AnarchoDebates: Barry v. Keegan 4
By: Barry Belmont

This is going to be the last email of Keegan’s that will be shared, as I have decided this debate will come to a close. (This will be explained further in the final email from me in the next post).

Keegan’s Fourth Email

Alright, I clearly misunderstood most of what you were trying to say before (don’t repeat this back to me, as I said it, I know I said it). I clearly thought you were advocating a coercionless state-which you can’t blame me entirely for this because you do spend time ranting against coercion whenever you discuss the state-but I see now that you are not (it did bother me slightly that the view you seemed to be promoting in this conversation differed from your lecture). Now that I have read the lengthy Rothbard paper you published on the UNRforliberty website, I have a better understanding of the view that you hold. I understand that I seem to focus on smaller details rather than larger ideas while debating. It is difficult for me to do otherwise, but I will try my best. However, when you ask specific questions or make statements that I disagree with, I see no other way to approach it than making specific responses. Also, please disregard my being able to see arguments from the other side (at least for this response-because clearly there needs to be some details that need to be explained to me as if I were a child). What I want out of this particular response is not to debate whether anarchocapitalism is possible, but rather to probe you on the specifics of how anarchocapitalism works.

Now that qualifying is completed, we can start with the real substance. Clearly we both seem to identify that the hardest part of understanding how a stateless system works is enforcing laws (although we haven’t covered it making laws is also an enigma to me). I hope you don’t mind that I just go with a slew of questions on this subject.

How are laws created? Are there multiple sets of laws or does everyone adhere to the same ones?
How do you stop the police from arresting innocent people?
If a person refuses to pay the courts, can they receive justice?
If a person refuses to pay the police, can they get protection?
You previously stated, that all courts should accept that human beings own themselves, but how do you ensure that this is the case?

Perhaps if I can give a story of what it seems like could happen, you can explain to me why this is wrong, I’ll try to use your example. If court A along with A’s adherents are a bigoted group that decide that gingers have no standing in a court of law. One of A’s adherents named Aee, files suit against a ginger named Bee, saying that Bee stole his car. Now the court A of course finds Bee guilty. So gathering from what you said before, Bee goes to a separate court (court B), where he is found innocent. The two courts then have to go under arbitration of a third. Court A is only willing to go to racist courts, while court B is only willing to go to non-racist ones. What happens? Do police A have a right to snag up Bee and throw him in prison?
There are a few situations that differ slightly that also must be addressed:
-What if Bee doesn’t have money for court services?
-What if Bee is arrested before he has a chance to file his own suit?

The biggest reason for me thinking that we need the state is that we need a system of lawmaking, enforcement, and judicial system. Addressing the issues I stated above will remove my biggest reason for thinking that we need the state. Later we may be able to discuss which is better for these three purposes, but that is a discussion for another time.

Now if you don’t mind I will defend myself against some of your accusations. I don’t really want a response to anything said after this point, but I do feel that you unfairly characterize my point of view. Since I am going to be refuting specific points, I see no way to do it aside from point by point.

I previously stated that the state forces involuntary actions, rather than stopping voluntary ones. You responded by saying that not paying your taxes is a voluntary action that is not allowed. If you want to consider not doing something an action, then sure, the state stops voluntary actions. But to talk about seeing the trees not the forest and then nitpick obvious semantics seems a bit hypocritical.

You then follow up by asking how taxation protects freedoms. The reason why the state is able to protect freedoms is that it provides for legislation, enforcement, and a judicial system. As discussed earlier, I do not yet accept that anarchy can do this, but I certainly am willing to consider any other options provided they are at least as watertight as the state system (which as you rightly point out is a fairly leaky boat). The reason a single state army is better than a bunch of small ones, is that since it functions together as a single unit, it is better at fighting off aggressors, and since it is not prone to infighting, it is not weakened by interactions with the other small armies, but this is a topic for another time.

You rightly characterize me as a person that sees the destruction of a state as falling into chaos. I currently see the state as being the only protection against one group oppressing another. I realize that the state itself is prone to oppressing its subjects but this is why control over the state must be controlled by its subjects. My preconceived notions of the chaos being the result of anarchy may very well be exactly that, unjustified preconceived notions, but they are based in the idea that I don’t see how anarchy could stop oppression by one group onto another. When I initially asked you about this point (in person) you stated, “and thats why Shouldland High gets crushed by Reality Tech.” This is an important point though; if there is no way to stop those with the most power from doing whatever the hell they want, then the destruction of the state is the precursor to chaos (maybe not Mad Max style, but not far off). So if you want me to drop this notion that anarchy=chaos, you must sometime explain how anarchy can stop one group from oppressing another.

You seem to think that I hold the state up as an ideal, but this is not the case. I simply don’t yet see anarchy as a viable option. I understand that the state has many problems, some of which you point out very well, but unless anarchy can do all of the things that a state is necessary for (in my mind this comes down solely to protecting individual freedoms), then the state must be accepted as the only option. Its the same point as I’ve had in every response and every talk. Hopefully we may come to some sort of agreement or at least understanding on this.

