Though the specific demarcation of the passage from one year into another is a rather arbitrary social construct, it does provide a useful annual period for self-examination and remembrance. Now that 2018 has entered the history books, let us take a look back at a year’s worth of essays and review the not-so-current year.
We begin, of course, with last year’s article of the same kind. Some articles in this list are sequels to articles in that list. Aside from that, we may move on.
Benjamin Welton and I began 2018 by addressing some leftover matters from the end of 2017. He explored the quick decline of Nepal from monarchy to democracy to communism in less than a generation, while I responded to a thoroughly misguided attack by Bill Wirtz on Hans-Hermann Hoppe and other right-libertarians.
The left’s warfare on language and the dangerous potential thereof is important to understand. I began exploring this phenomenon by examining common shortcomings among leftist popular authors, looking for the origins of their follies, and showing how these factors can cause a civil war if left unaddressed. In a follow-up essay, I contemplated how the innovation of language becomes stunted and weaponized in political struggles, as well as what may be done to counter such tendencies.
I began a new series called “Agreeing With Statists For The Wrong Reasons”, in which I consider how government policies which seem terrible at face value can be exploited to achieve liberty and/or undermine statist goals. This was loosely inspired by Morrakiu’s series “Agreeing With Liberals For The Wrong Reasons”, in which he showed how progressives unwittingly help the alt-right. The subjects covered in this series in 2018 included cryptocurrency bans, conscription, anti-discrimination laws, minimum wage, and impeaching Donald Trump. More episodes will come next year.
Insula Qui presented a grand project called “On Libertarianism and Statecraft” to lead into her book Anarcho-Monarchism. The introduction discusses other schools of thought and makes the case for why a libertarian theory of statecraft is necessary. Part I explains the folly of political activism. Part II explores the implications of property rights in a libertarian social order. Part III deals with the differences between states and governments, as well as the basics of private defense. Part IV explains the necessity of governance, what form it might take, and who will govern. Part V considers the effect that trust levels in society may have on the form of a libertarian social order. Part VI explores the relationship between authority and liberty. Part VII uses social contract theory to expand libertarian philosophy. Part VIII considers the nature of the natural elite. Part IX explores the role of trust in society. Part X examines the role of time preference in forming a libertarian social order. Part XI considers the role of externalities that go beyond strictly material concerns. Part XII explains how greed is frequently overrated by libertarians. The series may or may not have more entries.
In 2017, I argued that the United States debt ceiling should be eliminated. However, the debt ceiling is only part of the problem. Another part is the practice known as a government shutdown, and I argued that this practice should also be ended.
On March 9, right-wing activists Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone were detained and deported while attempting to enter the United Kingdom to give speeches and interview other rightist personalities. A similar fate also befell Lauren Southern on March 12. I wrote a list of observations about these events.
Following the Parkland shooting, a student movement to restrict access to firearms became prominent. I deconstructed this effort to show how it is orchestrated by the political establishment using tactics common to other such movements.
My glossary of social justice warrior terminology is the most popular article ever posted at Zeroth Position. After two years of continued craziness from radical leftists, I decided to revise and expand it to create a second edition. This is likely to need continual updating, and two years is a proper amount of time between editions, so look for the third edition in 2020.
I began an article series called “The Color Theory of Conflict”, in which I attempted to provide a grand unified theory of conflict. Part I defines the various colors and defends those definitions against likely objections. This was unfortunately put on the back burner, but more parts will come next year.
In human discourse, logical fallacies are quite common. But when opposition to these fallacies goes too far, further fallacies and sub-optimal behaviors can result. I examined the most common examples of this behavior in an effort to counter such second-order problems.
Sometimes, the lens of examination is best turned inward to correct one’s own missteps. Such was the case for an article I wrote in 2017 about the concept of degeneracy, so I published a revision in which I considered the possibility that civilization can be degenerate.
Welton returned with a case that American intervention in Syria is not only not right; it is not even wrong.
Libertarians have mixed views about capital punishment, but no one else seems to have considered the value of forming communal bonds by working together to execute the worst offenders. I did this at great length through the lens of ritual magick. Later, I used the problem of pedophilia among Catholic clergy to consider the limits of capital punishment, and found that there is a strong case for executing child molesters.
Welton offered an excellent history of the rise and fall of the Boy Scouts, along with the characteristics that a replacement organization should have in order to prevent a similar leftist takeover.
Doxxing has long been a problem in political circles, but it became worse in 2018. I reasoned through the limits of its acceptable use, then proposed a comprehensive solution for reining it in to those limits.
Since the beginning of recorded history, a teleological element has been present in historical narratives. I argued against this practice, promoting instead an agnostic historiography.
An incident on cable news over Trump’s immigration policies provided an opportunity for examining useful tactics for making leftists look more unhinged than usual. I showed how Corey Lewandowski’s treatment of Zac Petkanas was a master class in this regard.
I attempted to find the ideal amount of force that a civilization should use to maintain itself, coming to the conclusion that, contrary to mainstream liberalism and libertarianism, the bare minimum is not ideal.
Welton took on an important issue that has long been waiting for a proper reactionary response: the undue reverence given to the Magna Carta by liberals of all stripes.
In 2017, I argued the case for reining in censorious technology giants by threatening the revocation of their incorporation. I followed this up with an argument against the corporate form itself as a creature of statism that would almost certainly not exist in a free society. Continued problems with corporate censorship that touched me personally led me to formulate a holistic approach to solving the problem.
Qui returned with a thorough survey of the producerist school of thought, which has both significant overlap with and significant difference from libertarianism.
On July 23, Social Matter published an article by Mark Christensen in which he argued that conservatives should favor larger government. I welcomed Darien Sumner, the fourth additional writer at Zeroth Position, in August to rebut Christensen’s arguments point-by-point. A September 25 article by Henry Olson that criticized libertarianism from the right merited a more measured response.
Welton and I figured that if libertarians and rightists are going to be slandered as fascists and Nazis no matter what, then we have nothing to lose by examining real Nazis and seeing what can be learned from their example. The result was an excellent piece on the rise and fall of the Sturmabteilung (SA).
The Walking Dead comic series and the television show based on it contain many themes which are of interest to the student of libertarian philosophy and reactionary thought. I explored the many ways in which Negan’s group resembles a state apparatus, as well as what one can learn from those who resist his rule and ultimately overthrow him. The third part was released in 2018, covering the second half of Season 7. The fourth and fifth parts, covering Season 8, were planned for 2018 but will instead appear in early 2019.
On September 4–7, the United States Senate held hearings on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy. I wrote a list of observations on the events. After Democrats launched an unprecedented smear campaign, I wrote another list of observations.
Nathan Dempsey returned after an 11-month hiatus to begin a quarterly series of updates on his Liberty Minecraft project, the first of which ran on October 24.
Clashes between different strains of political universalism, as well as proselytization into territories ruled by non-universalist governance structures, led to the unprecedented losses of life and property in wars and genocides during the 20th century, and is capable of doing much more damage going forward. I examined the history and practice of universalism, its pathway to genocide, and what libertarians may do about it in a sweeping essay.
Welton offered a history of imperialism and colonialism, considering the bad name it has unjustly acquired, the joint-stock and free state models, and how colonialism might be used to create a libertarian social order.
Black Friday is revered by most libertarians as a celebration of free-market capitalism. I updated my explanation of why this reverence is misplaced.
My final think piece of the year will continue into 2019, but the first part offers a detailed explanation of the concept of immaterial technology.
All in all, it was an interesting year full of occasions to make sharp libertarian and reactionary arguments. May 2019 bring more and better!
Producerism is a unique view of political and social philosophy. To completely understand this theory, we first have to establish how ideologies are constructed. For any ideology, it is important that there is a base value. There must be some value-judgment above all other value-judgments. (There are two other key requirements for a set of ideas to be an ideology, but we will deal with them later.)
For libertarianism I have identified the base value as efficiency. When presented with a choice between the value of liberty and the value of efficiency, most libertarians will choose efficiency. This value of efficiency is not necessarily the creation of the best possible GDP, but rather preventing unnecessary waste and striving towards goals in the best possible manner. On an individual level, efficiency means organizing one’s life so as to create the best path between a person and his goals.
This is why mainstream libertarians mostly advocate for liberty due to its efficiency. There has never been a libertarian who thinks that liberty is less efficient than the lack of it. The closest we get to this are those with immense classical anarchist influences, but their significance is constantly being reduced. One could also say that Rothbard valued liberty as self-ownership more than he valued efficiency, but his political action demonstrates otherwise. He was quite willing to ally with people who did not see liberty as the most valuable goal as long as he viewed them as the most expedient way to reach a particular goal. Even Walter Block, who frequently makes moral arguments for traditionally immoral behavior, supports libertarianism in large part because of purely economic reasons. His support of philosophical libertarianism has always taken a backseat to economic libertarianism. (In this context, we are speaking about Austrian economics and not neo-liberal economics; the Austrian School cares less about maximizing monetary value and more about individuals striving towards any goal that they value.)
Libertarians may claim that their key value is liberty, but if liberty brought universal misery, decay, and poverty, they would be the first to abandon their current ideal. We can see this in practice, as most people who abandon libertarianism slingshot toward the most authoritarian version of their new persuasion, whether they become Stalinists or national socialists (or even both). However, in reality, we know that liberty brings the most efficient form of organization. This does not mean that it is simple to establish a regime of liberty, but simply that people best achieve their chosen goals when they are given the freedom to do so.
Socialists, on the other hand, value equality above all other values. To a libertarian this seems odd; equality is inefficient and thus useless. But the socialist would rather have everyone equally poor than some unequally rich. However, the American socialist still functions within classical liberal cultural assumptions. The American people value efficiency far more than most other cultures. This means that American socialists will also constantly appeal to efficiency, but they do so to justify socialism as they do not actually value this efficiency.
Both of these values are ultimately arbitrary; there is nothing that makes efficiency objectively correct or that makes equality objectively desirable. The necessity to construct an ideology from principles that approach objectivity is thus clear. We cannot see the world without ideology; the best we can do is to switch the lenses of ideology so fast that it becomes unnoticeable. The only solution to this is producerism.
And finally, let us mention the other two key components for ideologies. One can be described as the secondary value or end goal, one that backs up the base value. For libertarianism, this would be property. For the libertarian, the moral value of efficiency should ultimately create a regime of full property ownership. The other is the method of analysis employed by different ideologies. This is a key part that differentiates left- and right-libertarians. Left-libertarians tend to focus on materialism and empirical data, while right-libertarians tend to be more concerned with rational systems and the results of applying moral principles.
Let us begin with Ayn Rand. Rand posited that there are ultimately only two forms of value. One can either be dead or alive. One can prefer death, or one can prefer life. One can discount the possibility of valuing death, as all sane people will always value life, at least to a degree. The only section of the population that does not value life are the insane, or in the politically correct vernacular, mentally ill people. Thus, valuing life is the closest we get to an objective value. This means that the fundamental value for producerism is life. But life does not exist in a void, there needs to be production to facilitate life.
Producerism, as a term, is not a unique one. It is associated with the populist right and their focus on traditional middle-class values. Producerism mostly aligns with the same values. But for producerism to be a useful philosophy, it must be properly contextualized. First, we need to apply producerism to individual lives. This lies outside the broad apolitical theory that producerism signifies, but is still a useful application. The first step of this would be to categorize humans into two groups. The first is people who live to produce; the second is people who live to destroy. This can also help us understand what degeneracy means on an individual basis. Those who live towards destruction can be properly categorized as degenerates and maladjusts. Living for destruction is an ontological conflict.
