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  • James Dawson
    Below is a conversation that took place on Yahoo s Libertarians for Animal Rights forum (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/libertarians_for_animal_rights), November
    Message 1 of 189 , Jan 2, 2009
      Below is a conversation that took place on Yahoo's Libertarians for Animal Rights forum (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/libertarians_for_animal_rights), November 2007, under the heading "Animal Rights Anarcho-Capitalism".  I have cleaned it up and put it in a more traditional format to make it easier to read, but almost no content has been changed, except for clarity.
      If it looks familiar, part of it was already posted ca 2007.  This contains further responses and preceded by several comments---it contains the entire thread.
      I imagine the animal-rights content will raise some hackles, but my main reason for posting it on these forums is to address the issues of anarchy-versus-minarchy and non-aggression principle.  I am unlikely to respond to any comments on or against animal rights, but may just provide you some links that you may go to if you wish to look into and debate the issue with far more intelligent and learned persons than I.  Of course, I'm not stopping anyone who does want to say their peace on the matter, but again, my purpose for posting was to invite criticism or response to my comments to Michelle on anarchy, government, the State, and the non-aggression principle.
      With respect to anarchy and minarchy, I call myself a libertarian "neutralist" and consider the question open.
      LFAR Members:
      How many of us are animal rights anarchists? Does anyone have any
      thoughts about how we would get to a stage where animals' rights could
      be protected in an anarchist society?
      Hi Rupert,
      These are good questions.    In an anarchist society, how would human
      rights be protected?    Through private protection agencies I
      presume?    If enough customers demand that the private protection
      agency they subscribe to should also protect the rights of animals,
      then animals could slowly gain the acknowledgement of "rights".
      I think that many of the abuses against animals that we see today
      would be magnified in an anarchist society.   What restraint would
      there be for those who run these factory farms?    These people have
      no consideration for the lives of the animals they slaughter.
      Without any kind of legal restraint, there would be nothing to stop
      these people, except for outright war against factory farming or
      customer boycotts.    A warring society is not one I want to live in,
      and the latter is not going to happen.    People who consume meat
      don't even want to think about actual living being that was murdered
      to satisfy their desire for flesh.    And why should the factory
      farming corporations
      care about irate vegetarians?    They'll never
      get their business anyway.
      I think we need more government involvement in regulating the meat
      industry.    This may sound unlibertarian until you realize that it's
      the government's role to protect individual rights.    If you believe
      that animals have rights, then it makes sense that the government
      should step in and protect the rights of animals, especially those
      that are most vulnerable in factory farms.
      Hi RM, Hi JC!
      This is a very interesting question. I suppose a starting point for
      exploration would be to look at how the rights and interest of other
      powerless marginalized groups and disenfranchised individuals might be
      protected now; might have been in the past; or could be in the future
      within an anarchist society.
      Could (for example) slavery been ended in the United States had there
      not been a strong Federal government?
      I personally tend to feel that anarchism ultimately probably would not
      serve to preserve everyone's personal liberties.  I think in the end
      that those who would seek power would find ways to fill the "void" and
      take control of as much as they could. I also think that those who
      became the strongest would prey upon the rest.
      In my old age--especially--I have come to see a necessity in there
      being just enough government (charged with the protection of the
      individual rights of all) to prevent the malignant self interest of
      these few from feeding upon the rest of us.
      I do think, nevertheless, that anarchy is an important idea.  I find
      it to be very constructive to envisage how such and such ideal might
      be realized within an anarchist society--and THEN examine how closely
      that might be actually achievable--and then consider how modifications
      (perhaps minimally) beyond "pure anarchy" might be necessary to
      I suppose as far as animal rights go--that there would need to be
      sufficient social change as to the status of nonhuman before we could
      expect much protection in an anarchist "state".  Then again--this same
      kind of social change is probably necessary to that end within the
      governmental structures we already have.

