Thursday, July 28, 2011

Straightening out this Block/Callahan thing

Commenter I.Georgiev challenges Gene: "Gene, your quote of Block is misplaced. In this paper Block give an example where an individual is FIRST robbed by a Mafia, THEN he tries to get his stolen property back and IN THE PROCESS of doing so he harms the Mafia's agents who are trying to prevent him from doing so. Would you please be so kind to let me know where is the injustice in this example? A ) Is it the act of ROBBERY by the Mafia's agents, B) is it the act of restitution performed by the Mafia's victim (which involves the physical harm of individuals trying to prevent the JUST owner of the property to gain possession of what is rightfully his)?

Mr. Block does not (explicitly) specify the course of actions, that is, whether the victim first finds out that the Mafia keeps its loot (a part of which is his now-stolen property) in a store-house where there are "guards" who do not have guns with them, but rather are there in order to politely give back the loot to the robbed-original-property owners who find the store-house and express their wish to get their belongings back, and whether the victim knowing this information buys himself a kalashnikov goes to the store-house murders all the "guards" and takes his property; or whether the "guards" actually ARE guards, are NOT polite (i.e. do not want to cooperate) but rather hostile and prefer to try their best to stop any victim of their robberies from performing restitution. In the second case where the guards are guards and as such they respectfully DECLINE to peacefully give back what is NOT THEIRS, THEN:

"pretty much anything you do to or against them will be more than fully deserved."

what Block is NOT saying is EXACTLY WHAT YOU TRY TO INSINUATE HE IS SAYING, and that is what you paint to be as a LIBERTARIAN CALLING, something as a duty that makes one a real libertarian, and this duty is supposed to be: go ahead and murder the state and its agents
."


Now I don't know Walter Block's thinking on these things in any great detail so I need you guys to help me sort this out. I.Georgiev seems to me to be contradicting himself here although I find his prose somewhat confusing. Unless he's saying "Block thinks killing agents of the state is justified but not necessarily a duty" - perhaps he's saying that - but I can't understand how he's not at least saying that it's justified. If you think the government is akin to the Mafia and you think that responding to the Mafia with violence is acceptable under the non-aggression principle because you aren't the aggressor (they are), then what argument could you possibly make against the Breivik situation. It seems to me once you accept the premise that the government is a criminal enterprise that we're all victims of, you've given up any counter-argument to Breivik and you certainly can't hide behind the non-aggression principle. Block seems to understand this. Lots of other people seem to be in denial. I don't happen to agree with Block. I don't think government in general is analagous to a criminal enterprise at all (although certain governments have been criminal).

I made this point in this post too, where I made the probably too strong suggestion of saying that libertarians didn't really believe taxation is theft because they didn't respond to it the way they would respond to a thief in their house. Later I conceded the point on a lot of that. However, even if there are very good reasons why any given libertarian might (1.) think taxation is theft, but (2.) not respond, it seems to me nobody that thinks taxation is theft would begrudge someone else's response or consider them to be acting unjustly. I understand not all libertarians are going to respond this way and they might have good reason not too, but if you really think the state is criminal and taxation is theft how could you argue against someone who refuses to take that aggression lying down? It seems to me you have two options: (1.) think the state is criminal and a violent response is justified, it's just not for you, or (2.) think the state is not a criminal enterprise and thus that a violent response is unjustified.

A lot of libertarians seem to want it both ways. They want to say the state is the mafia, the state is criminal, the state is the biggest mass murderer in history, the state is the biggest thief in history - put simply, the state is the biggest aggressor in history. But then when someone says "I am going to respond to this aggressor" they try to whip out the non-aggression principle as a defense.

I don't think that works, guys.

