Libertaria: based on coercion?

This is primarily about Libertarian’s hypothetical ideal government, Libertaria, which is an implementation of his ideal of Libertarianism, however people with similar ideas should feel free to chime in.

The basic concept is IME most commonly called ‘anarcho-capitalism’; there is no government in the usual sense of the word, no state that claims jurisdiction within defined borders. Instead, a person acquires services that one would today associate with a state by contracting with other people and organizations. For example, there would be no public highway, rather you would negotiate with someone to use their highway, by driving on and paying tolls, signing a contract with some sort of yearly fee, or similar means. Similarly, there is no single police department or justice system; instead, you contract with an organization for police protection (including military) and dispute resolution. Since the police, military, and courts are the primary pieces of a ‘government’ today, one can call the organization you contract with for police protection a government. Under this system, the government of Libertaria has only one principle for its law, that one person cannot initiate force against another, and would be charged with protecting the people under its protection from aggressors, but not with enforcing equivalents of drug laws or trade tarriffs on people not signed on to it.

In the thread that prompted me to start this one, Libertarian said “Libertaria is not concerned with borders and is not a regime with any legitimacy beyond your consent.” However, take the hypothetical situation where Libertaria governs a bunch of people who border my yard, but I have decided to sign on with government run by a different group of people, who really don’t like being disturbed called ‘Psychotica’. If a person from Libertaria (say, a child) violates my property rights (say, by cutting through my yard), I can use defensive force to protect myself (say, by blasting him with a shotgun). Under the law of Psychotica, that’s fine - Psychotica thinks that limits on defensive force are absurd and invasive. Under the law of Libertaria, they have no cause to do anything to me - I did not explicitly consent to their laws, and neither did I implicitly consent by initiating force against one of Libertaria’s citizens.

However, I don’t think that most people would consider that a government that responds to a child being shot for simple trespassing (and with no confusing circumstances, and no warnings or attempts to evict with lesser force) to be one they would consider worthwile. However, in the hypothetical situation, Libertaria must either initiate force against me (thus abandoning the principle of noncoercion) or allow me to go unpunished for blasting a child. So, which is it? I know what went on in a long-dead thread on this topic, but lets start fresh here.

(I hope there are no “giant squid” accusations; the hypothetical is not an unreasonable one, I think.)

Riboflavin, I believe there’s nothing in a libertarian context which would allow unfettered resistive force against a contractee of Libertaria, even by a foreign citizen on their own property. I think legal action against you could well be justified on the basis of your theft of the Libertarian child’s person, which was owned by the child and managed by the child’s parents. While you would’ve been held well within your rights to expell the child from your land and sue the child’s managers for damages, you are not allowed to coercively deprive the child of life, whether you’re a citizen of Psychotica, Libertaria or Youcan’ttouchmea.

(That’s my take on it, anyway.)

I would want to sign on with a protection agency ( government, in your example) that would protect me from force initiated even by people who are not its clients ( it would presumably want to have mechanisms to determine whether my complaints are justified). I would guess others would want the same. Thus the Libertaria that you describe would ( I claim) be forced out of business by those agencies that offer the stronger service I seek.

I’d call that “Free Market Feudalism”. Does anyone remember why modern nation-states evolved in the first place? I think Libertaria would be a step backwards if it’s how you describe it.

Then Libertaria is claiming governence over me without my consent, which contradicts Libertarian’s (and the general anarcho-capitalist’s) stance. If you’re going to claim that absolute property rights are the rule, and that Libertaria doesn’t claim jurisdiction over anyone who doesn’t either consent to their rule or initiate force against its members, then you have to take the good with the bad. One of the aspects of ‘bad’ is that people can use their abosulte property rights and rights of defensive force in a way that you don’t approve of.

While this particular example is extreme, it’s clearly a case of defensive force (just, by the standardards of probably everyone here, absurdly excessive defensive force). And there are similar examples that result in a dead kid where Libertaria either abandons its stance on absolute property rights or lets me do something it doesn’t like. For example, I could use my absolute property rights (safety codes and building permits and such are coercive, after all) to line the edge of my yard with deadly traps and land mines, kid wanders into the yard, and dies. Do I have the absolute right to do what I want with my property, or is Libertaria going to be coercive by its own standards when the child wanders into the Pit of Death beside the Lilacs?

