiosity from social scientists, but as it turns out, there’s a long list of cognitive and emotional traits that typically occur together only in those who usually also adopt conservative beliefs.

    And what I see above is a lack of understanding that the beliefs circulating among conservatives almost always were adopted because they meet some emotional or perceptual criteria having little or nothing to do with its content or fact. Rather, beliefs are adopted on the basis of in-group conformity, prior beliefs, and its ability to give them closure or certainty on the issue given how ambiguity or uncertainty about something causes a fear response. And its the need to find certainty that often compels them to adopt a belief or seize on a solution with no real evidence for it, and to stubbornly hold onto that belief despite evidence to the contrary. And maintaining that belief is greatly enhanced by the presence of a conservative “echo-chamber” where RWAs reiterate, confirm, and re-affirm beliefs fed them by their own authority figures, who are very often charismatic, yet uneducated people whose only interest is in their own welfare, but who knows enough about the conservative psyche to frame issues in simplistic, Us vs Them terms, using themes of patriotism, duty, God, and a return to past glories if they just do what is needed for national security, the purity of the religion, race, or neighborhood.
    I this way RWAs can be convinced that Rush Limbaugh knows more about climate than climate scientists themselves, or take as true what the age of the earth is or whether evolution is real from a local cleric trained at Bob Jones U in Divinity alone.

    Poor development at the critical stage of social-intellectual growth near adolescence leaves them with the same authority-dependent worldview we all have as children who depend on a guardian for life itself, but which diminishes upon social interaction and the different demands it places on a mature adult able to cooperate and converse. That lack of development often results in limited ability to predict the behavior of others; to foresee likely outcomes of new laws, or even to accurately assess their own behavior, leading to some remarkable examples of engaging in the very behavior they just scolded liberals for eg,.
    “Low cognitive complexity, compartmentalization of ideas, inability to think in abstractions or maintain logical processing of multiple concepts simultaneously, increased fear, hostility, and needs for order and regularity; risk averse, tend to “seize and freeze” on wrong solutions…

    .I could go on here, but I think the idea should be clear here. And that is that you cannot really know where conservatives are coming from by simply listening and arguing with them. They seldom know why they believe and do something…although they will shout and scream that non-conservatives “just dont get it” because we’re stupid, confused,have heads cluttered with liberal propaganda, etc,etc, , imagining that the clarity of thought they see isn’t what we know is actually a reduced version of reality achieved by dismissing 3/4 of the details that are actually needed to solve some social ill plaguing society. They tend to see only “legal and illegal”, “right and wrong”, and will take their cue on these by noting what “good” conservative patriots want to see happen to the guilty. Jail. Simple. Problem solved. (almost never in fact).
    Conservatism, despite the ideas of Burke spelling out what he believed were it’s principles, is really much more of a psychological syndrome than it is an ideological position they arrived at after considered thought on various matters. And the sooner society as a whole internalizes that realization, the sooner we can get about saving the planet, the economy, and likely the very future of mankind now that our technology places us outside the ability of nature to evolve our brains quickly enough to suppress the “fight or flight”, alpha male urges now compelling modern man to “hunt and gather” mankind straight into extinction by leaders with overactive amygdalae and underused intellect.

  • Erika

    Apparently Joel is confused between women’s suffrage which has absolutely nothing to do with guns and women suffering domestic violence which is very closely related to guns

  • Gregory

    OK, Joel, I’ll bite. Just how did gun ownership contribute to women’s suffrage in the US? This should be entertaining, especially when the mean grrls show up.

  • aadila

    Alright Joel Otto, since you feel that way, why don’t you donate some anarcho-capital to the SPLC as your good deed for the year?

  • Joel Otto

    After reading this shallowly researched attack article I found the following description of the SPLC, pasted below. So why did the SPLC attack us? The anarcho-capitalist movement supports SPLC goals. From our perspective, the Democratic liberals and the Republican neoconservatives are the same party, both pushing for a large and powerful government to advance social agendas.

    Want civil rights? So do we.We are the ultimate defenders of rights. Gun control was instituted to deny guns to minorities. Guns are the great equalizer, and arguably gave women the vote. Extending gun ownership to minorities is an excellent way to protect their and our rights.

    Children at risk? Anarcho capitalists want to end the war on drugs which is disproportionately incarcerating minority children.

    Hate and extremism? Prejudice is always to be condemned, but is much worse when carried out by armed agents of the state. We would deny the state the power of abuse.

    Immigrant justice? We don’t believe in national borders, which allow state agents to categorize some people as “illegal immigrants” who are subject to persecution and lack the protection of law.

    LGBT rights? Anarcho capitalists do not believe the state should interfere in any relationship between consenting adults.

    Teaching tolerance? Great idea!

    From the SPLC website:
    Who We Are
    The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.
    The SPLC was founded to ensure that the promises of the civil rights movement became a reality for all. Since our founding in 1971, we’ve won numerous landmark legal victories on behalf of the exploited, the powerless and the forgotten.

    What We Do
    Children at risk: Across the country, thousands of children are languishing in abusive prisons and jails. These youths are disproportionately African American and Latino. Most live in poverty.

    Hate and extremism: The Southern Poverty Law Center monitors hate groups and extremists throughout the United States and exposes their activities to law enforcement agencies, the media and the public. We’ve crippled some of the country’s most notorious hate groups by suing them for murders and other violent acts committed by their members.

    Immigrant Justice: Immigrants perform some of the hardest, most dangerous jobs in our economy – for the least amount of pay. But they are routinely cheated out of their wages and denied basic protections in the workplace. They face bigotry and discrimination in their communities and are vulnerable to hate crimes.

