By Insula Qui
I would like to apologize for the lack of articles these last weeks, but I needed to spend time on putting out the second edition of “Libertarian Reaction”, which you can buy here.
As most of you would assume, I subscribe to the Austrian school of economics, but this last month I have been posting quite a lot about behavioural economics, a wholly disparate school of thought. And since many Austrians deny the fundamental usefulness of behavioural economics, I think it is my duty to show how there can be a complete synthesis between these perspectives. Keep in mind that I’m not an economist, but rather just commenting on the field from my perspective of political philosophy, if I make any errors in fundamental theory, then that is my own fault.
The first criticism that Austrians are quick to make about the entire school of behavioural economics is that it asks: “Why do people act?”. But Austrians supposedly only analyze the results of people acting. But this is patently false. For example, we can look at Hayek’s work and find that it mainly focuses on why people act but does not factor in human biases. His work instead analyzes the distribution of knowledge. So why reject the analysis of bias while integrating knowledge into Austrian theory? The answer to this question is fairly simple, behavioural economics directly challenges any notion that human action can be assumed to be rational to any degree. And although Austrians nominally deny that they expect humans to act rationally, a lot of Austrian theory revolves around the notion that humans act according to their own interests. However, for humans to act according to their own interests, they have to act somewhat rationally. But behavioural economics does away with the last degree of rational human action as it demonstrates why humans can act contrary to their own interests.
Austrians are also quick to respond to this by asking what does acting against your own interest mean? And to answer this, we have to go back to the knowledge problem and integrate it to the personal level. For those who are not familiar with the fairly overplayed concept, when it’s harder to distribute knowledge, it is harder to make good decisions. This can apply to many things, large corporations need to trade within themselves, so they cannot rationally allocate resources. States have no profit motive, so they do not know where to properly allocate resources. Socialism removes market signals, causing it to be impossible to know how resources should be allocated. But there is no reason for why the knowledge problem cannot apply to individuals. Thus, the core purpose of our synthesis will be applying various issues of knowledge to individuals.
This is because there are two different ways people make decisions, they do so either by using their fast thinking or their slow thinking. The fast form of thinking is passionate, biased, and well tuned to make quick decisions without any particular concern for the future. This is the field of thinking to which most mundane actions should be relegated to. This is also the field of thinking that forgets keys at home and makes bad spontaneous decisions. The slow form of thinking is calculating, deliberate, and tends to use more logic and reasoning than the fast form of thinking does. If a person was given an infinite timeframe in which he could think as slow as he could, going through every single factor, he would be fully rational within the constraints of his knowledge. But due to the fact that it is impossible to think perfectly slow in the real world, all actions are irrational to a degree.
Thus, instead of the rationality in classical economics, we find ourselves with the simple fact that humans act irrationally to achieve their perceived goals. This in itself fixes every faulty assumption in Austrian economics theory. People do not act rationally to any degree, and it is useless to think of plain exchange without any fundamental value judgements. This is because there will never be plain exchange. This means that prices will always be distorted to some degree, the market will never be perfectly adjusted, and there will always be mistakes. But this is something the Austrians should rejoice over, it means that those who can think slowly, the entrepreneurs, can always capitalize on what is currently missing. They can adjust the market, charge proper prices, and deal with the fundamental mistakes people always make by nature. Entrepreneurship is only possible when there are systematic errors within the market.
But a critic could now claim that individuals make mistakes, but large groups would not do so. This is also false, individual valuations do not tend to contradict, but rather tend to go with the trend. Individuals usually have elastic demand curves and will make exchanges in that range, individuals are also influenced by what others think. For example, a man could value getting engaged more than two months’ pay, and if it is commonly accepted that engagement rings have to be worth that much, the man would be willing to commit simply because it is expected of him. It doesn’t matter how wise or unwise spending this much is from a financial standpoint, but only that the individual valuations are influenced by social norms.
Furthermore, the behavioural theory of bias perfectly explains the one error in the Austrian business cycle theory. The Austrians assume that when people can not have the information they need about the monetary system and the money supply increases, they will be so biased towards positivity that they do not account for inflation. But the Austrian theory itself does not provide the relevant metric that ensures that people are biased towards positivity. If all people were biased towards negativity, inflation would mean that business owners properly adjusted their profits according to the yearly average of monetary inflation and would not rely on price inflation to adjust their spending. However, behavioural economics demonstrates that people have a tendency to be biased towards positivity, which is why they expand their businesses during the inflationary boom and buy into stocks that have been growing exponentially.
By applying behavioural economics, we can draw conclusions that help with Austrian economics. However, we should now see what Austrian theory can add to beheavioural economics and if Austrian insights about human action can complete the theory of human behaviour. The example where we can use Austrian economics (alongside a bit of public choice theory) is in regards to choice architecture. The behavioural economists trust the state in designing choices for the population, but we have to see how this conflicts with the fundamental nature of human action. The people who are involved in the state look out for their own profit, and are not held accountable by market incentives, this means that choice architecture devised by the state will more often than not result in the state profiting the most.
This can be done in two ways, first, by reducing the amount of state expenses without reducing state taxation. Or choice architecutre could also give the state more money without providing additional services. In essence, all choice architecture done by the state will be characterized by two features. It will be profit maximizing and service minimizing. This can be contrasted with private companies that want to maximize both profit and service due to them being tied together. There are also agencies that are profit minimizing and service maximizing, but these are usually relegated to the realm of decentralized charities. Furthermore, a completely socialist economy would have all agencies as both profit and service minimizing, as all profit is illegal and all service is not tied to the benefit the workers get. This also lets us conclude that all agencies in a libertarian society would have to be service maximizing.
However, the state will try to engineer decisions whenever it creates choice architecture and as far as it will do so, it will only engineer decisions that are profitable to the state. Thus, all state choice architecture will ultimately be focused around the question of how to tax more and spend less. The final answer to this would be to outsource basically everything done by the state, while retaining the harshest grip on power by the state. This means that every company and industry will be as regulated as possible, while the state will hold onto the minimum possible industry to maintain its role.
The state will still try to collect revenue and allocate most of that revenue to state employees who do not perform productive efforts. This means that the state will want people to make decisions that benefit the banks, large corporations, and so on, and we can see this best illustrated in the American system. The state in America itself is seemingly relatively laissez-faire when compared to some less advanced democratic systems. However, the American government has complete control over entertainment, the media, banking, large industries, unions, private associations, and so on. This means that the power of the state increases perpetually without providing any additional services.
Here we can contrast this with the choice architecture that is created by decentralized charities and private companies. Decentralized charities are the epitome of good choice architecture, their goal is to help people make the best decisions possible, and so they will present the choices that are expected to help the most in the best light. Decentralized charities provide productive options as solutions to various problems. Private companies will also try to provide the most service, but for them it is important that they are the ones providing that service. Thus, private companies will try to incentivize people to consume the greatest quantity of their product, which also involves raising the quality of their product while lowering the price. This means that state choice architecture is fundamentally uneconomic and will lead to people working against their interests as much as possible.
Written by Insula Qui
Edited by Nullus Maximus, from Zeroth Position
Highly influenced by “Nudge”, where you can find most references.
We covered libertarian paternalism in the framework of anarcho-capitalism last week, so this week we need to tackle the most important part of libertarian paternalism: the nudge. As we have already laid the groundwork for why this is a possible policy in the scope of an anarcho-capitalist polity, we must now work out what nudges would be appropriate in a completely free society and how they would be accomplished. Nudging, a concept proposed by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their aptly titled work Nudge, is the use of choice architecture to incentivize people to make better decisions without actually removing any choice from them. The framework in which a choice is made can influence the decision that is taken. Libertarian paternalism is a philosophical position, and nudging is a practical proposal to implement that position. This article will be split into two parts. The first will discuss how nudges can be used by private companies for the benefit of all parties involved, while the second will explain how libertarian statecraft can utilize nudging.
