*Anarchy Unbound*

by on July 24, 2014 at 2:00 am in Books, Economics, History, Philosophy, Political Science | Permalink

The author of this new and excellent book is my colleague Peter T. Leeson and the subtitle is Why Self-Governance Works Better Than You Think.  Here is one excerpt:

Twenty-two of thirty-seven street gangs Jankowski (1991: 78-82) studied have written constitutions.  Sicilian Mafiosi follow a largely unwritten code of rules, and recently police found a written set of “ten commandments” outlining the Mafia’s core laws…Kaminski (2004) identifies extensive (yet unwritten) rules dictating nearly every aspect of Polish prisoners’ lives, from what words are acceptable to use in greeting a stranger to how and when to use the bathroom.  And the National Gang Crime Research Center considers constitutions so central to criminal societies that the use of a constitution is one of the defining characteristics it uses when classifying gangs…

Peter of course does not favor criminal gangs, rather he seeks social principles for voluntarism and yes perhaps you could call these views a kind of anarchism.  My stance, however, differs from his.

I accept the reductionist argument that government too is a kind of anarchy, since it must rely on norms and internally polycentric and perhaps even ultimately intransitive mechanisms for maintaining order.  There is no “final court of authority” in the practical sense, but rather a series of overlapping constraints which give rise to a spontaneous order of rules and governance, for better or worse.  In this sense anarchy is not an absurd idea at all, and we can imagine many varieties of orderly anarchy, including those in a more libertarian direction.  That said, while I often favor smaller government, when it comes to political philosophy I do not seek to move toward “more anarchy.”  In fact I often admire the relatively centralized governmental structures of Great Britain and New Zealand, with their clean and sharp lines of accountability.

I think modern anarchy would indeed be “orderly,” but I also think that private protection agencies would end up colluding and re-evolving into a form of coercive government (pdf), furthermore in a form that libertarians would find objectionable.  I would much rather have the West’s current democratic governments, for all their imperfections, than a for-profit “shareholder state,” not to mention the transition costs and the uncertainties along the way.  The best thing you can say about a shareholder state is that it might have a better immigration policy.  In the meantime, we are seeking to rebuild the history we have.

1 derek July 24, 2014 at 2:11 am

Aren’t these street gangs constituted as a result of the collapse of the government structures? Why is there a necessity of emergent order if there is already an order, unless the existing order is so corrupt and inept that something else needs to emerge?

Newark and Detroit aren’t the result of some Libertarian policy being implemented.

2 Floccina July 25, 2014 at 10:29 am

Yes listening to this story that talks about Chicago neighborhood gangs I got to thinking that Government in Chicago is so inept that lets neighborhood Governments fight wars against each other in its own territory.

3 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 2:28 am

“Why government is more inescapable than you think” would be a better title; I agree with Tyler’s take.

4 mkt July 24, 2014 at 4:16 am

Yup; if a country does away with its big central government, it will get a number of smaller governments. Which some people might find preferable but the case for their superiority is far from clear. And if those smaller governments get broken into still smaller ones, they become vulnerable to takeover (and I mean hostile takeover, as in invasion and conquest) by the next enterprising Sargon/Alexander/Tamerlane/maybe Putin. No matter what, there’s going to be crime syndicates/warlords/dictators/councils/governments. How to insure that they stay just, free, and reasonably democratic is the hard question.

Just as war is politics by other means, organized crime is government by other means.

But it does no good to say “government=criminals, so government is bad”. Government, as dan111 points out, is inescapable. And creating and maintaining good government is the challenge.

5 The Other Jim July 24, 2014 at 10:31 am

>organized crime is government by other means.

And vice versa.

6 Floccina July 25, 2014 at 10:34 am

Luxembourg and the other remaining European city states do pretty well and Barbados and some other Caribbean that do relatively well so a case be made that smaller is better in Government (Haiti is a counter example).

Of course the stationary bandit model still stands.

7 Pithlord July 25, 2014 at 2:56 pm

They are embedded in Empires (European and British, respectively).

