Last weekend’s post on minarchism versus anarcho-capitalism and my long winded explanation as to why I put myself in the former category rather than the latter prompted a response from @Veresapiens, one of the people I’d been discussing the topic with on Twitter beforehand. @Veresapiens said he didn’t intend to debate my conclusions but to add a little food for thought. Since the answers to his points shed a little more light, and also because Safari went tits up part way through, I’m making the reply in the form of another blog post
One subtle assumption running through the post is that Australia is always considered as a single entity, whether ruled by a State or not (eg wondering how ‘the country’ could be defended in an anarchy). My view is that you have essentially 23 million ‘sovereigns’ and their properties in an anarchy, and Australia remains only the name of the continent.
True, I did talk about Australia as a single entity but generally I intended it to be in a geographic sense. It is, Tasmania and some mostly nearby islands aside, a very large single landmass roughly the size of the 48 contiguous US states. There are 23 million people spread extremely unevenly around that area, and my hypothetical ancap and minarch Australias assume the same. I imagine the minarch one would probably keep most or all of the existing states and territories, but shrink the federal government to a fragment of its current real world self while devolving nearly all its power downwards to the states and beyond into local/municipal councils and finally into homes and individuals, which is where most libertarian types would hope the vast bulk would end up. I probably should have put in a paragraph covering this but it was in the mental draft of the follow up post. Mea culpa.
That, in itself, changes the nature of ‘conquest’. With a central authority and defense force, an invader’s goal is to cause the central authority to surrender (to save its own skin) and turn over its defense infrastructure to the invader. Without a central authority, who does the invader have to defeat? Everybody. In every town. Defeat and occupy. Not an easy task to occupy every bit of Australia. Might be easier to trade with the locals than to occupy them. (Although the US does seem to prefer the occupy route…)
This is the nub of the problem in Australia. You said it’d be no easy task, but I think in fact it’d be very easy due to the fact that Australia has among the lowest population densities of anywhere in the world. Further, the population is heavily centred toward the south east while the north west coast is practically uninhabited. From memory the largest town between Perth and Darwin, Broome is under 9,000, and has almost halved in the last decade. There’s got to be close to 3,000 km of coast between Broome and Darwin in the north and I’d guess around double that south to Perth. Much of it isn’t sparsely inhabited, it’s simply uninhabited.
Things are no better in the interior. Alice Springs, in the rough centre of the country, is under 30,000 or so, and there’s nothing bigger it between there and Adelaide in the south or bigger than 10,000 between Alice and Darwin in the north. South east of there is Anna Creek Station, a farm larger than New Hampshire inhabited by about 10,000 cattle and, as far as I can tell, fewer than fifty people, and that’s counting the town of William Creek (population in the high single digits). Free people able to defend what’s theirs because it’s in their interest to do so is a great idea, but for how long could the 50 most well armed free individuals in New Hampshire hold the entire state against even, say, the smallest National Guard of any of the other 49 states? Why would anyone want to take over somewhere like that? Maybe nobody apart from possibly McDonalds would, but not far away (in Australian terms) is Olympic Dam, a very large multi-mineral mine and the largest known uranium deposit on the planet. The area’s not quite as unpopulated as Anna Creek Station but the two local towns that support the mine still have only around 4,500 people between them, about a third of whom are under fifteen years old.
The problem’s that Australia has a lot of empty space. As I said in the original post I’m far from any kind of expert on this, but I have looked at a map and thought about what would stop someone landing a big force somewhere on the empty coast south of Broome and simply marching across the country, rolling over all the small towns of a few hundred or a couple of thousand until it was ready to besiege the larger places. You can get a very long way between defenders, and for most of the way across those defenders are always going to be in very small numbers. If done very quietly and with a bit of luck you might even get quite far into the interior before anyone was able to raise the alarm that they were under attack or notice that other places had mysteriously gone silent. In reality that’s not possible because there’s the Australian Defence Force in the way: a navy to see you coming and harass you at sea, an air force and army to join the navy attacking the forces trying to land and, if successful anyway, to trade all that empty space for time and make you spend every inch of the 4,000 kilometres you have to go to the populous south eastern cities wondering when they’d bomb the ever-loving fuck out of you again.
