Saturday, January 31, 2009

Against Monopoly Police Power

Dear reader,

Today I was inspired to write about one of my pet peeves, the growing militarization and fascist nature of government police in the USA, by an article blogged by Dylan Hales and published in the Lew Rockwell website. The article is called "Elect the Cops", a proposal to make all law enforcement positions elected offices. The idea is to bring police work back in harmony with the population by having them elected by their peers; this is hoped to reduce the alarming amount of police brutality and the resulting fear and resentment incurred by the citizens.

Apart from the logistics problem of having hundreds more names on the ballot, I would venture that few would go into a career in police work if their employment was not guaranteed beyond the next election cycle. But even if those impracticalities were surmounted, we here at the Anarchy School have stronger reasons to oppose the idea.

Here is my email reply to Mr. Hales.


Dear Mr. Hales,

While your idea is interesting, I would invite you to consider an even better solution: free-market police services. The problem with bad policing is essentially the same problem seen with all government-supplied services, i.e. monopolies never serve anyone but the monopoly-holder very well. While you may argue that elections would instill an element of competition into police work, you only need to look at the near-identicality of the major political parties to see that this is a chimera.

Most people immediately object to the idea of competing private police agencies on the grounds that government should have a monopoly on police power, that it should have the power to trump any private criminal gang, for example. But competing private police agencies do, in fact, exist, e.g. mall cops and gated community guards; and malls and gated communities suffer far less crime than business districts and neighborhoods that share the government roads. Since the private police agencies have a vested interest in keeping their customers happy, they virtually never employ insult and intimidation, let alone brutality, against anyone. Instead, their presence ensures the peace and security of their customers, exactly what the concept of "peace officer" was originally intended to do.

So, in a free market, instead of the citizens having taxes forcibly taken from them for a "service" that they often fear and resent, each citizen could decide exactly how much protection is needed for him/herself and family, and shop for that level of protection among numerous competing firms, very much like you and I shop for insurance now. Many younger people might decide they need no special protection (especially if the right to carry firearms was universally honored). They would then be free to spend their hard-earned money on something they need or want more.

Another common objection is the belief that competition in law enforcement would inevitably devolve into mini-wars, much like the Mafia and ghetto gang-banger wars, with the strongest eventially winning out and setting up a monopoly anyway. But that argument falls apart when we remember that illicit gangs exist primarily to supply goods and services that the biggest gang - the government - has forbidden to the people who want them. Prohibitionism creates the black markets which draw in the most ruthless of the private criminal class, an unlikely event without government interference in the market.

Thus, I contend that fully privatizing police services would be far superior to electing police officers, which does nothing to address the root cause of the problem, which is monopoly government itself. It might even make matters worse; wouldn't it be possible, if not probable, that the majority of citizens would vote for the most ruthless cops in some neighborhoods, or the most corrupt cops in others? In those cases, the minority would be unable to opt out, short of moving, an option that is often unavailable to our poorest citizens.


Glen Litsinger


Now, that was the short version of an argument that has been fully articulated by Murray Rothbard and many others in the anarcho-capitalist literature. I think we can safely say the following:

Free market anarchism answers one of the hardest questions in political philosophy: Who polices the police? The answer is: The Market does.

We'll be developing more on this line of thinking as time goes on. In the meantime, I invite my readers to comment, question, and debate the issue.

Glen Litsinger

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Back to Reality

Dear Reader,

The previous two blog entries laid out an alternative history version of America, and a partial vision of what life would be like if that history was true. Unfortunately, it's fantasy. Equally unfortunately, most Americans believe in a fantasy created by their government, in which they are free, justice prevails domestically, they are the destroyers of tyrants and liberators of their subjects, and free market capitalism is the economic system. Above all they believe in and trust their government to keep them secure from terrorism and foreign enemies, and to right economic wrongs and lead the way to prosperity.

We will examine each of these beliefs in due time, but first I want to concentrate on the last belief, given that the economy is in recession, and the proposed solutions of the new president's team are making daily headlines.

We seek to expose the truth about government here at the Anarchy School. We believe that the US government, in concert with the quasi-private Federal Reserve banking system, creates the business cycles that have rocked our economy for the last 96 years (since the creation of the Fed in 1913) -- the artificial boom times, or bubbles, and the resulting busts, or recessions and depressions. And we think that we're now experiencing the effects of the bursting of the mother of all bubbles, the credit market bubble, created by the policies of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and exacerbated by the malinvestments and fraudulent activities spawned by the too-easy credit market he deliberately engineered.