This is getting way past the "is Breivik a libertarian" question. Let's say he's not at all, he just happens to think the state is an aggressor. I know what I'd say in response to that: "The state is not an aggressor and you, Mr. Breivik, are a murderer and you're lucky you don't live in a country where they execute murderers because if I were on your jury I know what my sentencing recommendation would be". What can libertarians say? Can they dispute that the state is an aggressor? No, I don't think so. Can they invoke the non-aggression principle if the state is an aggressor? No, I don't think so. What's the argument against Breivik if you've burrowed yourself in this ethical hole? I truly don't understand what the argument is except for a gut feeling (which isn't necessarily a bad thing - gut feelings are there for a reason). I just wish more people would compare what they feel in their gut to their more formal pronouncements about ethics, justice, and the state.

42 comments:

  1. Some thoughts from my libertarian perspective:

    (a) The state is an aggressor; it is hard to view the state in any other way (even if you believe it exists to solve certain public choice problems, "it" still screws people over, etc. in undertaking such - in fact, that's why there are all manner of explicit measures in the U.S. Constitution to remedy such aggression - think of the compensation for eminent domain issue - which says that we realize that we're taking your property without your consent and we're going to try to remedy some of that damage with some cash). As far as taxation being theft, yeah, it is theft; all governments at one level or another are kleptocratic in nature (some worse and some better) - the consent to what I am being forced to pay for connection is a rather weak one in other words (to which the general response is, it is the best system that we have thought up so far, to which I respond, fine, hold that position, but that isn't a negation of the original claim). The only lesson I take from that is to argue for such a large scope of economic and social liberty to tame that trend or aspect of government and as technology advances to use such to make the government less relevant.

    (b) It is generally pointless to respond to that aggression with physical violence (states are just too well organized to do so generally); your best option - historically - is to physically remove yourself from the power of the state (here I think of all the stateless people who have moved to the mountains throughout the world - something quite common in SE Asia to give an example). I


    (c) One way to justify violence is to use _The Matrix_ defense; you see that defense in Morpheus' brief explanation regarding why violence against people in the system is alright. Basically they are so inured, so wrapped up in it that violence is the only way to wake them up - interestingly, a lot of real life terrorists make the same claim. As a general rule, the violence they perpetrate has not proved to be that successful - I am sure there are exceptions but I can't think of them.

    (d) I really could give a rat's ass about the non-aggression principle. I've never quite understood the atavistic call it has with some people. However, Daniel, if you're a utilitarian it is pretty easy to get out of the dilemma you charge non aggression principle libertarians with having.

    (e) My comments will likely not satisfy anyone interested in the moral dimension to these issues; for the most part though I think they just confuse the matter regarding this particular issue. Committing acts of violence against the state (or rather, the people in the state) is a quixotic enterprise and leads to consistently bad results (most states survive such and make it worse for everyone else by defending itself against such attacks). I save my moral fury for areas where it can make a difference.

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  2. So to clarify the last point in the context of the first four - you're not willing to say that Breivik has been unjust or immoral, but you are willing to say that he is quixotic and counter-productive? I'm just trying to understand exactly what you're willing to claim of him. If that's what you're saying that seems to me to be both logically consistent and consistent with this amorphous thing we call libertarianism. Much, much more consistent than these people who are trying to simultaneously say that the state is an aggressor and that Breivik is unjust and immoral because he violated the NAP.

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  3. Brievik actions were immoral, quixotic and counter-productive.

    So bactracking a bit, how do I get to the immoral part? In order to use violence you kind of have to use it for just means, I don't think that violence perpetrated to fight a hundred year war against the coming fantasy land of Eurabia really cuts it.

    Whether there is a "bright line" when it comes to revolutionary violence (which is what we are really getting at here) is up to for everyone to decide; however, I don't even think that you get there (even when you are talking about patently immoral stuff). So I think of it this way. I ask a hypothetical question: would it be alright to engage in revolutionary activity to end X (e.g., the drug war)? That's the sort of question you'd have to ask and really the only answer you're going to find that would be satisfying is a positive result from that question - and 99% of the time you're not going to get a positive result, so why even try? 99% of the time your revolutionary movement is going to get crushed and you're going to make shit worse off for everyone, even for the people you're ostensibly fighting for. The more you understand the American Rev. War as an exception (and an exception with lots of rules) the more you realize that revolutionary violence is not the way to go even for causes where the state is doing a lot of significant harm.