      Recently I've become a "fence-sitter" regarding anarchy versus minarchy.  This
      is the thought I had that inched me a little closer to considering that
      libertarian-anarchism may be functional:
      What about a protection society---not necessarily a business---dedicated to
      the principles of procedural justice that we have at most levels of government
      today---the rights of the accused, miranda rights, search warrants, etc., etc.
      The rules and regulations governing the "arrest" of criminal suspects.  This
      society would oppose and intervene if some "anarchist" group or mob oppressed,
      kidnapped, or tried to take the life, liberty or property of some accused
      person, spuriously, without care and caution, without dotting all the i's and
      crossing all the t's of procedural justice as it's evolved in America.
      MAYBE, enough people would see the rightness and benefits of this group, that
      they would finance, support and join it, and it would thus become the dominant
      "protection provider" and, in case of Rothbard's proverbial "shootout" in the
      streets, gain a de facto monopoly, or enough of one, to keep "nut-case"
      anarcho-vigilante mobs at bay and reasonably small and harmless.  I guess  that
      would offend many anarchists, and they'd cry foul, but I don't see why such a
      scenario would violate anarcho-libertarian principles.  (I don't like the term
      "anarcho-capitalism" much because it ignores the possibility of economic
      activity not based on maximizing monetary-profit.  Libetarian-anarchism might
      include mutualism and many other economies we've never even thought of).
      The above is ONE possibility that makes me a little more open to anarchism,
      but anarchism on a global scale, in a violent, hostile world, full of nuclear
      bombs and fanatic, suicidal jihadists is a LOT tougher to consider.
      Michelle is an anarchist that used to post on LFAR, but hasn't for a long time
      we had an exchange on anarchism, message 483.
      The anarchy vs. minarchy debate went on and on and on for years in The
      (Libertarian) Connection.  Erwin Strauss (a.k.a. Filthy Pierre) and Jim Stumm
      were the lone holdouts for minarchism against mostly anarchists.  Both were high
      caliber thinkers---which doesn't necessarily make them right---but their
      arguments against anarchism weren't easy to brush aside.
      As for animals, I think Josh may be right.  But it's so hard to say.  One
      thing about anarchism is that it often becomes an almost semantical argument.
      Somebody a while back on the LP Radicals (lpradicals) Yahoo forum, himself a
      committed anarchist, said anarchy doesn't mean "no government", that you can
      have anarchist governments!  I don't recall any objection from the other
      anarchists either.  The definitions of anarchy are so many and varied it's hard
      to actually say anything about it.  It seems to me, the strongest "Protection
      Services", the smartest, the toughest and most ruthless, will win enough
      shootouts in the streets to become a de facto monopoly, and with the power thus
      aquired will for all intents and purposes become a "government" over a certain
      "turf", however much they may split semantic hairs and deny it.
      I'm trying to keep my mind open and hear the anarchists out---trying to see
      their "big picture".  Are minarchists (and fence sitters) failing to see the
      anarchic forest for the minarchic trees?  Will all the little worries and risks
      I fret over, be overwhelmed by a great and wonderful surge forward that only
      anarchy can bring?  Am I like the Republican or Democrat or Green who can't see
      the power and good that a freedom larger and purer than the one I advocate can,
      AND WILL, bring?
      I've read some of Friedman's writing, from the net and in LIBERTY.  Frankly I
      can't claim to have really understood them very well, but I suspect one flaw in
      them is that he sees people as "rational calculators".  He fails to see the
      highly emotional, mystical, tribal nature of millions and millions of
      people---including Americans, supposedly the heirs to "the Age of Reason".  Even
      people who come closest to his model of "rational calculator" are probably no
      more than "semi-rational guesstimators".  He seems to see everybody else as the
      obsessive econonics nerd that he is.  The very name of his book, "The Machinery
      of Freedom
      " is a give-away to this myopia.  You might want to take a look at my
      comments in message 635.
      Well, I've bored you all enough with this ramble.  I just don't know how well
      animals (or children, or the mentally ill, or retard, or infirm, etc.) would
      fare in an anarcho-libertarian society.  You've seen from your exchange on Left Libertarian how arrogant and callous many libertarians can be.  I've been meaning for years now to start a sort of "idea log" of questions, comments and thoughts on anarchism and minarchism. Maybe this post will get me started.  But it's such a HUGE and COMPLICATED subject.
      James N. Dawson