8 Xopher Halftongue July 27, 2014 at 5:46 pm

And if those smaller governments get broken into still smaller ones, they become vulnerable to takeover (and I mean hostile takeover, as in invasion and conquest) by the next enterprising Sargon/Alexander/Tamerlane/maybe Putin.

That’s why God invented nuclear weapons to solve that particular problem.

9 BlanchardC July 24, 2014 at 11:41 am

It’s the eternal human dilemma for individuals — there’s much more safety in numbers against external violence, but the internal group defensive organization (government/militaristic-subgroup) always degenerates into subjugation of the individual.

Anarcho-Libertarians mistakenly believe that the group internal (voluntary) defensive organization can be carefully designed to avoid any threat to individual liberty — but any internal defensive organization strong enough to protect that group against external threats is automatically strong enough and destined to subjugate its creators (as human history always demonstrates).

U.S. founders made same general mistake, believing their carefully crafted Federal central government could be controlled enough to avoid future tyranny.

There is no solution to this dilemma. Government (in some form) is inescapable for general human survival, but it eventually crushes individual liberty within the surviving human groups.

10 Ray Lopez July 24, 2014 at 2:43 am

Another take on the “many rules for Polish gang members” observation is that the Poles, being from an ex-communist country where everything is regulated, demand more order than the historically unruly Italians (in the Czechoslovakia and even today I’ve read they make a big deal over cutting in line for example at a supermarket). It’s econ historian Landes’s “cultural factors” to explain something, a kind of hand-waving argument but effective.

11 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

Huh? The point of the excerpt above is that both Italian and Polish gangs have extensive rules.

12 Ray Lopez responds to dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 3:37 am

My takeaway was based on the below passage, which differs from your takeaway but I think I am more accurate, IMHO.

“Sicilian Mafiosi follow a largely unwritten code of rules, and recently police found a written set of “ten commandments” outlining the Mafia’s core laws…Kaminski (2004) identifies extensive (yet unwritten) rules dictating nearly every aspect of Polish prisoners’ lives, from what words are acceptable to use in greeting a stranger to how and when to use the bathroom.

13 Ray Lopez thinks his interpretation of book based on three sentences is definitively correct, also claims to be "humble" according to acronym used July 24, 2014 at 6:33 am

See above

14 ummm July 24, 2014 at 4:10 am

It’ not that the government isn’t necessary, it’s that the private sector with few exceptions does a better job are creating with and technology than the public sector. It’s much more efficient with resources. Anarchy, compared to libertarianism, is intrinsically averse to the concept of ownership and private property.

15 Ricardo July 24, 2014 at 4:23 am

That even criminals have a code of conduct among themselves might be surprising to someone who never really read or thought much about the topic before. However, what is much more interesting and relevant about informal rules and social norms outside of law-abiding, egalitarian communities is how they are enforced (sometimes through shunning and embarrassment, other times through threats of extreme violence and torture) and the extent to which they enforce a rigid, unforgiving social hierarchy. Somehow, I think a post about the written and unwritten rules of tribal Pakistan or Somalia (or, for that matter, 1920s rural Mississippi) would inspire even less enthusiasm for anarchy.

Another way of putting this is that the modern, democratic state seems to be the best way we have to ensure a somewhat civilized system of justice and the protection of minorities and groups with low social status.

16 chuck martel July 24, 2014 at 6:51 am

Anarchy is an imaginary abstraction, unfortunately. The basic building block of human society is the family, which is hardly anarchic, and as the society includes more members becomes a tribe or clan. Decisions are made by those accepted as capable by the members. It’s not democratic in the sense that each member has an equal say in the process, nobody pays much attention to the losers and the uninterested. The “democratic” nation/state is a perversion that has evolved with technology and bureaucracy into a replacement for supernatural religions. The concept of democracy is now holy writ in the West, regardless of the injustice, hyperviolence and deracination that has accompanied it.

17 byomtov July 25, 2014 at 12:30 am

Decisions are made by those accepted as capable by the members.

Or maybe by those most feared by the members.

If decisions are made by those consisdered most capable then there wouldn’t be any problem at all with democracy. Those seen as “most capable” would be elected and get to make the decisions.