Life, by its very nature is productive insofar as it exists to self-improve and self-perpetuate. This means that those humans who do not use their lives to produce anything are inherently misusing their life. But this does not mean that each unproductive or destructive action must be necessarily evil or wrong. We can all strive towards the saintly ideal of perfect production, life with no destructive vice. But this metric cannot be applied to most people. Someone who constantly engages in vice might make up for it by creating something that leaves such a positive impact as to compensate for his vice.
This fits well into my theory of privatizing society. Many people in the Outer Right signal their supposed ideal that all vice needs to be violently eliminated, but this is not necessarily the case. It is true that those who live for destruction can only be described as living in a cancerous state, but all vice does not inherently cause a person to live for destruction. When society is fully privatized in a perfect manner, exclusion becomes a matter of removing those who live for destruction. This is because all people in a society lose value when sharing a society with those who abuse that society, and society itself is a scarce good that retains value.
The individual application of producerism is far less important when contrasted with the apolitical application, and producerism is thoroughly apolitical. It can be seen as a political philosophy that is entirely focused on functioning outside politics. This is necessary because of the mutual co-dependence of society and civilization. Society is the nexus of values; when values are shared across a society, it creates a civilization. For example, when Peter feels that red is the most beautiful color, he is doing so within a society. If others follow Peter’s judgment of red as being inherently beautiful, the beauty of red becomes a part of that civilization. For instance, in the Russian language, the word for red is almost the same as the word for beautiful because of that attitude. Conversely, if a culture is based on the concept that work is a virtue in itself, most individuals will be driven to work. And if work is in reality a virtue, the culture drives most people to virtue. However, if a culture has a core value of egalitarianism, it drives most people to seek equality. This is unimaginably destructive, since equality will cause fundamental damage to a social order.
There is a feedback loop between creating civilizational values and having an established set of civilizational values. The better a civilization becomes, the more civilizing forces there will be. This requires an inherent degree of separation when we try to improve society and civilization. If we are to improve civilization at the cost of society or vice versa, we will ultimately find ourselves damaging both.
This makes a lack of specialization in these fields untenable. We can only improve civilization by only improving that civilization; the same is true for society. This is because a person who is trying to improve both at once will have to engage in trade-offs. For example, if an artist is also trying to be a social activist, he has to either sacrifice the values in his art and create a lesser overall product, or give up art altogether for the sake of being a social activist. However, if an artist tacitly ingrains his values into his art, he can create masterpieces that also spread his values. Classical masters did not imbue their art with the politics of their time, but their art still makes a significant statement. But this has an important corollary: if we improve one of the two, we improve both. And if we can improve both from the inside, we can create a productive spiral towards an ideal.
Instead of trying to get a firm grasp on the political apparatus, we ought to improve that which we can improve. Trying to do both at once will always lead to having to make sacrifices which are ultimately destructive. If one is blessed with a sociable nature, the best one can do is to create connections, lead people towards an ideal of connectedness, and imbue individuals with a higher regard for production. But if that person is instead talented in the arts, it is in his power to change the landscape in which aesthetic values are conceptualized to make people embrace that which is good.
However, destructivism is a similarly powerful strategy, with the important aspect that one is able to destroy both society and civilization at the same time. But when there is an agent that has acquired a controlling position over civilization and society, trade-offs are inevitable. And when one sacrifices civilization or society for the sake of building the other, the result will be a decay in both.We can look at Communist Russia and late 19th-century America as examples of this tendency. In Russia, the Bolsheviks seized the power over both art and interpersonal relationships. The art that the communist state created was created solely to promote the communist regime and philosophy. The social control of the communists created decay in relationships between family members or friends because communism is fundamentally an anti-social system. This further reinforced the destruction of civilizational values.
During the Progressive Era in the United States, the government increasingly got involved in both society and civilization, trying to improve both simultaneously. One such measure was the progressive school system, which was designed to get competitive young members of society locked up in schools for economic reasons and prevent the perceived social ills of idle young men. Furthermore, it was adapted from the Prussian school system, which was designed to further the power of the military. The school system was ultimately a perceived measure of improving society, but it sacrificed various civilizational values. It was an institution that was against efficient economic organization, strong familial relations, and individual growth and responsibility. Due to these values not being instilled in children, we have seen even worse social ills erupt.
Another example is Prohibition, which attempted to promote civilizational values such as temperance. To do so, the government sacrificed the social values of interpersonal trade and bonding over drinks. The result of this was a giant growth of black markets and an environment of alcohol consumption that was less inclined toward bonding. This era ended with civilizational values breaking down in a gang war between the state and various organized crime factions. In all of these circumstances, we can see how trying to use trade-offs for producing virtue results in adverse effects for both society and civilization.
Increasing this tendency is easy, but most people do not hate life and as such will not try to destroy these values. Most of this destruction is incidental and created out of incompetence. This leads us to the necessity of determining what increases production and how we can increase it. There are two methods for increasing the production of values. The first is improving the amount of productive social relations. It has been proven that people with productive social relationships are more successful, happier, and generally better off. This is integral towards creating civilization and maintaining a societal order. However, destructive social relationships have the exact opposite effect. One can improve social relationships by encouraging people to join organized religion or any other kind of virtuous community. No matter one’s religious views, religion has always been an effective way for people to find community and values.
The other possibility for improving a civilizational order is to increase the quality of the relations between people. The best way to do this is to remove all state influence. When every interaction has people looking down the barrel of an implicit gun, interactions will necessarily deteriorate. When people are allowed to peacefully interact without being restricted by force, those interactions will always have better outcomes in the long run. A spontaneous order is desirable if people are to enjoy a higher quality of life and a more consistent morality. Improving the human condition is dependent on whether or not people are restricted by aggressive force.
Leaving people free of state restriction also leaves them free to live for destruction, but this possibility is irrelevant. Most people have a far better understanding of how to live for production than the state does. Restrictions on people’s activities by a central agency with interests mainly in the proliferation of its own power will only tend to aid the state. Thus, it is vital to understand that the state is not a desirable source for preventing destructive behavior in individual people. Furthermore, we cannot only conceptualize society as that which does not bring profits. Organizations created for the purpose of profit are an integral part of society. If people have a greater freedom to seek profit without using aggressive violence, the generated wealth will greatly allow for producing that particular value.
The other side of the coin is that which is good for civilization. It is far easier to discover these values. To sustain a civilization, it is necessary to always value rationality above irrationality. Although rational judgment cannot solve all issues, it will allow for civilization to exist. Civilization will also need to value the concept of the individual; without doing so, envy alongside other ills will destroy that civilization. This does not require a worship of the individual, but rather the simple distinction between unique actions of unique people.
Occidental and Oriental Civilizations
To go farther, we need to find particular values that help civilizations prosper. This leads us to a rational conclusion of analyzing the values of the Far East and the Occident, as those two areas have created the most successful civilizations throughout history. The most counter-intuitive thing we can find from the Occident is the concept of a gynocentric patriarchy, a society in which the men traditionally have the ultimate power, but only as trustees. And although women cannot physically overpower men, the strong sense of honor has prevented men from tolerating harm against women. We can view this as a market trade between Western women and men. Men have the responsibility of protecting their women from all harm, and in exchange they can exercise the power necessary to do so.
This is reflected in the differences of mate choice between different cultures. The West is unique in that it is the only culture that has allowed women the ability to discriminate between mates, and this is necessary for the advancement of the genetic stock. When men are able to exercise mate choice, they will do so recklessly, as they have no consequence for it. We can see this play out with the massive amount of inbreeding in various patriarchal systems. Women have a far greater need for responsibility, as they suffer the entire ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth. Furthermore, women can have a limited amount of children while men can procreate endlessly. This leads women to more rationally appropriate the value of the ability to bear children, which is a scarce resource, to the best-suited men.
We can see that civilizations that deny this tend to have a greater proclivity towards in-breeding and dysgenics. The African and Islamic nations, which have the greatest degree of patriarchy while giving women the least autonomy, are more inbred, have lower IQ averages, and have barely accumulated sustainable wealth. The current prosperity of the Middle East was entirely created before the CIA-backed Islamist revival, and is only sustained by profiting off their vast abundance of natural resources. This can allow for a proper view of patriarchy. The concern is that female dominance would promote a form of polygamy in which the best men find themselves with the most women. But the nature of pair-bonding makes this concern fairly irrelevant; most people simply do not prefer to be in polygamous relationships. Furthermore, we can see improper patriarchies practice polygamy for the power-elite, which is incredibly dysgenic. State power is not allocated through rational means; rather, it is obtained by chance, demagoguery, or violence. This means that those who wield state power are not selected for good genetics, and practicing polygamy for a meritless group prevents those of actually good genetic stock from finding mates.
Another important value in the Far East and Occident is a general merchant culture. This may seem strange to the far-right, but the West and Far East have always had respect for the craft of trade. This is visible from guilds in the West to craftsmanship in the East. Furthermore, these are the only cultures that view the customer as the object of trade. In other nations, we see the seller being defined as the primary benefactor from trade where the customer only facilitates the profits of the one selling goods. This also lead the West to accept the industrial bourgeoisie, who were able to bring a healthy mode of free market production. This lasted until the 20th century, when the influence of the state defeated the instrumental power of relatively unhindered trade.
As for the religions of the West and the Far East, they tend to be quiet religions focused on cultivating virtue instead of trying to achieve concrete results. We can characterize this as a sort of trust in the metaphysical order, while other religions are concerned with manipulating it. This forms a sacral realism in which the consequences of reality are accepted to be imbued with will that leads to justice. The apex of this could be seen in the Christian view of Providence, where God looks over and maintains the entire order of the universe. Thus, each Christian can always resort to Providence and trust in reality itself. This is also reflected in the Shinto view of each object being imbued with a spirit. This is insofar as inactivity is not promoted under the auspice that all conflicts will eventually be righteously solved by God.
An additional value that allows the Occident to sustain its civilization is that of absolute honesty. Deceit is a fairly unique vice in the Western tradition. Many other cultures do not place moral significance to lying; we can see this from various experiments and from the fact that corruption is endemic to geographical regions. To understand the importance of honesty, we can take inspiration from propertarianism and its concept of testimonialism. Concisely put, testimonialism is the belief that we gain our knowledge from testimony; that is, we trust that other people represent reality correctly. This is an interesting exercise in epistemology, but even more interesting when practically applied. The Western notion of the militia has historically been able to unite the testimony of a large section of the male population in order to achieve the goals of that population. Another aspect of this is the fact that Western people respect the division of labor; they trust others to do honest work only from the testimony of the people who do that work.
Responsibility and Accountability
Responsibility itself is unknown in many cultures outside the Occident-Orient spectrum. Personal accountability is a fundamental requirement for a group of people to be able to produce any sort of society. Having responsibility as a fundamental value is also necessary to sustain a reproductive order. We can see what happens otherwise in African-American communities which struggle with single motherhood and the harmful effects thereof. This is not to say that this is a necessary part of the African-American culture, nor to dismiss the effect of the welfare state on responsibility. But promiscuity is not the only bad effect of a lack of responsibility.