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  4. The scene from _The Matrix_ I'm referring to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXQozTxQSiE

    Basically it is an argument regarding false consciousness. I gotta say, the entire series is the most philosophically ambitious bit of film making undertaken.

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  5. Daniel,

    Cassius Dio makes a somewhat similar argument with regard to the Roman Empire (though he's making it in large part so as to protect the privileges, position, etc. of the local elites) - avoid the wrath of the Empire and the Empire won't send a legion or two to crack heads. Vast swaths of modern publics think roughly the same way about their own government - even what is thought to be ostensibly liberal states. In fact, that's exactly why Patri Friedman argues that in the seasteading that he supports (and that I support) no trade in guns, illicit drugs, etc. would be allowed outside the seasteading project - to avoid the wandering eye of governments (you know, like the eye of Sauron) that like to crack down on that.

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  6. Gary,

    Riffing on what you are arguing, we could note that the most successful revolutions of late were revolutions where people stopped believing in the meta-narrative which the state or authority depends on people believing in.

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  7. I think too many people focus on the bureaucrat when talking about a state being the aggressor. The bureaucrat is not the state. The state is an apparatus. The bureaucrat is someone wielding power through that apparatus. If the bureaucrat is an aggressor, so is the voter... so, maybe we should just kill everyone?

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  8. Interesting that we're talking about Block and aggressing the state. He wrote an article about that here: http://www.walterblock.com/wp-content/uploads/publications/block_theory-guilt-punishment-crime-statism.pdf

    He basically tries to figure out what we really mean by "state" and he makes a lot of really good guesses, but ultimately Block can't even come to terms with who is considered an aggressor of the state, and who is simply incidental - like a postal worker.

    Frankly, I don't think it's appropriate to initiate force on anyone - including kleptocratic members of the Mafia (as Block presumably does). The only members of the state that aggress, truly, are members of the police, SWAT, and military. These are the ones that kidnap you and throw you in cages, that kick down your door and shoot your dog, etc. I think defensive violence against these specific acts are appropriate (in the sense that it's just for someone to fight back against being arrested) but it's not appropriate to re-initiate force against those who harmed you in the past.

    I think this idea that justice necessarily involves looking back to past injustices to be remedied should be as outdated as the idea that market prices for a product are determined by what it cost to produce.

    Ultimately, this means Breivik was wrong (obviously). Just as anyone for commits terrorists acts for any purpose.

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  9. I have no idea what you guys are talking about. Let's stipulate for the sake of argument that a libertarian wouldn't object to someone taking out Hitler, Stalin, etc.

    How does that justify killing a bunch of teenagers?

    Even if you say, "They were at a political thingie so they were future-bureaucrats-in-training," they still haven't actually killed anybody, right? So there's no question that killing them is unjustified.

    Seriously, am I missing something here or is this one of the most absurd controversies of all time?

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  10. I would have thought the most absurd controversy of all time is whether taxation is theft, but apparently we have to argue that one too.

    Now on the camp I'll grant you that they were just (in the anarcho-capitalist understanding) agents of a criminal network in training, and trainees haven't committed dastardly acts yet - they just aspire to. So let's say that was decidedly unjust according to all of us. I'm not entirely sure I should concede that point (after all... don't up and coming mafioso get treated similarly by the law because of conspiracy issues - and certainly we don't think of them as completely innocent on an ethical level) - but I will still concede that point. Let's leave it be.

    What about the attack on the PM office? If the state is really the biggest thief, the biggest murderer, and the biggest criminal operation in town how can someone that believes that consider the targeting of its leader unjustified?

    Like I said - if you guys think it's justified but not wise or too scary for you, that's one thing. Not everybody is going to take it upon themselves to confront the mafia. But if you really think the state is the biggest criminal organization in town I don't understand what you can claim is unjust about the attack on the PM (if not the camp... I can concede that point for now).