Although we're bombarded daily with bad economic news - hundreds of thousands of jobs lost each month, the American car industry and banking system on government life support, the demise of huge investment banking firms, and so on - it's painfully obvious that many Americans are oblivious to the magnitude of the crisis, and have blind faith in a new administration to turn the economy around. In their blindness they can't see that President Obama is pursuing exactly the same economic policies that George Bush did, with an added dose of real socialism to make things even worse. For those dear readers who are familiar with financial charts and terminology, I recommend this article by Jim Quinn for a good rundown of just how bad things are, as well as a bold prediction on where we are headed:

In layman's terms, we're screwed.

Now... today's task for the aspiring anarchist is to begin to learn exactly how the federal government got us into this pickle, why an anarchistic society would have avoided it, and how to apply those lessons in leading the country back to sanity and prosperity. For if we don't do it, no one will. In that sense, this lesson is "for the children"... the future generations that we will save from tyranny, or who will be lost to it.

We do not have the expertise to teach economics here at the Anarchy School; all we can do is steer you in the right direction, but then you can definitely educate yourself. What we can, and will teach, are the reasons we have come to our conclusions about who the best teachers are.

Those teachers belong to what is known as the Austrian school of economics. Their work and line of reasoning sprang from the earlier Classical free-market economists, which was improved, refined and developed by one of the great minds of the 20th Century, Ludwig von Mises. This is an oversimplified history, as there were many other luminaries in the Austrian tradition, including Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek, and Murray Rothbard, and many more that the interested reader can learn about at the Ludwig von Mises Institute website,

Now, I assume that many of my readers are very familiar with the site and the writings of the many Austrian economists (and their compatriots in other academic fields) that toil daily for the Mises Institute. Many of you are also familiar with the Lew Rockwell website,; Lew Rockwell is the founder of the Mises Institute, and perhaps the world's leading living exponent of free-market anarchism, aka anarcho-capitalism. His writings and website articles, contributed by hundreds of libertarian thinkers (many of whom still believe the American miminal state can be revived, sadly) have given me the inspiration and intellectual ammo I needed to create this blog, and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. I only hope I can do their ideas justice here, at the Anarchy School, and inspire others to join us.

But, I digress. The salient point about the Austrian school is that it's perfectly suited to anarchism; it is inherently anti-state in that it rejects government interference in all economic affairs, and in fact blames government for the business cycle. It also is the only school that advocates a return to the gold standard, and goes further to advocate 100% reserve requirements for demand deposits (banking terminology which we can explore in depth in a later post). Such a gold standard would go a long way to limiting the power of today's governments to go to war and would practically eliminate their power to inflate economic bubbles. The Austrian school also would eliminate central banks, such as our own Federal Reserve.

The major competing economic schools today are Keynesianism and Chicago school monetarism, both of which not only consider central banks to be legitimate, but also rely on them to make their economic programs "work". Both of these schools long ago rejected the gold standard, and both consider controlled inflation to be the prime function of the central banks, as a way to achieve lasting prosperity.

As Exhibit A in our argument in favor of the Austrian school, we invite the interested student to consider its predictive powers. Mises was perhaps the only leading economist of his day to predict the stock market crash prior to 1929 and the subsequent Depression. He published work on socialism that clearly exposed its fallacies, and why it can't possibly work as an economic system (for this he was vilified and ostracized from the economic academy, only to be vindicated - 26 years after his death - when the Iron Curtain fell in 1989 and communism was consigned to the dustbin of history). More recently, Austrian-trained financial experts such as Gary North and Peter Schiff correctly predicted the 90's stock market and the '02-'07 credit market bubble/crash cycles.

Exhibit B is, of course, the destructive record of the competing schools, and the fact of their obvious collusion with government and their fat-cat friends on Wall Street. Witness the revolving employment door between the government, Goldman Sachs, and the Federal Reserve. Their bailouts of huge banks, insurance companies, and investment firms, at taxpayer expense as well as the expense of sound businesses, were sanctioned by both the Keynesian and, though to a somewhat lesser extent, the Chicago school economists. The government is simply trying to reinflate the most gigantic bubble of all time, and in due time they will find that what the Austrians are saying is true - that the longer the inevitable collapse is delayed, the harder the crash will be. It may be decades before the US economy recovers, if ever.

Here at the Anarchy School we will prepare for the worst, and be ready to lead our countrymen back to a sound economy, when they are ready.

Until the next time,

Good night.

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.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Welcome to The Anarchy School

Warm greetings, dear Reader!