Now, I suspect that most of the Libertarians (including Lib) are going to say ‘no, no, no, those are obvious abuses like giant squid, how could you possibly bring them up’. But, what happens when we hit a grey area? If Libertaria says that I can’t set deadly traps in my yard, does it also say that I can’t dig a pool and cover it with a tarp while I’m getting the concrete to fill it (what if the tarp is colored like the surrounding ground? what if I leave sharp tools in the bottom?)? If Libertaria wants to intervene, it sounds like they’re setting up a safety code for what I do on my property, despite their stated intent not to.

What if the child is actually a teenager who runs at me (then one who is also screaming, then one who is also wearing a ski mask, then one who is also carrying what looks like a gun, then one who is carrying a real gun)? Again, Libertaria is setting restrictions on how I respond to an initiation of force against me, despite the fact that according to Libertaria’s principles I don’t have to worry about what Libertaria’s laws are unless I initiate force against someone from Libertaria.

Note that I’m not arguing ‘I should be able to set deadly traps in my front lawn and kill the neighborhood children’, I’m arguing that Libertaria has to either allow this to happen or abandon its stated principles and act much more like a modern nation-state.

I didn’t coercively do anything in this example, I responded to an initiation of force with defensive force.

We’re running into a definitional problem here, I think. In the way that Libertarians generally use the term ‘initiation of force’, it includes violation of property rights, not just an attack on the person. So, in the example above, the kid initiated force against me by trespassing, and someone (for example) setting up an oil well in my backyard would also be initiating force. Those are the definitions that Libertaria would be using, so even if you don’t like them that’s what they’re being used to mean here.

Riboflavin: I am talking from the point of view of the hypothetical bereaved parent. I contract with an agency to protect me from the the coercive acts of others. If this agency is to have a future, so do some other people. The agency will have methods for arbitrating disputes between its clients; but it will also need some way of acting on transgressions by non-clients on its clients ( otherwise, why am I paying it?). A simple solution would be to declare that if any non-client performs hostile action towards one of its clients without first appealing to its own processes then it will always act in favour of the client. Since you have just shot my child my agency retaliates and you are now dead too. This strategy would also act as a disincentive towards the sort of garden layout you describe in your reply to xenophon41. Two problems may spring to mind.

Firstly, why do I assume that you have lost. You have your own protective agency, Psychotica. What is it doing during all of this? Under my assumptions so far it is natural to suggest that it is retaliating on your behalf. It then becomes a matter of a series of skirmishes between our agencies. I shall explain why I think mine would come out on top. Given the nature of its clients, Psychotica is going to be called upon regularly, causing a great drain on its resources. If it has to fight back every time you kill one the neighbouring infants I can foresee three possible outcomes:
(i) It decides that it no longer desires your business
(ii) It goes bankrupt through lack of resources
(iii) Its extremely aggressive nature draws enough customers to cover the additional expense.

Personally I think (i) is the most likely outcome, and certainly I think (i) would happen before (ii). Is (iii) plausible? I don’t think so. For one thing Psychotica is likely to be more expensive than most to cover the costs of its policy. For another there is a strong disincentive for people with children to join Psychotica given the likelihood that one of your fellow customers will shoot them ( and that Psychotica thinks this is fine). Finally it is likely that non-clients will want to shun clients because of the risk, leaving Psychotica’s clients only to trade with each other. Altogether I think this is a strong argument that Psychotica, in the form you describe, will not last long.

The second problem is that of legitimate self-defence. What if you are forced to attack a client to save your own life? This is more of a problem, I think, but not a fatal one. For one thing, you could always transfer your custom to my agency (especially since I have argued above that yours is likely to expel you or go bankrupt). For another, the same pressures which I discussed above are likely to mean that any client ( or client family) which needed regular help against self-defence will find itself dropped as a customer.

Note that there is no question at any stage of a government interfering. This is a private company which I have paid to protect me and which is doing so according to its lights.