      Hi James!
      I'm still here. But getting married, needing to focus on earning a
      living, and now having a baby made it so I felt like I needed to give up posting
      on political forums. I have a hard time ignoring a discussion of anarchy,
      I would agree [that anarchy doesn't mean "no government"]. As an anarchist, what I am opposed to is a State - a government that is legally able to initiate force and has the power to tax. But I am not opposed to "government" in the sense of having a body of law that people follow. The rule of law developed before States came in and took over the legal systems, and there have been many anarchist socieites where the rule of law was enforced without the use of a coercive State.
      I can't really get too upset about various laws passed to protect animal
      rights, even when they don't have widespread support from the public, but I
      don't think passing laws is the best way to protect animals' rights. Animals are
      treated horrifically throughout the world, and the reason for that is because
      the majority of people see animals as "things" with little or no value. Passing
      laws may help in promoting animal welfare, but the main thing that needs to
      happen is that people need to develop ethically to the point where they see
      non-human species as beings that have value. That is something that is probably
      going to take a long time. But societies (or at least some societies) have been
      developing increasingly ethical values over time.
      Slavery is a prime example. Throughout history, slavery has been widely
      practiced by many cultures, but in the last few hundred years, it has been
      mostly wiped out. Why? At least in part, because people came to see it as wrong.
      In the US, we didn't need to have a war to end slavery (and while the conflict
      over slavery helped inspire the war, the war was NOT fought to end slavery).
      Slavery was already on the downswing at the time of the Civil War and would
      almost certainly have ended here - as it did in other developed countries -
      without having to fight a war over it.
      You’re not opposed to “a body of law”.  ANY body of law?  Can’t some laws
      allow or mandate “the initiation of force”?  If so, then I assume you mean only
      a body of law consistent with the non-aggression principle---i.e. LIBERTARIAN
      In your idea of libertarian anarchy---if that describes your political
      philosophy---can anybody make there own determination about who violates the
      non-aggression principle---steals, kills, maims, threatens (???), etc.---and
      thus arrest, try, enforce restitution, imprison, punish (etc.) someone else?  Or
      would a monopoly on “responsive force” be allowable, or required, by anarchic
      principles?  I’ve put forth a situation where some protection society may become
      a de facto monopoly in a certain area and may engage in the responsive force
      that there’s a virtual, de jure (legally encoded) monopoly on in our current
      system (and would be under libertarian minarchy). 
      Problem is, how would we know that the rights-defending system I’d like to see become the dominant, if not the only, protection provider, would evolve, triumph and endure?  Maybe the anarchic PS’s that would arise would be the ones that corner the market by satisfying the vindictiveness, ignorance, muddled-moderate-communitarianism(etc.) of the majority of the “consumers”.  Even if there were a tiny “fair”and “scrupulously libertarian” PS that I would favor and could subscribe to, how can we say that numbers, and therefore power, wouldn’t be on the side of the moderates, conservatives, mystics, etc., and they wouldn’t just physically overpower my PS when push came to shove, and haul me away to my doom?
      This period you bring up “before the State took over”---I’m very skeptical at
      this point that they were very free or desirable to live in at all, and in fact,
      I strongly suspect they were worse than the only “slightly libertarian” systems
      we have in America and other Western “states” today.  I don’t have a
      romanticized or idealized notion of the Native Americans, or the Nordics, or
      Braveheart” and his Scottish clans, or Celtic villages, etc., etc.  Are these
      examples of anarchic society as you understand and advocate it?  I hope I’m not
      insulting anybody who enjoyed the movie and admired the main character, but I
      think  “Braveheart” may have been quite a tyrant and living in his time and in
      his clan or country or whatever you want to call it, would have been a horrible,
      brutal nightmare.  If these people exercise a virtual, de facto, monopoly over a
      more or less defined territory, even though it may be smaller than most “states”
      as we know them, I don’t see why they would be fundamentally different from states, or why they would be better.  I fear---though cannot prove---they would be much worse, much less free.
      The non-aggression (a.k.a. non-coercion, non-inititiation of force) principle
      is an excellent starting and reference point, but it’s very under-explored and
      under-defined.  As I wrote in message 869, beyond the obvious inclusions of
      premeditated murder, larceny, assault, etc. it’s hard to know what else to
      include.  Is the THREAT of aggression included?  Does the threat have to be
      deliberate, or can it be, as described by Tom Regan, an INNOCENT threat?  What
      about a NEGLIGENT threat---somebody burning tree trimmings and scrap wood on a
      hot windy day?  Is that, ipso facto, aggression--- and the action of going onto
      that person's property and dowsing the fire---“non-aggressive”, i.e.,
      self-defensive?  I can go along with that in that specific case, but there are
      many shades of gray between that example of negligence-aggression and possible
      others.  I don’t think we can rely on the NAP, in its simple form at least, to
      help us with these questions, which arise in the anarchy-minarchy debate. We’ve got to go beyond it, into the jungle of dangerous intellectual territory..
      I would totally agree that there are downsides and dangers to libertarian
      minarchy, and that maybe libertarian anarchy would work better.  My concept of
      libertarian minarchy wouldn’t necessarily include taxation---any kind---but
      would probably include a monopoly on “responsive force” basically as we have it
      today---police, courts, jails, etc.---as I think such a system---though
      imperfect---may serve the rights of the accused better than an anarchic system,
      as I have understood it so far.  But my mind is still open, at least a crack, to
      the alternative.
      Usually, anarchists use the term “statist” to describe non-anarchists---including even radical minarchists, perhaps even anti-taxation
      minarchists---but I’ve read at least one anarchist disapprovingly calling
      non-anarchists “governmentalists”.  It would be interesting to hear from other
      anarchists about whether the idea of “anarchic governments” is acceptable,
      desirable, or coherent.  (David GrahamDavid Hurwitz?)
      Would slavery have disappeared in the U.S. without the bloodshed and horror of
      the civil war?  Maybe.  But if you were able to travel back in time and
      cheerfully tell a family of slaves after a grueling day of toil and maybe a
      whipping or two---“Don’t worry! You’ll be free in a couple hundred years!”---I
      think it might be rather cold comfort to them.  I’m sure there must be black
      anarchists.  I wonder what they’re take on that claim might be.
      I agree with your qualification, “mostly”, about slavery being wiped out.  I
      think what we have today is a heavily camouflaged semi-slavery---one libertarian
      I read years ago called it “part-time” slavery.  Taxation, regulation and
      forced-dependency are the mechanisms that keep it in place and it mainly serves
      the middle and upper classes, and of course, the very, very rich.  They still
      need a semi-slave class to labor for them, despite all the automation.  It’s all
      very subtly disguised as a concern for safety and social welfare.  But I’m
      digressing.  The point is I think slavery is still with us, more than we
      I don’t have any problem in principle with outlawing the killing of animals
      except in self-defense and I’m sure from your past messages you’d disagree, but
      I don’t think such a law is viable at present.  I agree, we need to do and could
      do a lot more in changing the culture, and that involves changing hearts and
      minds.  That’s partly why these messages I get on this forum, crying, “Write
      Your Congressman!” irk me so much.  Further, making any law is tricky business.
      Even some dedicated animal-rights activists have pointed out laws touted as
      protecting animals that in the end, actually worsened their plight, mainly by
      entrenching it.  But the whole welfare versus rights issue is a tangled and
      problematical one and I don’t see it as simply or dogmatically as the new crop
      of militant “abolitionists” do.  It’s much more touch and go.
      Well, just thought I’d respond to your post.  Actually anarchy versus minarchy
      has been on my mind a lot lately, so I’m also using it as an opportunity to
      unload some thoughts.  Congratulations on your parenthood!  Hope life is
      treating you and your family excellently.  I fully understand if you don’t have
      time for a response---I know you have your hands full.
      James N. Dawson

