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RADICAL DECENTRALISM, SECESSIONISM AND CONTRACTARIANISM, AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS

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  • James Dawson
    The lengthy series of numbered thoughts below started out as a further reply to Morey Strauss on LP Radicals Discuss forum on Yahoo
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 1, 2010
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      The lengthy series of numbered "thoughts" below started out as a further reply to Morey Strauss on LP Radicals Discuss forum on Yahoo (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LPRadicals-Discuss/message/135).  I believe it was carried over from LP Radicals (www.groups.yahoo.com/group/lpradicals), but I was unable to find it there.  As this reply turned more and more into a unwieldy ramble, I decided to clean them up a little and instead put them in the paper APA, The (formerly Libertarian) Connection (Erwin S. "Filthy Pierre" Strauss, Publisher, 10 Hill St., #22-L, Newark, NJ  07102, Sample: $1).  I have modified the introduction for this on-line version, and made minor corrections to it.
       
      I've read the article (Neither Anarchy Nor Minarchy is Necessarily Libertarian, http://davidfriedman.blogspot.com/2007/10/neither-anarchy-nor-minarchy-is.html), and the comments on it.  I'm not sure how much of it, or them, I understood, but I'll attempt some responses to them, and your own comment, and make some comments on decentralism, communitarianism, and contractarianism, which I believe are relevant to the larger issue.

      1.  I'm pretty sure most communitarians include the concept of territorial "contiguity" into their concept and idea of community.  They want to share the same physical space and be enclosed in the same borders with likeminded people.  If they can acheive this with either homesteading or deed transfer, then I fail to see how this wouldn't be libertarian.  But though theoretically possible, I'm sure there would be difficulties.  I'm skeptical of the revanchism of left-libertarians (confiscating land and property from the "bad" people like those from the "corporate and political classes".)  Most or all of us have "aggressed" or involved ourselves in the aggression-riddled system, so who's to draw the line between the "bad" and the "good enough".  Seems a pretty arrogant presumption to me, and such confiscation may be just as thuggish as government takeovers.

      Same with the method of some sort of "democratic" takeover using current rules of local and state governments.  I know this is the method of the free state, county & city movements, and actually I'd like to see these people succeed.  but even this could get a little messy and make libertarians look like bullies themselves, even though we probably have a lot of justification for what we're trying to do.

      If we put our money where our mouth is and advocate RADICAL decentralism and RADICAL contractarianism, then I think we should be honest and courageous enough to admit that the results may not be very pretty to a lot of people.  And rather than trying to wriggle out of, or minimize, or rattle off pat answers rapped up in nice, neat ribbons, we ought to PUBLICLY own up to them.  Some people and some communities will say and do things that quite offend and disgust you.  But you can offset those offensive and disgusting things by doing what you see is right and good, and offering an alternative way and community.

      2.  Why should it matter to someone who wants freedom if anarchy or minarchy is more "efficient".  Freedom is one thing, efficiency another.  I want the freedom to be inefficient.  And whether some way of doings things is efficient or not is based on ones subjectively chosen aims and desires.  I fail to see the relevance of "efficiency" to liberty.

      3.  What is "libertarian law"?  Is it codified/written somwhere?  Has anyone attempted to do so, unofficially?  Perhaps there have been different and competing versions by different individuals.  I imagine it would be based on, an expansion of, the non-aggression principle.  Am I right?  A brief explanation and/or link would be appreciated.

      4.  The word "libertarian" seems to be used in many different senses.  The sense that most self-identified libertarians use it in---and the way it's used in the above title, "Neither Anarchy Nor Minarchy..."---is the one behind the Libertarian Party electoral strategy.  "You have the right to do anything you want ON YOUR OWN PROPERTY as long as you are not AGGRESSING against any other individual".  Maybe you could call this "simple propertarianism" as opposed to "complex propertarianism".  By this conception, UNTIL EVERYTHING HAS BEEN PRIVATIZED---STREETS, SIDEWALKS, PARKS---there is no justification for outlawing somebody from walking down the sidewalk naked, or wearing a T-shirt with "All Jews/Queers/Niggers to the Ovens!" or "Praise My Sweet Satan!" or an infinite number of "shocking" or "offensive" displays.

      Of course, with privatization/voluntary-communitization, this problem is, largely, solved.  But once you take these steps, other implications & possible outcomes follow.  Sheldon Richman posted an op-ed piece he wrote on the Left Libertarian 2 forum about a law meant to "protect" workers from employees who made micro-chip insertion a condition of their employment.  Correctly, he argued this was a matter between employer and employee, not the government, so such a "protective" law was unlibertarian.  (I think he may have retreated from this position, but I don't recall.)  I think he was right the first time, and still do.  I'd no sooner get micro-chipped than drink strychnine as a condition  of employment, but principle is principle.  Hey, when such controlling institutions try to use "contract" to take advantage of their power, let's fight back, but do it in libertarian ways.  I'm sure we have the creativity and imagination to do so.

