State vs Society

3 01 2007

In his Politics, Aristotle confuses and shifts equivocal meanings of polis or city-state. Failing to discriminate the distinct concepts of polis1 (the state as a coercive political agency monopolizing law and force over a given territory) and polis2 (the larger community which includes both the coercive state and the various voluntary social institutions such as family, religion, schools, friendship, and commercial associations) misleads him into conflating both notions of polis. This semantic error results in the Stagirite’s faulty argument that polis1 (the coercive state) should not merely protect individual rights from force or fraud but also, confusedly assuming the functions of polis2, should make men good, moral, and virtuous—by force. Aristotle’s confusion about polis as state and polis as community blinds him to the valuable contributions to political justice and the proper limits of state activity offered by an ancient Greek version of libertarianism.

The Case Against Government

2 01 2007

Robert Nozick’s attempt to refute anarchism in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974) is invalid and fails to justify the state’s coercive monopoly of force in a given territory. Nozick creates bogus “rights” when he invokes “procedural rights” (each person’s right to resist, in self-defense, if others try to apply to him an unreliable, unfair, or risky procedure of justice). But even if such “rights” were valid, they would not justify the state monopolizing the protection of these “rights.” In fact, individuals could claim “procedural rights” and apply them to judge the state’s “risky” procedures. This would seem to bolster the anarchist case.


Natural and Artificial Aristocracy

30 12 2006

The passage you quote from Theognis, I think has an Ethical, rather than a political object. The whole piece is a moral “exhortation”, {parainesis}, and this passage particularly seems to be a reproof to man, who, while with his domestic animals he is curious to improve the race by employing always the finest male, pays no attention to the improvement of his own race, but intermarries with the vicious, the ugly, or the old, for considerations of wealth or ambition. It is in conformity with the principle adopted afterwards by the Pythagoreans, and expressed by Ocellus in another form. {Peri de tes ek ton allelon anthropon geneseos} etc. — {oych edones eneka e} {mixis}. Which, as literally as intelligibility will admit, may be thus translated:


Society without a State

28 12 2006

In attempting to outline how a “society without a state” — that is, an anarchist society — might function successfully, I would first like to defuse two common but mistaken criticisms of this approach. First, is the argument that in providing for such defense of or protection services as courts, police, or even law itself, I am simply smuggling the state back into society in another form, and that therefore the system I am both analyzing and advocating is not “really” anarchism. This sort of criticism can only involve us in an endless and arid dispute over semantics. Let me say from the beginning that I define the state as that institution which possesses one or both (almost always both) of the following properties: (1) it acquires its income by the physical coercion known as “taxation”; and (2) it asserts and usually obtains a coerced monopoly of the provision of defense service (police and courts) over a given territorial area. An institution not possessing either of these properties is not and cannot be, in accordance with my definition, a state.


Natural Order, State, and Looting

11 12 2006

The experience of “regime change” in Iraq raises fundamental questions about political economy and philosophy. For example, the looting and vandalizing occurring after the military defeat of the Saddam Hussein government in Baghdad has been cited as proof of the necessity of a state, a living refutation of the idea that a natural order of private property can produce orderliness within the framework of liberty. This is far from the truth. Notwithstanding considerable talk to the contrary, the natural relationship among people is one of peaceful cooperation, based on the recognition of the higher physical productivity of the division of labor.


A Libertarian Theory of Secession and Slavery

8 12 2006

Professor Tibor Machan, in his “Lincoln, Secession and Slavery” (6/1/02) has taken the position that while secession in and of itself is unobjectionable to the libertarian, it cannot properly be applied to political jurisdictions which practice slavery. For, if secession rights were allowed to slave owning countries, it would in effect be to justify kidnappers absconding with their victims. He applies this perspective to the United States, circa 1861, and concludes that Abraham Lincoln, for whatever his faults, and Machan concedes they were many and serious, is still “a good American.” Why? This is because he was justified in stopping the Confederate (slave) States from seceding, even though, Machan again stipulates, stopping slavery was no part of Lincoln’s motivation.


“Anticommunism” versus Capitalism

6 12 2006

In the universe there is never and nowhere stability and immobility. Change and transformation are essential features of life. Each state of affairs is transient; each age is an age of transition. In human life there is never calm and repose. Life is a process, not a perseverance in a status quo.