      [Regarding your reply to Michelle]:
      "You're not opposed to "a body of law".  Any body of law?  Can't
      some laws allow or mandate "the initiation of force"?  If so, then I
      assume you mean only a body of law consistent with the non-
      aggression principle---i.e. libertarian anarchy.
      "In your idea of libertarian anarchy---if that describes your
      political philosophy---can anybody make there own determination
      about who violates the non-aggression principle---steals, kills,
      maims, threatens (???), etc.---and thus arrest, try, enforce
      restitution, imprison, punish (etc.) someone else?"
      This has always been my understanding of anarchism except that I
      would add that an anarchist has to give some kind of account of the
      procedural rights that people are entitled to. Even someone who has
      committed a crime has the right to insist that they not be punished
      until they have been subjected to a fair procedure for determining
      their guilt and what level of restitution is appropriate.


    • MikeHolmesTX@cs.com
      In a message dated 8/11/2010 1:03:47 PM Central Daylight Time, ... I read most of Rothbard over many years and for a long period talked with him regularly and
      Message 189 of 189 , Aug 11 4:23 PM
        In a message dated 8/11/2010 1:03:47 PM Central Daylight Time,
        jwalkernot@... writes:

        > I believe that Rothbard rejected Darwinism as well. Though he wasn't a
        > theist, so I'm not sure what alternate theory (if any) he had for how
        > life emerged.

        I read most of Rothbard over many years and for a long period talked with
        him regularly and saw him at conventions, etc. I don't recall ever hearing
        him say anything about evolution or any alternative theory.

        However he was normally quite skeptical about conventional wisdom of any
        kind, including science, so it is possible that somewhere he may have
        expressed some doubts. It wouldn't have been on religious grounds though.

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