What will man do without the state? How will he provide security for his family? Without the state, how will man protect against the state and other states?
While the following is not a “pacifist” position, it does demonstrate a less violent and more consensual form of organization along defensive lines for the preservation of life, liberty and property. What is government but an insurance company with regional monopoly on violence and arbitration? A great book exploring how competing insurance companies and private security forces can provide for defense and protection is Robert P. Murphy’s “Chaos Theory.” But this does not resolve the concerns of the statists even though it does answer the “free-rider” question. The question proposed, even in a society where competing insurance companies provide protection and defense, is: How are the poor to afford insurance? Like I have mentioned before, laissez faire makes the poor more prosperous, not less. If it were the other way around, the elitists would not seek the state. The question presumes that statists care anything about the poor.
The market is a place where innovation, creativity and motivation are encouraged to find solutions to problems. They are not stifled by the one-size-fits all policies of government. If there is a problem then the market can provide a solution which does not require the use of aggressive force against an individual’s property.
Let’s see if we can find our way to a market solution in the following scenario:
“What happens to the poor who have no insurance, not because they do not want coverage but, because they cannot afford it? Wouldn’t it make them susceptible to exploitation by the rich, or those who do have insurance? If a wealthy man were to bribe the title records company to destroy the old title and issue a new one in his favor, then bring the dispute of property ownership to court, couldn’t, by this fraud, the man manipulate the arbitration company and/or security forces to expropriate the property of the poor? Would the poor have any representation in court if he did not have an insurance plan?”
First, we admit that if, by fraud, an individual could employ the courts and security forces aggressively against the poor, he would be doing no different than what government already does. Here the market ceases to be the market and becomes government, private if not public.
Second, if a bystander feels a moral obligation to provide security and arbitration services on behalf of the poor at his own expense, he certainly welcome to do so. To aggressively force others to pay for these services on the behalf of the poor would infringe on property rights, replacing the market with government. Charity has been the traditional way that the poor have been able to receive the services that they could not provide for themselves.
Third, any property title company acting against the property rights of its clients is risking the disenfranchisement of its clients. A small bribe would prove to be extremely costly. A court or security company so easily duped would likely run a similar risk of disenfranchising its clientele by setting precedents that infringe upon property. Property title isn’t what makes property and it is unlikely a court would rule in favor of the individual on this evidence alone especially if the poor can demonstrate homesteading. The individual would also have to bribe someone to forge a bill of sale, if he could even find someone prior to the poor who owned the property and was willing to do so. This could become more expensive to the individual than the property is worth.
Fourth, premiums for the poor may not be as expensive as opponents to the market presume. In the market, there are no government regulations on business practices that prevent price discrimination in favor of the poor. Also, there would be no government regulation preventing non-investment insurance companies from competing against investment insurance companies, thereby, offering lower premiums, premiums potentially affordable to the poor.
Fifth, it is unlikely an individual of poor character will long be able to sustain low premiums or even coverage where such an individual habitually aggresses against the property of others by defrauding the courts. “Why is this client always in dispute over property?” This could become very expensive to insurance companies who employ security forces in the expropriation of property as the individual in question habitually tries to externalize the costs of infringing on the property rights of others onto their insurance companies and/or other policy holders.
Sixth, companies often use humanitarian efforts as marketing points for their products. Lot’s of companies donate to charity or open their own charitable foundations. Arbitration companies may provide their services gratis because they get paid by whoever loses and so there would be no reason to prevent the poor from filing disputes of their own. The law would be much simpler than that which a bureaucracy, like government, creates and so the legal process would be easy enough so as not to require a lawyer for such simple matters as demonstrating homesteading or a bill of sale. Business may even provide property insurance as a perk to laborers.
Seventh, in the market such a scenario would be isolated as the general welfare of all individuals will increase. True cases of hardship would become rare as the productivity of the average individual increases due to market forces. The “poor” would have to willingly deny to carry coverage at some point or be completely unmotivated to be productive and, thereby, remain poor. Of course, with the possibility of exploitation looming over one’s poor head, it is most likely any previous lack of motivation to be productive would be reversed.
Eighth, the market would not require comprehensive or catastrophic coverage from those unable to afford either. Health insurance companies are currently regulated requiring they provide all services whether a client desires them or not. In the case of property theft, a client may only wish to indemnify ones property, rather than pay the more expensive costs of investigating and tracking down the thief. The poor would be able to afford indemnification even if they cannot afford prosecution. The current state system in security and state regulatory system in health insurance deny the poor these less expensive alternatives to comprehensive and catastrophic coverage requirements, thereby, pricing the poor out of the market.
The market is not without its disparities but it is the only system that holds them in isolation and offers the freedom for others or oneself to correct them of their own free will and choice. In comparison to government, the market is the better choice. Although not perfect, humans are not really equal after all, the market is the least destructive dystopia. There is no compulsory government to perpetuate and aggravate those disparities through the employment of aggressive force in one-size-fits-all policies. The market is creative enough and innovated enough for motivated individuals to correct these disparities without necessitating external government. There are many more solutions than the eight my puny mind and lack of creativity can muster.