    LGBT Rights: The SPLC is dedicated to defending the rights of the LGBT community. Our current work has a national reach but is primarily focused on the Southeast where relatively few organizations advocate for this community.

    Teaching Tolerance: The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program reduces prejudice, improves intergroup relations and supports equitable school experiences for our nation’s children. We provide free anti-bias resources to teachers.

  • aadila

    Imperialist you cannot be taken seriously. It is clear your attempt to mock progressives by “turning the tables” is the product of a feeble mind.

    Obviously the state commits abuses and obviously of all political parties and groups, the left wing, liberal, progressive, whatever you choose to call us, is at the vanguard of standing up to those abuses and protecting the oppressed.

    So instead of your puerile tantrum, the response is not to tear down the government but act as agents of progressive change, using the power structures which exist to end the Republican line.

    It is the Republicans in virtual exclusivity who are responsible for cranking up the war machine, scaring the hell out of everybody, and insisting on “enforcement” with disregard for rights codified in law. Republicans are happy to strip $4 billion from education but want to militarize our schools. Republicans throw firebombs at women’s health clinics but insist upon the sanctity of life, all the while peddling firearms to crooks.

    Republicans hate America and so do you.

  • Erika

    aadila, exactly :)

    Although i’m starting to get suspicious that for some of the anarcho-capitalists giving people free reign to take even the most petty grievances into their own hands up to the point where deadly force is allowed to those who have “wronged” them (which for some appears to even include forcing them to pay for necessities) is the idea. As an ideology based upon elevating sheer self interest above all else, it is bound to attract some sociopaths who are out to con people. The well documented connections between their heros and known racists also lends credence to that contention.

    Of course, what they forget is that if they have an essentially unlimited right to shoot people for taking their property that everyone else in the world has that exact same right.

    And quite simply: that will not end well. It may even end life on earth.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Notice that “Imperialist Lackies’” post demonstrates what I have been saying, namely that “anarcho-capitalists”(last year they were die-hard Ron Paul supporters) cannot coherently defend their views without resorting to ad hominems(“statist”), stawman arguments, false dichotomies, and of course, arbitrary re-definitions of words and ridiculous revisions of history.

    If you don’t accept their wacky re-branded libertarianism(certainly their heroes such as Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard never advocated “anarco-capitalism” with no state whatsoever; some would call them mini-archists), it means you must “worship” the state.

    This is why we can casually dismiss them as a crowd of self-entitled butthurt white males who think that the world revolves around them. Strange that such self-centered people would believe that they can have a capitalist society where people don’t rip each other off due to some “non-aggression axiom.”

  • GrayCat

    Well, I certainly stand upbraided and exposed.

    Can anyone explain the differences between the origins of the Great Northern Railroad and that of the establishment of the rest of them?

  • Aron

    Wow. Imperialist Lackies, you really take the cake for crazy.

    None of us WORSHIP the state. We simply know that without it, society as we know it would end.

    Feel free to rebel against your hated government. I’ll be there to ensure you get a proper burial.

  • aadila

    “This Friday, there will not be enough gold or silver for the heroines and heros who have spoken out.”

    That’s because the nasty little goldbugs in the forum are hoarding like dung beetles instead of sharing and caring like decent folk.

  • Imperialist Lackies

    You speculate on what *might*happen without the hyper-violent US government you worship, but you statist “progressives” have kept loyalty to this state even after the American genocide in Iraq that killed over 1,000,000 people.

    How can you stay loyal, have faith in and support an institution that does that? And you American Imperialist state worshippers dare call anti-war dissidents against this evil government “extremist” or “violent”?

    Progressive US Government worshippers are much more a threat to the peace and safety of the victims of US Government imperialism than authentic conservative or libertarian anti-imperialists.

    It is your continued support of government that has murdered millions of Muslims and others in the non-American world you care so little about that is truly hateful and extremist.

    If you have ANY moral decency it is time to rebel against your government before it kills millions more!

    In eternal enmity to that government which killed those Iraqis, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Yemenis, Somalis and others as well as their loyal lackies,
    An American Anti-imperialist

    PS don’t tell me its just Republicans, either, your Dear Leader Obama has killed far more kids than the psycho in Sandy Hook… yet to you being *anti* that killer government is extremist to you not being *pro* a government that has killed and hurt far more innocent people than any “hate group” (political dissident group, especially anti war and anti imperialist) you track for that evil government.

  • Reynardine

    This Friday, there will not be enough gold or silver for the heroines and heros who have spoken out.

  • aadila

    “According to you, Erika, “if someone committed massive fraud and there was no government and no courts, the defrauded parties would form a mob and execute the fraud artist.” WHOA! WOW! You made quite a leap there girlfriend! My head is spinning!”

    Sometimes, it’s better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your beak and prove it.

    Written laws were formed exactly for the reason Erika describes. Without a written code of justice and an organized government to enforce it, society settles its disputes through revanche. A good contemporary example of this is Somalia, which only now is showing signs of improvement due to the establishment of a Parliament and rule of law.

    There is, though you are ignorant of it, a rock solid body of knowledge formed over centuries that concerns exactly this topic. You think you are the first person to ponder government?

    Revanche leads to interminable bloodshed, which is the point that Erika is obviously making, and one which clearly went right over your head. There are countless examples of history which contradict your airy-fairie theory of the peaceful anarchist.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    So the same people who tell us socialism and Communism can’t work because people are inherently selfish believe that this can be rectified with a simple “non-aggression” axiom which people will follow..because?