To further analyze responsibility, we need to split it in two. First, there is individual responsibility. Each individual needs to internalize the costs of all of his actions; causing other people harm is unethical and rightfully scorned. When all costs are internalized, the social order is only met with the benefits of individual action and is always improving. Second, there is social responsibility. This is the responsibility a person feels towards his family, community, tribe, thede, and nation. Social responsibility aids in having each person work towards the betterment of his own environment and not only of himself. We can see this in the concept of respecting the environment, which is rarely a part of government policy in Africa, the Middle East, or Asia.
The concept of responsibility is also integrated with merchant culture. Since each person has their craft and their niche in the division of labor, each person can never get more out of the market than they put in without facing scorn. This creates the economic growth we see in Western and Eastern societies. Each person who gets more out of the marketplace than they put in is seen as a thief. This is reflected in law, as fraud is considered one of the worst nonviolent crimes people can commit, sometimes even judged more harshly than overt theft.
The fact that producerists aim to create the most production does not mean that those who are not producerists may want to create less life. However, as each non-producerist does not take life itself as the ultimate goal, they will always be less efficient in producing the values necessary for life. Lastly, it would be impossible to catalogue all values that create life in a single article. However, these values are truly endless, not in that any value can be a fundamental building block of civilization, but rather that everything that goes into building civilization is too complex to simplify to a limited number of values. The task of dissecting various cultures and analyzing values that help nations flourish is an immense and valuable field of research.
Author’s note: This is the final article in this series for now, not because there is nothing more to be said about libertarian statecraft, but because I have said everything that I can say with confidence. Expect more articles in the same vein, but this should serve as a good foundational document for libertarian statecraft. I post far more experimental ideas about the topic on the Libertarchy Blog. Furthermore, my book “Anarcho-Monarchism” has all the theory that preceded the view developed in these articles. I am grateful for the sustained interest and hope that I have started to fill a woefully empty niche in libertarian theory.
Over the course of this series, we have provided the baseline content of libertarian statecraft, explained why it should be accepted, and have provided ways to prevent crime by reciprocity and high costs through nuclear armament. But one fundamental question has been left unanswered: the problem of greed, or how to prevent the libertarian government from turning into a den of special interests and totalitarianism. The libertarian government still retains the conceptual power to resell property if it can manage to manifest fundamental greed in the military apparatus.
Parts IX, X, and XI focused on what the libertarian government ought to do, but this article will solely focus on what we have to do to ensure that libertarian government can exist. Essentially, we must provide a theoretical model to ensure that defense forces are not abused to form the Nozickian minarchist state. We must also assure that we can retain heightened liberty while having the benefits of statecraft. To the dismay of Objectivists and some mainstream libertarians, the answer is to abandon the worship of greed.
Greed and the Military
Any government requires the support of the military. When the military interest is irreconcilable with the government interest, the military will overthrow the government. Furthermore, even when the military is responsible to the people rather than the government, as would be the case under libertarian statecraft, the problem of the military having its own interests still occurs. Thus, it is important that the military is not a self-serving institution and does not use its capacity for oppression.
This leads us to the Randian paradox of anarchism. Although it is a flawed argument against anarcho-capitalism, it can serve as an important critique of libertarian statecraft. Under the conventional model of anarcho-capitalism, the military is not a cohesive entity and thus constantly holds itself in check. This means that no military interest can actually form. The decentralization in the use of violence eliminates the monopoly on violence, bringing the military as a special class down with it.
But when there is only one nexus of violent power in a libertarian government, there can be a scenario in which aggressive violence is for sale. To state the paradox in other words, the market is founded on non-aggression, which means that the sale of aggression must be contradictory to the market. In anarcho-capitalist social orders, this is solved by only ever selling defense, but if private defense is supplanted by monarch-sanctioned defense, it could turn into an aggressive conflict between monarchs.
This can largely be solved by the fact that libertarian statecraft cannot operate on a scale close to the current size of nation-states, or even metropolises. Libertarian statecraft must be decentralized, which means that the cost of aggression for monarchs is too large. Monarchical statecraft also breaks down whenever even moderately sized cities are introduced, as rational governance becomes harder. The complexity of urban environments combined with the inherent difficulty in dividing a city between different providers of governance due to the high degree of integration between various industries and land owners might render libertarian statecraft in large cities untenable. One would find it nearly impossible to imagine any demand for monarchical rule without an entirely tribalistic basis even in a subsection of Queens. Additionally, military defense would likely be subcontracted by the people under a covenant and would not be a permanent fixture of one government, but the theoretical issue still remains.
The Sale of Violence
If a monarch is sufficiently greedy, then he might be drawn to use the military in such a manner as to make himself a dictator. If the generals of the military were sufficiently greedy, they would not fear sending their men to die for enough monetary gain. If the men in the military were afflicted by a similar amount of greed, they would not resist because they could earn enough to warrant possible loss of life. If there is an institutional lack of selflessness, the libertarian government would fail. This seems contradictory to the influential credo that selfishness is desirable, but the only thing preventing the misuse of violence is a certain degree of selflessness in how and where violence is used.
The acceptance of the non-aggression principle on the behalf of those with the largest proclivity towards the use of violence is a fundamentally selfless act. If one has more power than the defense providers, then one is functionally above the law. Thus, not aggressing against peaceful people becomes entirely an act of courtesy as the return outweighs the reduced deterrent. This is not to make a utilitarian argument, but to simply state that abstaining from violence is an act of altruism.
There is a certain role for altruism in society, even if it is not an ultimate philosophical good. There must be a certain level of morality that would allow people to reject violence for the sake of simply not causing harm. Excessive greed will ensure that libertarian statecraft will fail, and that there will be a libertine individualism in which civil war is imminent. Even if it is not profitable to engage in aggressive violence, human passions may ignite a cycle of revenge at any point.
The Selflessness of the Market
The common libertarian conception of the free market is that it combines selfish individual motives into a greater good. We can instead view the market as a community in which each person acts selflessly in mutual reciprocity. This simply requires that we adjust the causal view we take of the market; instead of putting the pursuit of profit as the base action with performing good for the society as the result, we can instead view performing good as the original action with profit derived from it. By making this slight change, we are better able to incorporate every model of action into our philosophy. This even allows us to answer the age-old question of why selfish people would do good without resorting to a vague notion of moral profit.
If we view the market as a place where people can facilitate their productive efforts with proportional rewards, we can no longer view the market as selfish people striving for profits. We do not need to cling to a sense of fundamental selfishness in market relations. This is not to say that selfishness is an absolute deontological evil; there is nothing inherently bad about being selfish, nor is there nothing inherently good about it. However, there is inherent dignity and virtue in productive efforts.
Thus, if we give up the notion that people profit from their selfish actions and instead adopt the view that productive efforts bring proportional rewards, we are able to adjust our entire worldview. This answers the question of how the military is prevented from conquering the libertarian social order and/or corrupting it from within. Since the military only benefits its customers if it is being productive, the military is incentivized to profit and is not simply driven to a vague non-aggression. If production itself creates profit, it becomes contradictory by definition to strive for profit using destructive means. If we view the marketplace as conducive to selflessness, which in turn creates profit, we must realize that the military must be more selfless on the marketplace than when operated by a state.
The ultimate facts of the matter are the same in both scenarios. By employing violence, the military loses out on profits. As profits are created by providing services, not doing so will necessarily reduce profit. Judging by the amount of debt states accumulate, forming a new state does not seem like a lucrative opportunity. However, by not seeing profits as the primary mode of operation on the free market, we can focus on why the private military would not employ violence in the first place without thinking of direct profit. Although the profit and loss system is the only system conducive to efficiency, we can rearrange the causal chains for a more complete analysis. Creating profits is good, but is not sufficient for all analysis. Therefore, we need to recontextualize our view of the economy so that we can view productivity as something that brings proportional profit. This is still an incomplete system, as it does not factor in losses as a separate concept, but models of understanding will always lack some degree of nuance.
No matter how greedy individuals on the free market could be, they can never match the inherent greed of states. The state demands payment with no choice to opt out and no guaranteed service. The state demands unconditional obedience and all rights. Nothing is sacred to the state except its own power, and there is nothing more in the state than raw, base selfishness. This is why we see only the state engaging in imperialism, an unapologetic demand to rule a country with no connection to it and the perpetual expansion of raw might. This is the act most antithetical to both altruism and liberty. As always, libertarianism might have some of the same problems that states do, but can never match the brutality of the state.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series are further expounded upon in my book Anarcho-Monarchism, which you can buy here.
To the conservative-minded, the most objectionable part of libertarianism is the seeming inability to reconcile virtue and decent behavior with a libertarian social order. To resolve this issue, there is a need to consider two alternatives to a more commonplace libertarian social order and propose a coherent critique of a regime with unlimited free imposition of costs with regard to immaterial externalities. What are libertarians able to do against bad neighbors, and what can libertarians do to prevent a libertarian society from becoming an ethically justifiable drug den?
Libertarianism and Violence
The libertarian ethic revolves around only using force to meet aggressive violence or fraud; initiatory force must always be unjustifiable. It could be practical to use force to prevent undesirable results, but this sort of pragmatism is not philosophically coherent and will always lead to perverse conclusions. However, this can be immensely impractical whenever force is not allowable in non-violent occasions and whenever ends cannot be met by using force. Although more ethically consistent, these are impractical outcomes for certain individuals.
This might seem to be a completely reasonable stance; there is no quantifiable disparity in rights between individuals, so anything that gives some groups a hegemony on the use of violence should be contrary to nature. Even though some groups would benefit from the use of violence, libertarians do not favor any particular groups because all people have the same inherent rights. Ultimately, non-violent means are always preferable to violent means unless it is a matter of preventing violence. But this quickly runs into a philosophical trap.
The Social Groups
Society is always divided into multiple subgroups who are more or less productive and who contribute varying amounts to the societies in which they live. As there is a massive distinction between how different groups behave, there is also a distinction between how different groups ought to be treated. However, if the same standard of non-violence were to apply to every group, it would subsidize those groups who can be parasitic without violence. These are the people who are unpleasant, subversive, and repulsive to others without being aggressive. This gives degenerates, maladjusts, and other undesirables an inherent attraction towards libertarianism, as mainstream libertarians are willing to subsidize their behavior in the name of non-violence.
This requires an implementation of a system of statecraft and social organization that goes above and beyond the libertarian ethic. There needs to be a way in which we can prevent the above types of parasitism. A libertarian social order is not immunized from all social threats due to it following libertarian philosophical principles. There are still problems that could occur within a libertarian society with no answers in the foundational philosophy. If we achieve a libertarian society which only becomes a form of subsidy-seeking by undesirables, we will eventually be deprived of liberty. When a society actively encourages low-performing individuals to expect social subsidy, it will actively import those whose interest is to seize the means of production.
Furthermore, immaterial externalities are value-destructive in a material way. If we are to accept subjectivism in value theory, we must also accept that subjective valuations are important regardless of whether we are evaluating material or immaterial benefits and costs. Since all immaterial costs are on par with material costs, they may not be objectively quantifiable in the same manner, but subjectively we experience those costs as similar trade-offs. By utilizing Austrian economics, we find a very important tool in ordinal value scales. People rank some uses of resources over others and would trade items of less ordinal value for items of more ordinal value. Additionally, every immaterial cost can be compared to material costs on this value scale. Since there is no institutional answer to immaterial costs because aggression is forbidden, we are stuck in a trap that we seemingly cannot escape. We need to change our political theory significantly to accommodate for immaterial costs.