The first important topic is advertising, as it is the way that most businesses currently utilize nudging. Advertising is a completely nonviolent and usually innocent part of the economy, and it showcases the actual power of nudges. Many libertarians will claim that advertising just serves to inform people of the available options, and this is true insofar as people are rational. But as long as people are itrational, advertising creates the framework in which people make choices and changes how they take decisions. This is not always a bad thing, nor is it exclusively used by companies for the sake of improving sales. For example, Thaler and Sunstein mention the ad campaign that promoted respect for the environment by using athletes and the slogan “Don’t mess with Texas”. This proved to be a particularly effective advertising campaign since the demographic it was targeting was young men.
This blurs the lines between advertising and propaganda. There is no real way to distinguish between what is meant to advertise in the libertarian sense of promoting awareness and what is meant to propagandize to manipulate choices. However, this distinction should be meaningless when there is no state involvement. Propaganda is bad not because it tries to influence choices, but because the state uses it to convince people to make poor choices and alter their worldview in favor of the state and against their own interests. However, if propaganda was used to promote better decisions and better living, it could prove to be a great asset in any libertarian society. Of course, it is dangerous to let this be used by voluntary governments, as propaganda can quickly blur the line between voluntary and involuntary, but private organizations could use it to great effect.
For example, if a person sought to encourage marriage stability and lessen divorce through propaganda, he could design a very effective campaign. Since the people with the least stable marriages tend to be those who have had many pre-marital partners and are between four to eight years into their marriage, a clever propagandizer could craft a piece that played off the notion that one is not likely to find a more stable marriage and that the best days for dating are long gone for the person who is contemplating divorce. This could be combined with the sentiment that it is possible to salvage a marriage that might seem dysfunctional. This could read something like “Trying something new does not have to be a risk” and could be combined with promotion of marriage counseling and pictures of happy couples. If this sentiment manages to become a part of the zeitgeist, it will prevent at least some divorces.
Similar propaganda can be used to help people make generally better decisions. However, the hard part is deciding what counts as a better decision. The only metric to judge this by is by what people themselves think is best for them, and most people tend to want to avoid divorce and preserve their marriages. This is, of course, unless one side has caused a significant amount of hardship to the other within the relationship, in which case salvaging it might be an immense error. But most divorces are not the results of abusive relationships.
Companies benefit by their employees being healthy and happy, as depressed and unhealthy people do not tend to perform well. A way to promote a healthy lifestyle would be to make healthful food the most convenient and available option. For example, a company could give away free lunches to their employees, which could pay for themselves by increasing work quality if they have enough of a long-term health impact. It would take a genius meal planner to work out how this would be possible, but thankfully many very intelligent people do work in the field of nutrition. Another policy could be to install a public gym in the workplace and give employees an additional paid break for the use of the gym. This gives people an incentive for physical activity. Furthermore, if this break was scheduled later in the day, it could also sustain productivity for people who would otherwise be mentally exhausted, as exercise has been proven to promote mental activity. Thus, by using these incentives that do not force employees to do anything, employers can maximize their profits by promoting a better lifestyle among their employees.
Next, let us turn to the beloved libertarian solution for nearly everything: the insurance company. When an insurance company insures people, it takes some of the risks inherent in life upon itself, and people with more risky lifestyles have to pay more for insurance if the company is aware of this. But this is not a sufficiently salient input to make people re-consider their lifestyles, as saving on insurance money is an abstract concept for most people. However, insurance companies could offer incentives if people stopped engaging in risky behaviors. For example, a person could be presented with a notice that told them how much insurance money they would save over their lifetime by quitting smoking. Another similar effect could be insurance companies giving their customers rebates if they agree to use them to visit doctors for regular check-ups. Both of these behaviors directly benefit the consumer and minimize the risks for insurance companies. These are free market methods of improving people’s decisions and creating a better society.
Let us now consider libertarian governance. The first important thing to mention is that statist propaganda could never be acceptable in a libertarian social order. However, what could be acceptable are ad campaigns that help promote the values of a libertarian society. For example, unlike the massive failures of current anti-drug campaigns, libertarian governments could simply play into the actually detrimental parts of drug use. Instead of giving teenagers a message of “drugs are not cool”, they could be presented with the actual tragedies involved with excessive drug use without false information. This would not serve to promote needless fear, as imaginary threats will eventually be met with pushback. Rather, it would provide information to give vivid imagery to the people who could potentially do drugs. In a more reactionary social order, this could even involve showcasing pictures of people who died from drug overdose alongside pictures of them before their drug habit to put real context behind what drug abuse entails.
The market government, which is primarily a provider of managerial services, could easily discriminate based on what actions people have taken to manage their own property. For example, if the government subsidized police protection for the poor, it could require that the police companies that receive subsidy train any people who want to protect themselves, and also give trained individuals rebates on their fees to the government for the sake of buying a cheap firearm. Thus, a voluntary government could promote trained and responsible gun ownership among the people who most need to protect themselves, ultimately not costing anyone anything due to the decreased need for police subsidies. Although this model is imperfect, as we are dealing with a managerial entity that cannot function like any other market entity, it is still better than having nothing at all. This is the entire purpose for market government; not to create a perfect system, but rather to remove the inherent issues with the state while preserving the central management of land areas for the benefit of the residents.
Finally, it is also important for the government to promote personal improvement in its communities, as better communities lead to a better quality of life, which would improve the value of the governance service. A way to do this would be to collectively fund parks designed for families, community events that promote socialization, and various civic centers that provide a baseline for communal health. This would, again, pay for itself as more people want to live in a community with these services, and the voluntary government would not need to use involuntary means to promote the attendance of any of these facilities. Of course, this would make the subscription to this government cost more, but it would be more than worthwhile because the cumulative effects of an improved lifestyle improve the quality of the entire community.
By Insula Qui
Everyone familiar with the work of Thaler and Sunstein knows about the concept of libertarian paternalism. This idea is most prominently expressed in the book “Nudge”, and has caused a lot of confusion to many orthodox libertarians. However, since I am as unorthodox as a libertarian can be, I fully agree and support this specific form of paternalism, even to the point of considering anarcho-capitalist paternalism. But to explain what I mean by anarcho-capitalist paternalism, I have to break down what libertarian paternalism entails.
The first part, which completely fits into my own framework, is a libertarian support of social responsibility. I have not explained how libertarians can agree with the concept of social responsibility, so I will do that here using the framework of behavioural economics and libertarian paternalism. Social responsibility, at its core, is the concept that entities should work for the betterment of society and not just themselves. However, as all capitalists know, entities that work for the betterment of themselves work for the betterment of society, provided that exchanges can be made relatively freely and no violence is involved. So when a statist promotes social responsibility, they promote government control and artificial regulation, which is not a policy that libertarians should embrace.
So for a libertarian, the concept of social responsibility becomes fairly simple. Since organizations and individuals work for their own benefit, and since the combination of all personal interests creates a spontaneous order from which everyone benefits, the only way that businesses can be harmful is if they manage to hide harmful parts of their business. This means that libertarian social responsibility boils down to disclosure. This can also be applied at the individual level and retains the same degree of importance. The main purpose of this policy is simple, people can get away with much more when they’re in private, and this can actually cause harm.
This does not mean that privacy needs to be done away with, but rather that the public should trust what people do in private. If you cannot expect your neighbour to not be conducting animal sacrifices in his own home and businesses to not poison your food, there is a startling lack of social responsibility. The way to build up social responsibility is genuinely allowing people to access the inner workings of the entity that lacks social responsibility, and to affirm that private dealings do not conflict with public interests.