  • Erika

    GrayCat, i kind of get the impression that you have no idea what laws are. See, one hallmark of laws is that they are enforceable by someone – and that someone is always a government. Even in the case of voluntary associations such as homeowners associations, restrictive covenants, contractual arrangements, etc. it still requires governmental action in order to enforce. That is why in Shelley v. Kramer (1948) the Supreme Court held that racially restrictive covenants were null, void, and unenforceable as unconstitutional – because to enforce the racially restrictive covenant, a party would have to go to court – and that created state action bringing the private arrangement under the Fourteenth Amendment.

    With no state, there can be no legal enforcement mechanicm. With no legal enforcement mechanicism there can be no law. In fact, in the absence of government the only way to enforce a law will be “self help” or as it is often more properly known vigilantism – or if many people are involved, it would be lynch mobs.

    So now, where does that leave an anarcho-capitalist society which supposedly has a rule of non-aggression and the ability to defend against aggression? However, unlike most self defense laws the anarcho-capitalists would not only provide self defense to save one’s own life or the life or another – but would also provide self defense to protect one’s property (even to stop a child “trespassing” by cutting across your lawn). By all indication – especially the fact that to an anarcho-capitalist taking a penny from another is just as bad as taking one’s life – it would be lethal self defense. And in any case, with no legal enforcement mechanicism, no courts, no police forces, no government to answer to, a person can shoot first and answer questions never.

    In fact, in an anarcho-capitalistic society, everyone (including violent prisoners and mental patients who will have to be released once government is abolished since they did not voluntarily choose to be subject to the laws of the state who put them in custody) will become the judge, jury, and executioner with the ability to decide for themselves when lethal force is needed to protect not only their person but their property as well.

    That will not end well.

    Quite simply, at its very core the anarcho-capitalist position comes down to “i want the ability to decide all laws – including the ability to kill people if i so desire myself.” Basically what the anarcho-capitalists want is the ability for them – and them alone – to be able to decide who is worthy of living and who dies. With no government there is nothing to stop mass murderers from saying “i felt threatened” or “they threatened my profits by organizing a boycot of my dangerous products” – and under the claimed tenants of anarcho-capitalism that is perfectly acceptable. Of course, what the anarcho-capitalists fail to realize is that not only they will have that right, everyone in the world will have that same right. That will result in complete lawlessness and produce a culture where might makes right and people will have incentive to engage in preventive violence if they think their neighbors might have designs on their property. A more idiotic position is difficult to imagine.

    And no – i do not trust my neighbors to act properly in the absence of law. Quite simply, the only way for me to keep my neighbors from stealing all of my property and raping me would be my willingness to use lethal force – and i’m non-violent (which means that my Cavaet Emptor Farms plan is available for the taking, although i presume that you would not crown yourself Queen Erika (which has a good ring to it). i definitely do not trust massive corporations to act properly in the absence of law. Anyone who does so is a fool who is completely ignorant about history.

    In law school, i learned that much of American law developed due to the rail industry – specifically because railroads were really the first large interstate companies which led to the development of corporate and securities law (yes, those corporations are products of the state and extremely recent inventions) – and also because 19th Century railroads were so dangerous and lethal that the common law tort rules were simply inadequate to cope with the carnage which resulted. Eventually, the number of deaths and maimings of railroad workers was so large, that even Congress had to take action in passing the Federal Employees Liability Act in 1906. In fact, much of the notions of modern tort law such as comparative risk can be traced to FELA. Workers compensation laws also developed in the same time period, because while railroads were the most dangerous industry (measured by number of deaths and injuries – per capita, coal mines were much more dangerous) many other industries were extremely dangerous.

    The very stupidity of anarcho-capitalism (and those people who try to claim that our Constitution set our laws in stone in 1789) is readily apparent by the fact that to an anarcho-capitalist (or most conservatives now) the scandal wasn’t that thousands of workers a year were killed and maimed while working in extremely dangerous jobs during the Gilded Age – it is that since that time, companies have been forced to pay compensation to maimed workers and give pensions to the widows (or rarely widowers) and orphans of industrial accidents. And not only that, that companies now have to follow regulations and laws which help limit the creation of more maimed workers and orphans. To an anarcho-capitalist that is simply unacceptable because it appropiates the property of another which is according to you anarcho-capitalists NEVER acceptable under any circumstances. Profit apparently take precedence even over human life.

    In the perfect anarcho-capitalistic world, under their “non-aggression” axiom one could be actually be killed for saying that maybe the company should spent $200 on guards for their machinery that will prevent 5 deaths and 10 serious injuries per year because that threatens the company’s property right in that $200. Never mind that the company’s actions will lead to much larger social cost by dooming 5 workers to death and 10 to serious injury than the $200 – social costs do not and cannot matter in an anarcho-capitalistic society because ultimately there is no society. The only interest is one’s personal self interest and when the only protection you have is what you can buy, the incentive to be selfish is overwhelmingly high.

    Instead, the anarcho-capitalists try to claim that in the absence of social and legal controls and the elevation of private gain and interest above all else all hell will not break loose into mass chaos with murders, looting, rape, and the ultra rich running off with everything while everyone else becomes serfs (with a very high risk of being raped). Their entire argument ultimately comes down to “trust us” – that in itself is stupid. Anyone who trusts anyone who elevates greed and self interest to the highest moral position (as anarcho-capitalists do) is a complete moron. However, not only do they say “trust us” they say “trust everyone in the world” who are sure to behave once freed from the shackles of government. Yeah right. Even with governmental regulation, a somewhat functional tort system, laws, mass media, and shareholder lawsuits corporations repeatedly get caught engaging in lawbreaking which often kills people. Billions of dollars of people’s money just vanishes into the hands of crooks and conmen. People high on drugs (which will all become legal with no government) rob the convenience store looking for money for more fix and shoot the clerk due to drug induced psychosis.