The Aristocratic Solution
The first part of the solution and the part that is compatible with traditional libertarian theory is the notion of the social aristocracy maintaining the society through what amounts to market forces. This does not need to be integrated into statecraft to be a functional system, but doing so creates a more perfect theory of statecraft. This notion has already been touched upon in this series, but it deserves further reiteration and focus.
First, we need to accept the premise that markets are a sufficient solution to the problem of externalities and to the problem of preventing communistic organization in the economic realm. If markets can avert the possibility of incurring unwanted costs, then markets can do so when it comes to society. This means that we need to figure out how we can privatize the market of society and provide a sufficient demonstration that immaterial externalities are a pressing matter. The questions of how and why are the only possible objections from a libertarian standpoint, as libertarians cannot argue against the functionality of the market order.
The why is easy to solve; if there is a problem in a society and if the costs imposed are actual, then removing that problem leads to a general social benefit and brings a profit. For example, we can consider the example of homosexuality in a reactionary society and the social problems therein. The most massive one is, of course, the public promotion of homosexuality as if it is virtuous behavior. This is hopefully easily resolved with social attitudes and private property in the absence of a specific system to counter it. However, if we are to have communities, there arises the issue of individual disagreements with the lifestyle choices of homosexuals.
The easy solution would be to simply exclude any and all homosexuals from a libertarian reactionary social order by physical removal. However, this falls into the problem of judgments based on groupings and can be counter-productive if homosexuals bring more material profit than the loss from immaterial externality. Unless homosexuality is abhorrent to all within a community, there needs to be some way of removing the unproductive homosexuals while keeping the well-behaved ones. This allows us to maximize profit in our social orders, and is a great drive towards a better society when it is already libertarian.
Men Among Men
If society is a market, then we need to acknowledge that there are people who invest more and people who invest less into that society. If we are going to privatize society, we cannot default to democratic representation, as that paves the way for new subsidy. Instead, those who contribute the greatest amount to a society ought to be those who have the most say over that society. These people can be viewed as those who hold the most shares in a joint-stock business. The group of people who hold majority interest in a society comprise this aristocracy. When a community, as a subsection of society, is run by the aristocracy, they hold the power to take social decisions and impose social sanctions. This aristocracy is then the most accurate form of deciding who should be removed from the social order.
We could here promote a spontaneous method of social disassociation or a more interpersonal order of democratic disassociation, but these make as much sense as creating a market socialistic order in the management of property. By using the aristocracy, we can practically implement a privatized society. The large burden of inclusion and exclusion is handled by the aristocrats and adds to the complete view of libertarian statecraft.
The Monarchic Solution
The solution that necessitates statecraft plays into the idea of a libertarian monarchy formed from actual contract promoting actual freedom and co-operation. This is the idea of a centrally imposed system of virtue into the law of a society. We can prevent immaterial externalities if we bind material possessions with the law in such a manner that those who cause immaterial, yet negative, externalities can be rightfully charged and tried. This is impossible without statecraft, as there are no proper standards by which we judge these people who make themselves into invaders and who abuse material property by assaulting immaterial property. Immaterial property cannot be defended without commonly accepted law and shared norms that can remove socialism from immaterial values. This means that immaterial values can only be property under libertarian statecraft.
Furthermore, we must also acknowledge the role of deterrence in punishment. Rothbard laid out a good framework for why material crime ought to be punished to twice the extent of that crime, and this applies even more within a social framework. There is no inherent material aspect of subverting a society, and if the worst that can happen is exclusion, small communities are completely defenseless against any subversive element. If a foreign entity is only met with exile after already subverting the society, he has no cost and can do away with any profits he managed to achieve from his subversion.
The only way to prevent this is to apprehend these people as invaders according to the local law set by property owners. In effect, by entering into the property of those under a system of agreed-upon law and remaining there, the subversive acknowledges and consents to the laws in that society. For example, if the owners of the property have a zero-tolerance policy for any sexual abuse and are willing to impose the death penalty on anyone who commits it, then the invader can be executed as he himself agreed to the laws of the society.
This is a dangerous concept with which to flirt and its implementation will be difficult; any practical implementation must restrict itself to very basic rules. A society could not function with giant codes of law, as remaining ignorant of the law would provide a reasonable excuse for violating it. This effectively eliminates the ethical standard of proportional response, as the laws are consented to by all property owners in society. Furthermore, this allows us to charge subversives with subversion and impose the penalty to which they consented. This serves to improve the degree of deterrence for actions that a society seeks to avoid.
This rationally leads us to the conclusion that a libertarian government would synthesize two vital and underappreciated forms of organization if it wanted to govern optimally. First, it would acknowledge the market in society and charge the aristocracy with ensuring that the tasks of inclusion and exclusion are properly maintained. Second, the libertarian government would have a barrier of deterrence in the form of disproportionate response, as all people voluntarily joined their property to create that government. If the market in governance is allowed to flourish, the problem of immaterial externalities finds a solution that bars any potential costs imposed by anti-social behavior.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series are further expounded upon in my book Anarcho-Monarchism, which you can buy here.
Time preference is a measure of valuing present goods versus future goods. High time preference (hereafter HTP) is a condition of preferring present goods, of being unable or unwilling to wait before engaging in consumption. Low time preference (hereafter LTP) is an ability and willingness to save for the future. LTP requires both that the cost of waiting is sufficiently low and that one have the self-discipline to avoid the temptation of HTP. Note that if all else is equal, the value of a good is inversely proportional to the time that one must wait before making use of it. For practical purposes, people with LTP are able to invest more aptly than those with HTP, as they can put off their present wants more easily for the sake of their future wants.
LTP in Economics
Murray Rothbard claimed that there is no ethical or economic value which would place LTP above HTP, nothing that makes one inherently better than the other. He even criticized conservatives for favoring LTP as it is supposedly equivalent to HTP, at least in economic terms. When people derive more value from the present than from the future, then the total value in the economy is the same. LTP is only relevant insofar as an individual with LTP is able to have more value in the future while a person with HTP will have more value in the present, though at the cost of less in the future.
This is an extremely hedonic view of economics. Total value may be same in both cases, but people with HTP will still have less quantifiable wealth. In other words, any sane person with HTP would rather have LTP, as this would make them better able to accumulate wealth. The higher the time preference of a civilization, the more there is capital consumption at the cost of capital creation. As time preference approaches infinity, wealth creation halts and the economy will be on a downward trend, even under a completely free market system. The hedonistic HTP cannot be valued on the same level as the civilization-producing LTP in economic analysis.
But why is creating wealth objectively better than consuming wealth? Why should we inherently value civilization over decivilization? The answer to this is simple: we do so because that is the purpose of economics. We do not engage in economics simply to be a value-neutral observer treating all possibilities as having the same worth. Rather, we engage in economics to find the best way of organizing the economy. To say that HTP is equivalent to LTP as both produce the same amount of value is to say that communism is equal to capitalism, provided that equality is more valuable than food. It may be true that some people view the world in such a warped manner that they would rather not eat than have a boss, but this does not make their view of the world economically correct.
If our goal is to create civilization and prosperity, then it is necessary to embrace LTP in economics, as not doing so would ultimately lead us to ruin. This is done not to worship economic growth for the sake of economic growth, but for the sake of future generations and human development. The more capital is consumed, the less the next generation will have capital. The more the economy is developed, the fewer people have to live in misery and poverty. Growing the economy is a way in which we grow civilization, though it is not the entirety of creating civilization.
LTP and Civilization
LTP is vital in social organization; there can be no valuable social organization that is built around HTP. Social organization inherently means that each person puts aside their own goals and desires to some extent in order to cater to that which others want. For example, in the division of labor, people relegate themselves to the most important tasks, as they are the most profitable. These tasks are both the most socially important and the ones the person is most apt to undertake. When an occupation is highly priced on the market, it must also be in high demand and there must be large amounts of social gain from that occupation.
Furthermore, each person has to do the occupation they are the most capable of in order to maximize their potential on the market. This includes both professional training and natural proclivities. Thus, people put aside their own preferences to do work which will aid the community the most and thus benefit proportionally. The many people choose different work point is accounted for in the following sentence. In simpler terms, is that 90 IQ people do not become neurosurgeons and most choose to work in the highest paid occupation in which they are competent. (This is only false insofar as personal values and ethical principles become involved and price out some occupations on purely moral terms.) Accountability is required for social organization, and this is impossible to manifest with HTP. Though libertarians may turn their noses at the idea of being accountable to a society, it is a vital concept which needs swift integration to distinguish between aristocratic libertarianism and libertine individualism.
Social accountability, simply put, is the notion that people ought to do that which is in accordance with the norms of the wider society. It goes contrary to the libertine principle that all actions are acceptable as long as no force is initiated, provided that the wider society is in ignorance of them. Social accountability consists of trusting people with their privacy and trusting that they are good people even behind closed doors. This does not mean that we should break peoples’ doors in to guarantee that they are not engaging in degenerate behavior. Rather, this means that people ought to hold themselves accountable to the wider society and live up to the expectation that they are conducive to morality. We do not need to defend the undefendable, but focus on that which is moral and desirable.
HTP and Society
Social accountability is the direct counter-force to hedonism and degeneracy; it makes libertarianism compatible with morality. It is a civilizing force which, when coupled with individual liberty, creates the greatest form of society. This is a society in which the actions of all people are not only accountable to themselves, but where all people need to be accountable for their actions to the wider community. This does not mean that the collective is the base view of society; only that societies are generally better off when norms are respected. For example, one of the most vital norms for libertarians is the contract, which is ultimately a promise that should be kept. Promises are kept when people feel responsible to other people and feel that they need to take accountability of their actions in a social context.
However, when people have HTP, they are unable to be socially accountable because they are unable to see how their behavior impacts their society and their future. People cannot put aside their hedonistic desires unless they have LTP. Furthermore, the effects of LTP do not simply stop at social accountability. While social accountability is immensely important for aristocratic libertarianism, it is also true that LTP is conducive to other great virtues within a libertarian society. For example, if we are to have a libertarian society organized in such a manner that would be conducive to family, it must be a society that is LTP. Family is an extremely intensive endeavor without any material value in the present, at least in a society that does not use child labor. The only time when raising a family will be materially useful is in old age, when one needs their care. Having a family is a great drain on resources and as such, people with HTP will easily abandon all notions of a family. This is because they cannot put aside their present desire to consume over the future benefit of creation. Having a HTP society would not only result in capital consumption, but also in the non-replenishment of the foundation of a society; its people.
Creating LTP can be done in a few select ways, all of which can be understood best within the framework of interest rates. The goal is to create LTP in governance by organically causing interest rates to decline. When people place less value on the present over the future, they will settle with having a lesser premium for future goods. When people have a lesser premium for future goods, it means that they are willing to wait longer for goods and that they are willing to engage in civilizing production. Thus, when interest rates lower organically, people will move in the direction of LTP. If we lower interest rates inorganically, it does not change the fundamental society; it only creates a false sense of security.