The second aspect of libertarian paternalism is even more unorthodox, this is how choices themselves are designed. Most libertarians are stuck with a notion that people make choices from all available options without bias. So when people are allowed to make free choices, they will make the best choice. But libertarian paternalists draw attention to the flaws in this line of thinking, people are not experts on every choice they make. When it comes to decisions that are made frequently and that are not a major commitment, people can easily become experts. But when it comes to the most important choices, which tend to require an immense commitment and are only undertaken infrequently, people are prone to make the greatest mistakes.
Libertarian paternalists do not suppose that any experts should make those important decisions, but rather that the parties that offer the choices in the first place should tailor those choices to the people making them. For example, in the current system, financial dealings with banks tend to be overwhelmingly difficult, and most people do not have a personal accountant. This means that the financial system has a lot of very poor choice architecture as most people are more prone to making bad decisions due to not understanding the complete totality of the choices they make.
This means that the way that different options are expressed must be salient and legible. People must understand and care about the different options that they are presented with. This means that good choice architecture allows people to choose all possible options, but presents them in the most convenient manner. Another relevant factor here are default options. Whenever people are asked to make a choice, there must be a default option, even if that default option is doing nothing. The best default options vary when different choices are made. In some cases, the best default option is mandating a choice, in other cases, it may be an automated and personalized option. But the important part is giving people a framework in which they can make choices.
And libertarian paternalists do not want people to be given any less choice, quite the contrary. Libertarian paternalists favour low-cost opt-outs for every paternalist intervention, so no person would be forced into any decision that they do not want to make. But the various different biases and complexities in life require that decisions are not just left up to poor choice architecture. People are influenced by everything around them, and the goal of libertarian paternalists is to create the best influences possible for advancing individual self-interest.
These two concepts combine to create the entirety of libertarian paternalism and being sensible on their own, they are sensible when combined into a system. However, a lot of this theory is still entrenched in a statist worldview where states are seen as legitimate, the important question here would be what anarcho-capitalists can draw from these influences and how these ideas can be used in a completely voluntary system. I will touch upon libertarian statecraft and libertarian paternalism in a different article.
A fundamental feature of an anarcho-capitalist paternalism would be a sort of voluntary technocracy based on the division of labour. This would not be a technocracy of governance or compulsion, but simply a matter of choice architects who help people find the best frameworks to make choices in. This obviously means that the technocrats will influence the choices people make, but in a completely voluntary society, this would not be a bad thing. When people are provided with better choice architecture, they are more fit to make the choices that benefit themselves the most. This would create a new and very important career option as most firms would want their customers to make good choices.
This is further tempered by the fact that fraud is definitively forbidden under anarcho-capitalist ethics. The means by which this can be enforced vary from person to person, but there is an overarching consensus that if decisions are made under deceit, they are not valid and constitute a form of theft. This definition can and should be expanded to include deliberately influencing people so that they would make bad decisions. This means that a company using choice architecture to make people choose recklessly should be liable for causing people to make worse decisions. This also defeats a lot of libertarian enthusiasm for prostitution and the porn industry, as both of those industries rely on choice architecture deliberately designed to make people choose options that go against their own self-interest.
If companies are held liable for causing people to make bad choices that go against their own self-interest, there is a more powerful entity at play than any degree of government regulation ever could be. Companies themselves would have to perfectly disclose how unhealthy their products are, how much they pollute, and what negative consequences their business practices have on local populations. If they do not do so, they will be held liable for any damages they cause. This means that all companies will have to improve their business practices as the government will not protect them when they mislead the public. Furthermore, by removing corporate protections, business officials cannot even fall back on limited liability, they would bear the full brunt of whatever damages they caused. This means that people would be able to make whatever choices they want to make, but they would have to be fully informed of how bad those choices are.
None of this seems especially paternalist, but when we recognize that the essence of paternalism is protecting people from bad choices, all of this fits under that label. Even in an anarcho-capitalist society, it is desirable to engage in paternalism, provided that it is done on a completely voluntary basis. But this does not mean that private businesses will always provide good choice architecture, which is why it is vital to include the clause that businesses can be held liable for their actions, even when it’s only fraud on a very limited scale.
Anarcho-Pelagism, beyond having something of a funny sounding name, is meant to be a way of framing and envisioning what a truly voluntary society would look like by restructuring the social and political hierarchy away from the classic Feudal model used by some Neo-Reactionary and Anarcho-Monarchist types and instead towards a more... oceanic model.
The proper way to conceptualize AP on a micro level is with a ship. A ship has a Captain, a man who for all intents and purposes is the absolute ruler of his property, which in this case is his ship. His ship exists for whatever purposes the captain deems fit. If the Captain wants to turn a profit with his vessel by moving cargo or fishing, then that is his prerogative. If the Captain wishes to sail around on a pleasure cruise, this is once again his prerogative. The various members of the crew serve aboard the ship and are compensated for their time. The crew has no direct control over the grandiose course of the ship as it is not their property and they are merely assisting in it’s operation. However, the Captain must respect his crewmen as they have the actual practical control over the ship in that they are what make it function. The crew wants to get paid, and the Captain wants his ship to function smoothly.
The relationship is a simple one and is guided by simple and easy to understand financial incentives and signals. This is far more reliable than metaphysical concepts such as honor which can be reinterpreted at the drop of a hat or cultural oaths of loyalty which can end up being conflicting with one another. In the Captain-crew relationship, the wants of the various parties involved are respected and if irreconcilable differences emerge then the relationship can be terminated and the parties involved may go their separate ways.
If a Captain is able to own several ships then one might consider him an Admiral and that his various assets are administered by a corps of Officers hired by him to maintain his fleet. Even in this situation the Captain-crew dynamic still stands, it merely shifts in scale. A group of independent Captains may come together and appoint an Admiral as an administrator if needed.
Obviously, nothing said so far is ground breaking. It’s just a reimagining of the fairly straight forward relationships involved in concepts such as Anarcho-Capitalism, Anarcho-Monarchism, or even Neo-Reactionism. In effect, Anarcho-Pelagism is nothing more than a redressing of those ideas into something with a parrot and a tri-fold hat. For the most part this is true, especially in the here and now. Saying that AP is just another abstract idea to come off the internet wouldn’t be an unfair assessment.
Where Anarcho-Pelagism does come into usefulness however, is in a few centuries when we as a people are stepping out away from the nest that is our home here on Earth. Space is something of a hobby of mine and I’ve always been inclined to look forwards to where I would like humanity to be in the future and to create systems based on what problems lie ahead.
Given current engine technology it would take a couple of days to travel between the Earth and the moon, months to travel to Venus or Mars or the Belt, and years to get to Jupiter or Saturn. As humanity expands and seeds the worlds of our home system a group of people will emerge who will make a living on the arduous journey between the various planets and moons which dot our home. These men and women and their ships will sail between the celestial bodies for years without any realistic oversight from the Governments of those bodies if those bodies have a Government at all.
My hope is to encourage a shift in the way that we think about the future of Libertarian societies as we move forwards into the unknown. Privatized habitats such as Bernal spheres, O'Neill Cylinders, or simple habitat rings make the possibility of the creation of privatized societies truly a real possibility, albeit in a few hundred years. Imagine the possibility of an AnCap society on Saturn’s moon of Titan, or a White Nationalist refuge in the craigs and craters of Vesta, or a string of Monarchies as habitats at the lagrange points of Venus. Even if all of these eventual colonies are part of some United Governing administration they will still need supplies and any Libertarian minded individual should be highly interested in owning one or more of these ships when the time comes.
Creating a Libertarian or Reactionary or Monarchist society in the current modern climate is difficult if not nigh impossible without infringing on the territory of an already pre-established state. Trying to take land which is already owned by a state would be problematic and acquiring it through peaceful means in such a way as to be truly independent is unlikely. In the end, the best chance anyone of those persuasions have to achieve their ideal societal goals is to either take the unlikely option of seasteading in the short term, or to take to the stars in the long term. In either event, the logistical situation presented by these possibilities opens incredible opportunities to anyone looking to achieve some form of Voluntary society and what form that society will likely take is something similar to Anarcho-Pelagism.
