...who understands that coercion is inherent in social life, and that true liberty is a minimization of coercion, but that this is not necessarily the same thing as a minimization of political decision making. This ought to be reproduced in its entirety:
"and a totally bogus way to describe your own political program.
Here's what happens in real politics: a bunch of people have different views as to how society should be governed. They hash these views out: preferably, by reason and persuasion, next best, by propaganda and voting, and worst of all, by civil war. Ultimately, one group comes out on top, and thus has the ability to enforce its view on others. The people who lost either grumble and go along, are dead or in prison, or move away.
That is the way politics has always proceeded. There really isn't any other possible scenario.
Except in the fantasies of some people who believe imposing their vision is actually not an imposition on anyone at all! Consider anarcho-capitalist Geoffrey Allan Plauché, who asserts of he and his cohorts that:
"We do not seek to impose centralized controls on 'society' but rather to remove them! We do not seek to impose our preferences on 'society' by force but rather to prevent certain members of society from imposing theirs on us by force!"
Of course, by "removing" controls, they mean "placing everything under the strict control of strong property rights." By "not imposing their preferences on others by force," they mean "imposing the property rights regime we like on others by force."
For instance, what would Plauché and his ilk say to, for instance, communists, who certainly do not agree to Plauché's preferred property rights regime? "Well," no doubt he would respond, "they are free to implement communism on their own property!" Of course, "their own property" and "Plauché's own property" are the very concepts that the communists don't buy into, so this response amounts to, "Once you have acquiesced to the private property regime we are imposing on you, we will let you have your little play communist islands within it... because we've won, and would like to be magnanimous."
Good God, this limp-wristed libertarianism makes me appreciate Hoppe, who at least has the cojones to say, "My political system is correct, and I damn well will enforce it on you given the chance, and boot your arse right out of town should you complain too much."
Politics is about deciding what the rules for a society will be. The winners must impose their favored controls on society, because otherwise we can only have anarchy in the sense of chaos, and not in Plauché's preferred sense of order without a ruler. Plauché, if he wins, means to impose his system of controls (rule by strong property rights) on society just as surely as any other political advocate does... he is just too timid to admit it."
It's not just the presence of property rights either (although Gene makes a good point vis-a-vis the communists) - it's also exactly what those rights are. Property rights aren't just something that you turn on or off like a light switch. They're deeply embedded in institutions and they evolve over time. And they're also historically contingent - we don't enter life as blank slates. We enter this world in families that provide us with a more or less advantageous start, and they entered this life into older families that provided them with a more or less advantageous start. When we say "property" that's just the advantages that several generations have laundered into respectability and passed on to me which my fellow Americans have sworn to defend my title to. That's all it is. To say "I believe peoples' (presumably current, status quo) property rights should be honored" is only to say "I believe that the vicissitudes of history ought to be legitimated by the force of society - if not the state itself".
This isn't to complain about property rights, of course. I'm a big fan of property rights and so is Gene Callahan. It's only to complain about the people who are deluded into thinking that standing up for the status quo property regime is inherently the most liberal position to take, or that it distinguishes itself in being the "non-coercive option". All social organization is coercive, period. There is no non-coercive option. We can accept that, be liberals, and seek out the least coercive, most dignified option - or we can talk ourselves into a logically coherent but practically meaningless infinite loop by telling ourselves that there's a way to avoid coercion.
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