The Fundamental Flaw In Non-Anarchistic Libertarian Thought
The following is from guest-author Rand Eastwood. You can read more from Rand on his blog.
It seems to me that the fundamental flaw in non-anarchistic libertarian thought—that the state is necessary, if for nothing other than protection of its citizens (defense from attack from abroad, protection of individuals from each other, dispute adjudication, etc)—is rooted in the lack of recognition that history has readily proven that the state can not—will not—be limited by law, especially (and one would think obviously) when the state itself is the author, interpreter, and enforcer of the law.
The dismal failure of the “American Experiment” proved this truth, once and for all.
So it’s not that there aren’t seemingly legitimate functions of government—it’s that the institution of government is impossible to control, when that government holds a monopoly on authority over the populace and the use of force, and is not subject to market forces.
America’s constitutionally-limited, representative republic failed for precisely the same reason that other political systems such as Socialism and Communism always fail: they neglect to account for human nature, which dictates that individuals will typically act in their own best interest—including individuals which comprise the institution of government.
Once one accepts the reality that government is impossible to control, to limit, in any effective manner, then the only conclusion to be drawn is that it is the very idea of government which is flawed—not necessarily the various structures and/or principles under which it has been manifested throughout history.
This fact necessitates the trial of something new, something better, a more effective, non-violent means of creating free, peaceful, and prosperous societies, and casting of the idea of government—even a constitutionally-limited government—onto the scrap heap of history.
“Yeah, we tried that, in every way we could think of…it doesn’t work.”
True liberty, natural liberty, cannot manifest under a monopolized coercive state, which is subject to neither law nor market forces.
And further, let’s consider the hundreds of millions of their own citizens that governments murdered(estimates I’ve seen online vary between 170 million and 230 million, so let’s ballpark it at around 200 million) in the 20th century alone (and mind you, this refers to their own citizens—it doesn’t include the millions killed as a result of governments waging war with one another). So 200 million citizens, kill by their own governments, in a single century—and, shockingly, a century which supposedly represents vast progress for humanity, for civil society.
I, for one, cannot look at that horrific number, and say:
“Sorry, but that’s the best we can do.”
I don’t happen to believe that it is the best we can do; I think we can do much, much better: end the state, and transfer the state’s “legitimate” functions to private enterprise operating within a free and open marketplace. Then we can sit back and see what happens. I’m sure we’ll all be amazed.
And what’s more: I think it’s time we turn the tables, transfer the burden of proof back onto those who argue the need for government, even limited government. So from now on, whenever someone ask how a stateless society could ever work, or how we would implement it, how we get from here to there, or how this issue or that issue would be handled without the state—rather than trying to answer, trying to posit potential solutions or speculate upon future scenarios, we should instead respond with a simple question:
“Instead of asking me how a stateless society would work, how about you tell me how you’re planning to limit the state?”
The silence will be deafening.