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  11. If the end was to hurt the state, blowing up a building and killing a bunch of bureaucrats is not a means toward that end. The state is not a building. The state is not a bureaucrat. The state is an apparatus built around a fictional power relationship (fictional in the sense that the power relationship is really an idea, as opposed to a tangible characteristic). Blowing up a building is no different from blowing up wealth -- it's actually just that (or, let's say gov. buys all "idle resources" -- is blowing up these resources an attack on government?). Blowing up a bureaucrat isn't an attack on the state, either (no matter how statist that bureaucrat may be) -- you aren't attacking the apparatus the bureaucrat gains his power from. The state isn't harmed, you just killed someone who had at one point been a member of society.

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  12. You ought to ask an anarcho-capitalist that (or a libertarian-socialists for that matter) I guess. Kind of funny how you never, ever go after libertarian-socialists. Quit bugging libertarians about it in other words.

    The only way taxation isn't theft is if the individual consented to the tax (we all agree that is the case - no consent means theft, that is fundamental to much of the Enlightenment concepts regarding government); the problem is that all the efforts to justify the idea that even modern states provide consent based rule have lots of problems with them. So what happens is people who like lots and lots of government ignore those problems with lots of hand waving and come up with lame excuses like "democracy is the best we've come up with so far" and the like. They don't want to confront the fundamental sort of fissures or issues associated with the power structures and government programs that they like. Fundamentally that's because they don't want to admit that government as it currently exists is less than ideal and screws people over on a broad number of fronts - they like to say that those are minor aberrations, etc. when they clearly are not. Governments violate the supposed liberals ideals they are based all the time; yet we are basically supposed to ignore that and treat it as they off problems, when they are anything but - they are fundamental issues with government that have existed since government came into being - liberal governments have not solved these problems - they may have made them less acute, but solved them no.

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  13. Mind your methodological individualism, Jonathan.

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  14. re: "Fundamentally that's because they don't want to admit that government as it currently exists is less than ideal and screws people over on a broad number of fronts"

    Maybe this is fundamentally a problem with some people but it's not a problem with me. I've admitted these things freely and repeatedly.

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  15. I believe that your inability to recognize the JUSTICE of the actions of an individual who performs a restitution (that is, someone who tries to achieve re-possession of what is rightfully his and what is currently not in the possession of its original owner (him) but of a - non-just possessor - i.e. robber) is your non-understanding of the very simple and logically valid fact that (state) tax is an euphemism for theft. if one understands and accepts this truism he can not help himself but recognize the justice in the re-action (restitution) of a victim to an act of robbery.

    another mistake of yours is that you do not make a clear differentiation of what (who) is the state? Thanks to Incredibles Mr. Catalan and Guttenberg for pointing this out. Is the public school teacher an aggressor qua a public school teacher? Is the public teacher inherently aggressive? Of course not. He works for the State and as such receives payment that is a piece from the State's loot, but this does not make him an aggressor. The relationship between the State and the public teacher is nothing but an exchange. One of the exchanged things is stolen, but this does not make that party of the exchange which receives the stolen thing an aggressor.

    Regarding your great "insight" that libertarians are actually not "believing" (or maybe living their beliefs) that taxation is theft, because you see - they are not reacting in the same way when they are taxed and when "a thief enters their home and steals 100 dollars": have you ever studied economics? have you heard of such thing as OPPORTUNITY COST? the fact that a libertarian has a higher opportunity cost to react (which would be e just action) than not to react on the thievish actions of the tax-man does not ruin the libertarian ethical theory.

    what is this ethical "hole"? I get to understand that you are saying this:

    A) libertarians think that the state is an aggressor

    B) everyone who has something to do with the state if killed it would be a just kill (and in everyone you aggregate - those you give the orders to shoot, incarcerate and tax, those who motivate the executors, the executors; the teachers, the post office employee, the students, those who use public roads, in short - EVERYONE).

    if this is what you are saying - I am telling you that you are wrong. more precisely - your second part (B) is wrong.