It doesn’t matter WHAT point of view you take, the question is whether Libertaria violates its own principles which Libertarian and others have expounded on at length in the past. In the specific example, I did not initiate force - the child did. My response may have been excessive, but was not an initiation of force as Libertaria uses that term. If Libertaria decides to shoot me as you advocate, then they’ve abandoned their principal principle and are no longer a shining example of ideals in action. Your hypothesizing about later events is irrelevant to whether or not Libertaria violates its principles, which is the issue I’m concerned with, so I’m just bypassing the bit about long-term interactions between Libertaria and Psychotica.

Then Libertaria is willing to use force to prevent me from excercising my property rights, which according to Libertaria’s principles are absolute. If Libertaria tells me that I can’t build the buildings on my own property that I want, then it has crossed the line into coercive practicies like building permits and safety codes (something which Libertaria’s chief architect has explicitly said are coercive in the past).

Which is a better record than Libertaria, which didn’t last in the form Lib often descibes at all.

Which violates Libertaria’s principles - I have not consented to be governed by Libertaria, yet Libertaria claims the right to govern me anytime one of her citizens initiates force against me. If Libertaria was staying true to its stated principle that it will only govern me with my consent, then why do I have to worry about what Libertaria considers acceptable methods of self-defense when I’m attacked by Libertaria’s citizens/clients? That sounds more like the modern US government with an added law that allows you to pay no taxes and as a consequence still be subject to all restrictive US laws, but not police protection, use of the courts (except as a defendant), or any other protections. Hardly the Libertarian paradise it’s made out to be.

You can’t cop out by just saying that ‘legitimate self defense’ is so obvious that everyone will agree on it, opinions (and laws) on what is reasonable self-defense vary widely just in the United States today. There’s also the problem that, even in a coercive government like the modern US, I can at least determine what I can do in self-defense by reading state laws and acting within their limits - under the proposed system for Libertaria, I have to ask a person which protective agency they’ve signed on with before I can defend myself, or risk Libertaria’s jackbooted thugs shooting me like you said they would.

Once the private company takes on all of the aspects of a moden nation-state, it’s a government whether it calls itself one or not.

I didn’t study this “libertaria” concept in depth, but it seems to make absolutely no sense to me.
Even without killing children, what if two people are in disagreement about who’s the actual owner of, say, a house (they’ve signed an unclear contract, or both claim to be the inheritor of the deceasedprevious owner. Both intend to live in the house. From the point of view of the other, both are trespassers. So, what would happen? The two “protection agency” (assuming they both agree with the legitimavy of their client’s claim) would engage in a guerilla warfare over the house?

The person with the most efficient/better armed “protective agency” who get the house after a big deal of deaths (for instance including both “owners” and many of their own inheritors/family members, plus some members of the protective services?
If private property is hold sacred,who’s going to tell who’s the legitimate owner? That can’t be an independant court, or else it would be a government (or couldn’t enforce its rulings, which would be pointless). So, that’s up to various group/individuals, and the outcome would result from their relative power (that including money).
For instance, say I’m a native american and with a bunch of my friends, I claim that we actually own the whole of the US, and all other people are trespassers. We can organize our militia/protective force, and going on driving out/killing all trespassers (white people, black people, etc…anybody who can’t prove he’s a native). Now, if you disagre with our point of view, you’re going to defend yourself or ask your own protective service to do so. The result is actually an ethnical war, perfectly in agreement, apparently, with libertaria’s principles (everybody wants “his” property to be protected), and the stronger (more people, more money, etc…) will win.

And like a previous poster, I’ve a hard time not considering these protective services as de facto governements (probably working for the people who are able to pay more, assuming they’re somewhat ethical, follow the basic principles and just don’t seize power themselves, which is what would obviously happen in the real world). Your only option being that you can choice to which of these “governments” you want to belong : one which doesn’t have a to high policy insurance (taxes) or which follows a policy (laws) to which you’re more in agreement, or which offer better services (public services). When it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc…

A poster said it would be a return to the feodal ages, but IMO, the feodal period was way safer and more just (including the protection of property’s rights) than this nightmare…Actually, I would expect it to turn very quickly in a much more stable feodal or tribal system.

It is like everyone here has read Anarchy, State, Utopia. Uncanny.