You mention Sam Harris, as saying there are three ways to argue [for religion]: 1) defend your specific [religion] 2) describe the usefulness [of your religion] 3) attack [atheism]. Now in respect to religion only 1 is correct. But in regards to government this is not true. The point of government is not to espouse truth, but to be useful. So defending its usefulness is valid. Anarchy is a situation of no government. If it is not viable, then a state is necessary. Therefore, all three are valid in the discussion of government.

There of course are good and bad reasons for having a state. The main good reason for having a state is the protection of freedoms (which is hopefully what we are addressing-that a state is unnecessary for this). It has a few other benefits, but they aren’t really that important. The bad reasons are obvious. You know them and I know them, but if you really want me to list them, I will.

Sorry but there is something that I need to quote directly:
“”State A will make people more moral” or “State B gives people a high standard of living” is not enough to prove that either A or B should exist. ”
I disagree. I think that is plenty of reason to show that A or B should exist. Unless you don’t think that morality or a high standard of living has any worth. Not that I think any state will make anyone moral, but the reason that I support Capitalism opposed to Communism is exactly because it gives people a higher standard of living. I mean there are other reasons, but that is the most important one. It seems strange to me that things being better would not be a reason to support a certain style of government. What other reason could there be? I mean even anarchy you probably support because things will be better under it (more freedom, less corruption, more efficiency etc.). I don’t know what else to say, but I can’t imagine why you would disagree with this statement.

Let me be clear about this, the main reason that the state is useful is for the protection of individual freedoms. If an anarchy can somehow do this better then sign me up, you just have to show me that it can. Now don’t get pissed here and say that you did and I’m an idiot for not understanding. It is possible that this is true, but it helps nothing. Simply state what happens in anarchy in each situation, I’ll try to come up with situations anarchy can’t handle, and you show how it can handle them.

If this is really what you thought I was saying as my ideal, way to go. If this instead is your attempt at satire, then I find your humor incomprehensible. You can repeat everything I said the exact opposite of the way I said it, but I fail to see the joke. We can debate whether my ideal is possible, but I suggest we wait on that until we compare and contrast anarchy and my ideal. This shouldn’t happen until I understand how exactly anarchy functions.

But since you asked the question, a democracy and a republic are not mutually exclusive. A democracy means rule by the people, a republic means rule without a king. A federation seems more functional than a confederation. Confederations in their truest form seem unable to accomplish anything. A small military is better than a big one because it costs less, and if shit goes wrong and the government needs to be overthrown this is easier. I shouldn’t have to convince you that free movement of people is a good thing, I believe you’ve already accepted that position, but regardless, I gave some reasons in the description of my ideal, but really quickly, freedom and evolution. And legitimizing the “social contract” if its not legitimate enough already.

If the way you have been talking is what you consider concise with tight prose, then I would hate to be faced with a lengthy response. Already it pushes my attention span. So I want to express how grateful I am that you have been attempting to make it short. I have been too, but I am terrible at it.

You are totally right on “Total State”. I should have seen what you meant. I was so used to that term being used with a different meaning, it blinded me to how you meant it.

“where voluntary actions necessarily devolved into chaos without coercive intervention against innocent people”
I didn’t dismiss it, I gave you the example of Ireland having slavery. But this I only used as the example because it was already used as an example of “good anarchy”. I could have easily used situations of “bad anarchy” such as Rwanda, Uganda, the French Revolution, etc. You may say that the actions weren’t voluntary, it was one group oppressing another. But this exactly what I mean. If you want me to show how mutually agreed to transactions could devolve into chaos, I couldn’t, and I have never claimed that it would. The problem is the same point as always. I don’t yet see how anarchy can protect people’s freedoms.

I know I can get caught up in statements rather than seeing the whole. There are lots of reasons, but they aren’t important. I’ll try to stop this though.

Hopefully you can understand my position on why the state (and by extension taxes) is necessary. I’ve tried to make it as clear as possible that I only support it because it seems that it can do what anarchy cannot (provide legislation, enforcement and justice). This is the crux of the discussion, and hopefully soon we will reach some sort of agreement on this, and move on to comparing the two systems. If you adequately explain to me how anarchy justice works this should be unnecessary, but if I become an anarchist and you still want to know how my previous ideal could function we could discuss it (though I don’t see too much point in it if I no longer supported it).

Yes, my biggest objection was IG/OG mentality, but that was only to show that one group very well may decide to oppress another group against their will. It seemed like you agreed with this at least being a possibility. This only leads to the rest of the problem: how does anarchy stop this? So really, to me at least, it seems that we are still hashing out the same initial objection.

So that we are on the same page, force only used on guilty people, seems difficult to arrange. This is my main problem. How do you stop force being used on innocent people? The first part of this e-mail is focused on how you stop this on an individual scale, but in order for me to truly understand anarchocapitalism, we are also going to have to address this on a group scale.


P.S. I didn’t mean to make it so long and repetitive, but I wanted to make sure that we are on the same discussion.

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