    All of that sort of thing will increase dramatically without social controls – in fact, without government all social control will break down extremely quickly because no one in their right mind would trust anyone in such a system. Not when you can literally rape mem run off with my property, or shoot me with no legal or social consequences. Not when the only axiom that society lives by is “greed is good” (in fact, the first step to an anarcho-capitalistic society will likely be the forceable extermination of all religions and burning of religious texts due to the fact that just about every religion i am aware of contain teachings that indicate that believers have an obligation to society – so its likely that there will be mass murders of religious people in order to eliminate such subversive and dangerous to personal property notions as “love your neighbor as yourself” and “the love of money is the root of all evil” – again, this is your “non-aggression” in action).

    So to answer you question – i do not trust any ideology whose entire basis is “ignore everything you know about history, humanity, and society and trust us.” i do not trust any ideology who would give free reign to psychopaths to rape and murder women and then claim they acted in self defense and never have to answer for that absurd claim (and if you do not believe in the absence of any government that large numbers of women will be raped and murdered by sexual psychopaths, please see Cuidad Juarez and the entire state of Chihuahua, Mexico where the absence of effective non-corrupt government led to massive numbers of women being raped and murdered – anarcho-capitalism will make Cuidad Juarez look like Disneyland). i do not trust any ideology who would allow my neighbor to shoot me in my back and then claim that i cut across his property so it is okay and have society say “that’s right.” i definitely do not trust any ideology whose proponents appear way too eager to be able to appoint themselves judge, jury, and executioner of everyone else in the world.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Let’s give the anarco-capitalists a little bit of pity. A few years ago they were big advocates for our current government, in the sense that they were supporting Ron Paul. Then there was the split, between die-hard Paul cultists and those who supported Gary Johnson. Now they’re trying to re-brand themselves by hijacking a long-established ideology which has always been associated with socialism. They’re going to make some mistakes in rhetoric.

    The good news is that Ron Paul probably will have at least one more presidential campaign, meaning that many of these an-caps will once again turn into supporters of American electoral democracy…until Paul loses the primaries again.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Evidently, though, most here believe that anarcho-capitalism means no laws. Where would anyone get that idea? Who says that?”

    No, we don’t mean that, but the fact is that capitalist society as it has existed, like all class based societies, has a state to enforce its laws. If you can’t enforce the laws, they aren’t laws.

    “And it seems most here cannot imagine a society where essential laws — against initiation of violence, murder, theft, fraud — are established and respected without over-arching government rulers. Why?”

    Because you also want capitalism, a system which puts all individuals in competition with one another, which entails exploitation and the denial of the means to live to millions of people so as to have a pliable workforce which has no choice but to accept whatever wages it can get to survive.

    If you were like real anarchists, this wouldn’t be a problem. Real anarchists understand that class must be abolished in order to eliminate the state. Where we clash in that case is how quickly the habits of capitalism can be eliminated, along with class, after a revolution. In any case, revolution means the initiation of coercion.

    “Is there no scenario where people simply cannot live and trade in peace, without rulers controlling them and what they do?”

    Please put your violin away. First of all, in order to trade people have to have something to trade(or money to buy). Capitalism forces everyone to participate in the market, unlike past modes of production. Secondly, you no doubt live in the West and I know for a fact that you are not “controlled” by your rulers every step of the way. Did Barack Obama bar you from using Ebay or Craigslist?

    “Does the consumer have no power in a market? Should the market exist without that power over it? Should consumers not expect to have their needs and wants met at the cheapest possible price? Shouldn’t consumers determine quality and price, and be able to take their business elsewhere if they choose?”

    Yeah that sounds like a great idea, until you actually have experience with those sorts of markets. People will still be ripping each other off left and right, and you won’t figure it out until you lose money. In the case of medicines, medical treatment, food items, and especially airplanes, customers can “vote with their wallets” only after many other people die or become seriously ill.

    “If there were no government/rulers tomorrow, would you come after me with a gun or knife or “enforcer” to take from me what you want, without my willing and voluntary permission or agreement?”

    That depends. Are you a factory owner who steals the products that your worker makes, then paying them a small fraction of the value they create, all because of the bourgeois right of private property?

    “Do you believe I would do so to you? If so, why?”

    I would, except you’re too lazy. This is who Anarcho-Capitalism, like Austrian school BS in general, appeals to. White males who spend all their time on the internet and think the world revolves around them, and who compare paying taxes to being a Jew in Poland during WWII.

    “It also seems that most here believe that the non-aggression principle assumes complete pacifism, that individuals are not allowed to defend themselves, their family, friends, and property against aggressors.”

    Nope, nobody suggested that. Once again a strawman. Since you believe in private property, you believe in the right to use force to deny people food, land, and substance they might very well need. Ergo you initiate coercion when you defend certain productive property, particularly that which you did not actually work for.

    ” the right to INITIATE violence or force or trespass against another, is the idea that self-defense is ruled out?”

    Nobody cares.

    “Only nation-states can wage wars; individual local communities of like-minded people cannot, but more importantly, have no incentive to ruin trading relationships with their neighbors.”

    Only nation states huh? That’s interesting because I’m pretty sure there were some wars prior to the development of the nation state,which is often dated to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. Also there are gang wars, clan wars, and so on.

    “Why is a voluntary society, founded on the non-aggression principle and peaceful trade, so threatening?”