Security is the first component to creating an LTP society. When a society is insecure, time preference is bound to increase. Conversely, the more security there is, the more LTP a society will be. When people can make plans and be sure that their capital will not be destroyed, they are able to delegate tasks and consumption to the future. When people are unsure whether or not they will even be able to consume in the future, they must have a higher time preference. This does not mean that security forces are inherently good. Both insurance and defense against aggression, the two services that provide material security, require upkeep. This means that the security provided must be valued against the costs of maintaining the systems of insurance and defense against aggression. Thus, a well-ordered defense force is integral to any form of civilization or social organization. But this is not an argument for the state; far from it. The state does not retain a well-ordered police, militia, or military. State-provided defense tends to have a negative impact on a society, as the state is a distinctly anti-social force. We need libertarianism precisely so that we can leave defense to the free market and not suffer state abuses.
Community itself also fosters LTP. When people are isolated, they default to HTP because there is no future for them. A community can provide this future as well as a sense of belonging and meaning. This allows LTP to form organically. Libertarians need to provide a future instead of submitting to the disheartening realities of the current condition. This is even more true with family itself, although incentivizing the most HTP people to raise a family is too dangerous to view as a desirable goal. A person who consumes too much in the present is incapable of providing for children, and even though having a child would lower one’s time preference, it might be insufficient for raising the child in a proper environment. Parents with HTP may also lack the necessary patience for raising a child.
Another way of creating LTP is to create prosperity. The more people have in the present, the more likely they are to put aside for the future. When people have their wants satisfied, they are less likely to consume and are thus more likely to invest. Investing into the future is facilitated by having past investment and current prosperity. In a situation of war rationing or otherwise general poverty, there will be a general sense of HTP because surviving the present becomes enough of an ordeal by itself.
The three best ways to create LTP are to create security, community, and prosperity. All of these go against the sort of libertine individualism that is prevalent in libertarian circles, and all of these are necessary to have a moral form of libertarianism. The need to integrate ethics beyond self-ownership, non-aggression, and private property into libertarianism is debatable, but if this is accepted, then LTP must be encouraged for all of the above reasons. We cannot benefit from an HTP libertarian society. The biggest problem in developing libertarianism is that it might result in a large-scale ghetto and create an undesirable social order; this must be avoided at all costs. Part XI will tackle the issue of immaterial externalities and the complicated situations therein.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series are further expounded upon in my book Anarcho-Monarchism, which you can buy here.
The first eight parts of this series demonstrated that libertarian governance is both necessary and desirable, explained how it ought to be structured, and showed that statism is inferior to libertarian statecraft. The next task, which will occupy the remainder of this series, is to explore the nature of wise statecraft. The principles laid out here will apply to all statecraft, whether done on an individual, collective, or even statist level. However, these principles of statecraft use libertarianism in a way that is not blindly dismissive of statecraft.
This can be thought of as the libertarian theory of efficient property management. Of course, if profit maximization would impose a cost on some person, that cost should eventually be internalized. If anyone else has to subsidize personal profit maximization, then social profit is not maximized. By applying libertarian theory, we have already eliminated the main concern that profit maximization will be anti-social. Imposing costs is contradictory to libertarianism, thus libertarianism can never consistently be anti-social.
The Good Effects
There are four major reasons why social trust is desirable. First, social trust strengthens property rights as property-oriented norms develop. Second, trust funds social activity and community spaces. The only way property can be managed in the social realm is if the managers have trust with the community. Without trust, any non-profit endeavor is made nearly impossible and the optimal size of all organization is greatly reduced. All social and community interaction is not quantifiable in material terms, as such it cannot simply use the logic of the marketplace for material goods. Third, trust lowers transaction costs, as transactions attain a less stringent necessity for verification while scams and fraudulence become less of a concern. Fourth, trust inherently creates opportunity as high-trust social networks lend themselves to an easier process of allocating resources. These features of trust are essential for creating and maintaining a society that can actually function and compete with other societies, but this warrants further explanation. It is imperative to establish how societies can create trust and then profit from it.
Within a society that has higher levels of trust, people also have a higher degree of social responsibility. Social trust means that each person can be relied on and all people are expected to function within society, with minimal exceptions. When people are expected to refrain from value-destructive behavior, they are expected to refrain from lessening the value of all property, regardless of who owns it.
The most egregious violation of the principle of social responsibility is the violation of property rights, especially the ultimate property right within one’s own body. When property rights are threatened, the necessary result is a general reduction in profits because theft is a complete social loss. There are two mechanisms by which social trust will necessarily reduce theft. First, when all people are expected to take care of themselves and social attitudes are conducive to this, there will be a significant reduction in people who are relegated to poverty and degenerate behavior. When people retain their cognitive abilities and have no need to steal, they rarely do so. Second, when people trust each other, they will reciprocate property rights. This is a main distinction between property rights in first-world versus third-world countries. In many third-world countries, property itself is met with envy. Low social trust leads people to believe that prosperity is built from poverty, that property is only held at the expense of everyone else. This lack of trust and reciprocity results in property being under constant attack. This reduces profits and creates general social stagnation.
A prominent criticism of libertarianism itself is that it cannot fund social activities, but this is only true as long as libertarianism is coupled with a low-trust society. In a high-trust libertarian social order, all people are invested in society. When people are invested in society through the mechanism of social responsibility, they will fund social activities. This creates a powerful drive to form commons in areas that are useful for many people and create norms and spaces in which communities can thrive. From subsidizing schools to establishing parks, high trust results in funding for community functions.
These libertarian commons would not be equivalent to state-established commons. This is because any libertarian form of common property would require general rules of organization to stay profitable for all people. The logic of spontaneous order applies even when property is not individually held and managed. These commons would effectively be market-based, as they are not owned by any state authority.
When all people are good caretakers of their property and the common property, all people can expect others to do the same. When it is expected that there is no abuse of common property, it leads to an establishment of common property and the defense thereof. Many libertarians may now try to argue against this by invoking the tragedy of the commons, but this is solved by a high-trust society through the mechanism described above. Note that if it is impossible to establish generalized rules in commons, then the entire theory of spontaneous order falls apart.
But why do these common spaces maximize profits more than spaces which are privately funded? Why is it not advantageous to leave schools to capitalists rather than subsidizing education for everyone? Why should parks not be privatized and function as places of advertising or require fees? The answers to both of these questions are fairly simple. First, social management of public areas greatly increases social capital, which is extremely valuable in itself. People can find shared interests and camaraderie by managing a public area. Having commons leads to a greater capacity of forming networks of trust and reciprocity.
Second, whenever the children in a society are properly educated, those children become more productive adults. Whenever education is not subsidized, there will be less education and social profits will be greatly reduced. For highly intelligent children, this is not a problem in the age of technology. However, structural education is still useful for many people. Additionally, the subsidization of education makes the community socially responsible for education. This makes subversion much more difficult. (This is not to endorse over-education where children are bombarded for years with irrelevancies and propaganda, but a certain degree of knowledge is necessary to function within an industrial or service economy. And unlike higher forms of knowledge, it is much harder to learn the absolutely necessary forms of knowledge without guidance.)
Commons are beneficial because they are held and managed by the entire community at large. Since these commons produce profits for the entire community, they serve to increase the prosperity of an entire society. This creates a uniform increase in profits, which ensures that the general wealth of society is increased. When the quality of a community increases, so do the rents that can be charged for living in that community. This is a positive externality for everyone who can charge rents or owns property. That is not to say that this is fundamentally good, but most people prefer that the communities in which they live in are prosperous.
All markets in property titles include an inherent cost of verifying that transactions are legitimate alongside the cost of exchanging a title itself. When one buys a title for a good, one needs to make sure that the good itself is what one expects. If trust is low, all of these costs will be heightened. For example, when a society does not trust food to be of good quality, it needs to be regulated by a meta-structure that expands over the entire society. This imposes a tremendous cost on those who make food and those who consume food, but it is the only way to facilitate food production within a low-trust society. A high-trust society eliminates the need for compulsory audits in food production, as all food is expected to be of quality.
If blockchain technology is sufficiently advanced and universally adopted, this problem would be greatly alleviated. However, trustless systems can never be as efficient as high-trust systems. A trustless system can only function insofar as it prevents the imposition of costs, while a high-trust system can serve to be value-productive. For example, if one is sold rotten food, both systems will serve to solve that issue. But only a high-trust system will seek to ease the discomfort and re-establish good relations.
When all goods are expected to be of the promised quality, transaction costs are reduced. Conversely, in a low-trust society, there is no guarantee that promised goods would be delivered. This leads to the prevalence of scams and other forms of anti-social profit maximization. Even when this does not become outright fraudulence in selling goods, it still results in sub-par goods being passed off as better quality, and this relates to the final point.
When transactions are made, there needs to be a certainty that the ex-post value is the same as the ex-ante value. In essence, the potential for buyer’s remorse needs to be eliminated within reason. This is threatened by two things in a low-trust society: misrepresentation and false advertising. This is undesirable for the aforementioned reasons. When people do not have to pay any of these added costs, transactions will be done more rapidly and more efficiently. Societies with a high amount of trust will seek to transact in the optimal way, which will result in profits being maximized for all parties within that transaction. Thus, eliminating transaction costs is a vital part of what it means to increase profits within society. The lower transaction costs are, the less each person has to pay for trade and the more profits each person can internalize.
When people can be trusted to keep their word and do what they promised to do, the social allocation of resources becomes more efficient. This is the basis for the brilliance of the contract; having tasks guaranteed to be done creates the potential for these tasks to be delegated to those who are the best suited for particular purposes. When there is little cost to delegating tasks, each person finds themselves with the opportunity to apply their own skills in such a way that is the most beneficial for the entirety of society, including themselves. The division of labor hinges on trust insofar as trust is required to guarantee the practical applicability of the contract.
Furthermore, the social networks inherent in a high-trust society create a higher degree of awareness for opportunities. All people are better able to find the tasks in which they are proficient and find people to whom they can delegate tasks that they are unable to do in an efficient manner. When there is social capital and high trust, there is a propensity for a better allocation of resources. This also applies to the allocation of property titles, but that mostly falls under the transaction costs that were described above.
Creating a High-Trust Society
The first and most relevant part of creating a high-trust society is to establish structures of authority to which all people can appeal whenever there is social irresponsibility. By establishing that the participants in society have an appeal for anti-social behavior, the society has established networks that incentivize trust. The trust level in society corresponds to the level of just authority.
An essential part of trust is to reduce out-group competition. Whenever a society has multiple competing factions, that society will lack trust. Trust, as a concept, is only ever truly applicable within the in-group, as all out-groups are in direct conflict with the in-group. Thus, the elimination of heterogeneity in society will result in the increased quality of trust. Beyond mechanical market operations, each in-group aims to subsidize itself at the expense of each out-group. For this reason, factionalism necessarily reduces profits.
Social responsibility at the institutional level is also integral to trust. This is represented in the Hoppean model of covenant communities, the Heathian model of central landlords, and any other form of libertarian statecraft. Making all people institutionally responsible for their own society will facilitate trust. Without any moral norms, people cannot be expected to be moral actors, and moral norms with no institutional backing cannot guarantee morality. In order to prevent low trust and its associated ills, libertarian forms of governance must enforce moral norms through non-aggressive means.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series are further expounded upon in my book Anarcho-Monarchism, which you can buy here.