Imagine driving from Seattle to Disneyworld and being periodically shot at the whole way there. That, but mostly in a desert with few restaurants and fuel stops, all of which have even more people there shooting at you. The ADF can do this. They might not have the numbers and strength to guarantee an outright victory against a large invader, but they don’t need to. They just have to be good enough to inflict enough pain and damage to make it too much effort. I’m not convinced any non-state alternative could do the same. The population density is just too low for the idea of invaders having to fight for every yard to work for long, and I don’t see how private military companies defending people on a subscription model would work unless the PMCs of Melbourne and Sydney were up for attacking enemies as they try to cross the Gibson Desert – the free rider problem here would have a large geographical element to it too.
I’m a little dubious of the argument that even though we don’t want a State, if we don’t have a State of some sort to defend us against invaders, we might be invaded and conquered and end up with a State. And it will be a bad State.
I’m wasn’t really making that argument with the post. I was attacking the counter argument – that millions of free individuals could offer enough resistance to be an effective deterrent – on the grounds that it doesn’t apply everywhere and offering Australia as an example of somewhere that there’s a strong possibility, if not a probability, it would fail.
As to anarchy in general, I don’t envision that we would get a nice efficient homogeneous anarcho-capitalist society in the absence of a State. All I have in mind is that absent the State, people would be allowed to interact voluntarily and form social structures that suit their needs. The capitalists, syndicalists, communists, etc, could all try out their philosophies. Some would work and some wouldn’t. There would also no doubt spring up evil little mini-states of various sorts. Very dynamic – probably very messy for awhile.
I think where the state might finally die a long overdue death would be in the more populous countries. Imagine if the people of North America or Europe decided that they could realistically defend themselves against aggressors without a state, that there’d be enough armed free individuals willing to fight because it’d be in their self interests to do so that all potential enemies put the idea of invasion into the too hard basket. Eventually it’d be the smaller nations like Australia left with militaries and states wondering what the hell they need them for when all the former big boys, including the ones supplying the small countries, are giving up on them. Then it’d get really interesting, and I agree with you that it’d probably also be quite messy as everyone worked out their preferences and how to accommodate them without demanding a state force them on everybody else.
Bottom line for me, still, is that even if you are right about the best way to secure the local populations from invasion, your sincere desire to do good is not sufficient justification for taking away the independence of any individuals who disagree with your approach. And unless your minarchy can force participation, it doesn’t differ, essentially, from the anarchy case where people voluntarily contribute to defense.
I agree that desire to do good isn’t a good reason to take away even one individual’s freedom to choose not to participate, and also that a minarchy where nobody in general participates is functionally identical to anarchy. I feel the problem with the concept of the state is not just the monopoly of force but its universal application of force on the citizenry. It’s no good having competing education systems, healthcare, police, etc, if you’re forced to pay for the state provided services anyway. Defence might sound like a special case but what I’m suggesting is not to the exclusion of free individuals being able to defend themselves and their homes too. Funding the state provided service without force is the tricky part, so what I’m trying to develop is an idea of minarchy that forces participation only in extremely limited areas that anyone from the poorest to the wealthiest person could opt out of with no significant effect on their personal lives, meaning the state could be – in fact would be – destroyed at any time if enough people got sufficiently annoyed with it to change their behaviour into forms that starve rather than feed the beast.
In fact I suspect the real challenge is getting enough people to see the state as a beast that may require starving to death or near death occasionally until the point is reached that it’s entirely surplus to requirements. I don’t expect I’d live to see that happen even if I was born just seconds ago, and I’d be lying if I said I thought the process would take much less time than the Renaissance. Like I said last week, I see no way we can get there from here and even minarchy is a long way off.
Some people just can’t stay away from the blogosphere, and that’s no bad thing.
Welcome back, Anna. See you at the Raccoon’s Arms sometime.
I re-published Tuesday’s piece on censorship over at the Orphanage, where Woman on a Raft left this pertinent update in the comments:
Popcorn. It turns out that the group who were supposed to have complained did not, and have said so huffily. Apparently one of their number complained in a personal capacity about a separate advert in a magazine.
It is not at all clear what is going on at the ASA but they are supposed to have a competent lawyer in charge of their complaints division, instead of which it looks like they can’t even collate a complaint, read their own code or write a letter without misrepresenting their status.