How does it happen that without democracy everyone knows who is most capable and lets them make th decisions, while with democracy all minds go blank.

I don’t think your theory holds water.

18 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 7:00 am

I thought the point of democracy was to enact the will of the majority. If the point of democracy is actually to protect positive rights of increasingly marginal groups, then the tail is wagging the dog.

19 chuck martel July 24, 2014 at 7:20 am

The point of democracy as it’s now known isn’t to enact will or protect rights. It’s to perpetuate the present form of government.

20 Sam July 24, 2014 at 8:20 am

I think of it more as a system for peaceful transition of power. There are huge transaction costs associated with switching leadership, say, every time a tribal leader or dictator dies. So democracy spares us from ruining the country and having to rebuild every time the leadership changes.

21 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 8:53 am

IOW, what chuck said.

22 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 9:33 am

“The diverse natures of men, combined with the necessity to satisfy in some manner the sentiment which desires them to be equal, has had the result that in the democracies they have endeavored to provide the appearance of power in the people and the reality of power in an elite.” — Vilfredo Pareto

23 msgkings July 24, 2014 at 12:22 pm

Since the elites have always had the reality of power, democracy at least provides the appearance to the masses. Cynical sure, but pretty true, and necessary.

Still, the human race keeps on going, and improving by any reasonable metric.

24 dearieme July 24, 2014 at 4:23 am

“I often admire the relatively centralized governmental structures of Great Britain and New Zealand”: is the US’s problem diversified government, or incompetent government, or malicious government?

25 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 6:55 am

All three.

26 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 7:21 am

I think the root of the problem is governance is divorced from ownership. And I see Tyler is finally noticing the Arab emirates.

A friend who thinks about these things predicted that democracy would lead to socialism, which leads to collapse and chaos. Demand creates supply, and private agencies will evolve to provide the civil order, which will come to be seen as something you pay for, not a matter of right. Over time these agencies will develop a hereditary character.

Anarcho-capitalism is coming, and it will be here whether the statists or the anarchists themselves are ready for it or not.

27 msgkings July 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Nah. Try again.

28 derek July 24, 2014 at 11:02 am

The US has the privilege and ability to spend it’s way out of it’s stupidity. Most countries have some discipline imposed upon them by reality. New Zealand faced reality back in the 80’s and reformed itself. The choice was to become something similar to other south pacific islands in standard of living or straighten out. They chose well. Britain has done similarly.

In Parliamentary democracies a government that gets 35-40% of the vote can act in ways that would require large majorities in both the House, Senate and the presidency, which probably needs landslide numbers to attain.

As much as it may annoy people, democratic governments end up over time reflecting the character of it’s people.

29 CWuestefeld July 24, 2014 at 11:25 am

In the case of gangs, it seems like it’s the abdication by governmental institutions of responsibility for what’s happening in the inner city. At a guess, I’d imagine that this stems from some combination of Jim Crow, a pullback during civil rights unrest, and the war on drugs. Each of these may have played some factor in the gov’t either choosing not to be helpful, or (in the case of the WoD) creating an incentive for some enterprises while at the same time forcing those enterprises underground.

30 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 11:37 am

A lot of US cities, and I’d venture to say most of the most violent, impoverished US cities, are governed by blacks.

31 CWuestefeld July 24, 2014 at 12:07 pm

That’s certainly true today, but was it true 40-60 years ago?

(I admit that I’m speculating here, so I could be way off base…)

Suppose, at some point in the recent history of these urban areas, the government did step back from the protection of its citizens, and even forced much of their activity underground. This made space for the emergence of other institutions (gangs in particular).

Now that areas of the institutional space are filled by these organizations that grew from the bottom-up, the top-down institutions are in many ways excluded. This could be the result from a tacit understanding by the “official” leaders, whatever their race. It could be emergent in its own right, as the police and other authorities stay out of affairs that they know are being handled through the newly-created institutions. And it could be that the gangs are actually enforcing their prerogative so that the “official” authorities aren’t, in practice, able to wield authority.

32 Floccina July 25, 2014 at 11:00 am

Barbados is also Governed by blacks and does well.