Having established thus far that an entire field of libertarian inquiry exists by using statecraft for the maximization of profit within a libertarian system, we can now start looking at the problems that arise from certain systems. The most problematic political system that could arise from libertarian statecraft is a totalitarian system. This is any system in which superficially libertarian contracts could lead to a complete abandonment of all rights. We must now determine whether this is a problem for libertarians, and if so, whether voluntary totalitarianism must be fought.
Totalitarianism and Profit
It is possible to form a seemingly totalitarian society within the libertarian framework. One can imagine a contract that requires signing away all rights and joining a totalitarian government. However, this is a very poor value proposition. If this sort of totalitarianism helped maximize the personal collection of profit, then it could be a thriving system under libertarianism. However, this leaves one’s property liable for resale and is thus infinitely unprofitable due to regime uncertainty.
One must keep in mind the propertarian concept that property is not only the material well-being of each individual, but their own lives and social interactions as well. A totalitarian government places itself in a position of being an effective state through the impact that it has on society. Totalitarianism is the only way that one can have one’s property resold in a libertarian framework. However, this serves as a powerful condemnation of statism and argument for libertarianism, in that only the absolute worst result of libertarianism is comparable to the state.
A totalitarian system within a libertarian framework would remove the ability to revoke consent, and is thus a horrible strategy for maximizing profit. However, there could be a system which allows people the right to exit yet otherwise gives the voluntary government absolute power, so absolutism can exist within a libertarian framework. As long as property is not liable for resale, this form of absolutism is not contrary to libertarianism.
Absolutism as a strategy would also be profit-maximizing if there was an incredibly wide gap of knowledge and ability between the governing class and other private individuals. If the governing class always makes better decisions than private individuals, then it is profit-maximizing to have absolutism. And when interests do not conflict, absolutism still allows for freedom. If members of the governing class have such a degree of wisdom that all conflicting desires should be resolved on the side of the government, then there is nothing wrong with absolutism. Even without reserving any individual rights and even whilst voluntarily giving up all power, libertarianism can accommodate this theoretical possibility. All arguments for technocracy and absolutism are replicable within libertarianism if the technocrats can demonstrate their own value and refrain from aggressive violence.
Conversely, if absolutism is regarded as a subsidy for the political class, then there can be no absolutism within a libertarian framework. If absolutism did not maximize individual profit, then it would be contrary to individual goals and thus would be abandoned as a viable strategy by the property owners employing the government. If a strategy of government organization becomes unprofitable, then that strategy cannot maintain itself as the government has no popular consent. If it was understood that withdrawing consent from government was possible, no person would have the capacity to sustain that government. Coercively seeking subsidy without popular agreement is impossible; such interactions become a matter of either war or trade. There is no parasitism in a libertarian social order; as such any non-parasitic system can flourish without that burden.
The Parasitic Elite
If there is a group of people who aim to seek subsidy at the cost of society and successfully integrate themselves into libertarianism, they can become a parasitic elite. The people who would use demagoguery and trickery to fraudulently seize power are the enemies of liberty. Libertarians must be able to stop a potential parasitic elite if there is ever to be a libertarian society. We cannot ignore the problem of power-hunger within libertarianism, as a libertarian society stops being mechanical the moment it includes statecraft. (And libertarianism needs to stop being mechanical if it will ever move beyond a philosophy created by damaged and trustless people.) If libertarianism is not a mechanical system, then the problems of social organization become relevant to libertarianism. This is not contrary to property, but rather categorizes and seeks the solutions to classes of problems. This is the same problem we see in statist politics, in which the worst can get on top and exploit their host society. If profit-maximizing systems are replaced by parasitic schemes, then there is no innate reason to adopt libertarianism.
The Natural Elite
The most functional way to combat a parasitic elite is domination of the natural elite. Those who are best fit to govern are most suited to prevent kakistocracy. The profit from proper governance is also most aptly collected by the natural elite. This renders the spontaneous aristocracy the best suited and most motivated when it comes to dealing with the problem of parasites as elites. But how can this be done? If the parasites have the population under their own control and have the capacity to reduce social profit, what can the aristocracy do? The most relevant and obvious strategy is to simply out-compete the parasites by establishing parallel institutions and creating a profit-maximizing system. They will face conflict from the parasites, but eventually will take control away from them.
This is a practical libertarian and/or reactionary strategy within the modern world. The natural aristocracy needs to organize against the state itself and initiate this competition with the promise of eventually maximizing profits. The current elite in society is wholly parasitic, and purging this parasitic elite is the function of the natural aristocrat. The natural aristocrat is the only type of person capable of defeating the monstrous state and ought to be the nexus of libertarian and/or reactionary organization. This does not imply an elitist strategy, as the aristocrats cannot convince people to be libertarians. If we are to create the movement to spawn these aristocrats, we still need to work from the bottom up.
Furthermore, this profit maximization would spread into the society at large because social actions have consequences for the capacity of individuals to maximize their profits. This means that any parasitism in the social realm should be combated by the natural elite, but this is the only justifiable social question within libertarian inquiry. Society can only be framed within libertarianism insofar as it affects the ability of individuals to maximize the profits of their property. However, property in this sense must include all non-material personal values alongside materially owned property, as there are important non-economic values which are worth upholding for some loss of economic efficiency.
The Elite Authority
If the aristocracy serves to combat all parasitic elements in society, we can now further reinforce the notion that it is beneficial to have this form of authority. Whereas the authority of the aristocrat is what enables sustainable liberty, an aristocratic form of authoritarianism is the best enabler for libertarianism. In this sense, libertarianism and authoritarianism become complementary. What first may have seemed like conflicting sets of principles is now a harmonious whole. The authoritarian system protects property from being resold and defends the individual from potential parasitism. Enabling the rule of the aristocrats lets us exceed what would be possible if parasitism were allowed to exist within a libertarian society. When we can utilize authority for our own benefit, we can establish libertarianism as a much greater system than it was before.
By introducing statecraft into libertarianism, we introduce value production far beyond what the mechanical market could provide by itself. By including the aristocratic element of society that is conducive to value production in the free market, we strengthen the market and ultimately strengthen property rights. Thus, a partial abandonment of control over private property ends up reinforcing and furthering our control over our own property. We must concede that this is where minarchists are actually correct, even if most of them do not understand precisely how. However, this does not justify a violent and coercive state; it only requires us to view a libertarian society as a governed society.
State and Authority
By reintroducing authority, we do not reintroduce the state. States are parasitic entities and can never be expected to practice proper statecraft. The state is inherently partially totalitarian, as it is both the enforcer and creator of law, not subject to a superior authority. The sovereign in the form of the state is antithetical to the profit of any individual within society.
By reframing minarchist criticisms of anarchism, we can find a good critique of an unorganized system of full privatization. Without any implication that the solution is to reduce privatization, we can then introduce the solutions to supposed problems of full privatization into statelessness. We become able to constructively utilize all parts of minarchist theory that are valuable and effectively establish a superior form of minarchy.
But at this point, why should we even be against the state if we will simply reintroduce governance to the market? The answer is that if we do not abolish the state, the state can always resell our property and profit at our expense. The state will always expand, for this is its incentive and no force exists to stop it. There is no superior to the state, and it is always totalitarian to some extent. Statelessness serves to abolish this totalitarianism and to allow property to be used in the most efficient and profitable manner.
Even though authority is good and social organization ought to be practiced, a state can provide neither. The elite of the state will be a parasitic elite, and the state cannot properly organize society as it is in itself superior to society. By assuming a monopoly over violence and law, the state creates a special position for itself. The state removes itself from all cordial, practical, and beneficial relations by removing itself from the bounds of external morality. The state is unable to practice proper statecraft as it is necessarily antagonistic to the polity. Therefore, if we want good governance, we must oppose the state.
Now that we have spent eight articles establishing a theory for libertarian statecraft, we need to work on what form this statecraft would take. What are the principles of effective governance? How can we practice governance with our reframed view of libertarianism? What should elites do with the control they have over property? What burdens of property do individuals find hard to combat by themselves in libertarian societies? From Part IX onward, the series will shift from laying the groundwork for libertarian statecraft to laying out effective principles of libertarian statecraft.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series are further expounded upon in my book Anarcho-Monarchism, which you can buy here.
The frame in which the modern libertarian movement sees the world is a combination of individualist anarchism and classical liberal thought. This in itself is excusable, as the classical liberals and individualist anarchists were major influences in the development of libertarianism. However, framing libertarianism by these principles also results in serious problems. Our theory is subject to the suppositions of opposing theories.
Freedom for Freedom
An idea that is largely derivative from the individualist anarchists is the libertarian claim that the superiority of our ideology is due to the fact that we want freedom for the sake of freedom. However, this originates from the socialistic individualist anarchists, and as such we must realize the incompatibility of this notion of freedom with the libertarian philosophy. For the most pertinent example, no proper libertarian would support the freedom to violate private property rights. The guiding principles of our philosophy are self-ownership, non-aggression, and private property rather than freedom itself.
It is also not the case that libertarians unconditionally endorse private property. We may tacitly support the right of communists to form communes on their own property, but we do not actively endorse such uses of private property. This means that libertarians also have a philosophy when it comes to the use of private property. Libertarians do not only want a system of private property, but private property that is put to efficient uses. To say that libertarians want freedom for the sake of freedom is to ignore libertarian theory and to imply that libertarians subscribe to suppositions that they, in actuality, do not hold.
Furthermore, nothing in libertarian theory implies that we should have any respect for social freedom beyond what private property rights require. Hedonism, nihilism, degeneracy, and other high time preference behavior must be avoided if there is to be a sustainable libertarian social order. This requires restricting some actions in the social realm. Thus, favoring social freedom is not necessarily a desirable libertarian position. Libertarian theory only makes statements about the ownership of private property and what a person can do on their private property. People should have full rights to the property that they rightfully own. However, people can also use their property to take on duties and social responsibility.
Social freedom only exists in libertarianism insofar as a person is confined to their own property with no responsibility to a society. Most people want those in their society to be responsible, and most also want to be responsible to their society. Thus, social freedom becomes an irrelevant concept. Social responsibility can be institutionalized within a system of formal governance to manage the society. To take a relatively uncontroversial example within the libertarian sphere, a society could ban adults from yelling at children to prevent future crime and social disarray. The society could enforce this agreement by previously agreed upon penalties.
Since all forms of freedom within libertarianism are superseded by property, libertarianism as a discipline focuses on the results of property. This is the so-called ‘thin libertarianism’ and the only current philosophically consistent form of libertarianism. Therefore, debates within the libertarian discipline should be about the end results of property and not values beyond property. This may mean that the libertarian discipline should be abandoned, but if one embraces norms contrary to property, they can no longer call themselves libertarians.
However, there is much disagreement concerning the form that property would take within a libertarian system. Even when there is a broad consensus of non-aggression, the results of such non-aggression differ based on who is describing a libertarian society. The Hoppean view and the agorist view of complete privatization are conflicting visions, although both are ‘thin libertarian’ theories. But both views are technically correct, in that they are possibilities within libertarianism.
As long as one remains within a non-aggressive philosophy, one will be able to establish whatever system one wants in libertarianism. All conceivable systems could be described as libertarian as long as they respect private property rights. Thus, the debate within libertarianism is over which form of property management is the most efficient, or in other terms, which form of social organization will out-compete the rest. All our debates eventually need to result in individual strategies to maximize private profit. Using any other terms of debate, one moves into a philosophy that is not expressly libertarian. This is not to say that libertarians need to seek material profit above all, but libertarianism is largely an economic philosophy that uses economic terms due to the focus on efficiency.
