Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Anarcho-capitalism vs Civilization
When I lived in Afghanistan for a year, going from village to village, it was like I had been transported back into time. Way back into time. It was like living in the Old Testament.
Part of our efforts in Afghanistan involved trying to help the Afghan people set up a very basic government..."minarchism" so to speak. The challenge is that Afghanistan is a tribal society. They do not have a national identity...they have a tribal identity. They do not bear allegiance to a flag that symbolizes the entire nation. Their motto is not e pluribus unum. Here in America we think of ourselves first as Americans then second as African Americans, Middle Easterners, Asians, Mexicans, Caucasians...or...Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists...or...liberals, conservatives, libertarians, anarcho-capitalists...or...
If the Afghan tribes had all worked together...would they have been able to repel the countless invasions that occurred throughout their history? If you've read the Bible...how many times were the tribes of Israel conquered by more civilized nations? Same thing with the native Americans.
Clearly we all started out in tribal societies...but some managed to become "civilized" while others have not. Having studied development theory...I can tell you with absolute certainty that we do not know why some tribes develop while others do not. There are plenty of theories but they are all just that...theories.
What would happen if, via anarcho-capitalism, we got rid of our national identity? If we did not think of ourselves as "Americans"...then what would we think of ourselves as? Obviously our secondary identity would become our primary identity. There would be no allegiance to a flag and there would be no e pluribus unum.
But...there would be property rights! Right? Is that enough though?
I'm willing to entertain the possibility that anarcho-capitalism just might work. Yet...I'm also willing to entertain the possibility that it really wouldn't work.
The beauty of pragmatarianism is that I do not have to assume I know what I do not. As Socrates said, "...it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think I know what I do not know."
Rothbard drooled over a button that he could push to entirely destroy the state in one fell swoop. If the state is entirely unnecessary though...then each part of the state is also entirely unnecessary. Why not just allow each and every taxpayer to use their own, individual, hard-earned taxes to indicate which parts of the state are entirely unnecessary? If consumers do not purchase unnecessary private goods...then why would they "purchase" unnecessary public goods?
Why not become a devil's advocate for public goods?