33 Thomas July 25, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I think the point was that it isn’t White Government that is holding back Black Inner-Cities. I do think CWuestefeld has a convincing narrative, however.

34 efp July 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

I’m sure the New Atlanteans will welcome Tyler.

35 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 4:46 am

“There is no ‘final court of authority’ in the practical sense, but rather a series of overlapping constraints which give rise to a spontaneous order of rules and governance”

Tyler, have you secretly been reading my blog without permission?

http://michaelgheller.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/hellerian-institutional-interactions.html

36 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 6:32 am

That post is really long and not at all accessible. It seemingly expects the reader to have read all of your previous work and be conversant in terminology and concepts that you have made up. I don’t think you will build an audience that way.

37 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 6:52 am

Just take your time, read it word by word. And relax.

38 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 6:58 am

I meant it to be a constructive suggestion.

39 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 7:10 am

try harder!

40 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 7:28 am

Blaming the reader for failure to understand and mocking critics: two more proven techniques for building a blog audience!

41 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 7:40 am

I have more readers than I ever dreamed I’d have. I hardly count you among the critics dear anon Dan. Critiques critique ideas not audience stats. Quality always wins over quantity.

42 Sam July 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

Your distinction between ordo and neo-liberal is confusing me. Ordo-liberalism is a type of neoliberalism. In fact its sometimes called German neoliberalism. I take my position to be Hayekian ordoliberalism, basically enhancing traditional ordo insights (socio-legal-economic interdependence; principal of subsidiarity; institutions that align human action toward a competitive order; limited ad hoc intervention; social market policies for actuarial/”public good” rather than distributive justice reasons) with Hayek’s insight that the ordo legal order should be evolutionary. Basically the best from both Eucken and Hayek. You can read more on it at my URL. I feel like we’re trying to create a similar synthesis but from different angles.

43 Michael G Heller July 24, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Many thanks for the link Sam. The article by Manuel Wörsdörfer looks interesting, I will read. As I get older and freer I increasingly take the anarchist liberty of inventing or redefining concepts and terminology. Dan/anon was right about that. Even more annoying, I take an ordoliberal competitive approach to incubate the evolution of these emergent ideas, so I’m cagey about sources and sow seeds of confusion. However in my upcoming post — perhaps tomorrow morning — I might provide a clue about the identity of another non-Hayekian German neoliberalism. Hope you tune in.

44 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 4:56 am

By the way, lets not waste the reader’s time beating about the bush like ostriches with their heads in the sand — anarchism is sheer bunkum.

45 Björn July 24, 2014 at 5:09 am
46 Rahul July 24, 2014 at 7:22 am

Must be mighty challenging to beat about anything with your head buried in sand.

47 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 7:37 am

I gather you know little about ostriches. In the bush they bury their head while flapping their useless wings to banish the hot air. It cools them down. Check the natural history manual.

48 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

Never give an inch, eh? Ostriches don’t bury their heads in the sand.

49 Rahul July 24, 2014 at 8:05 am

I admit that despite my protests my parents never allowed me a pet ostrich as a kid (they said it’d scare away our domestic elephant) but Wikipedia, The American Ostrich Association, and the San Diego Zoo all assure me that we are talking about a myth here.

Though, if you have any personal pet ostrich anecdotes I might be persuaded otherwise. Despite what people say, dogs do eat homework, you know.

50 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 9:45 am

Rahul, you are too wedded to the facts to be an anarchist. There’s no pulling the wool over your eyes, good on ya.

51 bliksem July 24, 2014 at 6:21 am

“private protection agencies would end up colluding and re-evolving into a form of coercive government”

Far as I recall, variations on this argument is covered brilliantly in the late Charles Tilly’s article on “War making and state making as organized crime” (online copies available via google)

52 chuck martel July 24, 2014 at 6:53 am

Bertrand de Jouvenal was the best analyst of this subject.

53 Rahul July 24, 2014 at 7:14 am

Naive question: Are the governments of Great Britain & New Zealand really more centralized & with cleaner and sharper lines of accountability than, say, the US? In what sense?

And where do systems like Germany or Denmark lie on this centralization spectrum. Does anything other than a Federal system imply centralization?