Checking the Archbishop Cranmer blog it turned out that the Jewish Gay and Lesbian Group had quickly announced that while one of their members had been in touch with the ASA it was in a private capacity and not on behalf of the JGLG, though they note on their website that calling for an investigation is not the same as calling for censorship. That may be true in a technical sense but if the motive is a belief that what was said should not have been said because it offended and the complaint is made to a body with the legal power to censor then censorship can easily be the end result. This is possible only because free speech, despite any claims to the contrary, does not really exist in most nominally free nations, the UK very much included.
In the meantime, the moral guardians of ASA have apparently got back in touch with His Grace:
Can’t say I’m honestly surprised by any of that apart from the fact they responded as quickly as they did. It’s speculation until His Grace’s next post but I’m expecting a lot of waffle, bullshit and intimidating references to obscure legislation that according to them gives them power over what can be put on a web page by a UK blogger.
I wonder if WoaR has got any of that popcorn left.
If either of my readers (hi Mum) have followed much of my comments discussion with James at his post over at the Orphanage or taken note of my post here the other day they’ll know that I don’t agree with the sentiment expressed in that picture. For all I know the statement is accurate and 70% might indeed want to keep marriage as it is, and if so I don’t care. I do not agree with that 70% or that a simple majority should decide on matters of liberty – if the same 70% wanted to bring back slavery I’d very much hope they would not get their way.
My position on this is simple and is based firstly on free speech and thought (which necessarily includes religious belief), and secondly on property rights. The former means I don’t get to tell you what to think, you don’t get to tell me what to think. I get to say what I think and you don’t have to agree, and vice versa. The latter means you get to set rules on your property, I get to set them on mine, and if either of us have a real problem with a particular rule of the other’s then we stay off.
Thus I do not agree with His Grace’s (or James’) position with regard to gay marriage except that it absolutely should not take place in churches or anywhere else belonging to people and organisations that do not want to recognise it, and that those who feel that it’s not really marriage should be free to say so openly and in public. They shouldn’t get to decide for the rest of us, even if as many as, or even more than, 70% of people agree, but for damned sure those of us who don’t object to gay marriage don’t get to dictate what they can do on their property or to demand that they be prevented from airing their views.
In the words (supposedly) of Voltaire, I disagree with what they both say but I defend their right to say it, and I wish Archbishop Cranmer success in his battle with the ASA (do go read if only for a sensational gag early on in his reply to the Authority which I hope is already giving conniptions to some Thought Constable). And since His Grace has made it clear that he’s much too polite to be so direct in replying to the ASA I’m putting up a picture with which I disagree just so I can tell the ASA to go fuck themselves sideways with a billboard if they contact me and complain.
An announcement and an observation. First the announcement: I’ve added a new blog to the blogroll in the Smokers And Drinkers section. Frank Davis is, in his own words, banging on about the smoking ban, and I’ve been reading his stuff over the last couple of weeks since our friendly neighbourhood blogger impersonator used his ID in the comments here. I’m sure his intention wasn’t to increase Frank Davis’ readership but that’s what’s happened, and it hasn’t taken me long to decide to add it to the blogroll.
And on the topic that Frank Davis favours, that observation I mentioned. It’s not the first time I’ve said so but there’s plenty of evidence that the creeping intolerance of a legal product that a significant minority still want to use leads to undesirable side effects. Tax a desired product to the point of unaffordability – or worse, ban it altogether – in the hope that people will stop using it and all you really do is create a strong incentive for the black market to step in, often with a product that’s inferior in some way. We’ve seen it with the American’s unsuccessful experiment with Prohibition, with the disastrous decades long policy of drug prohibition, and we’re seeing it with tobacco.
A former tax office investigator has been jailed for corruptly taking bribes from illegal tobacco producers.
A County Court judge said today that Philip James Roper, 52, had been motivated by greed and had tarnished the reputation of other investigators in carrying out important duties.
Roper, who served for nine years as a federal policeman before joining the Australian Tax Office, was found guilty by a jury of dishonestly asking for a benefit, dishonestly receiving a benefit and theft.
He also pleaded guilty to dishonestly receiving a benefit and abuse of public office.
In sentencing this morning, Judge Joe Gullaci said Roper had come into contact with Jimmy Wang, and a middle man, who were involved in the illegal tobacco, or chop-chop, industry.
