Anarcho-Capitalism: Fresh Fish or Yesterday’s Catch?
Further thoughts on the relevance of anarcho-capitalism. Columnist Don Hank continues the conversation.
Because I am always short on time, I can imagine my commentaries are often taken as glib or smart-alecky. This hyperconciseness is not on purpose.
Simply because of existential concerns, I must say this as concisely as possible.
Arguments in debates are like chains, and the opponent is tasked with breaking them. Of course, an opponent who wishes to break a chain would be foolish to try and break each individual link. One link will generally suffice to dispatch the whole argument. For example, I suppose I could focus on pecadillos, like Brian's statement that my 13-paragraph commentary was only one paragraph. But that would be a waste of your time. Here is the weakest link in Brian’s argument:
"Being conversational in AC begins with the tacit understanding that the existence of the state completely skews the economic model."
Now, quite honestly, there is nothing I would rather see than the entire state apparatus simply vanishing into thin air. Our western ‘democratic’ state is thoroughly corrupt and doesn’t justify its own existence in any way.
However, my best guess is that, despite anarchist pipe dreams, it never will melt away. It is instructive to note that the communists too thought the state would melt away (see, for example, page 137 of this document). In the communist model, this would give rise to a classless society. So how did that work out in reality? An anecdote should suffice.
During my stay in Leningrad, my fellow exchange students and I took a train trip to Tallin. I was in a car with some students and our Russian teacher. We were singing folk songs and I was playing my guitar. Just then, the two tour guides came to the car and summoned me to step out into the corridor, which I did. They invited me to their car and said they had a friend there who was a party member whom they wanted me to meet. I tried to decline because I was having fun and am not impressed by rank. They insisted, saying, “you are in that car with a woman who is nothing but a lowly teacher. Here is a chance for you to meet a party member” (party members were, in fact, rare). This was in about 1970. The Revolution had happened 53 years hence.
You’d think that in that many years, no communist in a responsible position (tour guides were intimately connected with the KGB if not actual agents) would be speaking disparagingly of a person simply because of their class status. In fact, what class status? Right?
But, as is well known, the state did not melt away, and it simply got more powerful and intrusive. And these ranking members of Soviet society were cheeky enough to come right out and admit it.
Now what does that have to do with Brian’s weakest link, i.e., his implication that Anarcho-Capitalism will put an end to the State as we know it?
Simply put, the AnCap model, like the communist one before it, calls for the disintegration of the state, as Brian implies. I can’t help but wonder how the AnCaps intend to dissolve the State without an initial powerful political mechanism designed to do the demolition work, and you will note that Brian does not provide any clues as to how this would happen. But you say, AnCaps are not part of the political class and have no designs on being part of a State.
You might say that, but only if you aren’t paying attention. Ron Paul, who has intimate connections with the Von Mises Institute that sponsors AnCap discussions, is indeed part of the State and has aspired to the presidency. There is a first clue. Further, his son Rand is now considered a possible GOP hopeful. And speaking of political money and power, the money bombs collected for the Ron Paul campaign ran into the millions.
The AnCap strategy will definitely require politicians to go to bat for them, and therein lies the analogy with communism. In fact, when I implied that AnCap has no real-world models, I had forgotten this “melting away of the State” idea of theirs and its stark similarity to communism.
If AnCap is to “succeed,” it will indeed succeed in Washington and in other areas of political power, regardless of what its proponents and propagandizers say. Just as the first system that purported to dissolve the State was implemented in the Kremlin.
And that is where the whole thing blows apart, because the theme is to make politics and the State disappear. Yet even at this incipient stage, it is already striving hard for centralized political power, the kind it says it opposes. Just imagine how much power it will have accrued once it has picked up political inertia!
Of course, Brian, and all the others who have opposed me (politely so far) have used a subtle form of intimidation, implying that I am simply not knowledgeable enough to talk about (i.e., be “conversational” in) Anarcho-Capitalism. I assume this patronizing approach is their modus operandi with any opponent. Like the liberal left, they thus pretend to be more knowledgeable and their opponents are supposed to feel stupid and slink away.
However, as a language student living in Germany for a year and then later in Russia and Poland, I became hypersensitized to tyranny and the subtle ways in which it stealthily subverts political systems, cultures and whole nations. Spiegel was then publishing numerous articles on the Third Reich, which I devoured (at the time, Spiegel was not available in English). My sensitization to the Eastern tyranny came through personal contacts with natives of East Germany, Poland and Russia, and later China, who told me many stories of woe, such as the way my Russian informants, for example, were interrogated by the KGB when caught consorting with foreigners, or the demoralizing servitude of Poles as economic pawns of Russia. Being sensitive to something through personal contact and by living in a country that has passed through a period of deeply tragic tyranny is not the same as reading books in the library or taking a course, because second-hand exposure does not impart the flavor of tyranny.
By way of analogy, you don’t need to be a trained taste tester specialized in seafood to distinguish between a fresh fish and yesterday’s catch.
If you catch my drift.