Perhaps GB / NZ can be centralized because they are smaller?

54 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 7:36 am

One problem with the UK is really unclear lines of accountability with respect to the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I think the division between federal and state governments in the U.S. is much clearer.

55 Rahul July 24, 2014 at 7:19 am

What does intransitive mean in the context of “mechanisms for maintaining order.”

Sometimes MR argot is hard to penetrate.

56 Michael G. Heller July 24, 2014 at 7:49 am

Hmm what an interesting question. Tyler? Perhaps interpenetration holds the key?

57 Sam July 24, 2014 at 8:25 am

How was the USG formed if not by a band of organized rebels who later codified their rules?

Libertarians who tout spontaneous order and the power of markets, but simultaneously call for smaller government, do not realize that gov’t itself is a result of spontaneous order.

Why else would there be government in nearly every region of the world? What else could possibly explain the persistence of government-like institutions?

58 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 8:49 am

I don’t think this is the logical inconsistency that you make it out to be. The libertarian position is not “we should just let anything that spontaneously occurs happen” but “we should work hard to maintain a high level of freedom in society”.

The thing that separates libertarians from anarchists is they do want institutions put in place to protect freedom–precisely because they recognize what you point out, that government tends to spontaneously expand and erode freedom.

59 Sam July 24, 2014 at 9:38 am

I think that is an excellent point about the difference between libertarians and anarchists, and it seems I wrongfully conflated the two separate groups, lumping in the extremists with the moderates.

Perhaps my view of libertarianism is all-too-skewed from attending GMU as well as an IHS seminar, which at most times preached an outright anarcho-capitalistic doctrine. So now (to escape my own narrow view of libertarianism) I’m curious what the commenters think: is there a strong distinction between libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism among those who call themselves libertarian? It seems to me that most lib’s only grudgingly admit that their is a role for government institutions outside of the military. Or does my observation only apply to a particularly extremist strain of libertarianism?

I am legitimately curious because, to me, upon admission that there IS a (albeit limited) role for government, from there I can take other policy arguments more seriously. I am also curious to know just how narrow a view of libertarianism I was given at my learning institutions.

60 Finch July 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

“is there a strong distinction between libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism among those who call themselves libertarian?”

I think so. As someone who often calls himself “small-l libertarian,” but who could probably be confused with a moderate conservative, I find the more ideologically pure Libertarians a little scary. I sometimes enjoy reading Bryan Caplan, but there are topics on which he seems totally off the rails – even self-destructive. Maybe this is because I came to libertarianism because I lack confidence in my ability to make decisions for other people, rather than because I’m supremely confident in my economic model of the world or something.

I really like dan1111’s phrasing: “we should work hard to maintain a high level of freedom in society.”

61 mofo. July 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Same here, small-l libertarian and i too find the most extreme libertarians to be tedious. I think, however, that the more extreme libertarians also tend to be the most vocal, so they seem over represented in the conversation.

I constantly have to remind my friends that libertarian is pro-freedom, not anti-government (per se).

62 mpowell July 24, 2014 at 11:05 am

The thing is one definition gives you a liberal by another name and the other gives you taxation=slavery claims. People can call themselves whatever they want, but once you abandon the principled libertarian position (because it’s indefensible and doesn’t make sense I suppose) then you’re stuck arguing for a thick concept of liberty and I’ll agree with you over the left-liberals quite a lot because I don’t think they understand how the average human operates (or is motivated), but the thing is they’ve done quite a lot of thinking along those lines and have lots of good arguments. Many of the policy positions that libertarians like to adopt simply cannot be sustained against those left-liberal arguments without the foundation of principled libertarianism. What I see a lot of is bait-and-switch as result which isn’t great, but don’t take it too hard, nobody is perfect.

63 Thomas July 25, 2014 at 7:51 pm

This is a good discussion. There is a huge distinction between libertarians and anarcho-capitalists. Namely, those who are not anarcho-capitalists do not bridge that gap between small government and no government. As many libertarian positions stem from an underlying belief that governmental acts are inherently coercive and therefore immoral, this requires some cognitive dissonance, or at least awareness in the philosophical deficiency of libertarianism.