    I love how you arrogant, pompous morons assume that just because you are a laughing stock of the internet and real world, it must be because you are “threatening.” You are laughed at because your ideology isn’t based in reality, you can’t adequately articulate how you would bring your society about, and all the while you compensate for that by hiding behind some lofty moral phrase like “the non-aggression” principle.

    It’s exactly like if I proposed some kind of society where everyone is happy and satisfied and nobody has any conflicting interest whatsoever, but when you question as to how we would implement this idea, I just start screaming: “THE GOLDEN RULE!! YOU BELIEVE IN THE GOLDEN RULE, RIGHT?!”

    “And why are profits a de facto bad thing? Does any of you actively seek lower wages and higher prices on goods and services?”

    Because profit is surplus value from labor you did not perform, and because workers are forced to accept these wages or die. Add your private police to the mix, and you get the initiating of coercion. Oh wait, it’s not initiation of coercion because you say it isn’t. Nearly forgot.

    ” Without government protectionism, even the biggest companies would have to either stand or fall strictly on the quality of their products or services, and their ability to attract the most valuable and skilled workers. Only with government protections, subsidies, funding, and favoritism can companies become the obscenely huge and abusive corporations that are in control of most of government and the economy now. This is known as crony-capitalism, or “crapitalism.” Libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, are NOT in favor of this, but just as against it as any of you are.”

    “Crony capitalism” is a made up word used by libertarians to apologize for actual capitalism. This is also known as the “No True Scotsman” fallacy. By all means, show us an actual capitalist society in history and let us judge it.

    The truth is that industrialization and the rise of corporations has always gone hand-in-hand with state intervention. But has this all been bad? Many of these companies get perks from the state because they rose to the top of their fields, and the produce great products. If you want to excommunicate them from “true capitalism”, you are essentially throwing away every real, concrete argument in favor of capitalism. The advantage the US had over the late USSR in consumer goods becomes irrelevant.

    Moreover, smaller and more competition, including more choice, is not necessarily better for the consumer. If you visited a place like China you would learn this.

    “Have any of you read Democracy: The God That Failed, by Hans Hermann-Hoppe? Or his The Private Production of Defense, or The Myth of National Defense? Or Walter Block’s Defending the Undefendable? Or his other works, as well?”

    Oh wow, books from guys? This theory must be sound!

    “I don’t understand a position that contends that just because something hasn’t been tried (at least recently, and here) it cannot conceivably succeed, just because what we have now is all we know.”

    Well then you have a lot to learn about the world. We can do things which are unprecedented but the problem is you want two things which are mutually exclusive. Any exploitative, class based society, requires a state. Moreover, any time we look back in history and find something remotely close to the society you want, it turns out to be a nightmare compared to modern society. Of course you will scream that this is because there still was a state, or government intervention, and all that nonsense, but the fact is that just because your society hasn’t been implemented 100% to a T doesn’t mean that elements of the society you want haven’t existed before. If it’s not a cure all, it ought to be a cure some.

    “Ireland for over 1,000 years resisting English conquest, Iceland in the Middle Ages, and Native Americans, just to name a few, all existed quite well and happily as anarcho-capitalists.”

    Um, no, they didn’t. There was no “capitalism.” See what you’re doing, in true Austrian school form, is re-defining well established terms in order to fit your ideology. This is not allowed. Words like capitalism and capitalist have a meaning. Where was the wage labor in those societies? Industrialization? In any case, modern America is industrialized.

    “And I don’t understand how clinging to theory in the face of practical reality — the theory of democracy says it will work, if only we get the right people in power and get the right laws passed — when it’s plain that the practical reality contradicts all of it, and instead gets worse and worse, no matter who’s elected or what laws are passed.”

    There are a lot of ideas about democracy and many ways to run it. Many arguments against modern liberal democracy allege that it is not democratic at all. Your ideal system would mean total power in the hands of those with capital and property, and total enslavement of those without it. In other words, an even worse Gilded Age.

    “Do you support the USA PATRIOT Act, the NDAA, “our” invasions and wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and “our” sanctioning of Iran, Guantanamo, etc., and attempts of the government to control the Internet — just to barely scratch the surface? Do you realistically foresee any future in which the “democratic” form of government we have is going to undo these and other wrongs?”

    The problem, from my(but not necessarily my own) point of view and historical observation, is that the state exists to serve the ruling class. This is the concept you cannot understand, which is totally natural seeing as how capitalism often promotes a distorted view of things. In this case, people view the state as the ultimate authority when in fact it is answerable to a higher authority- the ruling class of property owners, investors, bankers, etc.

    “Are over 70,000 pages of laws (in small print) in the National Register, really better than “no laws,” much less the minimal necessary laws advocated by anarcho-capitalists?”

    Well you see, everything looks easy from the outside. The Bolsheviks had a very simple plan to make Russia democratic and destroy class. But when the White Guards resisted and imperialists invaded, things got a bit more complicated.

    “Is it logical to expect that a society of peaceful self-governing people would not recognize and obey the societal principles of no murder, no violation of your neighbor or his family or property, no theft, no fraud?”

    No, no it isn’t, especially when you get your ideas from a group of people who tell us that capitalism works because it’s based on “selfish human nature.” If Communism or anarcho-socialism is impossible because it requires humans to be so altruistic(it doesn’t but that’s the argument), then the same applies to your ideology.

    Moreover, listing fraud and theft as forms of aggression is just nonsensical. Many people who commit fraud don’t believe it’s fraud. For example, many people make money selling “alternative medicine” that doesn’t really do anything. Should they be forced to have real clinical trials? Heavens no!

    “Would you personally initiate violence against me for not paying taxes? Would you personally coerce me to accept a program or action you believe I should?”