Editorial note: Having had many conversations with the author, I feel as if the piece does not place enough emphasis on the potential of anarcho-pelagism. First, it provides a better and more immediate replacement for seasteading and applies the fantastic theory of space libertarianism to a terrestial and attainable model. Furthermore, the potential of trade, especially within the territories controlled by corrupt governments is immense. Smuggling is a very profitable enterprise.
By Insula Qui
This topic was suggested by Nullus Maximus, the editor and showrunner at Zeroth Position.
Everyone who knows me is aware that I am influenced by neo-reactionary thought. Albeit to a fairly limited degree, but only because neo-reactionaries often do not even know what they really believe. Neoreactionaries sell themselves to libertarians as embodying a sort of libertarianism of the right. They still support free markets, personal responsibility, and self-determination, but they do so from a purely right-wing perspective. And although this simplification might approximate the original consensus, the neo-reactionary movement has greatly strayed from it.
On the other side, they have a different story to tell to traditionalists. They bill themselves as a sort of modern traditionalism without any inherent fascism, as fascism is just another trend. This is not necessarily an anti-fascist stance, but rather a position which neither rejects nor embraces fascism. And although a lot of people have tried to paint neo-reaction with the fascist brush, it's not even close to fascist philosophy. Neo-reaction draws from various obscure and esoteric sources from the entirety of history to form a weird, but strangely eternal, worldview. And although anarcho-capitalism might never be possible without sufficient technological advancement, neo-reaction can apply to cavemen just as well as a possible cyberpunk future.
As a sidenote, the degree to which anarcho-capitalism is possible in different stages of technological advancement is questionable. Many say that the information era is necessary for proper anarcho-capitalist polities. Others claim that the industrial revolution created capitalism itself so anarcho-capitalism is a post-industrial concept (Although this only holds up if you use a minarchist definition of capitalism.). It is also possible that anarcho-capitalism requires either the agricultural revolution or the existence of trade. It still could be the default condition of mankind, but this is uncertain.
I have previously argued that anarcho-capitalism is only possible in post-agricultural or pre-agricultural conditions and cannot exist while the agricultural revolution was going on. When the agricultural revolution began, only the first adopters had such surplus wealth that they could create specialized jobs via trade. Without the class of new agriculturalists, every person would be stuck on the subsistence level with no specialization other than how exactly they provide subsistence to the tribe, this can also be described as functionally anarchistic. However, the advance of agriculture means that the early adopters could create political power. And surprisingly enough, most states developed during a period of agricultural revolution.
And this is the first main difference between neo-reaction and libertarian reaction. Libertarian reaction relies on the possibility of libertarianism itself, it can only be expected to function in a polity that has sufficient morality and intelligence to function under libertarianism. Not all conceivable polities fit this description, so libertarianism is exclusionary. But any conceivable society from primates to white Anglo-Saxon protestants can embrace neo-reaction. This is because neo-reaction is a description of power and a question of what to do with that power, while libertarianism is a description of the absence of coercive power.
Neo-reaction does not reject coercion because it is coercion, but rather because coercion usually causes problems which are better avoided. As such, the first priority for both libertarians and neo-reactionaries is to ensure that the proper use of coercion is achieved, but this common ground does not go very far. While libertarians are fundamentally motivated by efficiency, they are unwilling to ever accept that productive aims are met by force, neo-reactionaries take the same principle even further by accepting that force can reach productive aims.
Thus, both philosophies grow out of the same premise, that being efficiency. If you ask a libertarian or a neo-reactionary whether they prefer an inefficient society with secondary virtues to an efficient society without those virtues, the predominant answer will be in favour of the second. Neo-reactionaries are not traditionalists, inegalitarians, libertarians, or monarchists for any moral reason, but rather form their allegiances depending on the efficiency of a concrete system. This means that the difference between neo-reaction and libertarianism must lie primarily in the method of analysis and the secondary virtues that reinforce the primary virtue of efficiency.
The end goal of libertarianism is the full ownership of property, which is a natural outgrowth of the desire for efficiency, neo-reactionaries follow suit here. However, the method of analysis applied is different, libertarians look for who should own the property, while neo-reactionaries look for who holds the strongest claim to property. Libertarian reactionaries assume that the proper owner of all property holds the strongest claim to that property. Neo-reactionaries are in an essential disagreement over the nature of property, as they say that the strongest claim is held by the person with the most power to take that property.
And from here we can see the main divergence between libertarianism and neo-reaction. While early neo-reactionaries are, or at least were, essentially libertarian-minded, the realization that property is really owned by the strongest claimant has caused massive shifts in how neo-reactionaries view the world. Most neo-reactionaries have abandoned the neo-cameralist ideal of sovereign corporations ruling due to their market efficiency in providing governance. This leads to the formation of such worldviews as neo-reactionary absolutism and any other conceivable brand of neo-reaction.
And this absolutist view is a logical outgrowth of neo-reaction. When the absolutists analyze power, they quickly note that there can only be one proper sovereign. The person with the greatest aptitude and willingness to apply violence in claiming property must then be the rightful ruler of a society. There can never be multiple sovereigns, as only one person can possess this supreme aptitude. This notion is absurd to libertarians due to a completely different analysis of force. And although libertarian reactionaries can see the theoretical possibility of libertarian absolutism, it quickly becomes irrelevant due to the nature of how force and knowledge are divided in society. Furthermore, the essential claims of absolutists are just statism taken to its logical conclusion, which libertarians have been able to answer for half a century now.
Thus, we have described the essential difference in the political views of libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries. If we are to use overplayed and mostly useless terminology, a huge difference lies in closing the is-ought gap. Libertarians derive what a political system ought to be from what human nature inherently is. Neo-reactionaries derive what humans ought to do from what the nature of political systems inherently is.
But libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries are not reactionary in the same way. Although I have myself distanced myself from reactionary philosophy, it still holds a place in my thought due to how influential it has been for me and how reactionary philosophy usually tends to be right. And although I would argue that the uniqueness of eras makes the common proposals in favor of reaction ultimately untenable, libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries disagree with me and each other on this key point.
Libertarian reactionaries view reaction as a sort of precursor to liberty from a very Anglo-centric point of view. For nations which are more inherently individualistic, any deviation from the natural order will cause less individualism and with it less libertarianism. And as Anglo-Saxons are some of the most individualistic people on the planet, it’s no surprise that traditionalism will necessarily lead to libertarianism among these populations. And the reactionary part in libertarian reactionaries is scarcely anything other than an embrace of radical traditionalism.
Furthermore, libertarian reactionaries are deeply disturbed by the profound liberalism of the modern political order. They have seen states grow even in non-individualistic countries with the advent of liberalism, and as such they see that libertarianism cannot be a proper liberal discipline. Libertarian reactionaries do not think that we ought to bring back liberalism, as many other libertarians do, but rather that liberalism must first be crushed before libertarianism can replace it.
But this is not what neo-reactionaries believe. The neo-reactionary philosophy is not one of functioning within the scope of liberalism. And although neo-reactionaries are profoundly illiberal, they are also against feudalism, classical monarchies, the Roman jurists, and theocratic greek city-states. Neo-reactionaries do not think that any fad of an era can properly encompass human existence. As such, neo-reactionaries are not only reactionaries but also the most consistently reactionary anyone can ever get. This leads to the overlap between libertarian reaction, neo-reaction, and the conception of producerism as seen by your humble correspondent.