In practice, the debate is between establishing gross violations of individuals or not: libertarians and anarcho-capitalists are happy allies.

64 Art Vandelay July 24, 2014 at 9:52 am

This sort of pointless speculation just drives me nuts. There is no evidence for anything that Leeson says, nor Cowen for that matter. Might as well do astrology or phrenology as use political philosophy to do counterfactual prediction. It is a shame these guys are paid like economists instead of the shoddy philosophers they actually are.

65 dan1111 July 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

Well, neither one of us has read the book, but the excerpt and post strongly suggest that this discussion is backed up by evidence–a lot of actual research into gangs. And how is this evidence not a good basis for discussion of what kind of order arises spontaneously in a power vacuum?

Also, I would not think it worth my time to read the blog of a “shoddy philosopher”.

66 Art Vandelay July 24, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Well aren’t you a silly git. Who says I read any of this? I skim to look for stupid stuff, which is rather easy to find, then I post while taking a break from real economics.

67 Thomas July 25, 2014 at 7:53 pm

10 to 1 odds that Art here is a rabid supporter of government expansionism who is simply upset about the comparison of governments to gangs.

We’ll use his vote in the 2012 election as a proxy. Any takers?

68 Finch July 24, 2014 at 10:02 am

“The best thing you can say about a shareholder state is that it might have a better immigration policy.”

Well, surely it would do something more profit-maximizing than setting the price of an immigration slot to zero? Bryan Caplan says there’s a trillion dollars in gains sitting there uncaptured – as the monopoly producers of American citizenships, Americans ought to be able to accrue a large fraction of those gains. But to do so, they need to stop giving immigration slots away for free.

If I want to be indifferent as to which side of the immigration transaction I’m on, creating an immigration slot (and all the inherent obligations on citizens that implies) or buying one, I don’t want the price to be zero. I want it to be a fair one determined by a market (and obviously one that would exceed the net cost, measured broadly, of supplying the slot). Right now the government has set the price to zero. Or more accurately, imposed token fees that are very close to zero.

69 mpowell July 24, 2014 at 11:07 am

This is not entirely true. There are ways to buy yourself a path to citizenship. But they are too expensive and they don’t take the form of direct payment that they probably should.

70 Clover July 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

One thing the Tyler Cowen’s of the world need to ask themselves is “why is American citizenship so desired?” Three basic reasons:

1. Government handouts.
2. High wages.
3. Safety and freedom.

71 drycreekboy July 24, 2014 at 11:22 am

A sixteen year old cousin recently recounted to me a complex currency-and-social-status system his friends invented in sixth grade built around the possession of different kinds of pencils. It had rules, infractions, penalties, and what amounted to informal courts. The system was built entirely by boys. The school in question is a small-but-upscale private one in a mid-sized city.

According to him, not only were the teachers clueless to it all, but rising sixth graders adopted the system and started making their own modifications. As far as he knows, the system is still in place. I thought the story would have made for a great indie documentary on emergent order.

72 Rahul July 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

What’s the chance he was fibbing?

73 Thor July 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm

That wisecrack just cost you a green pencil, and two eraser demerits.

74 Rahul July 24, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Sine the system was entirely designed by boys I assumed the primary goal was to relieve girls of all their pencils & erasers. 🙂

75 Thomas July 25, 2014 at 7:55 pm

This is what is being taught in Universities today, after all.

76 drycreekboy July 24, 2014 at 6:56 pm

Effectively none.

77 Luke Edwards July 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Whether or not you like the idea of replacing current western democratic governments with something else depends on two things: 1) how seriously you take Mancur Olson and 2) which of the American Nations you come from.

I’d give my left arm to live in a country of Americans that weren’t under control of Washington, DC. But I don’t come from the culturally dominant Yankeedom or Left Coast.

78 Donald Pretari July 24, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Your REJOINDER TO DAVID FRIEDMAN ON THE ECONOMICS OF ANARCHY matches my views. I’m happy to have read this note from you which I’d never seen before. I still think “The Machinery of Freedom: A Guide to a Radical Capitalism” is a very good book that allows the reader who inclines towards smaller government to effectively consider just how small a government, if any, they’d be comfortable with.