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  16. Daniel,

    Well, I'm glad you agree with me there; glad to see we libertarians are having that sort of effect. ;)

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  17. Mr.Catalan's methodological individualism is very helpful to paint you the reductio ad absurdum of your "argument". I think I successfully did that in my own posting above. If we adopt your misunderstanding of what Block is saying - then we will have to blow the entire earth. :) And only then if we survive on some cosmic star may be we will finally be real libertarians? Ha-ha.

    I am sorry for my prose. I was pretty much frustrated these days. And this is not my best language yet. I still mainly so-called think in my mother language.

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  18. Gary - It's despite you guys, Gary. Usually I feel like I'm the one disuading some libertarian from the idea that they have the ability to map out an idyllic social order.

    Clearly leftists and planners could benefit the most from reading some Hayek. But after those particularly egregious cases, it's libertarians who are the most cock-sure they've got society all figured out. I suppose they feel like they're innoculated to it so they don't think carefully enough about it? I don't know. This isn't all of them of course - there are some very realistic libertarians who I simply have to disagree with. But there are an awful lot of idealists who think they've deduced a blueprint.

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  19. Anonymous -
    My point was there was no methodological individualism to speak of in what Jonathan wrote, and I personally found that funny.

    re: "If we adopt your misunderstanding of what Block is saying - then we will have to blow the entire earth."

    How does that follow at all? And we certainly don't "have to" - if you'll reread the post you'll see that I said I understand why libertarians might not personally want to make the effort themselves.

    Regardless, I agree - it's ridiculous. That's precisely my point.

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  20. Daniel,

    Libertarians are the least cock-sure, that's the point of being a libertarian; I am sure of one thing though, liberty is a process, it ain't no end. For liberals and conservatives liberty is an end as far as I can tell.

    For your edification: http://reason.com/blog/2011/07/28/i-dont-know-what-ideological-p

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  21. re: "I am sorry for my prose."

    And please don't take that comment as me criticizing you. I simply meant that I wasn't sure exactly what your argument was, which was why I tried to restate what I thought it might be in italics in the third sentence of my response.

    If you are commenting and blogging in more than a single language you have already far exceeded my capabilities. I'm still mastering my first!

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  22. Gary -

    re: "Libertarians are the least cock-sure, that's the point of being a libertarian"

    Gary can you stop this alternating idealization/"no true Scotsman" stuff for just one day.

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  23. You, for one, are by far and away more sure of what you think about things and more sure of what you think things should be than I am. You are not a unique experience for me in that respect.

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  24. "it's libertarians who are the most cock-sure they've got society all figured out."

    Bwahahaha!

    I knew you didn't realize you were misusing "emergent."

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  25. Oh God don't get me started on Helfeld. Another guy whose appeal I truly do not understand.

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  26. Anonymous you might want to elaborate - perhaps you're reading something into that sentence that's not there because I definitely understand the idea of emergent order.

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  27. Daniel,

    Whatever you say Mr. "Keynesianism is the truth, the way and the light."

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  28. Anonymous,

    Now say three Hail Keynes' and don't do it again. ;)

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  29. Huh? Now you're just making yourself look like an idiot, Gary.

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  30. Comment from Anonymous from July 28, 2011 5:29 PM is mine.

    "How does that follow at all? And we certainly don't "have to""

    What I meant was this: if we lead your reasoning to its logical conclusion, then, it will develop into this: we can only be libertarians - and we now only claim to be such but are not - until we do the following just thing: blow and kill everyone that has received psychic income from state actions. and in this category we can EVEN include the taxpayer who uses public roads (his psychic income may be negative, but it would be larger negative if he had not use the public roads).

    The "have to" comes from the alleged inconsistency between libertarian talking and acting. you imply that no one really is a libertarian until he reacts to state actions the same way he reacts when someone "enters his home and steals 100 dollars".

    so we can conclude this: if one wants to be a libertarian he has to blow the earth - and this will be a just blowing. :))) (this is a joke!)