The finality of social thought for these three groups is the natural order. This is the supreme, be-all, end goal of social development. This is not some socialist utopia, nor is it a fantasy about the development of a racial overman, this is simply describing the instincts, nature, and form of human existence coalescing to create something great. The natural order is hierarchical, the natural order demands unrelenting protection, and the natural order is inherent in every cell of every human. And this is why libertarian reactionaries and neo-reactionaries can seem hard to distinguish. They both start with force, and they both end with the natural order. However, everything between the ends could not be more different.
By Insula Qui
A common libertarian myth involves the notion that liberty is the base condition of mankind. Libertarians tend to assume that freedom is accomplished by people just giving up the use of force, but this disregards human psychology. Most people are predisposed to seeing generally accepted authority as a sufficient justification for the use of force. Furthermore, all individuals have a different disposition when it comes to the use of violence, thus there are two steps that need to be taken to “buy” liberty.
The first important step is to convince people that their liberty is worth the cost it has. That is, it is important to convince people that they need to pay for their own liberty by going against authority. If no one is willing to make the purchase, then there can be no purchase. The second step is the need to pay off those who have the greatest capacity for violence or institute a sufficient threat against them. Liberty can only exist if those who would be violent are incentivized to not be violent or see the costs of violence as being too high.
Thus, liberty is not a good with no cost. But with the introduction of the state into this equation, it gets even more complicated. In a complete base human condition in which the use of violence is sporadic and pragmatic, the situation is different. However, when the state is introduced, there is an institutional entity that goes against liberty by the means of violence. The only way to defeat the state is to use extreme amounts of violence, which is a massive cost. And this is the prime matter of this article, we need to figure out if the human loss in a revolution is worth the benefit we get from liberty.
We can view the state as keeping all of us half-dead all of the time. Through taxation, various statutes, and other statist measures, living the fullest life is restricted. So the logical conclusion would be that if we can be fully alive without the state, the cost of half the population would be a justified sacrifice for achieving that goal. But here we have to make some more nuanced considerations. This is because value is not cardinal, but rather ordinal, things have value insofar as they are judged in accordance with their relative importance to other things. And thus we need to judge different forms of life as ordinal values and compare those forms of life.
We can create the following value scale, this is not an ordinary value scale used in Austrian economics, as it does not differentiate between goods, rather, it is a value scale that differentiates between different options, cratic or not:
But this is not the only scale that life is judged on, we can consider splitting life into different units, as life is divisible by the amount of time in that life, so the following ordinal scale would be:
5 years of life
2 years of life
6 months of life
Combining those two, we can create such a value scale:
10,000,000$ (To be deposited to one’s family following death.)
10 years of life
Now, we have to account for the fact that the people fighting in wars tend to be males no older than 30. This means that not only do people die in war, they give up around 50 years of their life. So now that we know this, we are left with two possible value scales. One that justifies creating a revolution for the sake of liberty, the other that would make sure that revolution is unjustified.
50 years of life
10% chance of death
50 years of half-life
50 years of life
50 years of half-life
10% chance of death
But this is not yet all, we need to factor in the possibility that the revolution will be unsuccessful. There is a very real possibility that those who fight in a revolution will not find themselves in a new and better order. Provided that the war is courteous, they will have decent lives even if they fail. However, modern wars never tend to be like that, this means that the only way we can justify revolution is if the value scale is thusly:
An unknown chance of 50 years of life
10% chance of death and an unknown chance of unknown persecution provided you fail
50 years of half-life
Thus, people en masse will have to accept uncertainty in achieving their aims and set aside their desire for half-life for the unknown possibility of success. The only thing one can hope for is that their appeal to heaven succeeds. But if the revolutionary finds this lacking, there can be no revolution. There is a very real tradeoff to revolution the same way that there is a very real tradeoff to any other war.
This leads us to two strategies we can take, passivism and activism. Activism is the pursuit of changing the value scales of others. The activist has to convince people that half-life is less valuable than an unknown chance of a full life and potential loss of life. Passivism is somewhat related to pacifism, but not fully. Pacifism rejects the use of violence, while passivism rejects action where unknown variables would make resistance futile. Passivism is not lacking in hope or in opposition to revolution but rather demands a guaranteed revolution before there is a revolution. Passivists will not attempt to change the value scales of others to prompt revolution, but will rather strike only when the iron is hot. In the middle of turmoil, economic or political, the passivist will arm himself and use his connections for the sake of change, until then, action is not justified.
But passivism does not give up on changing people’s minds. Passivism aims to grow his movement as much as possible. The passivist does not aim to make these people ready for revolution. The passivist is only concerned with the ideals of those people who he changes. And when it comes a time where a drastic change is justified, the passivist can then capitalize on his efforts.
In this sense, the activist functions within an ideal while the passivist functions in reality. The activist wants to rile people to undertake change by their own action, but the passivist wants certainty before he wants action. The passivist needs people to know what risks they are taking and refuses to take responsibility for unnecessary death. But this is completely at odds with the activist. When the activist sees turmoil, he sees that as the preliminary for his cause. He sees turmoil as a place to spread his ideology. But once he has done that, there is no way for him to utilize that ideology. He can begin a steady march through institutions, but this will still only work insofar as it is a passivist march.
And passivism must be the libertarian strategy. The libertarian cannot support death and violence where it is not necessary. The libertarian must support inaction insofar as action will cause further grievances against liberty. Furthermore, if a revolution is attempted during an inadvantageous time, that revolution will only thin the numbers of the activist. Those incarcerated and dead will never again be involved in another revolution and the rest of the movement will only be further dejected unless those who died were martyred in the most courageous manner.
By Insula Qui
For those of you who are aware of any of my opinions, it might come as a surprise that I would even mention something left-libertarian. And that’s true, but only in most cases. Currently, the libertarian movement is split into factions because of cultural disagreements. Left-libertarians generally support equality, social justice, and non-discrimination. They do so passively and hope that the market will bring similar results. Right-libertarians generally are usually against the very concepts of equality, social justice, and non-discrimination. But this schism goes deeper than that.
Due to group dynamics, left-libertarians are split into two camps on economics. First, they tend to have a stronger allegiance to the Chicago school. Right-libertarians are almost universally supporters of Austrian economic theory. But secondly, the left-libertarian camp also takes inspiration from a very interesting group of people. We can call this the Spooner-Tucker-Konkin triad. We can now determine the core influences these people have had on left-libertarian economic theory. And for further clarification, Spooner is shared across both camps. Rothbard took significant inspiration from him in the critique of the state. But when it comes to economics, the left-libertarian camp is definitely more influenced by Spooner.
The first core concept is each person as a worker-capitalist-entrepreneur. Each solitary individual ought to have a role as the owner of capital, the labourer upon that capital, and the judge of market conditions. The right-libertarians are more inclined to support a steeper divide between workers, capitalists, and entrepreneurs. They see this as a natural result of the division of labour. Practically, this means that left-libertarians tend to be more receptive to causes that increase personal independence. Right-libertarians do not see the marketplace as something that facilitates independence, but something that produces values by any means necessary.
The second concept originates from the influence Proudhon had on both Spooner and Tucker. This is the concept that labour in itself is a valuable commodity. Right-libertarians tend to focus on the results of production, so they usually miss this important corollary. Because left-libertarians see labour as a valuable commodity, they focus on self-employment more than the right-libertarians do. Furthermore, they support worker related causes as the workers hold most of this valuable commodity and are the only people who can determine the uses of this commodity.
The third concept relates to that of special privileges. Right-libertarians tend to view special privileges from the state as either state-theft or circumstance. If competition is limited by regulation, the dominant company is there by circumstance. If that company receives subsidy, it does so using state-theft. Left-libertarians tend to put more focus on the company instead of the state. If a company is in a position by special legal sanction, then that company has exploited the state. This leads to a natural opposition to corporations. Furthermore, this makes left-libertarians have a much smaller estimate for the optimal sizes of firms.
