Monday, January 26, 2009

The Alternative American History, Part 2

Welcome back, dear Reader.

As you will recall, yesterday we left off on our alternative history at the first centenial, in 1876. Today we will continue expounding on our libertarian fantasy and bring it up to the present time.

In fact, we'll do that almost immediately. But first, let's imagine how the America of our vision might have affected world history, skipping the petty details. First, she would have rejected, and remained insolated from, the horrors of imperialism, economic depression, and the terrible wars of the late 19th and 20th centuries, steadily growing richer and safer due to her adherence to sound monetary policy and noninterventionism in foreign affairs. Fortunately, she would be further insolated and protected for many years by the buffer of the mighty oceans, and the huge economic and technological advantages she would have enjoyed over any potential hostile adversaries.

Thanks to the wisdom of the anti-Founders and the generations of wise Americans who followed, the individuals who then made America great steered clear of those tumults and catastrophes that infected the rest of the world. The European imperialists continued in their global mischief, but without American involvement. Thus, the Phillipines remained under Spanish control for a few more years, until the Spanish were evicted by Phillipino freedom fighters, and withdrew from Cuba soon after, renouncing imperialism forever; the World War of 1914-1917 ended in stalemated fatigue, as Germany and Britain were bankrupted and the other imperial powers sued for peace; the Russian Revolution was nipped in the bud by the returning soldiers, sick of war and inspired by the Americans who staunchly resisted it. This set the stage for the peaceful overthrow of the Czar and the eventual anarchization of Russia. In fact, all over the world anarchist revolutions, some very violent, some peaceful, were brewing, but they would take generations to finally succeed.

So, in our fantasy there was no second world war, nor were nuclear weapons ever developed. By the time scientists turned their attention to nuclear power, the central governments of the world were completely discredited and challenged everywhere by freedom fighters. Atomic power for military means would remain a statist dream, for the time being.

In the meantime, true civilization, devoid of coercion, blossomed in America. Try to imagine what it would be like, and may someday be possible...

Cities and towns still dot the landscape, but their character is completely different, their quality immensely better. In anarchic America, capitalist entrepreneurs create company towns and provide housing, either through their own resources or by contract with home building companies, for their employees, who are all independent subcontractors that negotiate salary and benefits individually. Unions are nonexistant, rejected as collectivist in philosophy and coercive in nature, but there is enough work for everyone, even the marginally employable, and charitable organizations proliferate to aid the truly unemployable. No one starves or even goes hungry in America.

As companies compete for good employees, they further develop their private towns and cities, contracting with other companies to provide more and more enticements: excellent grocery stores, entertainment and recreation facilities, good roads, water and electrical infrastructure, and all the other amenities of the civil society. In fact, all of the things we've come to expect in the real America today, with a crucial difference: they would be far cheaper and more plentiful without government regulation, taxation, interference and prohibition. In addition, they would always be better, as each private company adds its own housing and amenities to the mix, unhampered by government parasitism.

Take transportation, for example. Imagine a system of roads that conformed to market demands rather than government mandate. In alternate history America, the major transportation and freight roads remain the mighty railroads; heavy trucks are developed, of course, but exist mainly for short hauls from privately owned depots across private roads, paid for by their users through tolls or leases and maintained by private owners (many of whom are both users and owners, or shareholders, of course). In contrast to socialized roads, the owners would be under constant pressure to keep the roads safe, efficient and profitable carriers of freight, lest the shareholders invite a competitor to come in and take their business.

Of course, roads would still be developed for pleasure driving, sight-seeing, and vacation destinations, as well as commuting; but commuting to work would become almost entirely obsolete with the invention of the internet and the telecommunications industry (and imagine those advances coming along in about 1920 in a truly free market!). Most workers needed for work at the company plant would likely live on company property within walking or biking distance. Others might choose to live further away, but could take advantage of cheap company-owned rail service, or drive themselves in and pay tolls and parking fees, or fly in to the company airport...

Yes, I do believe personal aircars and helicopters would have proliferated by now, with no government in the way. What else could, or would, stop that dream from becoming reality?

Long-distance pleasure travel would be a choice of delights: luxury passenger and car-carrying trains, and all forms of air travel, ocean and river cruises, and, of course, space travel. Travel by private car would be possible but slower (no states means no interstate highway system and eminent domain property confiscation); I envision shorter car trips via scenic roads owned and maintained by resorts. Excellent private parks and beaches would be everywhere, and would have the vested interest of contracting with road builders to provide parkway access to their facilities.

But the net result would be far fewer superhighways, far fewer private vehicles used as work transportation, and the virtual nonexistance of traffic jams. That alone would be a major improvement to the quality of life to the average worker in today's America.

In the days ahead I will propose many other ways that America could be a better place to live, indeed a virtual paradise compared to what we have now, if coercive government ceased to exist. For now I will leave you to contemplate and critique what I've laid out so far.

Until the next time, dear Reader, pleasant dreams.

Oh, by the way: as current events warrant, I will also intersperse commentary on the daily news, from the perspective of the free market anarchist; how the problems and crises of the current reality could be addressed without government coercion. Stay tuend.

1 comment:

  1. nice dream,but reality has a nasty way of getting in the way.perfection is an impossiblity