The jury decided that Roper’s relationship with both men was corrupt.
The offences occurred between June 2001 and the middle of 2004 by Roper asking Wang for the names and addresses of other chop-chop sellers. Roper told Wang, who he met at the Gotham City brothel, he would look after him.
Judge Gullaci said that Wang had believed that the arrangement was beneficial because it would remove competitors.
The information Wang provided also allowed Roper to steal tobacco leaf and cutting machines, which were sold and the profits taken by Roper.
Roper also stole five 100 kilogram bales of tobacco leaf from a Dandenong property. These were sold and he shared in the profits.
He also “parked” a prosecution of a woman who had sold chop-chop at the Caribbean Garden Markets by telling his colleagues that her address could not be determined.
Note that the offences took place before the illiberal and anti-property rights smoking bans, before the point of sale display bans and before you had to spend $16 or so for a single packet of cigarettes. Does anyone believe that those things have hurt the chop-chop industry or made them less able or inclined to find corrupt officials to bribe? Does anyone think that at least one of those things hasn’t helped the chop-chop industry? And can anyone seriously believe that the chop-chop industry will either not care about the pending mandatory plain packaging or will welcome anything that harms their principle competition, the legal and regulated tobacco industry?
I’d give you a pound to a pinch of shit that there is probably Roper or two meeting more Wangs in various private rooms right now, and there’ll be even more in the future. If you want that future then support your local illegal tobacco industry and your local corrupt public servants by supporting more anti-tobacco legislation. You know it makes no sense.
Fake captain ranty has just commented again pretending to be Pat Nurse.
So having made it clear in the updated comments policy that I’ll consider such comments as legitimate targets I’ve altered it to read like he’s wearing a ball gag.
Future comments will be be treated similarly if I have time and inclination to entertain myself by editing it to make it sound like he enjoys sex with musical instruments or something and deleted if I haven’t. Mostly they’ll be deleted for the foreseeable future. Life’s too short, me old fuckpot. Get your own blog and slag off Ranty, Pat, Leg-iron and whoever else you feel has pissed on your chips. I’m all for that. Better yet, stop slagging them off long enough to form arguments explaining why they’re wrong. But just stop fighting on other people’s lawns. Every time I find it here I will delete or bastardise the comment.
And to both my real readers, since moving I have occasionally been lazy about signing in to comment on other people’s blogs. Well, partly lazy and partly because I’m struggling to sign in reliably with this WP login using OpenID which seems only to work when it feels like it. So I’ve been filling in my name and URL in much the same way as “captan ranty”/”pat nurse” appears to have been doing. Having called him out on it I expect similar treatment so this habit will stop right now. To those using Blogger, if I can’t sign in with WP then I will sign in with my still working Blogger ID and put up with the fact that it points to my old place instead of here. To those using WP I will only comment when logged into WP. If in doubt about whether a comment is mine or not you’re welcome to check, though I’ll add that the next 2-3 weeks (more if I’m lucky) are going to be really fucking busy for me so I don’t anticipate doing much blogging and probably little if any commenting. I’m just not going to have the time.
Let me be very clear that that’s not – repeat not – Captain Ranty the libertarian and lawful rebellion advocate, but “captain ranty”, someone who seems to have got his cock in a knot with the true occupant of Ranty Barracks for some reason I’m not remotely interested in finding out about and to such an extent that he’s using his ever diminishing time on this planet to leave comments in the Captain’s name and with a copied gravatar with people on the CR’s blogroll:
Thanks for your contributions to my blog in the past, i have decided i do not want any more of your comments as they are not in the style and have the content i require in order to advance “lawful rebellion” in a new direction.
Presumably the hope is that the recipients of these comments will get the hump with the Captain and remove him from their blogrolls, although I have to say that if so then it’s an overly optimistic hope given the piss poor impersonation. There were a few things that shouted ‘impostor alert’ and one in particular made it certain, but even before looking at those there’s the fact that species as yet undiscovered on the bottom of the oceans can probably manage a better Ranty impersonation.
Anyway, I digress. I just wanted to make it absolutely crystal clear that this post is to “captain ranty” rather than Captain Ranty.
Dear “captain ranty”
I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what your beef is with Captain Ranty, and I honestly don’t give a remote fuck about it. I do care that rather than debate whatever it is with the Captain at his blog or your own you’ve taken your row to other people’s. While I can’t speak for anyone else it’s not welcome here.