We now have to touch on egoist economics and socialist anarchist economics, we can learn valuable insights from both. The core of egoist economics is the abandonment of whatever distinguishes cratics and catallactics. The libertarian has two theories, one for the production of bads, and the other for the production of goods. The egoist sees these two as one thing. If one can exploit value via threat, then that is functionally the same as when one creates something. Thus, egoists create an economic science that is not focused on creation, but rather allocation. This is not to say that egoists support threats, but rather that they do not make moral distinctions between exchanges and coercion.
The socialist anarchist sees the capitalist market as an extension of command hierarchy and the state. There will always be workers who are beholden to the capitalists and these workers will be exploited. This is because labour is not a commodity like any other, but rather a fundamental part of a person. When the control of labour is removed from that person, the person becomes alienated from his labour.
An attentive mind will have noticed that all of the following insights can be applied to libertarian economics and can even trump the right-libertarian assumptions. And this is why I consider myself a left-libertarian on economics. But now we have to still go through the arduous task of demonstrating the mechanisms by which we arrive at the conclusion that the left-libertarian arguments can beat the right-libertarian worldview.
When it comes to each person being a worker-capitalist-entrepreneur, the left-libertarians initially go further on an Austrian insight. The Austrians believe that each person acts in different quantities as a worker, capitalist, and an entrepreneur. As far as a person labours, he is a worker, and everyone must labour to some extent. As far as a person owns property, he is a capitalist, and everyone owns some degree of property, even if just in themselves. As far as a person takes part in the market, he is an entrepreneur, and everyone takes part in the market.
But the left-libertarians are even more correct in this regard. Not only is this distinction descriptive, it is normative. When left to a completely free market, each person will find it profitable to act as all three at once. A lack of interference in market signals will make entrepreneurship possible for all people. It becomes easy to see which goods are needed and who will need to produce those goods when the state does not distort demand by regulation and taxation. Furthermore, each person will find it advantageous to own property due to the drastic increase in wealth and reduction in the prices of property. There would be nothing preventing each person from owning their personal means of production insofar as their occupation allows for that. And finally, due to a lack of state grants to protect the wealth of the wealthy, all capitalists will have to work to keep their wealth.
The left-libertarians are also right in that the workers control labour. It is not a commodity that can be sold on the market without the consent of the workers. And if we now add the socialist anarchist insight, we can find that workers without control of that commodity are alienated from their labour. And due to the extensive legal systems of taxation and regulation, the state fights against workers having the right to choose their occupation. Provided that this existed and workers would not be relegated to the results of state coercion, the alienation of labour would not be a real issue.
Furthermore, right-libertarians hold a fundamentally incorrect view of the labour market. They see the capitalists as using wages to hire labour, but this is incorrect. The real transaction taking place is the sale of capital in exchange for labour with an exclusive contract to sell the results of production to the employer. This means that two exchanges take place. First, the employer takes profits for the capital he allowed the worker to use. He takes from the worker a certain degree of work hours for his own profit as these work hours are only possible due to his capital. However, after the reduction for the cost of capital is accounted for, the transaction is a simple case of workers selling their services.
This does not have to be the universal ideal. We can imagine workers paying money for capital, then distributing their own goods, and taking the profit from the sale of those goods. But this arrangement is less beneficial to the worker, so workers enter the more complex arrangement where the cost of capital is deducted from their pay since they exclusively sell their goods to their employer. Thus, the so-called labour market exchanges the right to use the property of the capitalist for the exclusive sale of the end product or service to the capitalist with the worker paying his share for the cost of the capital.
And left-libertarians are also right on special privileges, this becomes even more apparent when we consider that the production of bads and goods can be seen as the exact same thing. Companies who have special privileges, such as a corporate status, produce bads insofar as they have that special privileges. This means that companies with special privileges are the producers of both goods and bads. Ultimately, the state is ethically responsible for the production of bads, as companies do not have the power to use violence without response. However, companies can buy the privileges from the state or exploit the privileges the state has left to be exploited. In these cases, it is righteous that these companies have their assets seized insofar as they were engaged in cratic production. However, doing so would not be expedient. If our end goal is a completely free market, halting current market operations will not lead us to that goal.
Realism and libertarianism on the surface, are philosophically opposed. But there is a lot of valuable insights that a libertarian can gain from the realist framework, for example, understanding that the classical liberal sense of freedom does not drive men, but selfish instinct drives men and sometimes even to their detriment. The pessimism of the realist worldview is needed to remind everybody of any political ideology that the perfectibility of man is a myth and dreaming about a utopia is a foolish endeavor that only leads to tragedies.
Understanding the State
In recent times, I came to view the state as an institution that exists out of necessity and one of its goals and functions is the prohibition of external forces (national defense), provide an enforceable framework for markets, and further its interest in the Machiavellian game of geopolitics. In most cases, libertarian-anarchists are correct to assert that the state is a “territorial monopolist of violence over a geographical area” and achieves its wealth through taxation, military expansionism, and other forms of expropriation. Where libertarians go wrong with their critique of the state is that they rely on moralism such as the self-ownership axiom and how it is wrong to initiate coercion, but these arguments are often insufficient and fall flat on empirical testing. For example, self-ownership is partly true but cannot always be demonstrated, little children do not exhibit volition, they are very dependent on the parent and often need permission to act. From a realist perspective, the state exists not because they want to punish the productive members of our society, but to get out of the state of nature (Hobbesian). Moreover, throughout the history of states, they all seem to trend to the Nietzschean will to power. To be sovereign, is to be the master of its determination and self-sustaining.
The Realist-Libertarian Synthesis
Libertarians want to lower (or outright eliminate) the demand for the state. What libertarians have to understand is that men are driven by their selfish instinct and at times to their own peril. That men are willing to lie, cheat, and steal to achieve their goals and thus the demand for an extractive state will increase(Russia, Turkey, China, etc.). The realist’s pessimistic views on humanity should guide the libertarian to construct a theory of politics and possibly form a polity. Moreover, rationalist libertarians should abandon the non-aggression axiom because it is insufficient to build a polity or social organization. Since the non-aggression axiom(prohibition of physical violence) does not allow any construction of social norms and societal institutions. The trick is to make coercion as expensive as possible to attain a “conservative-libertarian” polity. Adding to “civilizing process” or building up social capital is very long and often brutal due to its implicit eugenic undertone. Since we are in a society and due to mankind’s profoundly flawed nature, there is no exact solution for any social and economic issues but only trade-offs to reach the most sustainable outcome or the most tolerable imperfections.
An Introduction to International Relations and Defensive Realism
Unfortunately, libertarians losing issue is foreign policy. They rely on petty moralism, use deeply flawed sources, and often negate geopolitical realities. To remedy this, I will explain the defensive realist theory of international politics. In the defensive realist worldview, they view international order to be anarchic and not hierarchical. And views that the state is required to have minimal security for survival and regards good international policy as that which is structured to discourage war. From this perspective, they perceive the state to be susceptible to the balance of power and if any state goes rogue, a coalition will form to crush them. For example, Nazi Germany was defeated by a coalition of nations and the Napoleonic empire was crushed by an alliance of states.
The realist perspective of the world can be very refreshing and allow political ideologues to re-consider there beliefs and worldview. As a result, they may change their goals to something more practical and not operate in an abstract world. My current belief that libertarians fall into the trap of utopian rationalism or naively believe that if everybody understands libertarianism and the goals they hope to achieve, everybody will eventually become libertarians. But this just not the case, it is time to stop operating in an abstract world.
