One may or may not be shocked to learn that I still have friends who call themselves anarchists. Not of the Molotov cocktail variety, but rather of the Murray Rothbard sort. Libertarians who take their love of liberty to the ultimate extreme and say the State ought not exist and should instead be replaced by a system of private law, governed by property and contracts. I once counted myself among these types, hence the prior existing friendships.
I was forced to reconsider my ideas, largely as a consequence of immigration.
Say what you will about the merit of the ideas these folks hold, one thing I have typically found is that most are anxious for the opportunity to discuss them, and they have, for the most part, been well trained on how to do this. They have a tendency to see themselves as the most rational of creatures, and to prove this to themselves and others, their style of discussing politics tends to abide by predictable rules which are if nothing else civil.
And, though their self perception is of the eminently rational, they also tend to be preoccupied with the concept of morality. They are typically driven by a desire to be good and decent people, and to operate in a fashion typically not unbecoming a religious person, whether they happen to believe in God or not.
Some of the features here described are more universal than others. The sexual proclivities of some, of course, would be quite unbecoming to any recognizable religion, but that is a different topic than I aim to address today, and by no means universal.
Probe them long enough, and you will occasionally get them to admit this property based order looks a lot more like monarchy than anarchism. Essentially, one concludes this amounts to government by landlord. The property owner is king, and those who reside on his property are his subjects. Without the restraint of constitutions and little concern for democratic consequences, the range of potential outcomes borders on limitless, depending almost entirely upon the character of the property owner.
But even if they come to agree with this, they still tend to say it is anarchism because there is “no State”.
This gives way to conversations about what “the State” is and to what extent other forms of control may exist without deriving the title.
From where does the State derive its legitimacy? Or is such legitimacy even possible?
These concepts are not limited to friendly debates with civilized libertarians. So much of our failed political discourse today stems from a lack of consensus on the nature of the State and its purpose, what powers it has, and from where its authority derives. We run around in endless circles debating the merits of policies, without ever stopping to consider that the foundations of our discussion are eroding beneath us, and we wonder then why things spiral out of control and we appear to be racing towards civil war.
This evening, I intend to make a basic case for what I believe the nature of the State to be, and to make a defense of its mere existence. I do not expect this to satisfy all questions, and it will have to be returned to again and again, but I am convinced that this is actually among the most important concerns of our time, and this evening, I mean to scratch the surface.
And of course, there is plenty in the news to discuss, and your calls are welcome.