    First, the government would. Second, ANY society must produce a surplus if it is going to survive. That means any society is going to require some kind of deduction which might be called a “tax”(especially if you call Native Americans capitalists). Taxes in a capitalist society typically pay for things which are necessary but which no capitalist or group of capitalists wants to pay for.

    “Does any person have the right to initiate violence against anyone else for any reason — in schoolyard terms, start a fight with someone who does not want to fight and offered you no harm?”

    Again, stupid scenario. You sound like those Christian fundamentalists I know who say that everything would be perfect if people would just follow Christ’s words. Well they don’t. Period.

    “Does any person have the right to force anyone else to relinquish his person, property, or earnings for any cause?”

    Do you have a right, as a factory owner, to appropriate the products which others labored to produce? No. If the workers decide to walk out with some of that product, they are not stealing, they are just appropriating more of the value they produced. If you call your private goon squad on them, this would be initiating coercion. Of course you will claim it’s not, but that’s the problem- your whole ideology relies on arbitrarily re-defining terms like capitalism, aggression, etc.

    So that’s why the “non-aggression” principle in this case is “wrong.” Because you don’t truly believe in it. You’re just using it as a moral shield to defend yourself from questions you can’t answer.

    Perhaps if you travel around a bit and get some real life experience you will see the absurdity of “anarcho-capitalism.”

  • Lookeehere

    Erika said, “If the proponents of anarcho-capitalism can’t even act in a civil manner on a comment section how do they possibly expect to get the entire world to act in a civil manner in the complete absence of any government or meaningful consequences for violent and aggressive behavior?”

    Why do statists somehow always come to the conclusion that governments are populated with angels and not mere humans? And, what exactly are “meaningful consequences for violent and aggressive behavior?”

  • Lookeehere

    According to you, Erika, “if someone committed massive fraud and there was no government and no courts, the defrauded parties would form a mob and execute the fraud artist.” WHOA! WOW! You made quite a leap there girlfriend! My head is spinning! Where did you say you went to law school? Whittier?

  • PabloKoh

    Anyone who refuses to pay taxes for drone strikes around the world (the greater good) should be put in jail. Freeloaders!

  • GrayCat

    Sorry; I wrote:

    “Is there no scenario where people simply cannot live and trade in peace, without rulers controlling them and what they do?”

    I meant, “Is there no scenario where people can simply live and trade in peace, without rulers controlling them and what they do?”

  • Reynardine

    Evidently, Gray Cat, your idea of winning an argument is to just repeat the same words over and over again, without letup, until your audience has to go eat dinner, take a whizz, get some sleep, or just do something more productive than attempt to teach the unteachable. Then you tell yourself your dazzling arguments and stellar intellect have won the day. It’s called argumentum ad infinitum et ad nauseam.

  • Jason McClinsey

    It is interesting that anarcho-capitalists, aka voluntaryists, are introduced in this article by focusing on that quack Porter Stansberry. Instead of focusing on the principles of the movement (that the initiation of force is always a moral evil), this article does its best to tie the movement to other movements that are far easier to attack. This is good news, because it must mean that the movement is really catching on. Is it a terrible thing that many people are embracing the principle of non-violence? Is it so terrible that so many of us are raising our children peacefully?

  • GrayCat

    CM, thank you for finally acknowledging that the principles of non-aggression and non-coercion are not “wrong.”

    Evidently, though, most here believe that anarcho-capitalism means no laws. Where would anyone get that idea? Who says that?

    And it seems most here cannot imagine a society where essential laws — against initiation of violence, murder, theft, fraud — are established and respected without over-arching government rulers. Why?

    Is there no scenario where people simply cannot live and trade in peace, without rulers controlling them and what they do?

    Does the consumer have no power in a market? Should the market exist without that power over it? Should consumers not expect to have their needs and wants met at the cheapest possible price? Shouldn’t consumers determine quality and price, and be able to take their business elsewhere if they choose?

    If there were no government/rulers tomorrow, would you come after me with a gun or knife or “enforcer” to take from me what you want, without my willing and voluntary permission or agreement?

    Do you believe I would do so to you? If so, why?

    It also seems that most here believe that the non-aggression principle assumes complete pacifism, that individuals are not allowed to defend themselves, their family, friends, and property against aggressors. Where does that idea come from? Where in the non-aggression principle, which simply states that no one has the right to INITIATE violence or force or trespass against another, is the idea that self-defense is ruled out?

    Only nation-states can wage wars; individual local communities of like-minded people cannot, but more importantly, have no incentive to ruin trading relationships with their neighbors.

    Why is a voluntary society, founded on the non-aggression principle and peaceful trade, so threatening?

    And why are profits a de facto bad thing? Does any of you actively seek lower wages and higher prices on goods and services? Without government protectionism, even the biggest companies would have to either stand or fall strictly on the quality of their products or services, and their ability to attract the most valuable and skilled workers. Only with government protections, subsidies, funding, and favoritism can companies become the obscenely huge and abusive corporations that are in control of most of government and the economy now. This is known as crony-capitalism, or “crapitalism.” Libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, are NOT in favor of this, but just as against it as any of you are.

    Have any of you read Democracy: The God That Failed, by Hans Hermann-Hoppe? Or his The Private Production of Defense, or The Myth of National Defense? Or Walter Block’s Defending the Undefendable? Or his other works, as well?

    I don’t understand a position that contends that just because something hasn’t been tried (at least recently, and here) it cannot conceivably succeed, just because what we have now is all we know.

    Ireland for over 1,000 years resisting English conquest, Iceland in the Middle Ages, and Native Americans, just to name a few, all existed quite well and happily as anarcho-capitalists.