      5.  In the now archives-only LP Radicals-D forum, I commented on the story about a "grandpa" that was first evicted by a homeowners association.  I pointed out that he signed a contract and violated it, and that the HA was essentially like a proprietary community, something often ADVOCATED by libertarians, thus the irony of presenting the man as a victim of regulations.

      Most responded with all sorts of legalistic evasions in defense of the old man.  The gist of their response seemed to say that city government's existing rules exerted some degree of coercion on him.  That's a fair point.  But it doesn't deal with the fact that in a much more CONTRACTARIAN society, people are going to sign contracts that get them into trouble.  Most people, myself included, don't have the intelligence, time or patience to totally digest complicated contracts in legalese, and even in the absence of government, will get themselves in trouble, UNLESS cultural or other changes are made.  If we want people to even consider LIBERTY we need to get them ready for it, MENTALLY.

      6.  When secessionists advocate the "right to secede", what do they mean?  A state may secede from the Union, but who represents "the state"?  I suppose they could say that those who object to the secession, may secede themselves, but what are said "seceders" actually doing, or saying?  Can a serial murderer declare his secession and go about murdering?  Why not?  Murder is aggression, you say?  Who are your to impose YOUR interpretation of the non-aggression principle on him, or anybody else?  OR maybe he doesn't believe in the the non-aggression principle.  Does the "right to secede" trump the non-aggression principle, or is it vice versa?  If you claim my question is absurd, then I say I've always thought a "state's right to secede" can be and probably has been "absurd" since during the Civil War they claimed their right to secede entailed the right to enslave and murder people.  My queries are not absurd.  I think many people skeptical or uncertain of the "right to secede" are concerned about these very implications.  I don't think they've been very clearly discussed or dealt with by the pro-secessionists.

      7.  There may be any number of possible written/worded/codified minarchic constitutions.  Just pointing to the U.S. Constitution as flawed and unstable isn't an argument against other possibly BETTER ones.  OF COURSE such a constitution may be UNSTABLE.  All complex ideas/philosophies/thought-systems are unstable and have evolved, decayed and changed over time.  Buildings and infrastructures do the same thing.  No brainer.  Maybe there are arguments against constitutional/codified minarchy, but the argument that they don't last strikes me as a weak one.

      8.  The more anarchist theorists try to defend and explain anarchy and how it will work, the more it looks like a system of interlocking MINARCHIES.
      To the anarcho-capitalists:  No, not everyone will be disciplined little entrepeneurs with business models in their heads.  There is as much, if not more, emotionalism and tribalism in the human heart, as rationalism and individualism in the human mind.   I don't think you're factoring in the former as much as you should be.  I don't so much reject anarchism.  I just have doubts that it really does or can exist, perhaps a bit like the Christian, Muslim or Jewish God.

      9.  If and to the extent that anarchism is  coherent and well-defined, and "true" anarchy can be achieved, I strongly suspect that "anarchists", individually and collectively---mutualist, anarcho-capitalist or Georgist---CAN, AND MAY, oppress me and mine, much more than anarchists are willing to admit.

      While governments, minarchic and megarchic, usually justify this with all sorts of pious traditionalism and rhetoric about the founding fathers, God, the Law, etc., perhaps anarchists will do so with a vast network of "rational" theories, drawn from obscure tomes, filled with obscure terminology and abstruse acadamese...that people like me, "who can't quite comprehend anarchism", will never be able to understand.  And we will have only to take our rationally justified beating?  Anybody remember Napolean, in Animal Farm?

      10.  Radical libertarianism entails radical contractarianism and radical decentralism.  I'm sympathetic and open-minded to all of these, but it seems like every time anybody wants to take them seriously and confront possible troublesome consquences, in theory and FACT, most "radicals" want to explain them away with pat answers.
       
      James N. Dawson
       
      [The Connection, founded in 1967, is wasting away.  Please consider joining us, or at least ordering a sample for a mere $1.  Address above.]

    • Fred C. Moulton
      ... The URL above is incorrect. The correct URL is: http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2007/10/neither-anarchy-nor-minarchy-is.html
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 2, 2010
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        On Fri, 2010-01-01 at 13:21 -0800, James Dawson wrote:
        >
        >
        > I've read the article (Neither Anarchy Nor Minarchy is Necessarily
        > Libertarian,
        > http://davidfriedman.blogspot.com/2007/10/neither-anarchy-nor-minarchy-is.html),
        >

        The URL above is incorrect. The correct URL is:

        http://daviddfriedman.blogspot.com/2007/10/neither-anarchy-nor-minarchy-is.html
      • James N. Dawson
        Thank you, Fred. I wondered what was wrong.
        Message 3 of 3 , Jan 2, 2010
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          Thank you, Fred. I wondered what was wrong.
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