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  31. I.Georgiev -

    I did go this far in saying that libertarians "had to" do these things to be consistent in the link I share in this post. But in this post I admited that commenters had convinced me I was wrong. There's no reason you "have to" do this. You can think it would be just, but you might not have the incentive or inclination to personally take it upon yourself to take that just action. We don't expect all people who think the Mafia is bad to take on the Mafia, in other words. I was initially wrong on that, and I realize that now.

    But as a matter of assigning what is just and what is unjust I don't think libertarians have it as easy.

    Now, I don't know if it makes sense to say that the whole world is culpable. We can make reasonable culpability designations. But certainly any agent of the state is culpable. As Bob Murphy points out, we might forgive aspiring agents of the state.

    And that IS ridiculous which is precisely my point.

    So why do people hold views that are so ridiculous?

    Hell if I know - I'm not the one that thinks taxes are theft and the state is a criminal enterprise.

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  32. Mr. Kuehn, I can not understand what you think is ridiculous? Can you clarify? What views are ridiculous?

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  33. Daniel,

    No, I am not being stupid, I am mocking Keynesianism and its various pretensions regarding "truth."

    Second, you keep on flipping around who are talking about - first it is anarcho-capitalists, then it is libertarians, etc. You do this all the time in conversations about libertarians or whoever you are talking about (which to be blunt is never clear). Until you can use consistent terminology there is no reason for anyone to listen to you or take you seriously and it should not surprise you that people get frustrated with that sort of thing.

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  34. Daniel,

    "Usually I feel like I'm the one disuading some libertarian from the idea that they have the ability to map out an idyllic social order."

    Libertarians don't think they can and are pretty sure no else can either. Like I have said, for libertarians liberty is a process, it isn't a set of discrete end states like it largely is for modern liberals and conservatives. The idyllic social order is the libertarian credo of "anything peaceful" - that is letting go of control and letting people do what they want to do. Your claim is that this is "social engineering," my claim is that it is choice. It is rather weird how you can turn choice into social engineering though; if it is social engineering, it is nothing like what social engineering is thought to generally be - centralized processes where the social order is molded by elite decisions (the latter is exactly what Keynes advocated of course - he had exceedingly little ability to think that your average person could make useful, etc. choices in their lives, and there is no denying this claim about Keynes - it is clearly what he thought - it is one of the reasons why I do not trust anything that he wrote).

    If you agree that consent is a problematic claim in even "liberal societies" and consent is supposed to be the basis of things like taxation then the claim that taxation isn't theft is going to be problematic. Again, that appears to be exactly why U.S. Constitution was written with provisions to compensate people who were harmed by discrete actions of the government - the realization being that property was being taken without consent. To look at things askance this way is powerful because it is using the very ideals of so-called liberal states against their actions. Liberal societies fail to live up to these ideals and they often do so in rather dramatic fashions (this was something Lysander Spooner was trying to get at I think) and if some libertarians or anarcho-capitalists or libertarian-socialists or whoever point that by arguing that taxation is theft, well, that isn't the fault of libertarians, they are simply looking at the claims of liberal societies and saying uh, sorry, but you are not remotely living up to the ideal that claim that you live up to and vast numbers of your population clearly have nothing like consent in your society when it comes to decisions made by the state.

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  35. Gary -
    The one time I used it on this thread I could have just as easily used "libertarian". You, however, seem to have used the word "anarcho-capitalist" three times. Why are you so interested in it? What was so unclear about my comment? I don't see what about the comment confuses you or makes you think I'm flipping around. It's certainly nothing you need to get frustrated over.

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  36. Daniel,

    "on this thread"

    I'm talking about a pattern of activity actually.

