There aren’t many mornings, in these waning days of my life, that I find myself heartened and energized by something a relatively conventional columnist writes in a relatively conventional media organ. This is one.
Apparently, the election of Javier Milei to the presidency of Argentina has made possible the public exploration of ideas that would previously have been treated as unspeakable. Today at The Epoch Times, columnist Jeffrey A. Tucker treats with one such idea respectfully, even approvingly: anarcho-capitalism.
Tucker provides an excellent, high-level description of this revolutionary idea, largely by emphasizing what it is not:
Central to the idea is that society does not require an entrenched entity of legalized compulsion and coercion called the state in order to enjoy the enforcement of property rights, contracts, defense, and commercial society generally. The fusing of the terms anarchism and capitalism is not a plan for the social order but rather a prediction of what would happen in a civilized community in the absence of the state.
Private property in a free-enterprise economic order is a concept with which Americans are already familiar. So is the proposition that individuals are capable enough to solve their own problems, and to assist others in solving their problems when those others require a little help. Both notions have been under furious attack for centuries. The reason “should” be “obvious:” They leave no role or room for political parasites.
Politicians, whether empowered or aspiring, purely hate the idea that we can get along just fine – better, in fact – without their “assistance.” As Isabel Paterson wrote in The God of the Machine, politicians are a breed that strives to live through others. Their self-concept demands that others “need” them. Without those needy others, they have no reason for existence. In short, they are parasites that seek to breed other parasites to provide a justification for their “public service.”
Give that a few moments to percolate while I refill my mug.
A few years ago, a “public intellectual” of some repute addressed a gathering of his fellows in a fashion they found disturbing:
“Gentlemen, you see that in the anarchy in which we live, society manages much as before. Take care, if our disputes last too long, that the people do not come to think that they can very easily do without us.”
The speaker’s name was Benjamin Franklin. His audience was the Constitutional Convention that defined the federal government of the American republic. Few in that assembly were pleased by his words. They had the ring of truth.
Of course, America in 1787 was not much like the America of today. “Things have changed,” as we’re told ceaselessly by would-be power-wielders. But the suggestion that the differences justify the existence of a massively intrusive and parasitical order that seeks to rule over every detail of our existences is not something that anyone should accept with a shrug. That we need far fewer such intrusions and far less such parasitism is the most popular proposition of our time.
“But do we need any such entity as the State?” is a question that most react to with a flip rejection. “You’re talking anarchy!” comes the rebuke. The false cosmetics that have been troweled onto anarchism have kept it from being considered seriously for many decades. Anarchism as a concept has been successfully mis-equated with chaos.
Yet here, in the most concise statement with which I’m familiar, is the heart of the anarchist premise:
The state calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime. – Max Stirner
Or, if you prefer your political analysis with a little curry, we have this:
The State represents violence in a concentrated and organized form. The individual has a soul, but as the State is a soulless machine, it can never be weaned from the violence to which it owes its very existence. – Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi
And it would seem, from Jeffrey Tucker’s column and other, less direct treatments of the idea, that the hour is upon us for re-examining the moral and ethical bases of that peculiar institution we call the State. Those bases are not solid.
I hadn’t bothered to familiarize myself with Javier Milei before his recent election. All I know about him is that he’s styled himself an anarcho-capitalist, and that he sought and has won the presidency of Argentina. Those two details might seem contradictory. That’s because they are. A man who seeks public office is acting against the anarchist principle. All the same, if Milei is philosophically an anarcho-capitalist, it will show in his policies and decisions as Argentina’s president. He bears watching.
Please give Jeffrey Tucker’s column a look. (If you need access, email me and I’ll enable it for you.) You’ll find it stimulating, if nothing else. From there you can go on to explore the greatest science-fiction trilogy ever written. You can ask yourself – hopefully sincerely – “Would I thrive in the social order of Hope?” And if your answer is no, perhaps you’ll ask yourself “What would I have to change about myself to be able to say yes?”
Enjoy your Thanksgiving.