Anarchism as Constitutionalism

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Wed, 10 Dec 2003 13:00:00 GMT
From kaba:
"The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery." -- Winston Churchill

Harry Browne - Your Innocence Is No Protection - why it's utter nonsense, dangerous utter nonsense, to tell us we have nothing to fear from bad laws if we're innocent. The Bill of Rights exists to protect the innocent. Any violation of it, no matter how small, endangers us all.

If only that were so. The truth is that innocence is no protection at all against government agencies with the power to do what they think best -- or against a government agent hoping for promotion and willing to do whatever he can get away with.
  • Tell a businessman he has nothing to fear from the piles of forms he must file to prove he doesn't discriminate.
  • Tell a home owner he has nothing to fear when his property is seized by the government in a mistaken -- or contrived -- drug raid.
  • Tell a taxpayer he has nothing to fear when the IRS drags him into a "taxpayer compliance" audit that eats up a week of his life, costs him thousands of dollars in accounting fees, and threatens him with unbearable penalties.
It is the innocent who suffer most from government's intrusions.

Gary Leupp at Counterpunch - On Purchasing Syrian Beer - Mr. Leupp proposes a hypothetical method of opposing the sanctions just imposed on Syria. Hehe. [lew]

Doug French at - How Dare She - why the demoncraps are blocking the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown to the DC Court of Appeals. She believes in property rights. Can't have that, now can we? [lew]

Just what makes Justice Brown so horrifying? It must be statements like; "Where government moves in, community retreats, civil society disintegrates, and our ability to control our own destinies atrophies." In that same speech Brown went on to say, "The result is a debased, debauched culture which finds moral depravity entertaining and virtue contemptible."

Unlike other judges, Brown typically upholds property rights against government regulation -- interference which, she believes, has helped turn "democracy into a kleptocracy."

WIS 10 - Questions raised about whether Goose Creek police followed rules on using drug dogs - the dogs weren't supposed to be let in until the children had been cleared from the area. Seventeen students are suing the school district, the city, and the individuals responsible. I hope they bankrupt every responsible person, especially the principall and the nazi lieutenant. [kaba]

Seventeen Stratford High School students are suing the city of Goose Creek and the Berkeley County school district. They say police and school officials terrorized them in a November 5th drug raid.

The lawsuit was filed Friday in federal court. The suit charges the students' constitutional rights had been violated. It also levels charges of assault, battery and false arrest.

The defendants named in the lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Charleston, include: Stratford High School principal George McCrackin; Berkeley County school superintendent Chester Floyd; Goose Creek police Chief Harvey Becker; and Goose Creek police Lt. Dave Aarons.

Gun Owners of America - Firearms Legislation in the 108th Congress - a long list of bills in the House and Senate. Missing information about the liklihood of passage. Probably a lot of these have no cosponsors and will never get out of committee. Some are good. Most would be very bad news if passed. [kaba]

Mick Youther at Intervention Magazine - Thank you, Mr. President - for making things so bad in America that the people can no longer ignore it. [whatreallyhappened]

I do not mean to suggest that Bush & Co. started the assault on the Constitution. There have always been elitists who were willing to undermine the Constitution and govern with deception and manipulation because they believe that they alone know what is best for America.

The reason Bush & Co. deserve a special Thank You is because their attack on our Constitution has been so arrogant and so blatant that it can no longer be ignored. No more slow erosion of our liberties--the Bush Administration has given us the slap in the face that we needed to wake us up to what is happening to our America. People who had never protested anything before came out to protest Mr. Bush's war. People who had never been politically active are getting involved. People all across the naton are starting to take their citizenship seriously. That is the only thing that can save America.

Roderick T. Long - Anarchism as Constitutionalism: A Reply to Bidinotto - why market anarchism, aka anarcho-capitalism, is a kind of constitutional government, but with an unwritten constitution that is enforced on a daily basis. [notreasonblog odell]

he constitution of a free society, then, needs to be a pattern of interaction in which people act -- and in so doing give themselves and/or one another an incentive to keep acting -- in ways that tend to maintain freedom. Market Anarchists and proponents of limited government both claim to be offering such a pattern. The choice between government and anarchy, then, is not a choice between having a constitution and not having one; it is a choice between two different constitutions. Far from eschewing "separations and divisions of powers, and checks and balances," Market Anarchists take market competition, with its associated incentives, to instantiate a checks-and-balances system, and to do so far more reliably than could a governmental system. As I've written elsewhere, despite the best intentions of those who framed the U.S. Constitution's checks-and-balances system "there has been sufficient convergence of interests among the three branches that, despite occasional squabbles over details, each branch has been complicit with the others in expanding the power of the central government. Separation of powers, like federalism and elective democracy, merely simulates market competition, within a fundamentally monopolistic context."