The Proper Role Of the State(with Klaus Moller): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSUql9c5UT0&t=1122s
John J. Mearsheimer, "the Case For Restraint": YaleUniversity - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsonzzAW3Mk&t=858s
Theory Of International Politics by Kenneth Waltz - Waveland Press - 2010
A Conflict Of Visions: Ideological Origins Of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell - Basic Books - 2007
By Insula Qui
The cause of fascism seems appealing to many when confronted with deep modernity. And even I used to be beguiled by its specific allure. Fascism made the bold claim that it can bring back classical values to the 20th century, reliving the supposed glory of the pre-liberal monarchies. This makes fascism more compatible with the 21st century than the original classical conditions themselves. Furthermore, fascism has an aesthetic ideal, something that seems inherently good that we should strive towards. Most who are already conservative minded find it hard to resist clean streets, public works, orderly societies, national power, happy women, and strong men.
And from 2014-2017 we saw an online trend that now seems to be on the decline, this is the free intermingling between fascists and libertarians. This created an unstable synthesis of reactionary nationalist and libertarian thought. I would consider all my early work to be a part of this trend and it still holds a place in my personal philosophy because of that. However, in 2018 we have seen this break down, as I predicted in my post on Zeroth Position eleven months ago. “Although there can be a degree of collaboration between libertarians who value the nation and fascists who value property, they will still ultimately be fascists and libertarians, respectively.”. What we have seen is that the people in this makeshift alliance have shifted to either forsake libertarianism or forsake fascism. I now find myself in the camp that has abandoned fascist sympathies.
But there was still a period of few months in late 2017 to early 2018 where I teetered between the edge of libertarianism and fascism. On one side, we have libertarians who can never accept that Rothbard was wrong on anything and lose their minds when someone dares to criticize the sacred institution of pornography. On the other side, we have fascists who are constitutionally unable to accept that we are currently in a unique era which we ought to appreciate and that making people suffer might not be a good thing. To resolve this division within my own thought, I tried to go even further on my reconciliation of the two values. I strived to create a completely unique position, somewhere between the zeroth position of libertarianism and the third position of fascism, for convenience, we can call this experiment 1.5P.
Thankfully, this confused period was between large projects where I was working on the final drafts of my last two books, no serious work came out of this, the only exception may be some passages in “Libertarianism and Statecraft”, but that work remains relatively unaffected as it mostly catalogued my previous thought. 1.5P still affects my thought immensely as it was one of the most creative periods in my personal thought and eventually transformed into a cohesive view of political philosophy. But the apex of 1.5P came as a fully developed view of anarcho-fascism, one that has never been advanced elsewhere and probably never will be. After this point, however, I completely forsook the notion, but it still remains one that needs to be explored. And I hope the reader forgives me for the extremely long introduction, but this is vital to lay the context of this idea.
To begin with, we need to tackle the very uniquely anarcho-fascist view of individual interests in society. The first step is to acknowledge the very existence of unique individual interests, the second step is to acknowledge that these interests are grouped together and prone to clashing with one another. This means that these interests need to somehow be unified under a system to prevent violence and promote the advancement of all individuals. If there is no such system, conflicting interests will always result in destruction. When two groups have competing claims on the same scarce resource, the eventual outcome will be war unless it is deliberately averted by institutions that are conducive to peaceful solutions.
The two large ways in which disparate interests can work together is if they are either reconciliated or harmonized. By reconciliating interests, one employs the free market system to buy and sell priorities. For example, does an individual prefer a monocultural society or an abundance of taco trucks? If interests are reconciliated, multiculturalism is imposed with the reward being a quick and easy access to an unlimited amount of foreign foods. Thus, interests are thoroughly reconciliated, those who benefit from multiculturalism need to pay a price in food, and all conflict is settled. When interests are harmonized, all people share an interest, this means that the desire for monoculturalism is no longer an individual concept, but rather an entire society is organized in a desire for monoculturalism. Thus, this is a socialistic society where transactions are less important than group decisions.
But harmonization and reconciliation can both happen under a free market, there is no prohibition on making group decisions on a free market, the only reason for why one would not do so is if they do not think that group decisions lead to worse outcomes. And this is the entire premise of anarcho-capitalism, when people are allowed to make decisions for themselves, they choose the most beneficial and as such will make individual transactions. But this is only the case in a low-trust society where all interactions need to be mechanical or cannot to work.
We can use Japan as an extremely low-trust and fairly capitalistic country to provide an example of what such conditions might look like. The first and most striking feature is that all business transactions are completely impersonal within reason, whether this is the prevalence of vending machines or other forms of mechanical interaction. This embodies the ideal of inputting an order, paying money, and receiving a product. However, when societies are low-trust and social, we see the emergence of the bazaar where prices are negotiable. In these situations, individuals cannot set prices as they value the potential for potential higher values due to rapid market fluctuations more than smooth and transparent ones.
To contrast this, we can imagine a high trust society that for one reason or another chooses to reconciliate interests instead of harmonizing them, maybe due to a futile individualism. Business transactions would take the shape of set prices, or auctions. Individuals would learn of business opportunities through word of mouth and community connections. This is the small-business ideal, where people fill a need when they see that need and act in a responsible and social manner while being completely individualistic. But when there is such a degree of trust, there is another and greater way of organization, this is the harmonization of interests.
The fundamental problem with reconciliating interests is the inherent fact that there is no perfect information of what the wishes of other people are. A price system greatly alleviates this problem and advertising alongside market research can make it fairly irrelevant. But there is still the price to pay for advertising and market research, which could hypothetically be averted by a different mode of organization. And this can be done in a completely voluntary and free market manner, this is if people trust one another to the extent where they are willing to socialize decision making and thus remove all problems there could be with information and protect important values unconditionally.
To go back to our first example of taco trucks and multiculturalism, when interests are harmonized, the group which shares an interest can be united in a desire for taco trucks or monoculturalism, but no external force that pushes for multiculturalism is taken into consideration. The interest group of multiculturalists and foreigners is completely eliminated. The matter of the decision is now inherently and absolutely within the in-group. Thus, perfect trust creates an in-group with absolute authority and an out-group with no authority in a completely libertarian manner with no significant downsides to any individual.
We can contrast this with any attempts by the state to harmonize individual interests into a cohesive whole. What we find near universally is that all these attempts fail and cause more conflict than there would have otherwise have been, creating unnecessary violence that we should seek to avoid. This means that any sort of strategy that harmonizes interests in a high-trust society is only possible under a complete regime of voluntaryism. This creates the only workable form of fascistic organization in an anarchistic order. But since this organization lacks totalitarianism and state violence, it can only be described as being more reminiscent of the traditional order of classical monarchy and not actual fascism.
If we now imagine transactions under this system, we can probably expect three defining characteristics. First, the widespread growth of various mutual aid societies and fraternal orders that function so as to advance all within that society. These provide people with security and avoid the necessity for any welfare or other unproductive measures for the betterment of the poor. These institutions rather provide a community and resources to start a successful and independent life. The second is a relative abolition of the system of widespread credit and small loans. Since, this would be a free market order, we can expect prices to fall drastically with wages increasing, so people would not feel the need to take instant loans for insignificant purchases. Furthermore, a lot of the massive personal debt craze is fuelled by not having the ability to borrow money from a community, which would not be relevant in a high-trust society such as this.
The third and probably most important feature would be a widespread guild system resembling the corporatist ideal. When interests are harmonized, it’s probably more advantageous to reduce competition for businesses co-operating, this is best done through guilds to organize industry. Furthermore, employees do not need such entities as unions provided that they receive betterment in the form of training and connections through a guild. What we begin to see is that this “fascistic” society has transformed into the agorist ideal of each person being a worker-capitalist-entrepreneur. In a fairly strange way, applying fascistic organizational principles brings us closer to left-libertarian worldviews.