Today, Sunday, January 25th, 2009, seems like as good a time as any to open the doors of our new school, announce it to the world, divulge its purpose, and break open a bottle of champagne in celebration. (Only a statist would waste a perfectly good bottle of champagne by actually breaking it across the bow of a death-dealing vessel of war!). Settle into a comfortable chair while I put the champagne on ice...

The Anarchy School is a school for all free-thinking, open-minded individuals who yearn for freedom in our time - people like you, dear Reader. Its goal is to stimulate your imagination, provoke discussion and new ideas, and ultimately to formulate actual working plans to create a society completely free of coercive government. Together we will work out solutions that will get us from here - a world of freedom-crushing nation-states, to there... not Utopia, but a real, dynamic, and prosperous free society, the first of its kind in world history.

Lest you think this is pure fantasy, an unworkable dream for misanthropic malcontents, consider the following: as we shall see, there have been semi-anarchic societies in the past (e.g., ancient Iceland), and they exist today (e.g., Somalia). Consider also the current world-wide economic meltdown, and understand that it presents a golden (perhaps literally golden, in our new economic system) opportunity to secede from the States, which may well be collapsing all around us. We must be ready to seize the moment if and when it comes, possibly in the next decade. By then we will have graduated from this School, and have issued our Declaration of Independence.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. Our first lesson today will be an exercise in free thinking, imagining what a free America would be like if the mistakes of the past could be rectified. Indulge me as I create an alternative history for America, beginning just after the victory at Yorktown...

Imagine that the secret Constitutional Convention never took place, and America remained a Confederation of truly independent states. Imagine further that free citizens of the several states managed, over a period of several decades, to institute voluntarist, tax-free societies through means that we will develop in our classes. How would America have evolved under those circumstances, with no Congress, no Supreme Court, and no President? With no tariffs, and no taxes at all? In an anarchic society, all money exchanges and all labor is voluntary; the early Americans would first have to abolish the slavery that existed, so true anarchy would have to wait until the economic conditions were right. We'll come to that shorty, dear Reader.

The year is now 1800...

With no federal budget to lard, we can assume no standing armies and no offensive wars take place. Thus, no War of 1812. There is also no Louisiana Purchase, of course. Lewis and Clark still get together and explore and map the West, seeking their fortunes. Wars with the Indians are avoided at all costs, as the settlers negotiate property rights with them, and acknowledge the Indians' property rights as well, for example to sacred burial grounds and hunting grounds. Indians are encouraged to help develop the new lands and share in the wealth, and eventually they're accepted as true American natives. The Americans expand westward in peace and harmony, and no new states are formed; the new lands are known simply as the Free Territory.

Meanwhile, free market capitalism fuels invention after invention, and prosperity is everywhere. As their experience, confidence, and wisdom grows, Americans gradually dismantle the old state apparatus, and abolish all forms of statist impediments to progress, including monopolist inventions such as copyrights and patents. The result is the dramatically increased pace of progress; by 1850, Americans have developed fully mechanised farming, and all slaves have been freed, as slavery is now economically as well as morally untenable. Progress is slowed slightly until the properties of petroleum are discovered, so steam engines dominate for a while, but soon the petroleum powered car is developed, and the first airplanes are invented. Private roads and airports are constructed or expanded to meet the new demand. Toll roads and bridges are everywhere, but tolls are extremely low to facilitate commerce.

The year is now 1865, and no Civil War occured to slow the advance of civilization. No Reconstruction foists tyranny on the former slave states. The gold standard has become fully institutionalized and accepted by this time, and no monetary crisis occurs due to bimetalism. America is the envy of the entire world, and a school of economics known as the American School is universally admired and studied. The benefits of anarchy and sound money are not seriously disputed, but governments are still entrenched in most of the world. The danger of war with foreigners remains very much on American minds.

There are many other problems, of course; anarchy does not cure all the faults of human beings. Murder, rape, robbery and fraud still exist. Human monsters still walk the land. But the problems and criminals are dealt with locally. The citizenry is universally armed, to keep the monsters at bay (and prevent them from forming gangs and governments!). The anarchic tradition grows stronger, and America thrives. The 1876 Centenial is a celebration of the greatest century of man's existence. What lies ahead?

Ah, dear Reader, we're coming to the really good part! But the rest of this alternate history story will have to wait for our next class. Be sure to visit again tomorrow, and bring your open, curious mind, with lots of questions.

That champagne should be good and cold by now. To your health!

Glen L.