Why? Well, let me put it like this. Imagine this isn’t the internet but the real world. Now imagine that I came and stood outside your home with a loudhailer yelling all the reasons I think that Andrew Demetriou is a dickhead, or even yelling that I am Andrew Demetriou and I don’t ever want to see you anywhere near me or anything to do with me ever again. Probably you’ll be wondering who the hell Andrew Demetriou is but almost certainly you’ll be wishing the tool with the loudhailer at your gate would go away and tell it to someone who cares because nobody appreciates someone else’s fight taking place on their lawn.
That, buddy, is what you’re doing. You’ve come here claiming that you’re someone else and asking me not to contribute to their blog. If you want to use me to get at someone for you at least have the fucking courtesy to offer to pay me for it. I’d turn you down flat but I’d have a little respect for you. Not as much respect as I’d have if you just blogged why you think the Captain is wrong about whatever the fuck it is you’re at war with him over, but a little. Not knowing what what arcane aspect of lawful rebellion is involved I may or may not agree, though I’d be lying if I said that doing what you’re doing doesn’t prejudice me against you because you seem to prefer it to making a convincing argument. But far more likely I still wouldn’t know about it because, at the risk of repeating myself, I’m not fucking interested.
So, paraphrasing Mr Wolf, pretty please with sugar on top… just fuck off.
The Angry Exile.
Not what I would prefer to be blogging on a Saturday afternoon, but necessary. As a result of this the comments policy has now been updated. The class of comments I will remove as soon as I’m aware of them is now as follows:
- Spam, whether porn or otherwise
- Anything blatantly libellous and which some fuckwitted legal system somewhere will hold me responsible for even though someone else actually said it
- Impersonators of other bloggers/commenters attempting a bit of social engineering
P.S. I won’t delete “captain ranty’s” comment on the last post as it was made before this addition to the comments policy, but I will tinker with it a bit. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
P.P.S. Or maybe I won’t seeing as I’ve just noticed that on top of everything else the knobber’s misspelled the word ‘captain’ in the name. I’m not sure I should fuck with it when I can’t improve on the original.
P.P.P.S So much for me thinking that it’s a falling out over some fine detail of lawful rebellion. From one of the Captain’s tweets it seems he’s just another wowser.
@Sir_Olly_C He is just another anti-smoking ringpiece. They are incapable of anything remotely clever. Sorry for the disruption.
— Captain Ranty (@CaptainRanty) March 2, 2012
Via the Zanzibari Kittie Counters, this:
Obama has been compared to Spock, but he’s more like GlaDOS. Acts cold and aloof, but is childish when angered. Promises cake we’ll never see.
As Sam Duncan at Counting Cats says, there are people who don’t play videogames and there are people who’ll look at that and go, ‘Hey, yeah, he is, isn’t he?’
Gerry Reynolds again, he of the “people who complained about Jeremy Clarkson saying strikers should be taken out and shot should be taken out and shot” blog post (which in case you haven’t noticed the correction in the update was not a council blog as I’d mistakenly said but a personal one by the ironic name of The Censored Blog), which had another bit in it that didn’t make the MSM at all. And that’s a shame because it was the best bloody bit.
As a striker myself, I have to admit that when I heard Clarkson had said that we strikers should be lined up against a wall and shot, I simply smiled and got on with my life. I didn’t collapse in tears, I didn’t consult my lawyers, I did not ring up Sky to comment, I just smiled.
Yes, absolutely, and that’s the reaction of a sensible adult who can tell the difference between hyperbolae and something that’s meant seriously, a reaction which is becoming all too bloody rare in these oversensitive, angstrom thin skinned times. So I withdraw any suggestion that Gerry should be taken out and shot, not because I’ve changed my mind about what he does for a living but because I hope that he spreads that attitude as far and wide as possible. I’d go so far as to suggest that there might be enough money even in a much reduced and drawn down state apparatus to hire someone like him in the role of Encouraging Everyone To Just Harden The Fuck Up A Bit Manager.
Gerry’s post ‘Shooting the Complainers!’ can be seen in all its uncensored glory at The Censored Blog, and I recommend nipping along and having a read of the whole thing.