National defense is a tricky question and Robert P. Murphy adequately demonstrates in his book “Chaos Theory” how this service can be provided by the market. Still, there are skeptics who question the ability of an anarchistic society to provide defense when it is largely an interdependent society economically. This dilemma is approached in Hans Hermann Hoppe’s book “The Myth of National Defense.” I will summarize a response to the question put forward: How might a free trading, anarchistic society defend itself where its military capacity is largely dependent upon foreign imports and an aggressor nation imposes an embargo?
1. Any attempt by one nation to prevent a free trading nation from engaging in trade with other nations might cause some concern to the other nations. They may even come to the free trading nations defense to secure the regularity of existing trade between the two nations.
2. A huge industry in free trading nations is the industry of speculation. Speculators, with their huge stock piling of resources in good times, may cause a nominal price increase. However, in bad times, the availability of such stock piles allows for a nominal price below what it would otherwise be during a shortage. In the event of an embargo, a free trading nation would have stock piles of the resources they require to continue the provision of national defense until such industries can be built to produce them domestically.
3. The success of embargo weakening the economy and, hence, the national defense of a targeted free society is directly proportional to the magnitude of restrictions on trade and interventions into the economy that already exist and are self-imposed. Free trading, laissez faire, societies are better at mitigating the effects of an embargo than are statist societies. Free trading societies also have a greater number of allies.
What is it called when a nation imposes an embargo against itself? A protective tariff.
On Property Taxes
It is true that one would pay a premium to indemnify and secure property in a free market, but that criminals might take your land for allowing your insurance policy to lapse is no argument for government to confiscate your property for failure to pay taxes (unless we are honest with ourselves that government is criminal). Here is the analog:
A man and his family homestead (cultivate by mixing their labor with) some land not previously owned. Several years later, other people come and homestead nearby. A neighborhood develops. The man wakes one morning to go outside. Sitting in his porch is a man with a gun. The man is informed that the gunman is there to collect a tax for the use and control of property. The man refuses. The gunman informs the man that a council of neighbors appointed him to the position of collecting the tax on property for which they have arrogated unto themselves legal title and that he must pay or that he must leave. The man says that he will move. The gunman informs the man that should he decide to sell his property, he must pay a tax on all proceeds from the sale. The man informs the cop that he will protest at the next neighborhood meeting to which he had not previously been invited nor to the non-consensual decisions and entitlement of his property to ownership of others. The gunman informs the man that he may protest, but must do so according to the rules the neighborhood council has set. The gunman informs the man that since his neighbors are a majority in their decision, it is unlikely his voice will be heard and much less considered. As an enforcer of the neighborhood’s will, the gunman will require his compliance, coerced if necessary.
The man spends the next several days thinking about what to do. Out of respect, he protests according to the rules set by the community, arguing that the neighborhood council may purchase his property at a price he sets, else to leave him alone. He is ignored because the set rules by the community for the right of protest are stacked against him. The man is told that if he does not like it, he can move or be forcibly removed. The neighborhood council, upon legal nonviolent resistance from the man, hires ten more gunmen and increases the tax. Members to the neighborhood council decide to exempt themselves from the tax. The tax is burdensome and so neighbors surrounding the man begin to harass him. They call him “socially irresponsible” and “traitor” and “terrorist” and “rebel” and “proud” and “heretic” and “self-righteous” and “perfectionist” and “anarchist” and “incompassionate.” The neighbors then start burning crosses in his yard, throwing bricks through his windows, egging his car and becoming more and more violent towards the man. The eleven gunmen show up and tell the man he needs to move or that he will be arrested for disturbing the peace of good citizens. The man begins his search for a new place to live. In the end, the man is cowed to comply and stay. In his search for a new residence, the man finds that all land for sale in every other neighborhood (even land not homesteaded outside neighborhoods but claimed by those neighborhoods) to which he has gone also requires a tax for the use and control of property.
What does citizenship require? Does it require we gang up on our minority neighbors? Does it require us to be the gunman? Does it require that we legitimize the robbery and theft of “masters” by appealing for their permission to be robbed a little less or by voting for “good” men who are less likely to insult us when showing up with guns to rob us? We are born into bondage and one wonders if in having been baptized as babies, our involuntary membership requires our strict obedience and servitude to the religion of our birth or if we may desist from its practices and be baptized anew when developing a testimony for some other faith or some other church.
This essay is provided to demonstrate that viable alternatives, which can provide justice and defense more equitably than the present state systems, exist. If a better alternative exists, then the present one must be considered unjust and even criminal. While what is proposed for an organization of society by anarcho-capitalists is hardly “pacifist,” a society organized in accordance with the non-aggression principle does a much better job at protecting life, liberty and property. While the proposed organization of society may be beyond reach in a fallen world, what is demonstrated is that the state is hardly an order based on defensive force. The State is not defense, it is aggression and retaliation. The aspect I enjoy most about a natural order is that it provides a government that sacrifices itself for its policy holders rather than sacrificing its citizens for its own continuity and sovereignty over them. In a natural order, the costs of war cannot be externalized onto the policy holders, thereby ensuring an incentive against war and adventurism. It is a more peaceful society well on its way to becoming a peace society.