by Ryan Griggs
Julie Borowski addresses why she isn’t an anarcho-capitalist in a June 12 post. She thinks that theorizing about how a private ownership society would work amounts to guesswork, that even minarchy is a dream, and that libertarian radical debate over things that don’t involve current events is “petty” and “unrealistic.” She ends her piece with a cop-out by appealing to a live and let live content creation philosophy (you do you, radicals). I respond below.
Some people who endorse limited government (minarchists) really dislike radicals who endorse abolishing government (anarchists). The minarchist rationale is never to find a fault in anarchist logic or philosophy. Borowski herself has “read [anarchist Murray] Rothbard” and she even thinks he “made a lot of sense.” But thorough, rigorous logic does not satisfy the ardent minarchist. To the minarchist, the anarchist position is only worth adopting if evidence of its viability can be observed.
Typical of the minarchist position, Borowski writes that despite her agreement with Rothbard, she still has a few questions on “how such a [free] society would work in practice.”
She does not provide any examples to clarify the statement. Perhaps she hasn’t read the literature. Hans Hermann Hoppe has addressed the concept of private production of defense. Bob Murphy elaborated on law outside of the state. In fact, Murray Rothbard, who Borowski claims to have read, has laid out the economic rationale as to how the production of all goods and services takes place in an unhampered market. The Seasteading Institute has even put together a report on how services typically thought of as “public” would be provided in a free, Floating City in the future.
None of this is good enough for Borowski. In fact, living in a free society is “farrrrrr (sic) from being a reality here. Heck, even minarchy is pretty much a dream.” What is Borowski’s evidence of this claim?
Typical of a minarchist, she thinks it’s because libertarianism isn’t popular in politics. It shouldn’t be surprising that a philosophy that condemns aggressive violence as immoral is unpopular in an institution that exists to employ aggressive violence.
But this insight is immaterial to Borowski. She cites the view that Mitt Romney lost in 2012 due to the fact that he was viewed as too libertarian (Borowski leaves out who exactly viewed him this way). Her second–and last–piece of evidence that the masses have a poor view of liberty is that Harry Reid chided 2013 Tea Party Republicans as anarchists.
The mainstream-DC opinion of a war-profiteering financier as too libertarian and the whining of a lifetime political hack is not sufficient to evidence the claim that most people are “no where close” to adopting minarchism or libertarian-anarchism. Regardless, convinced that the masses are pre-disposed to disdain libertarianism, Borowski is on a mission to persuade them of the benefits of incremental tip-toeing away from totalitarianism. In this way, philosophical depth is sacrificed for popular breadth.
Minarchists might ask themselves what this type of shallow analysis will do when the time comes to implement a free society. Is it possible to convince an independent that marijuana should be legal to consume? Sure. Is it very likely that the same person will be convinced that all education services should be privately provided? Doubtful. Suppose the minarchist tinkerers successfully convince all average Joes and Janes of the easy stuff, like marijuana legalization, but never bring up the “petty” and “unrealistic” issue of private education. The result of this minarchist activist program is simply to make semi-socialists out of independents. Precisely zero progress toward bringing about a free society is achieved with this strategy, even if it is successful.
Minarchists in general and Borowski in particular are guilty of an important contradiction. They don’t see the point in engaging in anarchist theorizing, yet they bemoan the fact that there are no current, obvious examples of successful anarchist societies. Why is this a contradiction? In order to establish a free, private law society, individuals must come up with ideas as to how this society would work. This dirty work (or as Borowski calls it, petty and unrealistic work) is done by anarchist theorists. Thus, Borowski and other minarchists object to the requisite anarchist theorizing necessary to bring about the anarchist societies that they claim are required evidence in order to adopt the anarchist position.
Given this contradiction, it is clear that minarchists and Borowski actually do not want to live in a free society. They want to live in an un-free society. Un-free (state) societies generate plenty of material in the form of minuscule policy proposals and regulation tinkering for profitable blog posts and articles for minarchists. This should be unsatisfactory to anyone who genuinely desires to live in a free society.
Anarchist radicals will be the ones with comprehensive systems of thought to be adopted when the opportunity to create a free society arises (either through Free Cities, Seasteads, Micronations, secession, etc.). Undoubtedly, minarchists will leap on the bandwagon. Let it be known though that while they floundered about offering shallow analysis of what’s politically acceptable in this dark age of state oppression, serious critics denounced their petty dismissal of radical theorizing.
This essay will not end with banal truisms like; “I’m incapable of producing content that everyone is going to like;” and, “Content creators are going to have different communication styles and that’s perfectly fine because people have different preferences.” You don’t say.
Instead, readers are encouraged to reject the state and withdraw any previous support for a limited government. The minarchist program of activism, even if successful, is utterly ineffective in bringing about a free society. Demanding examples of anarchist societies while simultaneously dismissing anarchist theorizing necessary to bring about anarchist societies is contradictory. Rigorous logical consistency should be the only requirement for adopting a political philosophy. Libertarian anarchism fits the bill. Minarchism does not.