79 Clover July 24, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The best thing you can say about a shareholder state is that it might have a better immigration policy.

Presumably because it would be run by an elite who didn’t care about or answer to the middle class, it would import a huge number of cheap-labor providing immigrants like the Gulf States do now. But the real question is, why would anyone want to live there? Suppose the dictator of Namibia sold a patch of coastal desert to some libertarian billionaire? Could you see any libertarians moving there? Even libertarian millionaires I would think would rather stay in New York or San Francisco.

80 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

The Chinese are taking advantage of the fact that you can pretty much set up your own shop in Africa. (H/T Luke Edwards, above). But as you can see from the linked article, you have to be made of pretty stern stuff.

I can’t see academic libertarians like Paul Romer doing well in such an environment, which is why for his family’s sake he needs to stop messing around in Honduras.

81 David Barker July 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

It is all about culture. The idea of choosing leaders through fair elections would be ridiculous in some cultures, past and present. Similarly, the idea of competitive protection agencies with no government oversight seems ridiculous to most people today. Perhaps smaller government will someday help build a free market culture in which it is easier to imagine no government at all, and maybe eventually some society will give it a try.

BTW, I wrote a short book describing how things might work with no government, called Welcome to Free America. It is based on ideas in The Machinery of Freedom, but with (I hope) more concrete examples.

82 Clover July 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Free market anarchism of the kind Cowen described is based on the idea that people want free market anarchism. It’s an assumption that is automatic for it’s supporters. A significant percentage of libertarians simply can’t accept that more than 10% of people in the world are not libertarians at heart, that they do not think like they do. The fact is, people want public schools, they want high wages, they want social security, they generally like having some government. Imagine an America where the federal government collapses and various “protection agencies” take it’s place. People would presumably get a choice which agency they would go to, and they would go to the one that could provide a small but existent government, that would provide roadz, schools, and would keep out third world workers. I’m sure some Americans would seek out agencies that kept out the Blacks or ruled under theocratic Christianity. I doubt many people will flock to the towns that provide only “order” and nothing else only the millionaires and those who serve them. It would be a libertarian nightmare. The problem, essentially, is people getting what they want.

I think Cowen realizes this, which is why he sights the gulf states as a good thing. The best chance for libertarianism is a nation ruled by a hostile elite because a hostile elite can represent only the interests of the rich and not care about the middle class. Like the way the gulf states import a huge number of immigrants, not caring about wages for the working class.

83 The Anti-Gnostic July 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm

The Gulf kingdoms just pay oil money to their fellow tribesmen and steer the troublemakers to the nearest jihad. It also helps to have thousands of current and former members of the most powerful military in the world on the payroll.

The entire Middle East is really instructive on a lot of things about politics and society but most people avoid looking.

84 Clover July 24, 2014 at 1:52 pm

Twenty-two of thirty-seven street gangs Jankowski (1991: 78-82) studied have written constitutions. Sicilian Mafiosi follow a largely unwritten code of rules, and recently police found a written set of “ten commandments” outlining the Mafia’s core laws…Kaminski (2004) identifies extensive (yet unwritten) rules dictating nearly every aspect of Polish prisoners’ lives, from what words are acceptable to use in greeting a stranger to how and when to use the bathroom. And the National Gang Crime Research Center considers constitutions so central to criminal societies that the use of a constitution is one of the defining characteristics it uses when classifying gangs…

We had similar “unwritten rules” in my elementary school. We called them “social skills.”

Prison gangs in America are almost always based on race and only people of a certain race are allowed to join. This is just on more aspect of “spontaneous order” leading to people getting what they want but not what libertarians want them to want.

85 tylerh July 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm

No need to theorize — just come out to Burning Man.

We have *lots* of rules/ethics/norms of conduct. All derived from the principle of “Radical Self-Expression”.

86 Gena July 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

Hey, I think your blog might be having browser compatibility issues.

When I look at your website in Safari, it looks fine but when opening
in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads
up! Other then that, fantastic blog!

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