    And I don’t understand how clinging to theory in the face of practical reality — the theory of democracy says it will work, if only we get the right people in power and get the right laws passed — when it’s plain that the practical reality contradicts all of it, and instead gets worse and worse, no matter who’s elected or what laws are passed.

    Do you support the USA PATRIOT Act, the NDAA, “our” invasions and wars and occupations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria, and “our” sanctioning of Iran, Guantanamo, etc., and attempts of the government to control the Internet — just to barely scratch the surface? Do you realistically foresee any future in which the “democratic” form of government we have is going to undo these and other wrongs?

    Are over 70,000 pages of laws (in small print) in the National Register, really better than “no laws,” much less the minimal necessary laws advocated by anarcho-capitalists?

    Is it logical to expect that a society of peaceful self-governing people would not recognize and obey the societal principles of no murder, no violation of your neighbor or his family or property, no theft, no fraud?

    Is government really your protector and servant?

    Would you personally initiate violence against me for not paying taxes? Would you personally coerce me to accept a program or action you believe I should?

    Does any person have the right to initiate violence against anyone else for any reason — in schoolyard terms, start a fight with someone who does not want to fight and offered you no harm?

    Does any person have the right to force anyone else to relinquish his person, property, or earnings for any cause?

  • Erika

    Its entertaining to see how quickly the anarcho-capitalists abandon their claimed principle of “non-agression” to engage in petty name calling when confronted with actual economics and facts.

    Also interesting that anything other than petty name calling has ceased by our anarcho-capitalist friends (and hmm, pointing out the racist history of Lew Rockwell seems to have silenced them).

    If the proponents of anarcho-capitalism can’t even act in a civil manner on a comment section how do they possibly expect to get the entire world to act in a civil manner in the complete absence of any government or meaningful consequences for violent and aggressive behavior?

    Of course, the old legal saw is that if the facts are on your side, you pound the facts, if the law is on your side you pound the law, if neither is on your side, you pound the table – the vapid anarcho-capitalists have long passed the point where they are pounding the table.

    So anyone for some Bikini Atoll Ham from Cabaet Emptor Farms?

  • aadila

    CM thank you for expressing my thoughts more eloquently then I could do so myself. That is exactly the origin of the non-aggression axiom: paying lip service to principles when greed is the name of the game.

    I hope they all get audited and slapped with a lien.

    It’s amazing we live in a society so self indulgent that people have the wherewithal to wallow in such buncombe with a straight face.

  • aadila

    “Trying to explain anarcho-capitalism to statists is like trying to teach calculus to chimpanzees … they will shriek and hoot and throw body fluids at you … but they will never get it.”

    No, not really.

    It’s more like trying to teach mathemeticians to shriek and hoot and throw bodily fluids…they get it, but just see no legitimate reason to do so.

  • Gregory

    On the contrary, Anarcho-Capitalist, we get it. BTW, chimps are a pretty good judge of character. If they fling poo at you, then you may not be as clever as you think.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    “Trying to explain anarcho-capitalism to statists is like trying to teach calculus to chimpanzees … they will shriek and hoot and throw body fluids at you … but they will never get it.”

    Remember kids, when you get called on your BS, just accuse your opponents of being “statists!” From there on use strawmen, special pleading, false dichotomies, and every other fallacy under the sun.

    Seriously though, comparing your ideology to calculus is ridiculous. Calculus is useful and has real-world application, your fantasy gum-drop land utopia isn’t.

    I can’t be the only person who notices the irony of people who support capitalism, a system whose apologists(including Austrian schoolers) claim is based on inherent human nature and which celebrates cut-throat competition and any action which furthers private gain, also at the same time hide behind a “non-aggression” principle which makes no sense in the real world and seem to believe that everybody will voluntarily come together to preserve the capitalist mode of production without a state.

  • CM

    GreyCat,

    Your non-aggression/non-coercion principle isn’t “wrong,” but within your own ideological system, it’s superfluous, self-negating and silly.

    To put it as briefly as possible, non-aggression doesn’t arise as necessary or self-evident from your ideology’s basic axioms. Instead, it’s an extraneous add-on, created in response to all of us who have ever pointed out that unconstrained agents seeking to maximize their personal good have a nasty tendency to accumulate wealth/power and use it to increase their personal benefit, to the detriment of others who have less wealth/power.

    So okay, you say, we’ll make it a “principle” that acting like that is bad and no one should do that, even though it doesn’t derive from your other principles. But having imposed this non-aggression/non-coercion “principle” for extraneous reasons, you then face a dilemma: How do you make it effective? You can’t coerce people into abiding by it, obviously, because that would violate this very principle. You can try to convince them through rational argument, but as you see, many people find your ideology’s arguments unpersuasive as a whole (though some of your fellow-travelers seem smugly inclined to attribute that to mere stupidity on the non-believer’s part rather than to any shortcomings of the ideology itself ).

    You might argue that “the market” will work its magic and eventually remove or punish violators of this “principle,” but that’s just shifting the coerciveness away from yourself as an individual and granting it to the group. In effect, you’re wishing for a collective movement to emerge that will take onto itself the task of coercing conformity with your “principle.”

    Which is the sort of thing that led people to create societies and states in the first place and leads us to continue to want to live within them, voluntarily: so we can be assured of a stable, reliable, safe environment in which to carry on the business of living. It’s true that in specific cases, the social order can become unduly constraining and even abusive, but that’s not an argument for replacing order with disorder.

  • Erika

    Anarcho-Capitalist, please tell me what your plan for achieving world domination in an ararcho-capitalistic society is. Its possible that there might be available senergies with Cavaet Emptor Farms or at least if you offer sufficient skills you might be able to become one of Queen Erika’s loyal henchmen which is sure to be highly profitable.

