Saturday 17 November 2007

Entering the state

Responding to my previous post David Wildgoose asks:
Putting it another way: Do you believe in voluntary association, and that a club, organisation or society should have the right to reject those applying to join it?
Yes, if we're really talking about a voluntary association. But is the state voluntary? Let's get back to first principles.

There are two types of libertarian. Some libertarians think that the state is necessary to deal with the problem of those who initiate force or fraud. That state would have military forces to deter overseas aggressors, a police service to deter and catch internal aggressors and a court system to determine guilt or innocence and to decide on compensation and penalties. Some of these "limited state" libertarians believe that such a system could be funded voluntarily and others are prepared to accept taxation as a necessary evil. No libertarian believes that the state should undertake any other functions.

Other libertarians go further. These "anarcho-capitalists" (or market anarchists) say that the state is unnecessary and that all of its functions can be carried out in the marketplace. Proponents of this view include Murray Rothbard and Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

Under anarcho-capitalism, all property is privately owned and access to every piece of property would be under the sole control of the owner. That would apply to roads, railways, hotels, offices, businesses as well as houses. In other words, no one would be able to enter or move within such a territory without the approval of all relevant owners. But even in a "limited state" the government wouldn’t own the roads either and the same principles of property control would apply.

What principles would owners adopt when deciding whom to let enter their property? Well, owners who would prosper in the long run would be those who'd limit entry to people expected to be productive members of society. And obviously there would be no government welfare if the state didn't exist at all or even if it were a properly limited state.

But given that we don't have a limited state, what then? I believe that the answer is clear. The government should act as if it were a rational owner concerned with the long-term capital value of the territory.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

David B. Wildgoose
I'm in favour of a variety of the first option. Although I wouldn't see the government acting as the owner, that's too like the vested interests who have captured our current State. Rather I would see it owned as a mutual co-operative owned by its citizens and with a very distinct separation of all the various powers distributed as widely as possible, and certainly not concentrated in a single pair of hands. The worst possible outcome would be Gordon Brown's vision of "L'estate - c'est moi".

The State is voluntary. Liberals knoow it as the Social Contract. Your parents sign you up to it, but there's nothing stopping you as an adult from renouncing your citizenship along with its attendant rights and responsibilities and simply going elsewhere.

Incidentally, I believe major roads (not those of suburban housing estates) should also be maintained by the State in order to facilitate commerce and movement. Allowing these to be controlled by an individual or corporation would allow the sabotage of a business or individual by the denial of passage.

In this respect, roads could be seen as a Commons. We used to have the additional distinction of Common Land owned and available to all until the Norman-British aristocracy passed the Enclosure Acts, stealing the land and driving people into starvation and misery.

Arguably they did it to Scotland as well with the Highland Clearances. The difference being that the English blamed the aristocracy and the Scots, as always, just blamed the poor bloody English.
19 November 2007, 23:20:40 GMT – Like – Reply

David Farrer

I don't quite understand your point. We are all (or should be) "monopolists" over our own property. The anarcho-capitalist vision is of a bottom-up society in which all relationships are voluntary. Not at all the same as fascism, I'd say.
19 November 2007, 16:51:12 GMT – Like – Reply

It would be frightening to really pursue the second and lead to the bane of all markets - monopoly. Then state monopoly would simply be fascism again.
18 November 2007, 11:27:24 GMT