The Second Order
The fact that any libertarian society will be predicated upon personal profit maximization demonstrates how libertarianism serves as a basis for further philosophy and strategy. Each person within a libertarian society still has to decide how they will manage their property or outsource the management thereof.
All libertarian thought henceforth ought to be about how best to maximize profit once we have established full rights to property. Libertarians need to establish how it is possible to avoid most potentially negative outcomes that a pure private property society could conceivably have. We should not tacitly assume that the libertarian ethic nullifies all problems, or even that the libertarian ethic allows for proper solutions to all problems. Rather, it is superior to any other ethic overall. When one shifts one’s focus from the ethic into the profit maximization derivative from that ethic, one finds a relatively unexplored field in libertarianism.
Upon entering this field, we ought to look back to the original theory of the social contract and the classical liberal ideas for managing society. Once we have established a libertarian order, or a new “state of nature”, we can then look at the theory of the social contract to see what the libertarian order could become. Our philosophical heritage has allowed us to completely reframe the social contract and use it at the basis of libertarianism and statecraft without justifying the state. The intellectual work of the 20th century radical libertarians has given us the best opportunity to reincorporate classical tools into modern theory.
Social Contract Theories
The three and a half centuries that we have had to develop libertarianism have done enough to establish a legal system and an ethical philosophy. This means that we need to change our focus to a descriptive outlook. Toward that end, Locke’s theory of the social contract is simple and the least controversial for a libertarian system. Locke simply stated that in order to prevent potential revenge that could arise from personal judgment over all legal matters, there needs to be a central state to create a harmonious society. This social contract would give the central authority power over law to prevent unnecessary violence. This is simple to adopt into preceding libertarianism, as all persons within a society can form a contract, or in Hoppean terms, a covenant. This allows them to defeat the possible problem of conflicting legal enforcers by giving one concrete agency power over judgment. Thus, by simply adopting Lockean theory within a stateless framework, we have explained how defense could work in a libertarian society. Finding solutions to questions simply becomes one of adjusting our frames of reference to a voluntary basis.
Hobbes comes at the problem of a social contract from the right. He states that since the natural state of man is violence and chaos, man needs to be suppressed by a mortal god, or the state. The state then retains sovereignty in itself and has functionally absolute power over its citizens. We find this adopted into neoreactionary theory through the notion of contractual absolutism and the idea that establishing a social contract can lead to a reactionary and authoritarian form of government. If we accept the libertarian framing, we also accept that there is no inherent problem with this form of governance as long as it respects the property of all the people within it. The problem with Hobbesian theory is that the Leviathan is not constructed voluntarily, not that the Leviathan exists at all. As long as the Leviathan coercively imposes no costs on the people in society, it would be a completely justified construct.
Rousseau, meanwhile, comes at the problem from the left. He admits that a political society is worse than living in nature, then establishes that we ought to establish a social contract to prevent further ills. This social contract would consist of making the entire polity absolutely supreme and creating a radically democratic society where all impose duties on all and are equally free (or unfree). This can solve leftist criticisms by allowing them to undertake any profit-maximizing scheme they wish. This profit, however, sacrifices material well-being for a feeling of equality and moral superiority. If the people in the leftist society value having equal obligations more than having liberty and property, they can sacrifice their liberty and property to maximize their psychological profit.
Application of Social Contracts
By simply rehabilitating social contracts into our theory, we find at least three new intellectually stimulating directions that libertarianism could take. If we think about how to maximize personal profit and how that relates to the wider society, we find an entire field of libertarianism that has been left largely unexplored, with social contract theory only serving as a baseline. Even agorist and Hoppean theories now seem woefully insufficient, and it seems that we are at a junction where we can truly advance libertarian theory.
By introducing a second layer of thought in libertarianism we find ourselves with infinitely more options than before. We can now solve problems using these newfound tools and manage to find even better solutions for ubiquitous criticisms of libertarianism. We do not have to resort to contrived logic or empty statements; we can now use whatever we can conceive of to defend liberty. There is no more uphill battle to defend liberty; we place ourselves in a position of attack and of strength.
This even allows us to turn around every statist criticism against libertarianism and use it to strengthen our case. Whenever someone points out an apparent flaw in libertarianism, we can simply default to the establishment of these second order systems to solve the problem. We can repeat the exact solution that was proposed back to the proponent of that solution mutatis mutandis within the framework of libertarianism. This only comes with a caveat that their solution needs to maximize social profit, whether it be material or immaterial.
But if every system is possible in libertarianism, it would also mean that systems which are reprehensible to libertarians are allowed to flourish. Autostatist reciprocity is a necessary form of libertarian organization and vital for any future libertarian system. But is there any way to combat undesirable systems? Is there any reason to counter illibertarianism within the aforementioned second order of politics? Can we do anything about potential totalitarian systems, and if so, should we? These questions will be addressed in Part VIII.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series will be further expounded upon in my upcoming book Anarcho-Monarchism, which will be available in April.
If there is to be a government in a libertarian society, there will eventually be a problem of state formation. Libertarians wish to avoid having a state over them, but here I advocate for giving a degree of sovereignty to a governing entity. The main problem lies within the potential capacity of the managerial government to usurp the property of its constituents and leave that property liable for expropriation and resale. This is an issue no matter whether we default to monarchs, insurance agencies, private defense organizations, or heavily armed individuals.
Markets in Everything
When governance is integrated into the market as all other industries are, there is necessarily a formation of a market for governance. Government is no longer a coercive agency that imposes itself onto a society, but rather is subject to the same economic laws that all other agencies are. The government then must conform to the wishes of those who pay for the government, and is no longer subsidized by a monopoly on violence. If a market government were to not conform to the wishes of those who pay for its governance services, it would find itself out-competed by other governments.
When a government is subject to market forces, it will be affected by those market forces just as every other agency. This will cause the services offered by a government to be less costly and of better quality. By placing the government within the confines of consumer sovereignty, we have fundamentally erased the problem of inefficiency and oppression. By removing the state that subsidizes a government and thus the capacity to aggressively exercise government force, we have removed the negatives of government. The reason why libertarians should be opposed to the state is that it has legitimized aggressive force, not that it provides valuable services.
Within a libertarian society where property rights are absolute, there is no way that a government can even theoretically become tyrannical. The only way in which tyranny can be exercised without the state is through overt warfare, at which point the government, as such, would be dissolved. This perfect confederacy wherein each person is the absolute ruler of their own property can restrain and hold the mandate of the government in check. The management of property can continue on efficient terms without leading to perverse incentives. This is unlike the statist government, which retains its privileged position while being aggressive.
Authorities in Society
Libertarians are still wary of authority; they cannot conceptualize that authority itself may be good for people. But there is plausible benefit that can be gained from following authorities. Any fear of authority ignores the nature of authority itself and supposes that authority means privilege. Within the modern casually totalitarian state, we only see authority at its worst. The people in authority are those who have unbridled control over us. Furthermore, authority is selected for negative traits and thus ends up being held by the worst people in society. However, to frame authority around the modern state is to ignore most of human history.
To explain this concept in purely libertarian economic terms, we have to move from a more metaphysical interpretation of authority to a wholly social one. In a completely spontaneous order with a perfect division of labor, authorities will always arise. The market system will always give those with more expertise control over their areas of expertise, so pure market forces produce authority wherever it is advantageous. When the proper people are placed in charge through market forces, they will be in charge because they ought to be in charge and not because they want to rule over us.
Unlike political selection, markets select for whoever can produce the most utility for the consumer. This means that by doing away with the state, we will ensure that the leaders are also the ones who should lead. People who participate in markets do so while managing their own property or the property that they have been delegated, and they do so for their own benefit. This results in an accumulation of information, as people want to derive the most profits from their own property. Those people will thus have to learn how to maximize the benefit of property.
When people have to learn how to profit most from their own property, they will realize that the best way to profit is to delegate the management of property. People do not have equal talent for managing property, so there is a necessity for a division of labor. However, when people delegate the management of their property to someone else, they need to guarantee that the agent they appoint to manage their property is the most capable manager available. If people allowed unworthy individuals to manage their property, they would then be subject to the losses caused by improper management.
When a society is formed spontaneously and conforms to the interests of those within the society, property would be utilized so as to bring profit. The managers of property would be selected by their demonstrated merit. In this way, as with all other market interactions, the best will rise to the top because they can provide the largest profit for the holders of property. Those most capable of property management will have the most opportunity to manage property.
Authoritarianism Within the Market
This also means that there is nothinginherently wrong with authoritarianism, as authoritarianism simply means obeying authority rather than expressing personal freedom. When those who have authority are the most capable and can provide the most profit, authoritarianism becomes fully compatible with libertarianism. (This is true in a more fundamental way; a private property owner who wields absolute monarchic power over his estate is both perfectly libertarian and perfectly authoritarian.) It is not a matter of authority and liberty, but rather coercion and markets. Giving up the freedom to manage one’s own property in exchange for additional profit is fully compatible with libertarianism.
Furthermore, even when authoritarianism is implemented coercively, it is not necessarily a counter-libertarian force. Within the political realm, more personal freedoms do not always make for a more libertarian society. When the structure of a government is authoritarian, it may be that actual property rights are strengthened if the ruler has such an ideological bent. Even though there may be less representative democracy and no constitution, within the practical sphere of life there may be a more efficient system of property under an authoritarian state. Of course, we would always prefer a perfectly stateless libertarian order in which we can practice efficient statecraft. But when one must choose between systems of government, one should not blindly oppose authoritarianism.
It is not as if libertarianism is expressly threatened by authoritarian or autocratic regimes, although most modern examples thereof tend to be socialistic. Using liberal concepts to frame libertarianism results in a worship of the civil democratic state to the detriment of liberty. Libertarians should support that which gives people the most rights to control their own property, not whatever gives people the ability to cast ballots.
This form of authoritarianism is a distinct social benefit. Provided that the authority is decided by market forces, authority will serve to improve the quality of life for everyone within society. The authority itself is not oppressive, and there is no inherent problem with authority. Authoritarianism is the most efficient organization of society as long as the proper people are in positions of authority and the positions themselves are not coercively maintained. Thus, within the economic and legal framework of libertarianism, all libertarians should favor authoritarianism. There are no conflicting political forces of liberty and authority, and once authority is subjected to the framework of liberty, it is only complementary to liberty. Authoritarianism serves as to enable and enhance libertarianism as a political philosophy. This may seem incredibly counter-intuitive, but what libertarians are fighting is coercion. Whenever authorities refrain from coercing anyone, they are perfectly libertarian.
Democracy and Market Government
Market governance cannot be confused with democracy for many reasons, the most important two of which are that there is no real way to opt out of democracy and the existence of a vote in itself supposedly ties a person to a state. Thus, as long as there are votes, any state action is justified and there is no way to lawfully dissolve the state or exit the state without leaving for another state or carrying out a violent coup. This is contrasted with a libertarian social order where the fundamental presupposition is the individual right to own property. All government can be dissolved when it stops profiting the constituents thereof and no government can force compliance further than what the people employing the government are willing to reinforce.