Bidinotto thinks that legal services cannot be supplied on the market because a functioning market presupposes a functioning legal order; hence government is a "a precondition of the market." Now it is true that a functioning market requires a functioning legal order; but it is equally true that a functioning legal order requires a functioning market. This is obviously true if the legal order is Market Anarchism; but it is no less true when the legal order is a government. As Anthony de Jasay has recently pointed out, states can arise only in societies wealthy and orderly enough to maintain them. Hence a state cannot exist unless there is a functioning economy of some sort. (Anarchists take this to show that the state is a parasite on productive activity; the most the minarchist can claim is that it is a luxury good.) In any case, a functioning market and a functioning legal order arise together; it's not as though one shows up on the scene first and then paves the way for the other. To think otherwise is to fall once more into the metaphysical illusion that economic activity takes place against the background of a legal framework whose existence is somehow independent of the activity it constrains.


Bidinotto hopes to discredit Market Anarchism by portraying "Bosnia, Somalia, Beirut, Northern Ireland, South Africa and ... American inner cities" as real-life examples of societies without "competing protection agencies." The examples seem ill-chosen, however, since in all the cases he mentions the social chaos is the result of government policies. (With regard to Somalia, for example, the civil war broke out primarily in those parts of the country that had been under the central government before its collapse; the rival gangs were fighting over which of them was to be the new government. Meanwhile, the parts of the country that had never fallen under government control, but had been living under an anarchist legal order since time immemorial, remained relatively peaceful.)


What guarantees that private entrepreneurs under Market Anarchism will not behave in tyrannical and abusive ways? The answer, of course, is that nothing "guarantees" it, just as nothing "guarantees" that governmental politicians will not behave likewise. But under which system is such behaviour most likely to be restrained? The superiority of anarchy over government here lies in the fact that under government the tie between the decision to commit aggression and the cost of that aggression is far weaker than under Market Anarchism. Under a governmental system, the cost of state policies leading to war is borne by taxpayers and conscripts, not by the politicians who crafted those policies. Under Market Anarchism, by contrast, agencies who resolve disputes through violence rather than arbitration will have to charge higher premiums and will thus lose customers. A government can't lose "customers" (taxpayers) unless they take the drastic step of moving to a new country; by contrast, switching protection agencies would be as easy as switching long distance service. The proper response to Bidinotto's challenge "If the 'demand' for peace is paramount, please explain the bloody history of the world" is: the bloody history of the world is the result of governments buying war at less than the market price by shifting the costs to their subjects.


It's true that people living under anarchy might disagree about the definition of aggression. But if two security agencies disagree about how exactly to define property rights in some particular case, they can fight it out -- thus sending their costs through the roof and their customers to the nearest competitor -- or they can resolve their dispute through peaceful arbitration, thus keeping their costs low and their customers happy. (Governments resort to force far more often, since they don't have to worry so much about losing customers. Though it's worth noting that even governments interact peacefully most of the time, even though they face an artificially low cost of war. Private security agencies, which would have to buy at the market price, would choose war even less often.)

Laura Spinney at The Guardian - 'We can implant entirely false memories' - eyewitness testimony may not be all it's chalked up to be. And those sexually molested kids? Don't believe them without corroborating physical evidence.

"We can easily distort memories for the details of an event that you did experience," says Loftus. "And we can also go so far as to plant entirely false memories - we call them rich false memories because they are so detailed and so big."

She has persuaded people to adopt false but plausible memories - for instance, that at the age of five or six they had the distressing experience of being lost in a shopping mall - as well as implausible ones: memories of witnessing demonic possession, or an encounter with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character, and as the Los Angeles Times put it earlier this year, "The wascally Warner Bros. Wabbit would be awwested on sight", at Disney.

Elizabeth Loftus' research has obvious implications for the reliability of eyewitness testimony. And it was as a result of her findings that in 1994 she co-wrote her book, The Myth of Repressed Memory, and took a strong stand in the recovered memory debate of the 90s, for which she was reviled by those who claimed to have uncovered repressed memories of abuse - alien, sexual or otherwise.

GeekWithA.45 - Bill O'Reilly Supports the AWB - my title. I can't find this story on the web site. My guess is that they sent it out as an email alert. Anyway, Bill O'Reilly apparently has been confused by the antis' rhetoric into thinking that an "assault weapon" is a bazooka or machine gun. The geek sets him right with a wonderfully written letter. [geekwitha.45]

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