    Otherwise, you will just be another vassel servant of Queen Erika assuming that the Three Mile Island Tripe (TM) doesn’t kill you first.

  • Anarcho-Capitalist

    Trying to explain anarcho-capitalism to statists is like trying to teach calculus to chimpanzees … they will shriek and hoot and throw body fluids at you … but they will never get it.

  • Aron

    Aadila,

    Don’t forget, Typhoid Mary was arrested at least three times, and before she was permanently quarantined, she had already pledged to the judged that she would never work in food service again.

    We all know how well that worked out…

  • aadila

    Typhoid Mary should be the poster child of the anarcho-capitalist movement, given their aim is to eliminate all public health infrastructure.

  • Erika

    Aron, your comment about glowing pigs made me think of something and suddenly see the brilliance of ararcho-capitalis.

    See, i was thinking that my atomic piggies would be useless because i was using conventional thinking, but under an arnarco-capitalist system there would be no system so conventional thinking is out of the window. Thus, there is nothing to stop me from selling radioactive pigs and even tell people that radioactive pig meat is essential for proper nutrition. And once that is apparent, the path to my being able to turn a small pork products concern into being able to take control of the entire world is clear

    So i now present my 13 point plan to use Anarcho-capitalism for my advantage and rule the world :)

    Step 1: Create a corproate entity named Cavaet Emptor Farms which specializes in production of pork products.

    Step 2: bring my next door neighbor aboard to start a radioactive waste dumping business.

    Step 3: Use the abolition of govermment to secure the services of several respected former government nuclear scientists for cheap. Also be sure to secure several surplus government nuclear missles and warheads as well since they might come in handy later during the negtioation and takeover process when Caveat Emptor Foods expands.

    Step 4: Any good plan for world domination needs some henchmen – fortunately, the abolition of all governments in the world will create a steady market in henchmen with all of the former military, spies, terrorists, etc. having no work – Cavaet Emptor Farms will need all of the above for the plan to work. Ultimately, Cavaet Emptor Farms will secure its own private army, air force, navy, marines, spy force, and even its own terrorist group and all of the weapons needed to carry out its mission.

    Step 5: Secure positive media coverage through the seizure using my loyal henchmen of a radio and television network and using other loyal henchmen to neutralize the opposition primarily using high explosives planted at the base of competiting radio stations antennas.

    Step 6: Crank up the signal strength of my radio and television stations to provide coverage to all of the world and broadcast programs which are sure to be popular in the new climate as well as the news that i want everyone else to know – mainly comments from my purchased scientists about how radioative bacon is the key to proper nutrition. “If the Pig’s Not Glowing Send it Back” will be the motto. In the absense of any govermental regulation or compeiting media thanks to my henchmen this message will be easy to bring to the mases.

    Step 7: Caveat Emptor Farms is pleased to announce the release of Erika’s Radioative Bacon (TM).

    Step 8: After the successful rollout of Erika’s Radioactive Bacon (TM), introduce other new pork products as well as various products of the new related business the Peach Bottom Peach and Bikini Company (Mottos: “Our Bikinis are more powerful than the H-Bomb” and “Glowing Peaches from the Heart of Georgia”) – the Chernobyl Cobbler (TM) is sure to be a big seller

    Step 9: As the money from sales of Radioactive Bacon rolls in, use a combination of henchmen, media control, and profits from Atomic Saugage (TM), Bikini Atoll Ham (TM), and Three Mile Island Tripe (TM) to consolidate control over the entire food industry.

    Step 10: Now that i control the world’s food supply, it is easy to take over everything else. It may even be accomplished without much violence by Erika’s Army of loyal henchmen.

    Step 11: Crown myself Queen Erika and extract large financial settlements from all of my vassels.

    Step 12: Use my loyal henchmen to eliminate any opposition to the rule of Queen Erika.

    Step 13: Reward henchmen handsomely by giving them their own countries and vassels..

    And then: THE WORLD IS MINE HAW HAW!!! ;)

  • Erika

    GrayCat, is deterrence and Mutually Assured Destruction wrong?

    Because if there are no laws, i totally want to get my hands on some intercontinental ballistic missles in case my neighbors start getting the impression that i might be weak and make dibs on what body parts of mine to eat. Flamethrowers, guns tanks, and landmines are simply not enough personal protection in the anarcho-capitalist world, you like totally have to go nuclear ;)

  • Erika

    GrayCat, subcribing to the non-aggreesion principle in the absence of laws is as guaranteed to be at least as successful as the Non-Aggression Pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

    (oopsie, history doesn’t work for anarchocapitalists because it has not been sufficiently privatized [yet!]* and decided by the free market)

    * i’m really looking forward to the Exxon Mobil remake of The History of the Standard Oil Company or the Tyson Foods remake of The Jungle

  • Erika

    Isn’t Lew Rockwell that guy who most believe used to ghostwrite Ron Paul’s extremely racist newsletter which shared its mailing list with various hate groups?

    Is he any relation to George Lincoln Rockwell? Because maybe its just me, but that is what i think of whenever anyone cites Lew Rockwell (who like Ron Paul himself’s his past and never renounced association with various Klansmen and the White Citizen’s Counsel/Counsel of Conservative Citizens should put him beyond the pale of civilized society).

    And btw, his past association with Ron Paul’s extremely racist newsletter is why Lew Rockwell and you anarcho-capitalist idiots he runs with are here. Since we do not live in an Arnacho-capitalist society the past cannot simply be erased by whoever has enough resources to do so.