It may be easy to draw a supposed line between the two types of governance as they both theoretically cater to the interests of the public, but this assessment must be reconsidered. Democracy fundamentally leaves the decisions of the government up to a communist system of representation and decision-making. Each person can give equal input on policy. Market governance, however, has no such aspect and those in charge would most likely not consider the input of those with no qualifications to give input. Rather, they would pursue the best course of action in terms of serving their customers.
The Wrong Approach
Unless one contextualizes libertarianism as a hedonisticview of personal freedom, there can be no objection to authority from a purely libertarian perspective. We might dislike giving up managerial control over property, however, if it produces more efficient results it will be profitable for the great many. This may not be our idea of libertarianism, but it would be the most demonstrably efficient system. Libertarianism cannot be defined as absolute personal control over property. This does not imply that anyone would be forced into authoritarianism, but rather that authoritarianism is a perfectly consistent position within libertarian philosophy.
Private property enables outsourcing management duties; this is a major reason for the existence of free market in the first place. It is not that we need to abolish government; rather, we need to form a binding contract which can replace the non-existent social contract. If we want to create libertarian statecraft, we need to have a formally contracted and socially responsible government. The problem libertarians have with the democratic social contract is that it does not exist. If we are to establish proper governance, we need to establish a reciprocal, enforceable social contract.
These concepts may seem extremely alien for libertarians. We have spent a lot of time trying to create an image of libertarianism as being opposed to social contract theory. How can we properly seek to re-frame libertarianism so as to be compatible with government and authoritarianism? How can we move beyond vacuous personal freedoms into a realm of aristocracy, virtue, and efficiency? In Part VII, I will critique libertarian assumptions that are not based on sound reasoning.
Author’s note: The main themes of this series will be further expounded upon in my upcoming book Anarcho-Monarchism, which will be available in April.
In Part IV, the logistical question of merging the rule of the aristocracy with the absolute property held by each person was considered. To concede that individual sovereignty is invalid would effectively defeat all libertarian values. To concede that central sovereignty is invalid would defeat the purpose and role of statecraft. To resolve this, one must look to the nature of contracts. When multiple people sign a contract, they do so for a simple sociological reason. Reduced to economic terms, this reason is a desire to benefit from signing that contract. Whenever people sign contracts, they do so with the expectation of improving their own lives. From this, we can derive a theory of sovereignty that can remain valid without disproving either individual sovereignty or central sovereignty.
The Aristocracy and the Common Man
Other than personal profit, a common reason for establishing contracts is to reconcile multiple interests within society, the contract is the only institution that can make conflict into collaboration. This has two important implications. First, in a low-trust society, contracts ensure that the society is not in perpetual chaos, as they channel conflict into production. Second, it means that when people are already prone to collaboration, contracts become mostly redundant because interests are already synthesized.
If the interests of people are in a significant degree of conflict, the end result will be antagonism which will result in mutual violence. This has the potential to cause the destruction of a society. It may result in less destruction than nation-states have caused, but destruction should be avoided if possible. If nothing else, it provides a pressing need to reconsider libertarian assumptions and to provide a mechanism by which this type of destruction can be avoided.
However, this does not mean that libertarianism is only attainable when there is high trust. With proper use of contracts, even a society with conflicting interests can function. But this requires introducing a degree of central sovereignty into libertarianism. A contract must synthesize the individually sovereign owners of property into a larger managerial government. The government will assume managerial duties since the absolute owners of property wish to maintain a peaceful co-existence. The government must then sign a bilateral contract with the property owner to allow him the ability to ensure that any inherent conflict in society does not result in widespread chaos.
Aristocracy and State
Contrary to the contractual society, the state removes the most qualified and socially adept from governance. In essence, the aristocracy cannot govern, as there is no requirement for the state to synthesize the interests within society. The state retains its rule even when it does not properly manage the territory it controls. When the state does not need to exercise proper statecraft, the result will be an abolition of any proper monarchy and aristocracy. The natural aristocrats are the direct enemy of the democratic state, and it must suppress those who are fit to govern.
The only way to ensure that those who are fit to govern will do so is to abolish the state. Proper statecraft can only occur if the state does not put up an artificial barrier for the sake of devastating the upper class. When the capable aristocrats can assume the social role of harmonizing interests, they can ensure that society is maintained. If the state prevents the function of the aristocracy, this will be impossible. This has happened throughout history; aristocracies are upheld until they succumb to a violent revolution. The new aristocracies then devolve to be even worse than the previous aristocracy until they are similarly overthrown. The state creates a perpetual inflationary system of aristocracy where accumulating value in aristocracy becomes impossible.
This can also be viewed as preventing the tragedy of the commons. If one views society itself as a form of property, one will see that each person motivated by self-interest will try to exhaust the property of the society for his own gain. In this view, proper aristocrats are those who can functionally privatize the commons of the society to ensure that no parasitism is tolerated. The tragedy of the commons can only be solved by eliminating the commons, and the only way to do so is with a proper aristocracy. The economic errors of communism also apply to the social realm, and are as devastating to society as they are to economics.
Instating an aristocracy may seem counter-intuitive to a libertarian who sees little disutility in owning property. Why would anyone willingly give up absolute control over their property? Even if society as property needs to be protected to prevent internal conflict, is forsaking absolute property worth the gain from increased cohesion? Is full ownership of property not the ideal of a society?
Property and the State
It is important to avoid thinking within a purely statist frame of reference. It is true that giving up one’s property within the frame of a state is a suicidal mode of action. However, this ignores the fact that trust plays an important role within governance. People cannot trust the state because relations with the state are not reciprocal. Without monopolized violence, relationships between the property owners and managers become reciprocal.
The ideal of the confederation is that the lower, more decentralized actors unite with a central agent to reconcile conflicting interests. This collaborative system becomes a confederation of absolute sovereigns led by the first among equals, a man among men. This is the ideal of libertarian statecraft: the management of property without the state in such a way that benefits each person. It is unnecessary to forsake individual self-ownership or absolute control over property. We only need to integrate social systems into libertarianism.
Aristocracy and Republicanism
This leads us to two options. We can have low-trust monarchic individualism or high-trust republican communalism. There is no sustainable option for a stateless society that is both individualistic and republican. This monarchic individualism has a counter-balance to prevent any possible tyranny, in that the aristocracy in itself adds a sort of confederacy. If the aristocrats are those who are the most invested into society, any anti-social action by the monarch will lead to action against the monarch by the aristocracy. Thus, the libertarian confederation will be more perfect, as it combines two degrees of limitation upon sovereignty to prevent anti-social action. The monarch needs the testimony of the aristocracy and is thus accountable to the entire class of those most invested into society. The aristocracy then needs the testimony of the society they invested into to remain in power. A libertarian society creates a market for a libertarian aristocracy. Libertarian aristocracy, in turn, creates a market for libertarian monarchy.
The sort of stateless republicanism that most libertarians want is only possible within a high-trust society. The word ‘republicanism’ may seem inaccurate to describe the libertarian system. However, a market for defense and law is dangerously close to the republican ideals of popular governance and general will. Interests first need to be shared across the entirety of a society for private law and defense to work.
When interests are already shared, a sort of liberal capitalism becomes borderline impossible. The purpose of adopting a capitalist system is to alleviate various conflicts through the market system of supply and demand. If all members of a society share interests and motivations, they will not be driven towards capitalism as a system since it becomes redundant. Thus, the free market can effectively abandon liberal capitalism provided that trust is sufficiently high. This means that when one benefits from other members of the society gaining wealth, communal economies will be proper strategies insofar as they are efficient.
The church and the community will increasingly socialize wealth in a high-trust society. Even if the church were to be abandoned and if the entirety of mankind became atheistic, there would still be a social institution that acts as a center of society. This new institution would still have the incentives to socialize prosperity to prevent undue misery. This is simply a facet of healthy human empathy and compassion towards the in-group.
This is not a bad thing from an outside perspective. Any strategy of production has to change with a change in society. Free markets will lead to social markets if a high-trust society is established. This is neither inherently desirable nor undesirable; it only serves as a fundamental extension of the amoral calculus of the free market. Though this may appear to go against the free market or support socialism, it simply results from people deriving personal profit from ending human misery as a community if the interests of people are tied to their communities.
Statism and Harmony
Having considered the options for property management available in a libertarian society, it is now necessary to critique the state beyond the fact that it removes aristocrats from their rightful station. First, states have expanded far beyond their optimal size and are bloated beyond all reason. The modern state encompasses land areas far beyond what any singular agency could manage.
This by itself is a death-blow to the state, at least on a theoretical level. States will eventually be unable to expand enough to sustain themselves and will collapse. Unless the forces of liberalization could somehow manage to create enough prosperity to pay off all accumulated debts, the current world order must collapse in some form or another. The liberal state must give way to some future order, and it is in our interest that it is not tyrannical socialism or a return to feudalism in the modern age. This is not to say that feudalism is inherently bad; when confronted with foreign aggression, it can be advantageous to organize along arbitrary lines of territory and protection. However, the feudal economy and the arbitrary nature of feudal land titles is unfit for the modern age.
Second, the state provides neither harmonizing aristocracy nor liberating republicanism. The state can only serve as a tyrant and as a detriment to society. Third, the state cannot offer mechanical markets or socially accountable property. What the state can do is to create a system in which irrational and selfish actions of the state are hallowed, which it does because all actions that the state takes when acting as an economic and social agent are irrational. The actions of the state may be correct at times and the state can produce good results even while lacking reason, but this is not due to rational decision-making. The irrational interests of the state can produce desirable outcomes insofar as they conform to the rational interests of the society itself. This is inconsistent but not unlikely. The interest of the state is to create an empire and centralize power. Any other considerations are secondary at best since they do not directly support the interests of the state.
Since the statist system tends to be exceedingly low-trust due to the complete lack of accountability, centralization within the state tends to be inefficient. The state cannot provide social trust or reconcile interests, so it must always bring political organization into the realm of conflict. Because it offers violence on the market, the state will always be the nexus of various conflicts in society. This will further deteriorate trust and increase the necessity for an aristocracy that the state cannot provide.
The Market for Violence
When the state offers aggressive violence for less cost than private actors while suppressing those private actors through its monopoly on criminal punishment, it incentivizes the purchase of violence through the state. The purpose of this may be to achieve favorable legislation, occupational licensing, no-bid contracts, or war profiteering. When the state sells violence, the actors who buy that violence will profit. Since state violence is a scarce commodity, all factions within a society must compete to avoid being victimized by state violence.
Because the state does not have to be reciprocal, it retains its position as the manager of property no matter how much destruction it causes. A corollary of this is that the state will be able to auction off the property of those who live within its territory. By paying enough into the state, one can usurp the property of others through eminent domain. In practice, all ownership becomes a lease from the state. The state can profit from the ability of selling the property of its citizens. Thus, it is firmly in the interest of the state to exercise this ability. The best anyone can do within the state is to fight in the state’s courts against their property being sold out from under them.
The aforementioned problems do not occur within a system that holds all parties to a real contract, and absolute property is not liable to be sold without one’s consent. But here we find more problems. How does authority interact with liberty? How can we ensure that libertarian authority will not become a state? How can we prevent the follies of the state within a libertarian system? How do we ensure that our property is not liable for sale once we hand over the management of that property? These questions will be dealt with in Part VI.