Attorney Stephan Kinsella has written a response on lewrockwell.com to my article "The Need to be Anarchists." In it, I am accused of many bad things, mostly false. I will address only some of the accusations here.
Mr. Kinsella has claimed that I have let concerns of strategy and tactics cloud my judgement on the matter of principle. The opposite is true: my activism has led me to actually listen to the counter-arguments against Rothbard's utopian dreams. Turns out some of the counter-arguments are true.
However, I am by no means a utilitarian. I do not believe in initiating force whenever there is an opportunity to increase overall utility by doing so. I did not advocate such in my essay. I am advocating a position that is in between the natural rights school of libertarianism and the utilitarian view. My thesis is much closer to the former than the latter.
Mr. Kinsella writes:
Rather, as I have pointed out elsewhere, to be an anarcho-capitalist is simply to recognize (a) aggression is unjustified; and (b) even the minarchist state necessarily commits aggression (and is therefore unjustified). It does not mean one predicts such a situation will occur, or "is workable," etc. It only means that the anarchist libertarian opposes all forms of aggression
My position is subtly different. I posit that aggression is evil. Therefore, it should be minimized. This proposition does lead to different conclusions. For example:
If I was near Adolf Hitler and had a bomb that could destroy him and his cronies, I would happily use it, even if some innocent bystanders got killed. Better to kill a few than to allow millions to be murdered.
Mr. Kinsella's statement of libertarianism would allow the gas chambers to continue their operation in order to avoid the much smaller aggression of collateral damage. Taking his position to the extreme, blowing up Hitler and cronies would not be justifiable even if the collateral damage was limited to property damage.
Given the truly vile theorems that follow from Mr. Kinsellas moral axiom, I do proudly reject it. I am a libertarian, not a nit-picker. I value liberty highly, enough to actually do something about it that could possibly work.
If anarchy was indeed workable, then I would favor it. Zero aggression is better than some aggression. However, I am a scientist, not a philosopher. I demand evidence. I know of very few successful anarchistic civilized societies throughout history, and know of a great many instances where anarchy led to civil war, conquest, dictatorship, looting, pillaging, slave trading and/or feudalism. To extinguish the U.S. govenment without a practical replacement available is to put hundreds of millions of people at risk of far greater aggression.
I am a libertarian. I dislike aggression. Apparently, Mr. Kinsella doesn't care, as long as he is not the technical aggressor.
Now it is true that I do make some concession to utilitarianism in the sense that I also believe in government built roads and certain similar services. But the argument I used to justify such was not the utilitarian argument!!!!!!!!!!
The utilitarian argument would justify any amount of aggression as long as the benefit to people in general outweighed the cost to those aggressed upon. I did not make that argument at all.
I argued that the government could forcibly provide a service to taxpayers if the value of that service is at least twice that of the open market. This is a far narrower standard. First, it has to be a benefit to the specific taxpayer. Second, the government has to do much more than match what the market can do; it must exceed by at least double. My argument does not justify transfer programs.
Without government, you would have to pay far more for protection services. History has proven this time and time again. When Rome fell, the rich could no longer afford fancy villas. They were spending their wealth on castles and henchmen instead. The Celts in Britain learned just how valuable Roman protection was when the Saxons invaded. Later, the Anglo-Saxons did have a competitive protection system; however, they later learned that they would have been better off had they been forced to pay more for protection. William the Conqueror taught this harsh lesson.
Some tribal societies of old are considered to be anarchic by some libertarian thinkers. Notably, they have all been conquered. But even before conquest, they paid quite a bit for their inefficient defense system. Tribal societies were seen as warrior societies by surrounding civilizations, since nearly all men prepared extensively for war.
So, the data indicates great economies of scale for military defense. It also indicates that all will pay one way or another. It is a sunk cost. If the majority bands together to form a government, and taxes all to pay for defense, they are greatly reducing the cost even to those who object. Thus, the adequate compensation argument.
This is a very narrow "social contract." It is not a moral license for government to do whatever the majority wants it to do.
It is a practical look at how to maximize liberty.
Unlike Mr. Kinsella. I am a real libertarian.