About the critical rationalist approach to anarchy

by Ilja

In a video named Damned to Repeat It, Pt. 2 – Anarchism Paul McKeever argues against anarchism from the point of view of Ayn Rands objectivism. Now, I’m not interested very much in discussing the flaws of Rand’s objectivism – I’m a critical rationalist, and I don’t believe in such mythical entities as “objective law”.
The remarkable point here is that I have to agree with some of the arguments presented there – they are, indeed, quite decisive arguments against a quite common libertarian position, namely the very idea that the non-aggression principle taken alone allows to solve something, or allows to define some sort of objective law.

There is also another point, where I have to agree with the argumentation: The worst form of a dictatorship is not one with strong, rigid laws, but one where the law is uncertain, where you cannot be sure what happens.

But then anarchy is, simply, considered to be equivalent to such a dictatorship with such uncertain law, simply because there is no universal law for everybody, no “objective law”.

But this is wrong. In my personal approach to anarchy there is a certain law for everybody – the set of rules which he has accepted himself.

And, once we can expect that security firms will specialize on the defense, they will offer their clients protection – as part of a clear and certain contract. I would not name this contract an “objective law”, because it contains a lot of subjective elements – it depends on the personal interests of the client as well as on those of the agency. But, once the contract is signed, the client has a certain contract which is otherwise equivalent to the law of a Randian minimal state.

Or not? What about other people, who have not signed the same contract? This is of no worry to you – there is no difference between these other people then and now. I have not singned any contract with the state today too. Your defense agency will defend you against them as well as the police will defend you today.

What about other defense agencies? They are similar to other states today. If they are in war with each other – which remains a possibility – the situation may be quite bad for you – as today. If not, everything is as fine – as in peace today.

What is, then, the difference? You will be defended by your agency if you follow your own law, as described in your personal contract with the agency. Differences of the laws of different agencies are nothing you have to care more than today, when you travel through the world.

In fact, you will be even more safe: Before entering a domain where your standard behaviour will be interpreted as an aggression, you will be informed about this. Then, it is your choice – to enter, and to behave in a more restricted way, or not to enter.

Or, reformulating the point: The argument, if valid, would be an argument in favour of a world state, and claiming that the actual, real situation is horrible in comparison with this. Hm, would you really like to argue in favour of a world government? The only “advantage” would be that there is no longer a possibility to emigrate. A horrible idea.

Last but not least, the video poses the problem of evolution to an anarchistic society. The question itself is a reasonable one: What do you think happens if tomorrow all the police, all the judges, the whole legal system simply disappears? Do you think police forces will organize themself by natural evolution? Aren’t, instead, the states the result of this natural evolution?

A reasonable question, and I propose an evolutionary answer: Yes, the states are the result of natural evolution – in a world without an internet, in a world, where reputation works only in small societies.

But today we have the internet, and we have encryption. So, today we live in an essentially different world. In this new world, a global reputational system can enforce, in a sufficiently strong way, private contracts.

And we do not have to care about what happens if the state disappears. The reputational system, as well as a civilized society based on reputational enforcement of contracts, can evolve already today, inside the existing world controlled by states. It will be created outside the control of the states, but it doesn’t need much – a working internet, with strong encryption of your personal data as well as your communications. It will evolve in free competition with the jurisdiction of the states, and I’m sure it will win this competition.

What will be the world after this? The states yet exists, nobody has made a violent revolution. But private contracts will be enforced by reputation, nobody will even think of using the state court to solve a private conflict over a contract. Then, the states have no control over private contracts of the citizens – so they cannot tax them. There will be hidden internet banking with complete privacy. Whenever necessary, there will be fake contracts to hide the real contracts and to minimize taxation: This will be safe, because based on honor, on global reputation, where a contract violator ends in an open global black list. So the tax income decreases.

Printing money will no longer help the state. The states paper money will hardly be used in the hidden banking system. So they will not be used, nor for exchange, nor for savings. All the state can do with them is to pay his own workers. All the state can do by redistribution is to manage that everybody receives the same amount of paper money. But what if paper money become useless, except for paying taxes?

The central new element, which makes all this possible, is trust based on global reputation. If this works, what remains from the state will become quite powerless.

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