    Here's my suggestion; go chat with Kevin Carson, Roderick Long, Charles Johnson, etc. They are the mutualists, market anarchists (or mutualists), left-libertarians, non-market capitalists, etc. If you really want to talk about this subject they've got entire blogs dedicated to sorts of issues you're interested in.

    Remember, most libertarians you talk to don't think taxation is theft in theory (though in practice so far it is).

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  37. Gary -
    I would love to know some libertarians that don't think taxation is theft.

    Again this gets to definitions. Certainly Will Wilkinson or Greg Mankiw or Milton Friedman are libertarians in a meaningful sense and I don't think they think taxation is theft.

    The sort of minarchists and anarcho-capitalists that call themselves libertarians and that we have defined (multiple times - almost always in response to your repeated confusion) as "libertarian" here generally do seem to think of taxation as theft and I would genuinely be interested in counter-examples. I haven't come across any, but then I haven't polled them either.

    Now - many times here we've defined "libertarian" as people on anarcho-capitalist to minarchist spectrum because (1.) it's a coherent group that considers themselves libertarian, and (2.) it's a group that's of particular interest to the host and readers of this blog.

    I'd really appreciate it if you take the time to read through and accept that usage here and stop raising hackles every time the word "libertarian" is used.

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  38. Daniel,

    I like how you slip in that "we" bit. I've never accepted or agreed with your defintion and neither has anyone else to my knowledge either.

    How could a minarchist possibly argue that all forms of taxation are theft exactly? Honestly the term was created by agorists to describe people who are ok with some level of minimal state coercion. This is why I do not take you seriously. You have no idea what you are talking about and you throw phrases and terms around willy-nilly that no one with any depth in this area uses the way that you do.

    This is the last conversation I am having with you about libertarians. You don't know what you are talking about and it is a waste of time to continue talking to you on the subject.

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  40. Daniel, GG already pointed out the absurdity of your statement. If any ideology understands that society is constantly in flux, and that, therefore, there is no "society" to understand, it is "libertarians." Society is the complex arrangement that emerges from the interaction of (understandable) simple inputs. Complexity and all that.

    BTW, if one constantly finds oneself saying "that is not what I said" to so many different people maybe there's a problem with what one is saying.

    I'll refer you back to you Loughner post, which has some striking similarities with your two Norway posts.

    Also, what are your thoughts on the $1T Pt coin?

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  41. Daniel, I still don't get this at all. The reason everyone is horrified at this guy is that he killed a bunch of "kids." No one dwells on attacks against actual government officials in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    I grant you, part of that is probably because Americans don't care about brown people in the Middle East as much as white people in Europe. That's true.

    But another big part of it is that people can understand when there's a war going on, the outgunned forces will go after the leaders of the stronger force.

    But shooting up a bunch of teenagers who are at a camp is qualitatively worse. It is simply despicable. That's why everyone is so horrified at this.

    If I understand your latest answer to me, you are basically saying, "OK Bob, I grant you that libertarianism doesn't actually condone what this guy did, but still, let's pretend he didn't do that horrible thing. Now, do libertarians want to defend this horrible guy still?"

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  42. Bob Murphy -
    So you've completely avoided my comment where I said let's set the kids issue aside for now. Am I to understand that means you think Blockian libertarianism considers Breivik's attack on the PM's office justified?

    I wonder about some commenters, but I know your reading comprehension is better than this Bob. I absolutely haven't said "let's pretend he didn't do that horrible thing" I said let's consider the PM office instead of the camp.

    We have two acts: the camp and the PM office.

    - Bob Murphy and Daniel Kuehn agree that the camp is completely unjustified, an act of terrorism, horrible, etc. etc. No one is "pretending he didn't do that" - we agree he did and that it was unjust.

    - Daniel Kuehn says that government is not the mafia and taxes are not theft and thus nothing could possibly justify the attack on the PM office either. It was also unjust.

    Daniel Kuehn is curious what Bob Murphy thinks on that, or at least what Murphy thinks Blockian libertarianism implies on that, and Daniel is finding it very hard to get Bob to focus on the question.

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