Via Max Farquar I see it’s the Beeb’s annual ponce-athon, Children In Need, featuring as normal Presenters Without Dignity. Max seems less than happy if his poster design is anything to go by…
But in this case I think he’s being curmudgeonly and ungenerous. I mean come on, you’d need a heart of stone. Just look at poor Kevin Armstrong for instance.
Give generously. Give over.
Blogging has again been patchy the last week or so, time being so short for various reasons that I’m very behind on reading my favourite blogs. Honestly, my RSS has bookmark has what could easily be a serial number behind it and if I don’t get either caught up or ruthless about skipping the older stuff I’m worried it might resort to exponentiation. So while I’m getting through some of it, and assuming I don’t get all busy again right away, I’ll resort to a bit of metablogging and bring up a post some will already have found via the Von Mises Institute blog: a moving story of a American who became a user of the most addictive and destructive drug in modern society, and how he’s managed to get clean:
… My addiction to the state started in high school. I saw that all the coolest people — Naomi Klein, Tom Morello — wanted me to drop out of free society and free exchange. They always seemed to know what was best for everybody else, and I wanted to be smart like them. So I started experimenting with statism.
In university, I got into the hard-core stuff: socialism and communism. All my friends were doing it. I thought we were so revolutionary with our union buttons and our “Free Tuition Now” banners. Calling for state intervention to solve every social problem let me avoid thinking about my own problems.
In 2007 and 2008, I got hooked on the hypnotism of state theater. I gobbled up every YouTube clip of the US Democratic nomination fight I could get my eyeballs on. Everyone I knew thought Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton would save the world. And when that nomination bottle was empty of all surprise, I couldn’t stop; I just starting using the Republican nomination to get high.
But somebody had mixed some crazy stuff into that contest, as I bet you know. The clean stuff hit me hard, and I hit rock bottom.
I woke up under my state-funded grad-student desk, heaped high with the papers for my state-policy-recommendation thesis, knowing that my black hole of student debt was papered over only by state scholarships, and I saw what I had become.
All my friends were still users. So it was hard, but on the Internet I found other people who were clean. I started volunteering, getting involved.
My life has started to come back together. I can spend time with my family now without even getting that itch to regulate something. I feel free again…
I am not an anarchist, anarcho-capitalist or otherwise. For reasons I will one day blog at length I’m a minarchist libertarian, all the same I’d recommend popping over to The Daily Anarchist and reading the whole thing. There’s a particularly good version of the 12 step program among the first few comments.
If the pull of the outside world is strong, there is also a pull towards the human. The cat may disappear on its own errands, but sooner or later, it returns once again for a little while, to greet us with its own type of love.Lloyd Alexander
|A cat’s own type of love. Simon’s Cat – “The Present“|
As Longrider, and any other cat
owner co-habitee well understands. Just about moth hunting time here, which generally doesn’t involve bits all over the carpet or the easily outraged banging on about cats doing what cats do. The world is not short of them and to be frank, fuck ’em, they’re moths.
The Total Politics blog awards category that I was really interested in is now up, and half my blogroll seems to be in it. The top 40 Libertarian Bloggers include many well known names, and of course it should be no surprise by now that Leg-iron’s there as well – I might have a look in the Green and Left Wing lists to see if he’s on them too – Dick Puddlecote’s climbed to number 5 this year, Max Farquar, the Ambush Predator and Pat Nurse all feature again. And sneaking in near the bottom are the ramblings, occasionally obscene and frequently obscure, of a potty mouthed expat hanging upside down by his feet on the bottom (but most definitely not the arse) of the world.
|You’ve been a wonderful readership. Uh-huh-huh.|
I must remember to whore myself shamelessly again sometime, but the one I feel most deserves the spotlight is Orphans of Liberty. James and Longrider only started the Orphanage up five months ago and it’s nice to see it at number 13. Being a contributor I’m biased of course, but I hope it does as well in the Group Blogs category.
The Ambush Predator is the number 41 right wing blog (bloggers and bloggeresses aren’t up yet) and Underdogs Bite Upwards is the number 3 Scottish blog. Well done both, Akubra doffed and so forth.
PS – oops. Also to Raedwald at 25 and Oldrightie at 44, who I missed somehow, as well as Witterings From Witney whose writing I know from the Orphanage. Same goes.