Libertarianism And Human Nature

Kent McManigal, probably the most consistent libertarian I’ve come across,  has posted this athis blog.

“Libertarianarchist.  That’s me.  But it is also redundant since an anarchist is just a libertarian with all the inconsistencies stripped away.  A libertarian in full bloom.

The “libertarians” who dispute that always have a big “but”.  They are libertarian, but… there is some “service” The State provides- through coercion and theft– that they just don’t believe can be provided voluntarily.  Maybe “justice“/”courts“, or “copyright”, or roads, or “security” or “national defense”.  But there’s always something.

Get rid of that “something” by realizing that if it needs to be provided, there is always a better way than by allowing a government monopoly to provide it through theft and coercion.  And get over your fear of the word “anarchy”.

You’ll be happier in the long run.”

The first thing I disagree with is the characterization of the “state” as some thing that springs forth from nothingness to oppress “the people”. The state exists because people demand it. I see no evidence in the history of mankind that shows a group living without some aspect of formal,”coercive” structure. From the loosest tribal organisation to the Soviet Union, people want structure. Anarchy is a temporary state until a “state” is created, either by consent or by force.

Mr. McManigal  has a whole section which gives his definition of terms. When he uses the word “coercion“, he means,”For me, coercion is purely the initiatory act of forcing or causing someone to act in a way that is against their legitimate will.” “Legitimate will” is not defined, but I think we can assume it means a decision made without external influence.

Laws exist because enough people demanded them and were able to bring enough influence to bear to get them. Their reasoning could be altruistic or selfish, but the point is they had the power to get it done. Somebody will always have the power to impose their will on others. Whether its a jackbooted thug, an extortionist or a pushy salesman, the principle is the same and coercion is still a fluid term. One man’s coercion is another man’s effective sales tactics.

I hate to plug it, but the terrible movie The Beach contains a good example. Somewhere in Thailand is a socialist commune where everybody works together and freedom reigns, supposedly. In practice, one dominant personality rules the island. This is human nature. Some are dominant, some are followers and some want to be left alone. The latter group includes the libertarians.

Human nature tends toward organising, categorising and creating structure. Governments, gangs, teams, fraternities, tribes, civic groups, corporations, working groups, committees, etc. If we can subdivide, we will.

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