Furthermore, under a low trust anarcho-capitalist polity, we might find that reconciliating interests through transactions is not enough, and thus there is a demand for authority. Not in the form of a state, but rather a government only as a manager of land. This leaves the anarcho-capitalists with two fundamental options for creating a functional society. Either interests are reconciliated through voluntary governance without the use of any force, or interests are harmonized through a more socialistic economic system with a similar lack of force. Pure anarcho-capitalism becomes largely dysfunctional and unsustainable.
However, now I need to explain why I have abandoned this ideal. The fatal flaw is the originary view of interests, which do not necessarily tend to conflict. Each person, generally, desires to live in a society that matches his values and is generally prosperous. Through self-selection and community improvement, we would see an order in which people with similar interests tend to congregate. Provided that this happens, there is no fundamental need for either reconciliating interests or harmonizing them. The degree of trust becomes irrelevant and market transactions can be carried out on a largely social and interepersonal level as people would tend to share values with those in their communities.
Libertarian statecraft is still useful insofar as it fills many holes in orthodox libertarian theory by formalizing communal organization, and the left-libertarian ideal of total independence when it comes to each man being a worker-capitalist-entrepreneur is still valuable. Furthermore, guilds, fraternal societies, and a lack of widespread debt slavery are still good goals to strive towards. However, our prime concern needs to be the complete abolition of misapplied violence, none of our problems can be solved without solving the biggest one of them all.
By Insula Qui
The most important discovery as it relates to libertarianism and statecraft is Dunbar’s number, this is the number of social relationships a person can sustain. This number has been estimated to be between 100 and 250, with a median estimate of 150. And seemingly, this provides us with a solution to how many people a libertarian government can govern. This is because social trust can only function within the limits of Dunbar’s number, so the size of a polity seems unable to exceed 250. But this would only be true for purely decentralized relations.
Within a libertarian monarchy, the relevant metric is how many people the monarch can retain sustainable relationships with. And as the monarch must be well adapted to creating and sustaining relationships, we can estimate a monarch to have a capacity to sustain around 250 relationships. This means that a monarch can have reciprocal trust with 250 people, but a monarch governing 250 people will be extremely inefficient and as such, we need to accept degrees of alienation.
The most generous assumption would be that everyone the monarch has a relationship with is an aristocrat. This is unrealistic, but we can accept this in our extremely generous estimate. We can now generously estimate that each aristocrat has a relationship with 250 members of his own polity, all polities being distinct and separate, with no overlap. If this is true and if the acceptable degree of alienation is a single aristocracy, the amount of people a monarch can govern is 62,500.
We can now give the same generous estimates, however, we now can say that we can accept two degrees of alienation, this would give us a number of over 15 million, which is much closer to the current size of countries. But this is not realistically sustainable as the first aristocracy would then be unable to actually connect to the polity. The polity will be functionally unrepresented, and the monarch will have no connection to the interest of the polity. We can fundamentally only accept a single degree of alienation as there can be no trust between the two degrees alienated aristocracy and the people.
And now we have to also produce a more realistic estimate and factor in real conditions. Firstly, all people need to feel represented but do not actually need to be represented. Functionally, this means that every family must have one person actually represented who has connections to an aristocrat. If we estimate a median size of the family unit as 4, which is reasonable considering that the variations in familial structures can reach from extended families to solitary individuals, we produce that an aristocrat could functionally represent around a thousand people.
And this only works with the family because every other social unit will produce exclusion due to lacking a similar degree of interconnectedness, each family must have at least one person who is represented. But it is also unlikely that only one person from each family would be represented. We can now say that the aristocrat would usually represent two people from an average four-person family. This means that the aristocrat would represent around five hundred people in 125 families.
And we cannot estimate that polities will not be interconnected as they all fall under the same system of governance, realistically, we can suppose that the polity of each aristocrat will have around a 50% overlap with the polities of other aristocrats. Furthermore, this means that each aristocrat will also have social relations outside his own polity. We can safely estimate that every supposed polity would now have around 100 families and 400 people.
But of the 100 families in that polity, the aristocrat would only have an exclusive representation of half and a split representation of the rest. This means that the aristocrat would functionally only represent 75 families and 300 people. By introducing external factors, we have still arrived at a larger number of represented people than previously, however, we still have one factor we have not accounted for, we still have a really generous estimate for Dunbar’s number, by reducing that estimate to a more realistic degree, we can safely say that an aristocrat could represent around 50 families and 200 people.
The king has no alleviating factor of the family. The king must be in contact with every aristocrat and have reciprocal trust with those aristocrats. This means that the king will only experience a reduced power of representation. First, we can still estimate the number of relationships a king can sustain at 250, this is because the king must be extremely socially capable in order to sustain a kingdom.
But a king must also sustain relationships outside the aristocrats, we can safely say that a king might have around 150 personal friends, contacts in the police and military, and interkingdom connections. This means that the king could realistically only sustain 150 aristocrats, this is because the aristocrats have a statistically higher likelihood than the general population to be personal friends or in the police and military, thus fitting two categories. This means that the realistic size of each kingdom would be around 30,000.
This also means that every form of libertarian governance should be around the estimate of 30,000 people if it is to be a monarchic-aristocratic form of governance. However, functional systems may theoretically vary from 1 person to 62,500 people. And realistically, when the governed entity is a town, small city, or village, the amount of people governed would more closely be 500-10,000. This means that the estimate of 30,000 is only relevant in cities with populations that equal or exceed 30,000.
But would it not be useful to combine villages and towns into a larger polity? A kingdom could encompass multiple of these entities. So we must account for this possibility also. If the average small settlement is around 2000 people, the king might govern up to 15 of these settlements. But we have to account for an increased degree of complexity as each settlement is a more insular and a less homogenous entity. It is harder to govern different villages than a large amount of people who are otherwise similar. The problems and concerns of each small settlement will differ to the extent that it is hard to reconcile all interests.
This means that the capacity of the king to govern must be reduced, we can here just use our previous estimates, but also estimate the number of relationships the king can sustain to be around 150, more close to the average dunbar’s number as the relationships become increasingly complicated. This means that there could only be 100 or so aristocrats. This is because the size of the polity being reduced by a lesser amount of aristocrats would reduce military and police contacts alongside international connections. Furthermore, the king is unlikely to give up on personal friends while remaining well-adjusted.
This means that a kingdom consisting of small villages could only number around 20,000 people, so realistic estimates for a kingdom would be around 20,000 to 30,000, depending on whether the kingdom is in an urban or rural environment. But here we are also faced with a problem. Urban environments have similar increased complexity, however, this only happens when they are too large to be easily divided between multiple kings. Furthermore, in urban environments below 60,000 people, kings must see a reduction in the size of their polity.
From this we can deduce that the more kings there are in an urban settlement, the harder the governance of that settlement becomes. Furthermore, since each king would have to sustain relations with each other king, the size of kingdoms would rapidly deteriorate. This means that urban environments will either see a breakdown of rational rule and a rise of tyranny. Or that urban environments will cease being governed altogether and function in a form of ungoverned and individualistic anarcho-capitalism.
This leads us to the inevitable conclusion that the size of monarchy in a libertarian system could realistically only be a king ruling 20,000 people in a rural area or a settlement no larger than 30,000. Beyond this, we see an increasing breakdown of the rational monarchic order and a return to despotism and ungoverned anarchy. This also leads us to the logical conclusion that large cities will simply be outcompeted under a functioning libertarian system of governance and that there will inevitably be a peaceful abolition of the city for economic reasons. The city will be reduced to a giant market, an ungoverned hub of trade and not a livable environment.
We can still theoretically conceptualize a system of governance in a city that is not necessarily tyrannical. This is republicanism without externalities. We can imagine certain “political candidates” going door to door to provide their managerial services. Thus, the size of the polity would become the degree of connections the political candidates can mechanically sustain. This varies largely with the size of the firm and the capacity of those “candidates” to perform secretarial duties.